290 Yards

290 Yards

I normally take off at noon on Friday and play golf.  Last Friday I went to Old Colony Golf Course.  I have been thinking about joining there after 40 years of playing tennis and golf (tennis 20 years and golf 25 years) at the Country Club of Tuscaloosa.  They closed the Country Club of Tuscaloosa…  When I arrived at Old Colony Golf Course, I found there was an “A” Day golf tournament for ex “A”labama “A”thletes and I could not play golf.  I know, although I do not follow Alabama football, very much, several of the old time Alabama athletes who played for Alabama.  I have played golf with some of them and I have employed some of them.

When I could not play that day, I watched and talked with some “A”thletes.  The majority of them still have fairly pretentious bodies, and others have bodies more like mine, euphemistically called “portly.”   After eating a great big well done cheeseburger as I watched the athletes, young and somewhat “older” drive out to play golf, including some of my friends, I went to the golf club showing event at the same course.   There were various vendors there, Ping, Wilson, Callaway, Mizuno, and others of the big name club manufacturers.  One gets to try them out for free.  There were lots of young guys there in there 20’s and 30’s, and I in my 60’s (actually 67 years old) watched them.  The Ping booth had a computer type tablet thing that told about the young man who was hitting balls. He was little portly like me, but much younger, hitting balls with the Ping driver they were letting him test.  His good ones were called out by the man operating computer screen as something like 261 yards carry and 290 yards total.  I watched this exhibition and others hitting balls and just watched the people involved, evaluating what I was hearing and seeing.

I meditated upon the matter.  The meditation turned into what they call “active” contemplation, but did not reach the heights of passive contemplation… :):)  I am thinking now…

I started playing golf at the age of 42 years old at the Tuscaloosa Country Club, after playing tennis there for 20 years or so.   I “used to be” able to hit a wooden head driver up to 275 “total” yards and I just loved my one iron too, but these new modern clubs and younger people are just ridiculous.  I can still hit a my newer type, but 7 years old, Taylor Made metal driver up to 240 yards or so, total, but after watching and contemplating upon these matters, I decided on that Friday:

  • I need to slack up on golf a bit.
  • My back hurt just from watching these guys.
  • I decided to go back to work and take a nap on my Coleman folding cot which I keep at work and try to use every day just a little bit.
  • I need to concentrate on writing my book on St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. That might do more good than hitting golf balls a long way off into the sky.
  • These young bucks probably do not know anything about St. Ignatius Spirituality.
  • They need to know, and I need to rest my back and knees a while.

My wife, Wink, graciously typed up my notes.  While editing the draft, I noticed I do not have a conclusion to this matter… I think we should wait a bit, and see what happens..  In St. Ignatius Spirituality, one of the general principles is to never make a decision in times of Desolation.  One should only make decisions in times of Consolation.  Therefore, since a Conclusion is a decision, I have none to give at this time.  :):)

 

Grace & Peace,

 

John Cooper

 

 

Bye John

Bye John

 

It was just last Saturday, a week ago, that I visited my longtime friend, Ray Willkie.  It was for the last time in this life… 

 

He and I and his wife, Sue visited for a good period of time, but not too long, since it is not good to wear sick people down with too much talking.  However, we spoke of some old time events, like the time we were on a golf trip to Terre Haute, Indiana and we were doing some shopping in a golf store.  My rain suit had “shrunk” and I decided I needed to purchase another one.  I could not find one to fit, so a nice girl who also plays golf that we knew who worked there volunteered to “measure” me for a rain suit.  Ray and the guys with us had never heard of such a thing as being measured for a rain suit.  However my legs are short and I have a hard time finding pants for my 28” inseam.  Apparently it took longer to get measured for the rain suit than my buddies expected, so I got a good kidding about it, even there with the girl present, and she piped, up to tell them that it was no business of theirs what we were doing at that eventJJ

 

We always were joking about things like that.  Ray, was sometimes known to voice some prejudicial feelings and we sometimes bantered that around a little bit, with my disagreeing with him and telling him how much I personally loved black people.  One time I facilitated the event of his feeling a black girl who was a waitress for us arm muscles.  I doubt I could convince Michelle Obama on that one thoughJJ  Really, deep down, he had a kind heart, although he sometimes tried to be the tough guy around his peers.  It was for Ray and I that I invented the game, “6 Par.”  You can read of that game on my blog site at www.jcooperforpeace.org.

