Author Archive

Marcia Ford’s Memoir of a Misfit

Interview of Marcia Ford by Dick Staub
Well, good afternoon everybody. This is Dick Staub, your friendly guide, thanking you for joining me this afternoon. You know, when I wrote my book, Too Christian, Too Pagan, there were certain people that immediately connected to that phrase. They knew what I meant was that if you truly follow Jesus you’re going to be too Christian for your pagan friends and too pagan for your Christian friends. I had that same kind of experience when I saw the title of our next guest’s book, Memoir of a Misfit. I almost like immediately felt like I understood what-what our guest was talking about. You know, if you’ve had a difficult time finding your place in the family of God, if you have felt like a misfit in the church and in the world and maybe even in your family, if you felt so desperate that you thought you might walk out on God completely, I want you to listen up.
Q. Our next guest has been in and around religious publications for years, she’s
written seven books, but none more honest than the one we’re about to discuss. It’s titled Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God. And it’s published by Jossey-Bass. She also has another little book called Meditations for Misfits, so that once you figure out how you’re a misfit, you can actually meditate on it some more. She is Marcia Ford. Marcia, thanks for joining us today.
A. Well, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Q. We start with you in a hotel room, ready to leave the love of your life,
which by the way this book is just so nicely written that there’s a lot of little entrapments and you find out that the love of her life is actually God and she’s about to leave God. But there’s a whole lot of story that gets us to that hotel room, so I want to start kind of at the beginning. You say at the very outset of this book, from the time you were a little kid people looked at you funny, they always have.
A. Yes.
Q. What’s that all about?
A. Well, as a young child my family seemed to be this cast of cartoon characters.
Q. Yeah.
A. We would walk down the street in single file so that other families could walk
by us intact. We were very eccentric in a low-life sort of way. Not, you know, eccentric in kind of a highbrow way, and people just always looked at us funny. So I of course as a young child thought, Well, it’s my family’s fault.
Q. Yeah. Yeah, and then you came up with other excuses over time.
A. You bet.
Q. You also-you also talk about fearing God. And it-it’s so interesting to hear
people’s journeys. And that’s one of the things that I like about the-the movement towards telling story and also telling our own stories, is that we-we often assume that our story is-is like that of others but¢â‚¬¦ Because I, from the earliest memories I have of childhood, remember understanding and believing that God loved me. And it’s such an important part of who I am that when I read about somebody who, from the time they were a little kid was afraid of God
A. Uh-huh.
Q. ¢€œit’s fascinating to me. You feared God, you said, since childhood, since you
were in kindergarten.
A. Right.
Q. How did that happen?
A. Well, I think that the-the biggest problem that I had came from a-a very
shallow understanding of what I was hearing every week in church.
Q. Yeah.
A. One of the-the most striking examples of that would be the-the Sunday that I
was sitting in church and the pastor said, Except ye come to me as a little child you shall not enter the kingdom of God.
Q. Yeah.
A. And to me that meant being baptized. I was nine years old at the time and I
Thought, Oh my goodness. I’m not a little child anymore. I’m nine years old. I’m old. And I didn’t come to God as a little child. And in the form of baptism. And, therefore, how could I possibly enter the kingdom of God?
Q. So it was just you’re kind of hearing something and applying it in your active
and imaginative way as a child that made you think if I don’t come as a child then it’s too late.
A. Right, exactly. And of course at that time this would have been around 1959,
you couldn’t really talk to anybody about things like that. Or you felt that you couldn’t. At least I felt that way. I couldn’t go to my Sunday school teacher or my mother or anyone else
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand talk to them about those things. I was doomed.
Q. Now, what about VBS? Vacation Bible School?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. What kinds of things had you heard there that made you afraid?
A. Well, I-I remember¢â‚¬¦ Actually, those were good memories. Mostly I
remember the flannel graphs from VBS
Q. Uh-huh.
A. ¢€œand that was a break from our routine. But there was this constant feeling
that if you didn’t measure up in some way, you know, if you didn’t do the right thing, say the right thing¢â‚¬¦ If you didn’t perform all the religious rituals, then you were probably destined for hell.
Q. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s very interesting to think about how kids are
interpreting the things that we’re saying. You then say that you systematically began killing off your grandparents
A. Uh-huh.
Q. ¢€œand were shipped off to Camp Malaga.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Now, what in the heck are you talking about, systematically killing your
Grandparents? And what happened at the Camp? Or better yet, what happened when you got home from the Camp?
A. Oh, that was great. First of all, with my grandparents, because I-I was
convinced that I was there was just no chance that I would ever, ever get to heaven because I hadn’t been baptized as a little child
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œI felt that God was punishing my family by having three of my grandparents
die within a 6-week period
Q. Wow.
A. ¢€œI think it was 6 to 12 weeks, something like that. And my other
grandparent had died years before. But I just¢â‚¬¦ I sat there thinking, Well, there can only be one explanation for this. It’s my fault.
Q. So you literally, you literally thought people were dying because you hadn’t
been baptized as a-as a child.
A. Well, yeah, because I was the center of my universe. So of course I felt that
everything that-that happened in the world I mean the Civil War, come on everything was my fault at some point, you know.
Q. Yeah.
A. So in this case, you know, it was my grandparents dying, you know, within
just a few weeks of each other. It was just¢â‚¬¦ It was just an unbelievable
Q. Wow, interesting.
A. ¢€œtime in my life.
Q. So then your-you-you head off to Camp Malaga.
A. Malaga, yeah.
Q. Malaga. And what happened when you got home?
A. Well, there was a measles outbreak at camp that week, and so we had to leave
camp early. And my family didn’t have a phone, being eccentric. So I couldn’t get in touch with them. And a stranger had to take me home.
Q. Hm.
A. Well, she pulled up to the house, and I just couldn’t wait to get out of her car.
I didn’t, you know, I didn’t know her, didn’t know the other kids in the car, I just wanted to get out and get home.
Q. Yeah.
A. And so I burst through the door and I run into the living room and I’m
standing there. I stop dead in my tracks. I’m in a roomful of strangers and a roomful of strange furniture.
Q. Wow.
A. And it’s my house, but it’s not my people. And I look up and-and someone
looks at me and says, Well, who are you? And I said, Well, I’m-I live here. And she said, No, you don’t. I live here. And so I looked over at the door and I saw my driver standing there with my stuff. And she’s totally confused. She can hear what’s going on because there’s just a screen in the door. And finally they-the people in the house helped me figure out that my family had moved. I was one of the kids in the family that had just moved out of the house. My family had moved and had not told me that they were moving. And so I was¢â‚¬¦
Q. So this is literally the story, my parents moved and didn’t leave a forwarding
address kind of thing.
A. Yes, that’s exactly what happened.
Q. Yeah.
A. They did not tell me they were moving.
Q. And how old were you at the time?
A. I was 10. This was the summer I just turned 10. And I look over at the door
and I see my driver and she is looking at me funny beyond measure.
Q. Yeah.
A. It was probably the first time that I remember anybody looking at me funny
apart from my family. This was¢â‚¬¦
Q. Wow.
A. This was that first moment
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œwhen I was not with them and somebody gave me that look.
Q. Yeah.
A. Well, the story turned out okay, I guess. I told the woman to take me to my
father’s store, and he did acknowledge me as his daughter.
Q. Which is a breakthrough.
A. So you know, that was-that was good. And she was out of my life forever, so
that was good, too. But it was quite an experience, you know. You can imagine for a 10-year-old child to-to all of a sudden be uprooted from everything
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthat was familiar to me and not know what the next step was.
Q. And you had no idea they were going to move when you were sent off to
camp.
A. Right, right. As far as I can remember I had no idea. I knew when I stood
there-there in that living room I was totally shocked.
Q. Wow.
A. And again, being 10 years old in 1960 I never really asked my parents why
they didn’t tell me. You know, my kids today would ring me out, you know
Q. Yeah, totally. Things have changed.
A. ¢€œup one side of the house, down the other, you know. But¢â‚¬¦
Well, I’ll tell you what. We’re going to pick up there when we come
