June 27 '98
Wors-hip Chorus A Personal Choice
Disturbed by what I view as a lack of congregational opportunities to participate in singing, at First Baptist Church, I have adopted a position that you may consider absurd. Perhaps, you will tell me I've cut off my nose to spite my face. Perhaps, you are right.
Last year, during the celebration of the 150th anniversary of FBC, a protracted event if ever there was one, I began to observe that though we started the morning service twenty minutes earlier than normal, congregational singing was sacrificed in order to free up more time for the various celebratory events. Some weeks, the congregation only sang one song, and most weeks where we sang two songs from the hymnal, we sang fewer than three verses of four-stanza hymns.
On the occasions when the congregation sang more than two songs, it is fair to say the third song was not in the hymnal but was what I believe is referred to as a worship chorus. The words to the chorus were usually found in the order of worship materials.
I have sung about all of the choruses I want to sing. I don't dislike them; they typically express praises to God. I think we've worn them out, and I don't mean they've been worn out by repeating the same ones over and over. Instead, I mean the use of choruses has run its course. A change is needed, and if nothing better can be found to replace the choruses, I would favor setting them aside and singing more stanzas of the songs from the hymnal.
My complaint with worship choruses is twofold. First, most of them are used two Sundays or less, before being replaced by a different one. Therefore it is difficult for the congregation to learn the tune to one chorus, before being introduced to a different chorus. Secondly, the congregation does not have sheet music to help along those of us who read a little music.
I haven't the slightest clue why churches began incorporating choruses into their worship services. Had the movement begun in the Sixties, then I would suggest it was the "hip" thing to do. Perhaps it's something promoted by the music department of the Southern Baptist Convention. If so, then somebody or some committee set forth a goal, and worship choruses became a part of the action plan to achieve the goal. I can only guess that a part of the goal was educational in nature, teaching believers to praise God in song and sharing with non-believers God's love. However, I don't believe we need to look any further than the Baptist Hymnal to achieve the same goal.
I understand enough about the teaching/ learning experience to know a person retains part of the learning through hearing alone; he retains more information when it is acquired through reading and even more by doing. Rote or repetition helps reinforce the learning process. The more senses involved in the learning process, the better. I have concluded that worship choruses are not meaningful experiences for me, or should I say not as meaningful as I would like them to be.
I am not a gifted singer, but having sung in the church choir, I am familiar with four-part harmony and can appreciate any song being sung more fully if I am able to view the notes on the musical staff and sing my part. Singers in the congregation are not given sheet music for the worship choruses because the cost would be prohibitive, the average worshiper wouldn't pay any attention to the music portions, and more sheets would be lost or removed from the sanctuary than returned to the racks in the pews. However, since I have grown weary of the choruses and dislike singing unfamiliar songs without the aid of written music, I have chosen to refrain from singing any song or chorus in which I do not have the option to see the music.
My choice is a personal one. I am not sharing this information in order to influence others to follow my example, but because I am aware some have observed my silence during certain portions of the worship service, I felt they might appreciate an explanation.
It is my hope that no one, having read this article, feels that I am dissatisfied with the Minister of Music or the Music Program of FBC. Were it not for the great music and great friends at FBC, I would have more than a little trouble sitting through an average Sunday morning service.
Hamburger Helpers Possible Food Poisoning
You may have seen the Dateline special, recently, warning consumers of the dangers in purchasing adulterated ground beef. Adulterated ground beef is an industry term describing ground meat that contains trimmings from animals other than cattle. This means the ground beef you purchase may contain one or more of the following animal meats common to many supermarkets: poultry, lamb, and pork. Certainly, it is one type of hamburger helper you do not want to try.
I was surprised by the findings of the samples of ground beef taken from 10 major cities of the United States. I would have expected to learn that trace amounts, i.e., amounts less than one percent, were found in some of the samples, but I did not realize there would be such a high percentage of adulterated samples where tests showed up to 29% of the contents came from animal meats other than beef. The results were shocking even if you take into consideration the Dateline samples were randomly selected and not scientifically obtained.
