Dear Ecumenical Humorists:

The holiday season makes us especially appreciate all men of good will, so today I as a Protestant want to call attention to a delightful new book of Catholic humor by a Jewish writer. The book is Cracks in the Steeple (World, 1967, $3.50) by Gerry Blumenfeld. Its four-sentence foreword has been contributed by that political funnyman, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Here are some of the shorter cracks discovered by Blumenfeld:

• Asked how many people worked in the Vatican, Pope John XXIII answered good—naturedly, “About half.”

• A little Italian priest sat in Yankee Stadium when Pope Paul VI addressed the vast assembly. The priest said to his friend, “Isn’t it wonderful, at last, to have an Italian at second base!”

• After TV star Garry Moore received an award, he paid tribute to his writers. When Bishop Fulton Sheen next came forward to accept his award, he announced, “I also want to pay tribute to my four writers—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”

• When little Margaret returned from church school she asked her father when their new baby would talk. He told her not for two years, since little babies don’t talk. Said Margaret, “Oh, yes they do. Even in the Bible they did.” “Who did?” asked the father. She replied, “Sister read the Bible to us this morning, and I heard with my own ears when she said Job cursed the day he was born.”

• Ten-year-old Peter was very interested in Bible studies. He asked his parents: “Which virgin was Christ’s mother—the Virgin Mary or the King James virgin?”

• A man advertised in the local paper to sell the Venetian blind that covered his picture window but neglected to tell his wife. The next day the doorbell rang and a woman announced, “I’ve come for the Venetian blind.” “Can you come back next week,” suggested the wife, “because we’ve just given to Catholic Charities.”

How about contributing to the Eutychus III charities by telling me about the farcical happenings in your part of the religious world? If men of diverse religious viewpoints can chuckle together over follies common to the religious species, maybe there’s hope that more of us can come together on the basis of the joyous truth of the Gospel.




I think you are hitting the right target when you go after the NCC and its revolutionary strategy (“NCC Hosts the Radicals,” News, Nov. 10, and “Too Bad About Detroit,” Editorial, Nov. 24). They are to be commended for their frankness, and what we see is the logical outcome of years of preparation. The utter bankruptcy of their cause and lack of spiritual dynamic is apparent for all to see. They employ situational ethics—that the end justifies the means—and forget that nowhere did the Lord Jesus use force or encourage force. They violate the concept of voluntarism. Even Paul, when he rebuked churches, did not use his apostolic office to force them. He used moral persuasion.… The glory of the early Church was its victory over Caesar by sacrifice, martyrdom—but never by force.

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Professor of Bible

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Ill.

I have looked in the New Testament for the Christ who made no economic pronouncements, did not disrupt public life, never challenged practices used by governments nor engaged in civil disobedience. Perhaps if I look long enough I shall find him.…

In denouncing the Detroit conference, kindly refrain from placing guns in the hands of all “liberals” and NCC affiliates. We will try to avoid lumping you together with the most radical and unsavory of the self-styled “evangelicals.”


Franklin Grove, Ill.

Perhaps there is blessing in disguise. A few more such unchristian meetings sponsored by such unchristian people in the name of the National Council of Christian Churches should awaken the sleeping majority to what the irresponsible minority is trying to do.

Too bad that the conciliar church has become a sounding board for those who are opposed to what Christianity is all about. Too bad there isn’t a two-party system in the NCC, because it is high time that the conservative element should be in the saddle. Maybe Detroit will help?


Director, Literature Department

American Sunday-School Union

Philadelphia, Pa.

Is there a rather definite parallel between the total of the race conflicts and the total of the American Revolution? Was not the “Boston Tea Party” a rather definite economic upset against English business at the time? And did not the English government call out the “federal troops” to quell the riot? And had they been successful would not America still be considered a dependent race, a minority group, etc.? Following this line, would not a good solution to the problem be to avoid a split by welding the Negro into the white as an equal where he has equal ability and qualifications?


Upper Sandusky, Ohio.


CHRISTIANITY TODAY rightly points to an emergent anomaly in Detroit (Church and Society Conference) (“The Violent New Breed,” Editorial, Nov. 24): force viewed as deplorable in Viet Nam, violence somehow justifiable at home. By what measuring stick does one arrive at such judgments? For the objection apparently is not to violence as such, but only to violence at certain times or at certain places.