back. Our guest is Marcia Ford. Memoir of a Misfit, a lot of funny, tragic, funny, tragic kinds of stuff in this story. We’re going to get to the bottom of it with Marcia Ford, coming up right after this. Again, the book is Memoir of a Misfit. It’s published by Jossey-Bass. There’s also a nice little companion volume called Meditations for Misfits. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.
(Break.)
Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. Our guest is Marcia Ford. Her book is Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God. And I’ve already told her she sounds so much like Frederica Mathewes-Green. And you know, Frederica is on this show fairly regularly. And I’ve got a feeling people are tuning in and saying, Wow, Frederica’s back.
Q. By the way, the-the photo on the cover of the book, a little girl with a little
bag and stuff.
A. Right.
Q. Is that like you? Or-or where’d you get that picture?
A. No. No, it’s not me. And I-I¢â‚¬¦ Jossey-Bass got the picture.
Q. It’s an incredible picture.
A. Yeah, I love the picture. I was so thrilled with that photo because that’s what
I felt like.
Q. Yeah. A little girl with a couple of paper bag a doll and a paper bag
A. Yeah.
Q. ¢€œa sweater that doesn’t fit
A. Exactly.
Q. ¢€œa loosely tied dress, kind of scuffed up shoes, standing in front of a big street
and a big gate by herself.
A. That’s me.
Q. And-and this is the misfit experience that Marcia is talking about. Now
you’re in a new neighborhood. And there’s-there’s kind of a little theme that runs through the book about Catholics and-and what you were thinking about Catholics and Methodists and Baptists and stuff. How-how does that play into your memories as a kid of being a misfit?
A. Yeah. Well, first, I was totally afraid of Catholics. I thought
Q. Really.
A. ¢€œfor sure that¢â‚¬¦ Oh yes, if I walked by a Catholic church¢â‚¬¦
Q. Now, did you get that from your parents? Or from your church? Or¢â‚¬¦
A. No, no. My parents were so cool about religion. Really, they really were.
I have to say that.
Q. Yeah.
A. No, I would say that I just got that from other kids. I was afraid if I walked by
the Catholic church the priest and the nuns would grab me and kidnap me and force me to convert, and all those kind of things.
Q. Wow.
A. And¢â‚¬¦ Yeah. And then finally we moved out of that neighborhood and away
from the Catholic church. So I felt like I was, you know, like finally out of their control or their aura of control. And so we now had to find a new church. We had gone to a Methodist church back where I lived in that other house
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthat now someone else was living in. And we ended up at a Baptist church,
which was fine except for the fact that-that there were two other churches that were closer that I thought would be a whole lot cooler to go to.
Q. Yeah.
A. And the-the-the pastor there at the Baptist church had all these kids. And-and
people would make comments about him like, well, he might as well be Catholic with all those children running around.
Q. Oh, this is so great to¢â‚¬¦ Because you know, you-you forget these stories as
kids and you must have a very good-good memory or very active imagination in taking random tidbits of¢â‚¬¦
A. Exactly.
Q. Well, you-you ironically, though, you meet this girl named Kathy in high
school
A. Right.
Q. ¢€œwho is Catholic, who likes you. And what’s really touching to me about that
story is how odd and unusual it seemed to you that somebody would actually like you.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Which goes back to this point of misfit. And for people that never quite felt
that out of place, it’s-it’s kind of amazing that you got that far in life before you actually figured that somebody actually liked you.
A. Well, yeah. The difference was that she was cool.
Q. Yeah.
A. You know.
Q. There were people that liked you, but they were like you.
A. Well, in a sense. I never really met anybody that was like me but they weren’t
the cool kids.
Q. Yeah.
A. And Kathy was one of the cool kids.
Q. So what was the significance of that? A cool kid likes you.
A. Oh, my goodness. That-that makes¢â‚¬¦ That changes your life when you’re in
high school.
Q. Yeah.
A. Because all of a sudden now you-you’ve been thinking of yourself as
whatever we called dorks back then
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand all of a sudden here is this girl who’s-who’s cute and popular and fun
and wild and crazy, and all these things
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand she wants to hang out with me.
Q. Yeah.
A. And I’m thinking this is-this is great stuff. You know, she’s going to
introduce me to, you know, a whole new world which she did to some extent.
Q. Yeah.
A. And I went beyond her world, unfortunately, and introduced myself to a lot of
things.
Q. Yeah. Among them was alcohol. And-and you say that you took to alcohol
like a deer pants after the water brooks.
A. Oh, yeah.
Q. Talk about the-the kind of beginnings and origins of what became a lifelong
issue, or at least an issue that was very important and pivotal in your life, alcohol.
A. Well, you see, both of my grandfathers had been alcoholics, and my parents
did not drink and never had alcohol in the house. And it was considered evil and-and that kind of thing. But again, they were, you know, they didn’t push. They were not heavy-handed in their-in their opposition to alcohol. But when I first really started to drink and the first few times I got drunk, I realized I could actually pass off into oblivion
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand that was wonderful. I mean, that just was so great to-to be able to
completely escape reality. That’s what I wanted. I didn’t like my reality at all, and I really, really liked the fact that I could drink and I could forget what happened. And then the next day, if I saw someone who told me what happened I could say, Well, I don’t know what happened. I was out of it.
Q. Yeah.
A. And somehow that excused my behavior.
Q. Now, how common was that among your peers at the time? Because you and I
are contemporaries pretty much age wise, and my recollection is that in high school in those days, there was still a stigma attached to-to kind of getting drunk.
A. Oh, yeah, there was. It just depended on the group of kids that you hung out
with. And I was hanging around with a lot of older, like college-age kids at that time. So I think I was experiencing things that a lot of my-kids my own age
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand my own grade level were not experiencing.
Q. Yeah.
A. And so yeah, there was a stigma attached to it. People¢â‚¬¦ If I thought people
looked at me funny before that period in my life, I didn’t know what I was talking about. Because they really started to look at me funny.
Q. And why was that?
A. Because they-they could see that I was just completely out of control. When
I-when I started drinking, I drank. I mean, I don’t mean that I got drunk on Saturday nights, I mean I drank every single possible moment that I could.
Q. Now, and what did your parents think about all that?
A. My parents, I think, were-were either unaware, because they would go to bed
early. I’d come in late.
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. Or there were times when I think my parents had more wisdom than I give
them credit for. I think that maybe they thought this is a phase that will pass. If we don’t come down hard on her
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthen she’ll straighten out eventually.
Q. Now, what is happening to your church life during the heavy drinking phase
of high school?
A. There’s no church life. I left church when I was 12.
Q. Yeah?
A. Yeah. I decided organized religion was not for me so I just walked away from
It. And-and I had no idea really what that would cost me.
Q. Any-any kids trying to rope you back in?
A. No.
Q. Any people in your life that are trying to make an influence on you?
A. I can’t remember any.
Q. So you’re basically now, you’re-you’re kind of on the wrong road, the road to
perdition
A. Yes.
Q. ¢€œand a lot of people helping you and not very many people trying to stop you.
A. Right.
Q. Okay. So now¢â‚¬¦ And of course, in that state of mind you’re making some
very important life decisions.
A. Oh, yeah.
Q. Like where am I going to college? And-and talk about the decision you made
about college.
A. Oh, that was a great decision. I was-I was all set to go to this college called
Middlebury in Vermont.
Q. Yeah.
A. It was this very, very wonderful school that-that had a terrific foreign
language program. And I was very good at foreign languages. And I thought, well this is where I want to go. And then I read the fine print in the catalog and started looking at the pictures in the catalog. And I thought, Well, okay, these are rich kids from very wealthy families and there is no way I’ll fit in here. So the worst thing that I could possibly imagine was actually being accepted at Middlebury
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œbecause then I’d have to go there and face rejection.
Q. Yeah.
A. So I just scrapped that idea. And then I ended up going to a school where,
surprise, surprise, my boyfriend went.
Q. Yeah.
A. And pretty much I based my college decision on his, you know, his
recommendation, his influence. They did offer me a full scholarship.
Q. Because you’d been getting good grades even though you were drinking
heavily.
A. Oh, absolutely.
Q. Which is one of the, you know, one of the great tragedies today, even more so
than then, because the drinking problem is more profound and common among-among high school kids today. As a lot of kids are fairly high performers even though their, you know, their life is unraveling personally. And-and so you can mask it. And that’s what happened in your case.
A. That would be right.
Well, we’re going to pick up there when we come back. Our guest, if
