Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ica-russ Epilogue

I know some of you have been waiting with bated breath for this third and final installment of the Ica-Russ saga.  I’m not clear about just what bated breath is, but I’m pretty sure the phrase refers to the sort of breathing one does when in high anxiety in anticipation of something.  Give me a second to see if my computer can clarify this...Well, that’s what I thought:  “with bated breath--in anxious or excited anticipation.”  But I still don’t know why those words mean that.  Breath I get, but bated?  Here’s something, “Bate (intransitive verb), beat wings…to beat the wings wildly or impatiently in an attempt to fly off a perch or a falconer’s fist when still attached by a leash.”   That helps a little, but I would still not use bated in any sentence in which it is not immediately followed by the word breath
Yes, technically, I just did.  See the last sentence.  Wait, it was two sentences back.  I mean three.   I can’t seem to catch up to it.  Let me try it this way, it was the sentence that started with “That helps a little.” My point, back then, when I had a point, was that bated is a useless word without breath.  The only thing that is ever bated seems to be breath.  Try it:  “After he baited the hook, and tossed in the line, he waited with bated (arms?)”   Try this: “With bated (thoughts?) Kate awaited the outcome of the debate and the arrival of her rebate.”  You probably noticed that I slipped in a couple other bate words.  Don’t ask me why.  It just seemed to be the thing to do at the time, and the time was about twenty seconds ago, in case you are wondering. 
Now that I swallowed the bate bait and swam with it for far longer than anyone else would, one thing should be clear.  If you were waiting with bated breath for this third and final installment of the Ica-Russ Files, that was a waste of perfectly good bated breath.   Isn’t there a film “The Icarus Files,” or something like that----one of those Russian Spy flicks?  Wait right here.  I’ll check.  I found it.  It was the Ipcress File, a 1965 British espionage flick starring Michael Caine.  I’m sure there were some Russians involved somehow.  1965, coincidentally, was the year I started at Lyman High School.  Sometime I’ve got to tell you about the time I flew---oh, right.  That’s this story.
So where were we in the saga?   I believe that we covered all the essentials.  We came, we flew, we were disqualified.  My friend Steve Perry was eventually elected, and if you are interested in the acts of his presidency, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the class presidents of Lyman?  

I promised to tell you about when my brother Kenny ran for president of his class.  You’ll be happy to know I just talked to him and got the scoop from what remains of his brain.  He arrived at Lyman in the fall of 1968, a few months after I graduated (yes, I graduated, and I resent your tone of thought).  He said that in order to run for president at that point, you had to meet with representatives of the Student Council, who explained the rules of the game.  They told him that all candidates were limited to 3 posters.  This seemed austere to Kenny, although he wouldn’t have used or known that word then (or now, for that matter) so he inquired.  “Why are candidates limited to just three posters?”  Ken says an upperclassman answered dismissively:

