I grew up in a conservative Christian environment. This shaped much of who I was and am; after high school I attended a very conservative Bible college. While I wandered from the faith shortly after this- actually I walked away from it- I remained in that sphere of influence, especially as it related to my political thinking. The 90’s were spent listening to right-wing radio and as I ended my prodigal phase, that “bent” weighed heavily on my religious and theological thinking. Rather than the faith being the lens through which I saw political thought, it was the reverse. This really didn’t cause any problems for me as I was in an echo chamber, I surrounded myself with like-thinkers and we were all one big happy family. But then something(s) happened- all over a 2-4 year period:
- In 2000 I was introduced to the music of Pedro the Lion/David Bazan. While David has since left the faith, his earlier work was decidedly about Jesus, but not in a CCM/”Safe for the Whole Family” way. He talked about real issues- real sin and a real Savior- a Christian life that was messy, uncomfortable. His music told stories which revealed the depravity of man and ALWAYS ended with shocking grace and love.
- We moved to a VERY conservative town in northwest Iowa. For the first time in my life, our family experienced what it was like to be the “other.” While our children attended the Christian school, we were the wrong brand of faith- and people had no frame of reference for us.
- I began to read through and study the Bible. Jesus stopped fitting into neat categories. His teachings challenged my conventional thinking- His responses to the things of this world- meekness, humility, patience and love- shocked me.
- A close friend, Phil, moved in with us; he was hired at our church to be our worship pastor. Phil began working at the local Christian bookstore, where he began to notice the feeling of being the “other.” As we stayed up late talking about our church, the faith, the Bible, various social issues, we began to be very unsettled about what we had learned, how we had been programmed to think. One day, Phil came home from “The Ark” (our admittedly not-so-kind nickname for the Christian bookstore) with Derek Webb‘s “House Show” cd. We listened, mesmerized by the lyrical content of “I Repent” and “Wedding Dress.”
- What I was seeing, hearing, experiencing stopped adding up. I began to wonder about things like, “How might Jesus have responded to the September 11th attacks?” and, “Is the death penalty biblical?”
- Relevant Magazine posted an article about gay marriage, and one line (perhaps it was in the comments section) gave me pause: “We should stop worrying about the speck of homosexual marriage in their eye until we have addressed the log of heterosexual divorce in our own.”
All of these competing thoughts comprised what Henry Blackaby calls a “crisis of belief” and it needed to be dealt with.
Soon, part 2.
PS- Yes, this still has something to do with the discussion and review of Acts!