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In Memoriam Jack Birdwhistell

I met Jack Birdwhistell maybe once, when my wife and I went to Georgetown College for her homecoming several years ago. But I have heard so many “Doc” stories, I feel like he was my campus minister, too!

I commend you this brief memoir of Doc Birdwhistell written by Joshua Hearne. This section in particular rings true with everything I’ve heard about the man:

So, though I was reluctant to be there, I found myself in the student center of Georgetown College  one fall morning. As I added items to my list of reasons not to attend the school, I was interrupted by an older gentleman who didn’t look much like my mental image of a college professor. He introduced himself as “Doc” Birdwhistell and said that he taught some classes in the religion department. Before I even had the time to dismiss internally this big man’s overtures, he said that he had read something about me and had a few questions for me. Instantly, I was certain that he knew how I had secretly lost my faith and that he was going to harangue me even while he continued to shake my hand with his surprisingly huge and somehow slightly bony right hand.

“Mr. Hearne,” he began, “I heard that you played John the Baptist in a production ofGodspell back in Ashland.” I told him that I had, even while I was wondering where in the world he might have heard that. “I love that show,” he exclaimed, before asking “Was it as fun to kick in the doors singing as I always thought it would be?” We spent the next hour talking about a number of things that didn’t really matter all that much, but were pleasant conversation nonetheless. Eventually, he excused himself because he had work to get done. Though I’m sure he didn’t come down from his office in the chapel just to talk to me about high school musicals and nothing in particular, it sure felt like it that day. I ended up going to Georgetown, even though I was still without my faith, because I figured I could get along with Christians like Doc who seemed to think not only that Christians could study and struggle with doubt, but even that they should do both.

October 2014 Biblical Studies Carnival

…is now posted at Brian Renshaw’s eponymous blog.

All Saints Day

Here are some quotations on which to reflect as you consider the All Saints Day, courtesy of Joshua Hearne:
“It can be said, as a general rule, that the greatest saints are seldom the ones whose piety is most evident in their expression when they are kneeling at prayer, and that the holiest men in a monastery are almost never the ones who get that exalted look, on feast days, in the choir. The people who gaze up at Our Lady’s statue with glistening eyes are very often the ones with the worst tempers.” ~Thomas Merton

“This is the standard New Testament designation for saints: the forgiven, who know it, act upon it and live by grace without angling for stained-glass-window status.” ~F. Dean Lueking

“Being a Christian is one of the few things in life you cannot or should not try to do alone; we need help from all the saints–dead and alive, crazy and normal, known and unknown, and especially the everyday, ordinary believers.” ~Daniel Clendenin

“In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a pocket handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.” ~Frederick Buechner

“In our era many believe you can be a Christian without the church, and perhaps you can be a better Christian without the hypocritical complications of church life. But the saints urge us to be in the church, engaged with other Christians in prayer, worship, and service. The church has a book, a set of prayers and practices, and its saints; it is our privilege to be shaped by its treasury. The church is a place where we can stand. The church supports us, ennobles, and encourages us.” ~James C. Howell

“Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.” ~Oscar Wilde“Holiness is the very principle of eternal life, the very beginning of eternal life in the heart, and that which will certainly grow up to eternal life.” ~Jeremiah Burroughs

September 2014 Biblical Studies Carnival

Posted now at Cataclysmic.

The August 2014 Biblical Studies Carnival

…is now posted for your reading pleasure at Rob Bradshaw’s Biblical Studies Blog.

Something You Can Do for Liberia’s Ebola Crisis

Care for One Hundred is a response to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, especially Liberia. On August 13, 2014, the World Health Organization identified Liberia as the new epicenter of the crisis. That means that Liberia is the nation where the most new cases of Ebola are showing up.

Given the depressed Liberian economy, most Liberians subsist on one meal a day. We have calculated that for less than $0.35 a day we can provide one good meal of rice and beans. Provisions also will include oil and seasoning. For $1,000 USD we can Care for One Hundred for one month.

Five Reasons Progressive Christians Secretly Love Mark Driscoll

Christian Piatt is refreshingly honest about this:

  1. He helps us define who we are.
  2. He distracts us from working on ourselves.
  3. He gives us causes to rally around.
  4. He serves as a common enemy.
  5. His shortcomings are obvious.

See also a few words of evangelical commentary from Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk.

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