And, after meetings in Alabama, on my way to Mississippi, and with Louisiana scheduled next, since I play an Indian banjo, I could truthfully say, ‘I came from Alabama with my banjo on my knee/ I'm going to Louisiana...' But the weather was not so extreme as to be able to sing, 'It rained all night the day I left--the weather it was dry/ The sun so hot I froze to death. Susanna, don't you cry'.
The American South is legendary for hospitality. I experienced excellent church service last night—people with outstanding friendliness, song leaders with songs that have meaning, pastor and missions leader with excellent Spirit, children and young people in church a great joy to be with. With the many people of Scot-Irish background, some have redheads (no church should be without one) and a the present fashion in spectacles is dark, nerdy frames, so I made friends with all kids with glasses like mine! Dudes who exude nerditude! Nerds rule! And in case the glasses are no longer enough, one church had a lady who knows a lot about lasic surgery. See? Perfect.
At another church, more loving people: a two or three-year-old running around with her toy phone, comes up, wants me to hold her, and she's never seen me before. And after church, I saw a tired seven-year-old who reminds me of child-hood photos of my mom, trying to sleep, leaning against her mom, then her dad, then me (while we three were talking together--her father is a musician and I write songs, so we have common interests). And another small kid wearing ankle bells that I have among Asian music instruments, and wearing them throughout the song service to practice making them ring for the special song. The organist there is a lady whose LOW voice reminded me of Karen Carpenter's. And a violinist--the previous day I'd been imagining a violin accompaniment for an up-tempo version of 'Yield Not to Temptation', and after church I told him my lyrics for turning 'Ashoken Farewell' into a worship song. And then in the restaurant with good humor with the pastor, his wife, and their grandson. And a restaurant clerk with—again!—big glasses like mine. Good people.
JFK once described Washington DC, since it's on the border between North and South, of being the combination of Northern hospitality and Southern efficiency—i.e, pretty bad. Of course, that's 50 years ago. Now, the South has risen again: Charlotte, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, Jackson, New Orleans, Houston, Little Rock and Dallas are far different than they were in JFK's time. And I've experienced wonderful hospitality in the North and in Canada, too.
One friend commented on a journey of mine to West Jefferson, Ohio. I draped a huge python skin across the top of their grand piano. One lady, while singing next to it, raised her hand and accidentally touched the snake skin—AAAAUGH! So of course I, to help her understand how some people in the Indian tourist industry beguile tourists, asked her to assist me while I draped the python skin over her.
At that same church, I remember very well the boy operating the AV. He was maybe nine years old, could hardly see over the console. He came up after church in his tie and asked me for the title of my sermon so he could type it on the labels. Wonderful to let people of all ages use their talents. His name is James Underhill, and he now pastors youth in Delaware, Ohio.
An English Duchess, noting my sense of humor and claiming me as English, asked about my family name: the Chisholms (original form of the name Scism) were Danish at first, then lived in France for 200 years, then in North England and Scotland for 600 years, then in Ireland for about 25. I'm sure along the way they for generations married local girls, experiencing the excellencies of northern French, English, Scottish and Irish wives, who graciously contributed their genes to make us the intelligent and strikingly handsome/beautiful (not to mention humble) people we are. And of course we should sing, ‘Now gather around, brothers, and listen to my tale/ I'll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm trail/...’.
Some people ask how to find out family history. In my case, years ago, I read in a family history book that our branch of the 'Scism' family comes from 'Chisholm', which was a Scottish clan. Later, in Scotland, I read that the Chisholm clan was originally Scandinavian. In my tours of the Scottish islands with their Norwegian-influenced history, I learned that 'holm' means 'small island'—for instance, I saw ‘Holm of Papay’ in the Orkney Islands. And while I was in Bangladesh at the time of a hurricane, a Swedish reporter pointed out that 'Stockholm' originated on a river island. About ten years later, an American pastor of Norwegian descent, researching his own family history, found out that 'Chisholm' came from an island which is now part of Denmark. In Denmark about ten years after THAT, I asked several people, and one of them confirmed that the 'h' in 'Chis' would have been an aspiration of the 'k', and so the original pronunciation would have been more like 'khis', and so khisholm would have meant 'the small island where the Khis clan comes from'. And last year in Cambodia, I met a retired Danish couple on holiday who, when they returned home, researched this and found the exact island. So I wrote to the Danish royal house to express my joy--I'm as happy as a Dane! And that's saying a lot because the Danes have been called the happiest people on earth!
And when I'm old and wrinkly, I'll be a prune Danish!
Some people ask what I speak about: different subjects, as the Holy Spirit leads. For instance, one Sunday morning I spoke on water and Spirit baptism. There was a wonderful prayer service that deeply blessed me. After the meeting, people coming to buy books told me I need to write one on the same subject on which I spoke. Thanks for the encouragement—I will.
That Sunday night I spoke on 'til Christ be formed in you', with reference to 'took note that they had been with Jesus' and 'every athlete to participate in the games undergoes training', re Spiritual disciplines. 'Til Christ Be Formed in You' is a subject very much on my heart. I wrote a book called Praying Heart (please see Wonderful Words section on this website) and I’ve written a sequel, now to be published, called Spirit Virtue. My goal is to write two more in this series to cover a whole year of devotional messages or a four-credit course in Devotional Theology. At present Praying Heart is the text for a one-credit course in the subject--can be taken by checking in at Scism Christian University. For that, too, see the appropriate part of this website.
One last double pun:
After the truck hit me on Thanksgiving Day, 2014, and broke my right arm in multiple places, the orthopedic surgeons in Udaipur put a titanium rod in my arm (an American shoulder specialist confirmed that they did a good job). The hospital staff was really wonderful, too, so I can truthfully say to them, 'Your rod and your staff, they comfort me'.