Your assignment, class, is to diagram this sentence

Bishop’s Mantle column by Jim Bishop

“Somethin’s happenin’ here, What it is ain’t exactly clear …”
– Buffalo Springfield (1967)
These are times not unlike other times, not that I’ve lived in a previous century and can say this with surety, and in fact am thankful that I am living in the year of our Lord 2007 with so many wonderful conveniences and opportunities to experience and to explore that our forebears could scarcely dream about but no doubt they did, sitting there in the dark wishing that someone would invent the electric light bulb so they could read their back issues of Modern Maturity magazine without eyestrain and (you have my permission to pause, take a deep breath, look around and wonder if watching some boring congressional meeting in a room filled with sycophants on C-Span 2 would be preferable to reading this mind-numbing poppycock in search of a period) and …

… whew, a pregnant pause (inconceivable) …

… asking how the month of July has nearly slipped away and you still haven’t gotten any vacation in and Wal-Mart is starting to replace its gardening supplies department with Christmas decorations and before you know it schools will be back in session and parents cheer while teachers lament and those of us who live with educators know that they have it so easy and are paid too much for their six-hour workdays and I’d better move on quickly before the wrath of many pedagogues comes crashing down upon my head and I find myself back in my high school algebra class and not permitted to leave until I solve these impossible equations and should a miracle happen and I pass it will only move me on to a worse fate – plane geometry – so, teacher, may I be excused to go pick up my weekly copies of the WIBG radio “top 99 music survey” to distribute to classmates who are depending on me for this vital information (“I Want to Be Wanted” by Little Miss Dynamite, Brenda Lee, is No. 1 this week with The Drifters’ “Save the Last Dance for Me” jockeying for the coveted top of the chart position) and, let’s see, I can’t wait for my high school graduation so I can move out into the “real world” as a disc jockey but am willing in the meantime to keep working on Abe Landis’ poultry farm gathering eggs twice a day, washing, grading and packing them into heavy boxes for shipment to market in Philadelphia while I think back to those stifling August days when the inevitable time came to clean out a chicken house to prepare for new laying hens and the ammonia rising to my nostrils nearly caused a blackout and I determined right then that maybe college wasn’t such a bad idea after all – and it wasn’t, considering that they proved to be four life-changing years including meeting the fair young damsel who would become my dearly-beloved spouse and the valuable involvement working on the school newspaper and a summer internship at our church publishing house that was pivotal in steering me toward a journalism career (at least, I think that’s where I wound up) and …

… another deep breath here (you know, halitosis is better than no breath at all) …

… and I’m sinking in this stream of semi-consciousness up to my proboscis with no life preserver in sight …

… and as I’m mellowing out on our backyard swing it occurs to me that 2007 and my college graduation year, 1967, have much in common in that our chief executive, then and now, was doing everything in his power to convince the American people that a war being waged on the other side of the globe is right and just and we will eventually prevail if we’ll only be patient even as cries of opposition continue to mount and meanwhile the only winners in such conflicts are the munitions makers and the undertakers as the words of the prophets are written on the subway halls and tenement halls, “When will they ever learn … when will they ever learn …” but alas, I doubt that “they” ever will but that shouldn’t stop us from praying and working for peace and justice right where we are, you and me, brothers and sisters.

Enough said.

Jim Bishop is the public-information officer at Eastern Mennonite University.


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