Category: Church History

Always do the right thing

Da Mayor: “Always do the right thing.”
Mookie: “That’s it?”
Da Mayor: “That’s it.”
Mookie: “I got it, I’m gone.”
Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee (1989)

Did Dr. George S. Benson apologize for his racism?

That was, without a doubt, one of the first questions that came to mind among the leadership at Harding University when the online petition to change the name of the campus auditorium from George S. Benson Auditorium to Botham Jean Auditorium dropped in June 2020.

I also believe–very strongly–there was a “Drop what you’re doing!”, five alarm fire, all-hands-on-deck search for an exonerating piece of evidence that would have shown that George Benson apologized, showed remorse, or otherwise recanted the obviously racist views that he held and expressed openly in the 1950s and 60s.… Read the rest

It’s the way it is, but it doesn’t have to be, Part 2

Well, they passed a law in ’64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no, no

That’s just the way it is
And some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is

–Bruce Hornsby, The Way It Is, 1986

During the academic year 1954-55, an unknown person in the Harding College (now Harding University) admissions office received an application from a young man named Wilbert Neal Whitley who lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa. … Read the rest

Chapel protests, or hey, someone really *is* awake!

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

–1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV

I am indebted to Harding University President Dr. Bruce McLarty for sharing Larry Bills’ story at the beginning of his message to the Harding community about the 18,000-plus signature petition to remove George S. Benson’s name from the auditorium on campus and rename it after Botham Jean.  This was, for me at least, an unforeseen development driven in part by public and alumni reaction to the story I published in the Arkansas Times on the Statement of Attitude protest by Harding students in 1957 during the Little Rock Crisis but one which I accepted with dutiful resignation if not outright enthusiasm.Read the rest

Waiting on the Crumbs From Steve Jobs’ Table

I had a Close Encounter of the Creepy Kind with my iPhone this week. This has caused me to pause and reflect on our relationship with all our bright and shiny electronic doodads.

It happened last Sunday as Eyegal and I attended early service at a local Episcopal parish, as is our habit from time to time. It was the First Sunday in Lent (Note to my Baptist and Church of Christ friends: Lent is a 40-day period of repentance preceding Easter. It is part of the church calendar, which is actually pretty official and has been around a long, long time–like, several centuries before the founding of the United States–and has more on it besides the date of the Ladies Retreat and the next church-wide potluck.… Read the rest

Let’s Hear It For The Little Guy

Among all the things that Pope Benedict XVI has stated recently, it’s important to remember one thing that he did not say: that those believers outside the Roman Catholic Church are not true Christians.

And I don’t believe that he would say that, because that’s not the official teaching of the Catholic Church (although there are many Catholics still today who might say that). What he did say is that those “ecclesial communities” formed by those other Christians are not churches in the “proper sense” because they do not have apostolic succession and are therefore “defective.” That has always been the view of the Catholic Church and the Pope is, for whatever reasons, basically stating what has always been official teaching.… Read the rest

C’mon In Boys, The Water Is Fine–Part 1

“Well that’s it, boys. I’ve been redeemed. The preacher’s done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It’s the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting’s my reward…Neither God nor man’s got nothin’ on me now. C’mon in boys, the water is fine.”

–Delmar O’Donnell in O Brother Where Art Thou

The phone rang in the middle of the night, shattering my blissful slumber like a Louisville Slugger against a plate-glass window.

Okay, whoa—better nix the miserable metaphor and start over. It was really only 10:30pm. But after the kind of day I had Sunday, I needed the extra rest.… Read the rest

Let the Vetting Begin!

Bruce Feiler responds at length (and very well) to the “Jesus Tomb” controversy.

His interview/debate with Simcha Jacobovici on the CBS Morning Show with Hannah Storm is especially entertaining.

Here’s a money quote from Feiler:

At least Dan Brown called his book fiction. In fact, I prepared to say Hannah, there is more truth in Dan Brown’s fiction than there is in Simcha’s fact.

Ouch. If you’re Simcha Jacobovici, that’s gotta hurt.

Read the rest

Found Jesus? Part II

Bad boy Billy Ray finally came forward for baptism at a Church of Christ in L.A. (Lower Alabama). Preacher and the whole con-gree-gay-shun rushed down to the river before Billy Ray changed his mind.

Preacher put him under quickly, making sure that all body parts were completely covered by the cleansing flood. He held Billy Ray under a right smahutt time, sews it would take real good and all.

Finally, he lifted Billy Ray out of the water. “Have you found Jesus?” Preacher asked.

Gagging and spitting, Billy Ray tried to reply but couldn’t before Preacher did something highly unorthodox for a Church of Christ evangelist–he put him under again.… Read the rest