Hymn Stories - Continued

Image courtesy pinterest.com

Image courtesy pinterest.com

By Christopher Zoukis

Somewhere in there, after his missionary work in England, he worked as a missionary in Liberia to the Kru and Bassa people.  This lasted for about fifteen years.  He then returned to England for five years.  Finally, he came home to Colorado, living on the hill at Belleview campus.  He was made the Director of Missions for the Pillar of Fire Church, and taught at the college and its affiliated seminary.

One of the world’s foremost hymnologists, he wrote six books about hymns.

Bishop Konkel looked like Winston Churchill, as if someone had stacked a series of bowling balls atop each other, forming a human being.  He was plump and short with a high, whiskey-soaked voice.  Although it is doubtful ‘demon rum’ ever touched his lips.

Due to his health, which had been ravaged by Liberia, he suffered two strokes and got around with a cane.  Yet when he entered the room, an energy of commitment walked alongside him, and observers experienced a singular sensation:  they felt as if they should rise out of respect.  Very few people are capable of evoking such a response in others. 

According to former students, he always began his lectures in a voice of didactic reflection, using a precise, erudite vocabulary, which quickly devolved into informal, intimate conversation, almost as if he was holding vague and seemingly indecisive coloquies.  Pausing frequently for adventurous asides, he was mesmerizing, drawing his students into his remarkable personal life.

Without secrecy is what he was.  Open, frank, and garrulous, he lacked timidity.  One of his favorite expressions was “the pleasures of piety.”  By that he meant his own desire to live virtuously, to emulate the teachings of Jesus. 

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Bishop Konkel was one of the wild things, despite everything to the contrary.  This is so because he, like Max in his wolf’s costume, did what he wanted when he wanted.  Only Bishop Konkel wore a costume given to him by his Jesus, who it turns out, touched his heart, and put the desire in him to do what Jesus wanted him to do.  So what Bishop Konkel wanted to do was what Jesus wanted to do, which was what he wanted to do.  You couldn’t tell whose want was whose want.

And like Max, Bishop Konkel sailed across the ocean to Liberia, the land of the true wild things.  There he tamed the wild things by the magic trick of staring them down with the love of Jesus.

Bishop Konkel, too, just like Max, wanted to be loved most of all.  And he was.  Jesus loved him most of all.  Just like Max’s mother loved him most of all. 

Then Bishop Konkel came home to his room – Colorado – and his dinner was still hot.