Friday, January 30, 2009

Faith Works 1-31-09
Jeff Gill

From Soup to Nuts (and I’m the one that’s nuts)

So much going on in the world that impacts and influences the life of faith – where to start?

Most folks are ending this weekend with the Super Bowl, and the youth groups of many area churches are taking this chance to lift up the “Souper Bowl of Caring” with a special offering for local food pantries.

When you’re picking up your game day munchies, buy a can of soup for every snack package, and take those cans to church Sunday morning; some congregations also take up a monetary offering for food pantry efforts as well.

Presbyterians in the south got this tradition going, but you can read about the nownational and ecumenical reach of their work at

If you haven’t read about the marvelous personal story of Kurt and Brenda Warner, you can check the blog page at (look for me under Knapsack), or Google their names. I’m a Steelers fan from youth, and admire the Rooney family, but the Warners can make me cheer a bit for the Cardinals.

(Still, is the curse of the Pottsville Maroons still reaching down from 1925, through their Pennsylvania brethren, to blight the storied Cardinals in 2009? More to the point, should a religious person believe in sports curses in the first place?)

Tuesday is the anniversary of the heroic sacrifice of the Four Chaplains aboard the USAT Dorchester, in 1943. Jewish rabbi, Catholic priest, two Protestant clergymen, all standing together in prayer as the torpedoed ship sank into the North Atlantic night, having handed out all the lifebelts including the ones they wore – Alexander Goode, the rabbi, gave a soldier his gloves as the young man clambered onto a lifeboat.

There were not enough lifeboats, rafts, or flotation devices to go around, and just over 200 of the 900 aboard survived, but all remembered the calm and collective effort of the Four in the twenty-five minutes they had from midnight shock to the final plunge. Together, forever.

And I don’t have Jim Whitaker to call me every year to remind me anymore, but I won’t forget.

Three of the Four Chaplains were Scout leaders, and Feb. 8 begins a momentous year for the Boy Scouts of America – it was on Feb. 8, 1910 that Scouting crossed the pond, after two and a half years of growth under founder Robert Baden-Powell in England. So Dorchester Day often comes right up against Scout Sunday or Sabbath, when Scouting units often attend worship in a group, especially if their “chartering organization” is a church.

For some churches, holding the charter just means they provide a meeting space, and among others, being a chartering organization means that their Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing crew units are a key part of their own youth programming. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons, have adopted Scouting nationally as their young men’s youth group structure. Many other churches acknowledge a tie to “their” Scout troop while having a separate youth group.

Finally, I’ve gotten a number of questions about Ted Haggard, all around “what do you think?” All I can think of to say is that Ted Haggard and Rod Blagojevich both need to ask themselves “what purposes do your strenuous efforts to stay in the public eye serve?” (If you feel the need to add Bill Clinton to that list, be my guest.)

And to close this particularly bloggy column out, for a counter-example to Haggard and Blagojevich, click on Wikipedia and enter “John Profumo.” There’s a different way, but as Someone once said, it is often a harder way, a narrower way, a way that leads away from the bright lights, but can take you towards a brighter dawn.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story at, or to “Knapsack” on Twitter.