Tuesday, August 30, 2011



As published in the Newport (TN) Plain Talk
August 18, 2011
Column Number: FM 1133

Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere; you might just happen to have heard about this Saturday, August 20 being “Lt. Gen. Hubert Smith Day” and Sunday being “Viet Nam Veterans’ Day” in Newport.

While these might not have been the most widely publicized special events we have ever had; the career of my friend Hubert Smith from Smithville, a suburb of Nough, a suburb of Slabtown, a suburb of Del Rio, a suburb of Frogpond, Tennessee has not been well-publicized for the most part either. Hubert (excuse me, General Hugh Smith) has kept it that way on purpose because, frankly, he has been just too modest to leak it.

That other group, the Viet Nam Veterans, have neither been well publicized nor honored for a variety of different reasons: some things you just don’t talk about; and their war was so “unpopular”. Excuse me, but no war, conflict, or “police action” is “popular”, particularly to those who are drafted to go fight it!

I’ll let Hubert (excuse me, General Hugh Smith) have his privacy about his military career – and, by the way - his more recent work with the relief efforts in Haiti; but the honor for that group known collectively as “Viet Nam Veterans” should be shouted from every soapbox, tree stump, platform, and pulpit in the area.

Most of you know my story. Officially and Technically, I served in the Military during the Viet Nam ERA; but I did not set foot in Viet Nam itself. Yes, officially and technically they tell me I qualify as a “Viet Nam Vet”; but only because of a set of dates, and certainly not because of anything else!

I remember the first time I saw a “Viet Nam” patch on an US Army Ranger’s sleeve. It was in the mess hall (excuse me, chow hall) (excuse me, dining facility) at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and I asked him about it; but he simply and gently replied, “If you haven’t been there, I cannot explain it to you”. He needed his space.

I served with several old non-coms who had served in World War 2 and the “Korean Conflict” and were winding down their service. One sergeant had been taken prisoner in Germany; but it was not a topic about which he wanted to talk. He needed his space.
Tom Hollingsworth was one of the first Rangers (observers, advisors) to land in Viet Nam. His platoon named Highway # 9 as “The Ho Chi Minh Trail” from their observation posts and their cryptic radio communications: “Ho’s boys are on the trail again”. Tom spoke in a “God and Country” Rally at Cocke County High School back in the 1970’s. He used his experiences over there to try to call America back to God and Country; but he did not go into detail. He needed his space.

When they were discharged or furloughed, many of these brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen had to sneak through airports in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” to avoid ugly demonstrations by the misguided and uninformed members of the free citizenry.

No, I was not there with boots on that ground! Yes, my information comes second-handed or third or fourth-handed because most of the guys that were actually there will not talk in any detail about it. They need - and deserve – their space.

One friend who served in Viet Nam started to talk about the treatment he and his comrades received when they came home – then abruptly stopped and said, “That is my problem, and I will have to handle it”!

Another friend was awarded a medal for extreme bravery under fire – single-handedly saving lives – and no one knew anything about it until it was awarded thirty-five later!

I have some friends whose names are on “The Wall” in Washington. Enough said; but I cannot say enough about the men and women that have served, are serving, and will serve until “The Prince of Peace” comes back and puts the quietus on all these wanna-be dictators who must be held in check by our marvelous military.

When I am asked to speak on these special days, I usually close with a line in the film: “The Presidio” in which two old soldiers are talking and one says something to this effect: “The military is like a big ole ugly dog that nobody wants around until trouble comes; and then when trouble comes, the first thing you call for is that big ole ugly dog”.

Please come quickly, Lord Jesus – The Prince of Peace!

Tom Mooty serves as Senior Pastor of Newport’s West End Baptist Church; and can be reached with your comments at tommooty05@comcast. This column can also be accessed on the church’s website: www.webaptistchurch.org (click on “pastor’s blogs”).

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As published in the Newport (TN) Plain Talk
August 25, 2011
Column Number: FM 1134

Ok, I admit it! I confess! You got me!

I enjoy “wasting time” on a good logic problem or a “sudoku” puzzle.

Oh yeah, I could go into about thirty minutes worth of aimless, political double-speaking, mind-numbing dissertation on how they hone my already-razor-sharp mind to a maximum peak of razor-sharpness. I could do that; but someone out there in “Five Minuteville” will be equally as razor-sharp and recognize my disquisitation as just so much aimess, political double-speaking, mind-numbing discoursing.

So, I will not insult your intelligence with that improvident loquacity.

Actually I just enjoy sitting down and working out a problem!

I was overjoyed when I saw that my friends at “Five Minute Headquarters” were going to have a special section in the weekend edition that included various forms of these problems and puzzles.

