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!