The Diary of a Redneck Preacher: Croakies, Flip Flops, and Further Dispatches from the Far Side of Pamlico Sound

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28th May 2015

To tell you the truth, I’m thinking about taking a pass on Trinity Sunday. When I say pass, I mean preaching something other than the world’s most complex theological doctrine. It’s not that I don’t want to fool with a convoluted explanation of the unexplainable realities of God in a twenty minute sermon, but I don’t really want to fool with an entangled explanation of the unexplainable realities of God in a twenty minute sermon. Perhaps this is the year to dabble in a simple explanation? The simple explanations, as one age old adage goes, often swerve into the heretical. Despite what some may think, I don’t intentionally jump the heretical line.

As for Trinity Sunday, I’m fascinated by the idea of God’s partnering with humanity. It’s an Old Testament idea going back to Abraham, Moses, and Israel itself. My idea is to take than notion of partnership and apply it to an understanding of the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity. God partners with God, God partners with us, good things happen.

We’re also celebrating our high school and college graduates. Everybody is going to be doing this in the coming weeks. This opens the door to a graduation themed sermon. I’m still weighing this option. Paul is the “Oh They Places You’ll Go” apostle. One could preach the heck out of Ephesians and tie it back in to the perennial Dr. Seuss graduation gift classic.   To be honest, I’m leaning in this direction.

Lunch was good. Fish sticks in the toaster oven. Other than Manhattan project, I think the toaster oven was the best thing to come out of the space program. I couldn’t find the tartar sauce. Inside the refrigerator door I saw mustard, seventeen kinds of salad dressing, mayonnaise, horseradish sauce, fourteen bottles of hot sauce but not tartar sauce I worked it out. The steamed vegetables were the perfect complement to the fish. I need to write a note to myself to put tartar sauce on the shopping list*. One can’t live at the coast and eat fish without the gooey goodness of tartar sauce. The same goes for Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale. We’re out. I drank it all.

I’ve also been thinking about what to do on air tonight. Yes, it’s radio night. (WOVV.org, 90.1 fm at 7pm, just in case I forget) My plan is to talk about the difficulty of translating “cockroach” into German; what happens when third marriages fall apart, and pretentiousness. Yes, that means Kafka, the Beach Boys, and the Four Seasons. Don’t those three go together?

My afternoon looks swamped. I’m doing some counseling and casting a demon out of an engine block. Little Bit is getting an award tonight because of her good grades. I’m praying there as well. Hopefully, the engine block isn’t possessed by anything major. Can’t be late for my little girl.

The fence repair from the other afternoon is appearing to hold. Apparently, I do have skills with wood, hammer, and nails.

Shopping List:
Tartar Sauce
Diet Canada Dry

Food for Thought-Uncertain Descriptions of Grandeur

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Taken past the place,
Where words merit,
You stand before me,
Now the speculation of my verbal intent,
Has been clearly called,
What do I hold?
My uncertain descriptions of grandeur,
Begin to blunder outward,
In aimless migrations,
Around the blossoming edges,
I gaze inward,
While you see beyond,
Me.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Delmont’s Clinically Depressed

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Delmont walked into the bar, three sheets to the nonexistent wind. With no low pressure front in sight, Delmont’s drunkenness was the only metaphorical breeze in town. The air conditioning died three weeks ago and it was hotter than a goat’s butt in a pepper patch. Vernon, the manager of the bar, kept leaving messages for the repair man who lived on the other side of the sound. Despite the fact the woman who works down at the ferry office saw the a/c guy’s obituary in the paper a week ago; Vernon kept calling and leaving increasingly irate messages for a dead man.

Delmont was already good and pickled, marinated in brine and sweat and bourbon and tears; thanks in part to some liquor store gift certificates which subsidized his emotional breakdown. Delmont was also depressed. Before the effects of the cheap bourbon slammed into his central nervous system, he was, according the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (IV) suffering from the stressful events and life changes characteristic of a major depressive episode.

Delmont’s major depressive episode began three days earlier. Memorial Day weekend was meant to be a family occasion. He ran the drop cord from the window to the front yard. Delmont set up the camp stove and the little television so they could watch Judge Judy while he cooked. Amid the smell of decaying crustacean flesh caused by boiling shrimp for a few minutes, Delmont’s second cousin (and third wife) informed him she was leaving.

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Delmont’s Something or Other

“It’s over, I done met somebody else,” Harmony announced.

Delmont didn’t understand, “What kind of woman tells a man she’s leaving when he’s in the middle of cooking shrimp? I’m still going to want to eat after you leave; you don’t want me to ruin this very delicate process. “

Delmont’s shrimp contained a high concentration of sugars. If heat is applied, even a tiny amount, the amino acids and sugars in the shrimp do a chemical dance which produces fine tasting food. Delmont didn’t know the science, per se, only that you shouldn’t over cook the shrimp. When they to turn from transparent to opaque, it’s time to move. Delmont soon forgot about the shrimp.

“You ain’t listening, Delmont. I met someone else,” she said. “This ain’t about the shrimp.”

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An example of Glenn’s Work

Delmont was in denial. Harmony claimed to have met a traveling art salesman who worked the hotel circuit. She said this happened sometime after Easter. He specialized in selling portraits of mischievous cherubs and adorable kittens to resort hotels. Delmont hadn’t been in a hotel since his second honeymoon with his first wife but he remembered the pictures from the hotel wall.

