The Fat Lady

Theatre III – Cocoonianity

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

Yogi Berra is one of the most beloved characters in the history of American baseball.  He was so popular that the folks at Hanna-Barberra even created and named a cartoon character—Yogi Bear—after him.  That he was an All-Star player and World Series-winning manager helped, but what really put Yogi over the top with fans was his delightful yet confounding outlook on life:  Yogi is the all-time leader in leaving people laughing and shaking their heads at the same time.

One time, in trying to explain why it’s important to never give up in a ballgame, Yogi tried an opera analogy.  This came as a surprise because Yogi wasn’t known to be an opera buff.  His rough and tough demeanor led most fans to presume that Yogi wouldn’t be caught dead spending an evening at the Met.  So naturally baseball fans were astonished by his operatic illustration of perseverance.

Yogi could have said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” or “Winners never quit and quitters never win,” and nobody would have batted an eye.  But no:  Yogi swung for the fences by declaring, “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!”

Thanks to Yogi we now have a neat, simple, all-purpose phrase that means, “The last thing that has to happen before the curtain come down.” Whatever “it” is, once the Fat Lady sings, “it” is all over.  Now let’s haul Yogi’s term out of the ball park and back into the Cocoonian world and see what we can make of it there.

Cocoonians, more than the average bear, like to study the rapture or the apocalypse or the holocaust or whatever they call the end of the world.  Almost every time some religious nut makes news with a prediction of the exact date and time of the end of the world, that nut is a white guy and a card-carrying Cocoonian.

Cocoonians know that Jesus said, “Nobody but God knows the exact hour when the curtain will come down on the world (Mark 13:32),” yet some of us can’t resist trying to predict that hour anyway.  In our never-ending quest to show others how clever we are, many Cocoonians have memorized most of the signs of the end of the world.  We know the warning signs; wars, rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes.  We see all those signs in real time and that makes us insecure, and our insecurity is increased every day by shocking news from around the world. Continue reading

The “N” Word

Theatre III – Cocoonianity

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

As a Cocoonian, you probably think “nigger” is the N-word.  Oh, how you hate that word.  You never say it.  You never even think it.  And because you never say it or think it, you’re tempted to think you are God’s gift to black people.  Your conscience is clear, right?  Congratulations.

Now, if your conscience is clear with regard to “racial stuff,” there’s one nugget you should know above all others.  It’s sort of the “theme nugget” for Cocoonians everywhere.  It’s the one that says, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.”  That nugget is 1 Cor. 4:14, and 1 Cor. 4:14 is one of the most effective treatments for Cocoonianity.  Trust me; I’m a card-carrying Cocoonian and I self-administer 1 Cor. 4:14 many times each day.

Nigger is not the N-word, it’s the n-word.  It’s a nasty little word alright, but it doesn’t cause nearly as much trouble as the N-word.  The n-word is to the N-word as littering is to pollution:  One is a problem, the other is a huge problem.  The n-word is one of those words that the enemy exploits to try to throw us off the scent, a sort of smoke bomb the enemy uses to keep us from seeing and attacking the real problem.  Allow me to explain.

Better yet, let’s allow Larry Crabb to explain.  Larry is a sincere Christian psychologist who has a big brain and an even bigger heart, both of which are on full display in his great book, “Connecting.”  In that book, Larry explains the enemy’s duplicity like this (Pay attention because this is tricky until you get it.  Once you get it, it’s simple and profound):

“One of Satan’s favorite strategies,” says Larry, “is to come up with a close counterfeit of an important truth and allow the Christian community to spot the error.  Christians then become so committed to staying away from it that they miss the truth it distorted.”

I believe that God gave Larry that paragraph and Larry shared it with us so that we can learn two vital things:

  • Satan is a strategist, not a sniper.
  • One of Satan’s favorite strategies is Spiritual Rope-a-Dope, which works as follows:
  1. Find an important truth such as, “white people should not mistreat black people.”
  2. Get a few ignorant white people to mistreat black people by using the n-word.
  3. Allow the Christian community to recognize that it’s shameful to use the n-word.
  4. Sit back and laugh like hell as the Christian community devotes its full attention to eradicating the n-word while totally ignoring the N-word.

Continue reading

Saint Recycler

Theatre III – Cocoonianity

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

We Cocoonians love to do nice little things for others.  It’s a fact.  It was even in the newspaper awhile back.  The headline read something like, “Poll:  People Like to Help in Small Ways.”

The article went on to gush about how wonderful we all are because of all the micro-kindnesses we dish out.  We tell people they left their lights on.  We point out to people that they accidentally dropped their Subway sandwich card.  We speed alongside the car ahead of us and honk and wave like lunatics to let the driver know her gas cap is dangling.  We even recycle our plastic water bottles, and if that doesn’t make us holier than most, then by God, I just don’t know what does.

Still, there is one little kindness that most of us Cocoonians refuse to extend:  We refuse to give a beggar a buck.  And why do we refuse?  Because everyone knows that if you give a beggar a buck, he’ll just waste that dollar on dope.  Duh!

Sometimes, when approached by a panhandler, we would-be Good Samaritans—we Saint Recyclers—will extend a counter-offer such as, “I can’t give you money, but I’ll go in that burger joint and buy you something to eat.”

When the bum declines that offer, as he is apt to do, Saint Recycler will then go on his merry way rejoicing, “Aha!” he’ll exclaim.  “That beggar turned me down, and that proves the money was going to be wasted on booze!  I have saved that homeless man from himself!  I have saved that homeless woman from her inherent vice!  I am Saint Recycler and Tada!  Here I come to save the day!”

