Posts Tagged ‘ Religion ’

HOW’S ABOUT SOME EASTER BUNNY HUMOR FOR ALL?

THE HUMAN RACE

 

BROTHER CAMPBELL’S SERMONETTES

ON THE BILLBOARD

 

     When I ran across Brother Thomas Lee Campbell, the Church of Christ minister was 74.   He had just climbed a rickety 12-foot ladder. He was standing on the ledge of a church billboard replacing one of his “sermonettes” in the City of Hawthorne, California.

     For 18 years, the former Pepperdine University professor had been climbing that ladder weekly, introducing potential parishioners to philosophic humor on his billboard.

     He gleaned his sermonettes from conversations, magazines, books and anywhere else in the universe he could find them. Here are a few, which might indicate that Brother Campbell was a guy who enjoyed life and, despite his religious convictions, had no fear of bringing a few laughs into a world where many have forgotten how to take things lightly.

     We’ll begin with his favorite sermonette:     “Need exercise? Try kneeling.”

     “Biting remarks are often the result of snap judgements.”

     “Biscuits and sermons are both improved by shortening.”

     “A weak moment with the bottle can mean several weeks in the jug.”

     “Don’t be afraid to swallow your pride — it’s non-fattening.”

     “Obesity in this country is really widespread.”

     “Anybody who says life’s a bowl of cherries is bananas!”

     “Remember: Life begins not with a kiss but with a slap!”

     “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”

     “Cars are not the only things recalled by their maker.”

     “Being young is a fault which improves daily.”

     “Bragging: loud patter of little feats.”

     “Temper gets us into trouble; pride keeps us there.”

     “Shortest traffic sermon: Keep right!”

     “Every family tree has some sap in it!”

     “God honors no drafts where there are no deposits.”

     “Be sure the tune is worth playing before tooting your own horn.”

     “Pity the child whose dad is more concerned about his golf swing than his offspring.”

     “Kindness is the language which the deaf hear and the blind see.”

     “Taxes are staggering, but they never go down.”

     “Many things are opened by mistake — especially the mouth!”

     “If you aren’t pulling your weight, you’re probably pushing your luck.”

     “Life’s like an onion. We peel off one layer at a time and sometimes we cry.”

     “A spouse with horse sense never becomes a nag.”

     “First they thought the world was flat, then round. Now some think it’s crooked.”

     During Brother Campbell’s ministry, which at the time had reached 56 years, he had seen a “great deal of happiness and sadness.” Religion, he noted, “doesn’t take away your problems. It just simply gives you the strength to face up to them and endure them.”

     The trouble with the human race, he said, is we have a tendency to “magnify the faults of people many times over, but fail to consider their off-setting virtues. I’ve seen individuals who developed from seemingly nothing into tremendous giants of usefulness.”

     Had he ever lost faith in God?

     “No. Never in God. I’ve lost faith in myself, alright.”

     How does he look at life?

     “You can’t take people for granted. You have to look at them every day as a new person. You shouldn’t hold grudges against people you’ve known in years past because people change. They aren’t the same today as they were yesterday. That’s right, people do change! Continually.”

      HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!  HAPPY LIFE, TOO!

     — Boots LeBaron —

LIFE’S MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

THE HUMAN RACE

WHAT IF?

What if the Supreme Being was an abused woman?

What if Charles Darwin had just been kidding about evolution?

What if political campaigns were conducted with integrity?

What if Viagra was a placebo?

What if Armageddon was coming next week?

What if all religious leaders took vows of poverty?

What if intelligent design was scientific fact?

What if St. Peter had to install metal detectors?

What if there was no life after death?

What if God had His own Facebook on the Internet?

What if Shakespeare was a plagiarist?

What if Purgatory wasn’t such a hellhole after all?

What if Man was a failed extraterrestrial test-tube experiment?

What if atheists leased offices in Vatican City?

What if humanity ran out of water?

What if gays outnumbered heterosexuals?

What if Pablo Picasso had decided to be a bail bondsman?

What if euthanasia was a legal alternative to convalescent homes?

What if anti-pollution activists controlled oil-drilling rigs?

What if President Barack Obama was white?

What if political photo-ops were outlawed?

What if sharks could be found only in the sea?

What if all the poverty stricken could dine free at Denny’s?

What if Adam and Eve refused to sample the forbidden fruit?

What if pork-barrel spending was strictly a hog’s nightmare?

