Will Rogers on Religion

#445, February 25, 2007

COLUMBUS: Last week I received a nice note from a fellow asking, “What was Will’s feelings toward the church? What did he believe on the subject of Christ or the Christian church?”

At first, I wasn’t sure how to take the inquiry. But then I realized the Academy Awards are tonight (Sunday), and since I’m kinda associated with Hollywood, my faith might naturally come into question.

Besides I have kidded preachers and joked about religions just the same as congress, bankers, lawyers, real estate agents and Chambers of Commerce. If a man just reads these remarks that were intended to have more humor in ’em than theology, it’s easy to see how he could get the wrong idea.

In 1920 I was challenged to a debate by the famous Baptist preacher, Dr. James Whitcomb Brougher on the topic, “Resolved, that cowboys have contributed more to civilization than preachers”. I didn’t know till five minutes before we started I was supposed to defend the cowboy. In the debate, conducted in front of the Advertising Club of Los Angeles, I claimed, “The cowboys went across the plains in the early days, fought every foot of the way, killed Indians and fought buffalo, and opened this beautiful country of California up. And the preachers came along and closed it.” Well, he came right back at me, “The first thing the preachers had to do in advancing civilization was to catch a cowboy and civilize him.” So, that went on for most of an hour, with no clear winner but we both got a lot of laughs.

During the famous Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, I wrote a few things on evolution: “The Lord put all these million of people over the earth. They don’t all agree on how they got here, and ninety percent don’t care. But He was pretty wise when He did see to it that they all do agree on one thing. (whether Christian, Heathen, or Mohammedan) and that is that the better lives you live the better you will finish.”

“As far as Scopes teaching children evolution, nobody is going to change the belief of Tennessee children as to their ancestry. It is from the action of their parents that they will form their opinions. There is a terrible lot of us who don’t think that we come from a monkey, but if there are some people who think that they do, why, it’s not our business to rob them of what little pleasure they may get out of imagining it.”

“I was raised predominantly a Methodist, but I have traveled so much, mixed with so many people in all parts of the world, that I don’t know just what I am now. I know I have never been a nonbeliever. I have worked with every denomination in the world because one is just as worthy as the other. I don’t think any one religion is the religion. If I am broad-minded in any way (and I hope I am in many) but I do know that I am broad-minded in a religious way. Which way you serve your God will never get one word of argument or condemnation out of me. There has been times when I wished there had been as much real religion among some of our creeds as there has been vanity, but that’s not in any way a criticism.”

“The Lord didn’t leave any room for doubt when he told us how we should act. His example, and the Ten Commandments are plain enough. Whoever wrote the Ten Commandments made ’em short. They may not always be kept, but they can be understood. They’re the same for everyone.”

Since the movies are on everyone’s mind tonight I’ll close with a comment praising one in 1927: “Say, I just now saw the movie ‘The King of Kings.’ This is not an ad. It’s a duty to let you know of it. The only way you could make a greater picture would be to have a better subject, and I doubt if there will ever be a better subject during our lifetime than the story of Christ.”

A big Oklahoma Centennial welcome for _______

#444, February 19, 2007

COLUMBUS: I landed at the Tulsa airport Wednesday evening, on my way to Vinita, for a big Chamber of Commerce affair celebrating 100 years of statehood. I’ll admit, at times my arrival can cause a bit of a stir in the old home state.

Just outside the security check point, a young mother and three children were waiting, probably for dad to get off a plane. As I walked toward them, they were mesmerized, bug eyed, to see a man wearing a small Stetson, carrying saddlebags and a lasso. The older boy, about 10, blurted out, “Are you from Texas?”

I shook my head and smiled at him, “Now, think about it. This is Oklahoma. Who’s kinda famous in Oklahoma?” With that helpful hint, the boy practically burst, “Are you Tom Coburn?”

Well, I don’t particularly mind being confused with a Texan, but to be called a Senator…

Next morning, I drove to Vinita by way of Claremore and Chelsea, all on old Route 66. “My” grand-nephew, Bob McSpadden, showed me around town, including where the 4-story brick Willie Halsell College used to be (actually not a college, but a grammar school that “I” attended from age 12 to 15. Now it’s been replaced by a new Hall-Halsell elementary.) At the Daily Journal office they took our picture for the afternoon edition. Even made the front page.

Finally I had to work for my supper. I dug up some of the old stories I used to tell on the Chamber, and I honestly feel they were relieved to hear they aren’t any more rotten today than their predecessors. Of course in the old days it was all men, but now it’s about 50-50, so the women get an equal share of the credit.

A couple of weeks ago, I listed a page of announced and prospective candidates for President, and I casually suggested that Al Franken was available. Well, by golly, this week he announced he would run, but it’s for the Senate from Minnesota. I guess he felt obliged, like a few dozen of these other candidates, to serve his apprenticeship in the Senate where he can hone his skills among all those other Senate comedians. Then if he learns enough new jokes, he’ll go for President in 2012 or ’16.

If Ohio can be persuaded to elect Jerry Springer to the Senate along with Al, now folks that’ll be quite a show!

