Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"There Go the Dregs of Humanity"

Dear Readers,

I think one of the funniest lines in television was, “There go the dregs of humanity.”

It was a statement by Larry, of “I’m Larry, and this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl” Newhart show fame. Larry and his brothers just opened their new café in the small Vermont town close to the Stratford Inn run by Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart).

The café was visited by a group of work crew prisoners. As the prisoners were departing the cafe Larry uttered the famous line. I laugh hysterically every time I hear it, and my stomach bounces trying to hold my laughter in.

You have to get the picture in your mind. Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl were as backwoods as a person can get. An example of this is when Dick and Joanna found out there was a dead body buried in the basement of the Inn the three came with haste, picks, and shovels to dig it out.

Then Dick and Joanna changed their minds about digging out the body and called them up from the basement. The brothers were sorely disappointed. But their disappointment was short-lived when Joanna told them about a dead opossum out by the well. They ran with reckless abandon out of the Inn to dispose of the critter.

Larry, Darryl, and Darryl didn't realize they perhaps were looked on by the Vermont townsfolk as being odd, eccentric, and "the dregs of humanity". That's what made the line so funny.

Today I had a Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Salvation Army in Ashland, Ohio. I parked beside a car, and I kid you not, in which every nook and cranny, front seat and back, save the driver’s seat, was piled with trash of fast food containers and various things I don’t even want to think about. The car owner would not even be able to open the windows without fear of trash blowing out the window.

I did a double take, and later at the end of the meeting found myself joking about the car and the car owner with another participant of the meeting. In essence, not verbally, I pointed out that the car owner was a prime example of the “dregs of humanity”.

I was taken aback by my humor and quickly prayed for God to forgive me. It was an example of a sinner calling another sinner sinful. I found out that the car owner was a woman who had fallen on hard times and lived mostly in her car, and she came to the Salvation Army for socialization and nourishment.

At the Salvation Army I saw people of great contrasts. The Chamber meeting brought business owners and executives decked out in suits and ties as they tried to impress other business owners and executives to purchase their wares, goods, and services.

On the other hand there were people milling about with tattered and disheveled clothing, little education, and not trying to impress anyone. They were there to socialize, play bingo, and eat.

Where do I fit into the scheme of things? I am trying to identify with the elite in society to sell them something. But I really know that for a few breaks and the grace of God it could easily be said of me, "There go the dregs of humanity."

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

See you next time,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cousin Verna

Dear Readers,

Cousin Verna died last week. She lived in Arizona and was ill for many months. I never spent much time with her as she grew up in Kansas and moved to Arizona a number of years ago. The only time I saw her was at three-year Yoder family reunions and other sporadic reunions. 

When I was a young boy I can remember Verna and a friend coming to stay at my family’s house while she attended Bible School at Pleasant View Conservative Mennonite Church. She always had a ready smile and a wry sense of humor. I can remember hunting “snipes” at night when she stayed here, and roasting cashews. What is a snipe anyway? I remember getting sick after eating too many cashews. 

Verna was a light in my life and the life of my family. My family was only sporadic in church attendance at that time and never talked openly about a person having faith in God. I recognized then there was something different about Verna and some of my other Conservative Mennonite relatives. 

Dad and Verna’s dad Jake grew up Amish. I think Dad was the first of his family to leave the Amish church, but he did not leave for religious reasons. I think Uncle Jake, on the other hand, left the Amish and became Conservative Mennonite because they had an emphasis on salvation by faith in Christ. 

It was obvious to me that Uncle Jake, his family, and Cousin Verna were different. They had a ready smile, love, and acceptance of my family. I didn’t know it at the time, but I now know it was Jesus living in them that made them so different. 

I firmly believe Cousin Verna, her family, and many of my other relatives with obvious faith in Christ helped influence me to accept Christ for myself. For that I’m eternally grateful. 

See you next time.