Background—New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
I helped to put myself through college and seminary by working with a private painting contractor in the summer months and during school breaks. My boss, William, taught me the painting trade, and along the way I discovered a love for fine furniture and refinishing fine woods. I still today cannot go through an upscale furniture store without long pauses to admire the woods and artwork of the inlay and finishes.
The year I started seminary in 1973, US troops withdrew from Vietnam to end that terrible war, Watergate Hearings began in congress, the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War, Secretariat was the first winner of the Triple Crown in 25 years, Skylab was launched as the United States’ first space station, the Sears Tower opened in Chicago, “The Exorcist” and “Deliverance” were scaring movie-goers, Elton John was crooning “Crocodile Rock,” families were watching weekly TV episodes of “The Waltons,” the barcode was invented, the average cost of a new home was $32,500, and gas was $0.40/gallon.
The year I graduated with my PhD in 1981, NASA launched the first flight of the space shuttle Columbia, MS-DOS was released by Microsoft, IBM sold the first Personal Computer, Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, Prince of Wales, Ronald Reagan became president, the wreck of the Titanic was found, the first American test-tube baby was born, scientists identified the Aids virus, the term “Internet” was first mentioned, movie goers were being entertained by “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Chariots of Fire,” Olivia Newton-John was getting “Physical,” the average cost of a new home was $78,200, and gas was $1.25/gallon. I sent out 60 resumes for teaching positions and got not one response. I finally took a position as Baptist Campus minister at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. By a strange sequence of events that became a sermon I later preached in seminary chapel as a professor (“Keep Yourselves from Idols”), I finally wound up teaching as a professor back at my seminary alma mater seven years later.