July, 1988


Somewhere in the dusty archives of philosophy, there is an old, but seldom told tale of a minister who had been appointed to a newly formed church. He came to the church with a glowing reputation for sound and appealing sermons, and his first one for the new congregation seemed to fulfill all expectations. A bit of wonder developed among the congregation however, when, on the second Sunday, the Minister delivered exactly the same sermon as in the previous week. When the third Sunday came and he gave the same sermon for the third time, several members of the church complained to one of the Deacons. “It was a wonderful sermon the first time,” They said, “And not too bad the second time, but the third time was just too much” Can it be that it is the only sermon he knows? If so, we had better be looking for a new preacher!

When the Deacon reported the complaints to the Minister, he replied. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll explain everything from the pulpit next Sunday.” There was considerable curiosity among the Deacons, as well as the church members as to what possible explanation the Minister could have, and the coming Sunday was awaited with some impatience. When it arrived, the Minister took the pulpit, and explained in these words “Friends and Church members, it has come to my attention that some of you have complained about my giving the same sermon three times. You have said that you were tired of that sermon, and would like to go on to something else. Let me assure you, therefore, that I am just as tired of that sermon as you are, and I would very much like to go on to something else. Consequently, the very moment that I can see any evidence that you have taken the first sermon to heart and begun to practice it, I will be most happy to go on to the next. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen any such evidence and so, whether I like it or not, and whether you like it or not, I will have to continue with the first!” Whereupon he proceeded to give the first sermon for the fourth time!

The story does not say how long the persistent Minister remained with his congregation, or whether its members ever began to practice the advice given in his sermon, but it does illustrate a point that is seldom fully grasped.

Upon several occasions, your editor has heard some otherwise knowledgeable person say that “Christianity has failed.” Each time he hears this statement, he cannot help but wonder how it can have failed when it has never been tried? It is true that millions of people throughout the world now pay lip service to the name of Christianity. Huge and ornate churches and cathedrals are built at tremendous cost in money and labor so that people can meet within their walls to worship the Christ and to listen to His advice; but how many, after leaving the church, even think of following the advice they have been given? “It is more blessed to give than to receive?” Perish the thought! The merchant must give as little as possible and get as much as possible if he is to be successful in business “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”? Among the millions of aggressive go-getters who are constantly grasping with both hands at everything not firmly nailed down, who really believes that the meek ever inherit any earth except the six feet they get when they are buried? “Love and forgive your enemies? Do good to those who attack you?  Any military man who followed this advice would certainly be tried for treason, by a court-martial (as a number of P.O.Ws finally returned from Viet Nam can testify.)

For almost 2,000 years Christianity has been worshipped as an ideal pattern of life, without any genuine and concerted attempt ever having been made to follow it. Of course much of the advice of Jesus of Nazareth was idealistic; that is, it would work wonderfully well, but only if everyone followed it. Perhaps, in another 2,000 years, if civilization lasts that long, a small area of the earth will be set aside as a testing ground for the basic principals of Christianity. An area where all of the advice and teaching of Jesus will be carefully followed. Only after such a test will we really know the full potential of Christianity as a philosophy and as a way of life.

Daniel W. Fry

Retirement rating puts Alamo at 19

The recent issue of Consumers Guide magazine highlighting the best retirement communities in the nation, ranked Alamogordo No. 19 in the nation and first among New Mexico communities.

Consumers Guide editors rated Alamogordo highest in the areas of climate, quality of life, affordability, leisure activities, community services, safety and law enforcement, volunteer opportunities and economic outlook.

Colorado Springs, Colo., and Chapel Hill, N.C., received the most number of points in the magazine’s rating scale, each receiving 52. Other cities in the top ten were: Sun City, Ariz.; Breward, N.C.; Gainesville, Fla; Tucson, Ariz.; Boulder, Colo.; Charleston, S.C.; Austin, Texas; and St. George, Utah.

Alamogordo and Las Cruces were tied with 45 points and were the highest ranked New Mexico cities. Albuquerque came in with 44 points, TorC at 43, Los Alamos and Roswell both at 42.

In explaining the rankings, the magazine said, “Don’t forget that these scores represent the total number of points awarded for each city’s overall resources, not a ranking from best to worst. But they do mean, for instance, that Colorado Springs, Colo. with a score of 52, has almost twice the resources for successful retirement a Key West, Fla., which only scored 28.

In writing about Alamogordo, Consumers Guide editors call the city a “sparkling desert town…between the massive Sacramento Mountains and white desert dunes. (It) is a fast-growing city populated largely by workers in the region’s space-oriented research programs.” .

The article also commented that Alamogordo has a “vital community spirit that is visibly reflected in the well-kept homes and the restored turn-of-the-century shops downtown … Blend in the high quality of life, dry, sunny climate, recreational diversity, and reasonable living costs and Alamogordo has most of the ingredients for successful retirement.”