Thursday, September 29, 2005

Empty Houses and Bobbed Hair

Our long time minister, Jerry Tallman, is selling all his stuff and going on the road full time to do evangelistic seminars. He is a brilliant evangelist and we are all proud of what he and Connie are doing. This last week he sold off his books and paintings -- a bittersweet moment, to be sure. I went through his books, promising myself that I wouldn't buy until others had a chance to get the good stuff, when I came across a book that I bought merely because the title was too good to pass up. Ready for this? Are you seated comfortably? Have you taken all appropriate medication, with food? Okay.

"Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers" by John R. Rice, DD. I mean, c'mon, who could pass this up? I've been looking for new sermon material anyway (just kidding!) so I grabbed it and ran back to my office to peruse my new prize. Inside the front cover is a photo of Rice with his wife and six daughters. No sons, just daughters and lots of them. I am sure they all were sweet people (this was published in 1941) but the women in the photo had that strange look about them that screamed out "Lizzy Borden and the Bordenettes." I couldn't help but wonder how you could grow up in a house ruled by the iron fist of John R. Rice. I decided I needed to do some research.

It seems Rice left the Southern Baptists over their liberalism and wrote over 200 books while serving as Editor for "The Sword of the Lord." I went over to and found out his group is still going (with a 27 point statement of belief) and that this precious little volume is still in print! (only $4.95) According to the website all of his daughters grew up and married men with the same teachings as their dad and served in the same fields. Maybe they were happy after all. I mean, who am I to judge such things?

Other gems by Rice are (and I am not making this up) "Wild Oats in Dallas -- How Dallas people sow them and how they are reaped" and my personal favorite, "The Dance -- Child of the Brothel, Sister of Gambling and Drunkenness, Mother of Lust and Road to Hell!" (exclamation mark in the original) Say what you want: the man knew how to craft a catchy title.

While his group is still very active on the web and has quite a few churches that continue his teachings it is obvious that most of us have moved on. We love the Bible, read it, treasure it as the Word of God, but, search as we might, we cannot see God getting as heated up as Dr. Rice on most of these matters. It gives one pause to wonder: what arguments do we live for, promulgate, disfellowship over, and write viciously against? Will they seem this silly in fifty years? A hundred? Are we willing to kill (reputation, character, profession) over matters that will be laughed at by our grandchildren?

Sure, some things are permanent and we can, rightly, argue about what those are. The seven ones of Ephesians, the supremacy of love in Corinthians, the person and lordship of Christ -- there is enough in scripture to keep us busy without us having to get bogged down in cultural and political arguments that will not long outlive us.

Have you ever driven down the road in some rural area and seen, far off in a field, surrounded by brush and scrub trees, an old, broken house. At one time it was a beautiful home. Kids played on those floors and its walls witnessed births, deaths, laughter, and tears... but no longer. Once, people dreamed about this home, bought and cleared the land and then built their dream, but that dream no longer lives in any human heart. Did they die without heirs? Did their kids fight over the inheritance until no one could have it? Why did the dream die when it had enough strength, once upon a time, to come to life?

What are we doing with God's dream for us? Will He leave heirs on this earth? Yes, Jesus said so, so let's rephrase this: "Will we be among those heirs?" Only if our dreams are His dreams. Only if we put the energy into maintaining that dream and keeping it alive. And only if we don't destroy that dream by fighting over bits of it among ourselves until no one lives here anymore. The dream of Christ probably had little to do about bobbed hair, so perhaps we should be at work in discovering His dream, building more, and fighting less.


At 9/29/2005 09:21:00 AM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

I've been around so many people who let the little things destroy what God is trying to do. Scripture talks about how man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart, and this is so true today. We let things like skirts vs. pants, long hair vs. short hair, makeup vs. no makeup, beards vs. clean shaven, etc. get in the way of what God is trying to do in our hearts and lives. I don't think when we stand before our maker one day that He'll be shaking His head over the length of our hair.

At 9/29/2005 10:41:00 AM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Being from Texas, I'd like to hear about the "wild oats" in Dallas and how they are sown and reaped. I mean, last time I came through there, about two weeks ago on my way back home from Abilene, it looked pretty urban to me, not much like farmland for oat sowing (not that anyone in Texas ever sowed "real" oats to begin with, that I've ever heard of).

But then, some of us are looking for a lot different things than others and if we all really concentrated on it and worked at it hard enough for long enough, I guess, we could spend a fair amount of time, or even our whole lives, seeking out the "bad" other people are doing while ignoring what God would want us to really do - that is, tell everyone we meet the "good news" of Christ and God's love for us all and of the salvation they bring.

Satan must have a field day (no pun intended) with people such as Dr. Rice appears to have been (or be - is he still alive?). I just hope I never become such a person as to always be looking for the evil in everything around me. I've always believed that if we are going about doing all the good we have the time and energy to do day after day that will leave little or no time for Satan to enter in to contaminate our thoughts.

That especially is the case right now in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina as all of us here in southeast Louisiana are spending all of our energy in helping all of those around us for as far as we can see who are so in need. THAT is what we should be doing all the time! I pray that we will continue to do so.

Thanks for this amusing reminder of what all we should be about!

At 9/29/2005 12:14:00 PM , Blogger DJG said...

I love the comparison to an old house. I too have seen so much harm caused by petty in-fighting over things that don't matter.(like whether children can wear shorts to VBS, I kid you NOT) while the important things are left undone, un-talked about. God forgive us when we are guilty!

At 9/29/2005 01:03:00 PM , Blogger Lee Hodges said...

Wonder if John was related to Ira Rice. They seem to have a very similar approach to scripture.

At 9/29/2005 02:24:00 PM , Blogger Stephen said...

I don't doubt you can guess I worry about Conneaut becoming that "old broken home" you refer to. We try to do what we can. With the demographics in this county, though, we may need to import some folks from Texas for us to look "normal" in regards to size eventually.

At 9/29/2005 08:54:00 PM , Blogger Murray & Jaime said...

Great post Patrick. Thanks.

At 9/30/2005 01:21:00 PM , Blogger David U said...

That'll preach, brother!! Go ahead on!


At 9/30/2005 08:13:00 PM , Blogger K. Rex Butts said...

Patrick Mead said:

"What are we doing with God's dream for us? Will He leave heirs on this earth? Yes, Jesus said so, so let's rephrase this: "Will we be among those heirs?" Only if our dreams are His dreams."

Thank you for reminding me to think! It is not what is God going to do with us... BUT -- What is God doing and are we going to get on board with it.

And I want to be among the heirs. Thank you for your post.

At 10/02/2005 10:10:00 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

To what Dee said, the "wild oats" I believe he's referring to are NOT the agricultural kind. :) He’s referring to debauchery, I’m sure. I don't know when Rice published his Dallas book, but I know today that Dallas is one of the hotspots on the gay/lesbian circuit. West End has its gay pride parade, and a gay guy I know that lives elsewhere was once looking to relocate here due to the "lifestyle" options available.

I know Rice's intentions were good, but there is just so much damage that's caused by his sort of thinking. (I know - I was caught by some of its shrapnel while attending a Christian college.)

Thanks, Patrick, for your thoughtful blog. I found it thanks to "CrazyJo."

At 10/03/2005 09:31:00 AM , Blogger Keith Brenton said...

You shouldn't have a diet that is solely Rice - that's certain!


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