Century Marks

Century Marks

A congregation repents

For years the First Assembly of God in Madison, Indiana, was known for driving away its pastors. The core problem was a small, elite group that pressured pastors to leave for the smallest of offenses. After a split in the church, the controlling group left, and the congregation realized what had happened to its ministers. The former pastors were invited back for a service of confession and reconciliation. As part of the service, the current pastor, on behalf of the entire congregation, washed the feet of former pastors (Leadership Journal, January).

The Truman story

President Harry Truman was inclined to make flippant comments about religion that gave people the sense he wasn’t very religious. American historian Michael Beschloss argues that Truman may have been one of the most religious presidents in recent history. He grew up as a Baptist and remained a Baptist, even though his wife Bess was an Episcopalian. He thought the Baptist denomination offered the shortest route to God for the common person. He knew scripture by heart and believed every problem in the world could be solved if people only followed the Beatitudes (faithstreet.com, January 21).

Pine-box view

Jeffrey M. Piehler, a surgeon dying of cancer, angered his wife when he announced that he was planning to build his own pine coffin. His friends also misunderstood his motives: they thought it was a sign he was giving up on life. In fact, the activity helped him live more fully and put things in proper perspective. “It’s pretty much impossible to feel anger at someone for driving too slowly in front of you in traffic when you’ve just come from sanding your own coffin,” he said (New York Times, February 1).

It’s your life

Billionaire Warren Buffett says that his dad gave him a terrific gift: “He told me, both verbally and by his behavior, that he cared only about the values I had, not the particular path I chose. He simply said that he had unlimited confidence in me and that I should follow my dreams. I was thereby freed of all expectations except to do my best.” Buffett says that he and his wife tried to raise their children the same way. Their “It’s your life” message to their kids had an interesting consequence: not one of their three children completed college (Warren Buffett in his foreword to Forty Chances, by Howard G. Buffett, Simon & Schuster).

Test of faith?

“God bless America” has almost become the standard way for U.S. presidents to end major speeches. The practice began with President Nixon during the Watergate scandal in 1973. The practice didn’t catch on with presidents Ford or Carter, but it was picked up by Reagan. David Domke and Kevin Coe, authors of The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America, say the phrase is used as a simple way for presidents and politicians of all stripes to pass “the God and country test” (Huffington Post, January 28).