When I was a child growing up in Fairfield, Connecticut, we lived in a nice three-bedroom house. My father was a metallurgical engineer. He had done well for himself. He started out as a poor cowboy on a farm in Yankton, South Dakota. He put himself through the South Dakota School of Mines and graduated with a degree in metallurgy. He was quickly hired on by a steel company in Chicago, where I was born. He then changed jobs and was soon transferred to the East Coast.
My father was an avid reader. We had only one bookcase in our house, surprisingly, as he read everything from the ancient Greeks to contemporary history. He borrowed nearly all his books from the library, so didn’t need a lot of space for them. But there was one Book that sat on the shelves throughout those years — the Bible. I cannot recall my parents taking it out, even dusting it off. It just sat there, among all the other books. There didn’t seem to be much need for the Wrd in our household. That is because we were what I would now call ‘nominal’ Christians.
We were Methodists. And yes, I know now that there are thriving churches of every denomination where Believers can be fed, so I am not pouncing upon the poor maligned Methodists. It just happened to be our fate. There are also at least two Methodist ministers in our family — both cousins on my father’s side.
Our Methodist Church, http://www.goldenhill.org/, is one of the loveliest neo-Gothic churches I have seen anywhere, with a full pipe organ, a choir with paid soloists, ushers who back then wore morning coats with carnations in their lapels, and a delightful area called the “Pullman Chapel” where the children had service.
What we learned from that church was how to excel at being nominal Christians. We put issues of substance first, and complained when Gd didn’t give us everything we wanted instantly. We learned fellowship, with cookouts, and weekend getaways. I am sure it was mere coincidence that many of the wealthy people who lived on “the Hill” attended that church. We were, of course, in awe of them. Gd had obviously favored them and not us.
We did say grace maybe once or twice a year — certainly at Easter and Xmas. And we were always present at church. The only time we missed that I am aware of was when President Kennedy was assassinated. That Sunday we sat in front of the black+white tv eating tv dinners (yes, really) and watched Lee Oswald being murdered by Jack Ruby.
It’s really hard to get through to people when they become nominal Christians. They think they are doing everything right! If you try to disciple them by nudging them toward the Wrd or — heaven forbid — repentance — we are usually met with defiance and outrage…
So that too, I now believe, was the crisis our Lrd Jesus Christ faced when he dealt with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They already ‘knew’ they were going to heaven. They had nothing to learn. They needed nothing. They did not realize that they were already mostly dead inside and only yelling at them could hopefully wake them up…:-0
*M4B=Mozart For Believers