My Reaction To An Interview

My Reaction To An Interview 

 A political pundit was interviewing an atheist, and I found myself becoming angry with the remarks of the latter. Of course, my anger had something to do with my Christian faith – a childhood faith that went through some amendments in adulthood. The remarks by the atheist were rude, stark, and outrageously arrogant, spoken with a sharp tongue and matter of fact nuance that grew my anger.

I understand that people have a right to their beliefs – that’s one of the marvelous gifts in our democracy. The atheist has that right to believe what he/she wishes, but, in my world, most atheists are ‘know-it-all’ blowhards who can really get under the skin of a not so patient individual – of me I speak. This guy of whom I reference being interviewed, I don’t remember his name, don’t care to remember, is not worth my remembering. The guy was asked a simple question: “Why do you offend people of faith with your atheist displays?” In one breath the atheist said, “I don’t care if I offend you or not.” In another breath, he said, “You can believe what you want, but don’t force it down our throats.” The Interviewer pointed out that atheists made up maybe 2 ½ per cent of the US population, that Christians made up 70 to 80 per cent, that Christians were not forcing anything on the atheists, but more the opposite.

The give and take lasted for several minutes, and I simply wanted to throttle the atheist – mostly because of his looks and his rude and arrogant behavior. Yes, I know this makes me sound like a not very Christian guy, but you had to be there.

Here’s my take. There are very likely pleasant enough atheists with whom I could converse, even like and find some areas of agreement, but many of those I’ve encountered carry this arrogance and egotistical mindset. I could much better understand an agnostic’s views of doubt about faith, but when someone categorically tells me there is no God, that life is no interlude to another dimension after death, that they are right and those of faith are wrong and rather stupid, I have no use for that individual. Whatever that makes me, I accept the description.

We live in a great country where there is great diversity of opinion and views on many matters, and I’m all for that. I just do not like arrogant and rude people suggesting to me that they know with certainty that their total lack of faith in a higher order trumps my faith. My faith is with me, wavers at time, some days wish it were stronger and without any sense of doubt, but all I have to do is remind myself of my own creation, that precise and methodical nine months (give or take) of intricate phases which brought me screaming into the world. I remind myself of the order in the universe and of a man named Jesus who lived among us, shared with us parables for living a good life, a man without sin and was said to be the Son of God. I remind myself of all the cultures of the world who embrace their God, perhaps not always by the same Scriptures and/or Strictures.

At this time of the year, our country gives people paid holidays to enjoy the day we call Christmas. Some of us buy Christmas trees. Some buy ‘Holiday’ trees. Some of us say “Merry Christmas” and some say “Happy Winter Solstice.” It seems remarkable to me that anyone could pick this time of year for mean spirited commentary when children and grown-ups find in the snow and fresh winter air some modest hope for our tomorrows – even, beyond our mortal tomorrows.

Many people are easy to like and enjoy, but, between you, me, and the proverbial fence post, I’m generally not too fond of atheists.

Hopefully, your Christmas was all you wished it to be. May your new year of 2014 be happy and prosperous.

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Happy Birthday, Jesus!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

Though it seems likely you were born in April, the date of December 25 has become the date much of the world has designated as the day we celebrate your birth. Here in the United States, most of our citizens enjoy your birthday as a paid holiday. On your birthday, many of us celebrate by gift sharing with our family and friends, participating in a special tradition of giving for which you are so very well known.

We do not know of every word you spoke and every deed that was rendered. Much of your living our historical experts cannot account, but from what has been recorded we know that you were unlike any other person on our earth at that time, that you spoke to the masses in parables for living an honorable and charitable life, that you spoke of God, your Father, and His Kingdom. We know that you were reviled and hated by the Roman rulers and were considered an enemy to their pagan icons and political agenda. At the end we know how you suffered from the stones and thorns of hate, how you carried the heavy cross to Golgotha, there to be fixed by nails to that cross and die a slow and painful death.

Some among us doubt your message of faith and the Kingdom of God, your Father. Some doubt that you died there on Calvary’s cross for the sins of humankind. Some even mock your words and arrogantly pronounce all your goodness as mere mythology. But they are few, dear Jesus, and there are a great majority of us who have read of your short time among us, believe in your message, who are not without sin but strive to grow our faith and believe in the miracle of creation – that incredible and meticulous nine months of a child’s birth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the great order of the universe.