“Because a few years ago, some idiot who was running for president flew over the school and littered the campus with hundreds of flyers, and we were the ones who had to pick them up.” 
This didn’t sit well with Kenny, who knew that idiot personally, and knew that Mr. Smarty-Pants Upperclassman didn’t have his facts straight.  Somehow, a handful of pillows, each no more than 4 inches high and 8 inches long---only one of which (to our knowledge) actually landed on the school grounds, had become in just a few years hundreds of flyers, littering the campus, and causing young Mr. Pants and others of his ilk no small trouble collecting them all.  
Ironically, Kenny came close to receiving the same fate as his older, wiser brother, in the same room from which that brother was summoned to the office.   S. Pants had come representing the Student Council to address the large group Civics class on the rules of the upcoming student election.   For several days, Ken had been stewing about Smarty’s mischaracterization of his sainted brother’s ill-fated run for office, so when the students in the Civics class were asked, following Smarty’s presentation, if they had any questions, Ken raised just one, which was more of a comment, and it went something like this:  “I don’t know why we have to take advice from Smarty Pants politicians.”  As I say, his comment was something like that, only there was a donkey involved.  Needless to say, it would have been much the same for Ken at that moment if there had been a donkey in the room, and if he had been kicked by it. 
He was summoned to appear before the school authorities and representatives of the student council.  This time it was another administrator who handled the matter (presumably Principal Henley didn’t want to have anything more to do with Sukhias).  The administrator wanted to simply remove this Sukhia fellow from the race (after all, it worked out well the last time) but in a Pocahontas-Captain Smith moment (in Kenny’s mind anyway) a beautiful senior girl pleaded mercy for him, and after a public apology to the upperclassman whom he had insulted, Ken was permitted to stand for election.  Ken ended up serving as president of his class all three years at Lyman.  He went on to graduate from Cornell, and from the University of Florida School of Law; he served as a US Attorney, and he has had what even his brothers and his sister must acknowledge to be a successful career for an idiot. 
But getting back to the hero of the blog, it has always been amazing to me that the story of our flight could evolve so quickly from fact to fancy---not unlike the way the stories of Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp were quickly inflated.  The big difference is, Tim and I didn’t get to wear neat boots or hats, or shoot Colt 45s.  And Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp didn’t throw pillows onto their schools.  Apart from those things, our stories were similar.
Some think that the accounts of the life of Christ were inflated in a similar manner.  Here’s the idea:  The historic Jesus of Nazareth was a good man who did good things and who made a positive impression on many.  Over time, after his death, the stories that were told of him evolved to the point that he began to be viewed as a wonder-worker, then as more than a mere man.  Eventually, perhaps centuries after his crucifixion, someone conceived and circulated the idea that he had risen from the grave.  This scenario sounds quite plausible, and a reasonable man might even embrace it, if it were not for the stubborn truth that it is contradicted by the facts.  History has preserved for us the eyewitness accounts of numerous men who say they saw and spoke to the risen Christ, on several occasions, in various settings.   As the Apostle Peter put it,
“…we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  (2 Peter 1:16)
The physician and historian Luke put it like this:  
“…He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) 
Witnesses to the risen Christ include the fisherman Peter and his partners, the brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee of Galilee; Matthew a former tax collector for the Romans and the author of the first gospel account, and the respected Jewish leader, Saul of Tarsus, commonly known today as the Apostle Paul.  He wrote:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas (the Aramaic name of Peter), then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present…after that He was seen by James, then by all the Apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.                      (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
Now these men may have been lying, but to what end?   We know enough about human nature to know that even otherwise honest people can be tempted to lie if the potential reward is great enough, a large court settlement, for example.  But if these men were lying, the result of their lie was to be chased from city to city, stoned, imprisoned and ultimately executed.  They were cursed by the Romans for being unwilling to worship the emperor, and they were cursed by the Jewish leaders for asserting that the man they crucified was in fact the Messiah.  They received no benefit in this life from their lie, and as believers in God, they would have been assured that they would ultimately have to stand before the Lord and explain why, knowing Jesus to be dead, they devoted their lives to affirming He was alive.   Therefore, as liars in such a critical matter, they could anticipate no benefit in the next life, but rather, the wrath of God for their deceit.  
The fact is, had they not become convinced that the Lord Jesus was alive, and that He was therefore the promised Messiah, there would be no Christian Church today.  The discouraged, dejected, grieving followers of the crucified Jesus would have drifted back to their homes and jobs, determined to never make the same mistake again.
As Christian Apologist Michael Green put it:
Without faith in the resurrection, there would BE no Christianity at all.  The Christian Church would have fizzled out like a damp squib [firecracker] with His execution.  Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection.  Once disprove it, and you have disposed of Christianity. (cited by Josh McDowell in Evidence that Demands a Verdict)
I could go on at some length, but I already have, in my message, A Reasonable Faith.  You can find it just by looking below this sentence.  Well, not that sentence----this sentence---or should I say, the following sentence.  Oh, never mind.


  1. Epilogue to the epilogue:

    At the class of 1968's twenty year reunion, I spoke to my nemesis, Principal Henley, who by that time had moved on from Lyman to bigger things. He was a member of the Seminole County School Board, or the School Superintendent or some such. I told him that I had become a Christian, and that I was a pastor. He smiled and shook my hand and said,

    "Will wonders never cease!"

    I suspected he might be interested, because at our graduation ceremony, twenty years before, his advice to the students alluded to a popular song at the time. I don't remember anything else he said, but I remember this:

    "Young people, put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee!"

    "Yikes," I thought, "our principal is a stealth Christian."

    It was about three years later when "the man from Galilee" took my hand in His, and led me out of darkness into His marvelous light.

  2. Praise the Lord! “God helps those who cannot help themselves.”
    ― Charles H. Spurgeon