"AS I SEE
Volume 4, Number 3, March, 2001
["As I See It" is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor's perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
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There are few things I find more
generally offensive than when some self-absorbed, self-important media talking
head such as Barbara Walters slobbers all over herself in describing the Kennedy
family of Massachusetts as "America's Royal family." We are assured by
these overpaid, over-exposed and overbearing yammerers that we Americans have a
long-standing fascination, even obsession, with the Kennedys and that we are
ever waiting as fawning courtiers on the edges of our seats with abated breath
to hear the latest about this Camelot-come-to-life.
I find this revolting, nauseating, disgusting and entirely offensive because I know--as most assuredly do the media types--that the WHOLE of the Kennedy aura is bogus, a colossal fraud, a long-standing staged event that has no resemblance to the sordid reality. What we are fed by the media is spewings of the primordial spin machine long ago established by the "patriarch" of the family, Joseph P. Kennedy and continued by family members to this day with the willing and knowing whole-hearted co-operation of the dominant electronic and print media. They imagine (and in many cases rightly so) that they have in fact "pulled one over on us," that they have succeeded in "fooling some of the people all of the time."
To hear Papa Joe Kennedy tell it, he grew up in poverty, the son of Irish immigrants of very limited means, that he had been an excellent athlete in his youth, that he gained all of his wealth by honest hard work and had to fight every step of the way to overcome prejudice against both his ethnic background (Irish) and his religious heritage (Catholic), that he was a dedicated public servant, and a devoted family man who was devoutly religious. All of that is bunk.
Joe Kennedy's life (1888-1969) may be accurately characterized as a living embodiment of I John 2:16--"the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," or, the unbridled, unprincipled, unrestrained pursuit of pleasure, wealth and power.
Joe was the grandson (not the son) of immigrants and grew up in very comfortable means. His father was a corrupt Boston politician who had considerable power and influence and used it on his son's behalf, including setting him up as president of a small bank when he was 25. Joe avoided the draft in World War I by his father securing him a job in a shipbuilding company, where he in essence did nothing except avoid fulfilling his military obligation.
Joe Kennedy was counted in 1950 as one of the 16 wealthiest men in America by Fortune magazine, with between $200 and $400 million. He acquired his vast fortune by any means that served whether fair or foul, whether legal or illegal. During Prohibition, he, in league with organized crime, was one of the largest illegal importers of whiskey on the East Coast. When Prohibition ended, he obtained several exclusive import deals with British firms to import their distilled spirits into the U.S., gaining additional millions annually in income.
Because of extensive access to and use of insider information (the kind that would get you long stretches in Federal prison today, but legal then), Joe not only didn't lose money in the stock market crash of 1929, he made money. And he in consort with others regularly manipulated the price of stocks for his own financial gain. He continued to routinely make use of such inside information, even after it became illegal, to line his pockets at other people's expense.
He was willing at the drop of a hat to stab any and every business partner in the back if it would improve his bottom line, a scenario repeated again and again. He once paid a woman to accuse a man of attempted rape so that he, Joe, could snap up the man's movie theater chain at bargain basement prices. Virtually the whole of the Kennedy fortune is heavy with the stench of such corruption and dishonesty.
He used his money to gain power and influence, and was willing to spend whatever it took to attain his ends. He spent multiplied millions to buy votes for son John F. Kennedy in his various races for Congress, Senate and President, often laundering the money through the Roman Catholic Church (with the knowing acquiescence of Church officials) so that it could not be traced, and so he could take a tax deduction for it. He bought favorable publicity in the press and effectively suppressed unfavorable stories. He used his money and influence to spin the sinking of PT-109, commanded by son John, into a hero's tale, when in fact it was an incident for which any unconnected boat skipper would have been court-martialed.
He paid $75,000 to have Time magazine run John's picture on the cover in 1957, part of Joe's grooming him for a run for the Presidency in 1960. He paid researchers and ghost-writers to produce Profiles in Courage, a book for which John was fraudulently given the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 (more grooming for the Presidency; Joe bought the votes of the Pulitzer Prize committee as well). In the 1960 primaries, hundreds of thousands of dollars were used to buy votes in the crucial West Virginia primary, while in the general election, huge amounts of money went to the Mafia in Chicago to guarantee that John would carry that State, and thousands of dollars in pay-offs were given to Protestant clergy to buy their endorsement of Catholic candidate Kennedy (his religious affiliation was a very large issue in that race). These are but the tip of the iceberg.
