When you hear the name Aesop you immediately remember his many “fables”, stories about animals, fruits and other ordinary things from nature that had a deeper, more abstract meaning (hare and tortoise; fox and grapes).

Jesus Christ often taught using parables, which I learned early in Sunday school were simply put “earthly stories with heavenly meanings”. He used illustrations from the daily lives of the people He ministered to in order to share His message.

In my many years of teaching, I’ve discovered that almost all of us learn more difficult and abstract concepts if we have understandable and common-day illustrations and examples, things we can see and handle. (So please, don’t tell me how to put a new app on my iPhone, show me; don’t tell me how to hook up the Firestick, show me!)

These past few days I’ve been learning a valuable lesson from a group of visitors to my house, a lesson that graphically illustrates the cultural, moral and spiritual abyss into which America is plummeting.

I would think that perhaps our house should be zoned as a zoo. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve entertained rabbits, foxes, deer, turkeys, raccoons, opossums, the neighbor’s dogs and cats, countless birds, and my personal favorite -- my squirrels.

We don’t purposely set out the buffet for all of these, but I do feed, on a regular basis, the birds and squirrels. And they are a comic relief, often, and have the knack of cheering up and calming down in the daily posture of life!

This past week, four Blue Jays caught my attention. At first, I thought maybe their actions were “random” but then I did two experiments and found that they were apparently the “mindset” and “heart” of these four large, beautiful winged creations.

I confess, I spoil my “babies”. I feed the squirrels non-roasted, non-salted in-shell peanuts. And I give my birds a mixture of the “good stuff” (fruit and nut blend) with the smaller, cheaper seeds because I have a variety of sizes of birds and apparent seed-preferences.

Generally, at feeding time, the Blue Jays come first and have often appeared somewhat aggressive toward smaller birds. But with the amount of space and seed, each bird gets his/her daily RDA of healthy food. The squirrels will also eat birdseed if there’s nothing else, but I know they prefer the nuts (and they come to the back door and knock).

On the day I mentioned above, there were four Blue Jays on the deck. Other birds were milling around. I picked up four peanuts to give the jays and tossed them out. Four peanuts, four Blue Jays … everybody happy, right?

The first Jay swooped down and picked up his nut and as the second came for his, number one decided he wanted it, too. Tussle! Then three and four got into it. They each could have a peanut for themselves, but each had two other ideas (1) I want all of the nuts for me and (2) I don’t want the others to have a nut!

As they were tussling among themselves (their own “kindred”), the tufted titmice, chickadees, doves, wrens, cardinals and sparrows were happily eating their own food without as much as an eyebrow lifted toward a “neighbor”.

Being a science teacher, I decided to experiment so on each of the next two days, when the Blue Jays (and each time there were four, maybe a family, I don’t know) came to dine, I did the same with four peanuts and the results were identical: I want all of them; I don’t want you to have any of them. And the bullying was again toward their own “type” of bird, their own “family”.

What a picture, a parable of what we see happening in America today, and throughout the world, as we “fight” and “consume” each other, not really wanting anything as much as not wanting others to have things. And as humans, instead of seeking solutions, we look for people and things to blame, but seldom do we look inside!

Our problems are not political, economic or religious; they are spiritual! And as mentioned in an earlier column, race is not to blame for the problems in our world. We are all, in our own way, biased and prejudiced, but not by race, because we all belong to one race. If we all looked exactly alike, we would still be where we are today, because inside of that external commonality would still beat that sin-filled heart!

A wonderful “black” pastor, professor Dr. Voddie Baucham shares the truth of this when he tells us that “race” is a “construct” (something made up, and devised centuries ago by Satan, the deceiver, the divider), not real. Because he believes the truth of the Bible, as I do, he reiterates God’s view that we are all of one race, “Adam’s race”, the human race.

Dr. Baucham goes on to state that we are also really all one “color”, the only difference being the amount of “melanin” in that 0.1 mm layer of skin that covers us. Tongue in cheek, he adds that if we’re jealous because God gave him more melanin, that’s our problem.

