Form Follows Function: What do we do trumps how we do it!

As a potter I hope that my pieces communicate something. The preference is that they communicate function over form, but I do like to dabble in creative risk-taking shapes sometimes. Form should follow function whether in pottery or the church. First you figure out what you think God wants you do, and then you figure out the means, structure, or whatever you need to accomplish it. If we can figure out our function first then our forms and the shape of our vessels should surely follow!

I prefer 19th century pottery forms because they got this point exactly right. The potters or “turners,” as they were called back then, didn’t go for the fancy stuff that’s more artsy than utilitarian. They made crocks, jugs, and storage jars, things you were going to use. Sure, they decorated the ware every now and then, but, for the most part, it was all about function first. I wonder sometimes if churches are first geared to perform our function, or do we prioritize our outdated and poorly purposed forms, means of worship and facilities. Do our forms follow our function to make disciples of Jesus Christ? What do we communicate?

St. John’s Apple Fest is this coming Saturday and I will be donating quite a few pieces of pottery since the proceeds support missions. I’ll be using a South Carolina theme where I use a sgraffito method and free-hand draw the palmetto and crescent symbols of our state on the wet clay. South Carolina has been through a lot this year, from massacre to mud, Charleston Nine to the Flood. Thus I want my work to communicate a love of our state and support ways that we can help alleviate some of the suffering that people have endured.

Forms communicate function and what we value. Fred Craddock, best preacher ever in my mind, has a great story, one of many, that speaks about the communication of values. He tells about when he was a youngster going to church with his mother. The story goes like this: “The minister would speak to my mother, ‘How’re you, Miz Craddock?’ and the five of us kids would go along like little ducks waddling after our mother. ‘How’re you, sonny? How’re you, honey? How’re you, sonny? How’re you, honey?’”

He goes on to say, “But I remember when another minister came to our church, and about his fifth or sixth Sunday when I went along there, he said, ‘Fred, how’re you doing?’ He was the best minister that ever was at that church, because there’s a big difference between ‘sonny’ and ‘Fred.’” Amen. The personal touch, with pottery and people, communicates something, doesn’t it? It makes all the difference, in my opinion. A church that communicates personal care and nurture is a boon to society as a whole, and to individual lives as well. What do people hear from us? Do they hear a well-intentioned, but impersonal, “sonny,” or “honey,” or do they hear the specific love of God that is tailor-made for them, as if it were only theirs to hear?

Another Craddock story expresses a need for better communication of our values: “I was in a church gathering in Ponca City, Oklahoma, and somebody asked me during the question-and-answer period what I thought about somebody’s view of the Bible that had just been published and they had all read about. I discussed it, and I said, “There’s a lot of thought there, and I’m sure this is a very sincere person, but his view of the Bible is not adequate for me. I think he puts too much water in the wine.”

Then he continued, “Afterward a woman came up to me and gave me two tickets to the state Women’s Christian Temperance Union banquet, a fine organization opposed to the use of spirituous liquors. She wanted my wife and me to go, and I said, ‘But why this?’ And she said, ‘We just don’t have enough ministers speaking out against drink, and I appreciated what you said.’ Now, what did I say, and what did she hear?”

These are the two questions that we must absolutely answer with every verbal interaction, sermon, and church service or program: “What did I/we say?” and “What did she/he hear?” If we ask those two questions and understand the answers we will have come a long way in adequately offering Jesus to a needy world. Our function is to offer Christ and our words and actions are the form, the vessel for the content of the Gospel. Answering “What did I say?” and “What was heard?” creates better communication, and proves that our forms FOLLOW our function!

>Throw Your Life Away: Be a Potter!

 

 

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Repentance in the District Office!

Today I begin to stack my office with pottery for the UM Center employees. Tonight I will give away nearly a hundred little angel ornaments to the active and retired clergy of the Columbia District. They look a little funky. Hey, I tried making elaborate angels with tipped multilayered wings but the angles on those angels (pun intended) about ruined my Advent hope. Those wings were impossible! Instead I opted for simple angels which my children say look more like plump bald ghosts or mini-me’s that they have dubbed “Timanents” because I more than vaguely resemble the aforementioned description. Ha!

