I was standing near the door of the Highlands Bible Chapel auditorium in 1987. We had renamed it from LaGrange Gospel Chapel a while earlier in hope that the name change, among other things, would give us a fresh start and help us grow. It hadn’t worked out so well.
So I was organizing things in my garage when I opened up a box I forgot I had, and what (among other things) did I find in it? Still more things that I forgot I had, including a pile of literature from Tony Alamo‘s Alamo Christian Ministries. It’s pretty cheesy stuff, at least in terms of the quality of writing, not to mention the You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding Madame Tussauds-esque photographs of Alamo. Most of the pile consists of newsletters that usually contain a single rambling article by Alamo surrounded by correspondence from a dozen or so sycophantic followers.
For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the MS. [manuscript] is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error. Far be such arrogance from that humble piety and just estimate of yourself which I know you to have, and without which assuredly you would not have said, “Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!”
[Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), Letter LXXXII (82) to Jerome, “Letters of St. Augustin,” translated by J.G. Cunningham, in Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Volume 1, (Peabody, MA, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., reprinted 2004), 350.]
June 15 is the feast day for St. Augustine of Hippo on the Eastern Orthodox church calendar. On the Roman Catholic church calendar, Augustine is commemorated on the anniversary of his death, August 28.
I must have been playing a cruel practical joke on myself when I saved this copy of U.S. News & World Report seven years ago, when I was 41. (You do the math—or just read this.)
According to Jeff Campbell, “In a sense, clutter is the end result of procrastination—especially if your problem is not so much that you have too much stuff, but rather that the stuff you have is disorganized.” (Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet, [New York, NY, USA: Dell Books, 1992), 46.)
and they go to an orientation in heaven. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?
The first guy says, “I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor in my time and a great family man.”
The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and a school teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.”
The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say…‘Look, he’s moving’!!”
Over the past several months I think we’ve seen an example of how—dare I say it?—marketing principles affect ministry. Over the years I have vacillated between embracing such principles and recoiling from them. I went through a period in the mid-1980s during which I was infatuated with the Church Growth Movement. I still have a rather extensive collection of books on that topic, although I will probably eventually get rid of them. If there was ever a time when “the magic of the marketplace” (as Ronald Reagan called it) had cast its spell over a large segment of the evangelical church, it was when C. Peter Wagner‘s books were selling well. I think many of us shook ourselves out of it when we noticed that Scripture was not only taking a back seat to Madison Avenue, but it was often being tossed out of the car altogether.
A cup my ready mouth does drink
Without which I can hardly think.
That java comes from God is true.
Why have a cup when a pot will do?
With ice in summer it’s so rare
That I should ever think to share.
And even though I’m far from snow
I want my steamy cup of Joe.
Blogs are made by goofs like me,
Who couldn’t write without coffee.
As I continue commemorating the 15th anniversary of the initial publication of The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook, by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf (New York, NY, USA: Villard Books, updated edition 1993), which began with my post of January 3rd, it occurs to me how surreptitiously many of the words in this book have since crept into our day-to-day speech in ostensibly innocuous fashion, even to the point of assuming a place of privilege in many of our cultural institutions.