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Jim Bowman

* If you are in the mood to condemn our national anthem with its "bombs bursting in air" as militarily aggressive, you should note that those were British bombs seen by Francis Scott Key the author, attacking Fort McHenry in 1814, in Battle of Baltimore.

So it's a paean not to aggression but to defense of one's country, notes Arthur Shippee, of Hamden CT, in a Times [of London] Literary Supplement (TLS) letter 10/19/07.

* I arrived at Bread Kitchen today before the brioche had been cut into for a customer's free slice. I was the first to ask for one. So I got two, since the end slice is tossed in for good measure. I leaped at the offer, since I find end slices delicious. Bread crust, once recommended to little girls as making their hair curly, is not a necessary evil.

The windfall was doubly welcome since I had awakened bright but not cheery at 4 a.m. -- four and a half hours earlier -- and had been unable to return to the Land of Nod for the three more hours I'd been counting on.

In addition, I walked through sand to get to the Kitchen, led by my Dantesque Virgil out of the hell of street construction that is the former Marion mall, he being the senior worker with the task of guiding pedestrians while his fellows laid surface. And it's looking good, by the way, if you haven't seen it.

* Elsewhere in my so-called life, a publisher looking at a manuscript I am trying to sell, a memoir going back many decades, called to say he'd read the first chapter and was "amazed" at my powers of recall. I would rather he'd raved about how good it was. Let's hope he gets around to that, soon.

It's true I have a heck of a memory. This man is not the first to note it. It's a gift, or as the cable-TV detective Monk says of his ability to see and remember details, a gift and a curse at the same time. I don't 100% believe that, but it does mean I sometimes have too much to think about and am distracted.

It may be why in the old saw, "Forgive and forget," I emphasize the forget part. If it's godly to forgive, and I think it is, it's sheer heaven to forget, when you consider how things can bother you.

In this regard, I think of the fellow I was a novice with 56 years ago who called to ask me to forgive him for something he did then. I couldn't remember it, but he could, to his discomfort, and you can bet I forgave him on the spot. I hope it did the trick.

* Finally, consider this, that Socrates the Stoic (grin and bear it, you know -- he died trying) led the way to Christian thinking, according to (St.) Justin Martyr (100?#34;165), I read in TLS. But Tertullian (ca. 155?#34;230) didn't think so. I wouldn't take that to the bank, but I do call it a clever conversational starter for your next party.

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