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Presidents)

“There wasn’t any Republicans in Washington’s day. No Republicans, no Boll Weevil, no income tax, no cover charge, no disarmament conference, no luncheon clubs, no stop lights, no static [radio], no head winds… My Lord, living in those times, who wouldn’t be great?” DT #803, Feb. 21, 1929

“[Do you remember] Lincoln’s famous remark about ‘God must have loved the common people, because he made so many of them?’… Well, you are not going to get people’s votes nowadays by calling ’em common. Lincoln might have said it, but I bet it was not until after he was elected.” WA #82, July 6, 1924

“(President) Coolidge said, ‘I don’t want the Government to go into business.’ Well, if I was Mr. Coolidge I wouldn’t worry over that. The Government never has been accused of being a business man.” WA #158, Dec. 20, 1925
“You could transfer Congress over to run Standard Oil or General Motors, and in two years they would have both things bankrupt.” WA #307, Nov. 11, 1928

“(President Franklin D.) Roosevelt was rather undecided exactly what to do on the stabilization of the dollar till the U. S. Chamber of Commerce come out and told him what to do. Then he knew exactly what to do, do what the Chamber said not to do.
Mr. Roosevelt knows he is right now. Before he was in doubt.” 
DT #2277, Nov. 20, 1933

John Howard and Will Rogers offer solutions to nation’s problems

#443, February 12, 2007

COLUMBUS: Last week, no sooner did I brag about no snow in Columbus, than we got hit. It wasn’t much but it brought rush hour traffic to a crawl. Those folks in northern New York can handle six feet better than Columbus can three inches. The weather bureau says we’ll get another chance to practice driving in snow tomorrow.

Ford announced they will change the name of the Ford 500 (which nobody’s buying) to the Taurus, which everybody bought for years out of habit. They have lost Billions and outside of a peculiar plan to build their big pickups even bigger, this is their only hope. But I say if they really want to turn around the company, change the Ford Focus to the Model T. That’ll revive ’em.

Speaker of the House Pelosi has requested a fast airplane to take her from Washington to San Francisco. There’s some confusion over whether she has time for a refueling stop. Well, I have a suggestion; Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma would be a natural place for a pit stop. Those boys are trained so well they get you back on track quicker than NASCAR. If she’s in an enormous hurry, they could refuel her in the air. Nobody wants air traffic delays to hold up the essential business of Congress.

Anna Nicole Smith died and that’s got her back on all the television talk shows. Newspapers hardly mentioned it because the only thing about her that draws attention is the moving pictures. Since I don’t offer videos either, why most of you will skip right on to the next story. Men are lining up claiming to be the daddy of her little girl, who really is a billion dollar baby. She makes Paris Hilton look like a pauper. She is attracting more candidates than the 2008 race for President. In fact a couple of the men are pondering a switch.

In this 2008 election, all the states are trying to jump ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire. I suggest they all get together and schedule the primary on November 4, 2007. That’s when everybody is used to voting, so why string ’em along till January or February. The race will be decided before Christmas anyhow, so why not make it official.

All these announced Democratic candidates are ignoring what our military men are saying about Iraq, so Australia’s John Howard jumped in to advise ’em. Sen. Obama says advice from the Prime Minister is ok, but sending 20,000 Australia troops to Iraq would be better. Believe me, if Mr. Howard asks ’em, they’ll go. And if we can get the 20,000 Ethiopian troops I suggested earlier, that makes 40,000; plus our own 20,000, why they would run the Iranians back out of there.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Well, for little fresh air away from Hollywood, made a little two-hour flight up to Frisco last night…. Some talk of President Roosevelt pulling in here for fuel, but I see where he has gone to Honolulu instead.” DT #2482, July 17, 1934

“The Islam women in Jerusalem have asked their government to take their veils off and allow the bride and bridegroom to see each other before marriage. It won’t do ’em any good. We don’t use ’em over here, but you would think we did.” DT #1273, Aug. 24, 1930

Weekly Comments: Indianapolis Colts get hot, Midwest goes cold

#442, February 5, 2007

COLUMBUS: Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts showed they could play in the rain. The Chicago Bears were hoping the rain would turn to snow, but being Miami, it just kept on raining. This Super Bowl will be remembered because it matched two great coaches. You may say, they aren’t great yet, and you’re right. But give them ten or twenty years and they will be. They are great men who lead by setting a good example. Coach Jim Tressel, who I’ve talked about before, is another one. They don’t always win, but they are always winners.

A peculiar scourge is following me around this winter; it snows everywhere I go. Except here in Columbus, Ohio. First it was Missouri in early December, then Des Moines in early January, West Virginia last weekend, and the northwest corner of Ohio today. Just to warn you folks in Oklahoma, I’ll be in Vinita February 15, so don’t put away your snow shovels. Oklahoma has had as much ice and snow as North Dakota. It don’t matter if a groundhog in Pennsylvania or a prairie dog in New Mexico peeked out of his hole and saw a shadow or the barrel of a 12-gauge, this winter has a mind of its own. It could last 6 more weeks, but it might only be 6 days, or go on for 6 months.

We may not have any snow to speak of in Columbus, but we are cold. Have you noticed, when it’s below zero some wise guy always brings up Global Warming. Not as many doubt it as once did, but Americans still hesitate to try and fix it till China and India and these other big nations join in. Without every country pulling together we’ve got as much chance of fixing Global Warming as we do fixing Iraq.

Now, history shows our planet has had warm spells before, and cold ones, too. These cycles seem to come around every few hundred years, and there ain’t anything men and women, or even dinosaurs, can do about it. It’s pretty much up to the Lord, and whether it takes a hundred years or a thousand years to warm up again don’t matter as much to Him as it does to us. And if you know it is going to get either warmer or colder, I bet most of you would vote for warmer.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“I see where the Weather Bureau predicts more Snow for the Northwest. Good joke on the Weather Bureau. They can’t have any more. They haven’t got any place to put it.” WA #11, Feb. 25, 1923