Saturday, March 31, 2012

C.S. Lewis gets a pass

During my elementary school years, most of my reading was focused on the Happy Hollisters mystery series. I’m sure you can relate.

Then, in 5th grade, I was introduced to Mr. Lewis. C.S. Lewis, that is, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

Whoa, baby.

And I’d lie in my bed at night. Elbow bent. Head resting in my hand. And I’d read. And then I’d read and read and read some more. Losing myself in a land of kings and queens and talking animals.

And when I got around to book three—The Horse and His Boy … Well, that was pure magic. (When Disney gets around to making this film, I will most certainly lead the charge of middle-schoolers into our local movie theater.)

It was sometime later that I realized Lewis was also a “Christian author.” My dad would sometimes mention him in his sermons. Like the time he talked about The Great Divorce and how condemned people took a bus ride to heaven where they found things quite uncomfortable.

Everyone one I knew at church or school loved C.S. Lewis, and a few of us were completely devoted to him. How long did the map of Narnia hang on my bedroom door?

Mr. Lewis, an Anglican of all things, was welcome in the Church of Christ.

Not everyone, though, was treated so kindly.

Like Billy Graham for example.

I heard people talking about Graham, and they were frustrated.

“Billy Graham NEVER talks about baptism in his sermons. Why not? It’s right there in the Bible as plain as day.”

“Did you know his wife wasn’t even baptized until later in life?”

“I know a man who wrote Billy Graham a letter, asking him if baptism was essential for salvation. Well, that man is still waiting for his answer.”

The message, as I understood it, was that Graham was a bad Christian, or not even a Christian, but that Lewis was a very good man.

C.S. Lewis got a pass.

And, at the end of the day … I’m glad he did.

***

Right now, I’m reading What Good is God? by Philip Yancey. It has a couple of excellent chapters about C.S. Lewis, if you’d like to check it out.









Saturday, March 17, 2012

VBS snacks

I loved Vacation Bible School snacks. Especially the “pop.” I can’t believe they let us drink pop.

At Downtown church, a man would roll out 10-oz bottles in wooden crate cases, with a square slot for each bottle. We’d take out full bottles, and then later put our empties back into the cases. I think the man worked for a soda company. I think Downtown had a soda hook-up.

My favorite flavor, of course, was Grape Crush. We never had this at home. So while other kids were shaking up their bottles and spraying everyone around with the fizz, I was protecting mine and drinking every drop.

***

My cousin Jon told me this story about his dad …

One day, back in the late 1920s or early 1930s, Uncle Claude (who was a little boy at the time) was outside playing with his sisters. A trash collector stopped by their house and invited the kids to VBS. He said there would be good snacks there.

Snacks!

The kids hardly ever had treats and were excited to check out VBS. And, after the VBS, Claude’s parents came out to church as well.

The entire family would eventually come to know Christ … all because of a kind invitation from a trash collector.

And VBS snacks.



Monday, March 5, 2012

Confessions of a Christian college dancer

In the last few months, as I’ve continued to think and write about my roots in the Church of Christ, I’ve occasionally perused the Christian Chronicle web site. And, I have to admit, some of it's very good. For example, the recent article about former Lipscomb U basketball coach Don Meyer … a story of full of grace and forgiveness. Good stuff.

But if you’re looking for stories that push people’s buttons, check out the Chronicle blog and pay close attention to the number of comments. Like the posts for the final week of February:

“9,000 expected at Challenge Youth Conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn.” 0 comments. (Yawn.)

“Q&A: ACU’s dean of students discusses new policy allowing dancing.” 42 comments. (Here we go.)

***

Way back in 1985 …

I attended my first two dances during my freshman year at Harding U. (Harding rules prohibited dancing, although I don’t believe it was considered a get-kicked-out-of-school offense.)

One dance took place right after a Spring Sing performance, Harding’s annual musical showcase. For several weeks, we participants had been practicing and performing a “legal” version of dancing called choreography. Now we were ready for the other kind of dancing, which we called “dancing.”

On a Saturday night, a bunch of us hopped into cars and trucks and drove out to an old pavilion near
Camp Wyldewood. Someone brought some stereo equipment and a microphone. And … we … danced.

(Author’s note: I was, and am to this day, a
terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dancer.)

We jumped up and down.

We two-stepped.

We karaoked.

We had a great time.

It all seemed like good clean fun to me. But what did I know?

Also that Spring, a friend and I crashed a high school Future Business Leaders of America dance. That’s right, FBLA baby. It was pretty wild.

On those nights, I mostly remember being nervous and feeling goofy ... but there was a good bit of laughter along the way.

***

And later …

My wife and I have danced at weddings and other formal and semi-formal functions. We have square-danced. And we've shaken-a-leg with our kids many many times.

We dance.

How about you?

***


“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” – Hillel


For some reason, I don't seem super-excited about my Spring Sing costume.