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The Positive Prophet
It's Friday, Sunday's coming, and evangelist Tony Campolo is speaking ten times between now and then.
He avoids speakers' bureaus, has no standard speaking fee, and arranges most of his speaking engagements himself with his wife. And as he flew from Honolulu to Harvard last April 6, Tony Campolo faced an itinerary placing him on a podium more than 410 times by the end of the year—down from about 500 a few years ago. Then the right side of his body went numb. Tony Campolo, 37,000 feet in the air, was having a stroke.
In its aftermath, his speaking schedule has been trimmed back—in theory, anyway (see "Tony Talks Too Much," p. 38). He has supposedly limited himself to 350 events a year, but the number is already creeping up. He even managed to sneak in a few sermons while recovering from the stroke in Hawaii.
"There's a lot of factors that tend to seduce me into speaking more than I should, and I wish it was all noble," he says. "People need money, people need volunteers, but also this is a lot of fun. I love doing this. I enjoy the interaction with people. I feed off of that. They really turn me on."
He turns them on too—with a few exceptions. In classic Campolo form, he began on a positive note recently at a Wheaton College debate. "Following September 11 a year ago, a healthy patriotism swept across this country," he said. "It wasn't the kind of patriotism we saw at the L.A. Olympics, where we waved our fingers in the faces of the rest of the world and said we're better than you are. Instead it was a chastened and humbled patriotism, a patriotism that said we're proud of our values. We're willing to embrace the ideals that gave birth to our basic institutions."
Then came the critique. "But in the last year I have seen those ...1