The Kennedy fortune guaranteed that none of the Kennedy children ever had to work for a living, struggle to make ends meet, or feel the oppressive burden of taxes; in short they never learned the value of money or its responsible use. This is no doubt part of the "training" that molded son Ted into a far left, heavy-taxing and free-spending political liberal, who loves to spend other people's money for his own political gain. John said he knew all about the Depression--he'd read about it at Harvard.
In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt made Joe the first head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which was set up to regulate the stock market (talk about placing the wolf in charge of the sheep!). Joe became ambassador to England in the crucial period of the late 1930s (a job he received as a pay-off from FDR for hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions) and proved to be one huge and continuing embarrassment to FDR, espousing isolationism, and anti-Semitism of the worst sort (you'd be hard pressed to find anyone more blatantly anti-Semitic outside the ruling elite of the Third Reich).
Joe's lust for power gave him aspirations of being the first Catholic President (he had hoped to run in 1940), but when that proved impossible because of his personal "baggage" and circumstances, he sought to fulfill his ambition through his sons. Such reckless ambition proved disastrous to the second generation of Kennedys.
Joe was an exceedingly sexually immoral man, and brazenly so. His adulteries began almost from the first day of his marriage in 1914 and continued unabated until he was felled by a massive stroke in 1961. He would "hit on" almost any woman who caught his eye (including the teen-age girlfriends his daughters would bring home from school on weekends). His bed partners in debauchery must have numbered in the many hundreds, perhaps thousands. In this regard, he left an example which all of his sons (and, apparently, all of his grandsons) followed. In fact, for a time in the 1940s, Joe and his sons would trade "girlfriends" among themselves. And all of this degeneracy was carried on with the knowledge of wife Rose.
If we sought in 20th century America for an individual more completely debased, debauched and corrupt than Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., I honestly do not know where he could possibly be found.
Rose Kennedy (1890-1995), daughter of a corrupt Boston mayor, is usually portrayed as the "long-suffering" matriarch who endured one family tragedy after another. In reality, she knew what she got herself into by marrying Joe, and turned a blind eye to it, blissfully passing through decade after decade heavily medicated with a variety of tranquilizers and other drugs. She endured his degenerate conduct because of her insatiable craving for wealth and all the possessions it could buy. She spent multiplied thousands each year on Paris fashions (collectively, well over $1 million) during her twice- or thrice-annual trips to Europe, yet at the same time could be unbelievably cheap. When Joe was bed-ridden after his stroke, Rose suggested that the staff begin diluting his orange juice with water, since, at a dollar a dozen, oranges were too expensive to continue giving Joe pure juice (and this when the family fortune was in the hundreds of millions of dollars!). She continued to use a black and white TV well into the 1960s, because, so she said, a color one was just beyond her budget. So far out of reality was she that once she had to ask a member of the household staff what "inflation" was. She was cold and emotionally sterile, never showing any affection for her numerous children (all displays of affection for her husband were staged events for media consumption).
The second generation of Kennedys--the nine Kennedy children--had ingrained into them that Kennedys were better than anyone else, that rules were made for other people to follow, that failure was unthinkable, that weakness was not acceptable, and that "Kennedys don't cry," an emotion-murdering dictum. All of the Kennedy children grew up with a strong streak of recklessness and irresponsibility. This generation was marked by numerous tragedies or near tragedies, but most of these were caused directly or indirectly by their own folly. (And honesty compels me to say that they were definitely not a handsome or glamorous bunch; with their uniformly over-sized teeth, a group picture of the smiling Kennedy children is strongly reminiscent of the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby).
Rosemary, the oldest of the girls, was deemed by Joe to be retarded and therefore inferior ("impossible for a Kennedy!"). In reality, she seems to have been a manic-depressant. Nevertheless, Joe sought to "correct" her problematic behavior with a highly experimental frontal lobotomy. It left her in a perpetual state mentally of a 2-year old. Joe hurried her off to the care of a nunnery in Wisconsin, where she still exists, 60 years after the operation. Joe never once visited her after the surgery. She was, frankly an embarrassment to him.
