1986 Last Word Columns

The Christian and His Money (January 1986) – Every serious Christian I know struggles with the place of money. In fact, when I meet a Christian who does not struggle with it, I wonder just how serious he really is…

The Challenge of Excellence (February 1986) – Psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The older I grow the more I understand those things most private to us are also those things most universal.” Inside each of us is a little person, stretching, striving, looking at the impossible and saying, “I can do that.”…

A Visit in Exile (March 1986) – Nothing had changed — even though it was all different. We sat up late, talking, just as we had done 10 years ago. My wife, Jackie, Dan and Viola Malachuk, and myself. Outside winter winds whistled through the barren trees on the dark New Hampshire mountains. But inside it was just as it had been in those days when Dan and Viola lived in the big house in New Jersey and Dan’s publishing company, Logos International, was the hottest thing going…

Against All Odds (April 1986) – Our other four children seemed normal. Their grades were above average; they had good health; they got along fine with their playmates. Tim was different, however. In many areas he excelled. He could run faster, stay under water longer and climb trees higher than all the others. He was remarkably coordinated with amazing reflexes and a deep instinct for doing the right thing. He made friends with every kid in the neighborhood — especially those who were handicapped or had problems. And animals. He could talk to them. When they talked back, he understood. But he couldn’t read…

The Double Standard (May 1986) – It’s tough, being a citizen of two worlds. When in Rome, some argue, you just do as the Romans do. But I’m not sure that’s what Jesus had in mind when he told us to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…and unto God that which is God’s.” I mean, what do you do when you live in Rome and Judea at the same time?…

The Happiest Day (June 1986) According to my friend Ollie Swenson, who also lives in the country, the second happiest day in his life was the day someone gave him a goat. The happiest day was when the goat ran away…

Chiseled in Crumbling Concrete (July 1986) The idea of taking spiritual inventory for the purpose of considering what part of our religious life needs to be changed — or discarded — is distasteful to most Christians. And heretical to others. We like to believe there are some things so sacred they should never be touched, questioned or changed…

Deliver Us From Sock-Gobblers (August 1986) – After years of theological debate, I have finally discerned we have a sock-gobbler in our washing machine. In short, my machine is possessed by a demon…

Honor to Whom Honor… (September 1986) – My old friend Frank Gray, small-town Episcopal priest with whom I used to sit over a cup of coffee and crack jokes about pompous bishops, has just been elected to the establishment. He’s just become the bishop of Northern Indiana. I wrote him a condolence letter…

A Small Tribute (October 1986) – I can take you to the exact place, and re-enact the exact scene where 19 years ago this month, the lights flickered back on in my life…

The Strike-em-Dead Wave (November 1986) – When U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan stood to give his outdoor commencement address at Loyola-Marymount Law School in Los Angeles last spring, he was interrupted by a low-flying airplane. The plane was pulling a huge banner which read, “Pray for Death: Baby-killer Brennan…”

Movin’ in a Slow Hurry (December 1986) – I grew up under the tutorage of a wonderful old Southern “black mammy” named Willie Mae McGriff. She was an intimate part of our family for more than 30 years. It was she who taught me the art of being in what she called a slow hurry