This piece, from Christian History & Biography Issue 82 (the Phoebe Palmer/Holiness Movement issue) did a number on me as I was preparing it. The Salvation Army rocks.
Did you know men slept on the bridges?
When did the plight of the homeless first pierce your heart? Bramwell Booth, son of the beloved Salvation Army founder William Booth, remembers this moment in his father’s life—and how the senior Booth responded:
One morning, away back in the eighties, I was an early caller at his house in Clapton. Here I found him in his dressing-room, completing his toilet with ferocious energy. The hair-brushes which he held in either hand were being wielded with quite eloquent vigour upon a mane that was more refractory than usual, and his braces were flying like the wings of Pegasus. No good-morning-how-do-you-do here!
“Bramwell!” he cried, when he caught sight of me, “did you know that men slept out all night on the bridges?” Continue reading
It’s that time again: the bells are ringing and the red kettles swinging in front of grocery stores and other public places all over America. And in this holiday season, when even the staunchest of of Scrooges can’t help but think of what part they should play in “goodwill to all men,” a historical Wesleyan church has its hour of highest profile. That’s right. The Salvation Army is a church, and an “evangelical” one to boot. In 2004, this church got an extra dose of publicity when McDonalds heiress Joan Kroc sent 1.5 billion dollars their way. And we did an e-newsletter for Christian History about this much-misunderstood group:
The Blood-and-Fire Mission of the Salvation Army
Where did this tuba-playing, kettle-wielding social force come from, and what’s it all about?
Joan Kroc’s 1.5 billion dollar bequest recently put the Salvation Army on the front pages of many newspapers (and raised important questions about the potential effects of wealth on Christian organizations). But we didn’t need the reminder—we’ve known all about the Army for a long time.
Or have we?
We tend to associate them with Christmas kettles, brass bands, and the upright, do-gooder stance gently mocked in the Loesser musical (and Marlon Brando movie) Guys and Dolls. Continue reading