I wanted to start over, recycle the clay, REPENT! Too late, today’s the day and tonight’s the night. I got rushed with the gifts for the UM Center, Cabinet, and family, too. I panicked enough that I pressed Caleb and Josh into service. They helped me glaze and let’s just say that we ended up with some color combinations that stretch the notion of a pleasing color spectrum. Sunday afternoon, out of sheer disgust, I hosed off the unfired glaze from the few remaining pieces so they can dry and I get a do-over before our family Christmas gathering on the 22nd. On top of all this my impatience got exacerbated when one of my kiln’s thermocouples failed. I have rebuilt that kiln for nearly 2 decades but I have never had to replace a thermocouple. Shudder!

Anyway, the parts have come in and I now have to get up my nerve to deal with ELECTRICITY. Please pray for the gift recipients of this “Charlie Brown Christmas.” I repent, I repent, and I repent some more. I should have paced myself enough to enjoy the artistic process, used careful planning and execution to get the glazes right, and factored in the possibility of equipment failure. But, no…… and I’m caught. Today it begins, ready or not! Repentance without reformation is the definition of stupidity. Saying “I’m sorry,” without any change in behavior is a pretty transparent failure to the dear woman who married me 37 years ago. I can say that I’m sorry that I didn’t get ready for Advent/Christmas, and Jesus’ First or Second Coming, but there’s that point in time when time runs out! A feeble last second “Sorry!” doesn’t cut it unless I change my ways and get my act together.

A friend of mine, Dr. Jim Harnish, who is Senior Pastor of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, Florida, has a Garrison Keillor Christmas story he likes to use during Advent. It’s about people making their reluctant trek back to Lake Wobegon for Christmas. They have moved away, become smart and sophisticated, but they nevertheless make their way back home. Many annually go to Christmas Eve Mass and listen to Father Emil at Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Catholic Church. Every year he blasts them for not living up to their vows, in spite of it being Christmas Eve.

Others go to Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church. One of Keillor’s classic descriptions is about Larry Sorenson’s annual Christmas visit to church: “Larry the Sad Boy was there, who was saved twelve times in the Lutheran Church, an all-time record. Between 1953 and 1961, he threw himself weeping and contrite on God’s throne of grace on twelve separate occasions – and this in a Lutheran church that wasn’t evangelical, had no altar call, no organist playing ‘Just As I Am Without One Plea’ while a choir hummed and a guy with shiny hair took hold of your heartstrings and played you like a cheap guitar – this is the Lutheran Church, not a bunch of hillbillies these are Scandinavians, and they repent in the same way that they sin: discreetly, tastefully, at the proper time, and bring a Jell-O salad for afterward. Larry Sorenson came forward weeping buckets and crumpled up at the communion rail, to the amazement of the minister, who had delivered a dry sermon about stewardship, and who now had to put his arm around this limp, soggy individual and pray with him and see if he had a ride home. Twelve times. Even the fundamentalists got tired of him. Granted, we’re born in original sin and are worthless and vile, but twelve conversions are too many. God didn’t mean us to feel guilt all our lives. There comes a point when you should dry your tears and join the building committee and start grappling with the problems of the church furnace and the church roof and make church coffee and be of use, but Larry kept on repenting and repenting.”

Jim Harnish and my pottery dilemma 2012 remind me that Advent is a time of repenting; but it’s also an urgent call to rise up from repenting and be of use! So wail I will for more than a few moments about things I shouldn’t have done or left undone, but the time has come TODAY to move on and really do something to get ready for Jesus. Talk is cheap and I owe the Birthday Boy more than that!

Christmas Is Coming!