Since I didn’t have any time to “waste” – er “spend” - that first week; I just laid it aside to pick up later. Imagine my surprise when I saw in a later edition that my friends at HQ had published the first book with all the wrong answers (not that I ever have to look up a answer).

I can hear them now: “Has anybody seen them answers for that there puzzelling book? I gotta have ‘em in five minutes” (everybody down there works in five minute intervals – except for coffee breaks, snack breaks, lunch breaks, and nap breaks – but that’s column fodder for another time). “No? Well that’s ok, I’ll jest grab some answers from a coupla weeks ago”.

As that goofy green gecko says, “That’s a total dramatization of course, but you get my point”.

We live in a day of instant grab a problem, rassle with it a while, and solve it or check the answer in the back of the book – all within - you guessed it - five minutes; and then move on.

We live in a day when television programs show the problem (the murder, the mayhem, and maliciousness) in – you guessed it – five minute segments, sandwiched within – you guessed it – five minute segments of commercials until you get to the other end of yet another wasted period of time with the problem all nicely solved and tied up neatly in a neat little bundle of answers from the back of the book.

“What do you mean, the answers were wrong? People can’t make it without the answers; without being declared a winner; and moving on”.

But, frankly, it just doesn’t happen that way. Everybody wanted that “soap opera” trial in Orlando to “get on with it”. “She’s guilty, everybody knows that; get to the last part so we can move on to another problem”.

Life is like that, you know. Life will jump right up and slap you across the chops with no answer page anywhere in sight.

And so, people start looking for answers; but they spend their time looking in all the wrong places.

Are you looking for answers to the BIG problem - the one that asks you what will happen to you one second after you die (or Jesus comes back)? Are you looking for answers to that BIGGIE?

I know it! I know the answer! I had it shown to me forty-six years ago!

And it is not in the wrong place! It can be found in many languages; in motel rooms, hospital rooms, and jail cells; in paper-back, leather-back, or hard-back; back rooms, front rooms, middle rooms; back pockets, coat pockets, briefcases and purses; pews and display tables; book cases and coffee tables; and car seats of any member of the Gideon Organization. You know what I’m talking about – The Book of Answers – The Bible!

That’s the Answer you need to the BIGGEST problem you will ever face!

Don’t know the Answer? I do; and I will share!

Tom Mooty serves as Senior Pastor of Newport’s West End Baptist Church; and can be reached with your comments at tommooty05@comcast.net. You are also invited to check out the church website at www.webaptistchurch.org.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


As published in the Newport (TN) Plain Talk
Release Date: Jul 21, 2011
Column Number: FM 1129


A couple of weeks ago, this space was dedicated to some pertinent minutia about the Pledge to our Flag; but I could not git ‘r done in five minutes; so I prevailed upon the good folk down at the Plain Talk and bought us five more minutes.

On September 8, 1892, a Boston-based youth magazine; “The Youth’s Companion” published a twenty-two word recitation for school children to use during planned activities the following month in the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of America (actually, he “discovered” the indigenous peoples that had already “discovered” America; but - anyway). Under the title, “The Pledge to the Flag”, the composition was the earliest version of what we now know as the Pledge of Allegiance”.

In the thirty intervening years, the United States had recovered from most of the devastating effects of the Civil War; and people were flocking to the “Land of Opportunity”. In the previous year alone, almost 500,000 immigrants had legally entered the United States through the “Barge Office” in Battery Park, New York; and on New Years’ Day of 1892, the “New Station” of the “Federal Bureau of Receiving at Ellis Island” had opened.

Two men interested in education and the planned Columbus Day celebrations were Francis Bellamy (an educator) and James Upham (a magazine editor). They lobbied Congress to approve and President Benjamin Harrison to announce “Presidential Proclamation 335” to make the public school flag ceremony the focal point of the celebrations. A month after the words were published, more than 12,000,000 school children across the nation recited the words for the first time.

In this way, our Pledge to the Flag was born; but like anything new, it took several years to “reach maturity” and underwent several changes along the way, all of which were objected to by either Bellamy or his descendants (after he died in 1931).

In its original 1892 form, the pledge was to be recited while rendering what became to be known as the “Bellamy salute” which began with the right hand over the heart, and at the words, "to the Flag," the arm was extended toward the Flag. During World War 2, that salute was so close to the “Nazi salute”, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed for Congress to change the salute to placing the right hand over the heart throughout the pledge. This law also applied to the position to assume when the National Anthem is presented.

