Posts from My Dad

A Poem from My Dad on the Occasion of Poe’s Death

Last week, my parents visited us over the weekend. Their stay was extended by a vehicular malfunction. My dad returned home, car fixed and a shiny new repair bill under his arm, and wrote this. I don’t know if he meant for me to publish it. We’ll see. 

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by Paul Willingham

We took a little trip in our Mercury auto
Out through the farm byways of Minnesota
Crossed the border into South Dakota
To visit the chief poet at Claims Poetica (more…)


The View

By Paul Willingham

It has been said that “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the television industry. A successful TV series, whether it be a comedy, reality show, police procedural, talent competitions, etc., is soon facing competition from an army of clones and knockoffs. In the 60s it was westerns, today it is talent contests and housewives.

Over the years I’m sure that there have been numerous brain-storming sessions (brain may be giving them too much credit here) by TV program producers and their creative specialists. Close your eyes and imagine that you are hiding behind the flip chart at one of these creative meetings. (more…)


In Sickness and in Health

by Paul Willingham

Bill and Becky Ann met at Purdue University where they both majored in Radio/Television broadcasting. They were married on the 13th of the month and believed that their marriage would not be undone by the superstitious whims of others. They were married for over 62 years. After broadcast gigs, first in Chicago and then at WCCO Radio in the Twin Cities, they struck out on their own and in 1949 successfully launched their own AM radio station.

For the next 20 plus years they successfully competed with and against stations with more broadcast power and were successful with counter-programming to the prevailing Rock and Roll and Top 40 formats of the day.

In the 50s and 60s women in business were rare and the glass ceiling was located somewhere just above the door knob of the corner office. But Becky Ann was a full-time active career partner with Bill as they owned, managed and worked together to build their business.

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Time Sensitive

Guest post by Paul Willingham

It has been almost a year since my wife and I returned from an extended vacation on the West Coast, traveling by AMTRAK, Enterprise Rental and US Air, visiting with family and friends along the way.  Our return to Minnesota on the first Saturday in November required us to set our watches back to Central Time Zone.  Later that same evening we took part in that annual fall ritual of resetting our clocks back to Central Standard Time.

Each year in early November, most Americans reset their clocks, either before bedtime on Saturday night or early Sunday morning when they arise for the day.  I doubt if very many stay up until the official government mandated witching hour of 2:00 am to reset their clocks.  Cell phones and computers fortunately reset automatically.

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Teach Us to Pray

Teach Us to Pray

Teach Us to Pray

A guest post by Paul Willingham

Praying with a Limp

A few months ago I was enjoying a late breakfast with my dad at the local Perkins.  Our table was near the front entrance so I was in a position to observe as diners entered and departed.  Several middle-aged African-American women were leaving. As they passed, one of the women asked her companion if she had injured her leg. She seemed to favor it as she walked.

“No”, she replied. “I always limp after I’ve been to prayer meeting.”

The uninitiated, overhearing her comment, probably would not have caught that her prayer life included being on her knees.  But what a testimony for the initiated that this woman and her prayer partners spent part of their prayer time on their knees, not seated around a table.

I suspect that in this day of compartmentalized Church Life/Christianity and a desire for comfort (air conditioned buildings, heated baptistries and padded pews) that there is not as much prayer that takes place on the knees of the supplicants.  I’m neither denigrating the prayers of the sincere today (the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much), regardless of the position of their physical bodies. Nor am I suggesting that prayer is more effective when offered up while kneeling.

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The King is Coming

The King is Coming

Guest post by Paul Willingham, just in time for the Vikings season opener . . .

The King is Coming

Who’s the king, really?

I read recently of the passing of gospel singer Doug Oldham.  Oldham was a regular on Jerry Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour, back in the day before the televangelist scandals dimmed the Klieg lights of many religious broadcasters.  Oldham died July 19 at the age of 79.

Like Roy and Happy Trails, Elvis and Heartbreak Hotel, Kate Smith and God Bless America, and George Beverly Shea and How Great Thou Art, I have always associated Oldham with the song The King is Coming. (more…)


A Rock is Just a Rock — Or is It?

Guest post by my dad, Paul Willingham

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What comes to mind when you hear the word rock?

A noun? A verb or some other part of speech?  No, this is not a grammar test.
A Rolling Stones Concert?
A boxer named  Balboa or Grazziano?
Elvis, the King?
Alcatraz?
Gibraltar?
Prudential Insurance?
Or if you are a hoops fan, a basketball?

The entrance to Jesus’ tomb?
The grand old hymns Rock of Ages or
My Hope is Built on Nothing Less?
Sandy Patti’s Upon This Rock?
Jesus’ promise to Peter in Matthew 16?
Psalm 18:2?
The wise builder’s foundation?
Jesus himself?

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Lodge Hall of the Pharisees

Guest post by Paul Willingham

Last summer while on a pilgrimage to our daughter’s home in the northern suburbs, Bette and I pulled up behind a Prius, Toyota’s hybrid entry in the development and marketing of greener vehicles. (If it was last weekend, it probably would have been parked on the shoulder, now that Toyota’s recall problems are in the news.)

It wasn’t the hybrid that caught our eye, however. It was the vanity plate on the vehicle.

