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.
From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Netherlands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protestant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).