By Charlie Johnston
Back when I was a young fella my pet peeve was all of my friends who claimed that smoking marijuana helped facilitate deep and insightful thought in them. Now I was not completely abstinent, but I didn’t care for it because it would make my head fuzzy for three days – and a clear head was my main asset, so I preferred beer. I well knew, though, that if I drank too much, I got stupider, not smarter. But I did NOT get as stupid as when partaking of the weed – and the effects were much more short-lived. So most of the time when my friends were smoking I would stick to beer and we were all happy – except for my annoyance at their claim of how weed expanded their minds.
One night, it came to a head. I just could not stand it anymore. So I proposed an experiment. I suggested we all partake and then write down those deep thoughts that came so we could peruse them the next day and see just how deep they actually were. Everyone agreed, thinking they were going to prove me wrong. The next day, as we read what we had written under the influence the night before, no one wanted to share his deep thoughts. They were that pathetic. I concluded rather triumphantly that marijuana makes you very stupid while also deluding you that you are very smart. Not everyone agreed with my conclusion, but none of my friends ever again proclaimed to me that they partook of weed because of the deep insight it gave. Maybe that’s the problem in modern culture: the whole world is high, getting stupider by the minute while thinking they are getting smarter. I knew we shouldn’t have legalized marijuana.
A marvelous article in American Greatness suggested that we are now all being ruled by an overgrown group of mean girls from junior high school. That fits, too. There is no tyranny so arbitrary and capricious as a gaggle of adolescent mean girls. And just like some adolescent girls, nothing triggers our modern rulers more than hearing an idea they have never heard before and being asked to defend their own emotings.
The fascist ethos of the anti-God left was fully exposed by their meltdown over Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter. Not a single leftist is worried that Musk is going to censor them: they are worried that he won’t let them censor Christians and conservatives anymore. When your tools for discernment are calling everything you disagree with “Russian disinformation” or simply “misinformation” and seeking to shut others up rather than prove your point, you might be a fascist. When you argue that actual free speech is a “threat to democracy,” you are not at all clear on the concept of democracy. When any disagreement with leftist government tools is an “insurrection,” your inner Josef Stalin is showing.
The inmates have made America into an asylum – and they’re running it. As the great Dennis Prager says, the left ruins everything it touches. We have moved into very dangerous territory. A lot of reasonable people who are content to disagree and move on are being radicalized by the predations of the left. What they accuse you of is what they are actually doing – and they honestly think you are doing it because they think everyone is as perverse, vicious, and immoral as they are.
If I were a liberal, I would be terrified right now – for fear that I was going to be counted with the reigning cultural Visigoths. A black man I am close to expressed this to me recently. Originally a supporter of Black Lives Matter, he is completely opposed to it now, considering it both a fraud and a terrible danger to black lives. He thinks they are trying to foment a race war – and wonders what idiot wants a race war when they constitute 13% of the population in the society.
On the hopeful side, the real people I meet across the country have been uniformly kind and considerate. I’m not talking only about people who come to my talks. People I meet in stores, gas stations, and hotels are all friendly and cheerful. I don’t think it is nearly as bad among real people as the media and the lunatics running things want to make it out to be. Unfortunately, all those wonderful real people are not the ones driving the boat these days.
Things must turn around quickly or we are headed for a full societal collapse. Some things are so toxic they demand intolerance, like putting cyanide in your soda – or a ruling dynasty of mean girls. I think we are about a year and a half away from there being no functional national authority. That does not mean it’s the end of America – but that we better get to know our own neighbors pretty quickly if we are going to have any sort of functional society that can head off the violence and strife when central authority implodes. And as we govern ourselves, locally or in larger regions, we better make sure that we adamantly insist that mean girls need not apply for leadership positions. We’d all have to be high to think that could work out.
The last week I was on the road was filled with unexpected challenges. I have been pondering it, thinking it was some sort of sign that is worth contemplation. A week ago last Friday my car was vibrating badly as I drove coming out of Lubbock, Texas. I thought I had to get this looked at as soon as I got to St. Louis. I stopped off in Chickasha (pronounced like ricochet), Oklahoma at a Braum’s to get some ice cream and rest a bit. (Braum’s is a great ice cream and hamburger place, primarily in Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas. Check it out if you ever see one.) When I went back to the car, the suspension was creaking and popping something terrible. I figured I better not go anywhere with it like that, so I went to a hotel in town for the night.
Saturday morning I went out early to find an auto repair shop. Most were closed. The closest I could find was a tire shop. So I stopped in, they took a look, and told me my rack and pinion steering had gone out and a control arm was shot – but they did not do that type of work. They recommended a newly opened shop around the corner – but it was closed that day. I left it at that shop and gave a call and left a message at the posted number. I started walking back to the hotel, trying to figure out what I would do to get to my talk in St. Louis on Sunday. After just two blocks, I saw a small car dealership that had a sign saying, “Rentals Available.” So I stopped in to see if that was a possibility. Turns out they meant rental homes. I laughed to the fellow behind the desk and said I was sure the rentals were nice, but they wouldn’t get me to St. Louis. He laughed back and offered me a ride back to the hotel, saying his partner could watch the shop for a few minutes.
When I got back to the hotel my first priority was to figure out how to get to St. Louis for the next day’s talk. I had done all I could for that day for the car and the priority was to get to the talk. Local people put a ton of effort into setting these things up and I am absolutely loathe to postpone or cancel one. I had to cancel or postpone a couple when I had a bad case of Covid – and hope I never have to do that again. I checked potential rental cars, trains and even buses before settling on having to fly (which I HATE to do anymore). Since Chickasha is 40 miles from Oklahoma City, I had to arrange transportation. There were no shuttles or even cab service that ran that day, so I checked with some of the desk staff downstairs to see if they knew anyone who could drive me into the city. One of the housekeepers got her husband to do it. He did construction projects in the city, so it worked out and I got him a fresh tank of gas. He was a black guy who has some mixed race family. We chatted about the nonsense we have to deal with with the media constantly trying to set us all against each other – particularly those of us who have mixed race families. He dropped me off at an airport hotel, since my flight would be early Sunday morning.
