The Case of The Clammy Hand
The other night my children were yukking it up about the night of Dad’s hand under the bed. Although none of them was yet alive when it happened, the story has become a part of our family folklore.
It all began when one of my seminary professors asked my wife and me to occupy his house during his vacation. Our duty was largely just to watch the house, which was located on a remote road used mostly as the local lovers’ lane.
We knew of the reputation of the road but not what it would mean practically. The house was situated so that the lights of every car coming down the road flashed into the master bedroom.
I usually find it hard to sleep in a strange place, and my difficulty was increased by the continual flashing of auto headlights.
Finally, I put my arm over my eyes to block out the lights and dropped into an uneasy sleep. Unknowingly, I also cut off the circulation in that arm.
Since there was no night stand on my side of the bed, I had put my glasses on the floor just under the bed. In the wee hours of the morning some sound woke me. I sat up, causing my now feelingless arm to dangle over the edge of the bed, and as I groggily reached for my glasses I encountered my own now cold and clammy hand.
With a shudder of horror I jumped to a standing position in the middle of the bed and shouted, “There’s a hand under the bed!”
At that my wife bolted out of bed and began groping along the wall for the light switch. I joined her in the frantic search. Neither of us could remember where it was located.
Suddenly a thought came to me: “Why am I using only one hand?” Even before I found the light switch, the awful truth had dawned on me, and I knew of the years of total recall my wife would have of that night.
The moral of this story—all my stories have morals—is that when a member of the body loses contact with the head from whom the whole body is joined and knit together, no end of mischief can result.
From the February 16, 1973, issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Several months ago you published an article by Rod Jellema titled “Poems Should Stay Across the Street From the Church” (June 4). I was delighted by the article.… Now I am even more delighted to see that you have taken Jellema’s article to your own hearts. The appearance of “A Missionary Dying on the Molopo” by George E. McDonough and “Making Prayer” by Eugene Warren in the magazine (Sept. 24) is most uplifting.
The Church is filled with men and women who enjoy the poem as dearly as do the men and women of the world. It is indeed a pleasure to see your fuller participation in Christian literature at this, the outset of your twenty-first year of publishing.
I was distressed to read that Ronald V. Jones, in his letter published in the September 24 issue, thought that Eutychus’s column on “Franchising the Church” (July 2) was “poison-pen sarcasm.” If he would reread it carefully, keeping in mind the task of the satirist, I think that he would see that Eutychus is saying nothing bad at all about the Scott Memorial Baptist Church (E and W). Instead, he is using the favorite satirist’s tactic of finding a legitimate need or event and then practicing a sort of reductio ad absurdum on it to show how it can be warped by evil or foolish men. Swift’s famous “Modest Proposal” is a good example of this: a real problem, and then an obviously tongue-in-cheek horrifying solution, showing how not to deal with the need.
Since the issue with his letter marked your twentieth anniversary, do you have any plans for publishing an anthology such as you published after your tenth year in 1966? A year ago I found a shelfworn paperback of the 1966 anthology and found it a great treasure trove—truly age does not mar the best Christian writing. Here’s a vote that you consider the idea again.
MARK EDWARD SOPER
For Less Fideism
I was encouraged and informed by Dr. LaSor’s comments about the new finds at Tell Mardikh and their bearing on the Old Testament (Sept. 24). However, I was shocked and apologetically embarrassed to read, “The only way to prove the Bible is to take it on faith and apply it in life.” The Mormons say the same thing about the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:4). Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:13). Surely, archaeological studies do bear on the truth of the Old Testament. Reckless fideism is harmful to the cause of Christ.
NORMAN L. GEISLER
Philosophy of Religion Department Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Deerfield, Ill.
Congratulations to the entire staff on your twentieth anniversary. I believe it is generally agreed that CHRISTIANITY TODAY has been the most significant Christian publication of its kind in our lifetime.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Kansas City, Mo.
Excellent On Art
Thank you for the excellent essay by Frank Gaebelein, “What Is Truth in Art?” (Aug. 27).… Again and again I have been impressed with how little has been written in the last few decades on the criteria of Christian art.… I hope many Christian artists are among your readers.
