Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy Dynasty

I know and love a lot of people who are not steeped in Southern culture because of my travels and because one of my daughters married one such person and I am committed to love the people she loves. Since I am, thus, so well acquainted with our brethren from up nawth, I have developed a theory as to why so many of them seem to love the phenomenally successful television show “Duck Dynasty.” At first I thought it was because they were making fun of the characters, but later I theorized that busy big-city people are longing for a simpler, more honest, more laugh-prone and, yes, more solidly Christian approach to living. They want to be happy, happy, happy. For example, there is probably not much road rage in West Monroe. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fine Christians all over our great land, all over the world, really, with varying approaches to the faith. So, hey, I am not saying that the South is more Christian, Jack.

But, when a network talking head recently compared the show to the “The Beverly Hillbillies,” I saw how little her ilk really knows of the glorious Southland. I should have noticed the vacuous thought processes of some in the national media when they reported the cooking show fiasco. I mean, the daytime network hosts of the world with their million-dollar contracts and good suits and bad haircuts sound so smart and self-assured until you really hear what they are saying. Most often their doctrinaire biases control and skew what passes for analysis of current events.

Our worldview certainly influences the way we think, doesn’t it? On the show, we see Duck Commander Phil, the patriarch of the Robertson family, exhibiting a strong Christian worldview, gathering his family and friends for a meal, praying unabashedly in Jesus’ name, giving thanks, asking for patience, especially for those who are closest to us. There is Phil’s wife, the Godly woman, Kay, who knows when to submit and when to stand her ground. Blessed are the peacemakers. And everybody’s favorite is Uncle Si, who at the reaffirmation wedding of his brother Phil and sister-in-law Kay said, “Hey, I’ve got something to say here before we go on. Hey, I have been with these two from the beginning and, hey, God loves them and so do I.”

Si has a Facebook page. Not that he ever operated a computer, but, as the site explains, the family put the page up for him. On it is a photograph of Si and his wife of many years. The quotation from him under the picture is, “I love this woman, always have, always will and you can take that to the bank, Jack.”

Even though this family characterizes itself as redneck, their language often bespeaks an educated respect for English grammar. Phil in particular is most articulate in his pronouncements. Even though the north Louisiana accent is alien to some, hey, we can see that they work to communicate precisely and exactly. Phil also has a flair for parallel structures, for example using the word “abode” for “home.”

I was born near West Monroe, so the accent sounds right to me. In fact, when I say the word “happy,” I sound a lot like Phil. And I say it a lot these days.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Beach Ride

This has been a very pleasant summer around southwest Arkansas. We were at De Gray Lake in the middle of July and we were able to enjoy the great out-of-doors for a couple of days. In fact, it was even cool at night, the kind of weather that made campfires feel good. If global warming is happening, our region is missing out on it and I, for one, am glad! The only down side was that the rooms were very cold because they kept the air conditioner cranked up. I couldn’t get warm enough to sleep well.

I was having a little tendonitis in my left knee while we were up there at the lake, but it felt good enough one day for a bicycle ride. I had loaded my mountain bike into the carrier thinking, as I always do, that I would fully recover soon. I have been expecting a pain-free life for a long time. But I was not disappointed in that ride.

We were staying at the lodge. At about three in the afternoon, I took off on the bicycle headed for the peninsula beach. We have loved that area for a long time, ever since our daughter Alicia was a baby. We played in the warm shallow waters of that beach every chance we got back then, so I had sweet memories of the place.

On a bicycle, one becomes much more aware of rolling terrain than in a car. I had to drop the 21-speed bike down into first gear several times. I was climbing significant hills into the wind. All bike riders know what that means—hard work. But I got to the beach at about 3:30 and that wind that had been my enemy was now a pleasant breeze blowing in off the water. It was partly cloudy and much cooler than I expected as I rested on a picnic table and sipped water from my water bottle. Another astonishing thing was that there were only a few people there to enjoy the ideal beach weather.

I got the cell phone and texted other family members at the lodge and gave this report, “at peninsula bch. not crowded. cool breeze. kids will love it.” Within minutes, while I was waiting for response to my text, the family drove up. When they got out, they ran through the warm sand to the warm water and had a blast. I joined them.

We spent a couple of hours there. The trip back to the lodge was easier for them in the car. But it was easier for me, too. Who would have thought that there is more downhill going back to the lodge that coming from it?

When I cruised back into the parking lot and repositioned my bicycle into the carrier, they were all ready to go to supper. I made quick work of an English bath (just a washcloth) and we went to a nice family restaurant in Arkadelphia, where the catfish was restorative to say the least. We all slept well that night. Maybe it was a tad warmer in the room.