 

Ray knew I used to be a pastor, and asked me to pray for him after he found out he had cancer.  I and David Jones prayed for him and anointed him with oil and asked for his healing.  I feel he was given several more months to live.  He regularly asked me to pray for him when I visited.  I was happy to do so.  The time before last, I spoke to Ray about the resurrection and gave him some audio CDs of Ray Stedman speaking about the resurrection from the passages around 1 Corinthians 15.  I do not know if he felt like listening to them or not… 

 

In our last prayer together, I mentioned how God can do anything he wants, to heal, or to allow one to die, and I asked Ray if he was OK with that.  He said he was OK…  When I left, I did not hear his words exactly, (I am hard of hearing), but Sue, his wife, spoke up to tell me Ray was saying something.  I looked back at Ray lying on his hospital bed set up in their home, and Ray lifted his hand up and waved, “Bye John.”  I said “Bye Ray, I will see you later.”  I briefly wondered if that would be in this life.  Ray died this past week.  I will not see him again in this life.

 

Now what?

 

What happens when one is fully conscious, intelligently speaking, reasoning, and aware mentally, and the body shuts down?  No one has yet found physical evidence of this Spirit of awareness that seems to be a part of, but not all of us as human beings.

 

Some say the Spirit goes up, some say it goes down.  Some say one goes immediately into heaven, some say there is a period of sleep.  Some say one suffers in Purgatory for their sins until cleansed of unrighteousness, and others say it is 100% Grace by which people are saved.  Some say people go to hell to suffer forever and ever more…. Some say only a few are saved, even though they would also say Jesus draws all men unto himself.  Some say all will eventually be saved…..  Some say there is no God, and none are saved and death is the end.  The End….

 

I know enough of fire and ice to “prove” from certain Scriptures most any of those views, excepting the no God view…  I will pass on that… and pass on “proving” anything, for that matter.  Except to still wonder….

 

Where is Ray’s Spirit?  Where is Ray?

 

Perhaps a better question would be for us, the living.  Where is our Spirit? Where are we? Where am I in relationship to life and eternity?  Where are you?

 

Bye now, see you later…

 

John Cooper

Tuscaloosa, AL

You Know Where You Laid Him

You Know Where You Laid Him


I went to the Country Club of Tuscaloosa this past Saturday morning to try to play some golf… It was a beautiful day in the end of May, just right for playing golf… The Country Club of Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa’s oldest country club, is being sold to an investment group for redevelopment as of the end of May. The club has been struggling financially for many years. I have been there many years, having joined shortly before Southern Grass Tennis Academy, where I used to play tennis, closed. I have played a lot of tennis there, having won the open division of the Club Championship, and making many friends there. About 20 years ago, after playing tennis for 20 years, I decided I would take up golf… Golf, like tennis, requires strength in one’s legs. I suffered a torn Patella tendon several months ago, and my legs are still weak. Later in the day I discovered I could not play that day so I went back to work. However, I want to share with you a happening related to this visit to the Tuscaloosa Country Club.

Now don’t take what I say that seriously. Few do that anyway:):)  I am setting on our deck which Wink cleaned today, having a beer, and thinking about some things….

When I drove up today to the Country Club, I was getting my clubs out of the Avalanche truck, and I was greeted by the older black lady know in many parts of town as the “Preacher Lady.” Preacher Lady walks from Alberta City, where I live, to West End, where our business is, and the Country Club of Tuscaloosa is, 12 miles away, preaching in a loud voice as she walks along in a long dress that goes down to her ankles. She preaches in nonsensical phrases as she walks for miles and miles… She must have very strong legs…. She may be homeless… On this day, Preacher Lady came up to me quietly, with an open Bible Cradled in her arms, speaking in a soft voice, with kind eyes, asking me, “Where did you lay him.” I told her, “He is risen.” “I did not lay him anywhere.” She insisted that I did lay him and that I knew where he was, and that she was looking for him and to please tell her where I laid him. I told her again, as we communicated as if we were normal people, that I did not do it… She said that I did do it, and I knew where I laid him and to please tell her. This conversation went on for some time…

