Monthly Archives: August 2020

WINGSPREAD Ezine for August, 2020


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

August, 2020                                    James P. Hurd    

Please forward this Ezine to anyone. Thank you.

Contents

New story: The Great Debate

Wingspread reader challenge

Puzzler of the month

Writer’s Corner

How to purchase Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying

Wingspread Ezine subscription information

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New story: The Great Debate

. . . Sean knew that TBI housed speakers on Norbert Hall’s sixth floor, but still he was surprised when he walked into the elevator and almost bumped into a scowling G. Victor McGraw. Sean stood transfixed, feeling like Moses gazing at the burning bush. But this “bush” didn’t say anything, except: “I’m going to first floor,” spoken as if someone had put sand in his toothpaste. In his sixties, gray-haired, furrowed brow, he exuded the demeanor of a man of God. He didn’t look at Sean as they descended, but when they exited the elevator, he broke wind.

Sean had loved to listen to McGraw’s radio messages—“Dear friends, all people on the topside of God’s earth need salvation. . . .” In his TBI chapel talk, he seemed the epitome of charm and grace. Sean wondered which man was the real G. Victor McGraw. . . . To read more, click here: https://jimhurd.com/2020/08/10/the-great-debate/

(*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

New Challenge for our Ezine readers!

Send in the name of one of your all-time favorite books (author and complete title) and one sentence telling why it is your favorite. I’ll publish some of these in the next Wingspread Ezine.

Puzzler of the month:

(From Malcolm Ross McDonald) I will use a fountain pen with black ink and write my signature on a plain, blank paper, anywhere on the paper. Now, I will draw something else on the paper which will be plainly visible.

When you look at my signature through a magnifying glass, you’ll not be surprised to find out that it’s enlarged. But when you look at the other thing, it is NOT enlarged. The question is: What is the other thing? (Answer next week.)

Answer to last week’s puzzler: 

You have a four-ounce glass and a nine-ounce glass. You have an endless supply of water. You can fill or dump either glass. It turns out that it’s possible to measure six ounces of water using just these two glasses. What’s the fewest number of steps in which you can measure six ounces?

First, fill the 9-ounce glass with water.

Next, pour the water from the 9-ounce glass into the 4-ounce glass, until it is full. This leaves 5 ounces in the 9-ounce glass.

Now empty the 4-ounce glass.

Now, fill the 4-ounce glass, using the remaining water from the 9-ounce glass. Once the 4-ounce glass is filled, you’ll be left with just 1-ounce of water in the 9-ounce glass.

Empty the 4-ounce glass of water again.

Transfer the 1-ounce of water from the 9-ounce glass into the 4-ounce glass.

Again, fill the 9-ounce glass with water.

Pour water from the 9-ounce glass into the 4-ounce glass, until the 4-ounce glass is full.

Since the four-ounce glass already has 1-ounce of water in it, it will only take an additional 3-ounces of water. Guess how much that leaves in the 9-ounce glass? You

Writers’ Corner

Author of the Month:  James Albert Michener was born in 1907 and lived for ninety years. His breakout novel, Tales of the South Pacific, later became a motion picture. Some of his other novels: HawaiiThe DriftersCentennialThe SourceThe Fires of SpringChesapeakeCaribbeanCaravansAlaska, and Texas. Many of his books are multigenerational, with long time spans in one geographic area. He donated millions of dollars to Swarthmore College; the University of Texas, Austin; and the Iowa Writers Workshop. A postal stamp was issued in his honor in 2008.

Watch for my upcoming novel: East Into Unbelief (provisional title). Kathleen’s mother raises her in a Fundamentalist hot-house environment. But then, disaster. How can her mother accept Kathleen’s choices? And how can her boyfriend, Sean, ever forgive her?

Words to ponder

Now that we’re into our seventh month of fighting COVID-19, I’ve got some thoughts and questions:

What you’re telling me is that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?

So lemme see, there’s no cure for a virus that can be killed by sanitizer and hand soap?

Is it too early to put up the Christmas tree? I’ve run out of things to do.

When this virus thing is over with, I still want some of you to stay away from me.

If these last months have taught us anything, it’s that stupidity travels faster than any virus on the planet.

Wait a second—what you’re telling me is that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?

People are scared of getting fined or arrested for congregating in crowds, as if catching a deadly disease and dying a horrible death wasn’t enough of a deterrent.

If you believe all this will end and we will get back to normal just because we reopen everything, raise your hand. Now slap yourself with it.

Another Saturday night in the house and I just realized the trash goes out more often than I do.

Whoever decided a liquor store is more essential than a hair salon is obviously a bald-headed alcoholic.

The spread of Covid-19 is based on two factors: a. How dense the population is and b. How dense the population is.

Did a big load of pajamas so I would have enough clean work clothes for this week.

It may take a village to raise a child, but I swear it’s going to take a whole vineyard to home-school one.

Remember all those times when you wished the weekend would last forever? Well, wish granted. Happy now?

And another gem for our Catholic friends:

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.) 

