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The ABC’s of reporting the news


My kids and I like playing the alphabet game: You pick a topic and go from A to Z, naming animals or restaurants or countries that start with a particular letter.
Yes, I know, we sound really wild and crazy.
At least now you understand why I can’t resist offering — in alphabetical order, of course — a few thoughts, observations and tidbits from my first year with The Christian Chronicle:

•Abraham: After my column on “The lighter sideof church life,” I got a chuckle when noted theologian Abraham Malherbe sent mea list titled “You might be in a country church if…”

Among my favorites on the list Abepassed along: If people grumble about Noah letting coyotes on the ark. If thereis no such thing as a “secret” sin. If people wonder, when Jesus fed the 5,000,whether the two fish were bass or catfish.

•Browns: Often, when my Chronicle colleagues and I travel, we rely on the kindness ofbrothers and sisters we’ve never met -to house us. When I traveled to the FourCorners region to report on Navajo mission work (look for the story in a futureissue), elder Ramon Brown and his wife, Allene, of the Cortez, Colo., church openedtheir home to me.
One night, the Browns and I spent threehours just talking: about their beautiful apple orchard, about the role ofbaptism in salvation, about their five grown sons — all of whom have served aselders or deacons. What a marvelous blessing to spend time with the Browns.

•Connecticut: Because offlight delays, I didn’t make it to the home of elder Bill Cochran and his wife,Clare, until 12:30 a.m. when I visited Stamford, Conn., to report the ExodusMovement story on pages 18-19. No problem. The Cochrans left their light on andtheir door unlocked.
The next morning, they were already atchurch busy on a work project when I awakened to see white squirrels nibblingoutside their back window.

•Da Vinci Code: Pssssst.I know where the secret of life is written. (Hint: The book has sold about 7billion copies. And Dan Brown definitely didn’t write it.)

•Editor: I have known and respected BaileyMcBride since my student days at Oklahoma Christian University.Of course, most anybody who has spent any length of time in Churches of Christknows Bailey.
He knows everybody.
My wife, Tamie, and I have had theprivilege to benefit from Bailey’s wisdom and experience on a regular basis. Ashe retires, we’ll miss seeing him as much. But we know God has rich blessingsin store for him. We love you, Bailey.

•Faithful love:
Faithfullove flowing down. From the thorn-covered crown. Makes me whole. Saves my soul.Washes whiter than snow.

•Guatemala: In Guatemala, I shared a hotel roomwith Bill Gordon of the Blue Starr church in Claremore, Okla. One day, Billfound me cuddled up with a blanket by the bathroom. He voiced concern that mynausea from the day before had worsened. Nope, I explained, I just needed aquieter place away from my roommate’s snoring (which Bill had warned me about).So, now when he e-mails me, Bill signs his name “The Big Snore.”

•Howard: I grew up singing 728b in Songs of the Church, produced by HowardPublishing in West Monroe, La. So, I was excited last summer when I got tomeet John Howard, son of Alton Howard.

•Iraq: We do it because it’s our job, but wehate reporting on members’ deaths in Iraq. While we in the church may havediffering views on the war, I know we all pray for the soldiers and theirfamilies.

•Jasper: I won’t forget worshipping outsidewith the church in Jasper, Texas, after Hurricane Rita. I met a sister who waswithout water or electricity for days. Her family was forced to bathe and washclothes in a creek. Yet she was smiling and singing praises to her heavenlyfather.

•Katrina: I could write a novel here. The shortversion: Church members’ outpouring of generosity and compassion in thedisaster’s aftermath amazed me.

•Letter: When the Senate confirmed churchmember Janice Rogers Brown as a federal appeals court judge, she declined aninterview. But she sent me the nicest letter. “I am only a judge,” she wrote.“This is a humble craft and I am — as Learned Hand puts it — just a member ofthe Guild. I have no desire to be a celebrity.”

•Maryland: In our first Maryland visit, Tamie andI enjoyed spending time with East Baltimore minister Kevin Bethea.

•Niemans: Kevin and Lindsay Nieman of theWhite’s Ferry Road church in West Monroe opened their home to me when I joineda group surveying storm damages.

•Olivers: Mike and Nancy Oliver welcomed JerryLamb and me into their Henderson, Tenn., home when we came to write about theWinkler case in Selmer. Jerry’s wife, Rachel, is Nancy’s niece.

•Perspective: Corey Bradley of New Orleans losteverything. But standing in a Dallas church after Katrina, he put it inperspective: “I feel blessed like I’m in heaven because I’m here. I’m lookingon TV and I see people I know on top of roofs.”

•Quick trip: Last fall, David Duncan and I leftEdmond, Okla., after Sunday morning services for the opening night of theHarding University lectureship, where David presented Howard Norton with a bookrecognizing his service to the kingdom. We made it home from our 738-mileround-trip at 3 a.m. Fun times! Tiring, too!

•Rest of the alphabet: I had some really great lines for S toZ. I was going to talk about my first visit to Utah and my wife’s love forventi white chocolate mocha light Frappuccinos. Alas, I’m out of space.
Thanks for playing the alphabet game.

June 1, 2006

Check out Ross’personal blog at www.bobbyrossjr.blogspot.com.

Filed under: Inside Story

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