We often get a smile from some of the plates that we spy while others challenge us to try to figure out what the owner is trying to tell the world. I’m convinced that many times, the significance of the abbreviated, obtuse and hidden message is only obvious and important to the owner of the vanity plate. But the plate we saw was very plain and left no doubt as to the message.

It read I TITHE.

We spotted this plate in a heavily traveled, traffic-delaying intersection known locally as the Devil’s Triangle. I don’t believe that there is any spiritual significance in that but you never know (cue the Twilight Zone theme).

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Smile! You’re on Psyche Camera!

My dad has a knack for finding spiritual application to sometimes odd news reports. This new development still has me scratching my  head — though not, perhaps, as much as the image of Ananias and Sapphira on Facebook.

— by Paul Willingham

Back in the 80s when I was in business in South Dakota, I attended a 2 day marketing seminar for CPAs.  One of the things that the instructor stressed was that you needed to be able to identify, as much as possible, the personality of your client or potential client.  He pointed out that each person has these visible personality traits that, when identified, would help tailor the sales pitch to “sell” or close the deal.  Some might call it manipulation but that’s a discussion for another time.

After explaining that each one of us fit more or less into one of four groups, he explained how to identify and pigeon hole a person by being sensitive to these visible traits.   Before we broke for lunch that first day, he had assessed each of the participants.  What was worse, he shared those assessments with the class and we all were surprised, chagrined and perhaps embarrassed at how accurate he was.  One of our assignments was to go out to the Mall after supper, people watch, and then try to identify which one of the four groups passersby belonged to.  It was surprising to me how much you could tell about a person by paying attention and looking for the telltale traits. (more…)


Reality Check

Christmas Badge
Day 4 – 12 Days of Community

My dad does not officially blog. Every now and again we like to cut him loose from the comment box and give him a guest spot. Though he has no blog of his own (I like to think of him as sort of a Blogger Emeritus), I’m featuring him for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Community we’re celebrating at High Calling Blogs. Dad previously posted for us on keeping performance in perspective and  stepping out from behind the mask. He writes for us again today.

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by Paul Willingham

As I drove home from church on a recent Sunday, I noted that one of the billboards along Highway 7 had been updated with a new message.  In true billboard fashion it only contained eight words so that we could read, process and absorb the message before we blew past it at highway speed.  The sponsor is a huge nationally known shopping center here in the Twin Cities.  The eight words “FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF ALL OVER AGAIN”.

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Halloween’s Over — Take Off the Mask

My dad posts again to round out the series of the past week. His thoughts here relate to the Legends post from earlier in the week, so we’ll call it Part 1.5. If you missed Dad’s earlier guest spot, you can pick it up here.

Meanwhile, Delilah is just dying to cut Samson’s hair, so I’ll be back in Judges 16 this week if you care to join me.

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by Paul Willingham

Rambo and Homer.  Hmmmm!  Superman and Casper Milquetoast.  Babe Ruth and Casey (at the Bat).  Sgt. York and Sgt. Bilko.  The James Gang and the Apple Dumpling Gang.  Rambo I know, having watched “First Blood” several times.  Rambo II and Rambo III fell sort of flat, as most sequels do.  I know who Homer Simpson is but have never watched even 5 minutes of “The Simpsons”.  But I digress.  My TV/movie viewing preferences are not germane here.  What you were really saying as one wag put it long ago, we want to be legends but we only end up being “legends in our own mind”.

masksWhen I was in college, an annual event was the “Speech Banquet”.  After the meal, the program consisted of speeches by several students.  The speakers (mostly male students as they were pursuing careers as preachers) on the program were selected by the Speech Professor.  I agreed to serve as toastmaster for the event and thus escaped preparing and delivering a speech.  Following years of tradition established by those who had gone before me, plus my own idea of what an emcee does, I introduced the various speakers with a short and what I hoped was a good joke (a good joke being defined as one that folks actually laugh at).

I introduced one of the students (We’ll call him Bob) as follows:  Bob had a date with his long-time girl friend.  When he arrived at the door and rang her bell, she appeared at the door and greeted him with the question that every male dreads.  “Bob, do you notice any thing different about me?”

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My Dad Reflects on Crunching the Numbers

I had an unexpected and pleasant surprise in my inbox this morning: a guest post from my dad, reflecting on some of the discussion we’ve had here the last few days. I know, I promised Part 3 on confession and self-disclosure today. It’s still coming. Consider this Part 2.5. You can pick up Part 1 and Part 2 to get up to speed.
numbersWhen I think of what’s made me what I am today, it’s one part my dad, one part my mom, one part being beat up by my brother, one part having a girly older sister, one part reading a lot of books, one part being pursued for years by the love of my life, one part . . . well, a whole lot of parts God worked together to come up with a little something called me. But I was highly blessed to have a mom and dad who taught me the good stuff from day one and lived it out where I could see it.
So I’m happy to break my dad out of the comment box for you today. Ignore his flattery (he’s my dad, what do you expect?) and just move straight to the meat of it.

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by Paul Willingham

Fascinating discussion.  You have the uncanny ability to take mundane things like pocket lint and Show and Tell and make us think.  It is interesting that you posted on this subject this week.  Yesterday, I started putting into words something that came to me in the car and it sort of ties into what you are discussing here.  My opening lines were going to be the words of an old hymn that popped into my head while driving to Grandpa’s last week.

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