"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reading is alive and well

It’s not that I’m a particularly cynical person, but occasionally my faith in humankind is renewed in an “epiphany” sort of way. Once again this has happened and caused me to feel better about the future of society. Ready for the startling news? People still like to read! Yes, I have learned that people still like to read and it has made me sleep much better in this techno/iPod/Kindle/e-book world..
Media websites would have us think that printed materials are on the way out of existence. To hear them tell it, in the near future all newspapers, books, magazines, textbooks, etc. will be obtained through the internet or other electronic means. As a writer, journalist, and lover of books this is most distressing news to hear. To me, nothing is better than holding a newspaper in my hands where I can tear out articles or other items of interest to my heart’s content. I can also fold the paper in all manner of ways to work a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or a word jumble while lounging in the recliner. To make it even better is to have that nice cup of coffee ready while reading the paper. I feel even stronger about a printed book. I just get all giddy when I have a free evening (or ecstatic if it is a weekend) and can curl up in the sunroom, on the deck, at a mountain cabin, or at the beach with a good book.
Now, that I’ve laid out my thoughts, here’s where my epiphany begins. I recently started to work as a part-time Library Assistant at the Cochran Library in Stockbridge. Library work is something I did before my retirement at Georgia State University; however the more community-based library has proven far different and much more exciting than the University setting. I see small children coming in by the droves with glee to get their first library card and to check out their “own” books. Parents come to the various events at all the Henry County libraries with their children as they learn to do yoga, make smoothies, view movies and have book discussions. Adults of all generations are coming in to grab the latest novels and to check out many of the old classics. Educational DVD’s fly through the circulation desk as people learn to speak other languages, yoga and other wellness programs, as well as touring foreign countries. The shelves full of audio books stay in constant use as patrons are listening to their favorite authors as they travel, commute to work, clean house, or just sit back and listen as the books come to life in the spoken word.
The Henry County Library System is an abundant source of printed materials and a place where you can also use computers or bring your own laptop to access the Wi-Fi network. They are no longer the dark and dreary buildings of musty books and scary librarians, but are now well lit, colorful facilities with comfortable chairs, current newspapers and magazines, plus friendly staff members who can help you with any questions you might have.
Yes, my faith is renewed to see that hundreds of people are daily using the Cochran Library as well as all the libraries in our county. Go check one of the branches out today and find a good book to read.

The gospel according to Jimmy? Go read a good book. There's plenty of great Christian fiction and non-fiction out there. I can certainly give you suggestions as well as a lot of my blogger friends.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Fish with no face

Once upon a time there was a fish. A happy fish doing what fish do…swimming along minding her own business until one day another fish decided she didn’t like the happy fish and swooped down upon her and ate half her face off. Now, I would think that there should be some median point between not liking the happy fish and biting her face half off, however, such are the ways of fish world. Sad to say, this is a true story and even sadder to say, the happy fish (probably no longer quite so happy) continued to live for a period of time with only half a face. I can only imagine how she managed to avoid the little castles, bridges, and other toys with only one eye.
Now before you think this is another one of my “fish tales,” let me assure you that the fish belonged to a friend of mine and I have a picture that I might have to submit as a Times Pet of the Week for your viewing belief.
Once upon a time there was a person. A rather happy person doing what people do…working at their jobs, taking care of a family, yard work, community activities, volunteering, etc. They thought they were minding their own business; however, one day the happy person ticked someone off at work. It may have been an innocent comment made in jest or it may have been a suggestion on how to do their job better. Of course, it could have been a snarky remark about how someone looked or what they had done wrong. Without thinking, the other person lashed out in anger or self-defense and (figuratively) chewed the happy person’s face off.
No longer was the man a happy man. He was wounded, confused, disoriented, and left open for more attacks. Eventually the happy man became a bitter man and began to wound others around him, even his closest family and friends.
We have all been the recipient of an unprovoked attack upon our person. It could be because of our appearance, our beliefs, our work ethics, our politics, or because of how we live. In all honesty, we have probably been on the giving end of some of these same words and attacks at times without realizing the damage we can do.
All scriptures or holy writings instruct in various words the same truth... “Be kind to each other,” “treat others as you want to be treated,” “watch your tongue and actions that they do no harm.” As a Christian, I have certainly done my share of hurtful words and actions; never quite as severe as biting someone’s face off, but just as serious in other ways. Was my image as a believer in God harmed? Sure, it was. Did it do long lasting harm to my witness? I’m sure it did. How did I behave when someone attacked me? Not so great, I admit. Having yourself wounded by another can provoke a retaliation that can also do harm.
I think we all need to calm down and be more tolerant of others. If we use the old adage of counting to ten (or to a hundred) many times we can give advice or suggestions without chewing someone apart. It will probably save a friendship or a working relationship. Just calm down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “is this how I would want to be treated” before speaking. James told us in his letter to, “be quick to hear, slow to speak and be slow to anger.” I’m working on this in my daily life….how about you?
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.