The Table Podcast

Empowering Unlikely Leaders

In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock and Gerald McDermott discuss empowering leaders with speech impediments.

Timecodes
00:15
McDermott’s book Famous Stutterers
09:17
Moses’s case of stuttering
16:48
Aristotle’s and Demosthenes’s cases of stuttering
21:58
Joshua Chamberlain’s case of stuttering
24:34
King George’s case of stuttering
28:54
McDermott’s own experience of stuttering
33:55
Cause of and cure for stuttering
40:14
Marilyn Monroe’s and Annie Glenn’s cases of stuttering
Resources Gerald McDermott, Famous Stutterers: Twelve Inspiring People Who Achieved Great Things while Struggling with an Impediment
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table, where we discuss issues of God and culture. My name is Darrell Bock, executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And my guest is Gerald McDermott, who teaches at Beeson Divinity School. And I’m going to let you lay out your official title and tell us a little bit about the book that we’re going to be talking about.
Gerald McDermott
Sure, Darrell. Thank you very much for having me on. I am the Anglican chair of divinity at Beeson Divinity School. I run the Institute for Anglican Studies here. We train Beeson students for the ministry and various types of ministry and the Anglican Communion, which is a worldwide communion. And I also teach courses on Jonathan Edwards, theology of world religions. And these are all areas in which I have written books and do a lot of lecturing.

So the book that you have graciously agreed to talk with me about is called Famous Stutterers. And the subtitle is Twelve Inspiring People Who Achieved Great Things while Struggling with an Impediment. And I’m going to hold this.

Darrell Bock
Okay, very good. We can see that. Very interesting. I’m almost hesitant to speak now that you’ve mentioned the topic.

But let me ask you one question about your Beeson situation and then we’ll turn to the book. Are there other chairs of other denominations at Beeson or are you the first and only? How does that work?

Gerald McDermott
There is a Presbyterian chair. I mean, Beeson – and I love this about Beeson – it’s interdenominational. Timothy George, the founding dean, is a Baptist. And we have other Baptist professors. But we have Presbyterian professors, we have two Lutheran professors. We have actually seven Anglican professors. And we have one or two other denominations represented. But we are all orthodox, thank God. We are all on the same page in terms of great tradition, Christianity. We are all classically evangelical and thus on the Protestant side of things. Although of course Anglicans – you know, some Anglicans say we’re in the via media, way in the middle.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, the demilitarized zone, huh?
Gerald McDermott
The demilitarized zone. The best of the Catholic worship tradition and the best of the Protestant preaching tradition. [Laughter]
Darrell Bock
Well, I didn’t realize there were other chairs of other denominations there. That’s actually why I asked. Because you’re in an interesting location there in Birmingham. It’s a beautiful campus.
Gerald McDermott
Yes.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. Okay, well, I learned something. I appreciate that.

Well, let’s talk about your topic. You say you’ve got 12. Now that sounds like an apostolic group or something.

Gerald McDermott
I did have that thought kind of in mind when I settled on 12 instead of 11 or 13. From Moses to Marilyn Monroe.
Darrell Bock
Are you kidding me? [Laughter]
Gerald McDermott
I’m not kidding. So here’s the list of the 12. And all but one are stutterers. And I’ll explain why in just a second.

Moses, and then Aristotle. So I have a chapter on each. So Moses, Aristotle. Demosthenes, and the title of that is The Stutterer who Wasn’t. But he is probably the most famous stutter in history. You know the famous story of his trying to cure his stuttering by putting pebbles in his mouth at the seaside and trying to speak with the pebbles.

Joshua Chamberlain – so I jump up to the 19th century. The hero – of course it depends on what part of the country I’m in whether I use the word hero – of the Battle of Gettysburg. And he was the star of the book The Killer Angels and the movie Gettysburg. He was a college professor. Volunteered in 1862 to fight for the union. And he led the charge down the hill of Little Round Top, the turning point in the Battle of Gettysburg. And of course the battle was the turning point in the Civil War.