What if dock workers didn’t cuss?

What if prescription drugs were cost friendly?

What if Jesus Christ appeared as an anchorman on TV?

What if jurors came void of preconceived notions?

What if Hooter’s was a sanctuary for endangered owls?

What if using religion to win votes was a felony?

What if there was no McDonald’s?

What if pomposity was a crime punishable by water-boarding?

What if lobbyists couldn’t buy votes on Capitol Hill?

What if Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson were playing baseball today?

What if women earned salaries equal to their male counterparts?

What if there was a pill to cure greed?

What if all racial bigots woke up with black or brown faces?

What if The Pope would help curb overpopulation?

What if 72 virgins was basically a heavenly marketing ploy?

What if terrorism wasn’t empowered by religious extremism?

What if slumlords had to live in their own squalor?

What if Chanel No. 5 was a 99 Cents Only Store item?

                        — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

THIS GLADIATOR HAS BATTLED LIFE’S TRUE SCOUNDRELS

THE HUMAN RACE

FOR FOUR UNPRECEDENTED DECADES, REV. JOHN R. CALHOUN

HAS SERVED ONE CHURCH     


     My favorite gladiator isn’t Russell Crowe (Maximus), Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) or Brad Pitt (Achilles). It’s Rev. John R. Calhoun. All 5-foot-7-inches of him. The villains he’s crossed sabers with over the past half century as a minister and religious scholar, are death, degradation, greed, violence, drug addiction, loneliness, hypocrisy, racism and heartbreak.

     Let’s see Hollywood top that.

     On Sunday (March 15, 2015) he will be named minister emeritus of the Manhattan Beach Community Church where he had served as senior minister for 40 years. (He retired in 2010) During that period he married and baptized a flock of kids. Including those belonging to my wife, JoAnne, and I.

     As a religious scholar, he also coped with the risque cartoons I drew of him. (as illustrated)  So John Robinson Calhoun maintained a sense of humor about himself and the world he lives in.

     Since his battles on behalf of others are for God’s eyes only, nobody knows precisely how many knock-down-drag-outs he’s won or lost during his long tenure as the senior minister of the Manhattan Beach Community Church.  

     As one who identifies himself as spiritual, and facetiously as a heathen, I interviewed this caring son of a congregational minister from Billingham, Washington a number of years ago.

     Here are his words:

     “Life is hard. It’s difficult, complex, intricate. You have to be awful brave to get through it because there are so many disillusionments, disappointments — things that are really hurtful.

     “Tragedy comes to all of us. God doesn’t single out people to punish. When your expectations, hopes and dreams are dashed, you have to keep on keepin’ on.

     “We live in a very violent world. It would be nice if this was a kinder and gentler place without war, crime or greed. God is not responsible for the man-made problems.  

     “My heroes aren’t athletes, movie stars, politicians or corporate icons. My heroes are average people who deal with a wide variety of tough issues. I know their stories. They are the bravest.

     “You’d be surprised at the grief I’ve seen. The first rule of being a minister is to be able to share intimate thoughts, to keep a confidence, to be forgiving, not judgmental. I’ve tried to be that way.

     “In every life there are tragedies that seem to have no logical answer. Life is a mystery. It’s unpredictable. We all search for reasons for our personal problems. On this side of Heaven, we may never know the answer. Maybe on the other side more light will be shed on the subject.

     “I believe strongly in the long run; that the final outcomes belong to God. I try to take God more seriously than myself.

     “Years ago I attended a memorial service in Maine for a fundamentalist friend who had fallen into a river and drowned.  People at the service blamed his death on ‘the will of God” or said that ‘God needed him more.’

     “I think my friend was just careless.

     “There are many things that people attribute to God that aren’t attributable to God. The world is as it is. There are difficulties and adversities we can’t control.     

     “God’s agenda and our agenda sometimes don’t coincide. But if we put our shoulder to God’s agenda, good things can happen.

     “Like everyone else, I’ve experienced good times and bad times. What helps me keep the faith is I have very low expectations. I don’t think God is going to solve our problems. We are quite capable of working out most of our dilemmas.

     “When people disappoint you, it’s all right to be aggravated. You can love people but you don’t have to like everybody. Those who have aggravated me, I can see the tragedies in their lives that make them upset with life. Many times when they hurt others, they do so because they are sad and disillusioned with their own lives. If they take out their frustrations on me, I don’t take it personally. There’s an old Arab proverb: ‘The dogs may bark but the caravan continues on.’

