McCullough's Typewriter

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
— Jude 1:3

Sometimes old trumps new.

Each week a paper lands in my driveway. Our local newspaper carrier delivers it. The paper that comes flying through the air and plops down is not loaded with news. It is devoted only to ads. That's right, page after page after page of advertisements urging me to chase the new: new clothes, new products, new shoes, new bikes, new toys . . . .

The appeal is persistent. It is as if marketers are whispering in my ear, "What you have is not enough. It is not good enough because it is not new enough."

Recently, David McCullough reminded me that new is not always better nor necessary. McCullough, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of Truman and John Adams, was at Florida Atlantic University to talk about the Truman presidency. I had a second-row seat.

McCullough wowed us with his grasp of history and his insightful perspectives on it. One anecdote that captured my attention, however, had nothing to do his work as a historian. It had to do with his typewriter.

Mr. McCullough shared with us that when he began his work in 1965, his employer issued him a manual Royal typewriter. Assuming that it was an important tool of his trade, McCullough decided to buy one for himself. He told us that he purchased a used (25-year-old) manual typewriter for $50. And then he stunned us when he said, "I wrote my first book, The Johnstown Flood, on that typewriter -- and every book since."

Amazing. No doubt, electric typewriters, word processors, desktop computers, and laptop computers have all been offered to McCullough, but he was satisfied with what he had. His manual typewriter would do just fine.

As I think about that story I am reminded of Jude's words, "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." By "the faith" James is referring to the Christian faith, the teaching of and about Jesus. He tells us that it was "delivered," meaning that it landed on the doorstep of our hearts.

What I picked up, read, and believed has not changed. It was true then. It is true now. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Knowing that, we strive together for the faith of the gospel. How do we do that?

  • Read the words of Jesus.
  • Talk with Jesus.
  • Gather with the people of Jesus.
  • Share the truth of Jesus.
  • Honor Jesus with our thoughts and with our work.

It's pretty simple stuff, but then when have what works, you don't need something newer. You simply devote yourself to what you have.

How you can you "contend for the faith" today?