And they had run out of ammunition. And he led a bayonet drive down Little Round Top into about 300 men from Alabama. And anyway, he went on to fight in 20 more battles. Was wounded mortally at Petersburg. The wounds from which he died 50 years later. And anyway, he went on to become the governor of Maine. He went back to become the president of Bowdoin College, from which he had left as a professor. And all the time he was a terrible stutterer.

Then King George VI, the famous stutterer in the movie The King’s Speech, which almost everyone has seen.

Winston Churchill. Few people know the terrible speech impediments he had, one of which was stuttering.

Marilyn Monroe. Peter Brown, the great early church historian. The most famous biographer of St. Augustine. World-class scholar, bad stutterer.

John Stossel, the TV news journalist.

Darrell Bock
ABC.
Gerald McDermott
Most recently on Fox News. He was for many years ABC News, CBS News. Formerly a terrible stutterer.

Annie Glenn, who is still alive. The wife of John Glenn. Your older listeners if you have any – I’m sure you have millions of younger listeners. But your older listeners know who John Glenn was. A famous astronaut and senator from Ohio. Well, Annie Glenn was his wife. And I say was because she is still alive and he just recently died of course. Terrible, terrible stutterer. Horrible stutterer. And her stutter was made famous in the movie The Right Stuff.

Byron Pitts, another TV journalist. African-American. He is an Emmy Award winner, was host on 60 minutes for a number of years. Now he is at ABC News. Couldn’t read until he was 11 years old. Stuttered terribly until he was 20. And he is still a stutterer, but he has learned ways to cope and be a famous and successful TV journalist.

And then finally the last chapter, John Updike, the great American novelist, the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. He wrote extensively about his stuttering. Fascinating story.

Darrell Bock
So what drew you into this topic? I wouldn’t call this the average Christian book. So what pulled you into this topic?
Gerald McDermott
Well, first of all, this is the first secular book that I’ve written. It is not a Christian book per se. Now, there are all sorts of subtle things in the book for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. But I am a stutterer. I used to be a terrible stutterer. And I still stutter. And for years I kept a list, perhaps more for comfort, of famous stutterers. And about 20 years ago my sons were getting older, said, “Dad, why don’t you write a book on those famous stutterers?”

I said yeah, someday. I’m writing all these other books. I don’t have time.

Well, about three years ago I finally sat down and wrote the book over a number of months. And it was the most fun book I’ve ever written. Now, I’ve done a lot of books, like you, Darrell. I know you’ve written about a hundred books. I haven’t written as many as you, but I have written a lot. And this was the most fun time I ever had writing a book.

Darrell Bock
Yeah. I’ll add a name to your list even though it’s not covered in the book. I think I mentioned this to you when you were here earlier in the year. And that is George Springer, who plays outfield for the Houston Astros, is a famous stutterer. And actually, ESPN and other news agencies are aware of this. And of course he ends up having to be interviewed daily after the games because he is having, this year at least, a very successful season and has become one of the major outfielders. An all-star now. And so he stutters. And he talks a lot about it.
Gerald McDermott
Does he?
Darrell Bock
He’s not shy about talking about what he has been through, et cetera. So I’ve heard him on more than one occasion sit down and walk through what that experience was like and the trauma of it. And that’s actually part of the reason why we wanted to talk about this, is because there is not only the fact, maybe even the surprising fact, that some people on the list that you’ve named are stutterers. But it raises the whole issue it seems to me of the way in which people can be either discriminated against of underestimated for one reason or another and that some forms of physical disability lead to this.

And so there is a sense in which there is a non-talked-about factor here that I think is important for people to realize, including people in the church. In fact, we are a week away here in our chapel from having someone speak to our students, who is engaged full-time in ministry to the deaf and is going to talk to our students about not discounting this large – actually larger group of people than you might realize – from coming into the scope of ministry.