you’re just joining us, is Marcia Ford. The book is Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God. This is a chance for you to sit back, hear somebody else’s story, find those points of resonance, find those points of difference, and-and see how it relates to your place in the family of God. We’re going to be back with more of Marcia Ford. The book is published by Jossey-Bass. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
(Break.)
Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. You know, the good news is our guest Marcia Ford is describing what it felt like to be a misfit. And that’s pretty much the only kind of person that-that God made. But each of us have to really kind of come to that realization ourselves. And the wonderful thing is that’s pretty much because that’s the only ones he made, the ones that he loves. And, you know, definitely easy to see in the gospels that Jesus was after people who color outside the lines, and that’s pretty much-pretty much the story that we’re hearing. And a lot of you can connect to this regardless of whether the details of your story are the same or not. Ultimately, we all come to the place where we realize that there are ways that we don’t fit and there are reasons we don’t fit, and some of it has to do with our-our own bentness and-and-and the-the stubbornness with which and tenacity with which we pursue our wrongheadedness.
Q. And-and so now we’ve got good old Marcia is off at college. And-and now
what’s interesting about this phase of your life is that there’s kind of best of times/worst of times in the sense that continued degradation, but there are little incidents where God begins to show up in your life. And so you’ve got this yin/yang thing happening here.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Talk about that.
A. That’s exactly right. I had gotten into drugs and I was living a pretty
promiscuous lifestyle. And yet every now and then things would happen that-that would indicate to me that God really was still around and really was interested in me.
Q. Yeah.
A. One was a situation that occurred as I was crossing campus one night. It
actually reminded me of-of¢â‚¬¦ I just had this kind of image of myself as a younger and purer person. And I got this impression, this very, very strong impression that God would restore me to that condition. That he was calling me back to himself.
Q. Wow, yeah.
A. And it was a profound experience. And so I acted on it. I thought, okay,
okay, let’s go with this, because I really hate what I’m doing, I hate the way I’m living. So I traveled a thousand miles to get some help from someone that I thought could help me.
Q. Someone that was you viewed as a spiritual person.
A. Oh, yes, yes. Absolutely. This was someone who-who I knew had an
understanding of had the same understanding of God that I had grown up with.
Q. Okay.
A. And so I went to see him, not telling him why I was there. And he tried to
lure me into bed.
Q. This is a really, really profound story because you wonder how often that
happens
A. Yeah.
Q. ¢€œwhere some poor, young hapless college student, female college student, goes
to a-to a-an older, wiser Christian man seeking counsel and he either misinterprets or-or actually is-is kind of aggressive in his pursuit of-of an opportunity not to be part of the solution of the person’s life, but a perpetuation of their problem.
A. Uh-huh, exactly.
Q. Which is exactly what happened in this situation. Because now there’s even
more disillusionment.
A. Uh-huh. See, all my life I’ve-I’ve, instead of blaming the people who did
things to me
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œI always thought that-that God was responsible. I thought, Why did God
allow that to happen?
Q. Well, you had Ian, too. Ian, the guy that you fell in love with and then, boom.
A. Yeah, and then he was killed. And I just thought, you know, how on earth am
I does God expect me to make it through life without this man? You know, without Ian?
Q. Well, and you were also going through the ideological stuff. And again, man,
I can just so remember this stuff, these phases. Existentialism, probably reading a lot of Sartre and Camus and-and kind of gravitating towards Marxism. You got into Satanic rock music, which some people really don’t believe even existed. But-but you kind of got into that. And it was very depressing. The-the impact of these philosophical and intellectual pursuits, along with the death of Ian, and along with drugs and along with alcohol and along with disillusionment of this older guy, you-you’re thinking about killing yourself now. You’re not¢â‚¬¦ This is not going well.
A. Right, right.
Q. In the middle of that you go on a ski weekend.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. And it turns out God lives behind a store at the dumpster, which is incredible
news. So-so tell me about that.
A. Oh, that was the most wonderful experience. It-it changed my life in one
respect. And that was that I was able to give up drugs as a result of that experience. I just¢â‚¬¦ The weekend had been horrible, horrible, just the worst treatment I’d ever gotten from friends.
Q. Yeah.
A. And my friends had gone in the store, and I just went around to the back
because I wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to get some fresh air by the dumpster. And-and I just stood there. And as I looked out over the mountains in Vermont, I just-I had this experience of God that I just could not possibly explain. I mean, I did not manufacture it, I wasn’t thinking about God
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œI was not thinking about anything about faith or Jesus or anything. I was
feeling crummy.
Q. Yeah.
A. I was sick and-and discouraged with my friends. And I was standing out there
and I just felt reality just fall away.
Q. Yeah.
A. The-the cars weren’t there anymore, the-the road wasn’t there, the store
wasn’t there. It was just God and me in this incredibly beautiful, in these incredibly beautiful surroundings. And I knew, I knew that He was real. And I knew that He was still interested in me. And this was after that experience with the older man where I had felt, you know
Q. Wow.
A. ¢€œGod literally turn his back on me.
Q. Yeah.
A. So at that moment I thought, If I can feel this great when I’m straight, why am
I bothering with drugs?
Q. Yeah.
A. And I never did them again.
Q. That’s-that’s wonderful.
A. Yeah.
Q. Now, Glen the Christian, invites you to a-to a-an event. And a guy rides in on
a motorcycle from New Jersey and-and says some words that, even though now that you’ve been around for awhile you realize are not-are not uncommon words, but for whatever reason, they were the arrow that just pierced your heart.
A. Uh-huh, uh-huh. That was-that was an incredible experience, again, because it
was a Friday night. I never would have gone to this Bible study thing that-that my friends were involved in, but I didn’t have a date. And so I thought, Well, you know, I’ll go to this Bible study. At least it’s better than sitting home on a Friday night.
Q. Yeah.
A. So I was sitting there at this place just really feeling awful like, you know, I
didn’t belong there, I didn’t fit in, obviously. There were all these Christians around who were just so phony and plastic and all of that. And this-this biker/professor said at some point during his talk he said, God not only forgave your sins he forgot them.
Q. Hm.
A. Now, why those words penetrated my spirit the way they did, why they
pierced my soul the way they did that night at that time under those circumstances, I have no idea.
Q. Yeah.
A. All I know is that was the deciding moment, that was the defining moment in
my life.
Q. And-and at that point you basically are experiencing a conversion because
you’re now on a different path, you-you’re heading towards God instead away from God.
A. Absolutely.
Q. And-and you do make the¢â‚¬¦ The route takes you through the church, which
begins your journey having now discovered that you were not made for this world, beginning to realize you also did not appear to be made for this church.
A. No.
Q. So that the experience of feeling like a misfit in life is-is now compounded by
the fact that you’re a spiritual misfit
A. Absolutely.
Q. ¢€œbecause now you-now you don’t totally fit with the culture anymore, but
you’re also in church situations and-and you go through a few of them where this is not fitting either.
A. No, it isn’t.
Q. Why is this woman laughing?
A. You know, if I couldn’t laugh through all of this, how could I possibly survive
it?
Q. Yeah.
A. You know, I can look back on it now and laugh, but I wasn’t laughing at the
time.
Q. Yeah.
A. When I first got saved I was-I was just the happiest person on earth. And then
I was like the blind man in Mark 8 who-who looked up and said to Jesus, I see men but they’re like trees walking around. So my vision was blurry.
Q. Yeah.
A. And then finally my vision cleared, and apparently the blind man had a better
experience than I had because when my vision cleared I saw people looking at me funny. And these were my brothers and sisters in Christ. And here I was¢â‚¬¦
Q. I’m sorry for laughing, but I’ve been there.
We’ll take a quick break. We’ll be back with sadly some concluding
comments. Sadly in the sense that I know you’d like to spend more time with Marcia. But the good news is you can by picking up a copy of her book, Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God. Jossey-Bass is the publisher. Also she’s got Meditations for Misfits. We’ll be back with a little bit more of the story right after this.
(Break.)
Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Marcia Ford. She is author of Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God. A wonderful, wonderful introduction by Phyllis Tickle, who is a friend of mine as well, the former religion editor of Publishers Weekly, who lives at The Farm in Lucy, wherever that is.