I’ve got pottery to make for Christmas and my forearms hurt from 6 hours of doing it yesterday. So far I’ve made my stuff for the Killingsworth Auction to help one of our women’s shelters. One of my ministers is getting married and her vase is made. I’ve done another 51 bowls and vases for the staff in the United Methodist Center. What I have left are 20 pieces for the Cabinet, 20 pieces for the family, and 100 Christmas ornaments for all of the Columbia District clergy, active and retired. Plus everything has to be bisque-fired and then glazed and fired again. It’s a daunting task. I love doing it. I’m just tired.

I never keep anything for myself and relish giving it away. I don’t grow vegetables to offer people, but pottery I can do! My problem is that I’m not finished with Charge Conferences and today is November 2! Christmas parties and the Big Day itself are right around the corner. Can it be done? I’ve got glazes to mix and there’s little fun in putting your hands in wet glaze and sieving it through a mesh on a cold day. That my pottery studio isn’t heated doesn’t help. What will be my motivation to finish the task?

Psychologists, for years, have said that one of the best ways to get out of the doldrums is to make yourself do something for somebody else. They’re right! If we give in to the pits we’re never going to get out. Commitment is the ability to push through the pain, the angst, the pessimistic cynical mindset in which we find ourselves and keep at the projects that we’re supposed to complete. George Miller gave an interesting analogy, “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” What he’s saying about Italian food is true for me. It sticks with me for a long time. To paraphrase John Wesley, “Doing all the good we can sticks with us, too!” We have to keep at the things that matter!

So, when we’re a little down, we shouldn’t give in to it. We should stick to the things that we know that we’re supposed to do. Sure, I know very well that sometimes I don’t feel like going out to my pottery studio, but I also know the endorphins that are released when I throw clay will make me feel better. Visiting someone, doing my devotions, or presiding over Charge Conferences isn’t always appealing, but spiritual energy is released every time!  Missionary and martyr Jim Elliott said something that inspires me to be committed no matter the task: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Unfortunately, there are lots of us looking forward to the weekend too much. Many of us easily avoid the things we should be doing right now. Jerome K. Jerome, who lived from 1859-1927, said it for all sad-sacks and procrastinators, “I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

So maybe we shouldn’t vegetate and let our burdens build up. Doing something good and worthwhile is a better answer. It’s all about commitment. Lewis Smedes puts the matter quite plainly, “I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God… When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay. When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and control at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.” Today I will think of others and let nothing dissuade me from doing everything that I can for somebody else!

Bedlam to Bethlehem

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I’m almost done with my Christmas pottery and glass making! I have 2 pie/quiche plates to glaze sometime today and 1 huge bowl (30 inch diameter). Last night we went to our last Christmas party, and tonight Cindy and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary. Getting married at Christmas seemed like a great idea back in 1975. It was a family tradition. My parents got married December 23, 1937, and my grandparents on December 25, 1910. I can’t imagine the pressure we put on our folks to have a Christmas wedding even though it shouldn’t have been a big surprise given the family tendency. It’s a crazy time of year, but worshipful, too – if we pause and ponder.

I know of and have been part of churches that have had live nativity scenes. I heard of one where everything was fine except for wayward goats. The whole thing was planned as a worship scene, a living tableau of Bethlehem’s manger complete with live animals. Unfortunately, it was too real. There weren’t any problems with the cow and the lambs. They played their roles well. Never mind that a camel couldn’t be found. After all, we reasoned that the Wise Men would have parked them out back anyway.

The goats were a different story. Hindsight is always 20-20. No wonder goats aren’t usually found in crèches. Jesus told the truth when he said that on Judgement Day the sheep ought to be divided from the goats. Together, they can wreck a nativity scene. The goats took off midway through the evening and headed down the main drag in town. You should have seen us trying to round them up!

We often turn our experience of Christ’s birth into a zoo. We mix our metaphors for Christ’s incarnation, blend the sacred and the secular, and end up with the goats and sheep butting heads. Our symbols and celebrations have become a hodgepodge of the commercial and sentimental. Santa and tinsel have overshadowed Jesus. Phyllis Diller said it well, “Santa Claus comes to us under many names: Kris Kringle, Saint Nicholas, Mastercard.” We have lost Jesus and replaced Him with a Coca-Cola image of jolly old St. Nick.

