Friday, November 22, 2013

Aug. 9, 2013 ---- Britt Towery column “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” (560 words) The cartoon showed two bored office workers, idly gazing out the window, when one of them said, “Let’s go to California and start a new religion.” Fair or not, California has been a starting place for many religious-minded (and otherwise) folk to break out new ways to find and share the religion of their choice. More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, writes Dan Merica of CNN. It is evident that many Americans do not think this is a good thing. According to a Gallup survey 75 percent of Americans said the country would be better off if it were more religious. There may be some answers to why church attendance is slipping ever so slightly, and bored office or blue collar workers are looking for something more challenging. The last fifteen years books dealing with the history and reality of Christianity have become best sellers such as: Charles Kimball’s “When Religion Becomes Evil.” John D. Caputo’s “What Would Jesus Deconstruct?” “Water Into Wine” by Tom Harpur and Neale Donald Walsch’s three books on “Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue.” ZEALOT: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS OF NAZARETH" by Reza Asian (book review) Historian and scholar, Reza Asian, has just published a new biography of Jesus, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” Professor Asian was born in Iran and grew up in America. He accepted Jesus as his savior in his teens. (Later he returned to the faith of his fathers.) The book relates the author’s spiritual journey while understanding the peasants, priests, soldiers and their daily lives of Jesus’ Palestine. This biography seeks to separate the man from deity. I found the book an interesting read. It shares the epoch-making story through the writings of men who were there before, during and after Jesus. He says he wrote the book “in order to spread the good news of the Jesus of history with the same fervor that I once applied to spreading the story of the Christ.” “Ironically,” Asian writes, “the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.” Reading this book and a couple of Tom Harpur’s books filled in a lot of gaps in my faith, hope and understanding of religion in general. These books increased my faith because of the honesty and enlightenment they brought. Harpur is a former columnist for the Toronto Star, an Anglican priest and a Rhodes scholar. Twenty-first century believers and unbelievers are questioning about Jesus, the Son of Man, just as they were from the beginning of his ministry. The first 300 years were filled with what we might call “denominations” today. Those with the historical-literalist approach won the battle of “views” and have been with us to this day. That could be one reason people are seeing little relevance in “church going” and want more than set-in-concrete, unquestioning blind observance in their faith: traditions, rituals, rites, demands, regulations, ceremonies and even “know-it-all” sermonizers. I began with a joke about guys starting a new religion. There is no reason to start a new religion, nor a new denomination. The world has more than enough of both. There are many reasons to grow up in our faith and know what we believe and why. Church-goers will find in spiritual growth the dimension that may be lacking. --30--

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Will TV commercials forever hound us?

Can the curse of TV commercials ever be broken?


All you couch potatoes will soon be able to enjoy television dramas and soap operas without commercial interruption. This is something kin to having a little bit of heaven in our TV-watching. The new regulations go into effect Jan.1, 2012.

There is just one hitch in this great television “happening.” It is in the People’s Republic of China, not the United States of America.

According to a story by Wang Yan in last week’s CHINA DAILY, the new television regulations were passed “in accordance with the people’s interests and demands.”

No longer will TV ads interrupt the viewers dramas. No longer will films made for television be chopped up in ten minute segments by tomato soup or exercise bikes. Or, the worst: car dealership promotions.

American TV dramas and skits are written in eight minute segments. The last moment of the segment must have something that will cause you to endure the commercials and return to the story.

This is why watching a Hollywood movie on television is so appalling. These films were not written to be chopped into little pieces by the networks.

Over the course of ten hours, American viewers will see approximately three hours of advertisements. This is twice the number of commercials that we had to endure during the 1960s. Not a good omen for the future of TV viewing.

When the remote control device came on the market it was as if the Lone Ranger had come riding into our living rooms to deliver us from the barrage of commercials. Just like he saved the rancher’s daughter’s homestead, so the remote saved our sanity.

The remote control inventor should be awarded the Nobel Prize and receive a handsome check for every clicker sold. No one has invented a more stress-relieving gadget than the ingenious TV remote thingamajig.

While American television continues its advertising bombardment with no end in sight, we can find solace with our remote by our side.

The first television advertisement was broadcast in the United States on July 1, 1941. The watchmaker Bulova paid $9 for a placement on New York station WNBT before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The 20-second spot displayed a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States, accompanied by the voice-over "America runs on Bulova time.”

In the UK, the British Broadcasting Corporation is funded by a license fee and does not screen adverts apart from the promotion of its own future programming. On the commercial channels, the amount of airtime allowed for advertising is an overall average of 7 minutes per hour.

Television networks and local stations thrive on political campaigns. They are considered indispensable but are seldom held to “truth in message” creed of potato chips or salsa.

