Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 19, 1956
NUMBER 49, PAGE 2-3b

Shame On Me

Guthrie D. Dean, Ruston, Louisiana

For the first Lord's day in months I had the opportunity of hearing someone else deliver the morning sermon. After listening to the robed choir do a few numbers the Singing (Music) Department Superintendent dismissed the assembly with the following words: "The congregation will be dismissed for its Sunday morning Bible Instruction Classes. Each Class will leave the audience in the following order, Dr. J. B. Foster's Primary Department, sections 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, Double 1a, Double 2b, etc. After thirty minutes all the classes had passed out of the auditorium to their respective Departments. The President of the Educational Department presided over the auditorium Bible Class where I was. The subject of the morning's class was "Genetics and Crossbreeding of Hereford Cows." First the President took up the regular Sunday School Collection, then the Mission Offering, then the Christian Education Foundation offering, and then the announcements of tea parties and the returns of the preceding week's bridge contest, and the presenting of awards for the recent church golf tournament. By this time a man in a uniform stepped to the front of the auditorium, flipped the light switch and showed a 10 minute mickey mouse cartoon. Then the bell rang and all the classes marched back into the auditorium. Soon the morning worship began. A convoy of men in white uniforms walked to the front. All was quiet and peaceful. The man in the middle (as the uniformed men lined up facing the audience) stepped forward and recited a portion of the Gettysburg Address at which time there was a great applause from the audience. I even thought I saw some boy scouts bringing in flags and beating snare drums, but surely not. Finally the audience is quiet again. The man in white who had quoted the Gettysburg address stepped back and next the man on his right stepped forward and quoted the declaration of independence. After which Dr. Meredith Cassey came forward dressed in a long black robe. He read from a Hebrew copy of the Old Testament. After he had finished he pressed a lever and the Lord's table floated down from the ceiling, seemingly out of nowhere. He blessed the bread and cup and passed them throughout the congregation. Next came the collection. Collection plates as big as full size fishing nets were dragged through the aisles of the auditorium while the choir hummed and while the congregation tossed the rest of its money into the net-like collection plates. I remember well, the money was stacked almost to the ceiling.

After this and a very brief prayer the Reverend Doctor Promoterola rose from the rostrum and began to read his morning sermon: "Brethren," he said, "we are going to have to contribute more to the state mission board or we will be docked five merits for December. The church hospitals, the church orphanages, the church hotels, and the church tourist courts are barely making their way anymore. We will have to support them more wholeheartedly . . . . The Regional baseball team of the church of Christ is meeting the Catholic State Champions next Saturday at the University Ball Park and our uniforms are a sight. We must help lift up those players' hands in this worthy battle against the Catholics. . . . Two weeks from this Wednesday night we meet the Junior Communists All Stars at our home field. We must get in there and beat the Communists! (Cheers from the audience). All tickets should be sold this week."

Then he got to the point of his sermon. "Anti-ism among churches of Christ." He began: "We have some narrow minded brethren who try to follow the letter of the law. They keep harping on the 'old paths' and the 'ancient landmarks.' What this generation needs is not the old paths and ancient landmarks but we need something new. We need large recreation centers. Area wide Vacation Bible Schools. Dance halls and beer taverns for the church. (That's the only way to clean them up. Let the church take them over.) We need pool tables and kitchens in every church basement. But those anti-brethren are opposed to anything new. It's a wonder they don't come to church in button top shoes, silk hats, and riding in a buggy. (A loud applause and laughter from the audience). This Bible-anity has got to go. This stuff about no organization larger than the local congregation' has got to go. This hobby about 'the local elders cannot oversee the work for other congregations' must be stopped. This deal about proving a thing right by 'apostolic example, necessary inference, or direct command' is outmoded and must be done away with. Those who think they can take care of orphans without orphan homes must be withdrawn from. We must write a creed for every church of Christ in the nation and make every preacher sign it and subscribe to it before he can preach in our pulpits. We must give our people only one side of these issues which disturb the church. All religious papers which attempt to give both sides of an issue must be banned and any member caught reading such papers will be marked and branded as a hobby-rider and a church-splitter." Soon the preacher's sermon was finished and I rose up to say a word about his sermon. I was pushed back into my seat by the ushers and soundly slapped on the cheek by one of the ladies sitting next to me on the plush seat. Then the audience was dismissed with the "Lord's Prayer," to which the congregation responded with "Hail, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. So mote it be. Amen." The "a" in "Amen" was pronounced like "ah" in "hog wash." The members stepped on me and trampled me under foot on their way to the exit. After a few silent minutes I regained consciousness, pulled myself up from the heavy wool carpet and made my way to the door and down the marble steps to the sidewalk. As I walked to the car I looked back at the church building (the plant). It was molded of transparent glass. Trimmed in gold. The doors were of ivory. And giant marble columns stood conspicuously around the front of the huge building. A steeple with chimes towered its way into the hazy blue skies above. A steeple so beautiful and so tall that all the newcomers and visitors to the city would stand breathlessly with great awe and whisper, "My, my, how the Church of Christ is growing!" As I drove away in my car there was an empty feeling inside me. It seemed as though I had not been to worship at all. And as I left the city and drove back to my home town, I noticed church signs (giant size) along the highway about every two miles. Underneath the signs were these words: "Sponsored by the Church of Christ Advertising Society." The signs were beautiful and were so attractively decorated with pictures of animals, landscapes, and girls. On each sign was a witty saying, such as: "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. The Church of Christ will do for you." or again, "Join the Church of Christ, be a real go-getter!! By statement, transfer, baptism, or letter." . . . It was at this point I was awakened out of my slumber, and came to realize that I had gone to sleep while reading the Gospel Advocate! Shame on me!! There were several other things in that dream that I thought unwise to mention. For instance, I dreamed I saw a portable Lord's table with fishing tackle attachments. That would be too rich for even a promoter's blood. Or would it?