A sermon on smoking and other pastimes by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

I was thinking about this recently because of people who passed. A few weeks back I wrote about Betty, a friend and co-author of a play we worked on together (Liberation).  Emphysema robbed her of her breath. She was a chain smoker throughout the years I knew her. Then a few weeks ago I received a text message from a cousin to advise me that the husband of one of our many cousins had passed away of throat cancer and various complications resulting from chemotherapy. He was 52 and had been a heavy smoker. I am saddened by the people who die so young.

cig and ashtray-1When you mention these things to smokers you may get one of the following excuses:  “What difference does it make?  You have to die of something.” Under this sort of thinking you might was well jump in front of a fast-moving train or jump off the Willis (aka Sears) Tower. Yes, of course we are all going to die of something someday, that does not mean we should try hard to cut this life short. I don’t even care if you think there is another life out there for you anyway. Why would you willingly give up a sure thing on a bet?

2.  “It will never happen to me.” I never thought I would have nerve damage in my foot and have difficulty moving about. I never thought someone in an 18 wheeler would  run me off the road and total my car, with me in it. I never thought someone would beat me up and leave me bleeding a lot. I never thought the rich would wish to deny healthcare to the poor. You just never know, why take chances?

3.  “My uncle smoked a pack a day and nothing ever happened to him.” OK, some people win the Lotto too, but I would not count on that as passing down through the family. My father’s older brother smoked as much and perhaps more than my father ever did and he out lived my dad by a lot. Perhaps it was because he smoked a different brand. Perhaps it was because he had a better diet. Perhaps it was just dumb luck.

4.  “I’m going to quit. I just can’t do it right now.” I think I have heard this one the most. So when is the time going to come? Will it happen after you have lung cancer, throat cancer or whatever? Remember what happened to Roger Ebert? He had part of his jaw removed.  He had to give up his popular television show. He had to wear a mask in public. He lost his voice. While you are waiting for the right time to quit, you can end up like that.

5. “I can quit anytime I want.” Really? Then why don’t you? No one is fooled. No one believes you. You don’t want to quit or you can’t quit. Either way, you should get help, buddy. I am as serious as a heart attack. Maybe not the heart attack you might have, but serious anyway. If you don’t give it up, then you are addicted or you don’t want to quit. If you are addicted, get help. Your friends and family will support you. If they won’t, avoid them. If you don’t want to quit, you are not living in the real world and watching the cancer statistics. Google “smoking deaths” or something like that and tell us what you get.

6.  “Everyone has some sort of vice.” I am not sure about that, but yes, a lot of people drink too much, do too many recreational drugs, have too much casual sex or something that may kill them. Is that a reason to do something that might kill you?

Since it is Sunday, I confess that I have not been an angel on earth. As I get older, however, I am more aware of the stupid stuff that can do me harm and try to avoid it if I can. What about you? This is the only Sunday I am going to preach on this topic. If you did not get the point, go to church next Sunday and pray for guidance. Seriously.

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

24 thoughts on “SUNDAY IS FOR PREACHING”

      1. I actually didn’t entirely quit until I was diagnosed with breast cancer X 2. The cancer was probably not related to the smoking and I was never a heavy smoker (compared to what, you might ask?) — but somehow it seemed to me I was getting a loud and clear message. I’d have to have been a total moron to ignore it.


    1. I enjoyed it too. I genuinely like my cig breaks, hanging out on the back deck, looking at the sky and the trees and all of that. Then I got cancer. So I quit. Then all this heart stuff. To say I wish I’d stopped sooner barely covers the territory. I was a late starter — in my mid thirties. If I’d just stuck to my guns and not started … well … if nothing else, the amount of MONEY I spent on cigarettes is appalling.


  1. Of course you grabbed my attention with this post. My dad died of hardening of the arteries due to a lifelong addiction to Pall Mall filterless cigarettes. Also, lest I forget it, I was a 3 pack a day smoker before congestive heart failure nearly killed me. My blood pressure was 255/150 when I was rushed to the ER. They said my heart, liver and kidneys had grown to 3 times their normal size trying to get enough oxygen to my vital organs. That was 2006 and I haven’t touched a cigarette since, not one.


  2. My first husband would sit on the edge of the bed and reach for his pack of smokes before work. The children and I all had respiratory problems, at the docs all winter as we stayed inside back East. Did the butts do him in? No, he was an ironworker on the job of a new build when it collapsed and killed 28 men. So, his logic was the same as many smokers.

    I heard that smoking was more addictive than heroin . . . maybe.


  3. Hi Marilyn,
    I always pray for guidance, for without guidance what is a poor sinner like me to do? Sounds like the makings of a good song. N’est pas? That is one of my better decisions though (not to smoke) since I need all that air to play the flute.


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