Political advertising in France is heavily restricted, and some, like Norway, completely ban it. Hooray for the Norwegians.

The Chinese government said the move to cut commercials from the middle of dramas would "improve the level of public cultural services, protect people's basic cultural rights and leave the people satisfied."

This is probably as happy a government edict as the Chinese have ever had. There were cheers from Hainan Island in the south to the banks of the Ice Festivals in Harbin.

Hold on to that remote and have an extra as backup in case of breakdown, for I do not see our government passing any regulations “in accordance with the people’s interests and demands.”

Remember, life is more fun when the commercials are muted. If the government and industry learn how much we love our clickers, they may ban them!


Would the world be better off without religion?

DEBATE: Would the world be better off without religion?

In the opening decade of the 21st century, there is still debate on the question: “Would the world be better off without religion?” This archaic debate appears to be alive and flourishing, with a multitude of pros and cons, what-ifs and why-nots.

John Donvan of ABC News was the moderator for this most recent debate on Nov. 15. The Oxford-style debate was held in New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. An excellent place for such a debate: a play-acting, make believe venue.

The debate unfolded with Matthew Chapman and A.C. Grayling speaking for the motion that the world would be better off without religion. They contended that religious strife has been at the center of many wars; that a person can be good and moral without being religious; that blind religious faith denies the reality of the sciences.

Both men, renowned non-religious writers, none more famous than Matthew Chapman, the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. With such a lineage he was a natural for denying the good of religion in world history. He is the author of “Trials Of The Monkey: An Accidental Memoir.”

Likewise A. C. Grayling, a British philosopher and professor, has written more than 20 books on philosophy, religion and reason. One book is aptly and humorously titled: “Against All Gods.”
On the side of religion were Rabbi David Wolpe and Dinesh D'Souza. They were against the motion that religion was not good for the world. They contended that religion not only was, but is a vital instrument in the stability of society; provides a moral compass; and provides many “why” answers – why things happen and what life is for.

David Wolpe, the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, was voted the best pulpit Rabbi by Newsweek. He is the author of seven books, including “Why Faith Matters.”

Dinesh D'Souza, author of “What's So Great About Christianity,” argued against the motion, believing that the world would not be better off without religion.

Following the debate the audience voted and 59 percent of them agreed the world would be better off without religion, while 31 percent disagreed. Ten percent of the audience remained undecided.
Nothing was resolved just as in the faux debates our politicians engage in these days. The age old questions remain: Does religion breed intolerance, violence, and the promotion of medieval ideas? Or should we concede that overall, it has been a source for good, giving followers purpose, while encouraging morality and ethical behavior?

Back in my Hong Kong days a neighbor friend was a television personality. He had a television talk and variety show on HK-TVB. On a whim he came up with a segment he called: “Is there a God?” The program aired live (this was before video tape) at five-thirty in the afternoon. It was only on the English language channel. If anyone was watching the program it was accidental.

It was really just a time filler and a lark for the Aussie moderator. I wish I could remember his name for he was a most likeable chap. Actually, I never met an Australian I didn’t like. My first cousin Joe Frank Johnson after flying for Air America during the Vietnam War liked Australia so much he and his wife and daughter settled there. Now he even talks like them. Australians are just good people who happened to grow up clinging to the bottom rim of the world.

The viewer’s vote came in 4 to 4 on there being a God. I suggested to the show’s producer that a more interesting debate might be along different lines, such as comparing the warrior-God of the Old Testament with the loving-God of the New Testament; or how does evil evolve from a religious conviction?

The debate will always be with us as long as religious and their non-religious neighbors continue to know so little about the subject.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Baptists Heritage in China, 1912-1950

Maudie and Wilson Fielder in China


Milton Cunningham, one-time missionary to Africa and former President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas writes about the book “Strangers in a Strange Land” - “Wilson and Maudie Fieder lived to serve … The author’s love for China and his empathy for the Fielders can be seen in these pages. These pages will enrich and bless your life.”

The years the Fielders were in Interior China 1912 to 1950 were volatile years around the world.

This is the story of a Comanche county cowboy, Wilson Fielder, and Maudie Albritton his West Texas sweetheart from Miles. Two pioneers in China’s Henan province from 1912 to 1950.

When Wilson settled in Kaifeng, an ancient capital of China on the Yellow River, he realized he could not continue without his young sweetheart Maudie. She wondered why he had not proposed before going to the ends of the earth.

Included are dozens of photos, maps and insights on China. In addition to the Fielder family are many Baptist missionary colleagues, heretofore unknown. There is an update on Christianity since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

This book is an attempt to make SBC missions more personal. Through inspiration and information remind Baptists and others why the Great Commission is as important as ever.

