Christmas . . . in Baptist Country

This is Christmas morning . . . and I woke in Waco, Texas!  Waco is the home of Baylor University . . . and for Texas Baptists . . . Baylor has pretty much become world headquarters for us.  That hasn’t always been the case . . . but it has been that way since some mean folks stepped forward a few years back and in a loud and vitrolic fashion told us all that we had been doing wrong . . . and told us what they demanded we do.  We listened to what they had to say (in spite of how they said it), considered if it had any merit, determined that it did not, and deemed it to be opposite of the instructiom our Master had left us; so, we quietly put some distance between us and them!  They captured and took over our beloved Southwest Theological Seminary in a Fort Worth where our preacher boys, music folks, and missionaries had gone to school for many years.  We quietly built George Truitt Seminary on the Baylor campus, and geared up to teach preacher boys, music folks, and missionaries.

This cold morning, Sandy & I are snuggled up in a plush hotel in the area near the Baylor campus, and I have been thinking about some really special people in my life . . . people I love and for whom I have tremendous respect.  People who went to Baylor and then on to Southwestern . . . and did so at great sacrifice.  Driving old clunkers that broke down often, bald tires, rarely more than a half tank of gas, living in old, cold houses, trailers, or apartments, working at low-paying jobs, and never having enough money.  But they were certain they were answering a calling.

Thank you Charles Fake, Homer Hanna, Jack Green, Bailey Stone, and so many others! You did answer a calling and in doing so you developed the wisdom, grace, and strength to show us how to go through that troubled time with faith, grace . . . and perhaps a bit of the class expected from the children of the King.

Merry  Christmas!  I trust you are in a warmer dwelling this morning than you occupied in your Baylor years!  The Lord has used you all in a wonderful way . . . and He has blessed us thru you!

 

 

Winter Wonderland . . . the story behind the song

What a lovely, up-beat song! It is a song that just makes you feel good and think about Christmas. It is truly a joyful song ………. but the story behind it is anything but joyful.

In a particularly long and cold winter in the early 1930’s, a young man named Richard Smith who had been suffering from the then still widespread and devastating disease on tuberculosis (T. B.) found himself in a home in Pennsylvania recovering from yet another bout of the deadly infection.  Days were long, spent in the comfort of his room inside a sanatorium, daydreaming about a normal and healthy life that would enable him to play outside in the snow like the children he was observing through his window.  That innocent scene inspired him to write a beautiful poem invoking the carefree fun of a day in the snow. Smith even worked a bit of local flavor into his poem when he mentioned “Parson Brown” – a reference to parsons, or independent priests of the Protestant faith who were not associated with any specific parishes or churches.  Back in those days, they often traveled through the country-side performing interdenominational services and ceremonies when nobody else was available to do so.

Happy with the results, Smith showed the lyrics to his friend and musician Felix Bernard in 1934.  Touched by his sick friend’s lovely poem, which clearly expressed his desire to flee the limitations his illness had put upon him, Bernard immediately set to work at composing a melody to go with words.  Sadly, Smith never really saw the fruits of his work as he passed away ravaged by the disease at the young age of 34, a year after Bernard wrote the unforgettable music to Smith’s poem.

Felix Bernard, however enjoyed much fame in the years following what would be the first of countless recordings.  Born Felix William Bernard in 1897 in New York City, he was a child prodigy playing the piano and after completing his musical education earned a living by composing pieces for various vaudeville establishments as well as accompanying orchestras on the piano.  Eventually, he founded his own band.  He died in 1944.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=winter+wonderland+images&FORM=VIRE7&adlt=strict 


God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen . . .

. . . is a beautiful tune . . . but it never made much sense to me!  I recently received an e-mail that explained it . . . and now it makes sense.  Here is the explanation:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen sounds more like a somber prayer for the dead rather than the title for a song.  The secret is in how our language has changed over the years and what has happened to certain words.  It is obvious that “Ye” . . . means you, but “merry” does not mean today what it meant in the Middle Ages.  Today the word “merry” produces a happy image as in “Merry Christmas” or “Eat, drink, and be merry,” but in the Middle Ages, when this song began to emerge, the word had a completely different meaning. Back then it meant “Great/Noble/Brave.”  As an example, Robin Hood had his band of “Merry Man” . . . they weren’t such that they went about laughing and having fun.  The word simply meant something different back then.

The word “Rest” also had a different meaning than it has today.  Back then the word had a meaning akin to making or creating.

