Unexpected Satire

When I was in Chattanooga a couple weeks ago visiting family, I went downtown on Saturday afternoon with my mom, my sister, and her fiancé to walk around and enjoy the weather. Walking thru Coolidge park, we passed a used book store that I hadn’t noticed before, A Novel Idea, so I ducked in for a couple minutes. I walked out with these books:

  • Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic – Reinhold Niebuhr
  • I’ve heard different passages quoted from this before, so it should be fun to read through.

  • The Cloister Walk– Kathleen Norris
  • I loved hearing Kathleen Norris speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing last month, so I had planned on buying Dakota, her book that I’ve heard talked about most. Since The Cloister Walk was all they had, I went ahead and bought it and was later glad I did when I found out that it has inspired some of Eric Peter’s songs.

  • An Island in the Lake of Fire – Bob Jones University, Fundamentalism & the Separatist movement – Mark Taylor Dalhouse
  • Written by an historian, I was intrigued at this look at my mom’s alma mater, a place where I spent several weeks during my high school years at various music competitions and other events. I bought it because he addresses the well-publicized split between the Joneses and my great grandfather, John R. Rice, over the issue of secondary separation. It looks like it will be an interesting read.

    And lastly,

  • When Skeletons Come out of their Closets! – Eleven greatly used sermons by Dr. John R. Rice
  • I’m trying to build up a collection of my Great Grandfather’s books, so whenever I come across one in a used bookstore I buy it. This one, a collection of his sermons, was first published in 1943. The copy I found is from the fourth printing, in May of 1969, after the first 23,000 copies were gone; I don’t know how many more printings there were of it. I’ve skimmed through it some this week, and in one sermon, America Gets Back Her Scrap Iron (written early in World War II), I came across some unexpected satire that I thought was great:

    How wicked the Japanese are! We sold them millions of pounds of scrap iron with which to make bombs and guns and ammunition and tanks and warships; but we had a clear understanding that they were to kill helpless Chinese with them. And now, after murdering something over a million Chinese, mostly innocent non-combatants, women and children who could not help themselves nor fight back, Japan has now begun to kill Americans with our own scrap iron! How wicked, how sinful are the Japanese, to kill armed American soldiers and sailors, instead of killing helpless Chinese as the understanding was when we sold them the scrap iron along with the airplanes, the oil and some of the bombs to do it with!

    Now, of course, the rest of the chapter contains exactly what I expected, like this line, “France can trace her startling, sudden fall largely to an alcoholized army and a wine-sodden people. Shall America get by with the same sin?”

    And a couple more excerpts, typical of other things I’ve read from him before:

    Every Christian must be a Christian patriot for God and country. I believe we should back up our government in the war with our earnest efforts, our money, our toil, our prayers, and if necessary, with our lives. The decadent pacifism of the modernist, of the pink professors, is not the Christian attitude of Bible Christians.

    No doubt the curse of God on our country, the war and all the dangers we face, are largely because of the great majority of people who do not know God, who never pray earnestly in Christ’s name, who do not love the Lord Jesus, who will not have Him as Lord. Every lost sinner is a Christ-rejector, an alien from God, a child of wrath, following his father, the devil. And on such a nation as ours, composed principally of Christ-rejecting sinners, God must bring judgment if we do not repent!

    Now if I can just find enough time to read all these…

    2 thoughts on “Unexpected Satire”

    1. Just read the wikipedia entry on your grandfather. The mid-1900’s was a fascinating time in the history of the American church. With my current post-modern tendencies, it’s hard to imagine where/how I’d fit in with it all – my grandfather was a baptist pastor in Gurdon, Arkansas – I’m now trying to research more information about him and his ministry…. got any tips for me?

    2. Dean, I’d try to find books that were written about prominent Baptist pastors and issues facing Baptists in Arkansas during the same time as your grandfather’s ministry. I’ve been lucky in being able to read a couple different doctrinal theses focusing on one issue or another related to my great-grandfather’s ministry, but have also learned more about why he made decisions he did and why he chose the sermon topics he did by finding out more about other things happening in American religion during that era.

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