Burt Martin Associates, Inc.
Distortion Vs. Deprogramming
I was not pleased to see Dean Kelley’s review of Let Our Children Go! (Books, Sept. 24). Kelley’s attitude seemed to be that “religion” is inherently more important than the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and that those who have been deceived in their search for truth and who are being demonized by these false religions should not be deprogrammed. One of my close associates in Divine Light Mission went berserk from the practice of incessant Hindu “meditation,” and had to be committed to prevent him from doing injury to people around him. Others committed suicide during the schism between Maharaj Ji and his mother in 1974–75. I might have done so as well, had I not been deprogrammed when I was.…
There are worse things in the world than deprogramming people without their prior consent, and after reading the September 24 issue, I, for one, think that writing this type of distorted book review is one of them.
WILLIAM O. WEST
Los Angeles, Calif.
Born Out of A Void
I was distressed to read the editorial “Democracies Take Note” (Sept. 24) in a Christian paper. Those of us who have spent years upon years in overseas countries conclude that editorials of this nature are born out of a void of knowledge of people other than North Americans. We were in Brazil when that country made an attempt toward what we would call a more North American style of democracy which led to chaos and near disaster for that country. The strong-handed leadership that was then introduced was the only salvation for that country. It may be the same for India. After all, order, stability, and food under a benevolent dictatorship are better than chaos, instability, and starvation under a democracy. I wish we could realize that there are patriots also among the strong-handed leaders of other countries, even though they may not operate according to our ideals.
H. C. BORN
Clearbrook, British Columbia
Bible-Smuggling: Help Or Hindrance?
Dr. Paul D. Steeves in “A Centennial Celebration Nine Hundred Years Late” (Oct. 8) gives an appreciable historical sketch of the Russian Bible Society and the profound effects of the Scriptures on the lives of the Russian people since the first printing of the Russian Bible in 1882. Dr. Steeves rightly points out the present scarcity of Scripture in the Soviet Union, but he states that the work of the UBS is hampered by the illegal activities of Bible smugglers and that “attempts to introduce Bibles into the Soviet Union by illegal means do not serve God’s work well.” There are numerous missions and individuals presently working to provide spiritual food for Russian believers through radio broadcasts beamed into their country, and to provide Bibles for their use. Because Russian believers are fined or imprisoned for listening to Christian radio broadcasts, should the missions stop beaming the message to Russia? Illegal means are used to see that the Russian believers receive Bibles and other help. Why? Because the official Communist government of Russia confiscates Bibles and burns them on the order of the courts.… Georgi Vins tells the story of arrests, persecution, suffering, confiscation of Bibles, and even death, in the book Georgi Vins: Testament From Prison. Christian services are violently dispersed, dogs are used to round up believers, families are left without breadwinners, heavy fines are legalized on Christians. Why does the official church leadership permit this? Because they are compromised with the atheistic government.… There is an apparent discrepancy between the situation described by Dr. Steeves and that which various mission organizations relate.
LILA WISTRAND ROBINSON
Fact And Flavor
As a working journalist (for Episcopalians United) who was there, let me commend you for your excellent coverage of the sixty-fifth convention of the Episcopal Church (“The Episcopal Church: Women Are Winners,” by Edward E. Plowman, Oct. 8). Both fact and flavor were handled in a way that is basically accurate and interesting—no mean feat.
As an Anglo-Catholic I must emphatically dispute the statement of Mr. Elmore Hudgens, executive secretary of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, that the matter of “ordaining” women to the priesthood is a “little issue.” Indeed, it is the greatest departure from the doctrine of the Church Catholic since the Arians and their Montanist cousins—both condemned by the Council of Nicea (which also condemned female ordination as then practiced by the Montanist heretics)!
G. D. WIEBE
Trinity Episcopal Church
San Francisco, Calif.
There were two errors in the poem “A Missionary Dying on the Molopo” by George E. McDonough (Sept. 24). There should not have been a space between lines 5 and 6, and line 33 should have read, “With those whose eyes one understood at once.”
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