Monday, October 12, 2009

The Altered State Of A Southern Baptist Icon

This is the portrait of B. H. Carroll, D. D. (pro causa honoris) that hangs beneath the rotunda of the B. H. Carroll Memorial Building on the campus, in Ft. Worth, Texas, of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the institution that he founded in 1908. Among Texas Baptists, the esteem accorded to "old Dr. Carroll," as he is fondly called, is comparable to the veneration that communicants in the Church of Rome routinely accord to saints.
This portrait of old Dr. Carroll was made from life and, in it, the viewer will observe that, at some time after its completion, a surgically inclined artist removed three fingers from its subject's left hand. For this amputation, the reason was not that of any defect in the hand; but it was, instead, because of what the hand was grasping, that is, a perfectly honest stogie. Although Dr. Carroll, an ardent Prohibitionist, was strong against beverage alcohol, his devotion to other Southern agricultural products certainly did not exclude tobacco.

It was in the aftermath of the First World War that the Texas Baptists finally decided, en masse, that tobacco was a pernicious species of plant sown, nurtured, and harvested in the blighted fields of sin. Because the portait of Dr. Carroll, on account of the cigar, was thus and then perceived not as a source of spiritual uplift but as a medium of temptation, it became necessary to excise the offending object and, with it, the good pastor's tempted fingers.

The portrait of Dr. Carroll, in its present condition, is as pure and chaste as any English war-memorial. It is religiously correct. And, at the disfiguring result of the procedure by which Dr. Carroll's right hand no longer needs to know what his left hand is doing, Machiavelli nods.

JTO Editor's Note: Nice Orthodox Beard. Don't you think?


  1. Anonymous4:54 PM

    Great beard. I love your web site keep up the good work , brother

  2. Anonymous4:50 PM

    His three fingers look more like they are in a pocket on his coat.

  3. Hey Nathan!

    Just experienced my first Orthodox Vespers last night, and Divine Liturgy this morning. A wonderful experience! I thought about you. Hope all is well!

  4. Debbie Espen3:50 AM

    Funny but sad. Plus I notice he has a great beard - are they gonna chop that off next?

  5. It reminds me of an occasion when Charles Haddon Spurgeon, another Baptist minister, was at a conference of ministers — many of whom were smoking cigars. Spurgeon commented, "Are you not ashamed to be smoking?" At which many of the men discretely disposed of their cigars.

    Spurgeon then pulled out his own cigar, lit it, and began smoking. One of the other men said to him, "Didn't you just say we should be ashamed to be smoking?"

    To which Spurgeon replied, "No, I merely asked you if you were ashamed. Apparently you were."


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