Oct. 23, 2020

A very personal interview

A very personal interview

You'll have to indulge me this week. I'm interviewing my dad, a retired physician from Kentucky. This was the first interview I did for the podcast. It's a little rough around the edges, but it's very sentimental for me.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/balancingthechristianlife)

Transcript
Kenny Embry:

In this episode of balancing the Christian life, we talked to my dad Kenny Embry about what it means to be a Christian. Welcome to balancing the Christian life. I'm Dr. Kenny Embry. We'll talk about how to be a better person and better Christian in the digital age. Let's go. Back in March of 2020, my parents came down to visit my family in Tampa, Mom and Dad live in Bowling Green, Kentucky where I grew up, and the drive is long and wearing. I had just gotten a couple of microphones and an audio recorder and was becoming more committed to the idea of doing a podcast. I knew I wanted to both test the gear, but also talk to my dad, Papa as a character. When I try to explain my dad to others, I tell them to think about the exuberance and impulsiveness of a 12 year old and put it in a seven year old body and you're getting close. My dad loves laughing. He loves having a good time. He is generous and can always tell you about the last dozen or so books he finished reading the last couple of weeks. He hates socialism, he is worried his children or grandchildren will be swayed by shifting political ideas. And he's definitely skeptical about some of the newer technology. You'll hear some of that in this interview. It's taken me a long time to pull this episode together for many reasons. When I began, I knew I didn't have the talent to edit this into a good episode. I'm not sure I have that talent yet. But I know I'm closer. I also think I'm probably too close to the subject. I want you to get to know my dad, and I want you to like him. He's just a little bit crazy, though. I think all of us are like that. There are people in our lives, we understand. And we just hope you can see the same special things we see. This was an interview which lasted about an hour, and I edited it down to about 20 minutes. Most of what I had to cut was my dad's childhood. And I struggled with whether I should keep it in or take it out. Ultimately, that was a conversation about his hometown of Leitchfield and growing up in rural Kentucky. In the second half, I switched the conversation to spiritual topics, which seemed more in line with the podcast. The questions I asked are both simple and difficult. What is good? Who is God? What is love? Three words, questions, which take a lifetime to answer. I think pop takes a pretty good stab at that. But ultimately, I just want you to meet my dad. Well, today I've got a very special privilege. I'm going to be talking to my dad that wants you tell me a little bit about how you grew up. Where were you born.

Ken Embry:

I was born in 1945, just after the Second World War was over. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, but I was raised in Leitchfield, Kentucky all my life and left there when I went to college. And what was it like growing up in

Kenny Embry:

Louisville, Kentucky,

Ken Embry:

small town about 2000 people just kind of the Mayberry, like you remember from Andy Griffith and we had almost the same set of characters and down as Mayberry we, we we had a place in Miami called Barney. And we always tease that they probably only gave him one bullet. We did a lot of the rural things we go fishing and ride her bike everywhere. And I remember roller skating a lot on the streets. There's a big hill by our house and but those are the days when they were metals, roller skates that you had to clip onto your shoes. But about halfway down the hill, they would come off and you'd roll down the bottom half of the Oh, but Well, yeah, it was just idyllic.

Kenny Embry:

So Leitchfield, Kentucky. And of course, I've been there several times. But if somebody had never been to Leitchfield, what kind o community is it

Ken Embry:

It was a farming community. And the town, Leitchfield was the county seat. And the farmers would come into town for market day. And you go to the stockyards and sell their stock if they had a sale. But they become and by that whatever they needed in town.

Kenny Embry:

Let me switch up just a little bit. Want to switch over to some very basic questions. How would you define what being good means?

Ken Embry:

And you know, it's one of those days I should get older. I'm almost certain I'll be 75 this fall if I live to be that long. Thanks change your concept of life and changes as you get older, good has to be in the same extent to help referenced you grow up with a personality and a background. That gives you a certain frame of reference. So I don't think a person could consider themselves good. If that doesn't fit into that frame of reference. My grandpa Embry there was a had a patient local years ago she said her her mom was widowed down in Grancer and they didn't have any money. And they needed course needed food to eat and they would take edge and trade eggs with Grandpa Embry. I'll start crying here. Don't think about it. he sustained them out of the kindness of his heart. And she still carried that stealing for that for him in that family. That's my background. I mean, those are the people we came from. And you got to live within those those parameters of your upbringing and your background, I read a book one time about the Scot Irish immigration from and our families from that immigration, they came, not individually. But in large family groups from Scotland and England and Northern Ireland. And if you trace the embryo name back, that's, that's those are our people. But they said they brought that mentality with them being good is, is that you take care of people. And if you want to look at it, from a religious point of view, obviously being good at doing what God wants you to do.