It Seems to Me . . . with a proper understanding of the words and with correct punctuation, the title reads, “God Makes you Great, Gentlemen” . . . . and it now makes sense.

I wonder if Bing Crosby knew that when he sang the song?

If you’d like to hear Bing Crosby sing God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen, go to:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=God+Rest+ye+Merry+Gentlemen&FORM=VIRE3&adlt=strict#view=detail&mid=EF0556FFB88345BE26DEEF0556FFB88345BE26DE 

 

Christmas . . . 2013

Christmas is just a few days away and I don’t know how much time I will have for blogging from now until the end of the year.  Things are going to get rather busy from here forward.  I still have shopping to do, there will be considerable travel as neither Courtney nor Chris will come home this year, the remodel of new/old house in Burnet is in full swing, and we had a serious fire at La Posada last week.  It looks like we will drive to Burnet on the 22nd and meet up with Chris (and Ali we hope) to celebrate Chris’ birthday, then travel to Waco sometime around the 23rd to have Christmas with Courtney and Chris, and his little family.  We will get to spend some time with Dorothy, Lanny, Matt, Granny, Cody, Deanna, and Grayson, and my pal (and nephew), Ryan.  Then sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, we will make a trip to the ranch . . . that is an absolute must because Homero called yesterday and exclaimed that while he was out putting corn in the feeders, he ”saw the biggest buck he had ever seen!”  He said that he was going back yesterday afternoon to see if he “could catch him.”  I will do my walk through of the fire damage and hopefully get things in motion on the repairs. 

I am going to try to focus what time I have to write on the wonderful subject of Christmas. Today, I will write about the history of the great hymn, “O Holy Night,” which actually has many pieces in history.

In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was asked by his priest to pen a poem for the Christmas mass.  The poem was called Cantique de Noel.  He was pleased with the product and asked a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to put it to music.  His friend was a popular composer of opera and ballet in the early 1800’s.  The composer saw a challenge in the words of the poem and agreed to compose the music.  The marriage of the words and the music made Cantique de Noel an instant success.  This new and very popular Christmas song was short-lived when Cappeau left the church to be part of the socialist movement, and it was discovered that Adams was a Jew.  The French-Catholic church deemed the song unfit for church services.  Yet, secretly, the people loved the song and continued singing it.

John Dwight a minister in Massachusetts who was looking for new material read the French Cantique de Noel and loved it.  He felt the song needed to be introduced to America.  At the time, the nation was in the Civil War and Dwight, who was opposed to slavery, identified closely with the lyrics, “Chains shall he break for the slave who is our brother and in his name all oppression shall cease.”  He published the translated version in a magazine and several songbooks as “O Holy Night.”  It was quickly accepted, especially in the North during the Civil War.

Nearly 20 years after being banned in France, on Christmas Eve, 1871, during fierce fighting between Germany and France in the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his trench, lifted his eyes toward heaven and began to sing Cantique de Noel.  Both sides stopped shooting and stared at the man.  After he finished, a German soldier came out and sang Martin Luther’s Hymn from Heaven above to Earth I Come.  Both sides observed temporary peace of 24 hours in honor of Christmas Day.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a 33-year-old university professor and former chemist for Thomas Edison, used a special generator to talk into a microphone.  As he suspected, it sent his voice out to radio operators on ships and to people who owned short-wave radios.  Those radios were used to send messages by coded impulses through small speakers, but never had a voice been heard through one of these devises.  Fessenden read from the Gospel of Luke and finished by playing O Holy Night on his violin.  He shocked the world with this very first radio broadcast.  This also made the first song ever played on the radio.

Now, you know the rest of the story!

If you’d like to hear O Holy Night, go to:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=O+Holy+Night&FORM=VIRE3#view=detail&mid=46C1B84CEDFFD56E8AF446C1B84CEDFFD56E8AF4 


I’ve Been Thinking about Christmas . . .

. . . and I can’t think about Christmas much without my thoughts turning to Isaiah 9:6, which says, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Can there be any question that the Prophet Isaiah could have meant anyone else in his declaration other than Jesus?  I am betting my eternal soul on my conviction and belief that Isaiah was, indeed, speaking of Jesus . . . and of Jesus only!

God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to step forward and make this prediction at a dark and troubled time in Israel’s history.  The Assyrians had carried two of the tribes away . . . the people of God . . . the Covenant people . . . carried forcefully away by a foreign army . . . that spoke a foreign language . . . and delivered them to a foreign culture.  It was a dark and troubled time for certain.