Gerald McDermott
Well, that’s interesting, the deaf. Because the departments and universities that typically deal with stutterers and try to help stutterers are audiology departments. So usually hearing and speaking are related physiologically anyway. And usually the same departments’ professors deal with both of those problems.
Darrell Bock
So let’s talk a little bit about some of these. You gave little cameos, but I think some more detail might be nice. Now someone might go oh, I didn’t realize Moses was a stutterer, I thought he just complained about not being articulate. So what makes you think that Moses belongs in the category?
Gerald McDermott
Well, I make a long argument in that chapter. And by the way, this book is written for non-scholars. It’s very accessible I think. And people have told me this who have read the book. But it’s right there in the bible. And the rabbis have written about this extensively.

It’s in Exodus 4. And it’s where God is telling Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. And Moses says, God, you’ve got the wrong guy. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’m not eloquent. I never have been. I am – and here’s from the Hebrew. And Darrell, you probably have this memorized in Hebrew – I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue. And that’s the literal Hebrew there.

And many, many rabbis and Jewish scholars – a few Christian, but mostly Jewish, have discussed this at length over the millennia; what does this mean? And there is a general consensus this means Moses was a stutterer. And I as a stutterer always suspected this because of those phrases, heavy of mouth, heavy of tongue. A stutterer feels exactly like that, that your tongue – which of course is a primary instrument of speech – feels so big and so heavy you can’t control it. You can’t make it do what you want it to do.

And there’s other evidence in the scripture for Moses being a stutterer in the book of Exodus, but that’s the principal piece of evidence. And there’s even modern evidence.

For instance, Moses found someone to speak for him. Now, why does he do this? Is it just that he was shy? And actually the biblical text says God says I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, which suggests choral speaking. C-h-o-r-a-l, choral. The two brothers speaking at the same time. And this is plausible because most stutterers speak fluently when they read or speak the same words with another person speaking at the same time.

And also Moses uses two sensory tricks to help get his words out. He used the rod of God, a staff. And many stutterers use all sorts of things to help them get the words out. And that’s why sometimes stutterers look spastic, sometimes they look like they’re doing strange, even repulsive things. And sadly they have developed these little habits in order to help them get the words out.

And something else that all stutterers will tell you – and people who listen to Mel Tillis, the country-western singer, know this – no stutterer stutters when he is singing. There is something about singing. And that’s a clue to what causes stuttering. And Moses sang some of his longest utterances in the Bible. Exodus 15, the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 31 and 32.

Darrell Bock
That’s interesting. Let me talk about a couple of other ancients that you bring up. Because my guess is that people aren’t as familiar with these. Although some of the modern ones you brought up are not necessarily familiar names either. But Aristotle – that’s almost surprising.
Gerald McDermott
Yes, right.
Darrell Bock
Brilliant. But when it comes to communication, had to fight his way through it.
Gerald McDermott
Yeah. Historians of philosophy have long known that Aristotle had a speech defect. But they typically thought it was a lisp. But I have gone into the Greek. And on the basis of what Aristotle actually says and the words he chooses, it’s pretty clear to me – and I make this argument in the chapter – that it was not a lisp, but rather it was a stutter.

And one of the more circumstantial lines of evidence is what Aristotle says about stuttering. Aristotle wrote about everything. And he has a long description of stuttering that those of us who stutter know only a stutterer could know. So both his choice of vocabulary and also his description of stuttering point in the direction of that being his speech defect rather than lisping.

Darrell Bock
And then the third ancient figure who you mention is Demosthenes. And we ought to probably retell the rock story. Because I imagine most people don’t know very much about that. Because I have heard of similar kinds of practices that still exist today.

So tell a little bit of the story and tell about why that is a way of dealing with this. You would think if your tongue was heavy that the last thing you wanted is a bunch of rocks.

Gerald McDermott
Right. Well, first of all, Demosthenes, who was – he was perhaps the most famous ancient Athenian orator and statesman. And orator, like Churchill, another stutterer – well, a stutterer. One of the greatest orators in the history of the world. And Demosthenes famously, according to legend, had a stutter. And the way he overcame it was to go to the seaside and pick up these little stones by the waves and put them in his mouth and try to speak over the roar of the waves.

Now, why would that work? First of all, I’m not sure it does work long-term. But I think the short-term help it might give is it sort of distracts the speaker from the problem. You’re so focusing on just getting your words out in spite of these little rocks in your mouth, that you aren’t so obsessed and nervous about what usually makes you nervous as you speak and makes you stutter.

