This I Believe: Bill Bushnell (1986)

Religion is not a big topic at our house.  When Bob asked me to do this, I began to think, well, what are my concerns.  Thinking about what I believe it came to mind what I am concerned about.  I’m concerned about the lack of compassion we have in our world today as the marketplace seems to dominate.  Companies shift and fair and some go out of business.  We have not built into our system some compassion that ameliorates this situation.

So, as a way to express that, I wrote a song, a fairly gentle song.  One of my beliefs is in the tonic chords.  [Sings, blues-style]:


Went to work this morning, said they’re cutting down two or three,

Went to work this morning, said they’re cutting down two or three.

It’s all done in the name of Effifciency.



            Where did they get him, this Great God Efficiency

            Where did they get him, this Great God Efficiency

            Give me he old one, he’s a better friend to me.


            I told John Henry, you’re going on half-time today

            I told John Henry, you’re going on half-time today

            I told John Henry, you’re going on half-time pay



            Course you won’t get no benefits

            None of those bennies any more

            But you’ll have time to play with the kids a whole lot more.

            You can do some church work—

            All those things that improve the quality of life.


And if ends don’t meet, you can work at the Tom Thumb store

And if ends don’t meet, you can work at the Tom Thumb store

You meet people down there; you won’t be bored no more.


            This church runs fine but it has its fits and starts

            This church runs fine but it has its fits and starts

            Thank God Efficiency never left its mark.

Well, my family really jumped on me.  What is this god you’re talking about, “He’s been a friend to me?”  And I really had to stop and think about that a little bit.  The words in the song just came without much thought about it so I’ll tell you what I came up with.  This is what they came to hear, I guess.

I grew up in Wooster, Ohio—north central Ohio—a town of about 10,000 people and almost as many churches.  On the way to grade school we had a Four-Square Gospel Church.  On the way to high school there was one corner tat had the public library, a Methodist Church on another corner, a Lutheran Church on another corner, and a third church.  I don’t remember what it was – big medieval structures with towers and so forth.  But these churches were out of my experience.  I was brought up, in Ted’s term, “unchurched.”  My parents never went to church and churches are still very alien to me.  When I go into a church, especially a very traditional church, I feel that I’m in a very foreign place.  The symbolism seems very strange; I tend to be uncomfortable.

In that town, God came out of those churches and permeated everything.  I was subject to this.  In those days we said the Lord’s Prayer in school; I don’t know whether it was before or after the Pledge of Allegiance.  We didn’t say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in those days.  But my friends, they had their gods.  A lot of them went to fairly fundamental churches.  I was on the end of town where the Four-Square Gospel Church was and other fundamentalist church.  This was a personal God my friends had and it wasn’t a subject of discussion in any way, but they believed in song.  This God is sort of a father figure, not quite in human shape but he’s there as part of the environment.  I think I could conceive, anyway if pushed real hard, that I could appeal to this God for help.  If anybody had asked me up until this analysis if I believed in God, I probably would say no, but there is this degree of belief I’m trying to express.

Now, I’d like to deal with one other topic and that is what this church means to me.  I come here mainly because my wife comes here.  She’s very persistent; she has been coming over 20 years.  It’s been a real pleasure to have watched the flow of life through the church, to know people for an extended time, to watch them develop and change, go through the goods and the bads.  So I wrote another song to deal with this side I’m describing.

Now sometimes in church your mind doesn’t stay on the sermon, at least mine doesn’t, so this is called “A Slow Day at Church” [tune similar to Tom T. Hall’s “The Ballad of Thirty Dollars”]:

Well, the talk today I guess it’s a little dull

I’ll look around a bit while it goes slow.

Who’s that in front and two seats to the right?

Well, I don’t know but she’s cute and quite a sight.


Arno looks a little tired today

His books were downstairs there on display.

He worked for Uncle Sam the way I do

Graham-Rudmann scares us both, what can you do.


Gee, I miss Kit Bergh who died some years ago

We made that ramp out front so he could go.

He liked the country music that I play

Those days are gone it’s mighty sad to say.


Betty Jo was sick last year while we were gone

But now she’s blooming and there’s nothing wrong

Like you, I cried to hear she was okay

She held my hand real tight in church one day.


Now Dee Smith’s face, it looks a little red

He’s been downstairs cooking soup and bread

I think he likes this church or so it seems

But his cooking sometimes reaches to extremes.


Many friends have come and gone and left us here

Like Glenn and Jo who always send good cheer.

Well, old and new they’ll always come and go

Who’s that young couple I just saw with Bob Stow?


What’s that Ted is saying there up front?

Read your dreams and be at peace just once.

Who wouldn’t be at peace if he had Karen?

Whoa, I better listen more to what he’s saying.


[‘Arno’ Arnold Anderson, Betty Jo Perlich, Kit Bergh, and Bob Stow have all died in the intervening years.  The ‘Ted’ referred to is Ted Tollefson, WBUUC minister in 1986.]