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Preface: A backward glance at upfront things

joy rarely erupts in the safe centers of our lives. Laughter may inhabit the middle, but not joy. Joy rises only along the edges. (xv)

Chapter 2: The Five Good Gifts of a Scoundrel

A matter once decided finds little betterment in being fondled. “What might have been” leads only to a dour rehearsal of “what ifs?” It consumes our good judgment. It negates reality with years of frivolous fictions. (24)

The last place you want to go worship is the place where people need you to be poor so they themselves can feel rich in the dispensation of their charity. There is something grandiose about giving a beggar a dime, but there’s nothing grandiose in receiving it. Beggars don’t ask for money so they can think well of themselves, but because feeling bad about themselves is usually less painful than starvation. (59)

Chapter 7: Coming of Age in Pond Creek

John and Sophie taught me that it is not enough to believe in something sincerely. It is also important to be informed. This was one of the morst important things I ever learned. The difference between being passionately wrong about a thing and being cooly informed is the wide chasm known as naivete. Most all of my life, it seems I have been helping people past the outcome of disconolate policies they picked up from being zealous about former errors. (155)

Chapter 8: Beating the underwear people

“Keep every plan out in the open, and you’ll never get in trouble. Keep the church finances that way too Let everybody know freely everything you know, and don’t have any special people you try to placate by giving them information first. When everybody owns the church and its dreams, the church is healthy. When there are little secret pockets of informants, decay is in the wind. Paul said over in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that the church must be perfectly united in its reasons for existing. The leader and the led are equal partners in the union. The church has got to be owned by everybody, son!” (177)

People who only kiss are too much interested in the fire that lies beyond it. Watch those who opt for holding hands instead. These know the life of partnership and offer the hand at evert patch of ice that threatens life. Hand-holders survive. Kissers slobber and move on to other empty promises of fire. (182)

Chapter 9: Dearly Beloved, We are Gathered Here a Bit Confused

Honor is the bedrock of every real promise and I believe it is the bedrock of every marriage that lasts. I will never love Barbara any more than the sacredness of my promises. In a minite I’m going to look her in the eyes and say, “For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” And when I say that, I’m going to mean it as no one standing at any altar has ever meant it. I believe that somewhere out there in the future, I will be more certain about love, but I will never me more certain about integrity than I am right now. (195)

The mean temperature of Oklahoma in July is posted daily hyst outside the gates of hell to remind the damned just how bessed they are. (198)

Chapter 10: Umbilical Stretch