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

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The Great Debate

The next Monday Sean left his dorm room and headed for chapel. Because TBI stood tall as a Fundamentalist breeding ground, chapel drew internationally-known speakers with names such as Olford, Redpath, Barnhouse. (When Barnhouse spoke, he bellowed, being used to preaching before microphones came along.) These speakers not only deepened student faith but modeled good preaching for TBI’s aspiring pastors. Scheduled to give the sermon that day was the famous G. Victor McGraw.

His friend Darrell told Sean, “G. Victor McGraw broadcasts a syndicated radio program all across the nation. He’s spoken several times at Torrey Church. And Dr. Clearson studied under him at Dallas Seminary. He’s huge.” Sean couldn’t wait to hear him.

Sean knew that TBI housed speakers on Norbert Hall’s sixth floor, but still he was surprised when he walked into the elevator and almost bumped into a scowling G. Victor McGraw. Sean stood transfixed, feeling like Moses gazing at the burning bush. But this “bush” didn’t say anything, except: “I’m going to first floor,” spoken as if someone had put sand in his toothpaste. In his sixties, gray-haired, furrowed brow, he exuded the demeanor of a man of God. He didn’t look at Sean as they descended, but when they exited the elevator, he broke wind.

Sean loved to listen to McGraw’s radio messages—“Dear friends, all people on the topside of God’s earth need salvation. . . .” In his TBI chapel talk, he seemed the epitome of charm and grace. Sean wondered which man was the real G. Victor McGraw.

He had another celebrity encounter that fall. Jack Parker served as the popular radio pastor of Los Angeles’ redoubtable Church of the Open Door—the church Kathy had attendedwhen she was at Biola. Parker was almost as well-known as McGraw, and spoke internationally at conferences. On the way to hear Parker, Sean stopped by Smith Hall bathroom and walked up to a urinal, being careful to leave an empty one between himself and the next guy. Out of the corner of his eye he saw—Jack Parker!

He’d shriveled before G. Victor McGraw, but resolved to do better with Parker. He still believed that if he could find the right pastor or theologian, he could silence his biggest doubts, answer his most burning questions, strengthen his faith. He decided to risk it.

“Dr. Parker, I’ve got a question. Is this a bad time?”

Dr. Parker glanced up frowning, then focused on Sean. (Both men continued to pee.)

 “I was wondering, if God knows the destiny of all people even before they’re born, why do we worry about saving people?”

Dr. Parker finished and zipped up. “We cannot know whom God has predestined, but our testimony to them may be part of God’s plan.” Then he washed his hands and walked out.

As he left Sean thought, I really botched that opportunity. Hmmm . . . He didn’t convince me. How can anybody believe people are predestined anyway, that they have no choice in salvation? How would you even “sell” this doctrine to your friends? Fundamentalists were always on the alert for sales tips; evangelization was important. He’d failed many times trying to sell Fundamentalism to others.

He walked over to chapel, initialed the sign-in sheet, entered the large Moody-Sankey auditorium with its seats rising toward the back, and took his seat next to Connie, who wore shorter skirts about one inch shorter than average. Like all men, he had a catholic attraction to women¾generic; not specific. When she slouched, he could see her knees and smell her perfume, perfume like his sister wore. “Hi, Connie. You won’t believe who I just bumped into in the bathroom—Jack Parker! I can’t wait to hear what he says today.” If it got boring, he thought, he could keep awake by looking sideways at Connie’s knees.

It wasn’t just Parker’s preaching about predestination that troubled Sean; it was the doctrine of eternal security (once God “saves” you, you never lose your salvation). These arcane doctrines formed the center of Fundamentalist teaching and had been elevated to a test of one’s faith. He turned to focus on Dr. Parker. Good sermon, but it left Sean with many questions.

Dr. Meacham, Sean’s instructor in his John and Acts class, was a fresh DMin graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a crisp lecturer. He’d organized a class debate on John 15—Resolved: John 15 teaches that a person can lose their salvation. The argument hinged on seeing Christ as the vine, and his followers the branches. Branches that yielded no fruit were “broken off” and thrown into the fire.

Did that mean a person could fall away, lose salvation? Sean wondered. When Meacham asked for volunteer debaters, Sean raised his hand and took the “Opposed” position, along with Jenny, a girl he didn’t know. Two other students took the “Support” position. He spent hours in preparation, consulting commentaries, seeking cross-references. The night before the great debate day he lay tossing on his bed, grinding his teeth—had he prepared enough?

The day of the debate, each of the four students presented their case. Sean’s hands felt clammy. He and Jenny emphasized God’s sovereignty to choose and his faithfulness to keep the branches. Their opponents emphasized the plain-language meaning of the text—clearly, the branches could be broken off and burned, so a person could lose his salvation. Then the class voted. When five students voted for the “Opposed” side and thirty “Support,” Meacham expressed frustration that so many students questioned eternal security. Sean and Jenny had lost.

Sean felt disappointed they hadn’t won, but he guessed why. Even here in a TBI classroom, he’d failed in defending eternal security—probably because he had never even convinced himself it was true. He wondered what Kathy thought about eternal security. He thought a lot about Kathy, but felt guilty that his fantasies, his dreams, centered on Betty. He grew more depressed and confused.