Joseph Kennedy, Jr., the apple of his father's eye and the designated future-President-to-be--died in a bomber explosion shortly after take-off in England in World War II. He had been expressly warned by his mechanic before the flight that the plane, which was virtually a flying bomb (the pilot and co-pilot were to bail out and parachute to safety after getting the plane on target) was not safe to fly and needed to be worked on; Joe, Jr. turned a deaf ear to the warning, and the explosion killed both him, and his co-pilot (a common theme in Kennedy disasters is that other people die as a result of Kennedy conduct). It seems apparent that Joe insisted on flying in spite of the mechanic's warning because he was trying to out do younger brother John, who had (undeservedly) received great accolades for his military service in the South Pacific.
Sister Kathleen died in a private plane crash in Southern France in the late 1940s. She was traveling in the plane with a married man with whom she was having an adulterous affair. Naturally, the Kennedy spin machine claimed she had merely been given a ride by an old family friend.
John Kennedy became national news during World War II. As the skipper of PT 109, a small but fast and agile torpedo boat, his boat had been cut in half by a much larger and much slower Japanese destroyer. How this could happen if there were proper lookouts on the PT boat has never been explained. It seems like a clear case of dereliction of duty, an offense for which almost any ordinary unconnected PT boat commander would have been court-martialed. But Joe, Sr. cranked up the spin machine and passed out the money promoting his son as a hero, instead of a goat. And it worked.
Part of the Camelot image of John Kennedy was that of virile, vigorous, athletic and energetic youth. The truth, totally suppressed and concealed from the public was that John was suffering from Addison's disease, a disease of the adrenal glands that causes weakness, lose of weight, low blood counts and brownish pigmentation of the skin (the source of Kennedy's "perpetually-tanned" look). Kennedy's frequent treatments and hospitalizations for this disease were masked by claiming that he was being treated for a back injury suffered during his war experience. To overcome the effects of Addison's disease, during the White House years he received multiple daily injections (every six hours or so) from a quack doctor, injections containing large amounts of amphetamines ("uppers."). John Kennedy also used cocaine and other illegal drugs while President, but that is another matter.
No account of John's health problems would be complete without noting that his physicians repeatedly treated him for STDs, acquired (and no doubt frequently passed on) during his hundreds of adulterous liaisons both before and during his Presidency (his autopsy, for example, revealed symptoms of clamydia).
The narration of Kennedy's reckless adulteries is so seamy and sordid a tale, I will leave it to the accounts in the bibliography below for the details. His partners numbered in the multiplied hundreds, some of them famous, some of them obscure, and some not even known to him by name. When Jackie miscarried a child in the 1950s, John delayed coming to her side for two full days; he was busy on a Mediterranean cruise with two blonde honeys. Later while President one of his regular partners was the mistress of a Chicago Mafia don, and another almost certainly was an East German spy, opening the President up to black-mail. During the Fall of 1963, Kennedy regularly wore a full torso heavy canvas brace, due to a pulled groin muscle he had acquired during one of his romps. That brace held him in a rigid upright position after he was struck by the probably non-fatal first shot from Oswald's rifle, leaving Oswald a perfect second shot to the back of the President's head.
Of course John knew of the corrupt measures employed by his father to win him election after election, and he was a willing beneficiary of such actions. In the House and later the Senate, John had a completely undistinguished record (the truth is, Dan Quayle was at least as qualified for the Presidency as John Kennedy, likely more so, regardless of Lloyd Bentsen's insulting comment to the contrary).
They say that John Kennedy was a speed reader ("1200 words per minute"). Almost surely more phony baloney. The fact of the matter is that John was a very lazy student and a very lazy reader. The notion that he was an "intellectual" is more Kennedy smoke and mirrors. He was so undistinguished as to be unable to correctly say in German "Ich bin Berliner" after a full half-hour of coaching (what he said in German means, "I am a doughnut"--and is still a standing joke among Germans).
