State of the Year We’re In

IDLE AMERICAN
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Lots of people have cast negative ballots, said tacky things and made disparaging gestures about the year 2020 in general. The unanimous verdict indicated that, as one West Texan put it, “Ain’t what we signed up for.”

A pessimist claims that if he attempted to cross an intersection– even if he looked every direction two or three times–his 2020 record of the “crossing” would be less than memorable. He said, “Likely I’d be wiped out by a helicopter, low-flying plane or drone.”

Dr. Don Newbury

A youngster insists if the year were a book, it should share the title of a long-acclaimed children’s book entitled Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day—times 365. 

An old-timer who has been subjected to virtually every medical procedure, says that if 2020 were a drink, it would taste like the concoction that awakens every gag reflex on the way to the tummies of folks scheduled to take colonoscopies on the morrow.

With a couple of months remaining, there’s plenty of time to add to the list that paints 2020 in a bad light.

If the year were an airline, well, you name the brand. Whichever one you choose, most of its planes have been parked for most of the year.

Finally, if it were an automobile, it would be an Edsel, and if a boxer, the kind referees never hold hand aloft to declare victories. Your turn to decide what 2020 would be “if.”

I can’t believe I almost left out the weather.

 Frightful would be a “go-to” adjective, but there are a bunch more that come into play.

Wager the farm on “horrific” being used to paint devastating pictures of hurricanes, floods and fires. Expect victims to be “transported” to hospitals. In years long ago, we thought the word “taken” would suffice. But no. Today’s writers like “transported.” If we stay on the same glide path, the injured soon will be “hauled” to the hospital.

At the church house, lyrics expressed in old-time hymns will become more personal, and Bible sales may be over the top.

In bookstores, preachers whose sermons are emphasized by exclamation points may be seeking Bibles of strong construction, even “suitable for thumping.”

They’ll prefer Bibles with the “red ink” admonitions in larger type, and bold-faced, of course.

Okay, it’s admission time. I’m off in the tall weeds, but I refuse to spend too much time there.

Maybe I’ll make a list—checking it twice, and then some–of favorite musical numbers that I find encouraging.

When I’m driving, exact words of hymns don’t always come easily, but I’ll resort to humming–or perhaps “sing in spurts”–the partial lyrics that have been tucked away in mind recesses for decades.

One sure to be attempted is “When We All Get to Heaven.”

Christians–whether walking, running or crawling, or maybe even taken, transported or hauled–cling to promises expressed in such hymns.

Think on a couple of stanzas: Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, Sing His mercy and His grace. In the mansions bright and blessed, He’ll prepare for us a place. When we all get to heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be, When we all see Jesus, We’ll sing and shout the victory.

Onward to the prize before us, Soon His beauty we’ll behold. Soon the pearly gates will open, We shall tread the streets of gold. Then, the chorus one more time.

It is often intriguing to know how such great hymns originate.

In this case, poet Eliza Hewitt and composer Emily Wilson, a couple of Philadelphians, came up with this one while attending a Methodist camp meeting in New Jersey. 

I can’t offer much about what went on that year, but aren’t we grateful that no matter what else came from that camp meeting, this great hymn of the faithful resulted from their collaboration?

Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly.  Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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