night Al

Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in Woodside Bible Church’s (Troy, MI) “Committed to the Word” conference, and at lunch in their gazebo I met Rick and Lana Seidel, old friends from college who know Gary Meadors a little too well from their time together at Grace Seminary.  We reminisced about our lovable friend and I asked if they had seen his new book, Hello Sixpack:  It’s Me, Gary. For those of you who aren’t in on this running joke, I need to say clearly and unequivocally that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor, started by me, that Gary consumes alcohol, as far as I know.

It is true that Gary has edited a promising new book from Zondervan which will come out this fall.  It is a four views book called Beyond the Bible, and it has chapters by Kevin Vanhoozer, Walt Kaiser, and William Webb (I don’t remember the other guy, sorry!) on how to apply the Bible in our contemporary world.  At 350 pages, it’s 100 pages longer than Zondervan’s typical counterpoint books, or as I told Gary, right before he messed with the windshield wipers on my car (fortunately it was locked so he couldn’t get inside), this is one book that could have used an editor.

I also had lunch with Al Mohler, and was glad to find that, unlike some ministry leaders, he is a normal, down-to-earth guy who is really good at conversation.  Our lunch had a few awkward moments, as when I asked “Did you just say that polar bears will eat us on resurrection day?”  He assured me that was not what he meant, and I assure you that my question did make sense in context.  I include it here as a service for any of you who have been haunted by such theological questions.  Although I did not pursue a follow-up, I’m pretty sure that Al would extend his denial to other carnivorous animals.  So rest in peace, my friend.

I changed the subject by asking Al how he managed to accomplish so much:  he is president of Southern Baptist Seminary, writes several books at one time, has two radio shows, blogs, and even tweets.  The answer, I discovered, is that he is freakishly smart, has interns, and only sleeps 5 hours a night.  He said that is all his body needs, and that he could not sleep longer if he wanted.

It hit me that I will never be Al Mohler, because even though I am smart enough to ask the polar bear question, I do not have interns and I like my 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  If I tried to get by on only 5 hours, I would die young and lose all the time I had saved.

How about you?  Is there anyone out there who only sleeps 5 hours a night?  Do you find that you are able to accomplish more than the rest of us sleepyheads, or do you fritter away your extra time reading blogs?  If you’ve read this far, that is one charge you will find difficult to deny.






17 responses to “night Al”

  1. Jonathan Shelley

    Before I got married, I regularly operated on 4 hours of sleep a night. Interestingly, I also didn’t drink coffee then. Now I sleep 6-7 hours a night, but make up for it by having a job that allows me plenty of uninterrupted time to think, write, and harrass my coworkers in German (it’s good practice).

  2. Back in my M.Div days I worked 3rd shift, took 12 hours of classes (got my papers done on time=)), participated in family life, and maintained a thriving Sunday School class–all on about five hours of sleep. In retrospect, I don’t ever want to be that busy again…

  3. mikewittmer

    Jonathan and Brian: It’s important for you to be vulnerable enough to be honest with us. Jonathan, when did you ever not depend on caffeine, and Brian, when did you ever turn your papers in on time? 🙂

  4. Can’t do it. 7-8 hrs for me.

  5. LC

    well…i usually operate just fine on about 7 hours. I’ve found that less than that and I’m dragging and more than that and i’m…not wanting to get out of bed. I’m going to be joining the Marine Corps…so here’s to hoping I can make it through OCS!!!(where you are intentionally sleep deprived…if you can’t do it in the squad bay…you can’t do it in combat)

  6. Major Premise: God gives sleep to his loved ones. (Ps 127:2)

    Minor Premise: Al Mohler sleeps 5 hours a night.

    Conclusion: I would hate to be Al Mohler’s intern.

  7. Jonathan Shelley

    Mike – prior to my love affair with coffee (it’s alright – Beth understands that she will always be second in my heart), I was a Peter Osborn-clone, living on Diet Coke. So I have always been a caffeine addict. I didn’t realize until just now that I had a problem. Thanks Dr. Wittmer – you’ve saved my life!

  8. Gary T. Meadors

    Hello Mike, Its Gary… You know me. I am your senior (double entendre) faculty colleague. I intend to do a post-tenure review for you before I retire. I think this is my first blog comment anywhere…probably my last! Thanks for the promotion of Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (Zondervan, available end of Sept 2009). The four views authors are Kaiser, Doriani, Vanhoozer and Webb with three additional responses from Mark Strauss, Al Wolters and Chris Wright. This group will do a panel discussion of their work on Friday morning at the annual ETS meeting in New Orleans in November … y’all come.

  9. Adam F.

    Whoa, I was just looking at this thread through a crack in a rock, and I thought I saw the hem of Meadors’s robe! Couldn’t be…

  10. Next time you see Al, ask him why my Facebook friend request is still “pending,” 2 months after I made it.

    Oh, and Dr. Meadors has a drinking problem. Heh. “It’s funny cos it’s true…”

    Cue Jack Chick: HAW! HAW! HAW!

  11. Jack H


    What’s with the name dropping? First George and now Al. I expect that next you will run into Elvis at a hamburger joint in Kalamazoo. I suppose you could make that the basis of a new book on total depravity titled: You ain’t nothin but a hound dog, with a very Kuyperian subtitle implying that you are only a hound dog because of common grace. It would look good with a cover in black velvet artwork.

  12. eph5v2

    I think I will stick with Al Mohler’s view on the polar bear question. If I recall correctly, Gary Larson’s view of the Far Side is that polar bears will indeed eat people – as in one polar bear boasting in how much he likes igloos: “crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.”


  13. Kelly Ram

    I had a roommate in undergrad that had to sleep an interval of 3 hours because of her REM cycle. She could get by on 3, 6, or 9 hours (usually it was 6). Anything in between was insanity for her. I got by during those years with about 4-5 (6 on a good night, my Sunday afternoon naps were longer than my night’s sleep frequently). I got smart my last year of undergrad tho and slept a full 7-8, did my homework right after classes (even on friday), cut back on my work hours and learned to enjoy reading and my friends again. THAT was heaven on earth… (forget the Beach with Plantinga).

  14. Craig Hurst

    During my last semester of college I took 14 hrs. and worked a 9-5 (40 hrs. per wk.) at night. I went almost 2 days w/out sleep twice a week and then another 1 1/2 days w/ out sleep. The first 6 weeks I lived on adrenaline and then it hit me. I was sleeping in class all the time and would nob off while driving home from work at 6 in the morning. Needless to say my wife was scared to death when she knew I was driving. In seminary I got about 5-6 hrs. of sleep a night and was fine. I can operate on about 6-7 but I don’t do near as much as Mohler does to make me tired. I had a teacher in high school and college who had about 4-5 hrs. per night and they were genuine’s. Mohler must be one to do what he does….like you Mike I will never be able to do that and live very long to tell about it.

  15. I knew someone who trained themselves to get all their REM sleep between 2am and 6am each night while finishing doctoral studies in experimental psychology (go figure!). We get 168 hours/week (24X7) and even if we sleep on average 50 hrs/week, that leaves 118 hours left for work, but we typically only work an average of 40-50 hrs/week. That leaves ~68 hours. What are we doing with that time? Hum……

  16. Yooper

    I usually do best with 6 hours of sleep. It would have been interesting to know how many hours Jesus slept.

  17. Tim Smith

    I find consistency is somewhat more important than length. I do very well with about 6 hrs sleep, sometimes 5.5, as long as its pretty close to the same hours each night. Shifting hours is pretty draining.

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