Q. Anyway, we were talking with Marcia about her long journey towards the
family of God, and then her arrival in the family only to realize that this is another family where people are looking at her a little funny, as well. She makes¢â‚¬¦ You make some kind of early mistakes the-the-the¢â‚¬¦ One of the down sides of the process of reformation, you learn the early tricks of twisting scripture to get your own way.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. So you end up marrying a wrong guy
A. Right.
Q. ¢€œwho had a British accent and was undoubtedly witty and all that kind of
stuff.
A. Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Q. But this, of course, is a mistake and this-this drives you deeper into the misfit
subculture of the church because now you’re divorced.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. You get into the shepherding movement, which a lot of people don’t really
know that much about. And I would like you to just talk a bit about-about the kind of style of Christianity that you’re gravitating into now because you’ve got the shepherding movement, you’ve got an emphasis on demons, you’ve got a kind of a health/wealth theology. There’s a lot of pieces coming together here that are-are creating some new dissonances for you.
A. Uh-huh. I would say that-that the¢â‚¬¦ With the shepherding movement, the
biggest problem I had with it was the element of control.
Q. Yeah. And for people that don’t know what it is, what is it?
A. Okay. This was a movement that was started by five pastors out of Fort
Lauderdale, and they started to influence a number of churches throughout the country. This was a kind of a way of organizing faith around a lifestyle that involved control by the church.
Q. Yeah, which they would refer to as accountability.
A. Right, exactly. The accountability is what they would have called it. And
there was a chain of command.
Q. Yeah.
A. And you had to follow this specific chain of command if there was a problem,
and that sort of thing.
Q. Yeah.
A. And it got to the point where the church got its fingers into every little area of
a person’s life, at times coming between husband and wife
Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand trying to with the whole idea of the husband being the priest of the
household. That was such a big deal.
Q. Right.
A. And-and maybe couples had organized their lives in a way where, okay, the
husband was the priest of the household, but that didn’t mean that the woman, you know, couldn’t take an active part in-in their spiritual life and that she couldn’t have some authority, too. And so they would often identify women who had some measure of spiritual authority as Jezebels. If we went to the pastor or went to someone in leadership, if any of the women did that, went to someone in the leadership about a problem in the church well we were Jezebels.
Q. Yeah, yeah. So you start kind of gravitating into the bad category in this
regard as well.
A. Oh yeah, absolutely.
Q. You face in a-in a health/wealth environment in, you know, God’s going to
heal environment, due to a transfusion you had, your daughter Elizabeth contracts the HIV virus.
A. No. No, no, no. That’s not what happened.
Q. What was that?
A. No. We were afraid that that was what was going to happen.
Q. Oh.
A. No, that was just simply a fear that I had during that time.
Q. Okay.
A. But I¢â‚¬¦ It seemed as if I would not get pregnant again. That was
Q. Gotcha.
A. ¢€œan issue. And we didn’t know if that was caused by the transfusion or what.
Yeah, there was the AIDs scare for awhile, but that passed.
Q. Okay.
A. But there was the infertility issue for another four or five years. And here I
was in this environment that stressed so much health and wealth, and it seemed like I was infertile. And that was, you know, unheard of. And I only had one child and-and, you know, certainly in the church you had to have 2.5 at least.
Q. Yeah.
A. And then there was the whole wealth issue. And now I had left work when
Elizabeth was born and I stayed home with her, so that made us decidedly unwealthy. And so, you know, we were¢â‚¬¦ There was sin in our-in our-in the Ford camp, and we were unhealthy and unwealthy.
Q. Yeah. So you’re experiencing a lot of exclusionary feelings and experiences
and-and-and we end up now moving towards the hotel room
A. Oh yeah.
Q. ¢€œwhere you’re ready to leave the love of your life. Now-now, when does the
Sheila Walsh story connect with this?
A. That was actually about a month later.
Q. You-you¢â‚¬¦
A. That was a month later.
Q. A month after your¢â‚¬¦
A. Right.
Q. First of all, you didn’t take your own life and you didn’t totally leave God
A. Right.
Q. ¢€œthe-the weekend in that hotel room.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. But that was also the result of some rejection.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. The night before one of your friends was, you know, you were feeling that
you’d connected with what happened that night, and suddenly that friend is whisked off by some of her friends and you’re left there by yourself.
A. Right, exactly.
Q. But Sheila Walsh now writes her wonderful book¢â‚¬¦ Well, you talk about it.
A. Yeah. That night in the hotel room I had-I had really felt that I had come to
the end of any relationship on earth with God, and I would see him in heaven and that was it. And you know, we would kind of just go our separate ways as long as I was still on earth. About a month later I had been working for Charisma magazine at the time, and we had decided to do a story on depression.
Q. Yeah.
A. And one of¢â‚¬¦ Sheila had written her book, Honestly, at that point, and it dealt
with her serious bout with depression.
Q. Yeah.
A. So we decided, Okay, I’ll interview her, too. And she was going to be in
Florida. So on the way to meet her for the interview I listened to her book on tape. And on the way there I had to pull over several times because I was crying so hard
Q. Right.
A. ¢€œbecause I recognized myself in Sheila’s story, though our stories were so different.
Q. Yeah.
A. I realized I was suffering from depression and that was a very, very difficult thing for me to admit.
Q. Yeah.
A. I should have known it years before.
Q. Yeah.
A. But I was a Christian, I worked for a Christian company, I went to this
Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. ¢€œyou know, this vibrant church and all this kind of stuff. How could I suffer from depression? This is impossible. But she, you know, on her tape she said the words, I never knew God lived so close to the floor. And I thought about that night at the Radisson a month earlier, when I was sitting on the floor and I just thought, Could God have been there with me? And at that moment I thought, No, he wasn’t. No, no, no, no. And I kind of denied it. But eventually I came around to the understanding that I was indeed suffering from a serious, serious bout with depression.
Q. Well, and this is a really important part of the story which unfortunately we don’t have enough time to really go into, but part of that was coming to grips with telling people in your church, telling other people. Your husband, John, was very supportive through all of this.
A. Extremely.
Q. And-and folks, again, you can read more in Finding My Place in the Family of God. And I think this is really important because I think there are a lot of people that are suffering from depression and could get help. I mean, a pastor said some magic words, Have you called your doctor?
A. Right, exactly. Exactly.
Q. Instead of saying, you know, have you prayed for healing he said, Have you called your doctor, which is-was a liberating phrase in itself.
A. Yes, definitely.
Q. And I want to-I’d love to spend more time in that. But I want to make sure we also get in the fact that you did find yourself gravitating towards a church expression through a retreat that brought some things together for you as well.
A. Uh-huh, exactly. It was a liturgical church. I’m part of the Episcopal Church now, but I really don’t want to make people think that I think that’s the answer. That was my answer.
Q. Yeah.
A. Because it resonated with me. The whole idea of a Holy God and the whole idea of a Christ-centered worship where the focus is entirely on Jesus, which a lot of people who-who maybe have not had that experience or have had bad experiences with liturgy
Q. Right.
A. ¢€œmay not understand.
Q. But it’s not personality-based, which is the problem with so much of church these days.
A. Exactly, yes, yes. Exactly, that’s it. And it’s not performance-driven.
Q. So now, here we are out of time, we’re going to tell people to-to spend more time with Marcia Ford through picking up a copy of Memoir of a Misfit. But in-in 30 seconds, what’s the moral of the story?
A. The moral of the story is that misfits have hope, that-that they have the hope that they can live as productive people in society and in the church, and that they can see that God had such love for them when he made them exactly the way that they are. And that they can embrace and enjoy who they are, with all their eccentricities and quirkiness intact.
Q. There’s hope
A. Yes.
Q. ¢€œfor each of you who are feeling out of sorts or out of kilter with either the church or the world or both, or with God, that there is hope and that’s the message of the book, Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God. And, of course, I know Marcia’s prayer would be, as is mine, that each of you would find your place in the family of God as well. It’s a really interesting read. Also there’s the book Meditations of a Misfit. Thanks for being with us, Marcia.
Folks, we’ll be back with more right after this. Don’t go away.

