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James R. Stout

The Future That Was Present

            This weekend I had the opportunity to attend my nephew’s wedding. He’s 37 and it’s his first marriage. I hope that it will be his only marriage. The wedding was held in a small outdoor chapel on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. For those of you unfamiliar with Austin, it’s the capitol of Texas and those of us who are of a certain age and upbringing, it is known as the “San Francisco of Texas”. Do with that what you will. Now, although I moved into Willis, Texas recently after living in the country for more than 11 years, the fact is Willis still has something of a small town feel to it. This is despite the fact that it’s only about 40 miles from downtown Houston. There are still a lot of wide-open spaces in Willis and the homegrown people here are down-to-Earth good folks.

            The two days that I spent in Austin were eye-opening for me and my sister and brother-in-law. The people that we met in a restaurant were aloof and decidedly miles and miles away from being small towners. The traffic was abysmal at best. I got several one-finger salutes apparently because I obeyed the speed limits. I might add that most of the salutes came from the under 40 crowd. I made a side trip into a Guitar Center (my car seemed to sniff one out and there we were) and while the sales person was friendly enough, it was the kind of friendly that a young person uses with one of us ancient ones. He talked to me like I was a child and tried to explain to me the features of a computer interface as though I was completely ignorant. Never mind the fact that I was recording on analog 2” tape multi-tracks long before he was born and have kept up with the trends in music equipment and production all along. My old interface wasn’t up to working well with my new computer and I just needed to get a new one. I could have tech talked the guy into a coma if I wanted to, but someone else will have to teach him.

            The wedding was a beautiful wedding. Covid-19 kind of changed the way the things went though. Everyone had to wear masks and no hugs were allowed. The bride was beautiful, and the groom was handsome. They made up their own vows. As beautiful as the wedding was, there was this part of me that felt like I was in an episode of “The Twilight Zone”. It was like I was from the year 1960 and suddenly thrust into 2020. The future that was present made me yearn for my younger days and the world I lived in during my first 20 years of life. The “minister” wasn’t really a minister. She (let that sink in) merely recited the vows and had them officially take them. One of the bridesmaids was a guy. No mention of God was made. No prayer was given. At one point, I was listening to the guitarist who was playing something that I didn’t know, and I wondered what the people down the road at the Center for Transcendental Meditation were doing. For that matter, just down the road the other direction there was a Buddhist Temple. Those hills are definitely diverse.

            My nephew asked my brother-in-law (his father) to make an announcement at the reception dinner. He was afraid the 25 or 30 guests would get into an altercation over recent politics and the election. So, he asked his father to say something to diffuse that possibility. Don got a bunch of cold stares when he made a toast and asked everyone to not talk about politics and to remember that we were all there to celebrate the union of my nephew and his bride. He also said a prayer and asked for a blessing on the couple and this was met with some uncomfortable looks by some of the group. All of that said, I do pray for the newlyweds and their union. I like them both very much. We’re just not from the same generation and haven’t had the same influences in school and such.

            As I drove home last night, I had some time to think about the prior 36 hours. It dawned on me that what I had experienced was a taste of why the recent election and the recent problems in our nation have happened the way that they have. If you’re my age and have always lived in the city and still do, then you probably haven’t really noticed the changes the way I did. Those changes were made slowly to you on a day to day basis. This is not the way it has been for me. Most of the people at the wedding were young enough to be my children. They have grown up in a world without God in their lives. They have grown up in a world with their faces staring at a phone and making comments on social media instead of being with friends and spending time face to face. They have not had Jesus in their lives, and it shows. They aren’t bad or anything of the sort. They just don’t have the values that Americans once had. Oh, most of us old folks and Christians still have them, but the majority of the people of that generation think that we’re the problem. When I was growing up, I didn’t know of any young person who disowned his parents and stopped speaking to them. It would have been unheard of to say the least. I know several people my age who have at least one child that has nothing to do with them. Not because of abuse or anything that the parents ever did. These young adults have no tolerance for anyone who believes differently than they do. That includes their parents. The sad truth is that unless a revival of the values that made America the greatest nation ever were to come about, then there likely won’t be an America in 100 years. Oh, I won’t live to see it and I’m am mighty glad about that. But my youngest grandchild may. If I fear anything at all, then it’s what kind of nation will my grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in and see their way through.

            I guess I’ll end this blog entry with a prayer on my lips. Dear Lord, please bring a revival into the hearts of Americans and please watch over the innocent ones. In Jesus name, Amen.

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