And I say I don’t think it works long-term because every trick you use – it’s sort of a trick. You are tricking your mind. You’re trying to trick your mind. Every trick like that eventually wears off. Because it’s like getting used to drinking more caffeine; your body adjusts to it after awhile and it doesn’t work anymore.

But what I discovered through my research is that despite the fact that Demosthenes is probably the most famous stutterer in history, he really wasn’t a stutterer. He had a weak voice, we know that. Or at least he stuttered out with a weak voice. Sort of a Marty voice. And Darrell, you remember Martin Marty?

Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Gerald McDermott
Years ago he used to be the go-to religion scholar in America for the media. But Demosthenes could not pronounce correctly words that start with an R. There is a name for that problem. And a lot of people have that problem. But he became a great speaker by persistent determination. He practiced his speeches in a cave, repeating words with the R sound thousands of times, and ran up hills to strengthen his weak frame. Greater body strength helped him learn how to project his voice and thus became the very effective, world-class orator that he eventually became.
Darrell Bock
So let’s go though some of the modern people that you talked about. There was one name in there that I wasn’t familiar with. I’m very familiar with the battle site that you alluded to, Gettysburg. And so you would think, okay, so someone is a stutter, but they’re a soldier. That’s not that big a deal. But it is.
Gerald McDermott
Well, Joshua Chamberlain. At least in the north he is considered one of the foremost heroes of the Civil War. Because he was a college professor from Maine who was given responsibility to hold Little Round Top, which was the far-eastern edge of the Yankee line at Gettysburg. And he was told there is nothing between your line, that you have to hold at Little Round Top, and Washington DC. And if General Lee, if Robert E. Lee gets through you, then he is going right to Washington DC and the South is going to win.

So Joshua Chamberlain’s men from Maine, the twenties of Maine, ran out of ammunition. And 300 men from Alabama were at the bottom of the hill and they were coming up. And Chamberlain decided to lead a bayonet charge. And of course not tell the people at the bottom of the hill, the men from Alabama, that they had run out of ammunition. So he led a bayonet charge with no ammunition, screaming at the top of their lungs, and put the Alabamians to flight and captured – well, actually there were more than 300. Because they captured 300. And it was a turning point in the war. And Chamberlain went on to fight, and always at the front, 20 more battles. Was wounded several times, once mortally at Petersburg, and suffered there the wounds that he died from 50 years later.

He went on to go back to his college and become president of Bowdoin College. He was elected four time governor of Maine by the largest margins in state history. And then he went on, after he retired, on the lecture circuit. All the while with a terrible stutter. One out of every five words he stuttered on.

Darrell Bock
Amazing. King George is of course someone that we know. As you mentioned, The King’s Speech made his story famous. And his life is just one of constant coincidence. He wasn’t going to be king.
Gerald McDermott
Right.
Darrell Bock
Anyone who knows the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and how the King of England resigned basically. And all of the sudden this one who was in the royal family who was in the upper crust certainly of Britain, but certainly was probably going to be relegated to a life on the sidelines to some degree, all of the sudden becomes king. And he isn’t king at just any point at time; he ends up being king in a very important time of history, because he is the king during World War II. So that story is particularly dramatic as well.

And then his wife became famous and almost one of the beloved figures of the royal family. She was Scottish and she was not initially well-accepted into the family. The Queen Mother is I think how she came to be referred to.

And the reason I am somewhat in touch with this one is my doctoral work in Scotland when I was in Aberdeen. And that was the time when Charles and Diana were happening. So anyone who lived in Britain during that time got to know the entire royal family in one way or another with all the requisite descriptions of how they were viewed in British society. So that’s really an interesting and fascinating story in many ways.

Gerald McDermott
Well, yeah. And you mentioned, Darrell, that he wasn’t going to be king. He didn’t want to be king. He was terrified of being king because of his stutter.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, absolutely.
Gerald McDermott
And the movie shows that. He became a beloved king. And his stuttering played a major role. Why? Because during the war – and as you said, he was England’s king, who actually worked very closely with Churchill all through the war in jointly making decisions. Of course Churchill made his recommendations to the king, and they were mostly Churchill’s decisions. But the kind read up and counseled and was right there in the thick of all the major decisions during the war.