     “I try not to be judgmental. We all fall short of our expectations. For the elderly — and I guess I now fall in that category — life becomes more harsh, more difficult to deal with.     “In spite of everything, we must maintain a sense of humor. You can’t take life too personally. Now that I’m 78 (he said recently), I’ve found that old age is highly overrated. It’s not the Promised Land.

     “You don’t need to take yourself so seriously. As a minister, I’ve always seen myself as just part of the gang. We all fall short of our expectations and must face our own woes.

     “Culture and society has changed — not all for the good. Life has become more impersonal than personal. Yet life is filled with small victories. We’re all in the same boat rowing up stream against the current.”

     Over the years, I’ve peeked into the conscious of John Calhoun. At times I’ve found pride, loneliness, humility, a liberal bent and a passion to make others laugh. He comes with a philosophic intellectualism that’s fueled by a sense of Godliness.

     It allows him to comprehend his own inadequacies as a mortal and battle relentlessly for anybody he can help.

     Yeah, active or retired, old John R. Calhoun is still my favorite gladiator.

Boots LeBaron —

ODE TO BERT LEBARON, HOLLYWOOD STUNTMAN

THE HUMAN RACE  

 

ODE TO MY DAD, A SWASHBUCKLING ACTOR-STUNTMAN


     

 

Buried under piles of paper, I had just found the eulogy I had written for my dad, Bert LeBaron, who had died under mysterious circumstances on a handball court at the Hollywood Y.M.C.A. on March 3, 1956. At his memorial service, Rev. John C. Donnell had read these words before a packed house inside a musty chapel at Callanan mortuary in Hollywood, California:

 

     By instinct I hold back the tears, for I am a man of twenty-three years. And a man should be strong physically and emotionally. That’s what he taught me and that’s what I believe.

     He was my dad. He’s dead now, but his lessons are beginning to come to life. We all make mistakes. But today we remember his good deeds.

     It’s hard to be a poor man and a proud one, too, but he was both.

     A man’s body broken down into the chemical elements is worth 98 cents, but his soul, personality, and experiences with life can’t be bought at any price.

     He had been poor, rich, strong, young, and old. He had seen war, death, life, happiness and misery. He had loved and had been loved. He was truly a man in every sense of the word.

     His friends respected him for himself, not for his material position in life. I loved him for the irrefutable love and respect he gave me. He was warm and understanding. I felt secure in his presence.

     My dad was in the motion picture business for over 35 years. It was his life and he loved it. He was part of Hollywood and Hollywood was part of him. He was always waiting for the “big break” that never came. “Things are quiet now, but wait till next month!” he’d say.

     He was a great athlete, active in sports all of his life. His reflexes and coordination were beyond reproach. I know, because a week before his death, he beat me at handball. He died at the game.

     An adventurous soul and an aged shell cannot survive together in this life. If there is a life beyond death, he will have his young body and will be unburdened once again… I’m grateful to have had a father like Bert LeBaron, Hollywood stuntman.  

 

                          Signed: Boots

RABBI KAHANE LEARNED TO SMILE DESPITE THE HOLOCAUST

HUMAN RACE

RABBI KAHANE WAS A MAN OF WISDOM.

     For some, wisdom doesn’t come easy. Lots of people go through life with a half-a-thimble full. I knew a rabbi who could fill a barrel with his brand of knowledge collected over a lifetime. Seated amongst an early-morning gathering of mostly Christians sprinkled with other denominations at the Manhattan Beach Community Church, I told Rabbi Leon Kahane who was the lecturer that he was a man of wisdom. His reply: “Tell that to my wife. She makes me sleep in the garage!”

     Wisdom grows with pain and a touch of improv humor.

     Leon was a youngster growing up in Poland when in the mid-1930s, he said, “Germany brought anti-Semitism” into his country. “The writing was on the wall. We were a bright people, but our attitude was, ‘God will help us, don’t worry!’ We were sitting like passive ducks floating in a pond.”

     As a youngster, the rabbi had harrowing experiences evading the Nazi troops during the Holocaust. Hiding in bunkers, forests and once at a farm house half submerged in human feces, he wound up as the only Holocaust survivor of the entire Kahane family.

     He was a teenager when in 1943 on Yom Kippur he was hiding nearby when he heard the shots that killed his brother Jacob. His mother, father and relatives were all taken to death camps.