Now, those who know me generally think that I am just about as crazy as this crazy Preacher Lady… I used to be an actual preacher once…. I am thinking now, why did I not walk with her to a restaurant and eat together with her, and get to know her better? I think a lot of people are afraid of Preacher Lady, but I am not afraid… Instead, I went ahead and tried to play golf. After attempting to play a few holes, I discovered my legs were too weak and sore from hitting some balls the day before and working in the shop this past week on some prototype coffins, that I could not play and was just reinforcing bad habits… So, I quit. You might say I was on my last legs that day, which in several ways, I appear to be…

Not Preacher Lady though, she is not on her last legs… She can walk, and she can talk, anywhere….

Well, where then, did I lay him? She said I laid him there…

Setting on the deck, in Alberta City, the City with perhaps the largest moon you have ever seen, and a hotel named Moon Winx, with crickets chirping, and an occasional train going by, as I think of the new Pope Francis and his concern for the poor, and for Peace, (one of his sayings I recently shared) it is coming to me where I laid him… I have laid him… I have laid him there… I have laid him somewhere after my concerns for success, somewhere after materialism, somewhere after pride, etc. This Jesus, concerned for the poor, for the rat upon, sat upon, spat upon, as Dallas Willard speaks of in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy,” knows I have laid him there. He knows that often other things are of a higher priority to me than him.

The somewhat nonsensical sentences of Preacher Lady make more sense upon reflection… “Where did you lay him?” “You know where you laid him.” “You laid him there.” “You know where.” “You did it, yes you did.” These phrases make more sense as we review the history of the Christian religious systems post Constantine… Oh, and my own personal history too…

I did it… I laid him there. I crucified him there now upon my own altars… I should know where I laid him… We, who say we are Christians, should know where we laid him,
Did you lay Him there too?

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper
https://jcooperforpeace.org/

Postscript: Before I post this, I was driving to work after church this afternoon and coming over the 15th street viaduct with Stafford Park on the right, there was Preacher Lady half way down the block. I pulled over into the park and waited as she walked slowly toward me. I got out of the park and walked toward her with body language I knew would not scare her. My Uncle, Bill McCulley was so good at this with animals he raised. I learned some of it from him many years ago.. He would often offer his hand out forward, and other things like that so as not to frighten the animals he cared for, who were likely to run away from, or to attack others. I reminded her of our conversation just yesterday and asked her if she had found where he was laid yet. She had not yet, but began another conversation. I listened to her and interjected that I would like to take her to lunch, but she said she did not need to eat. As we talked for perhaps 15 minutes or so, mainly it was her talking, I interjected my offer at least twice more to take her to lunch or drive her where she might need to go, but she declined each time.
What was on her mind today, is that Jesus is coming and he is coming soon…. In the midst of her extended preaching she pulled out her Bible and began looking in in the Book of Revelation around chapter 20 for the passage she was looking for…. I asked her if she meant to find Revelation 19, where Jesus was coming back in robes soaked in blood, his own blood, I said, but she said she knew about that, and fingered forward to Revelation 22 and read some of the Scriptures there, without eyeglasses, in a clear and pleasant and knowledgeable voice, “Behold, I am coming soon!” among other Scriptures.
She preached about many things…. I told her my name, and asked for hers, but she did not want to give it to me, therefore, for now, let’s just say, “Preacher Lady” asked me to tell you about all of this…..

6 Par

6 Par

Now any self respecting golfer knows that according to the rules of golf, there are only 3 pars, 4 pars, and 5 pars. There is no such thing as 6 pars.

Case Closed?

Not so fast….

I am reminded of one of our most outspoken political personages, former United States Agriculture Secretary, see Below:
“At the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome, Butz made fun of Pope Paul VI’s opposition to “population control” by quipping, in a mock Italian accent: “He no playa the game, he no maka the rules.”  A spokesman for Cardinal Cooke of the New York archdiocese demanded an apology, and the White House requested that he apologize.  Butz issued a statement saying that he had not “intended to impugn the motives or the integrity of any religious group, ethnic group or religious leader.”  Through a spokesman, he stated that media outlets had taken this portion of his statement out of their original context, which was that of retelling a joke. “(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Butz)

“He no playa the game, he no maka the rules” :):)
6 Par… A new game.. I play golf, so I can make some new rules!

