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Happy Birthday Robert E. Lee

Happy Birthday Robert E. LeeSir Winston Churchill called General Robert E. Lee, “one of the noblest Americans who ever lived.”

Please let me call to your attention that Tuesday, January 19, 2021, is the 214th birthday of Robert E. Lee, whose memory is still dear in the hearts of many Southerners. Why is this man so honored in the South and respected in the North? Lee was even respected by the soldiers of Union blue who fought against him during the War Between the States.

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr. - Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Hand On My Shoulder

The Hand On My ShoulderThe fishing pole bent double as Jaybird struggled to hold it. Then, a monster crappie fighting fiercely broke the surface in a watery explosion. When he reached out to grab his catch, the hook dislodged and flew straight into his hand.

Terrified, I shrieked, “Jaybird — we’ve got to get to the hospital right away!” As calmly as if he had merely nicked a finger, he replied, “No, the fish are biting. We’ll catch the limit before leaving this lake. You’ll remove the hook from my hand.”

By Jimmy Reed - Monday, January 18, 2021

Yes, My Son

For most folks, New Year’s resolutions are futile. At each year’s end, I jot down several for the coming twelve months, but usually abandon them before January ends. This year, I talked to someone I could always count on for sound advice — Jaybird, one of the most virtuous men I have ever known. The old black man, who always called me his white son, now resides in my heart and in Heaven. 

“Jaybird, how can I overcome lack of self-discipline?”

“Son, all things, whatsoever you ask in prayer, believe, and you shall receive.”

By Jimmy Reed - Friday, January 8, 2021

A New You for a New Year

A New You for a New YearAre you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Have you reached the end of your rope only to find out that it’s much shorter than you imagined?  Was last year as good as you hoped it would be?  Was it as bad as you feared it would be?  Does the uncertainty of the future leave you anxious?  Has your own mortality entered like a crack in the ice in your youthful belief in personal indestructability?

By Dr. Robert R. Owens - Monday, December 28, 2020

The Hardest Part

The Hardest PartOne late, cold December day, my boyhood best friend and mentor, the beloved old black man everyone called Jaybird, and I were warming ourselves before his fireplace, talking about the year behind and the one to come. When I asked if he made any New Year’s resolutions, he said, “Yep, to stay alive long enough not to make any resolutions for the year after next.”

Then his tone became serious. “Boy, I’ve been watching how you work. You have a bad habit of doing a job’s easy parts first — exactly opposite of what you ought to do. Next year, I want you to do the hardest part of any job first, unless it depends on doing other parts first.”

By Jimmy Reed - Monday, December 28, 2020

The Christmas Candle

candle“Candle wicks, like memories, flicker faintly at times, and burn brightly at others.”

Dickens could have been writing about my father, William Christian Stoos, when he said of Scrooge that he knew how to keep Christmas well. Dad was the Spirit of Christmas in our household. Each year he anticipated the holiday with a childlike glee. Although a stoic man, and deeply spiritual , he became a child at Christmas time—his favorite time of the year.  Whether it was the gaudy Christmas tree with its 2,000 lights that warmed our cozy house, the pine candles and exotic incense that filled it with the wonderful scent of Christmas, the ice tree he made each year in the front yard, or the pile of presents under the tree, which he and Mom worked so hard to buy—Dad reveled in the trappings and the spirit of Christmas.  Whatever adversity the year may have brought previously was forgotten for nothing mattered more than this season. It was, for him, a time of joy, wonder, and mystery, but most of all—togetherness.

By William Kevin Stoos - Friday, December 25, 2020

Bawl, Boy, Bawl

Bawl, Boy, BawlAs we left the tiny country church near Dad’s Mississippi Delta farm, my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird asked, “Son, as much as love singing Christmas carols, why didn’t you sing today?”

The old black man was right. I knew them all, having memorized them while listening to Christmas albums over and over again, but a stinging insult from a man sharing our pew embarrassed me so painfully that I couldn’t sing. Jaybird loved my caterwauling, as I gleefully sang, “Joy To The World,” “Silent Night, Holy Night,” “O Little Town Of Bethlehem,” and other carols.

Once spoken, unkind words cannot be unspoken. A few days before, when I climbed into the bus after school, the driver, Mr. Smith quipped, “You love to sing in church, don’t you, boy?” Expecting praise, I chirped, “Yes, Sir.”

By Jimmy Reed - Monday, December 21, 2020

Film chronicles life and legacy of Fr Patrick Peyton, 'The Rosary Priest'

Film chronicles life and legacy of Fr Patrick Peyton, 'The Rosary Priest'The life of Fr. Patrick Peyton, an Irish-American priest who traveled the world hosting hundreds of rosary rallies and encouraging families to pray together, is the subject of a new film now available for online purchase.

The documentary-style film “PRAY: The Story of Patrick Peyton”, includes footage of Peyton, who lived from 1909-1992, as well as interviews with those who knew him.

It is produced by a company of Peyton’s own founding, Family Theater Productions, which provides community for Hollywood Catholics and produces family-friendly content. One of its most recent films includes The Dating Project, and the program Catholic Central provides short, informative films geared toward young people.

By News on the Net -- Catholic News Agency- Tuesday, December 15, 2020

On The Inside

When Maria walked into my British Literature class at the semester’s beginning, her stylish attire and thick, glossy, perfectly coiffed, blonde hair impressed me. I thought, if only all female students dressed that well. Nowadays, many don’t. The way some appear in public is appalling: shorts that are little more than panties, T-shirts hanging beneath blouses, garishly colored hair, and dirty, unlaced sneakers. They look like tramps.

