06th Apr2017

April Fool’s Day – Rev. Talmage Skinner

I turned 83 years old on April 2. I have always said that I was just an ordinary fool, not an April one. This year more than ever I am aware of the death of so many friends. This year I am more troubled by the state of things in the world.  I do not have a pulpit or a classroom and an opportunity to speak up and out about things that matter. Let me just share with you some of my concerns.

1. There is a very low level of caring about what is best for people by those who would be our leaders. Just defeating the other party becomes the goal. Oh, there is much talk about the American people, but little concern for the wellbeing of the most needy or just ordinary folks. It worries me that so many are concerned for the unborn, but forget all about the wellbeing of the born. Respect for life is for all ages. Life is Holy.

There is little concern for future generations, but a lot of attention is given to making a profit in the moment.  God’s people in the Bible had trouble with idols. Sometimes they were tempted by idols of their neighbors, and sometimes they made their own as with Aaron and the golden calf.  Idolatry is any false replacement for God and the truth. It can take many shapes. Folk lore speaks of beings that are “Shape Shifters.”

Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  That is because the rich are surrounded by so many would be idols:  wealth, security, fame, wins over others, and even destroying others on the way to victory. Some have turned to extreme measures to fight against this temptation.  They turn to the monastic life rejecting the bad stuff of life. Even the monastic life can become an idol. The commandment speaks of “no other gods before me.”  Perhaps the most common idol is “self.”  “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest one of all?”  I could take this further, but not today.  Let’s just close this concern with the concept that Idolatry is the major problem of our life.  In the words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

2. I am concerned about the lack of caring about the earth we call home. There are too many folks who are a new flat earth society not listening to all the scientific world warning us about the future with our non-action.

3.  I am concerned with all the technology that, in fact, is replacing the need for workers. The future looks like a few great jobs for the bright and lucky few while the masses may have a hard time finding meaningful work. What will be done when you have large numbers of unemployed folks because of no fault of their own?   How will they find a meaningful existence? Who will be able to buy the products made by robots?

4. I am concerned that music that is current has no melody. Often the words are full of meaning…but no melody. I believe that music without words has a language of its own. It speaks to a part of my being that I cannot write about.

5. The hardest part of growing old is not having a future to plan. Oh, I know our faith is all wrapped up in resurrection.  I believe in that kind of future.  It is not the one all detailed for us by the fundamentalists, but I believe the One who has been with me here will be with me wherever and whenever.  However, I have been blessed with a good life.  I like this life!  I find no joy in putting it down.  Over 30 years of my career were at two great colleges, Spartanburg Methodist and Wofford. In that environment we always talked about next year and next season. Well, there are already next years and next seasons without me, and I do not like that one bit.   “This Is My Father’s World,” and I have loved playing in it. As I look toward tomorrow, too many of my playmates have “graduated” early and I am still here put out to pasture. From my limited state and aches and pains, I try to plan for next year.  Let’s make that tomorrow.  I give thanks to the Shepherd who led me through it all.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Talmage Boyd Skinner

Chaplain Emeritus

Wofford College