     The memory of a pleasant childhood that erupted in tragedy, plus finding the courage and inner strength to survive, eventually brought Leon and his wife, Peppa, to America.

     As refugees with a limited command of the English language, it was a lifestyle far removed from Poland. The fear, the heartbreaking emptiness of being wrenched from your loving parents by Hitler’s Nazis during the Holocaust when more than six-million European Jews were systematically killed is beyond my comprehension.

     How did this gentle, compassionate, mentally strong man, who in his late eighties died in 2011, manage to live with memories of such genocidal atrocities? Although his story of survival is poignantly horrific, it was a World War II tragedy suffered by untold millions who have their own nightmares to cope with.

     “When tragic memories enter my thoughts I hear my father’s words, ‘Be an overcomer!’,” he had told me. “It boosts my spirit and doesn’t allow me to be stuck in self-pity.”

     Another meaningful weapon he used to cope with unforgettable recollections of escaping the Nazi troops during the invasion of Poland was a sense of humor.

     “That’s how Jewish people survive.

     “Suicide is not a virtue. Forgiveness is. Yet I can’t forgive the Nazis for their vice. I owe that to the people who were massacred not to forget.”

     At the age of five, Leon began studying the Scriptures. The results of his never-ending examination of the holy words were, “You live up to the values of the Bible — serving God and others.”

     At war’s end, with anti-Semitism still rampant in Poland, Leon had joined hundreds of Jewish men, women and children fleeing his country on foot along “secret roads” in total darkness across mountains and valleys. Although the fate of their long journey was unknown, their goal was to reach the Holy Land.

     It was at a refugee camp in Italy where he was reunited with a pretty brunette named Peppa Gastfreund. Three days later they were married. Prior to that, they had met only briefly at a kibbutz in Poland.

     “My wife has been married to me for 63 years,” said the rabbi. “I have been married to her for 126 years and have the scars to prove it. Of course, they are all heart-shaped.”

     Catch that sense of humor?

     From his bucket Leon the Rabbi, a tall, slender man who has seen healthier days, poured his inspirational words willingly and unaffected.

     I listened as he addressed a gathering of intellectually hungry Christians — each searching for their own solutions to life’s problems. Impressed by his simple yet profound logic, they were also entertained by the obvious humor buried in his irony.

     He joked about the non-believer who announced, “Thank God I’m an atheist.” He spoke of greed: “If more is better, then whatever you possess is not enough.”

     For more than four decades the Rabbi had labored diligently on the words he delivered from the pulpit. With obvious pride, he claimed he had never repeated a sermon.

     What’s the secret behind the popularity of his spiritual and light-hearted words presented to diverse believers?

     “I’m talking to myself,” he said. “People just happen to be there to hear it.”

   At one small gathering, with the help of a blackboard, he explained the difference between two religious factions. Traditional fundamentalism assumes that every story in the Bible is “literally correct.”   Non-traditional progressivism, he said, allows for “interpretation of the scriptures.”   

     Has the Rabbi ever questioned the existence of God? Although he gave no yes-or-no answer, he offered this response:   

     “I asked Him: ‘Where were you? Why didn’t you show up?'”           Then with humor Leon answered for God: “‘Look, I gave you brains… Intellect! What else do you want?'”

     When I read him a farewell toast from my Italian friend, “If I don’t see you again, have a happy death,” Leon’s instant reply was, “Death cannot be happy because you die alone.”

     Here are a few more Rabbi Kahaneisms:

     “We must have an anchor in life. If not, life becomes iffy.

     “The force of life is stronger than the force of death.

     “No matter how long we live, it’s too brief. So there must be a goal.   

     “Die doing something worthwhile.”

Boots LeBaron

Chapter 1 of my nearly finished Semi Autobiographical memoir is avail below. Tell me what you think.

https://bootslebaronsworld.com/2015/01/18/conversation-with-a-dead-man-5/

Also

In Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE,  Rabbi Kahane is one of many features, essays and light poetry available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback. The popular work features humorous and inspirational views of life, death, love, courage, showbiz, war, the workplace and woman’s rights.

‘A ROSE IS A ROSE ISN’T ALWAYS A ROSE!’

THE HUMAN RACE

 

WHAT’S BEEN FUN, SAD, BAD, ARMOR-CLAD AND RAD?

 

Thanks O’Mystical One

For the times I’ve had.