A few months later, before Christmas break, Maria strutted into class dressed like a tramp, with her hair dyed fluorescent green. Sadly, I shook my head, realizing she had succumbed to peer group fads. During that session we discussed Shakespeare’s sonnets. In one, he described his lady’s outward appearance: Her hair resembled black wires, her breath reeked, her voice droned monotonously dull, her walk was a waddle, and so on. Even so, he loved her.

By Jimmy Reed - Friday, December 11, 2020

Lord of the Rings trilogy makes for a spectacular 4K set

Lord of the Rings trilogy makes for a spectacular 4K setFans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy are in for a treat with the new 4K treatment the films have received just in time for Christmas. It’s a spectacular package, a nine-disc set that includes both the theatrical and the extended versions of Jackson’s three classic fantasy films.

And if that isn’t enough for Middle Earth for you, Warner Brothers has also released the Hobbit trilogy in 4K.

I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and have auditioned all the video versions, from the original DVD’s of the theatrical versions to these brand new 4K transfer. I’m also a fan of the original J.R.R. Tolkien books, but upon rereading the Fellowship of the Ring a couple of years ago I discovered I now find the books unnecessarily bloated and actually prefer Jackson’s versions – the extended editions, at least.

By Jim Bray - Thursday, December 10, 2020

White Christmas

White Christmas, United States Navy BandUnited States Navy Band

By News on the Net - Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Thou Art

When students arrived for my creative writing course’s first meeting, they read this 38-word message on the board: “The first thing you must learn to do is to be able to write tight. Then, and only then, after you have learned to write tight can you ever hope to be able to learn to write right.” After analyzing the message, they took a test requiring them to rewrite the message, using nothing more than a dash, an exclamation point —?and four words.

By Jimmy Reed - Monday, November 30, 2020

The Good Land God Gave Us

The Good Land God Gave UsUpon returning home to the Mississippi Delta after overseas military service, Dad put me to work as farm manager, labor supervisor, and bookkeeper. As harvest season approached that first year, he said, “Son, we’ve got a fine cotton crop that must be gathered before fall rains set in. You’ll replace me as gin manager; I’ll tend to the harvest. Jaybird knows all about that gin and will show you the works.”

By Jimmy Reed - Saturday, November 21, 2020

Another Day at the Office

Another Day at the OfficeThis past Sunday, Ann, the Music Director where I attend church included a short video that       expressed thanks to the veterans of our country.  This touched my heart, as it has always done in the six decades since my active duty time in the United States Air Force (1954-58).  And, as it has done time after time in those years, it has given me pause to reflect on my enlistment time.  Just what had I done worthy of thanks?

By Bob Burdick - Friday, November 20, 2020


THANKSGIVINGWhat comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day?  Is it a visit with friends or relatives while sharing a lavish meal?  Watching your favorite sports team in action?  Or simply enjoying a day of rest?  For many Americans it’s all of the above.

President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, but this act was hardly new.  Nearly 250 years earlier, in 1621, after the Plymouth colonists completed the first harvest, Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving.

What tribulations led to this proclamation?  History provides the answer.

By Bob Burdick - Friday, November 13, 2020

The Weights And Counterpoises Of The Clock Of Life

The Weights And Counterpoises Of The Clock Of LifeWhile driving to work, I noticed a sign draped over a hospital’s entrance that read, “Thanksgiving is for giving thanks.” Ho-hum, I thought. Far from being in a thankful mood, I was dejected, unhappy, wallowing in self-pity, due primarily to my wife’s failing health, which required me to become what I was never meant to be: a nurse. The struggle was futile, I knew; her days were numbered. Death would soon take her, ending our long marriage.

By Jimmy Reed - Friday, November 13, 2020

Adieu, Mr. Lu

Adieu, Mr. Lu,The Mississippi Delta is renowned not only for its fecund soil, but also for its unique characters, ranging from those with benign idiosyncrasies to raving lunatics roaming unrestrained among sane folks. One of the most unforgettable of them was Lloyd Lemuel Llewellynn, known by all as “Mr. Lu.” His varicose-veined face framed a bulbous nose, crooked smile, and intelligent blue eyes, fixed always in a faraway stare.

Even in the Delta’s perpetual, soup-thick humidity, where gills would serve better than lungs for respiration, he wore heavy, Victorian Era clothes, so old and shabby that actual Victorians might have worn them. He spoke with what he claimed was his native Welsh accent, but to us Southerners sounded more like a Yankee’s Welsh affectation.

By Jimmy Reed - Monday, November 2, 2020

Memories are Made of This

Memories are Made of ThisIt’s enjoyable to mingle with folks who embrace our values, so I was especially pleased when I recently visited with a group of others who steadfastly embraced mine.  No, these folks were not family or friends.  They were an array of local men and women engaged in various activities at our Senior Citizens Center.

For added clarification, this citizen’s center is not a living facility; it is built like a meeting hall and it is open daily 9 to 5.  There are rest rooms and a small kitchen located behind the main room that is furnished with recliners, sofas, card tables, magazine racks, and a large-screen TV.  Not extravagant, but quite comfortable.

By Bob Burdick - Sunday, October 25, 2020

Boldness Has Genius, Power, And Magic In It

The challenge was great; the God-given courage, greater, courageOnce during my college teacher career, the dean called me into his office and ordered me to finish teaching a course that lost its instructor. When I complained that the semester was almost over, that I had no idea what had been covered, and furthermore that I had never taught that course, the former Marine drill sergeant pointed to the door and dismissed me with the same words he no doubt growled to numerous terrified recruits: “Like it or not, you will do whatever must be done.”

By Jimmy Reed - Wednesday, October 21, 2020