Author: Michael Brown

Ten Thousand Words

Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different
We love to talk on things we don’t know about

“Ten Thousand Words” –The Avett Brothers

In a perfect world, each of us would have both a personal trainer and a personal editor; the former for our obesity, the latter for our verbosity.

I’ve seen America fatten right before my very eyes. As a grunt on the front lines of primary health care over the past 25 years, I know first hand the effects of increased sedentary lifestyles and the “cornucopia” of processed and fast foods available at nearly every turn with just the swipe of a credit card.

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Robert Rex Meyers: Student, Soldier, Professor, Preacher, “Heretic”–My Friend

Robert Rex Meyers was born in 1923 and raised by loving and devout parents on a three hundred acre farm in the eastern hills of Oklahoma near Henrietta. From an early age, he would rise early in the morning and plow the land, sowing seeds in the rich, moist earth in much the same way he would later plant ideas in the fertile minds of eager students. He studied the Bible and was baptized by a traveling black evangelist named R.N. Hogan in a small, fundamentalist Church of Christ, but it was his full-bodied immersion in the deep waters of natural revelation, the whisper of God in the rustling of wind-kissed leaves and the fragrant incense of meadow grass, that would eventually set his heart aflame.

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Three Lessons I Learned At Central High

Last week, I returned to high school.

Fortunately, nobody had rescinded my diploma. Neither had I landed in one of those fish-out-of-water, “impotence” dreams where the hapless, middle-age man, who has long since forgotten the difference between a sine and cosine, is thrown into an advanced geometry class full of National Merit Scholars.

Instead, I visited Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, where nine black students, aka the “Little Rock Nine,” dared to enter her shiny portals of learning in September, 1957, thereby ending ending racial segregation in Little Rock public schools. They were blocked on the first attempt by Arkansas National Guardsmen acting under orders of Governor Orval Faubus who had sworn not to allow the black students to enroll.

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X-Men Among Us

Eyegal and I went to see X-Men: First Class last Friday and loved it.

Loved it; as in it was a steamy Friday evening following another day of triple digit temps in Alabama and we just wanted to be in the AC and not have to think too hard and just sit back and lose ourselves in a fast-paced action story. In this case, one resonating with the early-60s James Bond, “Mad Men” period vibe that scratches my nostalgic itch these days. That kind of “loved it.”

You won’t see this movie among the list of finalists in next year’s Academy Awards, but it fit the bill for such Friday night circumstances and was another enjoyable installment in the X-Men movies series which started in 2000.

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Getting On Board Bus #18

I was an immaculately-groomed half-pint in September 1968 as I stood by the road in front of our brick rural rancher waiting for Bus #18 to usher me into the next 12 years of mandatory public school education. A book bag in one hand, a G.I. Joe lunchbox in the other, I was escorted by my older sister, a worldly-wise 5th grader who was under orders to watch my back.

I heard the bus before I could see it. It had another stop about a quarter mile down the road, at the foot of a low-grade hill. I listened as its diesel engine geared down, brakes squealing, and then there was a pause that seemed to last forever as my neighbors boarded.

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A Tale of Two Schools: A Review of the 2010 Christian Scholars’ Conference

People look at you kind of strange when you tell them that you shelled out good money to attend something called a “Christian Scholars’ Conference” and that you actually enjoyed it. Reactions can range from “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like that?” to “Well, la-de-da!” But believe me, after a long season of Tim James political TV ads and rootin’ tootin’ “Ag Commish” wannabe viral videos, I was ready for a little more “la-de-da” in my life.

You know Eyegal and me–liberal arts geeks to the core. An itch like that doesn’t always get scratched sufficiently in a high tech town like Huntsville, Alabama.

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Jerry Mitchell, MacArthur Fellow 2009

Jerry Boo Mitchell circa 1981Pardon me, but does the goofy-looking nerd in the suspenders and top hat reading Mother Goose look like the type of guy who would strike fear in the hearts of murderous Ku Klux Klansmen?