With Christmas customs and live nativities, Bethlehem can easily degenerate into bedlam. What began as an earnest attempt to make the Nativity of our Lord more realistic turned into a somewhat humorous disaster. But that’s nothing new. “Bedlam” often describes how we celebrate Christmas today.

The word “Bedlam” goes back to the 1400s when a London hospital named St. Mary of Bethlehem opened its doors to the insane. According to historians, it was a very noisy and unkempt place. People started dropping St. Mary from the name. Then they eventually contracted and corrupted the last part. Bethlehem became Bethlem and finally bedlam, a place of noise and confusion. A name that was first associated with the mother of the Prince of Peace became synonymous with disruption and despair.

Sounds like our hectic schedule of Christmas parties and commitments, doesn’t it? But, it doesn’t have to be this way. The celebration of Christmas need not become bedlam. Worship ought not cause confusion but peace, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33). This season is best enjoyed in stillness and reflection. Let the hush of this holy season toss out the bedlam of overactivity! One week to go: reclaim the peace through the Prince of Peace!

Palmetto Pride

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My last post showed me doing sgraffito-carving on a leatherhard vase. I like to free hand palmetto and crescents – the symbols of South Carolina. Our state is infamous for too many things. Someone said about SC when the state seceded from the Union to start the Civil War: “What! They’re too small to be a republic, and too large to be an insane asylum.”
Well, I wonder sometimes. Our cigarette tax is one of the lowest in the country. Our legislature is often out-of-touch when it comes to medicaid and benefits to the poorest of the poor. Our unemployment rate is worse than anyone else’s, but our tuition at our colleges is highest in the Southeast. Plus, don’t get me started about our governor, lieutenant governor, or a Confederate flag flying in our faces in front of the Statehouse.
 
That flag alone is enough to make me sick. It is so hurtful to so many people. Our history is replete with innocent blood on that flag. That may be my history, but it’s not my heritage. History is something you learn from, and heritage is something you pass on to your children. But we haven’t learned, have we? How many of us would be offended if the German B.M.W. plant in Greer flew a Swatiska over its buildings? We all would!
We need to put the shine and lustre back on the Palmetto and Crescent. That’s a symbol worth standing up for. It’s up to me and you to do it. I have spent a few days before calling legislators. I need to do it more than that. Apathy gets us nowhere. It may be summer recess for our legislators so we might think it’s no time to call them up. Actually, summer recess is the best time. They work for us! Pick up the phone!

Spinning Wheels and Fiery Furnances

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I know that this story flies in the face of my theodicy and why people suffer, but it helps on a rough day, especially for a potter like me. God doesn’t cause the crud in our lives but God does use it for good, if I will wait and see. Here’s the story:

There was a couple who used to frequent crafts shops. They both loved pottery, and especially vases. They saw one in a shop that immediately caught their fancy. They asked the shopkeeper if they could pick it up and look it over more closely. As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the vase spoke, “You don’t understand.”

It said, “I have not always been a vase. There was a time when I was just a lump of white clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, “Let me alone,” but he only smiled, “Not yet!!”

“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “’Stop it!! I’m getting dizzy!’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’

Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the peep hole, and I could read his lips as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’

“Finally, the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, Stop it!!!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet!’

Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This one was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged, I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf.

An hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself.’ And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’

“I want you to remember, then’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and kneaded and patted, but if I just had left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have collapsed. I know it hurts and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have crumbled. I know the fumes were bad when I poured the glaze over you, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened and been made strong. You would not have had any color in your life, and if I hadn’t put you back in the oven for a second time, you wouldn’t survive for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”

God is the potter and I’m the clay. If I believe that the the spinning wheel and fiery kiln will be worth it when it’s all said and done. Lord, Give me patience!

