BIG AND LITTLE

Ever since skyscrapers began to pile up in New York, bigger and better have been synonyms for bigtime advertising. Giant, colossal, king-sized, mammoth products fill our supermarkets. In the buildup only these words have been cut down. When the man in the ad declares, “I like my pleasures big!” he seems to mean that he prefers large parties, big yachts and huge trailers, and a cigarette about a half inch longer.

The Brobdingnagian trend is clear enough, however, to anyone who tries to fit a giant box of cereal on a kitchen shelf or a new car into the garage. The motorist who surveys hundreds of long, long automobiles jammed bumper to bumper on a superhighway like dinosaurs in a mudhole may even speculate on the fate of Henry Ford’s thunder-lizard.

The answer of course is miniaturization. Lilliputians and transistors are providing us with pocket radios, wrist cameras and scooter cars. The transition may be uncomfortable as we crawl into knee-high racers, but our products come in two sizes only: midget and mammoth. In religion, too, Americans like superlative extremes—miniature chapels or towering cathedrals. One of the problems facing mass evangelism is its fascination for people who like their religion big—and find a church of average size with a preacher of ordinary gifts altogether uninspiring. Our universe is a harmony of atoms and galaxies, but we are not made to live on either scale. Two or three Christians may know the Lord’s presence even as a stadium rally may taste his blessing, but neither group is a normal size for a functioning Christian congregation.

Many Americans crave a big church because their God is too small. The superlatives of the Gospel are things which are not seen, and eternal. For our ...

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