Word on the street today is that Billy Graham - that abominable 'preacher' set to perverting His Holy Word - is commencing with a four-day revival set inside Los Angeles' famed "Rose Bowl". Hoo boy! Wouldn't I love to be there, witnessing all those ladies dressed up like peacocks and all those men with their spiffy bowler hats and pocketwatches shouting to the rafters how great their love is for that old carpenter with a penchant for loving the pauper. Show me a pauper in that bunch and I'll show you my moon-rock!
If you haven't guessed, there are few things in this world I despise more than a counterfeit proselytizer. You all know that Jeremiah once wrote, "Listen not to the words of your prophets, who fill you with emptiness; Visions of their own fancy they speak, not from the mouth of the LORD", and personally, I've never had much reason to doubt him.
Now, those of you who know me well know that I was once friendly with a man by the name of Billy Sumday - not to be confused with that Interloper and mouthpiece of the devil, Billy Sunday, a man so wrapped up in the recitations of his own fanciful words he could've passed gas after a meal of corned beef hash, looked you in the eye and told you it smelled like a lavender bath. Reverend Sumday, on the other hand, may be the only man I ever met who, when he spoke, you were sure that you were hearing the words of a true believer of Jesus and man of God. This man, like me, also had a few thoughts on these "revivals" and once delivered a sermon to a group of 4,000 believers in Topeka Kansas after the great Dust Bowl Calamity of the 1930's. Re-printed below, by permission of his estate, is a summarized transcript of that now historic sermon.
LET'S REVIVE SOMETHING BESIDES SINNIN'
A sermon by Rev. Billy Sumday
Somebody asks me, "What is a revival?" I'll tell you: it is a purely philosophical, common-sense result of the wise use of divinely appointed means, just the same as water will put out a fire; the same as food will appease your hunger; just the same as a good woman loosens the desire of her man; it is a philosophical common-sense use of divinely appointed means to accomplish that end. Did I already say that? A revival is just as much horse sense as that.
A revival is not material; it does not depend upon material means. It is a false idea that there is something peculiar in it, that it cannot be judged by ordinary rules, causes and effects. That is nonsense. Above your head there is an electric light made in a laboratory in Lima, Ohio; that is effect. What is the cause? Why, the dynamo, you knuckleheads. Religion can be judged on the same basis of cause and effect. If you do a thing, results always come. The results come to the farmer. He plants his seed and tends to his rows. Then the crops come. Am I getting through, yet?
Religion needs a baptism of horse sense. That is just plain as day. God Almighty never intended that the devil should triumph over the Church. He never intended that the saloons should walk rough-shod over Christianity. And if you think that anybody is going to frighten me, you don't know me yet. I got an ID card from the local credit union if you don't believe me.
When may a revival be expected? I'll tell you when - when you see the people around you backsliding into sin and feeling free to endorse debauchery. And if that's the yardstick we're using, then now seems like as good a time as any. See, there are certain times when people don't seem to mind the sins of other people. They don't seem to mind while boys and girls walk the streets of their city and know more of evil than gray-haired men. Sinners, you are asleep.
Don't the Lord have a hard time? Own up, now.
I have only two minutes more before the sheriff comes in here and throws me in county lockup for a few reckless indiscretions I perpetrated last evening, and then I am through. Here's something you and I both need to work on - bad temper. Abuse your wife and abuse your children; abuse your husband; turn your old gatling-gun tongue loose. Funny thing happened in Grand Forks last week: lady came to me and said, "Mr. Sumday, I know I have a bad temper, but I am over with it in a minute."
Guess what, dunderhead? So is the shotgun, but it blows everything to pieces. I think I've said more than enough to let you know how I feel about these things.
August 14th, 1932, Topeka, KAN