Posted in DS Interview, Staublog in January 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

Chocolat

Cast
Comte de Reynaud Alfred Molina
Vianne: Juliette Binoche
Anouk: Victoire Thivisol
Roux: Johnny Depp
Pere Henri: Hugh O’Conor
Josephine: Lena Olin
Serge: Peter Stormare
Armande: Judi Dench
Miramax Films presents a film directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs. Based on the novel by Joanne Harris. Running time: 121 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for a scene of sensuality and some violence).

Central Theme
Narrow minds and exclusive souls make for unenlightened minds and condemning souls.

Story
Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) comes to a church-going, legalistic French village and opens up a chocolate store during Lent. Vianne, who doesn’t attend church, is rumored by the town to be an atheist, a radical and her pagan traditions are an irritant to the uptight mayor of the town, Comte de Reynaud. He tells everyone to boycott her store, but because of Vianne’s warmth and chocolate, she wins many of them over. Her ministrations bring romance back to a married couple, embolden an older man to declare his affections for a widow, free a battered wife to leave her husband and restore a grandmother’s relationship with her grandson.

After a group of river-rats drifters stop in town, the mayor tells everyone to “boycott immorality,” which basically means that no one is to associate with any of the drifters because they are not welcome. Vianne decides to broaden the minds of the villagers by including the drifters. Comte de Reynaud remarks that something needs to be done and an overzealous villager starts the river-people’s boats on fire.

Over the course of the movie we see Vianne transformed from a gypsy on the move to a woman who wants to stay put, and we see the mayor transformed from a legalist who proves his love for God by abstaining into a man freed from law and touched by grace.

