By Jim Linderman
I’m not all about satire, and neither should any questioning soul… there were some good guys in the Jesus racket, and one of them was Clarence Herbert Woolston. A humble man who makes what passes for our public preachers of today look like bleating bags of greed. I frequently question pocket lining preachers, but Dr. Woolston has finally cured my heathen ways. He should be at least as famous as the Reverend Billy Graham’s lunkhead son but he is unknown. Not only forgotten, hardly ever heard of.
Let’s start with this, the refrain to the greatest children’s song of all time:
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world
Are you humming it in your head? You should be. Know who wrote it? Clarence Herbert Woolston, Doctor of Divinity wrote it. The fellow above with sideburns and a big cat in his hands. Song writers will give their left nut (or if they are nut free, a left hand) to write what is known in the trade as a “standard.” This song is one big glorious standard children love still, but one their more racist and unforgiving parents (and politicians) seem to have forgotten. More children have sung Jesus Loves the Little Children than you have heard Sir Paul’s Yesterday or Willie Nelson’s Crazy but how often have you read the phrase “Clarence Herbert Woolston’s Jesus Loves the Little Children?”
I know how often. You have now read it exactly once.
In writing the song Jesus Loves the Little Children Woolston turned the melody from a brutal marching song of the Civil War titled Tramp Tramp Tramp into a sweet, peaceful lesson in harmony. The song was originally used by soldiers to encourage each other’s march to their horrible, final demise. “Just over that ridge, boys!”
The equally lovely Bible Object Book shown here is another accomplishment of this dear man history has forgotten. Each chapter, each PAGE a delight. As you can see, my copy cost 49 cents. Now THAT is a sin. Especially when you consider the opening price of “prosperity preacher” Joel Osteen’s new book has a list price of $26.00. Osteen’s 2008 book sold 4 million copies, but you can now buy it used (and unread) starting at ONE PENNY as long as you pay the postage. Amazon has hundreds of the hardcover for sale for at one cent each. The only reason for the penny is that Amazon won’t let you give things away. Preacher Osteen’s book is today the one cent hotdog they’ll sell you at happy hour just to get you in the door. We can only pray Osteen fades further away than Reverend Woolston someday. I Trust, he will.
In one Woolston sermon “the object” is a postage stamp. Woolston holds one up and says:
“The postage stamp is a non-combatant. When it is licked, it does not hit back. It is a peace-lover.”
“The postage stamp does what it is told to do… it does not seek to know the contents of the letter, but to deliver the letter to the party named.”
Nice. Preacher Woolston not only promoted peace, but privacy. He knew it was wrong to read other’s mail. There are 61 chapters in the book, each one using an everyday object children are familiar with to teach a lesson. Each a model of teaching effectiveness about tolerance and love. It is told with beautiful and concise prose. It is benign brainwashing.
Perhaps we would know more about the book if Woolsey hadn’t passed away less than a year after it was published. Search “Jimmy Swaggart” and you get well over one million hits. Search “Clarence Herbert Woolston” and you get few indeed, and most are used bookstores selling this book. It is almost enough to make me cry like Jimmy Swaggart! That charlatan will sell you HIS music (boy will he… a huge website is devoted to selling you his music) but they all suck by comparison to Woolston’s masterpiece. In fact, they all suck by comparison to The Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley. I worship Sheb.
Swaggart should just ship all those CDs directly to the flea market where they belong and will eventually end up… the sooner the better.
Woolston was pastor of the East Baptist Church in Philadelphia. How lucky were they to have him! In this picture, Woolston brings a baby bear cub into church to illustrate the sin of stubbornness. A photo in the book shows his church filled to the rafters, literally, with children craning their necks towards the lectern. So eager to learn, and so glad to be there. Have you tried to take your kids to church lately? I wonder if they would like to see a bear cub.
Woolston also wrote a book Harry Houdini prized! I’d be honored if Harry Houdini had even browsed a mere pamphlet of mine, but he had the entire Seeking Truth: A Book of Object Lessons with Magical and Mechanical Effects which is 207 pages of REAL miracles, not the kind prosperity preachers claim to make every day. Yep, Woolston also wrote a book in which you can entertain children while performing magic tricks from the Bible.
Will the mega-church evangelists of today ever repent and measure up to Clarence? I dunno… can a leopard change his spots?
NOTES: In addition to “Jesus Loves the Little Children” Woolston wrote “Penny Object Lessons,” “Seeing Truth,” “The Curiosity Book,” and produced small tracts called “Seeing Truth Packets,” which were once widely available. Pictures from The Bible Object Book by Clarence Herbert Woolston The Judson Press 1926. Shop for Jimmy Swaggart’s music HERE. Each CD $18.00 and you will be given the option to “add a $100.00 donation to your cart” before figuring out the postage. Joel Osteen Ministries is HERE where you may watch as many “moments of encouragement” as you wish. The best site for information on Clarence Herbert Woolsey is HERE along with the entire lyrics to Jesus Loves the Little Children. Listen to “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” HERE. Sheb Wooley’s masterpiece of mirth follows:
Jim Linderman is a Grammy-nominated collector, popular culture historian and author. His network of blogs is approaching 4 million page views, and his VINTAGE SLEAZE BLOG which tells a true story from the golden age of smut every day has over 300,000 Facebook followers. For several years he has been working on TIMES SQUARE SMUT which will tell the story of several long forgotten writers, illustrators and mob-connected publishers from the 1950s who ultimately influenced contemporary culture.