During his final eight years at WFAA/Channel 8, weatherman Troy Dungan led a brief Bible study at 1 p.m. every Wednesday in the station’s conference room.
He first sought permission from his supervisors, who, after some checking with the legal department, said it was OK to hold the Bible study as long as he didn’t pressure any colleagues to participate.
Sometimes as few as three people showed up; sometimes as many as 25. But Dungan held the studies — which took about 10 minutes — till a few weeks before his retirement in 2007. (He worked at WFAA for 31 years.)
“When you’re a weather guy, you learn to say something in three minutes,” Dungan says with a chuckle during a phone interview. “I think brevity is important, anyway. ... If you can teach these studies in 10 minutes, you can probably read them in a little less.”
So Dungan recently compiled those studies into a book, Jesus Makes Salsa by the Seashore, that is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Subtitled And Other Fresh-Approach Bible Studies, the book gets its title from a story in Chapter 21 of the Gospel According to John:
The resurrected Jesus invites the apostles, who have been fishing all night without catching anything until Jesus tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and the nets are filled with fish nearly to the point of breaking. Jesus then invites the apostles to eat with him on the beach.
The meditation on this takes up the first chapter of the book, which is written lightheartedly: “Jesus had made salsa to go on the bread He had and the fish the disciples had caught,” Dungan writes. “And the bread would have been unleavened. So right there by the Sea of Galilee that morning, Jesus made the original fish tacos. Would you love to have some of that Jesus salsa? I know I would.”
“Most of them have a humorous hook,” Dungan says, “but as you can tell, they have a serious finish. They were serious studies, but I think it’s got to have a sense of humor, or I’m in a lot of trouble.”
Dungan says that he became a Christian believer when he was still a child. He didn’t do much with his faith, though (other than be a regular churchgoer, as he says in the book’s foreword), till he met Larry Poland, CEO of MasterMedia, a ministry that is aimed at the media and entertainment industries.
“I met this guy three times in rapid succession, and found out about Bible studies at movie studios and at the stations in L.A.,” Dungan says. “I thought, ‘I’m supposed to be doing something with this.’ I had been blessed with a couple of really good Bible teachers for a number of years that taught a lot about what the Greek and Hebrew said, so I know enough about Greek and Hebrew to be dangerous.”
That knowledge informs the first chapter, when Dungan identifies not only different Greek words for fish but for love when Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him (Dungan notes that although Jesus and the apostles would have spoken Aramaic, the New Testament was written in Greek).
Dungan uses The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, and his studies incorporate writings from other Christian writers and sermons from his church and other churches. “I truly believe I had the Holy Spirit’s direction in this,” he says.
There are 52 studies in the book, covering Old Testament and New Testament texts, as well as an epilogue on how to be a good witness. “I could probably do another book, but even though this one went with no real problem, it took me forever to get it done,” he says. “There were some hoops I had to jump through.”
One of the hoops was a little unexpected: Quality control from WestBow Press, the book’s Christian publishing company, which requires no sex, violence or foul language.
“I thought, ‘Well, duh,’ ” Dungan says. “They wrote back and said, ‘Nope — you used the word heck four times. That’s another world for hell. It has to go.’ So I think children can read this book for sure.”