We don’t know what Adam and Eve looked like. Were they black as coal, white as snow? Was one dark, one light? We can’t know; there weren’t iPhones or cameras back then. But God created into that one man, one woman, the genetic apparatus so that from them comes all other skin tones, eye colors, hair colors, body shapes and so on.

Yes, if we want to, we can continue to allow ourselves to be divided over things we have no control over. Or we can begin to come together and realize that our problems come from within ourselves, our own sinful hearts. And that the only solution to our problems is when we stop trying to assess blame and begin to let the Lord work within ourselves. I cannot control you; you cannot control me. We can control our feelings about each other and our reaction to each other.

There has never been total equality and there never will be, because basically, down deep, we don’t want there to be. Our pride and selfishness go back to the Blue Jays in my back yard. Social justice and justice are only pipe dreams until we are willing to cede to others what we say we want for ourselves. When we answer violence with violence, hate with hate, anger with anger, we don’t alleviate anything, we only make it worse. And we devalue all life, until we equally value all life, regardless of perceived differences (and that must include the unborn life)!

Dr. Baucham is often criticized for his Biblical stand by people of his own “skin tone”. He speaks truth and we don’t really want truth. A local newspaper publishes an editorial “cartoon” with truth and there is an outrage! In the recent rerun of the movie A Few Good Men, a military court martial movie, Tom Cruise (a lawyer) tells the witness, “I want the truth”. The witness, Jack Nicholson, comes back with “You can’t handle the truth”.

That’s where we are in America today: we don’t really want real truth and when we find it, we can’t handle it; and that’s the slippery slope that will take the “human race” as a whole, into oblivion.

But there is a truth (and all truth is God’s truth); and there is a place (only one place) of absolute “color blindness” and even ground: that’s at the foot of the cross. God created us; He created us for diversity, because diversity should bring strength. He looks beyond our 0.1 mm epidermis and melanin into our very hearts and minds (something we think we can do to others, but we can’t), and He loves us anyway.

Jesus died for all regardless of any physical difference. The way of salvation is the same for all. It is not deserved, it cannot be earned or bought, but it a free gift of the one who died for us.

Only when we all come to the level ground of the cross, looking only at ourselves and our sinful hearts and not at anyone else, when we come to find the love and forgiveness of the Savior in confession and repentance of our own sins, will we be able to live together with others of our race, will enjoy our peanut and let the others enjoy theirs, and will become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Do you want to be a Blue Jay? I don’t!

Cancellations, Postponements and Reopening

As South Carolina and especially Horry County begin to “reopen”, we will see churches and organizations trying to get back to some degree of normalcy in services and ministries. As your church or house of worship, faith-based organization etc. starts to function “person-to-person” again, let Church Talk know and we’ll share that with the community.

But let’s continue to monitor cancellations and postponements so we’ll all be “on the same page” and “in the right place at the right time”!

Helping the Helpers

As we continue through this worldwide “emergency”, needs seem to be multiplying. There are many economic problems from those out of work; there are medical needs for the ones coming down with COVID plus the other “normal” diseases and physical problems; there are emotional needs of loneliness and depression; and there are nutritional needs as many in our area (and around the world) are hungry.

There are a lot of groups that are trying to do that: the Salvation Army, Help4Kids, the Red Cross, CAP, Shepherds Table, many local churches and so on. The Waccamaw Community Foundation collects “gifts” and distributes them to a number of charities. And we need to remember groups like Coastline Women’s Center and Bethesda Home for Single Mothers who go beyond the physical to assist the spiritual and other needs of our people. If you look, you can find someone to help. Let’s all open our eyes and hearts to friends, neighbors and strangers and be the hand and feet of God to the needy.

