Update: Several of you asked about Jeny. Her procedure is postponed until Monday because of Hurricane Sally. Neither Jeny nor her doctor are overly concerned about her heart. She has a place on her heart to be investigated. It may be genetic and will not affect her quality of life. Worst case scenario would be a stint.

Several of you watched my sermon—I appreciate you taking the time. I was a little unnerved speaking to a camera and a few people wearing masks spread out in our sanctuary.

We seem to be doing well with regard to the hurricane. We have lots of rain, just gusts of wind and we still have electricity.

Mountain Man: When we were young, I got to live my dream. We had a dear friend who had a cabin in Colorado. He shared that with our family. Every summer I got to play mountain man. He was even generous enough to give us an acre and I built a small A frame cabin of our own.

We used the cabins for family and friends to ski, hike, fellowship and enjoy the mountains. I loved it.

Beach Bunny: In our older years, Jeny is getting to live her dream. She took her retirement and bought a cottage one block off the beach in Gulf Shores. It has been used for vacations and fellowship by many family members and friends.  Many people have experienced the joy of that space. She does not charge because she sees it as a part of her gift for hospitality.

For years our next-door neighbor at the beach was an older man who used his cottage as a base for fishing. His cabin showed its age.

Recently he died. His son has spent a lot of time and effort to spruce up the cottage. It looks great.

I did not know the son. The last time we went down I got the opportunity to get to know him. I faced a test—Could I put my money where my mouth is? Could I practice what I was preaching? Could I practice dialog?

Police Chief: Early in our conversation I found out he was a retired police chief from an Alabama town of 13,500.

Did I have expectations? Yes.

Did I stereotype him? Not Jackie Gleason in Smoky and the Bandit, but in the back of my mind I had preconceptions..

Did I listen first?  Yes, and listening paid great dividends. I learned a lot

He shared an interesting view of the police. In his experience, they fall into three categories: He believes a small proportion are bad – some bullies, some racists. The second is a small portion of the insecure. People who do not have the self-confidence to handle situations in a proper way. The third is the majority who are good people who try their best under tough situations. They may make mistakes but they good decent people.

He did observe some towns were obviously worse than others.  Some kinds of officers are worse than others.  For example, in his opinion, he struggled with the State Troopers in Alabama. He reported how he was stopped early in a morning on his way to work in a civilian car going 8 miles over the speed limit. The trooper took delight in hassling the police chief for speeding. He even bragged to his supervisor. Unfortunately for him the supervisor and the police chief were good friends.

He also had views on race. Another test for me. What did I expect? A white male police chief in an Alabama town?

Well I listened and again I learned.

He reported how the head of the local NCAA had protested him becoming the chief. But when he retired the same man cried and asked him not to retire because he had treated the minority community fairly.

His relationship with the local drug King was also an interesting relationship. The man was very clear. It is a game – he understood the chief had to try to catch him and his job was not to get caught.  In a sense – no hard feelings — each just played as hard as they could.

Politics: Then came a big test. We discussed politics.

What were my expectations for a white male sheriff from a small town in Alabama? He was not wearing a Make America Great Again Hat. He did not have Trump – Pence flags or signs, but I still expected him to be a Trump supporter. The only question was how extreme?

My job was to listen. I did

He was a Trump supporter but not extreme. We had a good dialog — better than I have had with some on the extreme left. He rejected many of Trump’s personal characteristics, but the biggest problem he saw with crime in his community was the lack of opportunity. In his honest opinion, he believed Trump would do more for creating work opportunities for lower income people.

We had a dialog not diatribe. He deserves a lot of credit. He did not engage in ad hominem name calling. He did not rant against Biden. He had a willingness to recognize weaknesses in Trump. I listened. I learned. I saw the benefits of practicing what I preach.

We are to be peace makers, dialog is a good step in that direction.



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