Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Lyman Beecher and his wives, Roxana, Harriet, and Lydia [not all at the same time] begat thirteen remarkable children.

To a preacher on a Sunday morning, Arthur Beecher is more intriguing than his better known siblings, Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

He pastored the Presbyterian congregation in Elmira, NY for 37 years, on one-month calls. That is, the congregation voted EVERY month on whether to retain him as pastor. For 37 years!

The first month he was in Elmira, he was thrown out of the ministerial association for heresy. In the subsequent 37 years, he never missed a meeting of that association, but was never readmitted to membership. That strikes me as quite smart. He never had to furnish the donuts or serve as an officer.

One Sunday he was called down to Brooklyn when his famous brother, Henry, had to be out of the pulpit for some reason, maybe one of his infidelity trials. When it was announced in the service that Arthur would preach that day instead of Henry, many people got up to leave. Arthur jumped up and yelled, “Those who have come to hear Henry Ward Beecher may leave. Those who have come to hear the Word of God may stay!” Everybody sat back down.

There is no point to this story, except it’s Sunday morning, when I pray for preachers, and those who hear them, so Arthur comes to mind. I surely do wish I could have known him. Come to think of it, though, I have known some truly remarkable people, some of them preachers, even, who were remarkable because they were so unremarkable. They did nothing out of the ordinary, but day by day, in little ways, treated people with kindness and honesty. They met good times and bad times with faith and hope.

I think maybe our lives are not only better in quality but, yes, even more interesting, because of the lives of unremarkable people. And also Arthur.

John Robert McFarland

I especially like the name Arthur. I had a cousin named Arthur, after our grandfather, Arthur Harrison McFarland. Grandpa went by Harry, though, but I still like the Arthur name, in part, also, because of Bang the Drum Slowly [Mark Harris is the author] By any name, I love my grandpa, because we lived with Grandma and Grandpa in the Great Depression years, when I was little, and if my mother spanked me for some imagined infraction, Grandpa would go out into the back yard and cry.

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