Today I uploaded a post to Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.‘s (MCOI’s) blog, “The Crux,” titled “Honor Thy Fathers.” It’s about how most evangelicals have in recent times departed from the tradition of the Reformation by ignoring the church fathers. Some of it will be familiar if you’ve read my previous posts containing citations from ancient Christian writers.
About half-way through this past school year I decided to ban my sixth- and seventh-grade English students from using that mea culpa of the new millennium, the phrase “my bad,” to admit to any kind of mistake or failure. This came right after I banned them from using the word “like” as if it were a kind of verbal punctuation mark (as in the typical middle schooler sentence: “Because, like, you know, like, I don’t, like, really like like him—I just kinda’ like, like him.”).
One of the things that always made me extremely uncomfortable growing up Catholic was going to confession. This is highly ironic when you consider the off-the-wall, bare-your-soul, authoritarian group I accidentally got involved in in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but nevertheless it’s true.
The chief rabbi of Israel was visiting in Rome and decided to stop in and see his good friend the pope. While there he noticed that the pope had a gold telephone. “What’s that?” the rabbi inquired. “It’s my direct line to God,” the pope replied. “Can I use it?” asked the rabbi. “Of course,” said the pope, “but it costs a lot of money—it costs three thousand dollars.” The rabbi thought for a moment and then decided that it was worth the expense to be able to talk directly to God. He made his phone call, conducted his business with God, and paid the pope before he left. Some years later the pope found himself in Jerusalem and went to visit the chief rabbi. When he entered the rabbi’s office he noticed a gold phone. “Is this what I think it is?” he asked. “Yes, it’s my direct line to God. After seeing yours, I had one installed.” “Can I use it?” asked the pope. “Of course,” said the rabbi. So the pope made his call and spoke with God for about an hour, after which he asked the rabbi, “How much do I owe you?” “A dollar eighty-seven,” replied the rabbi. “A dollar eighty-seven? How come so cheap?” asked the pope. “Well, it’s only a local call.”