Commentary: Living in pear-less times

This week has been especially hard on our Missionary Family as the middle of the month is for most families. This is a time in the month where food is not in the greatest of supply and resources are thinning. While returning home from a day of visiting parishioners I traveled down my last stretch of road nearly to my house when I spotted a beautiful historic Georgia Church followed by an enormousness pear tree. The tree was blustering with pears covering a great deal of the owner’s yard spilling sidewalk, and street with many rotting away.

Pastor L. W. Gainey
Pastor L. W. Gainey

This was one of those days that Lunch-time had been hurried through with “no time to stop” and I could have eaten a horse if I didn’t love them so . My first human instinct was envy; “look at such waste!” was said in my mind before I even had time to process the thought. I suppose for a few minutes I stewed over the matter- I love pears, they have more than they can eat and there they lay rotting; such a pity.

Being a person of faith is often inconvenient; oh why can’t our conscience just enjoy our self pity without the voice of inner conviction? Alas here it came; analyzing my wrongful thinking. I began to have thoughts challenging my envy and knee jerk suppositions of waste. It occurred to me that I had not stopped and asked to have a pear; was that not lazy on my part? If not lazy was I too proud to ask? If not to proud did I “assume” the owner would say no? I could have offered to trade/work for the fruit, yet I didn’t.

Continue reading “Commentary: Living in pear-less times”

Commentary: Statesmenship – a WRECK lost at SEE

No doubt we live in an overstimulated state as our senses are juxtaposed with sounds and images from the beast that us multi media. Information, misinformation, and everything in between pressed into our psyche until we are now in a perpetual state of shock or so inundated with the most adorable and vile depictions that we become emotionally paralyzed or indifferent. This Babylonian-like confusion where lines are crossed morally and ethically and all of our boundaries nearly compromised or violated on far too regular of a basis. Thus we have seen the virtue and craft of “Statesmanship” lost to what we see, and our faith in our leaders good conduct wrecked.

Pastor L. W. Gainey
Pastor L. W. Gainey

Them Democrats! Those Republicans! Only if it were confined upon political or sectarian lines. Not for our story, tomorrow’s history that is. We have become a culture who has prepared an immediate retort to every possible insult; yet where has the ability to hear and reason gone? Is it not so that all our “devices” get a greater deal of our attention and consideration than those who walk among us in the flesh?

“Too much TV is bad for you” I was told as a child, along with “don’t stand to close to the TV, or watch TV in the dark”- Now here we are reading no longer books but screens! There is no Nightly News for an hour of my 16 hour day- rather 24/7 cyclic pronouncements of every evil and woe that could be known from across the Globe. Statesmanship, a behavior, demonstrated the ability of a man or woman in leadership to conduct themselves in such a way that whom the represented were elevated in respect and dignity. Yet the values of respect and dignity themselves are nearly muted by the clamorous tumult that has usurped our better angels.

Ah when sounding “Presidential” mattered and regalia, not flamboyance, was the banner of better men. If we cannot in these present days find a way back to virtue and class we shall loose an invaluable National Treasure: American Humanity. Historically most of this worlds Mission Fields, Red Cross Missions, and Hunger Relief Organizations are products of American Humanity, and exceptional characteristic of our landscape best represented by Statesmanship and Strength- yet now are these not deemed weak or offensive?

Surely from one generation to the next all have thought the new was outflanking the old with silly gadgets and innovations. Yet I declare the “mass impersonation” of media produced personalities combined with increasingly growing ways to receive “the message” will lead to mass cultivation of a society driven by what it sees, and only sees what is purposely selected to impress upon the minds of millions a “new man”- not made in the image of God, rather the image of those looking to assimilate the outlying whole to the few within. In a word “subjects”.

The Statesmen has been replaced by the sensationalist, the Intellectual with the Charismatic, and the Inquisitive with the critique. Common respect and human dignity are the antidote to this viral indifference and age of widely accepted ill behaviors; yet I contend to have these two, love must first be held in the highest place in our hearts and minds. Love of our Creator and One Another will always lead to decency and order in our steps. America needs to learn “love” again, and her Statesmanship restored.

Commentary: Race Embracing not Baiting

Before we begin singing “kumbaya” or getting drawn into the emotionalism of praising politically-driven messages of diversity, we need to take the time to engage in critical thinking, not ad campaigns.

When I was growing up living in Jacksonville, Florida, in a small neighborhood close to Mayport Naval Base, there were many kinds of kids to play with. I say “kinds,” and almost instantly race is triggered in our modern psyche.

