Hugh’s News & Views (Gems From An . . .)


Sara Savells is a sweet widow who attends church with us at the Nashville Road Church of Christ in Gallatin, Tennessee. She also is part of a group who eats lunch together almost every Sunday at Logan’s Roadhouse in Gallatin. One Sunday, quite by accident, I learned that she is the niece of one of my high school classmates from Mars Hill Bible School—Johnny Faughn—, being the daughter of Johnny’s older sister. As we often say, “It is a small world.”

Sara’s husband—Jerry Savells, who passed away from cancer in 2007 at the age of 65—was a Professor of Sociology for 31 years, first at the University of Memphis (3 years), and then at Wright State University in Fairborn, OH (28 years), retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1995. He held the B.S., M.A., and Ph.D degrees, the latter two from LSU in Baton Rouge. His first degree was in chemistry, but after a few years in that industry, he went back to school and obtained a Masters and a Doctorate in sociology and became a well-liked college professor. He published two books and numerous journal articles in his field—all with a scholarly focus and purpose. An unpublished book written to inspire and entertain is titled “Letters to Christy…Love, Dad.” (Christy is his and Sara’s daughter who lives in California).

Sara has been gracious enough to gift me with a copy of this unpublished book and I have read it with great delight. While Jerry uses some colorful language, his book is one of the most entertaining that I have read in a long time. He touches on so many aspects of life in our culture (as one would expect of an insightful sociologist). He died before the advent of smart phones and many other advances in technology that have—for better or for worse—come to dominate our lives. Nevertheless, the book is filled with provocative gems that speak powerfully, poignantly, and humorously to our lives. With Sara’s permission I am sharing some of them in this week’s edition of “Hugh’s News & Views.”

“I have cancer, but I don’t feel sorry for myself. I am sometimes angry when I hear about a five-year-old child with cancer, or the news that a young mother of 27 has died from this horrible disease. / God has only promised us one day at a time. Take it, count your blessings, and be glad for this day is the basis of our hope for a better tomorrow” (p. 1).

“I wish life were perfect. . .mainly because I would not have to worry about anything and ALL my needs, wants and wishes would be met (without effort) a thousand times over. However, life would also cease to be challenging or that interesting” (p. 9)!

“Love will not cure the common cold. Love will not make the world go around. Love does not always make you feel better; and, love will not necessarily change the behavior of those we profess to love. Love will not pay the bills, love will not fix the roof, and love will not always be recognized or appreciated—contrary to what we often believe. But, love can help us to see ourselves in the actions of others; love can help us to be humble; love can show us the beauty of compassion and forgiveness; love can make our little corner of the world a better place to live” (p. 13).

“I just love being a southerner. The culture is rich in history, and the people are friendly. Only a southerner would extend a dinner invitation of roasted possum, sweet potatoes and fresh turnip greens to a newcomer in town. Of course, there is the sweet iced tea and ‘hoe cakes’ to go with the feast, to be topped off with steaming peach cobbler. / The South is more than a region. Although it includes 14 states, being a southerner is more a state of mind (an attitude) than anything else. / Southern people take their religion seriously. It may be the only place on the planet where the MALL parking lot is empty on Sunday morning. I had many strangers in my local community in Tennessee to offer to pray for me when they heard that I had cancer. Only the most cold-hearted would spurn such a genuine show of compassion and concern. Prayer is always welcome here. / Southerners don’t like to get in a hurry. They work hard—from morning until night—but don’t rush them. They have time to talk to you and ask you about your family. They take great offense toward anyone who appears snobbish or acting with an air of superiority. In the South, the local mail carrier knows almost all of his (or her) patrons by name” (p. 25)!

“Money can make you comfortable! Money can make you glad! Money can thrill you! Money can help to chase away your sorrow! Money ‘helps’—but it is never enough…Don’t let the pursuit of money be the driving force in your life! Money is a cold bedfellow, and it will leave you yearning for more” (p. 52).

“Keizan is a Japanese word for maximum efficiency. I think Americans have overdosed on Keizan. We can’t seem to do only one thing at a time—so psychologists have come up with a cute term to describe the behavior—i.e., they call it ‘polyphasic.’ (Note: I think Jerry passed away before ‘multi-tasking’ came into our vocabulary, hf). You are being polyphasic when you watch TV, read a book, eat a peanut butter sandwich, and pet the dog all at the same time. / I see it everywhere. People at the gas station are filling their tank, checking their cell phone for calls, scratching their head, and talking to a beautiful young coed all at the same time. People simply refuse to do ONE thing at a time” (p. 61).

“My wife tells me that I like that Basset Hound more than her. I hate to admit it, but on some days she is right. Occasionally, she is wrong. My wife and my dog are in competition with each other. Why do women always want to compete and compare? I have a pretty wife; I have an ugly dog (but she is beautiful to me since beauty is only skin deep anyway). My wife has three university degrees; my Basset Hound is a drop-out from obedience school (she lasted four days). It hardly seems like a level playing field” (p. 69).

“Don’t fret your retirement. As they say in that old Woody Allen movie ‘take the money and run’! Boredom is NOT automatically associated with retirement. There are many new challenges awaiting, and, best of all, one can be very selective” (p. 77).

“Television pampers us; entices us; tells us what to think; tells us what to buy; tells us who to like; tells us who to dislike; and, tells us how great we are (all those ‘I’m worth it …’ commercials). Television defines beauty – manliness – sexual harassment – and obesity” (p. 89-90).

“America is so fad-oriented. I went into a music store the other day – and I was astonished that the RAP music section was larger than Jazz, Blues, and Easy Listening combined. Without wanting to offend the musical taste of my soul brothers and sisters, is RAP really music? And, Hip-Hop, what is that? I am really behind the times. Sorry (p. 110)!

“God wants us to behave, be humble and be compassionate toward others. That is why He also created police officers, preachers and psychiatrists – as He knew that He could not trust us! One way or another, man will always find a way to screw up” (p. 115).

“Garage sales have a certain ‘homey’ atmosphere. It is the same warm feeling we used to get when we traveled to family reunions. In fact, most people would rather go to a Garage Sale than visit their relatives – since there is less hassle and you can leave anytime you want” (p. 153).

“My grandfather worked as a sharecropper in the cotton fields of Arkansas during the Great Depression. I am sure he faced many injustices – both real and imaginary. I don’t remember anyone ever suggesting to him or me that he should be entitled to the protection of the ‘affirmative action’ program. Actually, my grandfather died before such legislation was born – but his past cries out for recognition just the same. / As a retired university professor (technically a Professor Emeritus), I have seen the best and worst of affirmative action from a close distance. I have watched with amazement as affirmative action programs were embraced to advance a feminist agenda; or a racial agenda (widely seen as hiring more black Ph.D. faculty members); or a gay agenda (i.e., hire more gay faculty members). Somewhere along the way, white American males got lost in the shuffle. Even war veterans – who were entitled to special consideration – were conveniently overlooked while the powers-that-be launched an all-out bidding war for any black or female Ph. D. Anyone who had the veracity to question such priorities was seen as lower than slime – and against so-called progress. (Remember that progress at any price is rarely progress”). (p. 161-162).

“There are two kinds of millionaires: (1) those with so-called NEW money, i.e., wealth; and (2) those with OLD money where wealth has been passed through at least two generations. I have seen both kinds shopping at Wal-Mart” (p. 165).

There is a pearl of practical wisdom and thoughtful insight on almost every one of the 183 pages of the book, but I will stop with these. I wish I could have known Jerry.

Hugh Fulford

June 4, 2019

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