Turnips, snow storms, and Grace


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Turnips, snow storms, and Grace
By Bobby Neal Winters

I made my round preaching at Opolis Sunday a week ago. It is always a treat to preach at Opolis and that’s not just because of the breakfast they serve there afterwards. There are a lot of good down to earth folks there who help me to keep my feet planted in reality.

Bill is one of the group who has me down for poker lessons occasionally. He gives good lessons, but he can be expensive. However, this week he had something I could take home with me: Turnips. It seems he discovered that after filling all of his turnip needs and those of his family and close friends he still had five 5-gallon buckets left over.

He gave me a Wal-Mart sack full of the turnips, each of which was the size of a newborn baby’s head. He also told me about some serving suggestions for turnips of which I had not known until then. Apparently turnips can be used as an aphrodisiac. The things you learn.

In return for this, I preached a message on the Reign of Christ the King. I don’t want to bore you too much with theology, but it concerned itself with the concepts of the Kingdom is coming versus the Kingdom is at hand. I was proud of it because I’d incorporated some things I’d learned from Professor Doctor Maxim Dufus PhD, ThD, etc, who is one of my colleagues at the University.

The Professor puts a great emphasis on the use of the Christ-child as a metaphor for how the Christian religion comes into our lives, but he’s not much into more concrete things. He’s never preached a sermon, though he teaches that the purpose of the preacher is to synthesize God’s message into a form the laity can understand and then pronounce it.

Professor Dufus is one of the great theological minds of our time, and if you don’t believe me, you can just ask him, but he is at the end of the day an academic. This means that while he can pour water out of a boot with the directions wrote on the heel he will have wet feet at the end of the process.

I talked to him on Saturday and he’d had an interesting week himself. There was a blizzard in this part of the country on Thursday and Friday in case you missed it. Max is of the old school where what goes on in the classroom comes first, and he’d never think of cancelling class because of something like snow. He arrived on campus at the usual time, parked in his usual spot, and immediately realized that he was stuck.

At some point during the day, it occurred to him that he would be driving home and that the ten inches of snow we’d received was unlikely to melt before he needed to leave, so he went outside and began the process of digging out. In a rare act of practical foresight, he’d brought a snow shovel with him. He was so focused on his task he barely noticed the old car that was caught high-center on the driveway of the Newman Center.

The driver was a young lady who was white. She’d stepped out of the car and was talking to another young lady passing by who was black. (I am not sure why Max told me their colors, but it seemed important to him.) The driver was explaining that she was stuck. Her boyfriend had taken the truck that day, and she didn’t know what she was going to do because she was pregnant and didn’t want to risk the strain.

Hearing that, Max began to make his way over to lend a hand himself. At the same time, the black woman called over some of her friends who were passing by, and at the same time some young men who were walking by came over.

Everybody started going in different directions at the same time and offering different bits of advice. The great professor himself didn’t know what to do, but he heard one of those present who seemed to know what he was talking about. No one was listening to the fellow, however.

Whatever his personal lack of commonsense, Max does recognize good advice when he hears it. He synthesized the advice into a single powerful message. Pulling himself to his full, professorial stature, summoning all of his authority, and pointing down the street, he said, “Push that way.”

And they did, and the young lady went merrily on her way. Max then went back to finish digging out his own car and went home.

After he told me all this, I asked him if he wanted any turnips,he took a couple, and I gave him some of Bill’s serving suggestions.

(Bobby Winters is a Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University, a writer, and a speaker. You may contact him at bwinters1@cox.net or visit his website at Okie in Exile Press. )
Hi Okie:

I never could stomach turnips however they were cooked...but your story was excellent as usual. I especially liked the part about Max stepping up to the plate and directing the group's concerted efforts. Were that this were possible in most instances in the real world.

I knew a Prof. Doofus where I worked once upon a time. His name was Les. Do you think that he and Max might be related somehow in a dualistic sort of way ? The possible internal symmetries of such a relationship boggles the mind.