Lately I've been doing a few humor posts on Friday's because I know it's a light day for blog readers and it gves me a day off from any serious thought.
This week I thought I would share with you some words from Billy Sunday on the dangers of card playing and dancing. This comes from Thump at the Thinklings, and I am putting it in the humor section because it is so over the top that I got a chuckle out of reading it.
In all fairness, Billy Sunday was a product of his times and the church culture he lived in, so this diatribe obviously had plenty of credibility at the time. It reminds me of the Baptist preacher I sat under when I was just out of college who felt about drinking the way Billy Sunday feels about cards. That preacher once described how proud he was of his wife the time she was at a meeting with some other pastor's wives. Some of the other pastor's wives ordered wine with their lunch and this lady told them "if you were a Christian you wouldn't have ordered that."
It's also a good reminder that there are probably some things in each of our lives that we are deadly serious about and that we are dead sure are sending the world to hell that a future generation might look back and chuckle about.
There is not a man in Omaha who believes more in amusements than I do. But I believe that they should be recreative and harmless. Nobody believes more in amusements than I. What games do I play?
Well, I play baseball and lawn tennis, although I think that that is a girl’s game and I don’t like it - and I play golf and checkers and chess.
Somebody says: “What difference between a game of cards and a game of checkers?” Well, just as much difference as there is between heaven and hell. Ever since the day that cards were invented to satisfy the whyms of an idiotic king they have been the tools of the gambler.
Many a boy is inveigled into a gambling room and listens to the roulette wheel, and the faro bank and keno and listens to the ribaldry and the jest and the blasphemy, and he is reminded of home.
Men who have been spending their funds and lives to ferret those things out tell us that nine-tenths of the gamblers are taught in their homes by their mothers, or 80 per cent of them first learned gambling in the homes of professing Christian people.
When I talk to you about card playing in your home, I am trying to pound through your head that every pack of cards is but another stepping stone to hell. I think the old painted hag or the broken-down roue, hanging around the tables at Monte Carlo, or a down-and-out card sharp bucking a crooked game in a gambling joint at 3 o’clock in the morning a blamed sight more respectable than the church people or professed Christian who permits card playing in his home.
[Here Sunday tells a story about a boy who visits a “miserable, no-account church member family” that teaches him to play cards. He goes on to become a professional gambler and is almost killed in a fight.]
All that after being thirteen years a professional gambler, led into it simply because that good for nothing church member family could not see any harm in a game of cards in the home.
I have just as much respect for the old gambler who will bet his last sou as for the women who will sit around in their homes and play cards for prizes.
They are just as much degenerate, blackleg gamblers as the gambler in the gambling hell. They ought to be put on the calaboose with the rest of the gamblers.
You have no right to find fault with the city officials when the don’t suppress gambling, when a thing so near akin to it is carried on right in your own home.
I believe that cards and dancing are doing more to damn the spiritual life of the church than the grogshops.
I believe more people backslide on account of the social side than the saloon.
A seemingly estimable woman will tear and snort and pout through an afternoon, what for? I mean the diamond-wearing bunch; the automobile gang; the silk-gowned - that’s the bunch. So she can take home a dinky cream pitcher or a whisk broom.
There is nothing so tame as to ask a fellow to play cards for the fun of it.
It does not make any difference whether it is penny-ante or sky limit. So we have progressive euchre, and lots of church members have cards on their tables as often as food, and they are progressing to hell.
A woman who will play bridge whist is no better than a man who will go out and play poker, and the man who comes home with a pocketful of money won at a poker game is no worse than his wife who has been playing auction or five hundred all evening for a nice cut glass dish in which to keep the bouquets that are sent to her by her churchgoing friends.
Now, I’m not trying to cram anything down your throats. I am appealing to your sense of reason and decency, and if you are not man or woman enough to listen I guess God Almighty doesn’t need you.
If this world was made up of only one family I probably would not need to preach this sermon.
But fortunately, or unfortunately, we are made up of many families. If you are lax in the care of your children it makes it harder for me to take care of mine.
If you don’t care whether your children go to the dance, and I do care, you make it that much harder for me to keep my children right.
But I will keep them right if I have to slap my next door neighbor in the face.
Somebody says to me: “Mr. Sunday, are you going to include the square dance?”
They all look alike to me. It does not take very long to cut the corners off.