Having spent about 20 years in the meat business, I saw a number of changes that improved the quality of the end product. Improvements in sanitation practices took giant strides during those years as did better packaging methods both of which strengthened consumer confidence in fresh meats. Yet, in this decade, public confidence has been eroded by Ecoli outbreaks, bad food handling practices of the Food Lion chain, and now the despicable and unethical practice of selling mixed meats as 100% pure ground beef.
Adulteration of meat is not a new practice. It has been around as long as grocers have had meat grinders. When I entered the workforce at age thirteen, I was aware of a method used by some meat markets to prolong the shelf life of ground beef by using a preservative commonly called "dynamite." The substance was condemned by the health department because ground beef could be almost rotten and still maintain the red appearance normally associated with freshness.
To my knowledge, the substance was never used at Carter and Austin Grocery. I can, factually, state the product was in use by other stores in Pontotoc and surrounding area during that era.
One of the chains involved in the adulterated meat episode on Dateline has vowed to implement a policy that prohibits their meat departments from grinding trimmings derived from preparing various roasts and steaks for the meat counter. However, if the same chain is unable to insure their meat departments do not mix other meat with beef when producing ground beef, how can they expect to restrict meat personnel to regrinding only a packinghouse prepared ground meat? Insisting the meat department personnel discard all meat trimmings is not going to assure anyone the practice is followed, anymore than insisting adulteration of ground beef will not be tolerated.
I believe, in time, people who eat ground beef will learn that the only way to have confidence in the wholesomeness of a hamburger is to insist upon it being cooked well done. Anything short of well done is an invitation to possible food poisoning.
Any harmful bacteria present on a steak is going to be found on the surface of the meat, so even a rare steak that has had the surface thoroughly seared may be considered safe, but the bacteria present in ground beef is found throughout the meat patty. Therefore it is imperative the internal temperature reach a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria in the middle of the patty. Typically you can judge the patty safe, even without a meat thermometer, if the juices of the meat are clear and the color of the interior meat is neither red nor pink. If anyone has received Ecoli poisoning from a hamburger that was cooked well done, I have not heard it reported on the news.
If you suspect the ground beef you are purchasing contains any meat other than beef, confront the market manager or the store manager with your concerns. Even if you are able to watch the meat being ground, you cannot be certain that handling procedures have removed all contaminants or traces of adulteration.
You might want to start looking for some clues to possible ground beef adulteration in your favorite supermarket. It is not likely you could, by sight or taste, pick out the adulterated pack if one in ten packs was adulterated. However, you can check the meat case to see if the store sells any by-products of pork in the form of homemade sausage, pork cutlets, pork for stir-fry, pork kabobs, or ground pork. If you cannot find at least two of the above items, there is a good possibility the market is tossing pork trimmings into the beef trimmings, where it will eventually end up in ground beef. Furthermore, if you do not find any of the items mentioned, I suggest you ask the meat personnel what they are doing with their pork trimmings. A little proaction on the part of consumers may be sufficient warning to stop a meat practice that can lead to food poisoning and possible death.
I cannot think how you might be certain of the quality of ground beef unless you purchase a roast or meat sub-primal cut such as a whole sirloin tip, eye of round, or top sirloin and grind it in your home. It is a bit of extra trouble and requires a small investment in knives and equipment, but if you are hell-bent on eating a less than well done hamburger, you had better go to the extra trouble or the law of averages will one day catch-up with you.
Special Memories Contributions Concluded
As June ends, so ends the contributions from readers of RRN, relating a special memory involving a family member. If you intended to write something and never got around to getting it done, I can assure you there will be future opportunities for you to share your thoughts or experiences via this newsletter.
I am grateful for each person who submitted an article, and I enjoyed reading each story. However, I must admit I was disappointed by the small volume of contributions. Some readers had earlier shared a Christmas memory and felt other readers, who had not participated at that time, might submit a special memory.
The concluding special memory is shared from the treasured events personally recalled by this writer.
