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The following appeared in Our Hope Vol. XXX, No. 6, Dec. 1923, pp. 302-303, edited by Arno C. Gaebelein.

The New York Herald, under the able editorial management of Mr. Frank Munsey, had a few weeks ago an editorial paragraph on the question “What is civilization?” which contains a good deal of truth.  We want to pass it on to our readers.

A few years ago, the Kiowa Indians lived on the great plains of the West, killing the buffalo and capturing wild horses.  Now the tribe is under Government protection on an agency near Anadarko, Oklahoma.  Where their fathers hunted the bison Governor Jack Walton now hunts the Ku Klux.

“These Kiowas,” says the Department of the Interior, “have established a record in making rapid strides toward civilization.” That is, of the 1,940 families only seventy-five now live in tents or tepees, although every adult redskin on the reservation was born in a tepee.  Now, with the income from their oil lands, the Kiowas are building houses better than those of their white neighbors.

“Here in the effete East, from spring until late fall, thousands of people leave their modern homes for weeks or months and live in tents or tepees.  The Kiowa considers it a mark of civilization to desert the wigwam for the bungalow; the New Yorker thinks it a genuine advance in his life to do the reverse.

“The Kiowa whose father rode across the plains, bare to the waist except for paint, now sits under an electric bridge lamp clothed in Norfolk jacket and ‘plus fours,’ and reads that the civilized ladies of the East stood on the benches at the Polo Grounds and screamed ‘Kill him, Jack! or ‘Finish him, Luis!’ at two men as naked and bloodthirsty as ever a Kiowa warrior was.” (The recent barbarous New York prizefight.–Ed.*)

A good deal more might have been added. Our boasted civilization is but skin deep and, certain scientists may be right in their assumption that that civilization is going backward instead of forward.

*How many preachers and Christian leaders would denounce prizefighting (or football) as barbarism today? It is more likely that they would be MMA enthusiasts.

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Priorities

We are about to leave for an important congregational meeting that is scheduled to begin at the same time as tonight’s BCS Championship Game.   Our services also regularly end well after noon each Sunday.  That’s alright by me.  I have to honestly say that all of the football and other sports that I’ve watched over the past 25 years or so hasn’t really enriched my life. However, the pragmatic and pessimistic side of me wonders whether our unpragmatic little fellowship is doomed to remain much the same as it is given what a football crazed environment we live in.

I used to attend a church that, like many churches today, had a large projection screen.  The sound guys used to joke with the pastor that if he preached too long, they had the capability to put the the Saints games right on the screen behind him!  I don’t think he ever went long, or not very long, perhaps in part because he was just about as eager to watch the game as everyone else.  Other churchgoers who may not be so concerned with football have other priorities that may be just as paramount in their minds.  I once heard a Southern Baptist evangelist tell a congregation that some of them were sitting there during his message wondering if they were going to get out early so they could beat the Methodists to the restaurants!

My prayer is that we will have our priorities in order and focus on things of everlasting consequence.

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