The Salvation Amish!

The Body Builder

Captain Terry Camsey

By Captain Terry Camsey – 

My sister recently passed to me some of the notes my mother recorded when she was a cadet in the Centenary Session here in the UK. There were, as I understand it, around 700 cadets in that session.

The notes are fascinating and include lectures by Commissioner Brengle and other names well-known to older Salvationists. General Edward Higgins visited for a day and related an incident which my mom recorded. This is what she wrote… “A little old lady approached me. She had white hair and an old-fashioned bonnet.” The year he spoke those words to the cadets was 1929. There really is nothing new under the sun, is there?

I have often wondered why the bonnet was retained but not the silk top hat that seems to have been the equivalent headgear for men in Booth’s era. That’s probably something I’ll never know.

But we do get attached to things, don’t we? When the “Commander” style hat for women in the USA was phased out a few years ago, I did hear of stocks being bought up quickly, presumably by some who preferred it to the “new” style adopted.

How about skirt pleats? Front, back or sides…what’s your preference?

Thirty years ago the quibble, certainly here in the UK, was about stockings versus tights…then square heels versus triangular ones…then seams versus no seams…now (unless I am much mistaken, which, at my age and with my eyesight, I could be), stockings with seams are back in again.

How about the length of uniform skirts? The definitive interpretation must surely be that established by the late Lt. Colonel Bernard Adams for his songster brigade. It was simply this… “when you kneel down, your skirt should touch the ground.”

Reminded me of the long greatcoats we used to wear in the (Queen’s) Guards band years ago…how did you get a sense of uniformity with bandsmen of all heights ranging in height, in the Irish Guards band at that time, from around four feet to six feet six inches? Simple, you cut them so that the bottom for everyone was the same height above the ground. For the taller that was down to their calves, for the smaller…?

There is such a potential danger, though, in sacralizing the mundane, isn’t there? Or of iconizing artifacts. Is it the substance of the flag itself that is sacred, or the Sovereign and Commander-in-Chief it represents?

Most denominations have found themselves guilty of elevating cultural norms of a certain time to equivalent status with biblical mandates. Traditions can be good or bad, but we need to be careful not to confuse them as being significant from a biblical point of view when they are not.

Some words penned by Audrey Malphurs in a recent book, Strategy 2000: Churches Making Disciples for the Next Millenium, challenged me this past week. He says this:

“We dare not make the mistake of the Amish who, in an attempt to preserve their traditions, have locked themselves into an 18th century culture. They have not incorporated a biblical culture, but have made the culture of the 19th century their church culture and have resisted all attempts at change. Consequently, they have had little, if any, impact in terms of being salt and light (Matt. 5:13,14) to a lost and dying world in the 21st century.”

Is there a danger of the Army becoming “The Salvation Amish”?

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