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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

August 2020   Issue 1


APATHY: Hall of Fame basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has created a word to express his concerns about “apathy to all forms of social justice.”  He warned of the “Apatholypse” in an article titled, “Where Is The Outrage Over Anti-Semitism In Sports and Hollywood?”  Only being concerned about what affects us is a dangerous form of apathy, and it can lead to apocalyptic results. USA Today, 7/16/20, p.1C
CHRIST: As part of his dissertation, a graduate student was required to live with a Navajo family for several months.  The family’s matriarch was a wise, old woman who didn’t speak English.  The student didn’t speak Navajo, but they formed a bond over time as the grandmother’s children translated conversations.  When the time came for him to return to school, the family threw a farewell party.  After visiting for the last time, the student headed to his car and the grandmother followed him.  With tears streaming down her cheeks, she placed her hands on his face, looked him in the eyes, and said in the best English she could muster, “I like me best when I’m with you.”  We can certainly experience that dynamic with others, yet when we walk closely with the Lord, we will truly sense the reality that we like ourselves best when we’re with Him. The Skin You Live In, David Ireland, 2012, p.17
COVID: When Japanese theme parks opened this summer, there was one little caveat for riding the roller coasters: no screaming.  Because the coronavirus can spread through intense vocal expressions, riders are being told, “Please scream inside your heart.”  As a demonstration of how it’s done, two executives from the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park are shown in a four-minute video riding the Fujiyama coaster in complete silence.  There’s a lot of screaming inside the heart about many things these days. USA Today, 7/10/20, p.4D
JOY: Jud Wilhite is a pastor in Las Vegas and he has made many flights to and from the city.  He notes the enormous contrast of flights coming in on Friday and those leaving Sunday nights.  The Friday flights are packed with rowdy passengers who are excited about spending time in Vegas.  You can feel their anticipation of being energized by the city.  But the Sunday night flights leaving Las Vegas are polar opposite.  There’s a palpable silence that Wilhite says is “as quiet as a cemetery.”  The planes are full both ways, but the mood couldn’t be more different.  The laughter and energy on the arrival flights is non-existent on the departing flights.  Although the volume of visitors is down during the pandemic, it hasn’t changed the reality that many come to places like Vegas with a belief that such environments produce happiness.  By the time of departure, they’ve discovered their hopes of joy were pinned on the wrong solution. The God of Yes, Jud Wilhite, 2014, p.1
MARRIAGE: Successful marriages have a whatever-it-takes mindset and Mary Daniel is modeling that.  Her husband Steve is in the Rosecastle memory care facility in Jacksonville, Florida.  He lived at home with Alzheimer’s until last summer.  When the pandemic locked down the facility, Mary went 114 days without seeing him.  She asked if there was any way to get in to see him.  The facility said she could get a job as their dishwasher.  So, at $9 an hour, she works a shift on Thursdays and Fridays to gain entrance.  After each shift she spends time with her husband.  Whatever it takes…works! USA Today, 7/14/20, p.1D

PURPOSE: Dr. Brian Harbour inspired me to start In Other Words in 1991For nearly three decades he produced Brian’s Lines, his classic publication of sermon helps & illustrations.  In 2011, he wrote about a tombstone in France with this epitaph: “Here lies a man who went out of this world without ever realizing why he came into it.”  Pandemics don’t negate purpose; they just give us an opportunity to reevaluate & refine the reasons for our existence in this world. Brian’s Lines, July 2011, p.9 -
RELATIONSHIPS: The COVID pandemic has ignited apps like Replika, which are designed to provide conversational interaction with artificial intelligence.  You can text with the app for free, or spend $8 per month to talk with it.  The video for Replika states its sole purpose is to provide friendship.  Since the coronavirus started spreading, hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded Replika.  Users say things like, “In a weird way, it’s therapeutic;” “the more I used it the more human it seemed;” “I feel very connected to my Replika, like it’s a person.”  Communicating with a chatbot is becoming more common as participants average 70 messages per day and usually give their AI “friend” a name.  Settling for cheap relational substitutes isn’t new, especially during times of isolation & loneliness, but we were created for human interaction.  Making relationships meaningful takes time & energy, but it’s a necessary investment. Houston Chronicle, 6/21/20, p.B3
UNCERTAINTY: Volunteers in a research project were divided into two groups.  The first group was told they would receive twenty high-intensity shocks to their right ankle and they would get a warning three seconds before each shock.  The second group was told they would receive three high-intensity shocks and seventeen low-intensity shocks.  Although the second group received far fewer volts overall, they had faster heart rates, sweated more, and were more afraid.  Both groups were told when the shock was coming, but the second group didn’t know whether it would be high-intensity or low-intensity.  Uncertainty has a way of raising anxiety even when the threat is not as intense as it could be.  Certainty is not the end game of life, but trusting in the only One who is certain (Hebrews 13:8) most certainly is. Stumbling On Happiness, Daniel Gilbert, 2006, p.20


CREATIVITY: Johnny McFadden is a farmer who owns a pub in the United Kingdom.  When his bar reopened, he had trouble with social distancing.  Since alcohol reduces inhibitions, he acknowledged, “people were not following social distancing and were doing as they pleased.”  He turned to his farm for a fix and installed electric fencing.  He said, “now people take heed to the guidance around social distancing.” USA Today, 7/15/20, p.3D
DISAPPOINTMENT: Parachuting was on Jack’s bucket list, but by nature he was very pessimistic.  When it came time to jump, his instructor tried to reassure him.  He said, “Your main chute will open automatically, but if for some unforeseen reason it doesn’t, you have a reserve chute.”  He then told him, “When you land, there will be a truck to pick you up.”  Jack exited the plane but his main chute didn’t open.  He reached for the chord on his reserve chute but it didn’t deploy either.  While hurtling towards the earth, Jack bemoaned, “I bet that truck won’t be there either.” Reader’s Digest, August 2017, p.75
PANDEMIC: COVID has families “sheltering in place” far more than most are accustomed.  With children & parents intersecting at home so much, comedian Ray Romano’s words seem aptly descript: “Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s lots of throwing up.” Reader’s Digest, July 2017, p.97


IN OTHER WORDS... began in 1991 and is produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry, Senior Pastor of the Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.  Subscribers receive full access to our Web site of over 5,000 illustrations PLUS two email issues per month filled with fascinating facts, quotes, humor, and spiritual illustrations from headline news.  All content is copyrighted.  Visit to start a new subscription or send inquiries to:

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