Life Without Strings!

When I was a lad living in Sauk Village, near Chicago, my friend, Steve, had a group of marionettes.  I was mesmerized by them!  Steve lived across the street from me.  He would bring them over and put on a puppet show for me and a group of my 3 and 4 year old colleagues.  Steve was a few years older than us and his sister, Susie, was older than him.  I remember Punch and Judy being a part of the puppet ensemble.  I had a bit of a crush on Susie and she hugged me on ever occasion that we met…  

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‘Punch and Judy is a traditional puppet show featuring Mr. Punch and his wife Judy.  The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between the characters, most typically Mr. Punch and one other character who usually falls victim to Mr. Punch’s slapstick.  It is often associated with traditional British culture.  The various episodes of Punch comedy-often provoking shocked laughter-are dominated by the clowning of Mr. Punch.’    Wikipedia

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The puppeteer expertise of my friend in pulling the right strings to facilitate the smooth movements of his intimate marionette brigade were magical to behold!  

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At times I have found myself performing intricate machinations…that I really could not trace to any particular idea that I had possessed…  So often we accomplish our daily functions by rote…and with little thought as to the reason why or passion for the procedure!  

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I developed an appreciation for people that think for themselves… over 30 years ago.  The stultifying culture of follow the leader is claustrophobic and suffocating.  As my mother often asked me, ‘If everyone was jumping off or a cliff…would you jump also?’  

One of the premier qualities of being a member of the First Presbyterian Church is that the members think for themselves.  I just enjoyed three enlightening conversations today with my fellow congregants.  The Presbyterian Church USA believes that God speaks to all of his human handiwork and thus does not leave you at the mercy of a ministers human frailty to direct your faith journey.  The polity of the denomination provides for a board of elders that are elected by the congregation and who serve prescribed terms.  The session, moderated by the pastor, is the local church government.  I have never encountered two presbyterians that were in lock step in their thinking or their methodology for producing successful results for the church body.  They are engaging and free thinkers…and it is a breath of fresh air!  

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When I witness political movements that walk in synchronization with their elected leader…I am reminded of a cult.  I have worked with great leaders in all arenas of life…and made it a practice to disagree with them on a regular basis.  Each of these university administrators or pastors understood that I would never fain subservient acquiescence to their ideas…rather I could be counted on to offer them my unvarnished opinion along with my rationale for it.  

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During my over 32 years at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…and my 51 years as a christian…I have observed the deleterious affects of people being afraid to speak up against wrong…or being more concerned for their own well being and well fair than to take the risk to save their fellow human beings from suffering and loss!

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