At one level Vianne represents the grace-filled ministry of Jesus in stark contrast to the legalism of many churches. The church-going townspeople in the film in many ways represent the church-going people of today who are more narrow-minded than loving. Vianne comes into town, and immediately because she does not go to their church, there are rumors that she is a radical and an atheist. The leaders of the town and church deem her “the enemy”, and the mayor tells people not to go into her store, despite the fact that Vianne is probably the most loving and accepting person in the town. Furthermore, when the drifters come into town, they are deemed as immoral, and rather than try to help them or accept them into the town, everyone “boycotts” them, not letting them into their stores, not socializing with them. Except for Vianne, of course, who welcomes them into her chocolate store. The film preaches being open-minded and inclusive rather than condemning and exclusive, and in the end, Vianne’s attitude of loving others rubs off on the town.

Everyone in this film is a seeker. The townspeople are trying to seek acceptance from God through a legalistic adherence to their beliefs. The outsiders are seeking love and acceptance into a community. There are the drifters who live a lifestyle different than most, the battered wife who stands up to her abusive husband, the grandmother who has a fancy for provocative poetry and her grandson whose dark and morbid drawings and thoughts exclude him from the happy games of the other kids. These seekers are constantly turned away; they are used to the exclusion and have come to expect that people, especially the people in the church, will condemn and look down on them.

Too often Christians take the role of the judgmental religious townspeople in the film, in that they are not the loving and caring people who accept everyone. They protest, boycott, or try to disassociate themselves from people who are different. This combative attitude pushes people away from God’s message of love. If someone is different, then Christians deem them the enemy.

Unfortunately, Vianne’s paganism removes some of the potency of that comparison with Jesus, because Hallstrom implies that love, grace and tolerance are found in paganism not in Christianity, which is not true.

Jesus himself was deemed an enemy of the church-going Pharisees of his day. Why? Because he loved everyone, even the outcasts and the sinners. He went into Samaria when that was considered taboo. He ate with tax collectors. He talked with prostitutes. He was a friend of sinners. Jesus would have been the first one to party with the outsiders in the film, as Vianne did. However, the difference is that while hanging out with people, Jesus also shared with them the truth of God, while Vianne still rejects the church even after everyone has reconciled and the church is filled with joy and acceptance. While she does her part to help the church become more accepting and loving, she still tenaciously clings to her disbelief.

Beliefs num
–Grace is more effective than law in transforming people.
–Grace is more often found outside religion than in it.
–We should not measure goodness by what we don’t do, what we deny, what we resist and who we exclude.
–We should measure goodness by what we embrace, what we created and who we include.
–Fasting for Lent is bad.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Do most churches measure goodness by what they don’t do and who they exclude or by what they embrace and who they include?
–Which is closest to the message and example of Jesus?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Once upon a time there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, whose people believed in tranquility¢â‚¬¦if you lived in this village you understood what was expected of you. You knew your place in the scheme of things. If you happened to forget, someone would remind you. In this village if you saw something you weren’t supposed to see¢â‚¬¦you learned to look the other way.
==Narrator in intro.
–The season of Lent is upon us. This is, of course, a time of abstinence¢â‚¬¦hopefully a time of reflection. Above all let it be a time of sincere penitence.
==Pastor sermons as written by Mayor.
–The bells are not meant as an entertainment, but as a solemn call to worship.
==Mayor to Vianne who enjoys the bells.
–That woman is brazen. My heart goes out to that poor illegitimate child of hers.
==Mayor spreading gossip.
–You and your truffles present a far lesser challenge. You’ll be gone by Easter I promise you.
==Mayor referring to historic battles with the Huguenots.
–The Maya believed cocoa held the power to understand hidden yearnings and reveal destinies. He had been raised a good Catholic, but in his love he was willing to bend the rules of courtship.
==Vianne’s father who bedded her mother without marriage.
–I should probably warn you. You make friends with us. You make enemies with others.
==Roux to Vianne.
–Is this a chocolateri or a confessional?
==Armande when Vianne is upset she hasn’t revealed her illness.
–Satan comes in many guises¢â‚¬¦in the lurid song you hear on the radio¢â‚¬¦the author of a salacious novel¢â‚¬¦the quiet man lurking in the schoolyard¢â‚¬¦and a times in the maker of sweet things¢â‚¬¦mere trifles, for what could seem more harmless¢â‚¬¦more innocent than chocolat.
==Pastor in another of the mayor’s sermons.
–I don’t believe anyone would think less of you if you told them she was never coming back again.
==Caroline reassuring Mayor.
–All my efforts are for nothing¢â‚¬¦I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do.
==Mayor prays before going to destroy the chocolate, which ends in consumption of chocolate.
–I’m so sorry.
==Mayor apologizes to Vianne.
–I won’t tell a soul.
==Vianne responds.
–I’m not sure what the theme of my homily will be today. Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lords divine transformation? Not really. I don’t want to talk about his divinity. I want to talk about his humanity. I mean you know. How he lived his life here on earth¢â‚¬¦his kindness¢â‚¬¦his tolerance. Listen. Here’s what I think. I think we can’t go and measure our goodness by what we don’t do¢â‚¬¦by what we deny ourselves¢â‚¬¦what we resist and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace¢â‚¬¦what we create¢â‚¬¦and who we include.
==Pastor in his own words.
–It was not the most fiery sermon or the most eloquent. But the parishioners felt a new sensation that day. A lightening of the spirit¢â‚¬¦a freedom from the tranquility.
==Narrator.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 22, 2000 by | No Comments »

What Women Want

Cast
Nick Marshall: Mel Gibson
Darcy McGuire: Helen Hunt
Lola: Marisa Tomei
Dan Wanamaker: Alan Alda
Alexandra ‘Alex’ Marshall: Ashley Johnson
Morgan Farwell: Mark Feuerstein
Gigi: Lauren Holly
Eve: Delta Burke
Margo: Valerie Perrine
Erin: Judy Greer
Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by Nancy Meyers. Written by Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa. Running time: 127 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content and language).

Central Theme
If men want to know what women want, they need to listen and observe and women will tell them.

Story
Mel Gibson stars as Nick Marshall, a chauvinistic ad executive who thinks he’s next in line for a top job at his Chicago agency. When his boss passes him over for Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt), Nick is ordered to try and understand a woman’s perspective. This is not going to come easy for Nick, who was raised in Las Vegas by a doting showgirl and has built a career on macho man ad campaigns. Nick experiments with lip-gloss, eye shadow, pantyhose and exfoliation, but still can’t put himself in a woman’s mind. However, after a freak electrocution accident, Nick discovers he has powers to hear what all women think. He uses this newfound skill to market products for women, in the hopes that he will replace Darcy as the creative director. What he doesn’t expect is to develop a genuine affection and sympathy for women like Darcy, his daughter and other women in his life who he has mistreated through the years.