Politically, Kennedy's administration courted disaster repeatedly. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 was a direct result of Kennedy indecision and waffling at the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba 18 months earlier. Kennedy betrayed the Cuban freedom fighters who had been assured of strong U.S. military support by air and sea. When push came to shove, Kennedy left the Cubans to be slaughtered on the beach by Castro's troops, or to be imprisoned in Cuban jails. Kennedy's indecision in April 1961 emboldened the Russians to do what they did in 1962, namely, to install offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba, an act which precipitated the missile crisis of 1962.
Kennedy's conduct in office more than once had the real potential for national disaster. The President is always accompanied wherever he goes by a high-ranking military officer who is the keeper of "the football," a briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes, since the President alone can authorize their use. Kennedy would sometimes deliberately slip away from his "shadow" to meet up with some woman in a hotel room. In essence, to gratify his insatiable lust, he was willing to endanger the life of every other American.
We know that John was assassinated November 22, 1963. What is not widely known is that he had signed off on the assassination of three other national leaders during his time as President. Those assassinated with his consent were the heads of state in the Dominican Republic (Rafael Trujillo), the Congo (Patrice Lumumba), and South Vietnam. This last was particularly heinous. On November 9, 1963, President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were overthrown and executed by South Vietnamese generals with the prior knowledge and approval of the CIA and the American President, without which it would not have been done. Yes, Diem was a sometimes brutal leader, and was very unpopular with some elements in South Vietnamese society, but he was our ally, and was effectively fighting a war we had encouraged him to undertake. If his removal from office was desirable, he could have been turned out of office and exiled. His murder was not necessary. I am compelled to ask: were the assassinations of brothers John and Robert Kennedy an example of cosmic retribution for the callous approval by them (Robert was always John's chief adviser on everything) of the assassination of Diem and his brother Nhu? "What goes around comes around."
And, just between you and me--John Kennedy was responsible for the beginning of American involvement in Vietnam (in spite of attempts to shove all the blame on Lyndon Johnson). There were 16,000 American troops there when he died. And it was his hand-picked Secretary of Defense Bob McNamara who stayed on under Johnson and ran the war until January 1969. (McNamara was the chief engineer of the "no-win" policy in Vietnam and was thereby de facto responsible for thousands of needless American deaths there).
Unfortunately, the Kennedy administration public image is vastly better than the reality. A recent poll of criminally ignorant Americans rated John Kennedy as the 2nd greatest President, led only by Reagan and followed by Lincoln. The truth is, Kennedy would have a tough time coming out in the top half (I would rank him below Clinton, whom I would not rate highly). He wasn't fit to hold Lincoln's horse or powder Washington's wig.
And there is brother Bobby. As a very young attorney, Bobby was on the Senate staff of Joseph McCarthy the notorious red-baiter of the early 1950s. McCarthy is regularly pilloried in the press for his alleged bigotry, false accusations, and malicious slanders (McCarthy's accusations of communist connections of many in the State Department and U. S. Armed Services have been confirmed in a number of cases from recently released Soviet archives). Somehow, in all the smearing of McCarthy, Bobby has escaped the "taint" of McCarthyism.
Bobby was campaign manager of the corrupt, and victorious because corrupt, 1960 Presidential campaign. For this, he was rewarded with the Attorney Generalship, though he was only 36 and had never prosecuted a single case or ever appeared in court. He was, in short, singularly unqualified for the job. His lechery rivaled the President's.
My blood never boiled hotter than it did when I was in high school and read (Fall, 1967) in one of the national newsmagazines that Bobby said that if we, the U. S., would agree to give blood to the North Vietnamese to treat their wounded and injured, he would be the first to stand in line to donate blood to NVM. This is aiding and abetting an enemy, an enemy actively seeking to kill American men and women in uniform. It was treasonous on Bobby's part.
