An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a desk calendar for Christmas. It was one of those page-a-day calendars where you peel off a page each day of the year. This type of calendar comes in many varieties. I have seen such calendars featuring daily devotions, favorite recipes, inspirational sayings and popular cartoons.

But the calendar I received is rather unique. It is entitled “The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said.” Each daily entry features an obviously stupid saying by a famous person. These infamous slips-of-the-tongues were heard in speeches, observed on signs or read in newspapers. Examples include:

  • No Trespassing Without Permission (Sign on the grounds of a public school.)
  • I think it’s really neat that a part of speech–is, was, am, etc.–is named the Lincoln verb after one of our greatest Presidents. (From a high school English test paper; the student was referring to “linking verbs.”)
  • Permitted Vehicles Not Allowed (Temporary road sign on side of US 27.)
  • If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons. (Printed in a literacy pamphlet.)

All of us say things that upon further reflection prove to be less than accurate, even senseless. In fact, I have heard some foolish things said in churches that rival some of the entries on this calendar:

  • “If you will just trust God, nothing bad will ever happen to you.” (Naïve statement made by a well-intentioned minister.)
  • “If the King James was good enough for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it’s good enough for you.” (Remark directed toward an ordination candidate in a Baptist ordination service.)
  • “But I don’t need to go to church.” (Reply from a self-reliant individual who had just been invited to attend worship services.)
  • “If God intends to save the heathen, He’ll do it without your help.” (Told to young Baptist who was preparing going to the mission field.)
  • “God wants you to be rich.” (Former religious talk show host who lost everything.)
  • “Doesn’t he look natural?” (A mourner at the funeral home viewing the body of a deceased acquaintance.)
  • “Do unto others as they do unto you.” (An inversion of the Golden Rule.)

Maybe the wisdom writer was on target when he advised that “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Prov 25:23). All of us could do a little more thinking before we speak.

Barry Howard is senior minister of First Baptist Church in Corbin, Ky.

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