Thursday, December 02, 2010

Re: Publishing Sermon Titles: "Crowds Smash Door: Near Riot to Hear Fosdick"

From Leonard Sweets review of Liberalism and Lost Days: A Re-evaluation of Fosdick.
 These were the days when Christians literally beat down the doors to get into church. "Crowds Smash Door: Near Riot to Hear Fosdick" ran the headlines of a 1924 newspaper. It was not uncommon for people to wait in front of the church for more than two hours in what they called the "bread line" so that they could be fed at Fosdick’s table. Church members were ticketed to ensure seating, but others had to find fragments of nourishment where they could, with some sneaking into already packed balconies through fire escapes and other evasive subterfuges, and with Fosdick’s own seat filled by a standee as soon as he entered the pulpit. The carnationed, gray-gloved ushers, or what Fosdick termed his "Guard of Honor," were really the city’s best-dressed bouncers and bodyguards. "We had a hectic time yesterday in the ushering business," one memorandum from a head usher reported. "One lady fainted. Two ladies crawled under the ropes on the pleas of wanting to go away and then beat down the center aisle. Mr. Lawton held them up. The crowd in the south gallery was dense and passing the plate was difficult and lengthy, as every one wanted to chip in -- bless their hearts. This explains why the other chap and I had to sprint down the aisles to catch up with the procession." Liberal causes found patrons in wealthy benefactors like John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who was ubiquitous in Fosdick’s career, and prominent public-relations experts like Ivy Lee, who retailed Fosdick like breakfast cereal through market analysis, mass distribution and image-building.
These were also the days when the papers routinely listed sermon titles for the coming Sunday. I'm guessing Rev Fosdick sure let the flock now what was coming.

Like marketing breakfast cereal? Well, breakfast is the healthy way to start the day. No sin marketing a way to a healthy spiritual life either.

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