Frankly, I am sorry that the Kennedy brothers were assassinated, as I am with Martin Luther King, Jr. My sorrow is not because I esteem them as great men whose lives could have further enriched our nation. Not in the least. I wish they all had lived longer so that their evil character would have eventually come to light while they yet lived. They thereby would have discredited themselves by reckless and immoral behavior. See how Clinton's immorality became undeniable public knowledge 6 years into his administration. Had John Kennedy been in office for 6 years, his debased conduct could not have been hid. Likewise, had King lived as long as Jesse Jackson, he would very likely have been exposed as the profuse adulterer he was. Word is that some reporters were ready to run with the story of Kennedy's immorality, but the assassination (and his subsequent canonization and virtual deification) derailed the expose.
Ted ("Edward") Kennedy is the only one of the Kennedy brothers to survive past age 50. It can be asserted with full confidence that his life since even his teen years has been that, morally speaking, of a complete pig.
He was expelled from Harvard in the 1950s because he was caught cheating on a final examine (he had hired someone to take the Spanish final for him).
And Ted has shown the same disregard for safety and common sense that characterizes the family. In 1964, he was involved in a plane crash that killed 2 people and nearly killed 4 more. That crash occurred due to very poor flying conditions. When the Kennedy family pilot refused to fly the family plane in such weather, Ted hired a different pilot and plane. Two people died because of Ted's reckless insistence; it almost cost him his own life.
In 1969, Ted made national headlines by driving his car off a bridge on the island of Chappaquiddick into about 8 feet of water. An early-20s single woman, Mary Jo Kopeckne was found dead in the car (from asphyxiation) when it was pulled from the water the next day. Teddy boy was guilty of at least a half dozen crimes: driving while intoxicated, driving without a valid license, leaving the scene of an accident, filing a false police report, perjury, and vehicular homicide (the woman was trapped alive in the upside down car for perhaps as long as two hours; had Ted reported the accident in a timely manner, she might have been rescued alive). Of course, being a Kennedy and in Massachusetts, he got off with a slap on the wrist. At the court hearing, he wore a neckbrace, all part of a contrived performance designed to transform the perpetrator into a victim. Some have made the suggestion, not without merit, that a monument should be raised to Mary Jo who, by dying in Ted's car, saved the nation from a Ted Kennedy presidency.
Skipping over numerous adulteries and drunken episodes, we fast-forward to the Easter weekend in the late 1980s in which William K. Smith, Ted's nephew, committed acts for which he was charged with rape (of course, using the standard Kennedy one-two punch of money and influence, he got off). Ted and William had been bar-hopping together, had picked up two young woman and taken them back to the Kennedy compound in Palm Beach where the "alleged" rape occurred. While William was busy with his pick up, Ted was trying to "score" with his new "friend," only she was able to elude his gropes because of his advanced state of drunkenness. These are the acts, as I said, of a complete pig, morally speaking.
And a man with this kind of track record has enough brass to feign moral outrage at the recent Ashcroft confirmation hearings!! How utterly grotesque and insulting.
And then there is Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. She certainly was not glamorous (the usual talking head description of her): her eyes were far too distant one from another for that (not to Marty Feldman proportions, to be sure, but well beyond normal dimensions).
One thing is clear: she was a woman who went to the highest bidder. Dare I say "gold digger"? When she married John Kennedy, she knew full well what she was getting into. She knew he was a philanderer of cosmic proportions, but she clearly liked the Kennedy money and prestige (at the time of her marriage, though her family "maintained appearances" as if they had money, they were in fact tottering on the brink). I will admit that yes, we do have genuine sympathy for any woman who lost one child by miscarriage and had another die shortly after birth, and who was traumatized by being showered with her husband's brains when he was murdered. These are horrible things to happen to anyone. However, she remained in the marriage to John because when she threatened divorce in the late 1950s, old man Kennedy was willing to buy her off for somewhere between $1 and $3 million (reports of the amount vary) to stay in the marriage. And she was willing to be bought.
When Jackie married Greek mega-millionaire Aristotle Onassis some 5 years after John's assassination, the dumbfounded newspaper headlines asked incredulously "Jackie, how could you?" Why the surprise? Such an act was not "out of character."
For the last dozen years or so of her life, Jackie shared an apartment in New York City and--we logically deduce--lived in sexual intimacy with a man to whom she was not married. This is called adultery by Scripture. Such a woman is not a woman I would recommend as a role model to anyone.