Pastor L. W. Gainey
Pastor L. W. Gainey

What if I told you that while there was certainly an uber-diverse collection of races in my neighborhood, our “kinds” actually related to the neighborhood kids behavior? Trust me, in a Navy town you have groups of bullies, clowns, skaters, preps, and all KINDS of sociological subsets made up many of different ethnic groups.

I hung out with the latchkey kind of kids in my childhood. Most of our considerations growing up, in terms of what house we’d all stay the night at, was based on food and entertainment: who had the best food, nicest parents, best sound system, and maybe whose sister was having over the cutest friends. The most ethnic considerations were probably food and parental discipline.

My poor buddy Nguyen’s parents were from the Philippines and spoke primarily Tagalog, so when we stayed over at his house, we had no idea what was going on when his mom and grandmother would go off on a tangent as all parents do. But the food–WOW–it was fantastic.

Nguyen was the guy with all the best jokes in our group. Now, why did I say “poor” Nguyen? Was it because of his race? Indeed not. His family, like many of the families from the Philippines, kept the most immaculate lawn you can imagine. One of the steps in this was cutting the grass by hand, with scissors, and using shears for all the plants. Nguyen was always having to cut the grass before he could play…yeah, poor guy.

We may have had racial tensions like our kids do today if someone would have told us we should–but no one did, so we didn’t. We did, however, “embrace” the things that were different about each other’s families. These were cultural differences in some cases, like Nguyen having to hand cut the grass for his parents, but we just didn’t think of it that way. It really was about where we would enjoy ourselves the most, without always doing the same ol’ stuff.

What if we stopped being baited into thinking that ethnic groups are at war? What if it’s the movements, both political and social, that want us to remain in a perpetual state of “High Alert” for conflict born out of offense?

How boring would it be to go out for dinner with your buddy, intimate other, or family, and not have different restaurants influenced by uniquely ethnic contributions. How many times have you got in the car and set out saying “…I’m torn between Thai and Italian tonight?

I have a buddy in Macon whose late father was the Bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Leon Wilkeson. One day he took me to the Music Hall of Fame to talk with the museum curator

Lee Wilkeson
Lee Wilkeson, only son of Legendary Bassist Leon Wilkeson of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Photo courtesy Lee Wilkeson.

about some new contributions to the “Mad Hatter” display.

We had the infamous debate about where we should eat. He emphatically told me, “Buddy, we’re going to the best restaurant in all of Macon, my treat!” Instantly, I had visions of Morton’s Steak House or some swanky little French bistro.

We pull around to a street that’s not in a upper-class real estate market, and he slows the car, shouting, “There it is, Baby! Whooo!,”{like we were at the gates of the Magic Kingdom} Get ready to eat, son.” My eyes caught a small white sign, dangling from beneath an old mortar wall with chipping paint, that read “H&H.” I was less than full of great expectations, but by the time I got in the door, the smell of the food was intoxicating, and the place filled to the hilt with people.

A woman ran from around the counter, hugging Lee, and saying, “Ya’ll little white boys go sit down and let Mamma take care of y0u.”

Lee responded, “yes Ma’am.” I later discovered that he grew up eating at H&H.

Mama Louise Hudson
In Macon, “Mama Louise” Hudson’s cooking is a favorite of the Allman Brothers Band. Photo by Ken Krakow

Looking around I saw autographs everywhere and on everything from some of America’s top music artists. People from all walks of life and musical genres. This was IT! Food and music and people–not politics. The wealthy–and the everyday folks–had dined here for decades at the restaurant founded by “Mama Louise” Hudson and the late Inez Hill for fried chicken.

Imagine the impact on our country if we really grasped the value we all bring to the table, including the kitchen table. Kitchen tables are for more than eating: we discuss politics and social issues but we also talk to our friends and family.

Maybe America’s best hope is not in laws, programs, campaign ads, or robo-calling. What if it’s our attitude? Have we been programmed to knee jerk and take the “race bait” every time someone throws a “race card”? Now, even if we’ve been programmed to buy into this insidious way of responding to the world around us, I think we can “re-program” our attitudes, so that WE–as individuals–will look for the very best in others– as individuals.

American Innovation is powered by “E Pluribus Unum.” We are the one of many, who together have generated the greatest medical breakthroughs, aerospace discoveries, industrial & technological advancements of any nation.  We have always benefited from embracing the contributions of the many, thus converging into our American Greatness.

Honestly, we don’t need government to solve racial divides, we need to stop allowing the government to create them. Let’s Make America, America Again; wouldn’t that be great?

Rev. L.W. Gainey
Twitter @RevGainey