I was not prepared to enjoy as much as I did The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. Over the years, I’ve kept my distance from revivalist preaching and the Billy Graham phenomenon.
In the year after the tsunami destroyed the Sri Lankan coastline,
lawmakers threatened to pass a law making Christian evangelism illegal.
The proposed law was popular because of widespread anti-Christian
sentiment. The majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, and they resented
the privilege given to minority Christians under British rule in the
I spent most of the day after Hurricane Katrina checking on members,
especially older ones, in and around Clinton, Mississippi, where I
live. Clinton did not sustain serious damage, but we lost all power and
lots of trees and roofs, and there was a palpable sense of fear and
A few years ago one of my adult children picked up a book of theology I was reading, leafed through a few pages, then asked, “Dad, why are you still reading this stuff?” Good question. There are many reasons why I read this stuff: Because I need to read in order to preach. Because, as Anselm put it, faith seeks understanding, and I don’t understand it all yet.
James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through church attics and basements in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, looking for records of early American life. Some churches are reticent to part with old documents, but the two historians point out how vulnerable the documents are and offer to keep them in a climate-controlled rare book room at the Congregational Library in Boston. Among their findings: a church in Middleboro possessed an application for membership submitted in 1773 by a slave (New York Times, July 29).