Uh, excuse me, Saint Recycler, but news flash:  You have not saved the day.  The only thing you’ve saved is your lousy dollar. Continue reading

The Foxworthy Device

Theatre III – Cocoonianity

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

In order to make working our way through the Cocoonianity Symptom Checklist a bit easier, we’re going to bring in the Foxworthy Device.  Why?  Because if you’re white, you’re familiar with it and comfortable with it.  Plus, it works!

Introduced by Jeff Foxworthy, that brilliant student of humanity disguised as a comedian, The Foxworthy Device made “you might be a redneck” a household punch line.  But the Foxworthy Device doesn’t just flush out rednecks.  It can flush out just about any chronic hang-up.

It starts with “If.”  Then it specifies a symptom.  Finally, it states a possible diagnosis.  For example:

1)If:

2)You’ve ever financed a tattoo

3)You might be a redneck.

To make sure you’ve got the concept, let’s try another example:

1)If

2)You’ve ever bought a used baseball cap

3)You might be a redneck

Now we’re going to use the Foxworthy Device—the if-symptom-diagnosis approach—to go through a list of Cocoonian symptoms.  Ready?  Here we go. Continue reading

Ricky and the Crackhead

Theatre III – Cocoonianity

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

Now that we’ve raised our dissonance awareness with a look at just a few of America’s Hard Racial Truths, it’s time to dive into the Three Non-negotiables, which are Cocoonianity, Fatherlessness and Red-Word Deficiency.  The first of these we must resist—and then crush—is Cocoonianity.

Cocoonianity can be loosely defined as the attitude that “as long as there are no serious problems in my little world, there are no problems in the world.”  Cocoonianity is easy.  Cocoonianity is attractive.  Cocoonianity is rampant among white American Christians.

How rampant?  Nobody knows for sure because Cocoonianity isn’t a recognized “thing,” and even if it were a thing, it would be a tricky thing to measure.  After all, what self-respecting white Christian wants to stand up and be counted as a Cocoonian?  Not me.  Still, a simple “eye test”—look around and see for yourself—suggests that a staggering percentage of white American Christians are afflicted with Cocoonianity.

I know I’ve got it.  I’ve got it bad even though I fight it all the time.  All my white Christian friends have it.  Every white Christian in my little world has it to some degree.  Gee whiz, Wally, could it be that almost all white American Christians are Cocoonians?  Golly, Beav, I think it could.  I think it could.

So now what?  There’s only one thing to do.  We must check our symptoms against the Cocoonianity Symptom Checklist.  And if it turns out that we’ve got several of the symptoms, we must turn to the Holy Spirit for a conclusive diagnosis.  And if He tells us, “Yep.  You’ve got it,” then He will surely also tell us how to treat it.

If you are white, working your way through the Cocoonianity Symptom Checklist could be unpleasant.  It could be tough.  And what do Cocoonians do when the going gets tough?  When the going gets tough, Cocoonians go to the movies.  So before we get down to the tough stuff, let’s check out a flick.

For those of us who find it more fun to watch movies than read the Bible (Hands up, people!), Hollywood often comes to the rescue with spiritual insight.  Today Hollywood again comes to the rescue with a brilliant, two-minute clip from the movie,“Talladega Nights.” Continue reading

That Whole Cop Thing

Theatre II – Hard Racial Truth

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

There’s no way we can win the War on RD if we don’t address the Cop Thing, so we might as well get after it.  This is going to ruffle a lot of feathers regardless of race, so as we work through the Cop Thing, let’s remember that the problem we’re trying to solve is the racial dissonance problem, not the “cop problem” or the “thug problem.”  Our “client” is not cops, nor is our client the people cops sometimes kill, nor is it the people who sometimes kill cops.  Our client is racial harmony, and we must remember that our only goal when we shine the light on the Cop Thing is to advance the cause of our client.  As the saying goes, we must strive to embrace what is right rather than who is right.  After all, the fair fighter wants only progress while the unfair fighter wants only punishment, and we are fair fighters!

For starters let’s define “cop.”  One theory on the origin of word cop is that it is an acronym formed by condensing the phrase, “constable on patrol.”  That would make a cop any person who wears a uniform and works a regular beat.  Our definition of cop goes a bit further.  Our definition includes any person who wears a gun and/or a stun gun and works in law enforcement.  That takes in not only police on patrol but sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, detectives, jailers and specially trained law enforcement officers.  While we’re at it let’s add armed security guards too, because Lord knows some of them have blasted their way right into this discussion.

To keep this discussion from getting out of hand in a hurry, let’s throw whatever bones we can to those who sit at either extreme of the police brutality debate.  First, to those who are radically anti-cop, it must be said that no reasonable person, black or white, believes that all cops are good.  Reasonable people—most people—know perfectly well that some cops are just plain rotten.  Second, to those who are radically pro-cop, it must in turn be said that no reasonable person believes all cops are bad.  Again, most people know perfectly well that most cops are good, at least in the worldly sense of the word, “good.”

So what’s the problem?  The problem is that the relatively small number of pro-cop wackos and the relatively small number of anti-cop wackos keep shouting–and shooting–at each other over the heads of the massive crowd of reasonable people, and the crowd seems to believe it can afford to simply watch the fireworks until the show is over.  But of course the fireworks are never going to run out, so sooner or later the crowd must stand up and insist that the show is over.

We can pretty much stop the show by conceding and acting on those “Cop Truths” which we all know, deep down inside, to be self-evident.  These truths include but are not limited to the following: Continue reading