Our world today has changed not so much from the world you entered, dear Jesus. We still have those political and iconic problems throughout all parts of our planet. We have our ‘machines’ now that make our lives so easily disposed to sloth and idleness. We have our poor, our wealthy, and our in-be-tweens. We have created a bureaucratic welfare system that keeps so many of our people dependent on a government’s treasury, that makes it more sensible to stay at home and receive other people’s money than to work for it themselves. Yet, we do have those who truly need the goodness and help that comes from the heart, those teachings you passed along to us.

We still have famine and wars, so many prophesied in the Bible. We seem to be coming to some end-point, Jesus. We have terrorists who wish to kill us because they believe it part of their religious mandates. It appears we do not learn from the lessons of history. The world seems to be imploding while the good minds among us seek a paradigm for peace and prosperity.

So, in celebrating your birth, dear Jesus, I wish this long birthday card was a testimonial to how far we have come in loving our neighbor and honoring all of your Father’s ‘Ten Commandments’. Our knowledge is exploding. There are lots of new machines and toys for living, maybe even some tiny robots that go roaming around in our bodies to extend our lives, but, for good will and love, I fear we have not come so far since that awful day you were nailed on the cross near Jerusalem.

For me, Jesus, I’m trying to grow my faith, endeavoring to be better than I am, wanting that eternal life in that great Kingdom by your Father’s House.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

 Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas, 2013

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The Lonesome Train Whistle

A moment of sweet reflection came to me – just wanted to share it with you.

My wonderful grandfather was a section foreman on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad line. In youth I lived for awhile in the old gray two-story section house with my grandparents. The house was no more than a hundred yards from the railroad tracks. Lying in bed each night as the train whistle blew in the distance, my mind would consider where it could be my life was leading me.

The sound of the train whistle has always brought to me an inscrutable soft sadness.

Hope you enjoy the reflection…

The Lonesome Train Whistle

 

It always came during the night

as mind was most vulnerable,

as fancy replaced reality.

It came and brought tears

of truths that were days

of poignant youth.

It came whispering of all

dreams yet possible to heal

pangs of longing.

It came on evening’s air,

took me to a place

ordained for me to go.

Its long mournful wail

lingered long and tender

like a mother’s feathery kiss.

The sound echoed long, its final

note lost in space

not known by me,

And my days would be softly

blessed in the verity

of those splendid sounds,

That, indeed, life was yet

to be out there on the

lonesome train’s whistle.

BRC – 12/12/2003

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Ryman Auditorium And Other Memories

Ryman Auditorium And Other Memories

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Born in East Tennessee among the strings and twangs of country music, imitating the pleasantly nasal sounds of the great Roy Acuff, George Jones, Hank Williams, all the great performers who performed on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, I never visited the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville through my adolescent years. Instead, Mom took me to Knoxville’s WNOX radio station’s Mid-day Merry-Go-Round and to Saturday night’s Tennessee Barn Dance. These shows, created and hosted by Lowell Blanchard were in essence the training ground for eventual stars of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, stars like Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, and Archie Campbell (‘GranPappy’). I remember Bill Monroe from Western Kentucky appearing on these shows with his popular ‘Blue Grass’ music. In my memory the Knoxville radio stations WNOX and WROL stayed true to their regional roots in country music while the Grand Ole Opry would become more progressive.

Country music had a vast audience and there were those who cared little for it. Me, I was born in the environment, watched some of my friends gather and ‘make music’ under a tree on starry nights, with crickets backing up their guitars, fiddles, and mandolins. My instrument was my voice. Although shy I warmed up to the music and sang, mimicking the twang voices of my early country singers and heroes. Chording on a guitar was about as good as I would ever get on the guitar.

Now fast forwarding to Thanksgiving week of this year, six lovely people of our family visited wife Julie and me here on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee…son Rick, daughter-in-law Angie, two bee-yute-ee-ful former Baltimore Ravens grand-daughters Chase and Paige and their spouses, Bryan and Rob. On their ‘want to do’ list was to visit Nashville, the Ryman Auditorium, and some of the popular neon honky-tonks in MusicCity.

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L to R: Chase, Bryan, Rick, Paige, and Rob (Angie missing)

Nashville, Tennessee is beautiful and MusicCity is likely humming seventeen of the twenty-four hours of any day. After carefully finding our parking space within easy walking distance to all the many sites, we first visited the Ryman Auditorium. We sat in the acoustically superb auditorium and listened and watched a historical perspective piece presented by Trisha Yearwood, while people closer to the stage waited to get their pictures taken with guitar or banjo in hand… Some even sang a song for their family’s recording. We then went on a tour of the entire facility, visiting various dressing rooms of Opry’s stars, their pictures lining the walls, and finally on the stage where so many greats entertained us in the past – Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, even Bob Hope, Richard Nixon, and many other distinguished entertainers and celebrities. Pictures were taken and we finally took leave of Ryman for the shopping and honkey-tonks in the area.

