May 03 '03

Volume 361

Striving To Build Sixty Percent Ready

On Easter Sunday, '02,North Viewthe membership of First Baptist Church, Pontotoc broke its own record for financial giving. A Building Committee had earlier proposed the church pursue a plan to provide education space to accommodate an average attendance of six hundred, a fellowship hall spacious enough to meet the needs of a growing church family, and a facility most churches refer to as a Family Life Center. No building drawings were presented only the vision of what was needed.

Armed with a vision, church leaders developed a marketing plan under the banner, Sacrifice - A Legacy Of Love. In the weeks prior to Easter Sunday, '02, various individual presented testimonials during the morning worship services and helped soften the resistance of those members who felt giving sacrificially to fund a building yet to be designed was somewhat premature. The pastor developed a series of sermons on the importance of sacrificial giving. The result of the combined emphases was an astonishing collection on Easter Sunday. I don't have the exact figure, but I remember it exceeded two hundred thousand dollars.

A few months ago, the church approved an architectural plan that purportedly satisfied all the criteria defined by the Building Committee, i.e., the educational space, larger fellowship area, and Family Life facility. In approving the plan, the church also agreed to raise roughly one million dollars of the more than three million dollars needed, prior to awarding any building contracts, in order to reduce the total indebtedness to two million dollars, and further established a timetable to accomplish that particular goal.

This Easter, a continuation of the Sacrificial Giving theme netted slightly more than one hundred thousand dollars, bringing the church closer to its goal of raising $1.1 Million dollars. First Baptist Church has now raised sixty percent of the money needed to proceed with the plans to build.

I've heard mixed reactions from church members as to why less money was raised this Easter as opposed to last Easter. An unnamed individual (probably a Democrat) blamed the economy and a tight job market. Some are of the opinion the membership hasn't fully recovered from the sacrificial giving of the prior year. In light of having a clear plan, rather than a grand vision, some members fully expected the church to do as well or better with this year's giving and expressed their disappointment.

In comparing the promotional aspects of the two years, I would note there were fewer testimonies from church members this year and perhaps less emphasis from the pulpit. Perhaps, our leaders felt the pictures (plans) would speak for themselves; I don't know. I do know that, if the church intends to start a building next May, then approximately four hundred forty thousand dollars are needed.

I admit to having some doubt that FBC, Pontotoc will meet its goal according to its self-imposed time frame, but I have no doubt she will eventually do so. Whether her timetable and God's timetable are in sync remains to be seen.


Table Manners Cultural Differences Noted

With respect to silverware, I don't require a large variety of pieces to eat a meal. Meals at our house are not staggered courses requiring a different fork for everything but are mostly an entrée with one or two vegetables and perhaps a dessert. I seldom use a salad fork to eat a salad at home, though I prefer one when finishing off a meal with a piece of cake. I can get through a breakfast of biscuits, sausage patties, Golden Eagle syrup, and coffee using only a knife, and require only my fingers to down a hamburger with French freedom fries.

I do have some table manners, and if my apparent lack of civility (as noted above) shocks anyone, I can assure the reader I do eat right when we have company over or I'm eating in a public place. My mama didn't raise me to eat with a knife, but a knife works well in transferring syrup to a biscuit, which is my most common etiquette fault, and I've occasionally used a knife to spear a piece of steak to put into my mouth. One isn’t supplied with plastic wear for eating fries at McDonalds or Burger King, so I’ve adapted to eating fries without cutlery.

Over the past year or two, as I've grown more interested in TV shows about food, I've noticed a high percentage of folks eating backwards with respect to the way learned to use a knife and fork. I was taught to cut a piece of meat by holding the meat with a fork in my left hand while cutting a bite-sized portion by holding the knife in my right hand. Then, once the piece was cut, I was to lay down the knife, place the fork in my right hand (tines curved upwards), secure the bite of meat with the fork, and transfer the meat from the plate to my mouth.

These days, the Food Network is filled with shows in which guests, judges, and hosts, all cut a piece of meat as I do but keeping their fork in their left hand, stab the portion, and lift it to their mouths with tines turned downward. I see two things wrong with that picture; first, they are using the wrong hand to eat with and secondly they've got the fork upside down. I suppose it's a European thing or Oriental influence at work here. After all, we Americans are increasingly supporting a global economy, and with our devotion to food, it's only natural for us to embrace the table manners of other cultures.