At four a.m. I got up to get to the airport. At the security checkpoint, I was held up while a TSA agent went furiously through my computer bag. She was so intent I finally asked her if she was looking for something specific. She said yes – and I told her if she would tell me what it was I might be able to help. Just then, she pulled a pocket knife out of the bag. I was astonished – thought I had lost it – and figured oh boy, this is NOT good. But she just told me I could take it back to my car, but couldn’t take it on the plane. I told her I didn’t have a car…and no time even if I did, so she could have it. She said she couldn’t do that, that they would have to dispose of it. I told her to do whatever, but if they had some thing where they could give it away, that would be best. I apologized once more and she sent me on my way.
Our Region 7 Coordinator (Iowa, Illinois and Missouri), Bill Hammer, had come down from Iowa to rally the troops in St. Louis and he picked me up at the airport and drove me to my hotel. I crashed into bed at 9 a.m. then got up at 11:30 to prepare for the talk at one. Mark Lapchak, who helps with the scheduling, was there to tape the talk and drove me down to Belleville, Illinois where it was held. It was a great talk – a lively and energetic crowd with loads of comments and questions. That evening, the volunteers who put it together had dinner with me at a local eatery – a dinner originally planned for Saturday, but moved to Sunday evening because of the glitch in my schedule. We had a lively engagement there as well. On Monday, I was able to visit with some old friends (I lived in Belleville for five years), then on Tuesday Mark and I set off for Chickasha – a drive of eight hours.
I had looked online to get an idea of what to expect on price for the type of work being done to the car – and it suggested $1,500 to $2,000 was not uncommon. The auto shop had to get an extra part but was not giving me a specific estimate. I was getting nervous and kind of expected them to hammer me. I was planning to go to Kansas City to spend the night with Joe and Connie Brickner, our Region 10 Coordinators (Kansas and Nebraska), but the shop told me they had to do an alignment on the car and it would not be ready until that afternoon. Still no estimate. Mark headed on out to the Brickners and I stayed an extra day in Chickasha. Finally, late in the afternoon, the son of the owner drove the repaired car to the hotel and gave me the bill. I steeled myself – and was, indeed, stunned. The bill was $330. I don’t think I could have gotten the parts for that much. I called the owner and she said the rack and pinion were fine, that it was just the boot and the lower control arm that had to be replaced. It was still an absurdly low price. I bought the shop lunch for the next day – and the car drove well, indeed. They did good work. Just in case you’re ever in Chickasha, the shop is Red Dirt Auto Repair. If they treat an out-of-towner in an emergency so well, I think you can trust them.
Finally, Thursday morning I headed out for the 12 hour drive to get home to Denver in time for the Triduum. Holy Thursday always leaves me feeling bereft with the stripping of the altar. It feels like the world is truly plunged into darkness and sorrow. Good Friday services are particularly tough for me, as the hardest thing I do with my neurological damage is kneel and rise. Though I have a dispensation, I try not to use it – but the constant cycle of kneeling and standing during the petitions of the faithful are brutal on me. This time, I did too many and nearly triggered a neurological episode (I get nauseated, my head starts tingling and sweating and the pain flares tremendously). I skipped the last two kneels, then got out as fast as I could after the Veneration of the Cross and went home to bed, hoping to check the episode before it got too bad. It worked. Saturday night I attended the longest Easter Vigil I ever have – three and a half hours. A good friend was coming into the Church, so it was a very joyful Easter for me.
I have pondered this. I got stuck in an unexpected area, distant from people I knew who could help. I got wonderful help from strangers. I kept my priorities straight so that I could keep my commitment – and living that commitment was a particularly wonderful event. I think I got a little loose in making decisions under stress, certainly not as precise and calm as I like to make them, but it worked with the help of strangers. Our hearts truly do want to reach out to each other, even in this time when the perpetually offended try to stifle that kindness. I fretted that I might be gouged on my car but could do nothing about it. Instead, I was blessed. I fretted that I would not make it home for the Triduum – and oh, how I wanted to get home! Except for a couple of days, I had not been home since mid-October. The last day’s drive was an exhausting marathon, but I made it – and had perhaps the most joyful Easter I have had since I was received into the Church 31 years ago. We are going to be beset by all manner of trials and temptations ahead. When you can’t see clearly the way ahead, stumble forward doing the best you can – and trusting to God for the rest. He is truly the only safe repository for your hope, however dark it may seem in the moment.
About a third of the way into our Easter fundraising campaign for CORAC, we are at 35% of our goal of $50,000. Check out our bi-weekly national newsletter, edited and put together by Sheryl Collmer of Texas. It covers news you won’t get anywhere else and puts the spotlight on various Regional and Team news from across the country. We cover the truckers convoy, the latest vaxx info and all manner of issues inside and outside of the Church. You have to register to see some of the material on the CORAC website, but there is no charge to do so or to take any of the many classes or check out the many instructional materials we put up. All you have to put up with is me begging for funds to keep hope alive every few months. Thank you all for your generosity and for all you do. If you haven’t donated yet, I’m begging you to do it now.
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Tell friends at Church now in case you can’t then. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Gab at Charliej373 or at the CORAC group.
The Corps of Renewal and Charity (CORAC)
18208 Preston Rd., Ste. D9-552
Dallas, Texas 75252