Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

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Another of Life’s Reflections

A few years ago Charles Schulz’s final “Peanuts” strip ran in Sunday papers, the day after the cartoonist died in his sleep in California, at age 77.

While that might not speak volumes to the average reader it does me. Charles Shultz was a man who left a grand legacy of moral, gentle and human glimpses (with humor and pathos) about how his “kids” transpired life. It was a life-long dedication to understatement. It has been rumored that Shultz actually saw himself in the character Charlie Brown. Some have compared me to Linus (don’t go there). I miss the storytelling of Shultz. I miss his gentle reckonings. I miss his predictable reminders of life.

Similarly, some years back I lost another comic hero of my youth. Pogo (an opossum-I think) and other swamp critters messed about in a flat bottom skiff, such was the method of my youthful travel around here. They offered slices of life, told through the mouths of animals far more honest than we are with each other most of the time.

Did I tell you that I have stopped reading the comics? For the most part their humor now escapes me. Some of them I find demeaning, or just down right mean. Beatle Bailey still hops up in this and that paper. It still gives me a chuckle. But for the most part I only occasionally glance at the funnies.

As a matter of fact, other than the Record (which is usually all the news I need to read—for it covers my world), I rarely read any other newspaper. I keep the Record and several regional papers on my computer bookmarks. I can bounce from one to the other to catch up with the necessary obituaries to pastor God’s flock. I also read a few conservative dispatches and a few religious publications the same way.

I began preaching, often sharing with the flock that it was a good study of the world if one kept their Bibles in one hand and a newspaper in the other. It was useful to filter the daily news with the Good News. Well, TV news has helped move me away from the printed page. Lately, with the advent of instant news, I can channel surf and see quipits of things as they unfold upon the world stage. Sometimes I get news overload though. I think it contributes to world stress to have the option of visiting and revisiting, of replaying tragedy.

There is also a plethora of consolidated news and editorial opinion. Truth be known much of what we digest on our stations of choice is actually editorialized quite a bit. It is hard to find an objective contemporary reporter.

My traveler’s ear chases after one PBS radio station to another. I like their news—but mostly I treasure the classical music. It is the fee for my musical tastes.

From the printed page’s beginnings (Germany, about the time of Martin Luther’s reformist beginnings) we have passed to an electronic age. Less and less do we wait for the morning or evening news. Our newspaper reading is now almost recreational, as we have already processed the weight of the world’s affairs almost as they happen. One danger in all this is that we freeze news. In the past giving a day or two to process events some particular resolution might evolve. Not now. We blurt out this and that and persons, nations victims, and heroes, have no chance for recapitulation. So the news is frozen as it was told. No healing or revision can take place.

We used to digest all the news, ads, and upcoming sales and read the comics to catch the irony of political humor. Much of politics these days is not humorous; rather some find it onerous.

That being said, let me lift a banner. No matter how communication changes God’s Holy Word is unaltered. All the news of nations, all the sins of the human race, all the beauty of creation, all the sadness of loss is still ripe for the reading in the Bible. In the Bible we can reflect upon our own personal life’s story. We can still measure what the prophets foretold; and priests, kings, judges and apostles lived through.

Now, the beauty of it all is that I have the Bible on my computer as well. In fact I have a verse program that opens as my first page. It quotes from the story old and asks a question (with click-on answers) to refresh Scripture each time the machine fires up. It is all at my fingertips while I am working. I truly spend less time with the book open, but balanced time with the fingers typing through its holy pages.

I actually am reading more scripture now. It is truly at the center of my workstation. It becomes easier for me to read any news and click over to my Bible program to dash into its larder. I measure things as they are, were and should be. How ever you can read the Word. It is still the freshest printed or computerized book in the world. It will give you a worldview filtered through the Gates of Heaven. Do not abandon its riches.