Hangin’ with Dr. Mohler
Friday night I was invited over to Al Mohler‘s house. He and his family live in the president’s mansion (a word not accidentally chosen) next to the grounds of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Okay, so there were about 200 other people invited that night as part of the preview weekend at the Seminary, but let’s not dwell too long on the petty details.
The way I figure, it’s all about getting that “inside story” from a celebrity. Something that won’t appear in any book or on any talk show, but rather is just a random piece of the person’s life. Mohler and his family stood at the door of their home greeting all of the preview students and families. While shaking hands he asked me where I was from. “San Luis Obispo, CA area” I replied. At that point he got rather animated and pulled his wife and daughter over and said “He’s from San Luis Obispo!” I was expecting a “Where exactly is that?” response, not a interrupting-other-people’s-conversation-with-his-daughter-and-wife response. “What’s the significance of that?” I asked with a smile and a shrug. Mohler then proceeded to tell me about a Fourth of July vacation they took in my stomping grounds.
While stopping for gas on the Fourth, a woman approached Mohler outside the convenience store. Looking up at him she exclaimed, “You are the ugliest man I have ever met! You are so incredibly ugly!” I had to laugh at the reminder to be humble, Mohler interjected. The woman was quickly shooed away by a cop with “a thick Jersey accent.” The cop said something akin to “Don’t worry about it, she says that to everyone who goes into the store. She’s crazy.” Mohler inquired as to where the fireworks were going to be that night and the Joisey cop responded, “Ah nah. Wee don’t have no fireworks heere. It sceers away da boidees.” Yet another Fourth of July foiled by the Snowy Plover bird colonies.
Later in the evening I was poking around Mohler’s 40,000 book personal library when I walked into a room where he was informally answering questions with about 15 prospective students. I stood back and listened for a while, but decided to join the fray when I realized I was stuck in the room until the crowd packing the two entrances thinned out. I like to ask questions that help me view such men as people with real lives in situations like that. I can go find something Mohler’s written to answer any doctrinal questions I have, and that kind of setting doesn’t afford enough time to give the details necessary to ask a life-situation question.
So I asked “What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?”
I thought he might say “Yours,” but instead replied “It was on the day that I was to be announced as the president of Southern Seminary. I had been up for about 72 hours straight, being grilled by the board of trustees, flying to different places for various meetings. I was 33 years old and incredibly young for the job. I was about to meet with a very hostile press for this announcement when a reporter asked me ‘You’re 33 years old, what do you plan to do about that?’ I turned to him and said ‘I plan to age.’ And let me tell you, that is the promise I’ve kept most faithfully over the last 17 years.”
So there you have it, my experience of hanging with Dr. Mohler.