First of all, does James Dobson not have anybody in his organization that can take the man behind closed doors and testify:
ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR BONEY-ASS POWER-HUNGRY EAR-BLEEDING MONO-MANIACAL MIND?
I say that based on what I first picked up in Krumm-ville about Dobson claiming that Fred ‘Gasm’ Thompson isn’t a Christian in the particular Christian ghetto currently sheltering the ‘world leader pretend’. Apparently sycophants-r’-us supplies Mr. D with his aides-d-camp.
I kind of like old Fred. He’s an honest plain-spoken man who seems to be enjoying his flirtation with the elephant race that seems like it started about three minutes after the last election. Part of his appeal right now is that he is not the other guys and doesn’t have to stake out any positions or say much of anything other than dispensing judicial folk-medicine on a weekly basis on Law and Order.
All of that is to say I noticed something extremely interesting in the defense proffered by Thompson’s spokesman after Dobson’s dictum.
“Thompson is indeed a Christian,” he said. “He was baptized into the Church of Christ.”
Considering that I am a product of the church of Christ for lo, many many many years, I’ve got insight that all you non-saved heathens* might not understand.
Being baptized in the traditional church of Christ (I think things have changed in many C of C’s.) back in the day was one scary experience for most of us. The culmination of the experience was walking the aisle up to the front of the auditorium with everybody staring and then being immersed after donning a gown suitable for the occasion.
But, this was, as I said, the culmination. The C of C doesn’t believe in infant baptism. Nope…you gotta choose it yourself when you reach the mysterious ‘age of accountability**’. That magical age may be reached at age 9 for the really precocious bible -snappers or as late as age 16 for someone who really really didn’t like being pressured.
After you are deemed to have reached the age of accountability, the older women who gave you candy during the pre-accountible years are suddenly giving you ‘those looks’ during the invitation song that occurs after every freaking sermon. If you were unlucky enough to be trapped after the service by one of these drive-by biddies, you were implored to consider the consequences of not heeding the call***.
As the age of accountibility grew long in the tooth and the call went unanswered, the looks, the stares, the admonishments, and those horrid gospel meetings stretched endlessly until every waking church-related moment seemed to be a movie where the protagonist is trapped in one of those houses where the doors have been hermetically sealed and every creak is as ominous as a scream in the basement.
Needless to say, I caved. I did want to do the ‘right thing’, so I made a pact with several of my teenage-lifeboat crew..we’d all go down the aisle together. Luckily for me, a meteor did not tear into the roof of the church setting me and my fellow procrastinators ablaze before we made the necessary vow.
All of this is to say, that you get a LOT of attention BEFORE you make that committed walk down the aisle. Once you’ve made the leap, you get the smiles and the warmth, but you are no longer a point of focus. The church brigade now has other fish to de-bone.
I don’t know if it’s going to take the 15th verse of ‘Just as I Am’ for Fred to come strolling down the aisle, but I do know that if Fred’s C of C life was anything like mine, the pressure he is feeling now is certainly reminiscent of an earlier day.
You want to do what is right, but you just have to wonder if there’s not a better way to do it….you know what I mean?
One thing that Thompson’s spokesman may not realize is that the C of C doesn’t really believed in the ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine. You can screw the pooch and drop out of the salvation bucket. Of course, you can always go forward again…but, I think we’ve already covered that one.
*uh, that would be some church of Christ sarcasm. There’s an old chestnut of a joke that when St. Peter is giving the tour of heaven to the newly inducted that he asks them to be quiet and tip-toe when they pass a certain room. When asked why, he explains that the room is for the church of Christ folks, and he doesn’t want to spoil their illusion that they are the only ones who made it.
I suspect that there is a similiar Southern Baptist joke.
**That may be a protected trademark phrase..not sure.. Sorry if I’ve infringed on anything.
***Not heeeding the call could possible mean perishing in an untimely fiery car wreck, the flames of which could be a foreshadowing of the heat to come. Or, God could choose to end the world while you were looking at that copy of Playboy you had stashed under your mattress and THEN where would you be??.