Kenny Embry:

Who is God?

Ken Embry:

I think God is the Creator. And at one point, I guess I thought it was the Supreme Intelligence, but God is more than intelligence. He, and I've got a fabrication that I've never, I've never talked about. And I don't think anybody would agree with it. But I still believe it. I think when God created the universe, as we know it from microscopic at subatomic, to Universal and universal in the broad sense, I think and helpers, I think the angels had jobs. And I think on the day of creation, when things all came together is I think God gave angels. He said, I need a carbon based biological system. And I need a form of Reaper reproducing these organisms. So I think he's signed other angels, the setting up the DNA codes, the sequence of DNA. And sure God could have done that in in the broad sense. I think God did do that. But I think on the day of creation, when all these things came together, God looked at and said,

Unknown:

that's good.

Ken Embry:

But a lot of people would say, No, well, God is so powerful and omnipotent that he, he didn't need any help. Well, he's got all these helpers laying around. What's it? What's it gonna do with him? So anyway? I think God is behind everything. So I've got it has got that much potential, can do such broad things, then he's more than just an intelligence. He's the Dewar, he could be a God that set the world in motion and then just walked away. But I don't think is that kind of God, I think God is an is a benevolent God. I think God loves us. I think he wants it to do well, I think he wants to take care of us. And I think he did. I think God had a scheme, a plan in his mind, that would take care of us that would communicate with us and tell us the things he wanted to know and the things they wanted us to do. While we're on this earth. As I'm advancing in age, I wish they had told us more about the life after death. The Bible has virtually nothing to say about what a heaven is like, what life will be like, like after we die. I've conceptualized the holodeck in heaven, that God will allow us to go back and look at periods of time that might have interest to us. What was it like when they built the pyramids? What was earned like when Abraham lived there, and gob allows to go back and stand there on the sidelines and watch them make the Rosetta Stone. But you know, when you construct Heaven, in your mind, you kind of have to do on your own because the God's not gonna tell you much about it. Except there is a heaven. But having said all of that, I think God is is benevolent. And is is good. And once what's good for us,

Kenny Embry:

what is love?

Ken Embry:

Well, you know, in the Greek gods have many different words for love. Love is wanting what's good for other people, what's good for the people around you. It's, it's wanting to be with them. It's wanting what's good for them. And I know there are broader bigger definitions of it, but but the people that you love are people you want to be around, you want to hear from them. You want to be with them, you want to talk to them, you want to text them, there's a much broader definition of love, but I'm gonna ignore that right now. But anyway, that's what I would say.

Kenny Embry:

All the people I know, and I know a lot of people, I don't know anybody who's as much a prodigious reader as you are. You've read a lot.

Ken Embry:

Yeah.

Kenny Embry:

What are the books that still resonate with you? What do you think are the most important books you read?

Ken Embry:

There was a book that it may still be available called JD tan, Texas preacher by fanning eight or 10 And JD tant was such a hoot. That was a fun book and one that stuck with me. There were some books by Zig Ziglar and meet you at the top and Denis waitley had gone on some of those early motivational type books, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was, was a good one. There was one I read a called raccoon, john smith, there was a preacher up at Mount Sterling, I think it was in Mount Sterling just outside Lexan that was a early disciple of Barton stone, and there was a gospel preacher there. And he preached down in Russellville, Alabama for a while his family burned up there, he lost his family in Russellville and moved back to Kentucky. Then they had the cholera epidemic of the early 1800s, I think it was up and people had closed their houses, they wouldn't let strangers come in. And I remember brother Smith said, we will not turn away strangers at our doors, if we die, we die. He preached for many, many years. So his life is that but that was an important biography for me. And I presume, probably biographies and learning about people in history, have meant more for me, in terms of just reading, I remember reading the biography of Eisenhower, and as an hour had a young son, that dad, he was really, really close to him. And what I remember about it was, he never got over him and made me never got over losing that young job. Every parent I've ever seen that would lose a child. They don't they never get over it. It's always a switch. It's a whole it's never failed. And you could go to analyze name multiple people that that you know that that's happened to, but the biographies probably have meant more to me than anything else.

Kenny Embry:

What is family to you? What does it mean to you?

