In some cultures, old age has been respected. The wisdom of the ancient Greeks was seen to reside especially in older people. The Hebrews were told to "rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly" (Lev. 19:32). Modem Japan looks on its elderly with reverence.

But in the United States, Ronald Reagan's age was considered a political liability. His campaign officers made certain Reagan was seen riding horses and chopping wood. The message was clear: Mr. Reagan may be approaching seventy, but he's not really old. In our country, old is synonymous with useless, rundown, obsolete. Presidential candidates aren't the only ones affected by this attitude.

If some things get better with age, pastors aren't among them, according to many churches. In fact, it is an "unwritten law of the ministry," says one observer, that beyond fifty it is increasingly difficult to gain a church appointment. One minister, age fifty-one, says, "Churches may not come right out and say they want a younger ...

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