Hoe A Round Cornfield Cornpone
It was a typical June day in northern Mississippi, dry and hot. The year may have been 1953, possibly 1954. The place was my grandparent's farm located near Thaxton, MS. My granddad, Hayden Carter, and I were alone in the corn field, a short walk up the dirt and gravel road from the house. In fact, we were across the road from what was referred to as "the old home place," a crumbling log house that was built by my great grandfather, Berkley DeKalb Carter. He may have worked the same corn field we were working, but at the time, that thought never occurred to me. It only occurred to me that I might die in the field from heat stroke.
My grandfather had come up the hard way, working the land as a farmer, struggling to provide for his family. Now his children were grown and gone from the farm, seeking a better standard of living, one less demanding on the physical body than required by farming. My dad thought I could be of help on the farm, so each summer, instead of packing me off to a camp somewhere, he sent me to help his dad hoe the cotton and corn crops. I suppose, I benefited from the farm-life experiences, but at the time, I had no way of knowing I was developing a work ethic that would last a lifetime.
A man, even a boy, could get awfully hot pulling a hoe down a corn row, thinning out the tender young corn so that the plants were spaced about two and one-half to three feet apart. The ever-present grass had to be hoed down and pulled to the "middle." Most of you know what the middle is, but my children and grandchildren probably don't, so for their benefit I am explaining that the middle is the low part between rows, not the middle of a given row. The middle served to divide the field into rows, and provide a place for mules and man to walk when plowing or to stand while hoeing. I think it also helped to control the washing away of the land after a heavy rain.
That summer, I learned what it was "to hoe a round." You had "hoed a round" in a field when you had hoed the length of one row and returned on an adjacent row to the place you had begun. Granddad used to tell me we would hoe a round, then we would rest a round. He meant we would rest for a spell after we finished hoeing one round and then start the cycle over again, but we never rested as long as it took to hoe a round.
Because it was always hot when we worked in the corn field or cotton field, Granddad would carry a jug (jug was the term we used for jar) of iced water and set it in the shade of a tree or bush at the edge of the field. We would move the jug from to time to time as we progressed with our work, so we did not have too far to walk for a drink. Whenever we were thirsty, we drank directly from the jug. We did not each have a glass from which to drink. Whatever germs we transmitted to each other didn't seem to hurt us.
By mid-afternoon the water in the jug was over half gone, so it was necessary to tilt the jug sharply in order to get the water to run into your mouth.
I have a clear memory of Granddad stating, "Don't put your nose in that jug," then he laughed.
I laughed, too, and learned another lesson, it's hard to swallow and laugh at the same time. After my being baptized with a little field-hand humor, I remember hearing my granddad, on a number of subsequent occasions, repeat the phrase, "Don't put your nose in that jug." The problem is, it's hard to drink from a nearly empty jug without putting your nose inside the jug.
Granddad was a pretty hard taskmaster. He worked hard and expected anyone working with him to work hard. I am certain he was easier on his grandchildren than his own children as are most grandparents. While I have many memories of my granddad and the farm at Thaxton, I suppose it is remembering his laugh that marks this memory as one so very special to me.
Chop Or Hoe Farming Quiz
Some persons who read this newsletter have had far more experience in cotton and corn fields than I have. I need your comments concerning whether you ever made a distinction between hoeing and chopping. Does one activity refer to working in a cotton patch and the other a corn field? Are the terms completely interchangeable, or does one refer to a thinning process and the other a weeding process?
In the opening lines of Ode To Billy Joe, Bobbie Gentry sang, "It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty, Delta day. I was out choppin' cotton, and my brother was balin' hay."
While I remember hoeing a lot of cotton, I do not recall chopping any. I've done more hoeing in a garden than I wanted to do, but I never chopped a garden. I have chopped corn, but I cannot be certain I ever hoed corn.
If you cannot remember which foot is first to be fitted with sock or hose, and whether you put your left or right shoe on first, then you need not respond to this survey, for you probably do not differentiate between hoeing and chopping.
Call, write, or email your thoughts. I will tally the results and let you know the outcome.