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Baxter Black: Religious Reflections

I was sittin’ in the back row of a beautiful little church in a mountain town in the Rockies. I was there for the wedding of a daughter of good friends.

As the service progressed, my attention was drawn to a banner that hung on the wall. It was handmade, cut from cloth and intended to be inspiring. It read, Mount Up With Winos.

Many thoughts went through my mind as I tried to absorb the full meaning of this elaborate banner. I had come to realize over the years that many Protestant churches have become more liberal in their teachings. Acceptance of alternative lifestyles, less moral browbeating, less blatant emphasis on money, more convenient schedules and greater tolerance of lesser sins; i.e. fall football, alcohol, sex and non-Christian religions.

And there is something to be said for that religious creed. After all, Jesus himself never discriminated.

Bein’ a thinker myself, I began to concoct other potential banner slogans that might be acceptable in this New Age congregation; Ride with the Risque, Sail with Sinners, Lie Down with the Licentious, Commune with the Immoral, Huddle with the Homeless, Do Lunch with the Offender.

The wedding audience was mostly ranch people, men with sunburned faces wearin’ new jeans and uncomfortable in their ties. The women wore their best dresses and the kids were glad to be anywhere off the ranch. We all squirmed quietly in our pews as the preacher read the vows, told them marriage was forever and lent dignity and tradition to what we all hoped would be a union made in Heaven. We were happy for the parents and appreciated the page turning in their life. We’d all been there or soon would be.

I’d come with my family to pay tribute to the parents… my friends. But I admit my distraction with the banner had consumed a good part of my attention during the service. I began to think that it was inappropriate.

When the soloist rose and sang the final George Strait love song while the bride and groom escaped, she was positioned right below the banner. Poor planning, I thought, or at least in poor taste.

As we were filing out I asked my daughter what she thought of the banner.

“Which one?” she asked.

“The one right above the singer,” I answered.

She studied it and read aloud, “Mount up with Wings. Kinda cool, I guess. Why?”

“Oh,” I said, vowing silently to start wearing my glasses more often, “Just curious.”


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