Another view of conversion

Garrison Keillor writes about his stroke for the first and last time. Among other interesting observations:

But the truth is, I don’t think about death at all, because I thought about it all the time when I was young. I wore it out.

I was raised fundamentalist and from early childhood sat under hellfire preaching in which the prospect of imminent death was a main selling point. Preachers stood and perspired freely and told about the Titanic, the ship Morro Castle, the wreck of the Old 97 and its unbelieving engineer who was scalded to death by the steam, the unbelievers who left the revival meeting in scorn and moments later were ushered into Eternity by the North Coast Limited. At every funeral, a man in a dark suit stood by the corpse and cried out, “What if your life were required of you this very day? Where would you go?”

I sat and trembled. And said a silent prayer, asking Jesus to save my shriveled soul, and the very next day went back to reading fiction, joking around, singing pop songs, flirting with girls—all my worldly ways.

Conviction, Confession, Relapse, over and over and over, like a man jumping off the shed with the big wings strapped to his arms that he’s sure will make him soar over the trees, and kersplat…down he goes one more time. But he picks himself up and straightens the wings and trudges home, and that evening decides the problem was the spacing of the feathers.

The next morning he jumps off the roof again.

Eventually you tire of this experiment, and then you go to the big city and see a 747 land at the airport. Wowser. You can throw away your feathered wings and simply buy a ticket. That happened to me. It’s called divine grace.


3 thoughts on “Another view of conversion

  1. Laura,

    I only started listening to him semi-regularly when we applied for their talent contests (none this year, alas!). I’m not a fan of his show or his thinking, but I respect his accomplishment and pay a lot of professional-minded attention to how he structures a performance.

    That detachment makes him an especially interesting human for me to contemplate. As with Wendell Berry, I know plenty of “serious” Christians who would scoff at his profession, or pore over his words for evidence that he doesn’t really qualify. But because I take him at his word, he greatly deepens my understanding of how a brother or sister might think.

    And how many of my “serious” Christian friends will even have the opportunity to speak of spiritual things in a secular context to a large national audience, much less hit them with such a stunning analogy?

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