By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
You don’t have to be a fan of Charles Darwin to get a kick out of the Darwin Awards, those tongue-in-cheek awards that each year honor “people who ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in sublimely idiotic fashion.”
Some of the earliest and funniest Darwin Award contenders (if I might use the term “funny” in conjunction with anecdotes that usually involve fatalities) have turned out to be “urban myths” that didn’t actually happen. But in more recent years, the awards have had to be verified.
This one was:
On Dec. 21, 1992, a Newton, N.C., man woke up to the ringing of his bedside telephone. When he reached for the phone, he accidentally grabbed and raised to his ear his Smith & Wesson .38 Special which he also kept by the bed — and which effectively silenced the ringing in his ears.
If the shot hadn’t been fatal and he’d just shot his ear off, I would think the embarrassment itself might have been terminal. Fatalities aren’t funny. But foolishness sometimes is.
I should know. I flirt with it regularly and, come to think of it, I even shot myself once (but with a BB, not a .38). My sons have derived a good deal of pleasure from the memory of the day I decided the most sporting way to eliminate a mouse staring at me from the concrete floor down in our garage was to stand at the top of the stairs and shoot him with a BB gun. I would have had bragging rights if the BB had lodged in his soft little body, but it didn’t. It hit the cement floor of the garage, ricocheted off another cement wall, and hit me in the forehead. I’m lucky I didn’t shoot my own eye out.
Then there was the day I was heading out of town but decided at the last minute to run my pickup through the car wash. As the automatic car wash mechanism was firing up, I suddenly remembered that I had luggage back in the bed of the truck, some of which would not respond well to soap and water. So I reached through the back window vent and performed a rescue that, in hindsight, probably could have ground me up in the machinery and cleansed the gene pool of my presence! In this world, and between my ears, there is no shortage of foolishness.
But, according to St. Paul, one thing that looks completely foolish to the world actually carries with it the deepest and most loving wisdom of God himself: the cross of Christ. It makes no sense for God to become a man. It makes no sense for God to hang on a cross. It makes no sense for God to allow himself to suffer.
I can sometimes be very foolish. No surprise.
But for God to love me so much that he would die for me? Now that’s proof of deep foolishness indeed.
Or deepest love.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at