It’s been fun, sad, bad,

Armor-clad and surely rad.

 

My adventures in living

Have been somewhat surreal.

I’ve made my own luck.

That’s my big deal.

 

Talking to strangers

Is my M.O.

What they’ve taught  me,

I want you to know.

 

Making words flow easy

Has been a mental strain.

I’m proud of the thoughts

That tumble from my brain.

 

The philosophies you’ll find

In the pages of my book,

Might help you face a society

submerged in gobbledygook.

 

I want you to laugh,

I’d like you to cry.

We’re all here together

Until the day we die.

 

After that, who really knows?

As my favorite psychologist says,

“A rose is a rose

Isn’t always a rose.”

— Boots LeBaron —

(Boots’ Kindle and Amazon paperback

contains many human-interest stories,

interspersed with essays, light poetry

 and punctuated by humor and irony)

IN THE MIDST OF WAR, MEDIC DELIVERS BABY

THE HUMAN RACE

 

FROM GEN. MacARTHUR’S WAR TO HELPING A POOR KID

 “Respect the living, pray for the dead,

and try to honor those you leave behind.”

                         Vince Migliazzo,

                               World War II Army Medic

 

     Many years ago, a poverty-stricken teenager named John Arrillaga who had nothing to wear for his senior class photo at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif. So vice-principal Vince Migliazzo not only gave him the shirt off his back, but removed his tie and blazer in exchange for the youngster’s letterman sweater, which he wore for the entire day.       

     The irony: John Arrillaga is now a billionaire. And he won’t let Vince forget it.

     At a recent high school reunion, the real estate mogul reminded Vince of his act of benevolence and asked the retired educator, “What kind of shopping mall can I buy you?” Of course, he was joking.

     “No big deal,” recalled Vince who’s now in his late 80s. “John and his family were surviving on bags of potatoes.”

     America was in the midst of World War II when Vince at 18 was drafted into the Army. Serving as a medic, he first experienced the fear of death when he came across the bodies of four dead GI’s on the beach. That was during the 1944 invasion of the island of Leyte in the Philippines.

     “Until that moment,” he said, “life in the army for me was like being in the Boy Scouts. After a while, you kind of learn to blot out the bad stuff and just do your job.” Yet he still remembers the stench of death, the cries of wounded soldiers.

     In the midst of a crowd of GIs and Filipino fighters, Vince witnessed Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s historic return to the Philippines on Oct. 20, 1944. The general, he recalled, came off a stranded whale boat (landing barge) and waded ashore at the Island of Leyte’s Red Beach. Despite periodic sniper fire, MacArthur climbed onto the bed of a signal-corps truck and made his memorable speech: “People of the Philippines, I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil.”

     Vince recalls the general’s speech actually began with: “This is the voice of freedom…” Although he didn’t witness the “reenactment” of the arrival, the scuttle-butt was MacArthur waded to shore a second time up the beach from the original site later that day or the following day. “But I didn’t see it,” he emphasized.

     But he did witness the ravages of war. In Ormoc, where two regiments of the 24th Infantry Division bore the blunt of the battle of Breakneck Ridge, in three weeks 700 Americans were killed.

     In Carigara, a northern coastal town in Leyte, as the war raged around him, the young Italian-American medic helped deliver a baby girl named Leah Cabales. For decades after the war he communicated with the girl and her family.

     During the battle of Jolo, an island in the southwest Philippines, just before he was struck in the back by shrapnel, Pvt. Jiminez, a mortally wounded buddy, fell across him. “When I went to push him off of me, my hand sunk into the cavity of his wound. I’ll never forget feeling the warm blood.”

     The lesson he brought back from the war was this: “Respect the living, pray for the dead, and try to honor those you leave behind…”

     Former Tech Sgt. Vince Migliazzo, a Purple Heart veteran, is one of a dwindling number of living World War II infantrymen, many whom seldom speak of the painful experiences they encountered so many years ago.

     “Every person, young and old, who goes through the hell of combat, whether it’s World War II or in Afghanistan, must live with those memories for the rest of their lives.”

     Whether you’re giving a student the shirt off your back, trying to save the life of a dying GI, helping deliver a baby in a combat zone, or “just” carting bodies from ravaged battlegrounds, the realities of self-sacrifice remain forever imbedded in the hearts and minds of every person regardless of their silence.

     Vince and his wife, Beverly, reside in Los Angeles. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

 

 

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