The truth is that we, too, are living in a troubled time.  Our current situation is much like what Charles Dickens once described as “the best of times and the worst of times.”  We are struggling through the worst economy since the Great Depression . . . a frightening and record number of people living on food stamps . . . many homes foreclosed upon . . . fortunes lost . . . Wall Street was bailed out . . . and we were sold out . . . and things are really shaky, both here and abroad . . . yet, we have more comforts that any people in the history of mankind!

It was at that dark moment in Israel’s history the Prophet Isaiah stepped forward and declared that, in spite of the time being a time of great darkness, there was a day coming when there would be a great light . . . the Prophet Isaiah announced God’s promise that One was coming . . . and when He showed up . . . He would change everything.

Isaiah declared, “To us a child is born” . . . and “unto us a son is given.” This is homiletically engaging . . . and enlightening.  It is diverse . . . and it holds up Jesus’ humanity . . . yet also his Divinity.  Think about that . . . He was both “born” . . . but he was also “given.”

It just seems to me . . . as a student of the Scriptures, that the Bible is a self-revelation of God . . . by God.  In the Scriptures, God tells us about himself.  He begins that process on the first page, in the first verse, of the first chapter, of the first book, and He informs us that, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth.”  But we need to know that way back beyond . . . before anything we know . . . before ever . . . ever became . . . a when . . . a why . . . or a where . . . there was God!  He stepped out of nowhere . . . into nothing . . . and He made something out of nothing.  He then elected to extend relationships . . . to that which was not relational; but, before He ever created, He existed, and He is God all by himself.  He doesn’t need anyone or anything to make him God!  He is far beyond beginning . . . He has always been . . . and He will always be . . . and none of that was even know until He chose to reveal it!  The Old Testament is filled with wonderful revelations about God, but in the New Testament, God takes His self-revelation to a totally and completely new level . . . He introduces us to that part of himself of whom Isaiah spoke . . . Jesus, the Christ.  It is through His revelation of Jesus that he reveals His plan . . . His promises . . . and His purpose!  Those same Scriptures declare that God is love . . . that God is light . . . that He is Creator . . . that He is the Truth . . . that He is infinite . . . that he is upright . . . and then it goes to great length to demonstrate that Jesus is every one of those things!  The Scripture testifies to the supremacy of God . . . the authority of God . . . the power of God . . . the reality of God . . . of His grace . . . and of His mercy.  It seems to me . . . that we ought to rejoice because God has revealed Himself to us!

Through history God has revealed Himself in some very unique ways to certain historical figures. A few examples are:

God revealed Himself to Adam and Eve . . . as Creator and Redeemer;

God revealed Himself to Abraham and Sarah . . . as a fertility specialist;

God revealed Himself to Jacob . . . as a wrestler;

God revealed Himself to Joshua . . . as a victor over his enemies;

God revealed Himself to Sampson . . . as a source of strength when he was spent, and as a source of sight when he was blind;

God revealed H0imself to David . . . as a Shepherd and as a refuge in time of trouble;

God revealed Himself to Ruth . . . as a wedding-planner;

God revealed Himself to Daniel . . . as a lion-tamer;

God revealed Himself to Ezekiel . . . as a chiropractor;

God revealed Himself to Mary . . . as the Father of her baby; and

God revealed Himself to Nicodemus . . . as a cardiologist . . . and gave him a new heart.

But the truth is that we don’t have to look back to antiquity, because we too can testify that we know him as Savior, Redeemer, Healer, and our Deliverer.  Most of us have been blessed to have seen new . . . and tender mercies in our own experience, and all of those wonderful things and experiences came to us in and through the person of Jesus!

In Isaiah 9:6, we are provided with FOUR (4) names . . . .titles of and about Jesus.  Here they are:

  1. Wonderful Counselor . . . this tells us that God is approachable . . . through Jesus. That when life hurts, or is frightening, we can go to him for guidance, comfort, instruction, and direction.

 

God is approachable, because Jesus made that possible!  Jesus is our access . . . and we can go boldly to the very throne of God . . . in Jesus’ majestic name.  That speaks volumes.  Jesus can open doors that cannot be closed . . . and yet, he can close doors that can never be opened again!

 We can be thankful for our unlimited access to the Father.

  1. Mighty God  . . . Jesus is all powerful.  There is simply nothing that he cannot do . . . there is no place that he cannot carry us out of . . . anything he cannot deliver us through . . . not just sometimes, but every time.

