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By Frank Thomas Croisdale

I have come to you today, children, to speak of one simple two-syllable word -- Beebe.

Say the word "Beebe" around these parts, brothers and sisters, and you're bound to conjure up images of former Buffalo Bills receiver Don Beebe. Beebe was drafted in the third round of the 1989 draft out of tiny Chadron State, after posting a sizzling pre-draft 40-yard dash time of 4.2 seconds. Beebe went on to a lengthy career with the Bills and appeared in six Super Bowls in his nine-year pro career.

Can I get an "Amen"?

But another Beebe has captured headlines recently, and it has nothing to do with pigskins, slant patterns or chasing down an arrogant, pre-celebratory Leon Lett to paint him with indelible Super Bowl infamy.

No, brothers and sisters, men and women, children and adults, I have come here today to speak of the tiny town of Beebe, Ark. Some 4,900 god-fearing souls call Beebe home. The tiny hamlet in White County has long been known as a peaceful place where life is lived slowly, in defiance of the need-for-speed world in which we reside.

But something happened in Beebe, true believer, which proves that God exists and that he is angry with us. On New Year's Eve, 3,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky to lie dead at the feet of the citizens of Beebe. All of them were found within a one-mile radius -- not a single feather was found outside of those parameters.

What does it mean, you ask? You've got questions, and the good reverend has answers. The Beebe Blackbird Bloodbath, or BBB for short, is a clear sign that the good Lord has had enough of man's cavalier attitude toward the great gift of Mother Earth.

God gave us the sky, and we filled it with smoke from our factories. God gave us the oceans, and we polluted them with oil from our broken pipelines. God gave us the heavens, and we tarnished them with satellites and other pieces of circling space junk. God gave us peace and quiet, and we traded it for honking horns, screaming voices and unfiltered radio waves. God gave us paradise, and we threw away his gift because we got too enamored with the pretty paper with which it was wrapped.

"But, but, but," I can hear you saying. But it was just some dead birds, reverend, hardly worthy of anything more than a passing fancy. It paled in comparison to the news of which celebrity was sleeping with her co-star, which politician was stealing from his constituents, or which bad guy was raping, robbing and pillaging to new levels of depravity.

So I must ask you, children, did you say it was just a brush fire when you heard of the burning bush? Was it just a menagerie run amok when you learned of Noah and his God-requested favor of gathering the animals two by two? When Jesus walked on water, did you scoff and say, "Well, sure, it was probably mid-February"?

The good reverend would like to know how you can go to church on Sunday, get down on bended knee and listen to the great parables with reverence, yet turn a blind eye when God uses the same language to speak in the here and now.

And the BBB wasn't God's only message, children. No, the good Lord stole a page from the great messenger Paul Revere, and said, if they ignore the one I put on land, then I'll sent number two by sea. And so God delivered the FDDF as a message to cynics too self-absorbed to repent on the first notice of default on the terms and conditions he laid down for man in 10 easy-to-understand commandments so long ago.

The FDDF was formally known as the Floating Dead Drum Fish massacre at Ozark. The small town sits along the banks of the Arkansas River, just 100 miles from where the blackbirds dropped from the sky. This time the good Lord sacrificed 100,000 fish, and they were found floating belly-up within a 20-mile stretch of the river.

What did we do in response to this second message from God, children? Did we run to the Good Book for answers? Did we fall to our knees and repent? Did we, at the very least, even stop to consider that the message being delivered was one that originated in the heavens?

No! We instead turned to the scientists, the practitioners of the "new religion" that all but killed God as we once knew and loved him. They told us that the dead fish were most likely the result of a population boom that surpassed the availability of food. They said this, children, even though such a large death scene was unheard of in the annals of the Arkansas River.

It should also not be lost on you, those who believe, that the only type of fish that floated to the surface was a drum fish. As in, God banging the drum slowly, a funeral dirge for his prized creation that had degenerated into something barely recognizable in his glorious eyes. It was nearly the same story the scientists wove in a vain attempt to explain away the dead birds. Lightning strike, they said, children. Lightning struck 3,000 birds at once, and they all plummeted to earth within a one-mile radius.

Primitive man believed that lightning was a show of God's anger, that death by lightning strike was a sure sign God wanted you gone and wanted there to be no doubt as to who had pulled the trigger.

What I do believe, brothers and sisters, is that each of them has wisdom contained within their commandments, rules, passages, parables and verses. I believe that science has great value in our lives, but not at the expense of our sense of belief in a power and a plane of existence greater than ourselves.

I believe that 3,000 birds falling from the sky and 100,000 fish dead on the surface of the river should not be dismissed as easily as we forget yesterday's political gaffes or celebrity dust-ups.

Nor do I think the importance and magic of the number three should be lost on anyone. You know: the past, present and future; faith, hope and charity; the heart, the brain and the body; not to mention the Holy Trinity.

So I ask you, children, to consider the state in this great union where the dead birds and fish were found -- Arkansas. The first three letters of that state spell the word "Ark" -- the vehicle used by God when he sent the message of his anger with man's insolence. Coincidence? The scientists would surely say so, but if I were you I'd cock an ear, because there just might be more disaster headed our way.

And so we swing open the doors of the church and return you to the sunshine outdoors, children. As you exit, take these words with you: Don Beebe was as fast as fast could be on the football field, a sort of white lightning able to outrun the speed of the sound of a struck snare drum as it races to the ear. But neither he, nor any man, was fleet of foot enough to save us from the blind eye we turn to the health of our dear, sweet Mother Nature.

What we need, brothers and sisters, is a healthy dose of Godspeed.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Jan. 11, 2011