Beliefs num
–Men have no clue what women want.
–If men actually listen to women and try to ‘hear’ them, they will understand them better.
–What we think people are thinking isn’t always what they are really thinking.
–Women will often say the opposite of what they really feel.
–Despite claims of equality, men don’t like to have women supervising them, and they view successful career women as ‘hard’ and aggressive.
–Above all else, women want to be listened to.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Are many men really that clueless in their understanding of women?
–Why is hard for men and women tosee things from each other’s point of view? Is it important for men and women to understand the opposite gender?
–Do women really say the opposite of what they are really thinking, and if so, why?
–Do most women really think a lot of guys are ‘schmucks’? Do they communicate these feelings to the men? To other women?
–Even if we can’t read minds, are there ways to be more perceptive and empathethic to the opposite gender?

Provocative Quotes byline
–There’s way too much estrogen on television these days.
==Nick, frustrated with trying to market products for women
–What’s the difference between a wife and a job? After 10 years a job still sucks.
==Nick (in his pre-electrocution ‘piggishness’)
–I’m the maneating bitch Darth Vader of the ad world.
==Darcy
–You talk to me like a woman, you think like a woman. Nick, come on, admit it. You’re totally and completely gay!
==Lola
–What, are you officially a woman now?
==Morgan to Nick
–I can see elegant parties…
You can see all that?
Well, maybe you’re naked and I’m the only guest, but it’s still elegant.
==Nick, raising, then squashing, Darcy’s hopes that he has some sensitivity
–It’s never too late to do the right thing. That’s what I’ll do, I’ll go over there and do the right thing.
==Nick
–I had to see you.
==Nick to Darcy
–Have you ever done that, taken the wrong road? Of course not, you wouldn’t do that, somebody like me does that.
==Nick
–What kind of knight in shining armor would I be if the man I love needs rescuing and I just let him walk out my door?
==Darcy

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 15, 2000 by | No Comments »

Leaving Comfort Zones

(The following is from Too Christian, Too Pagan, published by Zondervan. Order your own copy of the book today by clicking on product links.)

C.S. Lewis once said, “ I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly wouldn’t recommend Christianity.”

Jesus promises an abundant life but the route to that life requires the kind of obedience that will regularly challenge your comfort zones. Because most humans are by nature risk averse, your decision to follow Jesus beyond your comfort zones will often make you seem TPTC.

Jesus calls us to leave our comfort zones. The disciples discovered this to be true all the way from their first encounter with Jesus right through the end. His first words were “follow me.” His parting words were “go into the world.” Every step along the way Jesus told his followers to leave everything they knew, their jobs, their homes, hometowns always for unknown destinies. His benefit package was not insignificant. He said he would never leave them or forsake them. He said if they sought his kingdom first, he would provide for their every need.

Now here is the truly exciting news. Nothing has changed. As spiritual descendants of Jesus’ disciples, we are commanded to
go into the world just as they were. There are really only two troublesome elements in Jesus’ commandment to “go into the world.” First, there’s the part about going, and second, the part about going into the world. Other than that it all seems pretty darn doable.

This is all pretty fresh stuff for me. I’m writing this in a Mac Donalds in Naperville, IL. I was evicted from my house by a realtor about an hour ago for entirely respectable reasons. Today our house was put up for sale and by noon we’ve received multiple offers. Realtor Don thinks if the gregarious “yours truly” stays in the house I’ll mess up the deal, so he’s been pestering Kathy all day, begging her to “get that husband of yours” out of the house! So here I sit.

It is a very emotional day and I’ll tell you why. Staying is easier than going. We’ve lived here for eight years and have come to love this place. We’re part of a wonderful church where we’ve been befriended by some of the finest people we know. Our home backs on to a forest preserve complete with prairie grass, bluebird boxes, trails and a river meandering through old oak trees. Our home is located in the world’s nicest neighborhood and is decorated just the way we like it. We are conveniently located near all the things we like–a neighborhood pool and tennis courts, a thirty-plex theater with stadium seating, the best restaurants in the Chicago suburbs and shopping galore. Plus, we’re within an easy drive or train ride to Chicago, a world class city in every regard.

Never mind that we experienced this same rush of emotions when we left Seattle eight years ago, and never mind that we’re moving back to Seattle where we have every reason to believe God will provide more than we ask. Never mind that our entire family is in the Northwest. Never mind that for six of our eight years I longed for the Northwest and couldn’t wait to move back. Now that we can “go home,” we all feel the strongest possible urges to stay put. It’s just a fact of life–staying is easier than going.

When it comes to following Jesus, there is just one problem with this human desire for the status quo. Jesus is always on the move, and he wants us to follow him. Granted, in his life on earth he covered a relatively confined patch of earth. One New Testament scholar calls him a simple, Mediterranean peasant and another refers to his life as rather relatively “provincial.” Visit Israel and you’ll see how small the territory he covered was. Take comfort in this because it means His “going” doesn’t always require traveling great geographic distances.

In our case, we believe Jesus has asked us to physically relocate 2,200 miles away. Sometimes Jesus required that kind of relocation in the first century too. The first Christians heard his words to go to Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth and so they obeyed and went to all those places. Listen to the roster of cities where the disciples died and you see their movement-Matthew (Ethiopia), Mark (Alexandria, Egypt), Luke (Greece), John (Ephesus via Rome), Peter (Rome), Thomas (East Indies), Simeon (Persia),

But even if we were staying in Naperville, this “going” business would still apply. Sometimes Jesus told people specifically to stay put and be a witness where they are. After being healed, some new disciples wanted to climb on the gospel bus and hit the road with the traveling Savior. Jesus told many of them to stay in their own village. He wanted everybody to hear the good news, one person at a time, and he figured leaving a few witnesses was the best way to accomplish this objective. You’ve heard of management by wandering around. Jesus was into “sharing the gospel by wandering around.” As the pebble ripples out in concentric circles, so one person can be an expanding presence in their circle of influence.

Now this is the second truly challenging thing about Jesus. While we like to stay in the comfort of our home and church, Jesus tells us to go into the world. Turns out in his view, church and home are havens for rest and recuperation, they are supposed to be safety nets not hammocks! He sends us into the world, and needless to say, the world can be a dangerous place.

I told you where the first disciples died, but not how. As Paul Harvey says, “here’s the rest of the story.” While early on, the church found favor with all in Jerusalem (Acts 2:47) it wasn’t long before it was spoken against everywhere (Acts 28:22) and this growing animosity towards the early Christians extracted a great price from Jesus’ followers. Stephen was martyred outside Jerusalem, Matthew in Ethiopia. Mark was dragged to his death through the streets of Alexandria. Luke was hanged from an olive tree in Greece. John survived a boiling pot of water at Rome, then died a natural death in Ephesus. Paul was crucified in Rome. James the Great was beheaded in Jerusalem. James the Less was thrown from the roof of the Temple and then beaten to death with a club. Phillip was hanged against a pillar at Hierapolis in Phrygia. Thomas was stuck with a spear in the East Indies, Bartholemew was killed by having his skin ripped off while still alive. Jude was shot to death with arrows, Simeon crucified in Persia, Paul had his head cut off in Rome by Nero. (The Amazing Expedition Bible, p 259 Baker, 1997). Not exactly the kind of stories you want to put in the recruiting poster for a new organization.