The third generation of Kennedys has an extended cast of characters--the more than two dozen children of John Kennedy and his siblings, sometimes referred to as the Kennedy cousins. They were all brought up in the wealth, privilege and self-indulgence of the idle rich. In most cases they had no suitable paternal figure to guide them (can you imagine having only Uncle Ted to look to as a male role model?). They were nurtured in the family mantra that "rules are for other people, not for us." One of Robert Kennedy's sons, David, died of a drug overdose (many of the male cousins were heavy drug users, and the cousins include several alcohol abusers in their number). Another died while skiing, after repeatedly refusing to heed warnings from the ski patrol that his behavior was dangerous. Robert's son Joseph left a girl permanently paralyzed when she was injured in a traffic mishap caused by his reckless driving. One Kennedy cousin was charged with the statutory rape of the family's under age babysitter; another, William K. Smith was credibly charged with forcible rape (he got off, as noted above), and later of assault and battery in a Washington D.C. bar fight.
John Kennedy, Jr., who succeeded only on his third try at the New York State bar exam, died because he flew a plane he was inadequately trained to fly into conditions well beyond his capacities as a pilot. He paid for his recklessness with his own death; it also cost the lives of his wife and her sister.
What future self-inflicted disasters await the Kennedys? I don't know, but as long as the in-grained reckless disregard for the "rules" of life persists, they will continue to come. And the obsequious media will lament in chorus the "Kennedy curse."
An honest evaluation of three generations of Kennedys, their conduct and the natural consequences of that conduct indicate that these people are not worthy of our admiration or emulation. They have paid a very high price for power, prestige, fame and wealth. Nearly all they have endured has been caused by their own conduct. I pity their folly.
I must ask what is it about the Kennedys that the media types so much admire? Is it the money? No doubt, in part. Is it their fame? Surely the massive-egoed media celebs covet this commodity. But I suspect that it is the perceived Kennedy total disregard for mores and rules of conduct that is most admired. The anarchy of soul that wishes to gratify any and every craving, to thumb one's nose at conventions of society--and to do so with seeming impunity (though they have paid a very high price for their anarchy)--this is what the media types most admire about the Kennedys: they live as wickedly as they could possibly wish, and seem to get away with it. The talking heads wish that they could do the same.
Note on books:
The literature on the Kennedys is voluminous and rolls from the presses in torrents yet. Ignoring the laudatory drivel of Kennedy groupies and well-paid sycophants, some of the better books on the Kennedys are:
--The Sins of the Father by Ronald Kessler (Warner, 1996), tracing the always-seamy life of Joe Kennedy, Sr.
--The Kennedys by Peter Collier and David Horowitz (Summit, 1984). Especially full on the third generation (the Kennedy "cousins").
--Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton (Random House, 1992). Originally intended as volume one of a two-volume set, exceptionally full treatment of first 29 years of JFK's life.
--A Question of Character by Thomas C. Reeves (Free Press, 1991). Detailed investigation of the life of John Kennedy.
--The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour M. Hersh (Little, Brown & Co., 1997). A very full account of JFK's gross immorality, political corruption, and incredible recklessness. Perhaps the best single book on the real Kennedy presidency.
--Senatorial Privilege: the Chappaquiddick Cover-Up by Leo Damore (Dell, 1989). A detailed account of Ted Kennedy's 1969 vehicular homicide of a young campaign worker, and how he got away with a slap on the wrist.
--The Senator by Richard E. Burke (St. Martin's, 1992). Written by a ten-year staffer of Ted Kennedy. An expose of his drunkenness, drug abuse, immorality and corruption in the 1980s.
THE PACIFIC GARDEN MISSION by Carl F. H. Henry. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. 144 pp., hardback.
There is no greater modern affirmation of Paul's words in I Corinthians 1:27, 28--"God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are."--than the converts of the various "rescue missions" in the heart of major cities. No doubt the most famous of these rescue missions is the Pacific Garden Mission of Chicago (it is also the second oldest, having begun in 1877). And among this mission's most notable converts were Billy Sunday, the famous evangelist who won a million converts, and Mel Trotter, who went on to found almost 70 other rescue missions across America (for a biography of Trotter, see AISI 1:7, where MEL TROTTER by Fred Zarfas is reviewed).