Satellites, I-Phones, Clay, and Us

I just got a call from a reporter for the United Methodist News Service wanting to interview me about the apparent defeat of the 23 Worldwide UMC Constitutional Amendments voted on by annual conferences. As I write this, it appears that they are going down to defeat by a 65-35% margin. As I said to the reporter, “This is a victory for connectionalism.”

Connectionalism isn’t just a UM hallmark. It is the way God made us. We have been created in God’s image to be interconnected. American Indians have long embraced this worldview. Reciprocity in all things means that four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged creatures, fish, and all of creation co-exists. To live is to be in perpetual connection. Sure, there are cultural differences and God must embrace diversity or there wouldn’t be so many different types of creatures, colors, or clays. I say “clays” because I’m a potter – duh!
 
I have used clays like Standard 153, 114, locally dug and pugged earthenware, Loafer’s Glory, Little Loafer’s, B-Mix, a little bit of everything. I change every now and then, but I prefer the feel, bite, and color of Little Loafer’s the best. Anyway, we’re all clay – made from the dust. Adam literally means dirt. In our connectionalism we all belong at the table and our interdependence extends to our connection to every molecule of the planet, even the cosmos.
 
The 40th anniversary of humans on the moon reminds me of how Spaceship Earth is but a little slice of the heavens. Watching the stars last night in SC’s lowcountry and seeing a satellite zip by was God’s megaphone to me of interconnectedness. Watching fellow cabinet members during our retreat this week stay connected with the outside world through I-phones and Blackberries verified our connectedness, and the need for the satellite.
 
The rub, however, whether you’re parenting a teenager or an aging mother, is how much to stay connected without losing individuality. How can we make room for God’s gift of diversity while embracing the fact that every thing, every creature is made of the same cosmic dust? That is my challenge, our challenge – holding in tension the facts of distance and closeness without spinning apart or melting into an amalgam of enmeshment. Such is life, C’est la vie, n’est pas?

Personal Adventures and Family Promises

I’m at Candler School of Theology at Emory and it’s going well – a new group of eager students for the two classes that I’m teaching: “Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit” and “United Methodist Discipline and Polity.” The days have been interesting, getting up early for an 8 am class that goes straight through for two hours, a worship break, then 11:30am-2 pm for the last class. I miss lunch, but I have more time than ever for the afternoon and don’t have to fight the snail pace of North Decatur Rd. to get back to the apartment they have me in at Emory’s Clairmont campus.

I’ve had high hopes of working out in the fitness center, but haven’t made it yet. Maybe tonight, but I have a couple of novels that are calling. I shaved my beard today. It was only a week old, hah! I went to Mt. Mitchell for a week and tent-camped, hiked, graded papers, and got ready for class, no shower and no shaving. I came straight here. This weekend is Laity Convocation at Lake Junaluska so I’ll travel up Saturday morning and meet with the Cabinet then travel to Columbia to spend the night, then go to a Pottery Exhibit Opening in my hometown of Edgefield on Sunday before coming back to Atlanta to teach the final week here at Emory. I can’t wait to see the new groundhog kiln they’re dedicating in Edgefield. They’ve asked me to do the prayer because of my family’s connection to the Edgefield Pottery revival.
Cindy just let me know that old friends have given us their beach place to use in a couple of weeks so that’s wonderful. As much as I like the mountains, there’s no place like the beach to be around Enoch and Evy. Ah…Grandchildren building sandcastles and memories. I can’t wait! Well, that’s enough about my itenrary. I hope you’re all having a great summer. God is good!

"Loafer’s Glory" or "B-Mix"

Being a potter is wonderfully therapeutic. Your hands can’t go faster than the wheel is turning or what you make is going to have problems before you can wire it off. There has to be focus and fluidity of motion with an eye for what can be even when you can’t see it. It’s a wonder I don’t have a bent neck from leaning over constantly to watch the vessel’s profile as I’m pulling and shaping. You have to look beyond the reality and see the possibility, and dare to take a chance on a new throwing hunch or a shape.

