One man’s quirks is another fellow’s norms. I get that. But from all I know and the world I’m a part of, these things I do fall outside the boundaries of normal and customary, particularly for a Baptist preacher of a certain age.
One. I read a lot of western novels. Sometimes three or more a week. I was never a cowboy, but growing up on the farm with animals–pigs, cows, a horse or a mule–you have no trouble envisioning yourself as a cowboy.
Two. I have a collection of comic books. I’m not adding to it, as the books they’re turning out these days are not my cup of tea and the old ones I can no longer afford. — The Golden Era of comics was in the late 1940s and the 1950s. That’s also the time of my childhood, so the only comics I’m interested in come from that period. I have hundreds of Disneys, and several cowboys, etc.
Three. On my wall are not degrees, awards and certificates, but framed copies of two things: a) original cartoons by some of the great artists of our age and b) some magazines for which I did the covers. I have 40 or more pieces of original cartoon art from the great cartoonists. Many years ago, my collection made the round of libraries in Mississippi, which put them on display for a month at a time.
Four. I sketch people, often hundreds a week. I walk up to strangers, “May I draw you?” I ask schoolteacher friends if they’ll let me come to their class and sketch the kids. When I am invited to preach, I ask the host pastor if he can set me up to sketch people before and after the service. It’s what I do.
Five I support a half dozen ministries in addition to my church. I give a regular monthly amount to Global Maritime Ministries of New Orleans, to my seminary (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary), and to CRU in support of our granddaughter Megan Beckley who is a staffer with “Campus Crusade for Christ,” as well as a number of other ministries: missionary friends working among the Muslims, friends working in South Africa, and church planters in Chicago. I’m supporting a college student in her summer missions. It all adds up. So thankful to be able to do this.
Six. I’m almost a standup comic. I do banquets, and sometimes they want lots of humor. I’m good with that, being a cartoonist. (I try not to overdo that. I don’t tell jokes in sermons, but I love to laugh. When Jerry Clower and I would spend an hour together, I told more funny stories than he did. Getting with friends to share funny stories is the best fun.)
Seven. I have a story about Coach Paul Bryant no one else does. I have a story about Evangelist Billy Graham no one else does. I have a story about Comedian Jerry Clower no one else does. And I have a ton of stories about myself no one else does because I’m not telling them!!!
Eight. In the last month, I have written four books. These were pulled together from articles I’d posted on our website www.joemckeever.com over the years, but I still had to choose them, edit them, delete portions, correct typos, and shape the books. They deal with prayer, the Scriptures, pastoring, and church health. They’ll all be published at the same time. This will make seven books I’ve done with Parson’s Porch Publishers of Cleveland, TN. When asked why so many, I answer, “I’m in my 80th year and the clock is ticking!”
Nine. I married again at age 76. Nearly three years later, I know it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Soooo thankful to the Lord. Bertha Fagan McKeever teaches college English and is a great cook, seamstress, yard person, prayer warrior, and barber. Yep, she cuts my hair.
Ten. Maybe the quirkiest thing about me is I’m an Alabama country boy (I grew up plowing the mule, picking cotton, etc) who loves the city, loves opera (anything by Puccini), spent a total of 30 years in New Orleans, and belongs to the great FBC of Jackson MS, across from the state capitol. I do not work in the yard, and enjoy being able to pay someone to do it for me. I do not own any work clothes–none!–nor do I own a short-sleeved shirt (mostly because I’ve had skin cancer and need to avoid direct sunlight).
And I’m not apologizing for any of it.
There’s plenty in my life I do need to apologize for. I’m far too human and God has had a full-time job forgiving me for all my failures, shortcomings, and rebellions. I thank Him for His amazing grace.