Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Harold Hazelip, Willie Nelson and the boy

Over 30 years ago I confused people big time with statements like, "My two heroes are Harold Hazelip and Willie Nelson."

Harold filled the role as my major professor in my first round of graduate studies. He was, and is to this day, a sophisticated, articulate, brilliant theologian and preacher. He taught me to think, to study and to explore ideas for myself.

He didn't just tell me what Augustine, Aquinas, Jerome, Kant, Schleiermacher, Barth, Brunner, Tillich and the Niebuhr brothers said, he made me read their words for myself. I remain indebted to him after all these years.

Willie filled my soul with music and the lyrics of real life as I was coming to understand it as a young, idealistic pastor. I soon realized that Willie's best music emerged during the particularly difficult, painful times of his life. I always understood him and I went to hear him whenever I could, just as I did with Harold!

Now Willie has a book!

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to Happiness in Your Heart appeared last year. I just received my copy this week.

I've not finished the little volume, but it won't take me long to do so.

Last evening, I came across this classic passage (pages 28-29):

At the beginning of this book, I wrote that if you love music, you are my friend. But I neglected to mention that there are also exceptions that stand in the way of friendship and brotherhood.

If you throw trash along the highways or foul our rivers, I'm sorry to say you are not my friend.

If you think that people whose skin is a different color from yours are beneath you, then you are particularly not my friend. . . .

If you mistreat those who are smaller or weaker than you, you are not my friend.

If you use the knowledge you've gained to exploit others, you are no one's friend (and run the risk of having no true friends at all).

Then, there is the humor.


The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese (page 65).


Question for you: What were the redneck's last words?

"Hey! Watch this!"

That's a good one. Considering all the stupid things we do in life, we should probably keep in mind that there is no lifeguard in the shallow end of the gene pool
(page 65).

I love his wisdom. . .and his wit!

I think of Harold often.

Willie's latest collection of his Capitol recordings is in the CD player in my car as I type.

Both good friends still manage to get me through my days!


MarkS said...

Amen to your words about Harold Hazelip, Larry. I cut my spiritual teeth at Harold's feet in the early 70's while attending Highland Street in Memphis. Great preacher who had time for everyone.

Now, about Willie...I just don't know. I prefer Gordon Lightfoot for a truth-professing, real life troubador.

David Michael said...

"After takin' several readings,
I'm surprised to find my mind`s still fairly sound." Willie - from Me and Paul

Dr. Hazelip was one of my favorite chapel speakers when I was at Harding (Searcy). I still remember his sermon where he spoke about Man of Lamancha.

Anonymous said...

I wish somebody would explain to me when the c of c started calling preachers "pastors." I have read this many times on the various blogs.

Unknown said...

I'm surprised that the one thing anonymous chose to comment on from this entry is an "I say po-tay-to, you say po-tah-to" kind of thing.

Willie could write a song about that...

"There are people hungry on the street, there are people burdened down and beat. Let's all lend a hand or two you see, instead of worrying about terminology..." sung in his classic wavery tone.

Larry James said...

Anonymous 9:09, thanks for your post and question.

I used the word as an accurate description of what I did in that particular assignment. Call me what you want--and people have called me lots of things--but I served as a pastor. Function determined form and informed terminology.

The notion that God cares about such matters is a clear demonstration of how off track the hermeneutics of my tradition's past has been.

Anonymous said...


Concerning yesterdays post, I did not say CD- you cannot earn 10% on a CD but with wise investments on an IRA one might earn more.

Concerning poverty, if there is nothing anyone can do or not do to avoid poverty, why encourage your children to train for a profession or job? Sounds like wasted money to me.

RC said...

I am not sure "off track" is fair. I am still very much a part of the Church of Christ. I would not want to be called a "pastor," but would not and have not made a big issue of it. I am not sure I see the problem with understanding that there was a position in the early church called "pastor," "bishop," "elder," etc. I do not function like a Baptist pastor even thought there are times when I wish I did. I think this is an example of a reality of my fellowship. There are some people who will take a point like "pastor" and go crazy with it and others will express their preference but not make an issue out of it. I happen to work at a church right now where the men who serve as elders are also strong pastors to the point where I am left to focus on ministry of teaching and preaching. I doubt that Harold would want to be called a "pastor," but I don't think that would put his theology "off track." Larry, I know there are plenty of crazy people in Churches of Christ, but arn't there in any group?

Larry James said...

RC, thanks for your comments.

The issue here is "why does it matter?"

I know, as do you, people who feel strongly that using the wrong term here is a matter of eternal life.

Frankly, for me doing ministry in a church without being pastoral would be a waste of time for the most part. Possibly, I am playing to my gifts.

But you know what I mean. What we call the preacher is not a matter of life or death, even though the two of us were taught that it was.

Majoring on the minors is much more an issue.

RC said...

Dear Pastor Larry,

I will be the first to admit that it doesn't matter in any eternal sense and that is where we went off the deep end. I have learned over the years that it is possible to believe something and and not to elevate it to a level that it doesn't deserve. Take care brother.