 

You and I have seen something many times that Jesus has never seen . . . and He will never see!  What might that be?  His equal.  We have seen our equal many times . . . but there is no one or anything like Jesus!  His name is above every name, and one day every knee shall bow and confess that He is Lord!

 

We can give thanks that God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus . . . and that He came looking for us and He found us.  We certainly weren’t looking for Him.

 

  1. Everlasting Father. God is not some distant deity . . . who is way out there and unknowable to His subjects.  He is a tender, caring Father who watches over . . . and cares for His children.

 

We can give thanks for His watch care and provision.

 

  1. The Prince of Peace.  He gives us His peace . . . and provides us with blessed assurance.

 

We can give thanks for His abiding presence and peace.

In John 14, Jesus spent His last evening with His disciples before the crucifixion, and as the shadow of the cross fell across that room, He said to them, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.”  Those words comforted those men’s hearts in the troubled days that followed, and those same words have comforted the troubled hearts of untold numbers over the past 2,000 years.

I believe that Jesus was saying that it is a really good thing for us to believe in God . . . because believing in God puts us in a position to know God . . . through Jesus.  I think He was also saying that there is a day coming when just believing in God is not going to be enough . . . it is on that day that our belief in Jesus will change everything for us.  It is sad but true that Hell will be full of people who believed in God (e.g. the Devil certainly believes in God . . . but that belief does not change his fate).

Yes, I am thinking about Christmas . . . I am amazed at the miracle that occurred on that star-lit night in that small village known as Bethlehem . . . when the Creator of the universe, in a way that is beyond our comprehension, inserted Himself into human history and became one of us . . .  and He did that so He could save all of us!

Christmas . . . what a wonderful story!  Peace on earth, goodwill toward man!  In the old Covenant, God said, “If you will . . . then I will” . . . but with the birth of Jesus comes a new and better Covenant.  In the new Covenant, God says, “Because you could not, I did!”

WE have plenty for which to be thankful!


Things can live after us . . .

The mailman delivered a letter last week from Operation Santa Claus. As I read the report which included a tribute to its founder, Raymond Smith, along with a request for financial assistance, I was reminded that we can invest ourselves in things that will live on even after we are gone. 

That envelope from Operation Santa Claus is living proof of that truth . . . my dear friend, Raymond Smith, started Operation Santa Claus 19 years ago, and it is still serving a need in the community and helping families.  That is true in spite of the fact that Raymond went to be with the Lord on March 10, 2013.

Raymond started the organization because he loved children and it broke his heart to see kids living below the poverty level, and there is quite a lot of that in the Rockport area.  He was a man who believed in “putting some feet with his prayers” and he did just that.

Raymond went to be with the Lord on March 10, 2013, and that made me really sad.  But knowing where Raymond is today, knowing that he is well and happy and seeing the evidence that Operation Santa Claus is still in operation, still gearing up to serve hurting people honors my friend’s life and memory.

It delights me to write a check to Operation Santa Claus again this year, both knowing it will help to buy some new clothes for a few kids, and that it is a way to remember and honor my friend.

 

Ms. Purdy . . . and her Preacher

Ms Purdy lived across the street from the fellowship hall of the Methodist Church in Burnet, Texas, where she was actually a member.  Ms Purdy was skinny as a rail, nosey as a bedbug, talked in a low, squeaky voice . . . and she could be difficult to understand.  She was close to 100 years of age.  She was a pioneer woman and she still dressed like it . . . a long, simple print dress with a matching bonnet.  Her name just fit her to a tee.  My friend and her Pastor, Buddy, really didn’t much like her, and that was a bit of a shock for me.  I first discovered that truth one afternoon as we were headed out of the parsonage to go to the DQ for our afternoon coffee. Buddy’s wife, Evelyn, asked me if I would do her a favor and walk some baked goods over to Miss Purdy.  I said that I would be glad to do that for her, and she casually announced, “Buddy won’t do that anymore.”

I ran the goods over to Ms Purdy and returned to get Buddy and head out for our coffee.  On the drive to DQ, I casually made inquiry about what was up with the Ms Purdy thing, but Buddy wasn’t having any of it and changed the subject.  That really got my curiosity up . . . and that is not a good thing . . . because I tend to be a bit like a pit-bull dog on such things and rarely will let go until my teeth come together.  So, I began my pursuit of the truth . . . The truth about my pal, Buddy, and his wife’s friend, Ms Purdy!

I suppose I ought to add here that in spite of going by the name Buddy, my pal was actually a very formal fellow, and in a split-second he could slip into performance mode, clear his voice, raise his right hand into the air, and formally make announcements . . . and/or pronouncements; I watched him do it a million times.  His official name was Dr. Lewellyn Cartwright Johnston, Jr.

