Page 10


AFTERWORD WE WERE ALL BAPTISTS in Pampa, Texas, where I grew up. My brother, sister and I were sent off to Sunday School among the Methodist-Baptists, the town’s second most important church. My Scout troop was sponsored by the Presbyterian-Baptists, who, with the Disciples-Baptists, were next in importance. Next came the Catholic-Baptists, who, some feared, would never see heaven. The EpiscopalianBaptists would have gone unnoticed except that some of the town’s founding fathers had brought their faith from England to Pampa, giving a certain class to their scrawny congregation. At the apex were the BaptistBaptists, pure and undiluted, whose massive presence First Baptist was the length of a football field from my bedroom window was palpable on any Sunday morning at eleven in those open-windowed days before air conditioning as triumphant song and trumpeted sermon accused me of sleeping in. Furthermore, the BaptistBaptists sang just as triumphantly at seven o’clock Sunday evening and, not trusting human nature to stand firm from Sunday to Sunday, used some of the town’s most seductive homemade pies to lure the Wednesday evening prayer meeting. The Baptist-Baptist formula for religious success was clearcut and ultimately as measurable as the bottom line at a hardware store: keep the message simple; stir faith in the organization; expand the plant and the program by gifts of Richard B. Hughes teaches history at St. Edward’s University in Austin. money and service; sell the product; count the results. When I think of those Baptist-Baptists, often with begrudging admiration, it is verbs of action which come to mind: attend, promote, support, count, do and do Photo by and do. To call their preacher a “gogetter” was to end all attempts at praise. When I say we were all Baptists, I mean that the Baptists did what the other churches tried to do but did it better. It was they who defined success. It was they who set the tone for the town, and it was not uncommon to sense their spirit at a meeting of the Rotary Club, the P.T. A. , or the High School assembly. There were dissenters to this formula for religious success. One was my mother. \(I can’t guess the total number of dissenters in Pampa; the silent are hard Mother’s was a mysticism of nature and God. She longed for beautiful music, elegant architecture, thoughtful sermons quietly delivered by learned ministers, the evangelization of the mind as well as the heart. She became a regular churchgoer only when she and Dad moved to Washington, D.C., for a time in the 1950s. She worshipped at the National Presbyterian Church, whose august atmosphere, so full of God, might also on a given Sun day be full of the august likes of President Eisenhower or Secretary of State Dulles. HE TEXAS PANHANDLE frontier, like all frontiers, mobilized the outer man. Survival, not subtlety, was the goal of pioneers. Their contributions to the churches the camp meetings, the circuit riders, the farmer preachers of the Methodists, the Disciples and above all, the Baptists, furnished the Daniel Boones and the Davy Crocketts of the American religious tradition. They functioned in hard times. They got it done in hard places. And their muscular fundamentalism, with its highdecibeled promises of a nonalcoholic heaven and a steamheated hell still reigned in my boyhood years in the 1930s and 1940s. The inner man with his needs for contemplation, for beauty, for a caref theology, had to wait for a subtler civilization. Woe to tender souls born at the wrong time and place! Roy Ham ric When after college I visited the cathedrals of Europe, I learned that the world has far more Catholics than Baptists. I learned that Lutherans far out number Baptists in Scandinavia and Ger many and that the scrawny Episcopalians make up the official Church of England. I even learned that there are people in the world who never heard of a Baptist. I know all this, but I don’t believe a word of it. The Baptist-Baptists of Pampa By Richard B. Hughes THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23