A.C. Snow

Snow: On 20-hour sermons

In a recent column I commented that preaching must be be harder than priming tobacco.

I had no real idea how hard until days later when I came across a clipping in which a Duke Divinity School professor who taught sermon writing said that for every minute of a sermon, a minister spends an hour in preparation.

That sounded so incredible, I checked with longtime friend, the Rev. Bob Mullinax, for confirmation.

“It is not unreasonable for one 20-minute sermon to require 20 hours, if done right, over a period of days or weeks,” he said. “But I’d wager that most reverends do not. Their multifaceted jobs can be merciless, and having that much time for a sermon may be rare.”

Mullinax noted that there are now enough ready-made sermons online to buy that it would be possible to rely on such, rather than on one’s own creativity, if a minister chose.

During my childhood, some ministers preached as if they hadn’t burned much, if any, midnight oil laboring over their sermons. They merely stepped to the lectern in full faith that God would put words in their mouths.

Preachers less trusted

I recently came across an old column in which I noted that a Gallup poll listed the clergy as the second most trusted profession, just behind nursing.

I was amazed to see that a December 2013 Gallup poll showed ministers had slipped to seventh place, behind nurses, pharmacists, grade school teachers, doctors, military officers and police officers.

Journalists came in 14th, with TV reporters ranking 16th. The poll listed lobbyists as least trusted, with car salesmen and Congress as runners-up.

Big triumph, small boy

A former first-grade teacher in Evergreen, Colo., has invented something that will be a boon to some of our little people, not to mention legions of grade school teachers. Eileen Sloan has come up with a plastic card gimmick, EZLeaps, to help kids tie their shoes.

I don’t know how old I was when I mastered that task. I do remember that it wasn’t easy.

I also recall that when my older daughter was in second grade, one of her classmates was still struggling to tie his shoes. It worried her.

The teacher had posted a short list of students who were working on the task. When one mastered the challenge, the name was removed. Eventually, only little John’s name remained.

One day Melinda came bursting through the door, shouting joyfully, “John learned to tie his shoes today!”

A survey by London-based Optical Specialist Lenstore found that a higher percentage of youngsters (57 percent) can use a smartphone than (55 percent) can tie their shoe laces.

Take this test

A reader shares a saying that a man is rich if five faces light up when he enters a room. There’s food for thought here.

I decided to test my wealth level when my wife and I attended a coffee at the home of longtime friend and neighbor Dot Preston.

If the saying is accurate, I’m as poor as a church mouse.

Only the face of Freddy Thornburg, the visiting black and white terrier belonging to former attorney general and federal judge Lacy Thornburg acknowledged my presence.

I interpreted Freddy’s furiously wagging tail as evidence of a face lit up. That was better than nothing.

To be fair, I’ll admit that the other guests were already engaged in animated conversation when I arrived. And as I moved through the room, I was warmly greeted by others.

But no welcome was more enthusiastic than Freddy’s. He hopped into my lap, offered kisses, and asked to have his belly scratched.

No other guest made such an intimate, reassuring gesture.

Although the saying is provocative, it is also presumptuous. Expecting faces to light up as you enter a room suggests a sense of self-importance that may be misplaced.

For every face that lights up at your appearance, store the memory of it to your mental lock box.