I moved away from Burnet to live in Beeville.  A couple of years later, Buddy called me one afternoon and told me that his Bishop had assigned him to serve as the Pastor of the Beeville Church and he and his family were moving to town.  I was happy that my friend and I would be able to spend time together again.

Buddy asked me to Chair his Oral-Defense Committee when he read for his Doctorate at Asbury Theological Seminary in Asbury, Kentucky, and I was glad to do that.  As we flew home from Kentucky, I bragged on him and his success, but I also told him that I had always struggled with his dislike of poor old Miss Purdy.  Almost at the point of tears, my pal, Buddy, told me the tale.

Buddy had only been at the Burnet church for a few days when Ms Purdy called the Church office crying and emotionally carrying on about a death in her family.  The Church secretary advised Buddy of Ms Purdy’s distress, and young, caring Pastor that he was, he charged over to Miss Purdy’s house to comfort the dear lady.  I can just see him shift into formal mode, and as he entered the house . . . raising that right hand into the air like Moses lifting his staff into the air, and in a loud prayer, calling peace and comfort down from Heaven onto Ms Purdy.  He spent quite a while trying to communicate with and comfort Ms Purdy.  In a bit, Evelyn and some of the Church ladies showed up and began to assist.  In a few minutes, one of the ladies announced that the death that had Ms Purdy so upset was the death of a doctor on Ms Purdy’s program (soap opera) that she had watched for 25 years!

I have had many good laughs over Buddy and Ms Purdy!  I can just see that as it happened.

It was 50 years ago . . . November 22, 1963

I. . . That he burst into the room, openly and unashamedly, crying and with a white handkerchief pressed to his face, announced in a quivering voice, “Boys and Girls, our beloved President is dead!”  The “he” was Mr. Collins, my 7th grade English teacher at Houston Jr. High School, in Hobbs, New Mexico.  Mr. Collins was the first Black man that I ever really knew . . . and I liked him a great deal.  There were plenty of people around the school, calling him names and telling me why I should not like him, but I simply did not care what they said, I just liked that good man, and I knew he liked me too.  I also knew that he appreciated that I was willing to be my own man and form my own beliefs.

It was obvious that Mr. Collins really loved President Kennedy and was in deep pain.  It would take me a few years to really understand why this tragedy seemed so hopeless for Mr. Collins, but I will never forget the look on his face that morning.

The place: Dallas, Texas

The Location: Dealey Plaza

The Event: A Presidential Parade in Texas, with the Governor accompanying the President and First Lady.

The Climax: A number of gun shots that split the morning air . . . and were heard around the world.

The Result: The world stopped for four (4) days . . . and I do mean it stopped!   The world was in absolute shock!  It is hard to imagine today, but up to that point in history all political figures were old, bald, fat, and avuncular . . . and then came this classy, handsome, rich, young war hero with his beautiful wife and two small children . . . and he became the President.  He challenged us to think . . . he challenged us to be better . . . and cried out, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Then, instantly . . . he was murdered . . . on the streets of our most famous Texas city (I was born in Texas and always considered myself as a Texan).  

The Nation had, by and large, been smitten and even wowed by this amazing and skillful man . . . we held our national breath as we watched him stare the evil Russians down . . . and that he did! What an amazing accomplishment . . . the press called it the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it had scared the world terribly!

The next four days were painful for us as a people . . . President Kennedy’s body was returned to the Nation’s capital, and the funeral was a nationally-televised event . . . and the nation and her people wept and mourned.  As that horse-drawn wagon carried that flag-draped coffin and the lovely, graceful young widow and her two small children walked along . . . it just seemed clear that something serious had been lost and that things would never be quite the same again.

The next several years were confusing as we tried to learn what really happened.  The Warren Commission issued a report . . . but there were always unanswered questions and doubts.  Then there was Lee Harvey Oswald . . . and the entry of Jack Ruby into the equation only served to make it even muddier.  Even to me as a kid, the reasons offered for what Ruby did made absolutely no sense to me.

I have never told anyone this before, but I immediately believed that Vice-President LBJ was behind it all . . . and I still believe that today!  He certainly benefited from it (more so than anyone I can think of), and he was a ruthless and driven man.

It was a tragic time in our history.  Then, the assignations of Bobby Kennedy . . . and Dr. Martin Luther King; Viet Nam and the Civil Rights Act, and the resistance it provoked across the South . . . and all of the political unrest on college campuses across the USA.

