Tomorrow Arrives; Substance X Departs
When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was "Tales of Tomorrow", on for 2 or 3 years in the early 1950's. Watched on our black & white 12" Dumont TV with FM and Aircraft Radio bands between channels 6 and 7 on the analog tuner.
The show itself was an anthology, in which the cast was the same most of the time, but they had a different part and setting each week. There were a lot of anthologies on, back then.
I remember the details of exactly one episode, entitled simply "Substance X". It was an interesting concept, that episode. It seems a man from a small town in Wisconsin (as I recall) had left to become a scientist, and returned home with a revolutionary new food. It looked like a brick of Velveeta, and you'd pinch off a bit of it and eat it. It tasted exactly like whatever you wanted it to.
Think of a big juicy steak, chomp on some of Substance X, and you'd taste the world's best steak.
Envision eating some strawberry shortcake (like I did with son Brad & daughter-in-law Connie at their home this evening) and bingo ... you'd taste strawberry shortcake.
The scientist moved into a small house and gave this stuff out to anybody who came and asked. Shortly, the entire town was dining on Substance X every meal. That continued until one young lady got tired of that and grabbed an apple or some such, and tried to eat it.
It tasted terrible. She could not even swallow it, it was so foul-tasting. She then tried every other food she could find, with the same results.
She started asking other folks to try some normal food and they all said the same thing. Everyone, without exception, said normal food ... ALL of it ... now tasted so bad they could not eat it. None. Never. Nada. What had started as a seemingly benevolent experiment had turned into an unbreakable addiction. The show ended in a poignant scene where the young lady, broken, showed up at the good doctor's door and said "I'm hungry".
From where I sit, something akin to that has been happening in the SBC. The organization, formed to serve the local churches, has quietly assumed the role of exclusive chef for however many churches and members the SBC actually has. That was easy to do, as we welcomed those guys several hundred miles to write SS material, tell us what we believed (can you say 95% deny tongues?), who ought to lead us, who ought to qualify for what, etc etc ad nauseum.
WELL. Tomorrow seems to have arrived. It's today, now, and folks are losing their taste for spiritual Substance X. We no longer have to see the good doctor to find good food. Truth be known, we never really did have to, but we did it anyway. Owing to the internet, and some vocal people, and a new generation of young'uns whose hearts are not wedded to the SBC, the good doctor has been challenged.
Case in point: The Lifeway Study. I have no doubt that the survey is a lot closer to the truth than the oft-quoted 95%, and the survey results reflect about what I'd expect them to. But I mostly just talk to ordinary folks out here, so I'm not privy to what the good doctor might know. I guess.
I wonder how many cases there are like the one I experienced. I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Alabama Baptist, stating what I thought about the then-new IMB rules/prohibitions/guidelines re: PPL's (a term with which I still disagree, but that's another story that nobody want to hear) and missionary candidates. The AB published it, and I got a call from a local pastor. It seems his wife has a PPL, and the IMB's pronouncement had made her feel disenfranchised. He called me to thank me for writing that letter; he said it had really helped his wife.
And I wonder how many stories like that will never be told, or how many folks there are out there, who feel the same way. Maybe the problem isn't that we don't hear enough from the ivory towers; perhaps it is that the ivory towers don't hear enough from the grass roots. Or don't want to. Or both.
I commented on Wade Burleson's blog, that "Pleasing everybody pleases nobody". Until we find a way to change that human tendency, we'll always have one camp that thinks tongues is ok, and one that doesn't. And that's going to spell two teams, or I'm a monkey's uncle.
I have to go now. Time to toss a banana to my nephew in his tree.