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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Thursday, March 26, 2009 • Posted March 26, 2009

‘King’s X’ Needed Anew…

As kids, a surefire strategy to preserve, extend, prevail—or simply to avoid embarrassment and/or injury in most childhood games—came in a one-two punch. By merely screaming “King’s X!” and crossing our fingers, we halted the games. Yep, there was a time when kids called “time-out” for themselves.

Actually, we didn’t know “King’s X!” from a cummerbund. If questioned about the expression’s origin, we’d enter our zones of mental lockdown, mouths agape. We had no clue how it began several centuries ago to claim protection of both the king and the Almighty. (Crossed fingers represent the sign of the cross.)

The list of folks who could use some “King’s X!” coverage today grows long….

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President Obama could have used some a few nights back when he appeared on the Tonight Show. No doubt you’ve heard about his unintentional remark that linked his 129 bowling score with the Special Olympics.

We’re becoming a people who give no truck to presidential misstatements, and may be the very same ones who cause presidents to cling as closely to teleprompters as babies do pacifiers.

Interestingly (and most statements beginning with this word aren’t), the entire brouhaha could have been avoided if this one-second reference had been bleeped out. The Tonight Show is taped several hours in advance of airing. Surely this simple procedure could have served both the President and Leno well. (Obama took time to offer phone apologies to offended parties in advance of the actual airing.)…

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Another prominent “squirmer” in today’s economic quagmire is Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. If timing, in truth, is anything close to being “everything,” he may deserve the prize for worst possible timing on the completion date of what may be the world’s most dazzling stadium.

If we hear “King’s X!” screams from Valley Ranch, they may be from Jones himself. No doubt he’s made countless contacts with prominent folks around the country concerning naming rights to the stadium. Monies that flooded the naming rights market just a few years back have dried up. Cowboy brain trusts said that the new facility may remain nameless for an extended period of time.

In the meantime, creative Cowboy critics may bear down on nicknames that are hard to erase. Come dedication time, when ribbons are cut, songs are sung, speeches are spoken and prayers are prayed, principles may be christening a “stadium to be named later.”…

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We all rely on the “King’s X!” expression for words and deeds that go afoul. Our culture is mired in an era of finger-pointing, devoid of patience and leery of much. Massive renewal commitments are needed at all levels not only for steady leadership, but for “followship” as well.

Coming to mind is the name of a great American I wish I had known up-close. His name was Fred Smith, Sr., a renowned Christian speaker, author and business executive who was known as a “mentor to a generation of leaders.” He died in 2007 at the age of 92, but his words remain both precious and timeless. (They are still available today on a web site maintained by his daughter. Check out breakfastwithfred.com; you might want to join up to receive free weekly emails.) It is noteworthy that during the final two decades of his life, Fred was a mentor to two inimitable figures—Dr. Billy Graham, renowned evangelist, and Zig Ziglar, the master of motivational messages.

One of Smith’s topics was “From Bad to Good.” He spoke of the need to find good in bad situations, insisting that a key to the process is the willingness to ask for help. He underscored the importance of learning this lesson as we persevere through suffering….

  • * * * *

Smith may not have experienced very many “King’s X!” moments, but he was mortal, so I’m sure it was a familiar expression for him, too.

His armament was his Bible, backing up his wisdom from the Word. He quoted Romans 5:3-5: “We also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Mentees cherished 6 a.m. “breakfasts with Fred” across the decades, and in later years when he was confined to bed, there were Saturday morning “Fred-in-bed” sessions in his home. Up to three dozen devotees gathered on some occasions. They didn’t all “fit” into the bedroom, so baby monitors carried his words of counsel to visitors listening in adjoining rooms….

  • * * * *

I’m not foolish enough to pray for avoidance of “King’s X!” moments, since I’m not in charge of moments. But I can pray for more patience, and strive always to find words that edify.

Oliver Wendell Holmes challenged us with his pen: “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”

Finally, Robert Frost’s observation continues to resound: “Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”…

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Inquiries and comments are welcome. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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