It just seemed like the world had gone a little crazy . . . and perhaps it had!

I sure have thought about this stuff today.  I lived through and observed some serious historical stuff that my little granddaughters will one day study, and think, “Man, my old Pappy is really old!”

It is not always what we expect!

An old Indian fellow in the area up around Farmington, New Mexico, made his living as a shepherd.  He would take his sheep out on government land and let them graze for a month at a time.  Because of his age, his family grew concerned about him being far from home and alone for such a long time.  It was decided that his 12-year-old grandson would accompany him . . . and learn from his wise, experienced grandfather.

After the pair had spent their first month together at pasture with the sheep, it came time for them to return home for a few days.  As they drew closer to the Reservation about nightfall, they began to see bright lights that were unfamiliar to them.  The closer they got, the bigger and brighter the lights became.  The lad asked his Grandfather what it meant, but the old Grandfather simply shrugged his shoulders.  Unknown to the pair, during their absence, NASA had arranged with the Tribal Council to build a mock rocket-station on the Reservation to practice a moon landing; the technical work, the Astronauts would do upon landing on the moon’s surface. NASA had explained that the aerial view of the Reservation revealed that it looked more like the moon’s surface than any other area in the United States.

As the Grandfather and grandson drew closer, the old fellow suddenly stopped, and sat on the ground.  He was amazed at the sight of the model rocket, the mock rocket-station, the Astronauts dressed in their space suits, and the huge flood lights.  It just had an eerie feeling.  He had simply never seen anything like it.

After some time, he instructed his grandson to walk up there and see who these strange critters were . . . and what they were doing on the Reservation.  Soon the boy returned with an excited look on his face, and exclaimed, “Grandfather, these are people from the government and they are preparing to go to the moon!”  That proclamation had a powerful impact on the old fellow . . . he had simply never heard such a thing!  So, he sat back down and began to think . . . just trying to sort it all out in his mind.  Slowly he turned his head upward and stared at the beautiful, full, yellow moon overhead!  Slowly he pointed to the moon and asked his grandson, “They are going up there?”  The lad nodded his head in affirmation to his Grandfather’s question.  The old fellow just sat there trying to get his mind around the whole thing, but he found it quite difficult.

Finally, he told the boy to go back and ask the people from the government if there were people living on the moon.  The boy returned quickly and said the people from the government said they did not know if there were people living up there or not, but they were going up to find out.  The old man thought some more about that.  After a bit, he told the grandson to return to the people from the government and ask if it would be okay for him, as a tribal member, to write a letter to the people who might be living on the moon.  The PR Folks were excited about the publicity they could garner through this . . . The headline would read . . . NATIVE AMERICAN SENDS LETTER TO THE PEOPLE ON THE MOON!

The officials told the boy that they would be delighted to carry the grandfather’s letter to the moon, and asked him to escort his grandfather up to meet them.  The lad explained that his grandfather did not speak the English language, but he would ask his grandfather to come up to the work site.

As the lad and his grandfather arrived on site, they found that the people from the government had set up a table and chairs and had placed a writing pad and pen on the table top for the old fellow to use in writing his letter.  As he sat and took pen in hand, the photographers began snapping photos of the historic occasion.  The old fellow wrote a few lines, laid his pen down, and announced that the letter was finished and ready for delivery.

One of the PR guys looked at the scribble and exclaimed, “This is not written in English!”  The boy reminded the people from the government that his grandfather only communicated in his native tongue.  They showed the letter to the boy and asked him to ask his grandfather what the letter said.  The boy did, and his Grandfather said that the letter was not for people from the government . . . it was for the people on the moon.  He took his grandson, went and collected his sheep, and walked home.

The next day the people from the government took the grandfather’s letter to the Community Center on the Reservation and began to show it to the Native Americans.  As each one read it, he or she would smile, nod their heads up and down motioning yes, and hand the letter back to the people from the government.  Frustrated, the people from the government would ask, “What does the letter say?”  Each time, the Native American would politely say, “No, it is written to the people on the moon, not to you!”

Finally, in frustration, the people from the government placed the handwritten letter in a courier pack and sent it to the headquarters in Houston.  The folks in Houston were excited about the letter and had a linguist on hand to interpret the letter.  As he read the letter, he busted out in laughter.  When he finally regained his composure, he said, “The letter says one simple thing . . . “You had better watch these people, they will steal your land!!!”

Inquiry Script

It seems to me . . . The old fellow was pretty smart!