Community Bible Study Registration Opens

Community Bible Study (CBS) announces the opening of registration for this year’s study The Gospel of John. CBS offers classes for men, women, couples and children (birth through high school) and meets at the host church Ocean Drive Presbyterian on Sixth Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach. The group will begin Sept. 9 and meet every Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

The New Testament book of John is an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus Christ. The apostle John was transformed by the years of close friendship he spent with Jesus, and he wanted everyone to experience that same joy. John 20:31 says he wrote the book, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

CBS is a nondenominational, in-depth Bible study designed for all levels of Bible knowledge, and we welcome all faiths and beliefs. You may now register with the coordinator, Jeri Friz, at (843) 249-6957 or e-mail to wlgm250@gmail.com.

EOC Summer Food Program

Waccamaw EOC has a summer food program giving free food for children 18-years-old and younger. This will continue through July 31. Phone (843) 234-4100, ext. 229.

What’s That Noise?

If you happen to be in Downtown Conway on the Fourth of July about 9:30 p.m. and the skylights up and you hear loud thunder, don’t worry. It is not the apocalypse (probably). Enjoy America’s birthday with the Chamber of Commerce fireworks!

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ The Catholic Church of St. James, 1071 Academy Drive, collects nonperishable food items for Catholic Charities and CAP Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the church. Please help as you are able.

■ Tilly Swamp Survivors of Suicide, a new faith-based support group for those having lost someone to suicide, meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the church: 4619 S.C. 90. Phone (803) 566-0702.

■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65, will be distributing food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all the food has been distributed.

■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ Together in Christ has a Wednesday ZOOM Prayer Meeting from noon-12:30 p.m. each week. Prayer changes everything and you are invited to pray with the mid-week group. Email hgprayer@sccoast.net.

■ Ground Zero is working hard to get back up and running with its various youth-oriented ministries and services. They need our help. If you are interested in assisting GZ, then go to the group’s website or give them a call and see how you can be used there. Email to info@mygroundzero.com or phone (843) 945-9440.

■ The Colombiettes of St. Andrews Church, 37th Avenue North are in need of crafters and vendors for their Christmas Bazaar, which will take place Nov. 7 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Community Life Center. Contact Patricia Martelli at (908) 938-1433 or email to patriciamartelli57@gmail.com.

■ St. Philip Lutheran Preschool is currently registering students for the 2020-21 school year for the 2, 3, and 4-year-old classes. Come join the fun! Contact the director, Jenn Loeswick, at stphilipppreschoolmb@gmail.com or look us up on Facebook: St. Philip Preschool-Myrtle Beach. The preschool is located at 6200 N. Kings Highway. Call (843) 449-4322, and we’ll get back to you.

■ Low Country Food Bank and Faith Outreach Ministries will have another Drive-Thru Food Distribution at 4223 Socastee Blvd. on July 10 at 2:30 p.m. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ The New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held on July 18 from 10 a.m.-noon at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 16 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ Horry Friends Monthly Meetings, formerly known at Five Rivers Friends, has offered unprogrammed, silent Quaker worship in our area for more than three decades. Now meeting virtually, Horry Friends welcome new attenders and visiting Friends. Contact clerk Grace Gifford at (843) 365-6654.

■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave., Murrells Inlet, has a Life Chain every first Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 17 Business near the church driveway. You are invited to participate in this event. (Bring a chair if not able to stand for the hour.) Contact Joanne Bennett at (614) 313-8425 or email Joanne.bennett55@ gmail.com.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea, 65th Ave. North and N. Kings Highway, invites you to Friday night service at 7:30 p.m. (Kosher Oneg), Shabbat Service at 10 a.m. (Kosher Kiddush).

Current Second Nature Project: we are collecting items for New Directions of Horry County that provides shelter and meals for those in need.

Please bring paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, diapers), bath towels, laundry soap, toothpaste and brushes, and cleaning supplies. We are continuing to collect new packages of children’s underwear and socks. Bring your donations to the Rosen Center and place in the basket provided by the front door. All Mitzvoth greatly appreciated! Questions? Contact Karen Osborne at (843) 446-1060.

■ Don’t miss the 12th Annual Ground Zero Dragon Boat Festival has been rescheduled for Aug. 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sign up your team today. Go to www.mygroundzero.com.

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.

■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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