Um, no, I don’t think so.

And if you had asked any of us who attended Harding University in the early 1980s the same question and what we thought of the future prospects of Jerry “Boo” Mitchell, first-class clown, favorite chapel announcer and author of the somewhat subversive “Fifth Column” which appeared weekly in the school newspaper The Bison, we would have likely laughed and said something like “high school speech teacher,” or “radio talk show host,” anything, really, other than the Civil Rights version of Gabriel Van Helsing.

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The 12th Man

Number One Son road-tripped to Auburn this past weekend to visit with some friends and to watch the Bama v. Auburn basketball game. The visit with friends went well. The game? Not so much.

Yesterday morning, Number One was driving to church when he stopped at an intersection with a crosswalk. He looked both ways, halfway expecting a herd of cattle to come ambling by about that time. Instead a lone figure in a suit was walking down the sidewalk to his right and starting into the intersection.

Number One stayed stopped and yielded like he was supposed to. He looked down to fiddle with something in the car, and when he looked back up, the man in the suit was directly in front of him and staring straight at him.

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Vote for Boo–It’s the Right Thing To Doo

boo-ii.jpgWhen I was in high school, I had a teacher who made sure that we knew about the civil rights struggle in America. I’m thankful that I learned early in life about Medgar Evers, the Birmingham church bombing and the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. I can remember chafing and squirming when I learned how the perpetrators of those crimes had escaped justice and were still free to live their lives as they pleased.

Little did I know that the goofy, red-haired guy wearing the suspenders and top hat who used to do the announcements in chapel at Harding would be the one to help bring those scoundrels to justice.

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Cubera Nights

USS_Cubera;0834702.jpg.jpgIt was fitting that my Father’s Day gift arrived in a small, Priority Mail shipping container. The Navy ballcap emblazoned with “USS Cubera, SS-347″ barely fit inside its tight, cardboard quarters. The snugness reminded me of the way her crew must have felt, tightly sealed inside the smothering, steel hull of the Balao Class fast-attack submarine as she patrolled the waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic during the Cold War, her eyes ever open for any sign of danger from Mother Bear.

And of course, the cap reminded me of my father, which, I suppose, was the whole point.

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This Harding Thing of Ours

mpuzo-godfather.jpgI recently wrote of a pleasant serendipity in which I ran into an aquaintance from my alma mater, Harding University, at a Wendy’s restaurant in south Birmingham. It seemed an unlikely turn of events, but as JRB explained in the comments section, all things are possible with “La Harding Cosa Nostra.”

I chuckled at the image of a “Harding mob” (would that make President Burks the Godfather?) spread across the globe helping each other out and doing good for mankind rather than whacking people and eating platefuls of spaghetti on checkered tablecloths while listening to old Frank Sinatra records.

I had no idea then how right he was.

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The Road From Malibu to Searcy Runs Through Birmingham

Pepperdine.jpgI didn’t graduate from Pepperdine University. In fact, I’ve never set foot on the beautiful Malibu campus nestled by the jagged shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. But thanks to our youth minister, Jason, who recently attended the annual lectureship there, I am the proud owner of a bright orange Pepperdine t-shirt with arched, blue letters and a school seal with motto that reads “Freely ye received, freely give.” It was the first shirt that I pulled out of my drawer last Friday as I prepared to travel to Ozark, Alabama to spend Memorial Day weekend with my younger sister and her family.

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The Rightful Owner

I held my breath and walked through the door as a small bell tingled, announcing my arrival. I’d never set foot inside a pawn shop before, but the place fulfilled my stereotyped expectations. The walls were lined with shelves filled with discarded televisions, stereos, power tools, and once treasured trinkets, many pawned in last-ditch, desperate moves for quick cash.

The pawnbroker sat behind a glass display case lined with cheap handguns and gaudy costume jewelry. He was reading The Decatur Daily and nursing his morning coffee as the smoke from his cigarette curled lazily upward toward the tobacco stained ceiling.

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