A Contrarian re-reads a classic

I just re-read Joe Bayly's The Gospel Blimp, first published 55 years ago. Joe Bayly was East Coast staff director for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, served as the editor of His magazine, and later the director for Inter-Varsity Press (IVP).

So
The Gospel Blimp preceded my own generation. But I hope it's discovered by a new generation. The slim volume is inexpensive. It's quaintly, humorously, provocatively perceptive about how Christians and churches behave. It holds up a mirror to our foibles. We are bent creatures with noble plans.

This is a classic satire: well-intentioned Christians, in pursuit of noble goals, put naive trust in pragmatic methods, and reap many unintended consequences. Then: Christians "firebomb" gospel tracts from blimps and clog neighbors' gutters. Now: We broadcast in social and digital media. Our technologies may have changed. We have not.

Old patterns remain: our visions become missions, and missions begat plans and committees. Then strategies become expensive time consuming activities that distract and blind us to how to really love our families and our neighbors. We pursue projects rather than genuine relationships. Our failures begat self-justifications and a need for damage control and public relations.

One bonus of my re-read is a Foreword by Douglas Wilson. He writes: "I want to begin by noting that there is a difference between being a contrarian and being a grouch." Serving as a helpful contrarian (with appreciation for satirists like Joy Bayly) is what Balaam's Ass Blog is all about!