Almost every week since we started the Spy, I have been told about at least one remarkable personality who lives on the Mid-Shore who should be interviewed. From Galena to Vienna, it has been extraordinary to document these writers, artists, retired elected officials, cabinet members, and countless other professionals who have decided to make their home along the Chesapeake.
So I should have been prepared for the tip that one of the great preachers in America has been calling Cambridge his home for the last ten years, but I wasn’t. It was astonishing to know, as I did some initial research on Thomas Long’s biography and credentials, including those comparing Tom’s talents to those of the famed Billy Graham. I couldn’t wait to interview him, and he kindly agreed to meet at the WHCP studio to answer any questions I might have.
In many ways, the interview turned out to a failure from what I had thought would take place. After disassociating himself with whatever ranking his scholarship and preaching skills might have earned him, the conversation never did get down to the nitty-gritty of a well-presented sermon.
Instead, for forty minutes, we talked about the more significant challenge preachers face as they address their congregations on Sundays; and that is the manifestation of evil in a universe with can co-exist with an all-powerful God. What do ministers say to parents who have lost a child to cancer or victims of war and torture?
Tom Long has been wrestling with this task for most of his adult life, including the subject of his books, his classrooms at Emory and Princeton, and his own preaching. The results of this journey, outlined for me a week ago at the WHCP Studio in Cambridge, is all the more meaningful as much of the world enters its most spiritual time of year.
We had our interview at WHCP to note that Tom’s other job these days as being the volunteer Chair of the Board of this unique community radio station. It turns out that he worked his way through seminary as a disc jockey. And to complement his passion for the radio, we decided to offer this as a podcast rather than our regular video format.
This video is approximately eleven minutes in length. Photo courtesy of Candler School of Theology at Emory University.