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How Many People Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

February 18, 2008

When my wife Clare was a little girl she received a shock while changing a light bulb.  For the nearly 43 years of our marriage  I have changed most of the light bulbs in our home.

How many people does it take to change a light bulb?  The question begs an answer.  It has been asked in a variety of ways.  I found multiple Web sites chockfull of light bulb jokes. Here are a few that are denominationally specific, gleaned from my internet browsing.

Q:  How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: We can’t change that light bulb.  My grandmother gave it to the church years ago in memory of my grandfather.

Q: How many Quakers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None.  You don’t need a light bulb when you have inner light.

Q: How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: That’s not up to us.  If God wants the light bulb changed, He will do it himself.  If the bulb has burned out it was predestined to do so.

Q: How many Nazarenes does it take to change a light bulb?

A: There is no scriptural authority for light bulbs.

Q: How many United Church Of Christ members does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Don’t be so intolerant.  What if the light bulb has chosen an alternative lifestyle?

Q:  How many Amish does it take to change a light bulb?

A: What is a light bulb?

Q: How many Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Catholics prefer candles.

Q:  How many Pentecostal Holiness members does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One hundred.  One to replace the bulb and 99 to cast out the spirit of darkness.

Q: How many United Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Change?

Q: How many Southern Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Eighteen-hundred and fifty-three.  Seven on the Light Bulb Ad Hoc Committee, twelve on the Light Bulb Task Force, thirty-three deacons to debate the recommendation and pass it on to the congregation, a congregational vote by secret ballot to determine whether the light bulb should be changed, and one custodian to change the bulb.

On January 31, I attended a panel discussion at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Dr. Chip Green, professor of geology, organized the event as a part of Focus the Nation, a national organization dedicated to raising our awareness of issues related to global warming.

Dr. Green, who, by the way, has a great name for a guy interested in saving the planet, said, “Each of us can walk a bit further, recycle a bit more, turn off the electricity we don’t need.  This educational event is a nationwide search for solutions, and should embrace everyone”

The six panelists included South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District Representative Bob Inglis and Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz of Temple B’nai Israel. Both the congressman and the rabbi spoke about changing light bulbs.

Perhaps you have seen a new light bulb on the market.  It is actually a spiral compact fluorescent lamp.  The abbreviation is CFL.  Ed Hammer, an engineer with General Electric, invented the bulb during the 1973 oil crisis.  To implement the manufacturing of the new bulb would have cost G.E. about $25 million.  So the invention was never implemented.  The issue of global warming has brought these bulbs to the market.  Sales have steadily increased, and the bulbs themselves have been greatly improved.

Four factors make these new CFLs a feasible alternative.

  • Incandescent bulbs have a maximum lifespan of 1,000 hours.  CFLs will last up to 15,000 hours.
  • CFLs use about one-fourth of the electrical power of an incandescent lamp.  Using CFLs throughout your home will save about 12% on your power bill.
  • In addition to the savings on energy costs, the extended lifetime of CFLs will save a typical household $500 or more over a five-year period.
  • Finally, CFLs greatly reduce carbon emissions.  It is a very practical way that individual citizens can do one small thing to combat global warming

It takes an act of Congress to change a light bulb. Representative Bob Inglis offered a bill that has now been signed into law.  The bill requires all incandescent bulbs in all 1,800 federal buildings to be replaced with compact fluorescent lamps.  It is estimated that those 3 million light bulbs will save $222 million in taxpayer money.

In December, President George W. Bush signed a new energy bill into law. Among other provisions, that law incorporates the bill by Congressman Inglis and will eventually phase out the incandescent light bulb.

I want to encourage you to change your light bulbs.  Not all light bulbs and not all at once.  Only the incandescent variety, one at a time, as they burn out. I believe it is the right thing to do.

How many people does it take to change a light bulb?

All of us!

-Kirk H. Neely

© H-J Weekly, February 2008

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