The name of the mission came from the previous tenant of its first home, that being "The Pacific Beer Garden" in Chicago. Naturally enough, "Beer" was dropped and "Mission" was added (all at the suggestion of D. L. Moody) to indicate the change of purpose. The mission was started by a middle-aged couple, George and Sarah Clarke, to meet the obvious spiritual needs of the derelicts, drunkards and down-and-outers that swarmed in the seedier parts of Chicago. Mr. Clarke was mission director for 15 years, and Mrs. Clarke was associated with the mission for over 40 years (including a period in which she attended the mission's nightly services for 10,000+ consecutive nights). A large portion of the funds necessary for the support of the mission came from the Clarke's own resources.
Mr. Clarke was followed as director of the mission by Harry Monroe, an early convert of the mission, who led from 1892 to 1912. Other later directors included Walter Taylor, whose wife wrote the words to the hymn, "Calvary Covers It All," and Harry Saulnier. While some of the directors were gifted speakers, some were not, but all had one essential quality for such work: they loved sinners.
Henry's account (which surely must be among his first books, and was written when he was a professor at Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago) is an intermingling of the history of the mission and the (usually brief) testimonies of lives redeemed from sin through the mission. Drunkards, gamblers, dope-addicts, criminals, adulterers, prostitutes--in short, the dregs of society--were transformed through the Gospel into honest, productive and respectable citizens, and in not a few cases, into pastors, evangelists and Bible teachers. A significant number of Pacific Garden converts later attended Moody Bible Institute in preparation for God's service and not a few Moody students gained practical experience through service at the mission.
In his introduction, Henry A. Ironside, then pastor of Moody Memorial Church, wrote: "This book is the best answer to the specious sophistries and, as some think conclusive arguments of infidelity and atheism I have ever seen. These men know there is a God for they called upon Him and He responded to their cry. Like the once-blind man of whom we read in John 9, they exclaim as with one voice, "Whereas once I was blind now I see." And they know that no power but that of God could have ever wrought so great a change. It is safe to say that no perversion of the gospel such as that offered in modernistic pulpits today could ever effect such transformations as we read of here."
Henry's account covers the first 65 years of the mission; since its writing, another 57 years have passed. Whether any account of these subsequent years have been written, I don't know. I would certainly be interested in learning how things have fared with this gospel lighthouse.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE by Mitch Albom. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1997. 192 pp., hardback. $21.00
You would have had to try hard not to have seen or heard some reference to this huge best seller in the past couple of years. A brief review is perhaps in order.
The author is a sports writer for a Detroit newspaper in his late 30s, and the Morrie is (or, was) Dr. Morrie Schwartz, long-time professor of sociology at Brandeis University. Albom was one of Morrie's students back in the 70s. The theme of this factual account is as follows: Albom, more than a decade and a half out of college, and driven by the compelling desire for material wealth, advancement and "success," learns almost by accident that his once personally-close professor is dying from a terminal neurological disorder, ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease). Albom is drawn to re-establish contact with his old prof., and flies weekly, on Tuesdays (naturally) from Detroit to Boston and spends several hours listening to Morrie reflect on what is and is not important about life, as viewed from the perspective of one inching with agonizing slowness ever closer to death's door. These discussions covered a wide-ranging number of topics. Over a period of months, Albom listens and records and reflects as he watches Morrie degenerate physically until he in fact dies.
Morrie was ethnically Jewish but religiously a syncretist, following a smorgasbord approach of adopting something here, something else over there of whatever suited him in various religions. While this obviously resulted in gravely defective views of God, sin, man, redemption, eternity and much else, nevertheless in some respects, Morrie got some things right: on a horizontal, earthly level, the proper priorities in life are not money, power, prestige or fame, but our personal relationships with people: family, friends, colleagues, subordinates. The beneficial impact we have on others far outweighs the things we do for ourselves. The little book will generate a considerable level of human sympathy.
The book is generally well-written (though unnecessarily profane at times), but is priced at an obscenely high $21.00, outrageous for a mere 192 rather small pages. Doubleday is doing a bit of gouging here.