These rules are made so I, who am still having difficulty walking, let alone hitting long golf shots, can enjoy golf, and also for my friend, Ray Willkie, who is in Stage 4 of cancer of the larynx, which has metastasized.

Here are the rules:

“Fellow competitors” (I may have more to say on that term later), play according to these rules I have invented because of my torn Patella tendon injury which has made me unable to play golf in a regular way and also created the rules for my friend, Ray Willkie, mentioned above, ride up to the green area in a golf cart. The par is 6 on any hole. The first shot is hit from the fringe or rough where the cart stops with a wedge. The players gear is limited to two clubs, a wedge of their own choice, and a putter, and limited to three balls. The wedge shot counts as one stroke. If one person misses the entire green with the wedge shot, he can use a wedge again to arrive on the green, but this takes away the free throw to be described next.  Next, both competitors throw one ball to the hole either underhanded or over handed as chosen with the loft desired in accordance with the playing conditions toward the hole. This throw does not count as a stroke, but helps develop hand eye coordination. The next ball is thrown to another area of the green for a long putt. The fellow competitor follows suit attempting to duplicate the other player’s shot and throw. Then each player plays his ball until it is putted into the hole NO GIMMIES.

One can also play this game by oneself. Par is 6 on any hole. A Birdie is 5, and an Eagle is 4 and a hole in one is three. If playing as partners, the loser gets the opportunity to start the next hole. If your fellow competitor scores better than you for three consecutive times, then he must play left handed (or other handed) until you score better for three rounds in a row. This helps level the playing field.

Talk to each other. Listen to each other… Learn from each other. Have fun!

For those who believe in God, I am thinking of some lessons to learn….

We are all fellow competitors in life as a golfer is a fellow competitor against the golf course, and the ball is played as it lies, so are we fellow competitors in life, “not against flesh and blood”, but against higher powers and principalities, otherwise known as evil forces of the universe, or in ancient lore, such as the book of Job, sea monsters, or Leviathan. We are all in this game of life together, and we all must realize the end goal is not to make it out of this life alive, but to give our lives in service to each other and to make some kind of contribution to society and to each other as human beings created in God’s image. Let’s live this life together, not fighting one another, not participating in the Myth of Redemptive Violence foisted upon us for the past thousands of years as the solution to our problems… Look for instance, at most political parties, including those in the current United States Presidential “game”… Both parties think violence is the solution to Evil… Which one will defeat this Evil with the violence they purport? It just has not worked for thousands of years… why not try something else?

Let us help each other out… If our fellow competitor is losing, let us drop his ball closer to the hole, making it easier on him, not more difficult… Oh, and let us love one another, even our enemies, in this game of life….

God, (or Jesus, if you are a Christian), has a perfect right to change the rules of life… So must we change the rules of golf if those rules become too difficult for us… If we can’t walk so well, if cancer is harming our bodies, let us change the rules… Jesus did… He did it for us… The Law, and even the 10 Commandments, the heart of the law, were changed by Jesus to their Spiritual intent in a New Covenant he made, not in agreement with us, but in agreement with himself, that our only rules in life should be based upon the premise that we love each other as Jesus loved us, including loving our enemies. It is not that those rules are any easier, or that it is any easier to make par 6 according to the above rules, than par 3, 4 , or par 5, but that we can still play the game. We do not have to be a mighty warrior, but can be an old man, an old woman, or a little child playing by a golf hole, or the hole of a snake, or a child petting a lion…. that is what it means to walk in this Kingdom , there is no hurt, no pain, no suffering in this Kingdom, and every tear is wiped away… I am reminded of the Kingdom of Shivas Irons…http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Kingdom_of_Shivas_Irons.html?id=gsuxw1kYjRQC, only this Kingdom is so much better, and Eternal too..

