Monthly Archives: April 2018

Church Bathrooms

Genesis 26:1-6

Traveling in a van means I changed from traveling clothes into a suit in church bathrooms. I learned to hate men’s church bathrooms. So many of them are back behind the furnace. Seldom is there an adequate mirror, and almost never are there hooks to hang my suit on while I skinny out of my jeans. Lids are scarce. Something is bound to get wet. Men can’t be trusted with carpeting. Sometimes we get a door on the cubicle. You must decide what you intend to do before you enter for there is no turning around once you are in there.

Funny thing about church bathrooms. When they are remodeled, the church spends $6000 on the women’s room and $3.64 on the men’s room. The women get wall-to-wall carpeting, mirrors and Formica. The men get a new pail.
I survived by improvising. For evening events, I would find a Sunday school room, put a chair under the door knob and change clothes in the dark. Having gotten my britches and shirt on, I would turn the light on and use the exterior window as a mirror. Stained glass will not work. With the darkness outside, my reflection shows on the window perfectly to put on my tie, comb my hair, get my mustache on straight.

One evening in South Carolina, after a great potluck, I grabbed my tie and coat, excused myself and headed for the men’s room to finish dressing for the evening meeting. As I reached for the men’s room door knob, a lady standing at the drinking fountain said, “Sir, you’ll have to wait, there is already someone in there.” I thanked her and replied, “That’s okay. I’ll just find a window to use.”

It wasn’t until after I had “used” the window that I realized why the lady got that shocked look on her face, wrapped her cloak around her tightly and backed away from me. She didn’t stay for the singing and concluded some fierce things about Yankees.

Months later, I told that favorite bathroom story on a Sunday morning in one of Iowa’s largest United Methodist Churches. After service, the family was standing at the product table when a man stopped to say he agreed about church restrooms. My mother was standing near. She thought the man said “restaurant” and replied, “I raised him in one.”

There are times when no matter how precise you say things or how hard you try, you don’t get it right or people misunderstand. Families fall apart, fathers fail, mother’s come unglued and children make very bad decisions. Other times all of the above happen on one day before lunch.

We met such a family. After the glass had been swept up and the sticky words had been washed off the walls, a teenage daughter and sister had packed and left. The following weeks were grisly. Lots of tears and regrets. Mom and Dad decided they would go back to church. They arrived at the church entrance at the same time the absent daughter arrived. The usher didn’t know about the declared war and just swept the whole family together and ushered them to the family pew.

No one looked at each other or spoke a word. We sang a medley of songs that concluded with “Have I told you lately that I love you?” I told a story about our son Doug who tells those who are posing for a photo, “Will you moisten lips—preferably you own!” I invited people to grab a hand, squeeze; hold on tight and to sing with us. The broken family tentatively reached out and then got into heavy-duty hugging.

Restoration is such a fine family word.

Perhaps, God found a friend in Abraham because He knew the first Hebrew would follow Him, even when life was temporarily in the toilet.

Meanderings—Swapping Road Stories with Abraham’s Tour Group
©2018 D. Dean Benton
An ebook available in May.

Case of a Laughing Robot

Sometimes I have to check in with you just to make sure I’m still on track. I heard that by 2025 there will be more robots on the earth than humans and by 2028 robots will have genuine emotions. Let me sort that out. Tell me if I need heavier-duty meds.

Our daughter’s African Grey parrot says in a sympathetic voice, “Ahhhh…” when someone says “Ouch” or indicates injury or stress. If someone cries, the Woodrow’s response is even more emotional. As much as Woodrow likes me and enjoys calling my name, and gently taking a treat from my fingers, if I stick that finger into the cage, he will bite it to the bone. Is he feeling “genuine emotions” with the “Ahhh…”?

My concept of the mental ability of animals has changed. When Debi read the research to us about Ravens and their family flocks, we learned that ravens, crows and magpies (?) can negotiate, know when they get a raw deal and will hold a grudge and seek revenge for up to two years. If you harm one of their flock, they will wait for the right moment and seek to “get you back.” They are mischievous, have a sense of humor and enjoy play. In certain climates, they are seen playfully sliding down snow covered roofs.

I am convinced that whales, some gorillas and large animals including elephants have ability to talk to each other, sing and emote. When Theodore Roosevelt went on safari to the Amazon, wild lions and other cats would attack the horses. He observed the crying of the horses in fear/terror as chilling and horrible to hear.

Did you read the report about rogue teen-age elephants that became violent. The cause was traced to separation from the herd and absence of male influence and resident fathers?

Can a creature express “genuine emotion,” in contrast to parroting, without possessing a soul? If your pet has a soul, does it need to be “saved?” (We’ve had pet cats that certainly needed to repent!)

What about robots. How will they be programmed? Who will do the programming? How is a genuine emotion programmed into plastic, wires and such? Can a programmer install only positive emotions? Emotions, as a category, include anger and hate. What if there are community organizers among the robots who seek to overthrow governments or take out your neighbor? Who will police the emotional robots? What agency will hold them accountable?

Self-driving cars? Will they also be programmable for suicide missions?
Going to have some answers before I purchase (or adopt) a Roomba vacuum cleaner. It probably would ambush me on the way to bathroom in the middle of the night.

Life use to be simpler. I’m considering pulling all the plugs and cutting all the cables in self-defense.

©2018 D. Dean Benton
Wonderer & Writer

Breakfast on the Beach

What did you have for Easter dinner?

Traditionally it is ham, isn’t it? That’s what we did. Problem with ham—no dressing. Scalloped corn and potatoes and three kinds of cranberry sauce.

I’ve been reading about how Jesus “played” with the disciples as He appeared to them. Road to Emmaus, at the tomb and at the beach. I’ve never been satisfied with any of the solutions to why John records the miracle of the fish at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and again at the end. I assumed it was the same event—the latter a reprise.

How does one say, “Tada! It worked. I’m back!”? After the resurrection, the guys decided to go fishing to wait out the “wait” instructions.

After not much luck at the fishing hole, an unknown man is seen cooking breakfast on the beach and a discussion ensues. During the conversation, one of the disciples must have said, “Doesn’t this seem familiar? De je vu, anyone?” Peter is the first to connect the days: “It is the Lord!” Exactly what was the one irrefutable evidence? Tone of voice, the way he smiled or the way he tended the coals? Perhaps the way he gestured to them that breakfast was ready.

They get the boat and net full of fish to shore and Jesus invites them to eat what He has prepared. What did He cook for that astonishing meal? Fish, toast, grits? Does a resurrected Jesus have culinary skills uncommon to the rest of us? I’m guessing some of the disciples ate without saying a word, too overwhelmed to even think; while others talked with their mouths full. So many questions. Was there fruit for dessert?

After dishes are cleaned up, did Jesus say, “Simon, bring your drink and walk with me.” With toothpick in his mouth, cup in hand, Simon Peter hears Jesus ask, “Do you love me?”
Was there a picnic bench where they repeated the seating arrangement of the Last Supper? Perhaps they stood around the fire. Were there seagulls fighting over the crumbs?

I would have most liked to have been there for that breakfast on the beach. “Oh, and Jesus, about the love question. After the past few days, I don’t know how to adequately say yes. I can’t find the words. After seeing and hearing how much You love me, no word of mine is adequate to express thank you for what you’ve done or Yes, I love you. May I hug you?

©2018 D. Dean Benton
Writer & Wonderer