Friday, October 20, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #284

Nancy White Kelly

Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, or Atheists need not apply.

Have your attention? Thought so.

Most of us are vocal defenders of the U.S. constitution, including equal rights and the Freedom of Religion. Coming of age in the civil rights era, I experienced all the commotion that accompanied it. In college I became increasingly aware of man’s inhumanity to man. Crusaders placed human heads on stakes. Nero and Hitler were terrorists too. Today’s headlines scream of murder in the cities and genocide in odd-sounding villages like Darfur.

Intolerance isn’t new. But I wasn’t expecting to find it where I did. In the classified ads of a major newspaper.

Buddy and I have been searching for a puppy since Oppie, our beloved Chihuahua, passed away recently. While looking in the PETS FOR SALE column, my eyes fell upon an egregious example of intolerance: “Christian home” wanted for Yorkie puppy.

I am a Christian. That is no secret if you have read this column for very long. But the idea of rejecting all but a Christian family to adopt and pay for a dog struck me as rather humorous.

True, Christians are generally good folks. Unfortunately, not all Christian families are ideal. Some are better pet keepers than others.

The question this odd ad raised is this: What constitutes a Christian family worthy of a dog? Do they visit the sick and feed the poor? Do one or more family members attend church regularly? Do they tithe? While these are desirable characteristics, religious activity does not make one a Christian anymore than reading the label of a dog food makes the reader a canine. Christianity is far more than that. John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9 succinctly sums it up.

Does my belief in Jesus as the Messiah, born of a virgin, make me a more worthy puppy buyer than my Jewish friends? Hardly. What difference does it make to an animal whether their owners read the Torah or the New Testament? All a puppy wants is lots of attention, food, and warmth.

Buddy and I didn’t buy the Yorkie puppy. We ended up adopting a darling two-pound Chihuahua puppy. Coincidentally, her owner just happened to be a Baptist preacher. Didn’t change things one bit.

Midget is unimpressed with my piano rendition of Amazing Grace. She much prefers my chant: “Here, doggie, doggie, doggie.”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #283

Nancy White Kelly

Buddy left me today. Not forever. Just for three days. He and a friend discovered that they both have brothers in Olive Branch, Mississippi. They have discussed taking this trip together for over a year. Finally their trivial chat turned into a real event.

In the 60’s, Buddy and I lived briefly in a nearby community called Southaven. Newly married, we were anxious to settle in. We signed a contract on a new subdivision house. We were invited to occupy the house while the routine, but time-consuming, VA paper work was finished.

To our surprise and the builder’s dismay, the mortgage company decided we didn’t make enough money to qualify. This was in spite of the fact that we had excellent credit, Buddy had a good job with the airlines, and I was a first grade teacher. I forget what the exact price of the house was, but remember that it was fairly average for that decade.

As time would tell, that was our first and only brand new house. Forced to vacate immediately, we found a neat bungalow just over the line in Memphis. Three years later, Buddy was transferred by Eastern Airlines to the Atlanta area. Again rushed, we reluctantly sold our house for a grand profit of a few hundred dollars.

Time was of the essence. We had two weeks to settle in Atlanta. Since Buddy needed to work, it was necessary for me to go ahead and scout Atlanta for something to rent. No problem. I confidently flew to Atlanta, rented a car, and read the classifieds in the Atlanta paper. I looked at half a dozen houses that were within our price range. By then it was getting late.

Nightfall found me on a street called Stewart Avenue. The male clerk at the economy motel stared at my eyes for a few moments.

“Are you a local girl?” he asked.

“No, I replied. “I am from Memphis.”

“Yeah,” he replied smugly.

“Cash up front,” he said as he threw the room key on the counter.

Little did I know that I was in the red light district. Buddy explained by phone what “local” girl meant and I blush even today when I think about that experience.

The next day I found a house for us to rent in Candler Park. It was very old, had a cold damp cellar, and heavy creaky doors. It would have been the perfect abode for ghosts if there were such. But it would do. I was in a hurry to get home. That was nearly forty years ago.

Here I am alone again in a large house. Our house. The night is dark and there is no beaming moon light. Twice I have checked the door locks and chains. Even the bedroom door is bolted shut. The nightlight is on and Buddy’s 38 Special hangs above the bed. Am I supposed to sleep now?

Three days is going to be a long time.