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But there is the old stone-throwing problem for people in glass houses. Isn’t CHRISTIANITY TODAY caught in the same anomaly, only in reverse form—violence is justifiable in Viet Nam but deplorable at home? And again, what is the measuring stick? If “fallen man’s lot” means grin and bear it domestically, why not internationally? Conversely, if human depravity compels us to accept or resort to violence internationally, can’t the same case be made in domestic injustice?

I do not speak from a “plague-on-both-your-houses” stance. God only knows the depth and complexity of all these problems, and the puniness of all our proposals. Actually few people at Detroit were prepared to take the extreme position. Yet there is consistency, even in such a position. After all, “liberal” Protestants assume that norms must emerge historically with a somehow oblique relationship to Holy Writ. Nothing in the formula prevents a conclusion (which might be mistaken, nonetheless, on historical, tactical, etc., grounds) that violence in Viet Nam is wrong but right in the ghetto. “Evangelicals,” on the other hand, postulate a straight line from Scripture, and it remains an enigma as to how one gets from Jesus (assuming an evangelical Christology) to napalm in the jungles of Viet Nam. If the nature of the problem makes the difference, then how does one distinguish evangelicals from liberals?


Assoc. Prof. of Sociology

The Catholic University of America

Washington, D. C.

• While the Bible nowhere authorizes use of power for unlimited destruction, it does approve the state’s use of force to restrain injustice. It does not approve the Church’s use of force for political objectives. There is a wide difference between the use of force where solution by persuasion and law is deliberately repudiated, and the use of violence where reliance on persuasion and jurisprudence remains a live option.—ED.

The cartoon on the cover, showing a gleeful man in clerical collar with a newly-arrived Tommy gun in hand, throws an underhanded, unchristian blow at the social-action movement in our churches.… Your cartoonist would do well to reread the ninth commandment.


Kettering, Ohio

Why not let CHRISTIANITY TODAY become a real place for dialogue among evangelicals for a more constructive advance of the faith? For example, you give only small reference to the EFMA report that “the evangelical mind-set … has inhibited constructive thought and action” (“Evangelicals Inhibited,” News, Nov. 24). That is what should have been headlined on your cover instead of that dubious cartoon cover of “New Breed violence”! This dialogue could be a positive contribution to a recovery of sanity and intellectual integrity within the evangelical camp, instead of this sick “I hate the liberals” campaign which seems to be so prevalent in many evangelical journals!

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Hamburg, Germany


Dr. D. Elton Trueblood’s thesis (i.e., denominational loyalties are now irrelevant and outmoded) (“Post-Denominational Christianity,” Nov. 24) may be an accurate observation on the times, but to approve such a situation almost uncritically is, to my thinking, inexcusable. Had major denominational differences been resolved or reduced through careful scriptural study and struggle, the resulting rapprochement would be a victory for truth. But current evangelical “couldn’t-care-less” attitudes toward major issues that divided the churches are spiritual decline rather than advance.


Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America

Cambridge, Mass.

Sorry to report that I was not charmed by Dr. Trueblood’s statement that “when people move from one neighborhood to another, they now change their denominational affiliation with ease and with no agony of decision.” This utterance did however rejuvenate my memory about the gentleman who was in the habit of rotating from one church group to another. One day he asked his present pastor what he thought about his joining another church. “I think it’s all right in your case,” he advised. “You see, it never hurts to change the label on an empty bottle.”


Colorado Springs, Colo.

I enjoy Dr. Elton Trueblood’s articles appearing in CHRISTIANITY TODAY from time to time.


Warrensburg, N. Y.


I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of the editorial, (“300 Years After ‘Paradise Lost’ ” Nov. 24)—the references to the greatness of Milton and his work, C. S. Lewis, and other “strongly Christian” writers. I envied their competence, their success, and lamented their passing.

The conservative Christian (Protestant) is handicapped as a writer. It has become a major achievement to secure either publisher or reader, virtually an impossibility, in fact.…

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Have you noted the pattern of degeneration in all of man’s creative endeavours? Formlessness, rootlessness, purposelessness are snowballing in all areas of thought. This seems very plain during the past several hundred years; and in our time I find it frightening.… Thank you so much for your last sentence about “… conveying a sense of timeless values and a glimpse of God’s compassion and benevolent intervention in time for man’s salvation.”