But he toured England throughout the war, particularly during the blitz and the Battle of Britain when thousands of Englishmen – I don’t think most of us Americans realize that thousands of English civilians were killed and maimed for life by the German bombings during the battle for Britain. Thousands.

Darrell Bock
Yes. And what made the Queen Mother so beloved was – this is of course when she was queen – with the king would tour these various sites and they connected with the average person in Britain in the midst of all of this suffering and really endeared themselves to the country as a result.
Gerald McDermott
The two of them toured, and they toured together. And what was extraordinary and the people loved about the king, was he listened. You know, think of all the important people that your listeners have met. The most important people don’t spend a lot of time listening to you; they want you to listen to them. The king listened well. He had a secret advantage. And that was he had such a hard time talking anyway. It was easier to listen. And he became one of the favorite kings in recent centuries in England because of that, he was such a good listener.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. Well, let’s shift gears a little bit. We might come back to a couple of the other examples in a minute. Let’s talk about what it is to be a stutterer, and I think more generically what it is to have some type of a physical limitation that you and – and I’ll say it this way – you and everybody else is aware of. Because this is not something that you can hide. Or at least until you train yourself, it’s something that’s obvious. And it’s awkward not just for the person who stutters, it can be awkward for the person who is having to listen as well and trying to determine what’s being said.

So you said you were a stutterer. What’s that experience like?

Gerald McDermott
It’s horribly painful. It’s full of frustration, self-hatred sometimes. If you are a Christian, you’ve been praying for years that God would heal you. And I remember for years I prayed. And people would pray for me, and they cast demons of stuttering out of me and pray for this healing and that healing. And I was always hopeful of course. And until I was 37, nothing happened. And you wonder; why isn’t God healing me? You come to accept that this is your thorn in the flesh. A very painful thorn you live with every day. You have good months and bad months, good years and bad years. There are times when you stutter very little, and then there are times when you feel like you’re at the bottom of a pit and the walls of that pit are all perfectly smooth and they’re greased. And there are no handholds and there is no way – there is nothing you can do to get out of that pit. You feel absolutely helpless and angry and frustrated.

And that’s what I lived through for years, until I was 37. And in the church what people will do – it’s not just the church, it’s outside the church – is they are usually well-meaning. Except for kids. Kids are cruel. And I grew up the butt of jokes. And it was horrible. I always hated school. And it was largely because of my stuttering. And I never liked school until I got on the other side of the lectern.

Darrell Bock
The whole venturing into public becomes a huge battle.
Gerald McDermott
Answering the phone is one of the worst things for a stutterer, because you can’t control the conversation. It’s actually easier to speak in public when everyone has to be quiet and you have some control than in a conversation. People are always saying oh – they’re always trying to fill in your silences with their words. And I guess one word I would say is don’t do that. Just wait patiently. Don’t laugh, as a lot of people surprisingly do.

And in the church I would say if you know someone who stutters badly, particularly if they are under the age of 50 and they are at least 12 years old, get them to the world’s best stuttering clinic, where I went. And it enabled me to speak like I am speaking now. And it costs money. But raise money. Give money or raise money.

Just a few months ago a world-famous scholar had heard about my stuttering and this book. And he came to me and he said, Gerry, I’ve got this fantastic doctoral student, one of the brightest theological students I’ve ever had in my career. And he’s from – I think it was Croatia. He is brilliant. But he’s got a terrible, terrible stutter. And what should I say?

And I said to this world-famous scholar, I said, get him to this stuttering clinic. It’s going to cost probably $7,000 all total, but just $3,000 for the actual treatment. Raise it. And I’ll pray with you to help raise it. Well, thank God the money has been raised. And this doctoral student from Croatia is going to come to Roanoke, Virginia. It’s the Hollins Communications Research Institute. Hollins. It used to be associated with Hollins University. In Roanoke, Virginia.

