Today, Sunday, May 21, was the birthday of Raymond William Stacey Burr (1917).  Although that’s his full name, he’s better known simply as Raymond Burr.  He starred as Perry Mason, an attorney of the 1957-1966 TV show by the same name.  His claim to fame on that show was that he never lost a case.  I had seen Raymond Burr in other supporting roles in movies and other shows, so I recognized his face and name.  At the time, I worked Wilshire Division of Los Angeles and worked with a variety of officers. One night, I was assigned to work with Officer James Edmond.  He looked familiar to me but I couldn’t place him.  I didn’t connect him with the police department, so I knew it was from somewhere else.
Finally, I asked, “Am I supposed to know you?  You sure look familiar.”  He laughed and said, “My brother is Raymond Burr.”  I laughed because my partner’s last name was Edmond.  He said, ”No, seriously!”  Then I realized that he did resemble Raymond Burr.  He and Raymond had the same mother but had different fathers.  She divorced Raymond’s dad and remarried James Edmond’s father.  I started asking questions about his famous brother, but soon I wished I hadn’t.  Officer Edmond gave me a lot more information than I wanted to know.  I would’ve preferred to continue thinking that Raymond Burr WAS Perry Mason, the character he played on TV.
When I saw Officer Edmond and a similarity with his famous half-brother, I was reminded of another situation I was involved in.  My cousin and I were both sergeants on the police department and worked in the Watts area.  It was a lively area and both of us enjoyed doing police work.  We each worked much the same way: enthusiastic, dedicated, and committed.  One of my officers commented to me on the way Jerry handled something.  I agreed and said, “He’s my cousin.”  The officer said, “Oh yes! I can see the family resemblance.”  He was referring to our physical appearance but in reality Jerry was my cousin by marriage, not by blood.  His mother had married my uncle after Jerry and his siblings were born.  I never told the officer that we weren’t blood-related.
Although he had not asked me to keep it to myself, I’ve never shared anything with anyone what Officer Edmond told me about his brother.  However, after Raymond Burr's death from cancer in 1993, his personal life came out in the open. A biography titled, "Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr", was published.
We shouldn’t have to be told to not share “dirt” on someone else.  We are given good instructions about gossip in PROVERBS 26:20-22, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”  PROVERBS 6:16-19 lists gossip as one of the seven things that are an abomination to God. When we really consider it, the main reason to gossip about others, is to make ourselves look better.
Once I had preached a sermon about gossip and was at the back of the sanctuary as the congregation were leaving.  An elderly lady members came by with a big smile and said, “Preacher, if they had been here today, you’d have really told them.”  I almost choked, because she was the biggest gossip in our church.
Jesse R. Spurlock
Pastor Emeritus,
Highland Park Baptist Church


305 W. Jarman Dr.,

Midwest City, OK 73110

(405) 830-3940

e-mail: jesse.spurlock@cox.net

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