I just bought a thousand pounds of clay to get me through my Christmas projects. I was down to a couple of hundred pounds. My favorite clay comes from a little hole-in-the-road place in North Carolina called “Loafer’s Glory.” What a great name! Any way “Loafer’s Glory” is the clay that I love to use. It’s a smooth-throwing stoneware with just enough grog and grit to experiment with as I try to throw larger 19th century forms. It feels good, looks good, glazes well, and fires beautifully.
 
Unfortunately I was only able to purchase 500 pounds of “Loafer’s Glory” and have had to supplement my supply with a similar B-mix grade clay. I wedged a sample of the “B-mix” to see how it compared to Loafer’s and it felt pretty good. I’m looking forward to trying it out. The switch got me thinking about us as God’s clay.
 
I picture God as trying to get something accomplished, but there’s not enough of us who want to oblige. Maybe that’s when God gives another clay a try. God likes to create and experiment with this spaceship called Earth, and wants the Good News of Jesus to change the whole cosmos. God needs clay like you and me to do it. Now I would prefer that God used “United Methodist” clay rather than “Baptist” or “Muslim,” but it’s all about supply.
 
It’s up to us more than God. Will it be “Loafer’s Glory” or “B-mix?” Part of me likes the name “Loafer’s Glory” a lot better than a name as generic as “B-mix,” but a tree is known by its fruit, not its name. God is more interested in the results than the brand, don’t you think?

Make Haste!

Work wasn’t a stranger around our house when I was a youngster. Many hours were spent tilling the garden, hoeing the flower beds, cutting the grass, feeding the cows, fixing fences, pumping gas at the Texaco station, or being a meat-cutter at my grandfather’s country store. During Christmas break I operated a fireworks stand for two weeks, and in the summers I either worked in a peach packing shed or penned cows and hogs at my father’s stockyards. My father’s philosophy was clear if he caught me sitting on the fence or lazing around in other ways: “Off and on!” he would yell. What he meant can be translated a number of ways, but the best way I can phrase it would be, “Quit resting on your laurels and get on your feet!” Hard work was a given.

When I was a kid I wasn’t that keen on work, although I must admit the monetary gain came in very handy, plus I was always the fastest person on our football team thanks to chasing or being chased by 2000 lb. cows. I miss my Dad’s admonition to get up and get with it, “To Make Haste!” as he would put it. The value of a good work ethic is immeasurable. As much as I like time off and rest, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep after a day of manual labor. Rest is all the more sweet thanks to the satisfaction of a good day’s work.
Certainly, I enjoyed some tasks more than others. One of my hardest lessons about work came from one of my uncles. He said that he would give me 50 cents for every bushel of butterbeans I shelled. I thought that sounded like a good deal until my fingers felt like they were going to fall off after shelling about one-fourth of what I was supposed to do. He wanted me to learn that money doesn’t come easily. He was right. There is no free ride in this world.
Work is a gift from God, to be sure, but we can’t enjoy this gift unless we put it to use. The best use that can turn any labor into a blessing is to “work for the Lord.” If I can work for the intrinsic reward of pleasing the Lord, then the extrinsic 50 cents doesn’t much matter. If whatever the menial task is done for Jesus’ sake then we can be content whatever our lot in life. That is, if we do it to the best of our ability. From this perspective, work can indeed be a gift from God. Famous artist, Emile Zola, put it this way: “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”
 
Perhaps you have heard or read the story of how work makes the difference between heaven and hell. There was a man who died and found himself in a beautiful place, surrounded by every conceivable comfort. A white-jacketed man came to him and said, “You may have anything you choose – any food – any pleasure – any kind of entertainment.” The man was delighted, and for days he sampled all the delicacies and experiences of which he had dreamed on Earth. But one day he grew bored with all of it, and calling the attendant to him, he said, “I’m tired of all this. I need something to do. What kind of work can you give me?” The attendant sadly shook his head and replied, “I’m sorry, sir. That’s the one thing we can’t do for you. There is no work here for you.” To which the man answered, “That’s a fine thing. I might as well be in hell.” The attendant said softly, “Where do you think you are?”