Glenn, the art guy, offered a care free life on the road in a 1989 Honda Civic. (Delmont drove a 1987 Dodge truck which was no longer ram tough or able to pass state inspection.) When he wasn’t selling paintings, he was hitting the flea markets all up and down the east coast. Delmont didn’t know what to say. First his shrimp, then his cousin, now his wife (who were one in the same); Delmont’s life was slipping away.

Harmony’s exit from Delmont’s world was the rock bottom experience he never expected. The first two divorces were easy. Kicked to the curb for riding too close to the center line with Harmony by Cheyenne and Cheyenne by Debbie, Delmont had never been left with the over cooked shrimp and the empty trailer.

Hotter than hell in a bar without air conditioning, officially diagnosed as depressed, Delmont found himself uttering those five words, “This ain’t about the shrimp.”
“What’s it about?” asked the bartender.

Delmont thought for a moment. He had seen couples visiting the local cemeteries up and down the island. Standing for a moment before a grave, trying to do the math in their head to determine how old or young someone was when they died. He always laughed at the amazement in people’s voices when they realized people in the 19th century died at a young age. They always appeared to be shocked to see someone from the 1800’s who died in their 30’s. They always said, “How tragic”. No one ever says, “How typical”.

Maybe he shouldn’t be as shocked when he did the math about his own life. How typical. It’s so easy to underestimate the weight of the water, you can cook to long, overestimate the catch, and forget that the shrimp you’re trying to eat are ultimately, full of their own poop. Sometimes the tragic and the typical, like a second cousin who’s also your wife, are one in the same.

Food for Thought-How Do Ducks Know When They’re Lost?

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1. When I’m ornery, mama gives me Midol in a piece of cheese
2. When I buy whiskey, I make two or three dry runs to be certain the Baptists are out of the liquor store
3. I have my own line of artisanal pickles for sale in a farmers market near you
4. I’m never certain if the people on golf carts are giving me the finger or telling which direction they’re turning
5. When I’m not selling pickles to organic pickle aficionados I’m trying to answer this question: how do ducks know when they’re lost?

Food for Thought-Dust Clouds of Sunburned Otherness

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Dust clouds of sunburned otherness,
Stalk the irregular dignity of my soul,
Clamoring for a nameless encore,
An offering to the bedraggled sky,
Accompanied by watered down melodies,
Played in my overturned mind,
Major fifths and minor tonics,
Off key and out of tune,
You know the ones,
where the empties of awareness.
are often strewn.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-The Shaman on the Bratislava Train (The Sixteenth Letter)

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25 May 1957
Between Bratislava and Belgrade, The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
After the third tunnel, over the fourth hill, near the curve where dinner is served

Dear Friend, Colleague, and Seeker of Rare Birds,

The letters on my desk grew weary of being unread. Each passing day carried two new realities, the wind was blowing, flowers were blooming, and birds were singing. I lost count of the letters on my desk and the realities beyond my door.

With no other choice than to follow the enigmatic clues left by the People’s Office of Indemnification and Life Guaranty* concierge, we are now bound for Bratislava*. Since we last spoke, over breakfast in Zagreb*, the cumulative uncertainty stalking our journey grows by the minute. How is your cabin? I find mine to be well apportioned with all of the amenities one might expect from first and half class travel in socialist Europe. There is a small table which divides the compartment in half. It is only large enough to hold my typewriter. If I am not writing to you, I remove the typewriter in order accommodate my meals, hands, or guidebooks. My seat, (do you have a seat?) will also fold out into a bed. This is where I intend to sleep once darkness falls. I hope your bed promises a degree of support for your back.

My travelling companion is an Uzbek born falconer, raised in Georgia, now residing in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. After Comrade Khrushchev’s speech* condemning the Georgian bandit* he was in a camp* for bird trainers. Now, he is a socialist shaman in Almaty*. Called by the people of the Soviet Union to share his wisdom, he and Qush* are teaching socialist shamanism to Russia’s friends and allies.

How fortuitous to be riding with a grand shaman of the tribe of Genghis Khan*. I told him of our quest for the Picus Viridus*. He believes the bird to be hiding somewhere we have yet to search. We have simply not looked in the place where it exists. While I do welcome his presence and company, Qush defecates often and near my pillow.

I hear the conductor approaching. I must finish this letter so he may deliver these words to you.

Your friend,

M

*Bratislava the capital of Slovakia, then the second city of Czechoslovakia
*People’s Office of Indemnification and Life Guaranty an insurance company in late 1950’s Belgrade
*Zagreb the capital of Croatia
*Georgian bandit Joseph Stalin
*Comrade Khrushchev’s speech Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 speech to the 20th Party Conference of the Communist Party Soviet Union where he condemned the atrocities and abuses of power by Joseph Stalin
*Almaty capital of Kazakhstan
*Qush the Uzbek work for bird
*Genghis Khan as Khans go, the most important Khan of all time
*Picus Viridius the Common European Woodpecker

Food for Thought-Three Biscuits Shy of a Load

Two Cute But Illiterate Dogs

Two Cute But Illiterate Dogs

It’s pretty hot today,
I’m feeling half cooked,
Well done,
Worn out,
Plum tuckered,
Tromped flat,
Claritin cluttered,
Sneezing up
Coughing down,
The tomatoes gone too ripe,
The dog forgot,
To read and write,
And mama says,
“Son, the outhouse is all aglow,”
I’m about three biscuits
shy of a load.

–Richard Bryant