Originally published in the News-Graphic in 2001.


Who were the great teachers in your life? I had several but one who made a difference was my high school English teacher, Mr. R.S. Moore. He taught his students that reading was the most important educational tool you could have.

He required us to read everything from Shakespeare to Reader’s Digest. We memorized selections from Milton and poems from Grey’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard. Many of these I can still quote.

Mr. Moore was also a preacher. He called himself a country preacher, and it was not considered a crime 50 years ago to do a little preaching in the classroom, which, or course, he did on occasion.

One of the things that I remember was how upset he got if we used God’s name in vain. I’m not taking about cussing, because there was no way we could have ever done that. I’m talking about such saying as, “Oh my God,” or “I swear to God.”

These were no-nos and brought down his wrath upon you. It also taught a lesson about what the commandants say about “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.”

There was another lesson Mr. Moore taught about using God’s name. He taught us never to use the abbreviation of “Xmas” for “Christmas.”

He said “X” stood for the unknown and took the place of Christ in the name of Christmas. He said this should never be. I’m not sure if he was right or wrong, but I do know I have never used that abbreviation in anything I have ever written since then.

Mr. Moore taught this lesson so well that is till comes back to me when I hear or see it used out of the context. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that did just that. It said “God is my copilot.”

Did this mean God was second-in command? Actually, he shouldn’t be the copilot, but rather the pilot for all of us.

When we see the terrible shooting in the schools acres the country, we ask the question “Why?” And there are many reasons. There is too much violence on TV, the parents aren’t at home, the schools are too big — this list goes on and on.

We can’t turn back the hands of time to when schools were small and everyone knew everyone and their families. We can’t display the Ten Commandments, and teachers like Mr. Moore can’t tell you not to use an “X” to represent Christ, but maybe if we could we might have some of the answers to the question “Why?”


George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.

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