Some persons who read this newsletter are adept in the use of chopsticks when eating Chinese food. I'm not and have no desire to learn how to manipulate two oversized toothpicks to eat a few grains of rice.

I've not researched the subject, but I doubt there is a civilized society anywhere that considers it good manners to talk while chewing food. In the Deep South, not talking with food in ones mouth is instilled in the minds of toddlers as soon as they learn to speak. One of my earliest memories of the children of my brother-in-law involves table manners.

"Don't talk wit 'cher mouth full," plays as clearly in my mind today as it did the first time I heard Clay Crouch, then a two-year old, caution either his older brother or sister regarding their table manners.

There are good reasons to avoid talking and chewing a mouthful of food at the same time. Some involve personal safety and help reduce the risk of one choking while eating. Also, it’s easier to understand the speech of another individual if there's no food blocking the sound or preventing the tongue from helping shape the sounds and the lips from forming the words. There are other reasons, to be sure, but the best one I can think of involves not having to look at the half-chewed food inside the mouth of someone. Yet, if one watches many of the programs on the Food Network, it's fairly obvious that a large number of folks attempt to talk with their mouths full.

In my youth, I was probably admonished to keep my elbows off the table more than any other rule regarding table etiquette. I caught right on to the use of a knife and fork, had no trouble refraining from talking with my mouth full, but the elbow thing was the hardest to learn. And, though I was taught to keep my left hand in my lap while dining, I seldom eat that way, unless I’m attending a banquet. Just as cultural differences define how we use a knife and fork, cultural influence in some countries dictates that diners keep both hands visible when eating. I think it has to do with folks around the table not wanting to get shot, strangled, or stabbed at mealtime. I wish I had known this earlier, so I could have told Mom about it.

Party Months RRN Party 2003

To accommodate a large number of people, I’d have to rent a building if I wanted to stage an indoor party. To have an outdoor party during the month of October would probably assure pleasant temperatures, but by October many folks are too interested in college football to attend a fish fry. April would be a good time for a cookout or fish fry except the weather is too unpredictable, and the chances of having a perfect day are slim, plus coming out of tax season, my finances are usually shot.

From May to September, romance blossoms, as do opportunities for parties. However, too many folks are involved in graduations in May, weddings in June, vacations in July, preparations for back to school in August, and the onset of football season in September. The months from November through March are normally too cool for an outdoor party.

There seems to be no "best month" for an outdoor party, but for the past few years, July has been the chosen month for the Annual RRN Backyard Party. One can usually count on July to be a dry month, a requirement for an outdoor event, and I can count on lining up cooks among the ranks of Ministers of Music, because their weekends are normally freer in July than those in May and June. Personally, I find the weather too hot for my tastes in July, but maybe the weather god will be kind to us this year.

Lee Gordon of West Point, MS, has consented to spearhead the fish frying operation and his able assistant, Jim Hess of Vicksburg, MS, has agreed to help. Readers may recall that last year, Lee’s church adjusted his schedule for the Saturday of the fish fry and Jim had to shoulder all the responsibility as chief cook.

The Fifth Annual RRN Backyard Party will be held on Saturday afternoon, July 19, 2003. The menu will be Southern fried catfish and the usual trimmings. There may be entertainment and there may not. Persons who wish to bring a cake or freezer of ice cream are encouraged to do so. Official invitations will be mailed at a later date. Not every "subscriber" will receive a mailed invitation, but a mailed invitation is not a prerequisite for attendance. Any person reading this or other notification is invited. All that is required is a note or phone call explaining ones intentions a few days prior to the party.

I look forward to the time in July when persons who belong to the readership of this newsletter can mix and mingle while dining on some of the finest outdoor party food to be found anywhere in the Deep South. I’m confident all will have a great time. Mark your calendars, now for July 19, 2003.

Bodock Beau The Cracked Pot

Readers are accustomed to finding humor in this section of the newsletter, and we hope they are not too disappointed this week. Malcolm Lindsey was kind enough to share the following anecdote with a few of his crackpot friend

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For two years this process went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace our house!"

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. Just take each person for who they are, and look for the good in them.

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