Dispatches from the Journey

6 01 2011

For those who do not know, I am relocating to Southern California from Columbus, Ohio.  Currently as I write, I am in a motel room in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.  I have traveled through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas.  I will probably get to California today, but first I have to go through New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada.

This is the fourth day of my journey.  I am going to California because I know longer have a job in Columbus, and need help from family to get back on my feet.  The funny thing is that I was just musing about living in California.  I was thinking that I could be closer to my aging parents who both live out there (the are divorced, she lives in the Bay are, and he lives in Southern California). I could also help my sister and her family raise my nephew Matthew (his was killed two years ago this past New Year’s Day).  Plus, I would get my three daughters: Rebecca, Sojourner, and Jordan for a longer stretch of time when they visit. Ironically, I will actually see them more by relocating to California.

I do feel that I am on a journey, both literally and figuratively.  This is a journey that I did not choose, but I guess chose me, for reasons I simply do know.


John Fountain’s Testimony: The God Who Embraced me

24 03 2007

This is a powerful example of personal testimony about God’s real presence in one man’s life: Listen to the audio here.

All Things Considered, November 28, 2005 · I believe in God. Not that cosmic, intangible spirit-in-the-sky that Mama told me as a little boy “always was and always will be.” But the God who embraced me when Daddy disappeared from our lives — from my life at age four — the night police led him away from our front door, down the stairs in handcuffs.

The God who warmed me when we could see our breath inside our freezing apartment, where the gas was disconnected in the dead of another wind-whipped Chicago winter, and there was no food, little hope and no hot water.

The God who held my hand when I witnessed boys in my ‘hood swallowed by the elements, by death and by hopelessness; who claimed me when I felt like “no-man’s son,” amid the absence of any man to wrap his arms around me and tell me, “everything’s going to be okay,” to speak proudly of me, to call me son.

I believe in God, God the Father, embodied in his Son Jesus Christ. The God who allowed me to feel His presence — whether by the warmth that filled my belly like hot chocolate on a cold afternoon, or that voice, whenever I found myself in the tempest of life’s storms, telling me (even when I was told I was “nothing”) that I was something, that I was His, and that even amid the desertion of the man who gave me his name and DNA and little else, I might find in Him sustenance.

I believe in God, the God who I have come to know as father, as Abba — Daddy.

I always envied boys I saw walking hand-in-hand with their fathers. I thirsted for the conversations fathers and sons have about the birds and the bees, or about nothing at all — simply feeling his breath, heartbeat, presence. As a boy, I used to sit on the front porch watching the cars roll by, imagining that one day one would park and the man getting out would be my daddy. But it never happened.

When I was 18, I could find no tears that Alabama winter’s evening in January 1979 as I stood finally — face to face — with my father lying cold in a casket, his eyes sealed, his heart no longer beating, his breath forever stilled. Killed in a car accident, he died drunk, leaving me hobbled by the sorrow of years of fatherlessness.

By then, it had been years since Mama had summoned the police to our apartment that night, fearing that Daddy might hurt her — hit her — again. Finally, his alcoholism consumed what good there was of him until it swallowed him whole.

It wasn’t until many years later, standing over my father’s grave for a long overdue conversation, that my tears flowed. I told him about the man I had become. I told him about how much I wished he had been in my life. And I realized fully that in his absence, I had found another. Or that He — God, the Father, God, my Father — had found me.


Bono At the NAACP Image Awards

11 03 2007

Missional Christianity, Atheists, and Fundamentalist Christianity

3 03 2007

You may be familiar with The Blasphemy Challenge on YouTube, where mostly teens and twenty somethings make videos of themselves denying the existence of the Holy Spirit, thus committing the Unpardonable Sin. Of course, they don’t even think they are sinning because they totally lack any belief in any god, much less the God of the Bible. They are really doing this to build the community of atheists so that they can better combat Christianity and theism because they think that God-belief is harmful to the world.

So of course, there have been many Christians who have stepped into the breach in order to defend Christianity and respond to these young Atheists. They are all over YouTube trying to engage atheists on many different issues and topics, from abortion to evolution.

The most notable Christian to enter the fray is Ergun Caner, the current president of Liberty Theological Seminary. This is the school that was started by the fundamentalist tele-evangelist, Jerry Falwell. Caner wants to engage the Rational Response Squad, who are the creators of the The Blasphemy Challenge. In fact, he is supposed be a part of a live internet show via the the Rational Response Squad’s website.

I personally do not think that any minds will be changed in their “dialogue”. What I do get a sense of is the fact that fundamentalists see atheists as a threat because of their ability to deconstruct the Bibe, and because they are usually strong advocates for Evolution. Atheists see fundamentalists as a threat because they are anti-science and put biblical revelation before scientific fact. I just don’t see a way for these two communities to connect without a lot of shouting and name calling happening. Even if the communities can manage to be civil to one another, there will not be any friendships forming.

This is another reason why I am a missional Christian. Missional Christians do form long lasting relationships with non-believers from all kinds of backgrounds, including atheists. We are not afraid of modern science, and I suspect that most of us are theistic evolutionists. Being a missional Christian means that you don’t pretend that you have all the answers, you just trust that He who is the Answer will reveal Himself to your non-believing friends in the course of your friendship.

For us, it is not so much about winning the argument, but rather, sharing our stories and just hanging out. Plus, could you imagine theists and atheists building Habitat for Humanity homes together? Or maybe just having a regular weekly meal with one another? Now fundamentalists don’t want any part of this because the danger is that they cannot control the conversation and there will be questions asked that they do not have answer for. Whereas missional Chrisitans are comfortable not being able to have a answer for every question.

Further, I bet my last dollar that if atheists saw Christians focusing on caring for the marginalized, being involved in racial reconciliation and social justice, and accepted the fact of evolution and global warming, they would actually begin to take us at least a little bit seriously, and perhaps would even want to engage us in a real way.

Sam Harris

1 02 2007

Here is a working link for the video.

Sam is one of my favorite public atheists. He makes some really salient points amongt Steve’s brilliant humor (which supports Sam’s thesis btw). I like Sam, and he definitely is not the enemy. We Christians who do not live up to our creed our the problem. I think that if the Christianity that Tony is talking about below was the one most clearly followed and demonstrated, that Sam would not have a problem with us.

Tony Campolo on the Colbert Report

1 02 2007

Here is a working link for Tony and Steve on the Comedy Central’s Colbert Report:

Haggard and Dawkins

31 01 2007

Very disturbing video. I don’t want to beat up on anyone, but I was not surprised by Haggard’s fall. There is something wrong with the kind of Christianity that tries to force everyone to believe the way you do, and makes Christianity look like one big show that you put on every week. When you amass that much power and influence, I bet that it is tough to admit your weaknesses to someone else. I think that this video proves that the megachurch model simply is not the healthiest one, especially for the ones who are in charge. Mind you, I have not decided that all megachurches are bad, there are some I like, with pastors I really look up to, but it is not for me.