So your listeners should just Google Hollins Communications Research Institute. People come from all over the world and have their lives changed.

So do that for a stutterer in your church, and you will change his or he life.

Darrell Bock
I’m trying to think through what kind of analogies I might paint for someone who might be able to get what’s going on. And that is – I have alluded to this – well, I alluded to the fact that we lived in Britain for awhile. But we also lived in Germany. And when you are not fluent in the language that everybody is speaking – I mean, the blessing was most people knew English so you could survive. But when you are wrestling to communicate what’s in you and you can’t get it out in a way that someone else can understand, that’s a part of that frustration I would imagine that comes in, is just feeling disconnected.

The other place where I think of is we traveled for three weeks in Turkey in which no one knew the language that I spoke, English. And so if you even were doing something as simple as trying to get directions, everything had to be signed eventually. Because there were no words to share. And the frustration that really both parties in that case were having of not being able to communicate with each other on what was basically a simple question – you would point to the map and say here, which I’m just indicating that’s where I want to go, how do I get there. And you’re doing all kinds of things with your fingers and faces and that kind of thing to try and help put that together.

The ability to communicate, which is what really we’re talking about here, and in the process share a little bit of who you are, is what is involved here.

Gerald McDermott
One thing I would also say, Darrell, to the church, is don’t assume you know what the cause of the stuttering is. Most people think the cause of stuttering is emotions, trauma; people are so nervous and if they would just calm down, they wouldn’t stutter. And so therefore the basic cause is emotional.

The best research – and the proof is in the putting at this Hollins Institute. Their rate of success – 90 percent after five years – shows a different cause. Because their whole therapy is based upon a different causation. That is they say the cause has nothing to do with emotions.

Now, if you’re nervous, you will stutter more. But if you’re nervous, you’ll have more of any kind of problem you have just because nerves accentuate stuttering doesn’t mean nerves cause the stuttering in the first place. There are lots of nervous people who don’t stutter. There are lots of very calm people who stutter. Okay?

I think the best research and the best results show that the cause of stuttering is neurophysiological. There is something between the brain and the speaking apparatus that is messed up neurophysiologically. So we are born with this thing. It’s like a learning disability. And it’s a speech disability. And leaning disabilities they believe are neurophysiological. And you just have to adapt to it. And I, and all of us stutterers, have to adapt to it.

Darrell Bock
I take it there’s probably some therapy for this and analysis. And is the cure that they just kind of slow you down a little bit?
Gerald McDermott
Right. Good question. No. Slowness does have a lot to do with it. Basically they teach you how to talk all over again. And you have to humble yourself like a child in order to do it properly. And somebody famous once said something about humbling yourself like a child. Most speech therapists do lots of good, but most speech therapists do not know how to cure stuttering. Only these people at Hollins and a few other places around the country really have developed this highly-effective method. And you can’t do it by a speech therapy lesson one hour a week. At Hollins I came for three weeks, 12 hours a day. And basically you start all over. They teach you how to make all your sounds in a whole different way from the way we stutterers do it. So you have to learn to talk all over again.

Because you see, when we stutterers are not stuttering, even when we’re speaking fluently, we typically are breathing differently from the rest of the population and moving all these muscles and nerves here and our voice box differently from the rest of the population. So we have to learn all over again how to breathe like you do, how to move all these muscles like you do from scratch for every sound. And that’s why it takes two or three weeks, 12 hours a day.

Darrell Bock
Interesting. So in other words, the movements that might be normal and almost intuitive for a lot of people are not that for a stutterer.
Gerald McDermott
No. And stuttering – well, speaking is habitual. So it’s a learned habit. And if you’re a stutterer, you have learned all the wrong habits about breathing and about moving your muscles and nerves up here in your speaking apparatus. And you have to learn this entirely new set of habits. And it’s very, very difficult. But once you do, it’s like learning to ride a bike. You’ve got it.

Now, you need to practice, and I need to practice on a regular basis. But once you get it, it’s there, thank God.

