By Lewis Willis
People give me some of the strangest things. Some time ago someone passed along to me a promotional letter from Anne Keating, of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She was promoting the magazine Smithsonian. She asked a question, “Is Smithsonian magazine for you?” She then answered, “You bet we are! We’re for everything in the whole, wide world that’s beautiful, unusual, exciting, elegant, adventurous, daring, different.” Sounds like some churches I know.
She then discussed some of their up-coming articles. They’re going to dig for diamonds in southwest Africa, jet to London to meet a certain lady, teach your body to program your brain, worship the Indian god Shiva, journey to remote baboon Island and second guess Mother Nature.
But one item especially captured my imagination. Here it is: “Howl like a wolf, sing like a whale! Join the extraordinary Paul Winter Concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, where the sounds of animals and instruments are blended to remind us all of Man’s harmony with nature.”
I knew we had missed something! Everyone knows that the apostle Paul traveled the ancient Roman Empire encouraging people to assemble with their animals to discover their harmony with nature. I can hardly wait for the elders to schedule this activity for us at Brown Street. I’ve got a gallon-sized pup named “Texas” that should be the highlight of such a worship. His favorite pastime is chewing on my arm. He and I could really demonstrate harmony with nature. He could chew on me and I could chew on him! And everyone could go away saying, “It was good to be here.”
I don’t know how we missed this activity in the New Testament. It reminds me of a Michigan priest who invited his parishioners to bring their pets to him to be “blessed.” I was just thinkin’ – since our brethren pick up on practically everything the denominational world does, how long do you think it will be before you read of such an activity among the more “progressive” churches of Christ?
I suppose we would like to think that such activities are found in New York City or Los Angeles. Don’t kid yourself! St. Paul’s Episcopal church here in Akron recently mailed a folder throughout the city. It explained, “Inside this folder we’ve outlined some of the spiritual and educational opportunities which begin this Fall – opportunities you’ll find nowhere else”. I was surely glad to read that they won’t be forced anywhere else. These great spiritual (?) learning opportunities available at St. Paul’s include “hay rides, Halloween party, ice-skating, sledding, canoe trips, swimming parties.” I mean to tell you, these things build strong spirituality! They explain, “We try to make growing up a great spiritual adventure!” Maybe I missed something somewhere, but I never associated these activities with “spiritual” anything! With people everywhere re-defining terminology, I guess you can just define it anyway you want to. But, if by their definition, this is “spiritual,” I wonder how they define “carnal” (1 Cor. 3: 1).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 3, p. 74
February 2, 1984