Meade, Kan.


It is good to know that the Holy Spirit did not retire or go on an extended vacation (“Fanning the Charismatic Fire,” News, Nov. 24).…

The statement … by David du Plessis is not factual. We have taught and preached that the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” listed in Galatians 5:22, 23 are the real proof-producers of a Spirit-filled life … First Corinthians 13 particularly emphasizes the great foundation principle upon which a Spirit-filled Christian’s life must be governed and based. We don’t think we have “arrived” because we speak in tongues.… There is a good deal of heart-searching going on in our constituency. We find that there is a great desire to have as the result of all our efforts for Christ, “that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.”


The Assemblies of God Church

Eagle Bend, Minn.

What was the context of David J. du Plessis’s statement? “Arrived” at the ultimate of Christian experience, or “arrived” at the threshold of a glorious New Testament experience of the life in the Spirit? If it’s the latter, I think he was quoted rightly. If the former alone, I think his statement was used to impugn the marvel of the glorious Pentecostal baptism which makes spiritual life truly meaningful.…

If you are going to quote one linguist on the nature of speaking in tongues as “nonsense” … wouldn’t it be fair to quote other authorities who roundly disagree with his conclusion? Don’t try to “laugh us out of court” just because you can’t explain us away. Pentecostals have been here … since the Day of Pentecost, and please God, we’ll be here until Jesus comes.


First Assembly of God

Taft, Calif.

The report … states: “Campus Crusade for Christ forbids its 1,100 staffers to speak in tongues, even in private devotions.” In First Corinthians 14:39b the Apostle Paul writes: “Forbid not to speak with tongues.”

It is apparent that there were two excesses in the early Church regarding tongues. There was the excess of the wrong or inappropriate use of this genuine gift. In First Corinthians 14, Paul seeks to correct this—but not to eradicate tongues, one of nine gifts that are “inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”

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The other excess was to forbid the use of this gift. But Paul goes so far as to say, “I would that you all spoke with tongues …”

The Lord Jesus once reproved the scribes by asking, “Why do you by your tradition make the word of God of none effect?” Both fire and electricity are dangerous. We do not escape the danger by banning them, but by using them lawfully. Let us not quench the Holy Spirit. Let us not put his fire out.


New York, N. Y.


Having had a few such experiences myself, I enjoyed your news summary, “Most Missionary Tales Have a Happy Landing” (Nov. 10). However … I am afraid that others who do not know the Missionary Aviation Fellowship operation will be misled into thinking that they are the ones Elden Rawlings referred to. The reference to “World War II-vintage” DC-3 planes clearly leaves out missionary operation, especially MAF, and demonstrates that it is referring to small, local, commercial airlines.

The reference to the first MAF crash at the head of the article is, I believe, the misleading factor, in spite of your praise of them in your article. I am sure that you will want to make sure that no false impressions are created concerning MAF. They are a real top-notch outfit in every way.


Coco Solo, Canal Zone

• Agreed.—ED.


Lord, I told them things they wanted to hear,

Safe things to say to college students:

That Birchites and fundamentalists are bad;

That sex is good;

The Establishment is the cause of everyone’s trouble;

The answer to the “root causes” of the world’s problems

Is to overthrow institutions;

And all it takes for people to do the good

Is for them to know they should.

Lord, I didn’t tell them what they didn’t want to hear:

That the trouble with the world isn’t simply

With oppressive structures and citizens of status quo;

The trouble with life is us;

That somehow although we know we shouldn’t be the way we are,

We still are,

And without your help we don’t really have the strength

To be any different;

That Jesus Christ was something more

Than a social revolutionary;

Somehow his life, death, and resurrection speaks

Directly to our plight of fear, weakness, and selfishness.

Lord, I told them what they wanted to hear,

And not what they needed to hear,

Because 1 wanted them—

I needed them—

To “dig” me.

Am I running from you, Jesus?


Baptist Campus Minister

West Virginia University

Morgantown, W. Wa.

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