Pin Nuts: Lake people are a peace-loving people |

Pin Nuts: Lake people are a peace-loving people

McAvoy Layne

“Has religion had a more positive or more negative influence over time?”

This question was the first one I was asked from the audience at the Soper Reese Theatre Wednesday night in Clear Lake, Calif. I was invited there by the Lake County Arts Council to speak to the secrets of my longevity (as the Ghost of Mark Twain), thanks in large part to the fact that a dear cousin of mine is on the board of the Lake County Arts Council. Her name is Bonnie, and as kids my brothers and I used to call her “Bonehead.” Her sister, Judy, we called, “Jughead,” mainly because they were smarter than we were.

To get to the question at hand (after trying my best to answer 16,000 questions over the past 27 years), never had I heard this particular query, and it gave me reason to pause.

Three possible answers raced through my head, but this was too weighty a question to make light of, so I called upon someone other than Mark Twain for an answer. I called upon his mother.

“Honey, when it comes to religion, take a dipperful, not a bucketful,” she reportedly said.

Where religion is offered in a dipperful it is still the best medicine on the shelf. But where religion is offered in a bucketful, well, anything can happen.

The religious right in this country is dead set against medically assisted suicide, as in the recent case of Brittany Maynard. They maintain that we as mere mortals have no right to medically meddle with the calendar for our life’s end that God has ordained for us. Yet they have no compunction against using medicine to extend God’s calendar just as long as they can. This is religious reasoning that would make a homeless person smile.

The newest and cutest addition to our family line, “Garrett,” was born while I was there in Lake County. At two days old he attended the show and signaled his approval by snoring a soft, intelligent snore through the entire program.

Lake people, I have found, are fiercely appreciative of the great out of doors and the arts. They are environmentalists, artists, activists and peacemakers. This might be one reason why we have a lack of harmony in the Middle East, where they take their religion by the bucketful and suffer a shortage of lakes. I imagine if they were to pump a little water into the Dead Sea we might start to witness a peaceful accord emerging there in the desert. Those people have been tormenting each other over religion since the Dead Sea first started to get sick.

Well, look at it, large bodies of water release negative ions, which tend to calm us down and relax us. There’s nothing like an ocean, a lake or a whispering brook to move us to pause and reflect. And when we pause and reflect, goodwill and charitable instincts emerge.

So here’s to our lake people. Let’s hope as we enter this fourth year of a California-Nevada drought that our sympathies won’t evaporate along with our lakes.

No, a dipperful of religion is still the best medicine on the shelf and might be the saving of us.

To learn more about McAvoy Layne visit

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