Nevertheless people keep signing up. The fate of those early Christian martyrs is shared by their spiritual descendents today.

On my trips to China, I’ve heard numerous first hand reports from house-church members who have been imprisoned and tortured for their faith and these stories of modern-day martyrs can be heard in countries throughout the world. While uncommon in the United States, it can happen here as well.

In 1999 we were shocked by the slaughter of twelve students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. A widely reported and confirmed story tells of one student’s final moments at Columbine,
A girl was asked by one of the gunmen if she believed in God, knowing full well the safe answer. ¢â‚¬ËœThere is a God,’ she said quietly, ¢â‚¬Ëœand you need to follow along God’s path.’ The shooter looked down at her. ¢â‚¬ËœThere is no God,’ he said, and he shot her in the head.

Just the day before Columbine, Cassie Bernall. one of the victims, had written a poem and entered it in her diary,

Now I have given up on everything else
I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ and to experience
The might power that brought
Him back to life again, and to find
Out what it means to suffer and to
Die with him. So, whatever it takes
I will be one who lives in the fresh
Newness of life of those who are
Alive from the dead.

Throughout the centuries relatively few Christians have been martyred for Jesus. We may die of embarrassment, but few of us will face the literal loss of life for our faith. However, it is clear, that staying-in is easier than going-out into the world. But then Jesus never promised us we could stay in our comfort zone. Jesus calls us to go into the world.

‚© 2000 CRS Communications. Dick Staub

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in November 13, 2000 by | No Comments »

Too Christian, Too Pagan

Publisher
Zondervan

Author
Dick Staub

Posted in Books, Staublog in November 1, 2000 by | No Comments »

Unashamed (Lineage of Grace #2)

Unashamed (Lineage of Grace #2)ublisher
Tyndale

Author
Francine Rivers

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Home to Harmony

Publisher
HarperSanFrancisco

Author
Philip Gulley

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Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God

Publisher
Harper San Francisco

Author
Brennan Manning

Central Theme
Ruthless trust is the ragamuffin’s path to God, who is delighted with our trust.

Overview
Trust is the result of faith plus hope, which then matures into trust. God is glorified more by our trust than our love. Without trust it is impossible to please God! Before we trust God we must become attentive to His presence and unconditional love. “The underlying premise of this book: the splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.”

Beliefs num
–Trust is the way to please God.
–Gratefulness is the evidence of trust.
–The trinity of pain, suffering and evil poses an enormous difficulty for trust.
–Our God is trivialized and too small. To trust we need a God-sized God: radiant, infinite, incandescent, eternal, powerful and majestic.
–Artists, mystics and clowns help us see God in unexpected ways and places.
–Trust can be tainted by craving tangible reassurance, the presumption of God’s intervention or dishonesty with Jesus.
–Trusting Jesus requires moving beyond intellectual knowledge of God to an actual experience of God.
–Brokenness is the path to humility, which is in turn the path to confidence.
–Nowhere actually stands for “now here.” to the follower of Jesus.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What is the distinction between faith and trust?
–What in your life makes trusting God most challenging?
–Do you agree that the American Church fails to admit its brokenness and is therefore missing God’s true love, acceptance and forgiveness?
–Why would trust mean so much to God?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Always and everywhere the overriding issue for the ragamuffin is the person of Jesus Christ.
==BM, Preface.
–Brennan, you don’t need any more insights into the faith. You’ve got enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust what you have received.
==Spiritual director.
–The underlying premise of this book: the splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.
==BM.
–If God stopped thinking about me, he would cease to exist.
==Angelus Silesius, 15th-century theologian.
–Nouwen’s earlier books are peppered with the word faith, and yet in his swan song, he uses faith once and trust sixty-five times. My point? Somewhere along the way, in the life of the maturing Christian, faith combined with hope grows into trust.
==BM.
–The person with an abiding spirit of gratitude is the one who trusts God.
==BM.
–There are only two choices; integration and acceptance of our whole life story, or despair.
==Eric Erikson.
–Without explanation I turned down several request so speak at memorial services in his honor in Nashville, Wichita, and Chicago. I was lost in the tangled, dark, and frightening inner world of my grief, doubt, fear, and anger over Rich’s death.
==BM.
–Along with Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, and Eugene Ionesco, many Christians have been unable to cope with what they fear most the loneliness and absurdity of life.
==BM.
–The sheer magnitude of evil that our age has witnessed in death camps, nuclear warfare and internecine tribal or racial conflicts has not raised the question how can God tolerate so much evil, but rather how the more tangible reality of evil still allows the possibility of God’s existence.
==Louis Dupre.
–When the heart-strings are suddenly cut, it is, I believe, a physical impossibility to feel faith or resignation, there is a revolt of the instinctive and animal system, and though we may submit to God, it is rather by constant painful effort than sweet attraction.
==Harriet Beecher Stowe.
–The glory of God is the human being fully alive. And the life of the human consists in beholding God.
==Irenaeus, Against the Heresy of Gnosticism.
–But to avoid mystery is to avoid the only God worthy of worship, honor and praise. And it is a failure to slake the thirst of seekers and believers alike those who reject the dignified, businesslike Rotary Club deity we charter about on Sunday morning and search for a God worthy of awe, silent reverence, total commitment, and wholehearted trust.
==BM.
–In the days ahead you will be a mystic who has experienced God, or nothing at all.
==Karl Rahner.
–Sacred scripture is too important to be left exclusively to biblical scholars. Theology is too vital to be consigned solely to the province of theologians, to explore the depths of the God who invites our trust, we need the artists and mystics.
==BM.
–The reality is more profound. It is God Himself who can be discovered in the beauty of sensible things.
==Henry Newman, who once thought behind every flower, was an angel who made it grow and blossom.
–Life is lived forward but understood backwards.
==Soren Kierkegaard.
–The great weakness in the North America church at large and certainty in my life, is our refusal to accept our brokenness. We hide it, evade it, gloss over it. We grab for the cosmetic kit and put on our virtuous face to make ourselves admirable to the public. Thus we present to others a self that is spiritually together, superficially happy and lacquered with a self-deprecating humor that passes for humility.
==BM
–It may mean more to Jesus when we say, ¢â‚¬ËœI trust you,’ than when we say ‘I love you.’
==BM.

Posted in Books, Staublog in October 1, 2000 by | No Comments »

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel

Publisher
Picador USA

Author
Michael Chabon

Posted in Books, Staublog in September 1, 2000 by | No Comments »

Growing Up Together

Publisher
Harvest House

Author
Margaret Becker

Posted in Books, Staublog in September 1, 2000 by | No Comments »