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Downtown Nashville

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Rick and I chose not to go shopping and sought the warmth of The Wild Horse Bar where we drank a large souvenir glass of beer, watched the crowd, waited for the family members to join us, and talked about what we had seen at the Ryman Auditorium and about family members not with us. The girls and boys ultimately joined us and had their own souvenir drinks. Our time there among the crowd and noise was special. After taking many pictures, we finally had our souvenir glasses, fruit-jars, and mugs packaged by one of the courteous bar ladies and we left The Wild Horse.

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Pics L-R: Rick – Julie, Angie, Rick, and me – Julie and me

Julie and I decided to adjourn to the van and let the kids go off for just a bit more honky-tonk hopping on their own. It was not long before we were back on the freeway headed back to the Cumberland Plateau. At home, we watched the Baltimore Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 22-20 amid Rick’s sometime boisterous encouragement. All in all it had been a most joyous day, a definite ‘keeper’ for our memory vaults.

Upon their departure the next day, the void left was palpable. Even George (our cat) cried at their leaving. Julie, George, and I settled back into our routines, blessed by the visit of family and the memories they brought.

As far as country music, it is still an amazing medium to capture moments of the heart and soul. For me today, however, I listen mostly to the soft melodic sounds of balladeers and the poignant movements of Bach, Brahms, Hadyn, and the classical masters. I’m not sure what that necessarily means – a country boy who loves both the music of his youth and the precise music of the past.

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The Ghostly Shroud

The Ghostly Shroud

The fog hangs heavy like a gray ghostly shroud, the bluff and canyon below all hidden from the human eye. The nearby leafless hardwood trees outside the window stand bent, tall, and eerily ominous like lonely wasteland creatures. Occasionally they sway with a slight breeze as though shaking off the winter chill. Those spindly trunks, limbs, and deck rails are the only visible objects within one hundred feet of the house.

So what are the moods and story lines that come to the mind in the bleak environment where now I sit?

Depending on variables in a person’s make-up, the mood can be anxious, depressive, or downright scary. He/she might want lights on throughout the house to offset the gray of day and mood. How would one describe that personality? Perhaps someone deprived or mistreated in childhood? Locked in a closet by a mean babysitter? Bullied on the school’s playground? Perhaps the personality represents someone from a broken home who never quite found the necessary adjustment level? Maybe the wiring is somehow wrong?

These are the people who will be followed through existence by the ghostly shrouds of their early lives. They can be artists, writers, criminals, movers and shakers, but they will always come to a point along the way where they feel helpless and alone. If they are lucky they will live through all the negative obstacles thrown in their path, accomplish, fail, and survive without too many scars.

How about the personality that thrives in this enclosed environment and in practically any situation? Perhaps this person had a happy childhood with few negative influences and can survive all but the direst of circumstances.

They need no lights turned on in the house. They are the calm, the patient, good parents, good leaders who go on and lead our corporations and even our countries. They, too, can be artists, writers, criminals, movers and shakers.

The story lines are endless – mostly of a sinister cast. Some authors could write a romantic tale with candlelight and wine in front of a fireplace, with two lovers, of course. Others might write about a mother and children waiting with concern and worry the arrival of a father returning home from a business trip. There are so many scenarios the mind can conjure, so many elements of doom and gloom, fantasy, intrigue, funny or satirical situations. Superfluous though it must seem the writer has so much in life from which to draw.

So often is the time when I open the laptop and write a dramatic fictional paragraph about an event that has recently come via the news or a random thought that flashed in the mind. That paragraph might well be the beginning of a new novel or short story…perhaps not destined for greatness, but, at the very least, I’m doing something I love to do – write.

The point of all this is simply my rambling, evoked by the ghostly shroud that surrounds my day. I’ve given you nothing but my idle mind wandering. Now, finished for the moment, I’m going to get up and turn on all the lights. After all, it is 4:00 PM here in the southeast and the darkness will soon blend with the ghostly shroud.

Spring cannot come too soon for me. Even then, it will be necessary for me to turn on lights, perhaps more frequently than most.

You see! I took these simple thoughts that came to me through the fog and held you spellbound for a few minutes…or, not! J

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