Let’s make par 6’s if needed, Let’s love one another and die for one another, not kill one another, nor send out Drones to kill each others families sleeping in bed, including women and babies, and children playing with toys… http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6yMOzvmgVhc#!Let’s drop the ball closer to the hole… Golf balls, that is, not Drones…  Hopefully our enemies, if we have any after they understand this Divine love, will understand and join us…. Walk together to the green… Let us not develop nuclear weapons, let us ask forgiveness for ever having used them, let us disarm ourselves of nuclear weapons, ALL nations, that is… and submit ourselves to the risk of living this life and dying out of Divine love, not human greed and hate, or of our “right to exist”… After all we have sinned, we have no “right to exist”, except my Grace of God…. Our new life will also be according to this same Grace of God.
Believe… Believe we can walk at Peace with God and each other, with nature, hearing the birds chirp and sing, and believe that God is at Peace with us… It just does not matter what score we make in life… or, on a particular segment or golf hole… Enjoy the journey… Accept suffering… Be Joyful… We are ALL already forgiven… Just believe…

Oh, and try out my new game… 6 Par, some time… You will like it!

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL

1 Iron

1 Iron

I just heard today that a dear friend of mine, one with whom I have spent many hours playing golf, has cancer.

I was reminiscing a little, as fishermen and golfers are wont to do, about some of our experiences together.

As human beings we are witnesses together of each other’s more significant feats and life experiences. We witness birth, baptism, conversion, marriage, graduations, and yes, sickness, and eventual death. According to the Christian Bible, we will also be witnesses to each other’s eventual resurrection, no one of us to precede the other. My friend is Ray Willkie. I one time witnessed his 195 yard hole in one struck with a 3 iron on hole number 9 of the Tuscaloosa Country Club Golf Course. It cost me money too…. I recall I was $2.50 up on #9, according to our friendly wager. Then, suddenly, I was $97.50 down due to a standing $100 wager we had on the fellow competitor’s hole in one. He had to buy the drinks though…. 🙂 🙂

Another friend of mine, Jimmy Patton, witnessed one of my golfing accomplishments, a 120 yard hole in one with a Pitching Wedge on Hole #17 of the same course. Another hole in one I had was witnessed only by God, since I was playing alone. This reminds me of a golfing adage, “Only God can hit a 1 ion.” A 1 iron used to be my favorite club. Ray Willkie has been a witness some of my most memorable shots with a 1 iron. One time we were playing together at the old Tannehill course and I chose to lay up on hole #9, a 325 yard hole, with a 1 iron. Somehow I hit the club just right and my tee shot ended up nearly on the green. A 1 iron is difficult to hit correctly, especially the forged blade types of clubs that I play with. “Only God can hit a 1 iron,” it is said in golfing lore.

When one has serious problems, such as cancer, the tendency is to look to God for comfort and ultimate solutions. Only God can strike a 1 iron, and only God can strike to the heart of our some of our problems in life. Healing is one of those instances, where even with the assistance of modern medicine, ultimately, we must rest upon the promises of Divine healing. Even if Doctors and medicine can help in some way, for some period of time, and bring such things as Cancer into remission, ultimately, we must look to God for our resurrection to life, since no one has gotten out of our common human existence without dying first.

Witnesses…. The Apostles of the New Testament were witnesses to the life events and accomplishments of Jesus the Christ. They risked their lives to tell the stories of his feats. They witnessed Jesus’ resurrection to life and wrote of that resurrection in the Gospels… The Gospels are called Good News. They are Good News because there is hope for a life to come, beyond the pain and suffering we experience in this life. The Apostles were witnesses to the miraculous healings of Jesus. They were witnesses to his walking on water, feeding 5,000 with only a basket of bread and fish. They were witnesses to Jesus’ Divine love and healing for even his enemies. Why, one time, he even placed an ear back on a Roman soldier, his enemy, and healed him…  All these feats, and accomplishments of Jesus offer us far more hope for the future than sickness and eventual death can muster against us.

We will all face up to the Divine calling of Jesus, if not in this life, perhaps at our resurrection…. In my view, it is better to face up to and accept it while alive now. We should view this life as all our being in it together, both friends and enemies, as witnesses of each other’s life story and accomplishments. Perhaps one day we will realize we are all brothers and sisters, when we are all at peace with one another, and the world is at peace. I feel that is one of our callings, to be Peaceful witnesses…. We are not called to condemn, to hate, or to judge one another.  Those who are call themselves Christians are actually called to Peace, but not that many seem to know it yet.. They will know it…

Only God can hit a one iron…. Only God can provide healing… Only God can forgive sins and provide peace. Let us rest in this hope…

Love & Peace,

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL