Archives For December 2012

My Top 12 Failures of 2012

December 31, 2012 — 1 Comment

2012 Fail

The end of the year generates a lot of “Top ____ of 2012” posts. Instead of looking back at my top posts, or albums, or books, I thought I’d go a different route and look at my top failures of the past year. Why? Well, every failure presents a new opportunity. Though some of the things I list below can be easily explained, even justified, each one presents me with an area of growth for 2013. So, without further ado, here are my top 12 failures of 2012:
Continue Reading…


Remember when you were in grade school and one of the first assignments upon starting a new school year was to compose a short essay on how you spent your summer vacation? Well, this is like that. Except it’s about Christmas. And I’m not in grade school anymore.
Continue Reading…


“It’s important to note first of all that the right of self-defense is rooted in the teaching of Jesus himself. He once told his disciples that he would be “numbered with the transgressors,” and that as a result their own lives could be endangered because of their association with him. He therefore counseled them, “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). You can’t get more legitimacy than that. A legal principle rooted in the teaching of Christ is pretty tough to beat.”

Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association,”When America HAD to Pack Heat to Church” 1

In the week since the tragic shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, there has been a lot of talk about violence in entertainment, access to mental health care, gun control, and other things that might be “part of the problem.” As we seek to find solutions that will make it increasingly difficult for these kinds of tragedies to be repeated, I’ve noticed Christians on all sides of these complex issues are turning to the Bible to find support for their particular point of view. Unfortunately, much of what I’m reading online and overhearing in conversation is little more than folk theology 2, which may make the conflicted individual feel better, but has little to do with trying to faithfully interpret the Bible and apply it in our context today.

Continue Reading…


  2. I take this term from Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson’s excellent work, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. In it they define folk theology as “a kind of theology that rejects critical reflection and enthusiastically embraces simplistic acceptance of an informal tradition of beliefs and practices composed mainly of cliches and legends. . . . Folk theology is often intensely experiential and pragmatic–that is, the criteria of true belief are feelings and results” (Grenz and Olson, Who Needs Theology?, 27).


Between you and me, I can’t believe I actually followed through on the 35 for 35 blogging exercise, but I did! 35 posts over 35 consecutive days leading up to my 35th birthday. I learned a lot about myself and about my readers. The posts you liked the most were the ones about life’s big events: being fired, getting married, my parent’s divorce. I learned that I’m still working through a lot of stuff from some of the negative experiences in my life, and likely will be for a long time. But as I reread those posts, I see glimmers of hope. While I may not be completely healed from the various wounds about which I’ve written, I see a lot of growth in my life because of them.

The most surprising thing that came out of this series is a fresh start between me and my mom. If you read that post on her, you’ll see why. I don’t know if the conversation between she and I would’ve happened, were it not for this series of posts. That totally makes it worth it. So, thanks for reading these. I hope you feel like you know me a little better and can hear me a little more clearly when I write about things in the space with which you might not agree. We all have a story and we’re all spinning a story. Maybe by knowing more of my story, you can see better the story I’m spinning. I know I can.

Here is a comprehensive list of all the posts in the order in which they first appeared:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Dunwoody Baptist Church
  3. Tattoos by Court
  4. Jeep Wrangler
  5. My Brothers
  6. My Baptism
  7. Trip to Israel
  8. The Cabin
  9. Gainesville Theatre Alliance
  10. Coalition for Christian Outreach
  11. The Last Battle
  12. My Girls
  13. Divorce
  14. Philadelphia
  15. Running
  16. Homebrewing for Dummies
  17. Living Truthfully
  18. The Bible
  19. Northern Virginia
  20. Abba’s Child
  21. You’re Fired
  23. Beach Week
  24. The Dark Tower
  25. Mom
  26. Wedding
  27. Irresistible Revolution
  28. Portland
  29. Dick & Deb
  30. Civil Rights Tour
  31. The Shack
  32. Bren
  33. Music
  34. Dad
  35. April

35 for 35 – April

December 19, 2012 — 4 Comments

My love.

Perhaps there is no more fitting way to close this series than with a post about my wife, April. She
loves me like no one has before, and like no one ever will. Over the past 14, almost 15 years, we’ve
undergone our ups and downs, like any couple does. Yet with all we’ve been through together,
she’s never wavered in her longterm commitment to our marriage and our family. Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – Dad

December 18, 2012 — Leave a comment


Perhaps no single person has had more of an influence on shaping me than my dad. As I’ve written elsewhere, I spent some of my most formative years in a household that was made up of just me, my brothers, and our dad. I saw him struggle through divorce, adjustments to his job, his involvement in church, dating, and then remarriage. The early 90s changed my dad a lot, and I was there to witness those changes first hand.
Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – Music

December 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

My weekly set-up for dissertation writing. Coffee and tunes.

As I mentioned in my post on my mom, music plays a pretty big role in my life, due to her. I’m almost always listening to something and I’m on the hunt for new music, new genres, new bands. Music moves me. It is emotive, cathartic, and can sometimes convey what I’m thinking and feeling better than words of my own. Usually it is the composition, more than the lyrics, that stir me. Allow me to present you with four musical acts that offer a soundtrack to most of my life, along with songs from each:
Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – Bren

December 16, 2012 — 2 Comments

Bren and my brother, Michael.

If my parents had never divorced, I would’ve never had the honor of having Brenda (Bren, for short) as my stepmother. I don’t think anyone ever gets married hoping for a divorce. It is a horribly tragic, rending affair. Yet, one of the things that sometimes happens in the wake of that tragedy is that a new marriage is built out of the rubble. That is how I got to have Bren in my life.

Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – The Shack

December 15, 2012 — 4 Comments


I was a latecomer to The Shack. I read it in November 2012, after having the opportunity to meet its author, Wm. Paul Young. Much of my reticence to read the book was due to the overwhelming number of Christians and churches that were so gaga over it. Forgive me my skepticism, but Christians tend not to have the best cultural palate, so when the same people who will recommend The Prayer of Jabez or “Fireproof” also commended The Shack, I made a mental note that it was probably one of those fluffy, sentimental books that makes Christians feel good about themselves and their tame God.

I was wrong.  Continue Reading…


Shuttlesworth 2006

Me and the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights pioneer, in 2006.

Though I grew up in the Southeast U.S., I knew very little about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s until I went on a Civil Rights Tour in 2005. Called “Returning to the Roots of the Civil Rights: Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” the tour was a bus trip from Pittsburgh, PA to Greensboro, NC, Atlanta, GA, Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham, AL, Little Rock, AR, Nashville and Memphis, TN, and Cincinnati, OH. The tour was hosted by the Coalition for Racial and Ethnic Diversity. I participated through my affiliation with the Coalition for Christian Outreach.

My exposure to the Civil Rights movement was surface, at best. It was given a light treatment in high school American History. We spent more time on the Civil War’s leaders and battles than we did the Civil Rights’ leaders and battles. I was amazed at how little I knew. This tour opened my eyes to a struggle that was much deeper than I’d previously known, and much more entrenched in bad theology and poor hermeneutics than I was willing to see. I came back changed, understanding the privilege with which I’d been born and a conviction to always find ways of giving power away or using my advantage to platform other voices and perspectives that need to be heard more than my own. This is something I still strive to do today.  Continue Reading…