The words, “Under God” have been a happy hunting ground for legal eagles looking for fifteen minutes of fame. The words had been suggested many times; but President Truman could never close the deal. However, after the war, the “times, they were a-changing” and President Eisenhower was well able to have those famous words included in 1954 in response to the Communist threat of those days. Thus, we have the thirty-one word Pledge we say today.

There have been several legal ranglings and official complaints generated by the Pledge; among them, a 1940 Supreme Court decision where certain religious groups lost their case that requiring students to stand and recite the Pledge amounted to “idolatry” (reversed in 1943).

Down through the years litigants of all shapes and sizes have tried to have those words eliminated under such grounds as: the words are “grammatically incorrect”, the words are tantamount to being a violation of government-sponsored religion, they endorse Monotheism, they violate the free speech of the students, they lead to the “establishment of a religion”, and just settled this past June was the denial that they lead to a violation of the civil rights of the students.

Please forgive me; but, do I sound warped to you? Have I missed a cog or skipped a gear somewhere in my education and training? I was “forced” to stand and face the flag and place my right hand over my heart and recite the Pledge – and I think I turned out all right.

Wait a minute; here’s something that has not yet been ligitagated. Does placing my right hand over my heart violate my “right” to be left-handed?????

God have mercy on our “Christian Nation”! In the meantime: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.

Tom Mooty serves as Senior Pastor of Newport’s West End Baptist Church; and can be reached with your comments at tommooty05@comcast.
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As published in the Newport (TN) Plain Talk
Release Date: Jul 14, 2011
Column Number: FM 1128


Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere, you probably just might accidently know that there was a little trial (of sorts) in Orlando, Florida recently.

It was the hottest ticket in town; I mean, it was hotter than Mickey and his entire group out on the outskirts.

People stood in line, camped in line, ate in line, watched television in line, slapped backs in line, and told lies in line to grab one of the few available seats in the balcony for the day’s “show”. I mean, some of those “ugly Americans” were like those misfits who wait in line for the newest offering from one of the ptomaine taverns along “hamburger row” (at least in the television commercials).

I sat back in my chair and watched those discontented, dissatisfied, long tongued, rubber-necking dissidents literally run over each other when the gates opened, or the whistle blew, or the white smoke rose from the stack (or whatever signal they were given).

One unfortunate lady was shoved down, stepped over, and stomped on by that herd of “someday I gotta get a life” hooligans. Fights broke out and words were spoken in their inhuman and inhumane haste to grab a seat.

Actually, this sort of trial goes on in most every courthouse in every county seat in every state at some time or another; but this one was “made for television” and was served up a la carte with a side order of “OJ”.

“Get outta my way, old lady! You’re in my way with that wheelchair, old man!”

Yessir, that’s my kind of crowd! Those are the kind of people I have looked forward to being with since the last time on the shores of the Suez Canal at midnight, trying to catch a bus into Egypt! (But that’s column fodder for another time).

Anyway, I watched as they pushed and pulled and shoved and shook their miserable way toward the door, exerting their determined and aggressive perseverance to attain the prize – of – of - of what exactly? Oh yes, getting one of the few seats in the balcony to watch the “show”.

The thing is; after all of that effort; after all that drive and determination to propel themselves into an empty seat (or one that was occupied if he/she was smaller); after all that senseless effort and meaningless endeavor; I watched in delight as the judge came out and announced that “court would be in recess until day after tomorrow”.

Say what?

I gave up my tickets to Mickey’s House for this? I could have been pushing and shoving my way through the crowds to ride the teacups or gulp an overpriced coke; and I extended my stay in that overpriced motel for another day for – for – for this!

Bummer! Big time bummer!

Hope you enjoy your trip back home; and by the way, the lady you stepped over and stomped on is gonna be all right; just in case you were wondering!

Isn’t that exactly like the world?

I mean, isn’t that just the way the devil delights in treating people?

He delight is to build you up with great expectations; then let you listen for that big “whooshing” sound as the air gets let out of your sails. It is as one preacher said, “All the devil’s apples have worms in them”.

I’ve been walking this way a long, long time; and I cannot begin to tell you all the life stories I have been told (and experienced a few myself) when the devil has dangled a treat in front that soon turned into a trick.

Are you better off today because you are following the empty paths of ole “Slew Foot”? Maybe? Ok, how about tomorrow? What will happen tomorrow when the plans you have made all fall through because the judge recesses the meeting? Than what will you do? Do you really think – I mean REALLY think that the devil is your friend? Do you really believe he cares one little bit for and about you?

He will leave you laying there like those impatient ingrates left that lady lying there!

Don’t know how to get out of that mess you have made of your life? I do; and I will share!

Tom Mooty serves as Senior Pastor of Newport’s West End Baptist Church; and can be reached with your comments at tommooty05@comcast.

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