Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

My Photo
Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Campolo and the Prostitute

I've been trying to understand the liberal wing of evangelical Christianity---its penetration, its strength, where in the list of conservative evangelicals it draws its agreements and distinctions. And so I've been reading a good deal of Brian McLaren (whose best book is probably A Generous Orthodoxy) and the most recent book by Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind. The two came together a few nights ago when I was reading McLaren's new book, The Secret Message of Jesus (which is a fine, cheerfully written book, but isn't exactly news to Bible scholars who've spent the last several decades writing articles like "The 'Messianic Secret' Motif in Mark.")

Anyway, I found this story about Tony Campolo in Brian McLaren's book, and it's so cool I simply had to share. You can find a zillion versions of this online if you Google the right words, but I think McLaren's retelling is the least glurgey.

From The Secret Message of Jesus, by Brian D. McLaren (and the original version of the story is in Campolo's book, The Kingdom of God is a Party):

My friend Tony Campolo tells a true story that also serves as a great parable in this regard. He was in another time zone [from other accounts, it was Honolulu] and couldn't sleep, so well after midnight he wandered down to a doughnut shop where, it turned out, local hookers also came at the end of a night of turning tricks. There, he overheard a con­versation between two of them. One, named Agnes, said, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be thirty-nine." Her friend snapped back, "So what d'ya want from me? A birth­day party? Huh? You want me to get a cake and sing happy birthday to you?" The first woman replied, "Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I'm just sayin' it's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I've never had a birth­day party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?"

When they left, Tony got an idea. He asked the shop owner if Agnes came in every night, and when he replied in the affir­mative, Tony invited him into a surprise party conspiracy. The shop owner's wife even got involved. Together they arranged for a cake, candles, and typical party decorations for Agnes, who was, to Tony, a complete stranger. The next night when she came in, they shouted, "Surprise!"-and Agnes couldn't believe her eyes. The doughnut shop patrons sang, and she began to cry so hard she could barely blow out the candles. When the time came to cut the cake, she asked if they'd mind if she didn't cut it, if she could bring it home-just to keep it for a while and savor the moment. So she left, carrying her cake like a treasure.

Tony led the guests in a prayer for Agnes, after which the shop owner told Tony he didn't realize Tony was a preacher. He asked what kind of church Tony came from, and Tony replied, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.” The shop owner couldn't believe him. "No you don't. There ain't no church like that. If there was, I'd join it. Yep, I'd join a church like that."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave this is what always goes through my mind when you write about Christianity (of course I always find the writings insightful, funny, and thought-provoking)....

No doubt that the fundamentalist wackos are pretty out there. And I think you had a pretty severe experience yourself. But what does that have to do with the legitimacy or truth of Christiniaty?

You certainly don't judge Islam by the fundamentalists; do you think you do this when it comes to Christianity?

10/19/2006 9:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home