A Little Background
A friend from the 1970’s is now a well-known writer, activist and speaker. When I first met him, he was probably about twenty years old. He was remarkable, even at that age, in his charisma, warmth, dedication, musical talent and ability to reach out to and relate to nearly anyone in an authentic and meaningful manner. He was the first person I met whose life called me to rethink my oh-so-well-informed-19-year-old-critical-judgment that all Christians are hypocrites.
Back then, remember, young people were idealistic. We were peace-loving activists who believed we could change the world. Brian exceeded all the other I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-type activists I knew, as he embodied the notion of love and purity, doing his best to live as Jesus would in present day. No pot-smoking, let’s-all-love-each-other-but-I-really-mean-let’s-go-to-bed-sort was he. No, he was idealism at its best, and I loved him for it. I followed. I joined his family’s home church, meeting in an elementary school on Sundays and in their home on Wednesday nights. They meant to create a new testament church, similar to what the apostles in the early church experienced. We met in a circle, facing one another, talking about how we were doing, sharing a Bible verse that we felt encouraged by that week, praying for each other, singing songs together, breaking bread. I pretty much devoured every word, soaking up the lessons and applying them to my life as if they were the cure to all that ailed me. It was really quite wonderful, while it lasted.
Before long, the little church dissipated, dwindling away rapidly once Brian went off to college. It was he who was the main attraction, after all, in that time and place. Yet we who were impacted by those relational meetings remain bonded over time and space, even sharing a Facebook group today. Brian went on to an English degree, then became a pastor, and later a full-time author, activist and speaker.
Several years ago I stumbled upon him again, and found that he has not lost the ability to influence me powerfully. Through exchanging a few emails, reading a few of his books, his blog and Facebook page, Brian again spurs me to go beyond my working definitions in life, and out of my realm of comfort.
Not blindly, though: I am not a loyal follower of anyone like I was when I was 20. No, these days I’m more apt to think for myself. I’ve seen enough hypocrisy among Christian leadership to make me reconsider my 19-year-old-wisdom. I’ve met more dysfunctional, toxic and down-right scary folks in churches than anywhere else, and I’ve met some of the most sincere, authentic people-of-little-faith in the most ungodly places. So, now, when I read Brian’s writing, I don’t swallow it whole, but I certainly give it thoughtful consideration. Read the rest of this entry