Darrell Bock
Interesting. So let’s come back to your book. Are there any other of the more modern folks that you find or found particularly interesting?
Gerald McDermott
Well, people are fascinated that Marilyn Monroe was a stutterer. You doubt that, just go to YouTube and type in Marilyn Monroe stuttering. And this video will come up of Marilyn telling about the agony she went through in school as a stutterer. And what happened to Marilyn was when the studios out in Hollywood first began to realize that we’ve got a star on our hands who could go far, they sent her to a speech therapist in Hollywood. And the speech therapist gave her wonderful advice, which is part of what I learned at Hollins, although it might not sound like it; slow down and speak in a very breathy voice. What is one of the things that Marilyn Monroe was famous for? The slow, breathy voice.

And one of her most famous movies is Some Like it Hot. And Billy Wilder was the director. And he tells a story of this one scene where Marilyn comes into a hotel, goes up to a room, and knocks on the door. And the guy behind the door says, “Who is it?”

And Marilyn says, “It’s me, baby.”

And Billy Wilder says it took us 36 takes because Marilyn could not get out the words, it’s me, baby.

Darrell Bock
Wow. Wow. Well, that’s actually pretty fascinating. So let me ask you one other question. And that is we’ve talked about how the church should deal with stutterers in general. Have you thought about the question of, you know, stuttering is just one part of the way in which people have to interact. I imagine you’ve given some thought to how the church ministers to people with various kinds of limitations in general. What kind of general advice would you give in that regard?
Gerald McDermott
General advice for –
Darrell Bock
For how the church can be more sensitive to people who have various kinds of limitations, that kind of thing.
Gerald McDermott
I would say the best thing for the church to do is to ask them. And probably you’ll be surprised to hear what they say.
Darrell Bock
So just ask and listen.
Gerald McDermott
Just ask and listen.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. Well, like I say, this is pretty interesting. Do you have another modern that would draw our attention whose story you think is interesting?
Gerald McDermott
Yes. Annie Glenn. She is a Christian. I think she is 95 now. She still skis. She is incredibly athletic. She had a horrible, horrible stutter. She still has a marked stutter when you talk to her. But even when she couldn’t even go to a store, because you have to ask, you have to talk, and particularly if you are not sure where something is. And she wouldn’t go to a store because she couldn’t – they would laugh at her when she opened her mouth and nothing came out.

Even in the worst days before she went to Hollins – she is another one who finally got her life freed by Hollins – she never let stuttering define her. And I tell my church people and where I give talks, you know, every one of us has a demon, so to speak. Not literally, but every one or us has some sort of handicap that afflicts us and we are ashamed of. Don’t let that define you. Your life, you are bigger than that handicap.

And let me just tell you one little story.

Darrell Bock
Okay. We’re coming up to the edge of time here, so I hope you can do it quickly.
Gerald McDermott
When Annie, at the end of her three weeks of therapy, called John Glenn and started speaking fluently in her first few sentences over the phone, John wept. And the first thing Annie did when she got home from her therapy is she said, John, pick up your socks. I’ve always tried to tell you that and couldn’t get it out.
Darrell Bock
[Laughter] Well, that’s a great note to end on, Gerry. I really appreciate you coming by and giving us the time to talk about stuttering and have us be sensitive to the issue of disabilities in the church. And we appreciate you taking the time with us.

And we thank you for being a part of The Table as well, and we hope you’ll be back again with us soon.

Gerald McDermott
You’re welcome, and thanks for having me on, Darrell.
Darrell Bock
A pleasure.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Gerald McDermott
Gerald R. McDermott joined the Beeson Divinity school faculty in 2015 as the Anglican Professor of Divinity, and teaches in the areas of history and doctrine. He is the author, co-author or editor of many books, including A Trinitarian Theology of Religions (with Harold Netland),  Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods, The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land, Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land, and Famous Stutterers. His academic research focus has been three-fold: Jonathan Edwards, Christian understandings of other religions, and the meaning of Israel. As a renowned Edwards scholar, McDermott has produced six books on Edwards; his Theology of Jonathan Edwards (coauthored with Michael McClymond) won Christianity Today’s 2013 award for Top Book in Theology/Ethics. An Anglican priest, he is associate pastor at Christ the King Anglican Church.
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