When We Were Weird

We Were a Peculiar People Once: Confessions of an Old-Time Baptist by David Lyle Jeffrey

What if Mark Twain had been a committed Christian with deep theological awareness? Then he might have been David Lyle Jeffrey! Jeffrey’s new book, We Were a Peculiar People Once: Confessions of an Old-Time Baptist, is a gem. Rarely have I laughed so heartily and lamented so deeply in the same book. This book is part memoir, part prophetic call; uproariously funny, searchingly convicting. I cannot commend it warmly enough.

While not hiding his critique, which is central to the book, Jeffrey begins with many humorous stories from his childhood among the Canadian Baptists. Humor arises from everything, from outhouses to prayer meetings. For instance, we read about Jeffrey and his friends providing “exotic” meat for a local restaurant one summer by catching and selling cats and turtles—“I still feel pretty bad about the cats,” he says. Not surprisingly, the restaurant was shut down that summer for “illicit culinary practices.”

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Ray Van Neste is Dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

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