Check out the “Along the Way” website for more information:
While there read more on missions

Tell a friend about “Strangers in a Strange Land”
Purchase by mail: $20. -- Purchase in stores: $15.
Britt Towery E-mail:
124 Northstar Drive, San Angelo, Texas 76903

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Look At Old China Missions

This new book just off the press in late October, 2011, can be purchased by mail and ordered by e-mail.

弟克陶普義 牧師敬上

Britt Towery
124 Northstar Dr.
San Angelo, Texas 76903

Cell: 325-262-5378

Primary Site: Along The Way

Friday, September 23, 2011

China Missionary Days of the Wilson Fielders

Looking back can help us see the future more clearly.

Jody Towery standing in doorway of last house where an ill Lottie Moon lived. This photo was taken in 1985 so it is hoped someone has done some housecleaning by now. Lottie did not starve herself because the Chinese were hungry and starving. She was sick and died in a Japanese port city on her way to retirement in the USA.

This new book takes up the story of Baptists in China about the time Lottie died.

A new approach to telling the story of pioneer missionaries. This is the story of Maudie and Wilson Fielder, Texans who went to China 100 years ago to share the Gospel. It is their story and China's story of the 20th century.

Lots of Southern Baptists know of Lottie Moon, but little else of what Baptist work has been like in China (or rest of the world for that matter) from 1835 to 1950. This but a part, but an important part. To know where we have been helps us know where to go! (ancient Chinese proverb)

The Mochou Road Christian Church, Nanjing China. Christian growth in China exceeds the national GDP

Pray for the new leaders of the churches and seminaries.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Book of China Baptist Missions, 1912-1950


STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND. $20.00 including postage

A Miles Sweetheart & A Comanche Cowboy

The first time I stopped in Miles there was an excellent homemade pie store in what was once a gasoline filling station. For those new to West Texas, Miles, Texas, is a pleasant little town halfway between Ballinger and San Angelo on Hwy 67.

My purpose this visit was not for pie. I wanted to search out some local history. I wanted to see the area of town where Maudie Ethel Albritton lived.

The historical marker in front of the First United Methodist Church on Fourth and Broadway had just the facts I needed. The original 1901 wood frame Methodist Church was where Maudie attended Sunday school and church as a teenager.

Maudie was born in Navarro County in East Texas. Due to her mother’s poor health the family doctor recommended they move to a drier climate. They moved to Miles. Why Miles? The historical marker helped here too. The founder of the Miles Methodist Church was a Methodist circuit rider from Navarro County. It is quite possible that Maudie’s parents Tennessee and William Albritton knew him before he came west. Miles had a dry climate and good preaching.

Miles was home to Maudie until her 22nd birthday. The love of her life, Wilson Fielder, a cowboy from Comanche County, Texas, left the Concho River for China’s Yellow River. The fledging Republic of China was just emerging from the ruins of the Qing Dynasty.

The mail service from Central China to West Texas and back was slower than the Pony Express. With the patience of Job, Maudie accepted Wilson’s “far flung” proposal. So, in the summer of 1914, Maudie waved goodbye to friends and family at the Miles Santa Fe Railroad Depot and began the journey of her life.

A few months later Maudie married her teenage sweetheart, Wilson Fielder, in Shanghai, China. A honeymoon on the Yangzi River was but a beginning. Maudie and Wilson spent the next forty years sharing their faith in Central China, the birthplace of the Chinese people. They lived through some of the most hectic, action-packed years of China’s modern history.

The story of Maudie and Wilson Fielder has been in the works for twenty years. This columnist knew them well. The two youngest children of Maudie and Wilson made the book possible: Florence Ann McKinney and he late L. Gerald Fielder.

The title of the new publication of The Tao Foundation is “Strangers in a Strange Land.” Available in bookstores from October 10 –- Double Ten –- which is the one hundred year anniversary of the revolution that brirthed the Republic of China. (Based on the island of Taiwan since 1948.)

When Maudie’s train left Miles the town had a population of 1,500 and was served by two railroads. There were five churches, a beautiful brick school, two lumber yards and one of the strongest banks in Texas. (According to the Miles Messenger and Enterprize newspaper account.)

The Star Barber Shop advertised sharp razors, clean towels, hot and cold baths for a reasonable price. Tennis shoes (white) were selling for seventy-five cents a pair. The Central Hotel and Café offered a Sunday Chicken Dinner for thirty-five cents.

Maudie became a Baptist before going to join her Comanche County cowboy Baptist missionary Wilson Fielder. She was baptized in our very own Concho River the Summer of 1914 by Pastor Isaac Newton. The book is filled with such nuggets and items of inspiration; dozens of photos; a China map; an update on China Christianity after the Fielder’s retirement in 1950.

Britt Towery
124 Northstar Drive
San Angelo, Texas 76903