Ken Embry:

family is up to me is expansive. It's it's probably everybody. And this is hilarious. Can people get tickled at me? Probably anybody that shares 1,000,000th of my DNA is I consider family. So I claim cousins that are probably 10th cousins, but I always consider them family. And one that is there probably people there aren't even have no DNA shared components, that I consider family just because they've been close to me. as I've gotten older, I went through school from kindergarten through high school was about 30 or 40 people. And it was the same group. I'm in small rural town. We weren't class together that whole 12 years. Now, as we've gotten older, those kind of feel like family to me, because we grew up together. we've, we've shared our adult lives together. So there's a familiar feeling, even to the people I went to high school with, even though we're not we're not related by DNA. And there's been other close friends like that, that I can basically consider family even though we're not physically related. So

Kenny Embry:

what advice would you give to your children or grandchildren now,

Ken Embry:

I grew up in what I consider to be an idyllic period. I don't think it's not gonna come back up. But you know, we were we roller skated and rode bikes and went fishing and played kick the can and play we played outside till it got dark, and we had to go in. And on Sunday afternoons, mom, dad and polish on the car, and they're driving down the road. And if they saw a family setting on the front porch that stop and that stop that stop and go and go sit on the porch with their friends and chit chat, and would the kids would all play, get out and play with their kids. And we'd play to the family lab. Some so social interaction. Now you see our kids faces on screens, you know, they got your face and a smartphone or some other electronic device, and I regret that for them. They're being cheated out of so much. That would be interesting, edifying my next life expanding. I regret that they're living through that period, because I think it's it's a poor substitution, import, doing real things. And if there were anything I could do to shake that out of them. I would I think, I think the time is coming. If it's not to hear when they're going to be tough decisions that had to be made. About what do you stand for, there will be elements of society that want to go Down the socialist free stuff road, and they're going to have to be brave enough and smart enough to fight it and stand against it morally, culturally, religiously. It's not going to get any easier. I don't know that it was easy for my generation. I think there are so many things that we would have been gassed about an hour just easily accepted, but like television and television shows have acclimated our children to things that are not acceptable. And they're going to be smart enough to think, see through those things and think through those things and make wise does it but it goes back to Biblical saying they're going to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. I mean, it got to be a challenge for them. I pray for them for that.

Kenny Embry:

What do you think it means to be a good Christian,

Ken Embry:

I read a passage the other day about stay faithful to you die. I think that's what it's about. Stay with it to till it's over, you know, stay with it. I remember one time when I was in college, I got down to the final and I knew I had a solid B. And I didn't spend much time on the phone. So I got to be an actor, the whole thing was worth only needed one or two points to make an A. And I thought if I had started 10 minutes, I could have made a better grade on that last exam and got an A, I was so lazy. And so content with a solid B, that I've terminos I've got an A an easy a, you know, you're in it for the long haul. Stick with it at some point in time. You've got so much invested in it. If you've got to hang in there to the end of it, and disappointments and frustrations. I mean, you see, everything in your life didn't go as you'd pictured it. But God can handle those I know so much of what happens is in God's hands, and you have to just trust God that, you know, I think my children are good kids and that they can figure it out. So I think been a good Christian is doing the things that you know that you need to do. Up to the bitter end.

Kenny Embry:

How would you like to be remembered? Do you think?

Ken Embry:

I think I will not be remembered. I think nobody is remembered very long. I think I've always been a person of passion. Whatever I do, I do w th zeal. But my kids are pret y much like that. And I thin it's genetic, Kenny. I thi k we were born with that in us. e just go after it. Not alwa s wisely. I think there that we we do things from our zeal that aren't always the smar est thing to do. But you know I've never really thought I ne d it ended up with the rich st bank account or the nice t home or the biggest car. I me n, those material things. Whil they're nice and I've had my s are of them are not impo tant to him. I know that my fami y remember me as a very lovi g person, very kind hear ed, doing some crazy things kind of spontaneous. They'll forg ve me of those things. And I th nk that remember the fun time .

Kenny Embry:

Who do you love.

Ken Embry:

I love my family.

Kenny Embry:

Well, we love you too. Well, I hope you enjoyed meeting Pop. He's crazy. But he's ours. We love you, Pop. I don't talk about this much but go to balancing the Christian life.com the companion website for the podcast. I'm beginning to put more content there and I've got an email list where you can get notified when new episodes hit. I'm also working on a list of podcasts and books I recommend which I'll make sure people on my email list received. Also do me a favor and give us a five star review wherever you get your podcasts. So until next week, let's be good and do good.