The Joe Palooka statue in Oolitic, Ind. (Photo by Kurt J. Kolka

CONSIDERING THE “WHATEVERS”

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

In my last column of “Good News Cabin,” I talked about getting rid of the excess in my life. Most notably books and DVDs.

This Bible verse reminds me of another quality I need to look at when choosing my distractions or entertainment. Does that piece of entertainment present good qualities I can learn from? Noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy. Those are indeed some high standards to attain.

Certain books I have bought over the years have taught me something to use or think about. I think of Gospel singer Bill Gaither’s autobiography, “It’s More Than the Music.” Bill talks about his rise to beloved Gospel singer and leader through the years and what he has learned about gifts God gives to us. At one point in the book, he writes something which is both sobering and reassuring. It is also true.

“At some point you have to ask yourself, ‘Do people really want what I am creating?’ And if they don’t, find some other way to make a living while you pursue your music for artistry’s sake.”

He goes on to say, “Maybe [that song is] not for the whole nation. Possibly it isn’t for the entire denomination, movement, church, or even for the choir. Maybe that song was intended for you and a few people close to you. That doesn’t diminish the importance of the song; it simply narrows the scope of influence, and even that may change with time.”

In those words, he not only speaks to musicians, but all Christian artists. And I keep reminding myself of these words regularly. When you are a writer or cartoonist, you rarely know who you touch with your story. You must be content with whom God chooses to share it.

Among the others books I have chosen to keep and read again are classics like “Treasure Island,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “The Hobbit.” While they each feature a flawed lead character, the character manages to succeed in their quest through bravery and perseverance. These qualities are indeed admirable and praiseworthy.

Most of my friends and readers know by now my love of comics. I have pared my collection of those down as well and replaced the best with hardcover reprints. When choosing which of those to keep, what came to my mind were stories about heroes who were noble and pursued what was right. Most of those types of stories I found to show those qualities for me have been created between the 1940s through ’70s.

Even the Hulk was noble in the early days. Despite the fact he was hunted by the military, if he saw a human in trouble, he would stop and help. Yes, he usually struggled with his decision, but in the end, he chose what was noble and right.

As humans, we can be inspired by stories, songs, a drama acted out. Then, I remember the shooters at Columbine were also inspired, but by the wrong sources. How does what you read watch or listen to affect you? 

I must always keep in mind “… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

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Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at www.betweenthepines.org.

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