bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stick with what you know

What’s the common thread?

What’s the driving force behind our daily spiritual frustrations?

Why do we see certain things so differently than our critics?

Why are we driven to explain our positions ad nauseam?

I have a proposition so simple as to be considered naïve, ignorant, or merely unsophisticated.

Let’s talk about experiential learning, Experientialism, and experiential knowledge. No fun, you say?! Come on…we’re gonna keep this short and sweet. It’s really not very complicated.

I think it’s helpful if you follow the above hyperlinks, but it’s not necessary for the sake of this tiny little idea. As I’m sure you can gather, the root of each of the terms I’ve introduced is experience…and that’s really what we’re after.

In most of our debates, discussions, and enigmatic descriptions of Christian spirituality there is a fundamental flaw to our understanding—it’s the lack of experience. I’ve written about, taught, and spoken of so many topics over the years that I had no experiential knowledge of that I really have no business presenting this idea. However, “even a blind dog finds a bone now and again.”

I’m not suggesting I’ve stumbled on the missing link. I’m just offering a simple idea…I love simple.

What do our discussions look like if we agree to the absolute rule of experiential knowledge? Like discussions of the pitfalls of alcohol, abortion, and homosexuality to site a very few examples.

I am not homosexual. If I agree to the rule of experiential knowledge then I agree to declare my opinions about homosexuality as subjective. Even better – I reach a point that if I want to discover some objectivity about homosexuality then I have to go speak to a homosexual. However, no matter how much time I spend with that person or how informative they may be, I realize that I cannot speak, write, or teach objectively about the subject because I’ve never experienced it. My opinion of right or wrong, by birth or by choice, productive or destructive is objectively irrelevant. Why? Because I am not gay…yes, it’s really that simple.

This idea of limiting oneself to experiential knowledge comes out of the observation that the most widely publicized dumbasses we encounter on a regular basis are vomiting gallons of subjective knowledge into our mouths as if we were baby birds nest-bound and hungry for whatever we can get our beaks on.

I am the member of a small group of Christians convinced by my experiential knowledge that all of Western organized Christian religion is the “offending hand.” It’s what I’ve experienced, and I am offended by those that attempt to devalue my experience. But it’s just MY experience. It’s purely subjective.

My “church” is the open road. My pew is an ’07 Dyna Lowrider. My pastor is the wind, sun, and sky. I don’t need your approval any more than you need mine. But out of respect for one another, if we can agree to the rules of experiential knowledge then it becomes impossible to judge one another.

Now comes the tricky part…in what ways does our relationship with the Bible change if we approach it with the rule of experiential knowledge? That’s a multifaceted concept better left for another day. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of what we loooooove to pontificate about concerning “what the Bible says” or “what the Bible means” is based on subjective knowledge. We teach it as objective, but we don’t experience it. We label our opinions objective, but we don’t have any experience with the subject matter.


If you aren’t homosexual then maybe you should shut the hell up. If you attend “church” every week, I could really give a rat’s ass. If you don’t drink alcohol or hang with people that do then piss off. If you’re a man then you should keep your piehole shut about the role of women. If you don’t use curse words then fuck off. If you’ve never had an abortion then I suggest you take a flying leap (and if you’re a man talking about abortion then kiss my ass). If you’ve never experienced it firsthand then your ideas, opinions, and evaluations don’t mean diddly squat.

Why did Jesus hang out with the people that he did? Based on what I’ve written here you can guess how I would answer this question. However, it’s only my opinion, so the objective answer for all of us should be WE DON’T KNOW.

Repeat after me:

·         I don’t know what it’s like to be gay.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a brotherhood of bikers.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to be 14 and pregnant.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to be taught from the time I’m a small child that because I have a uterus that I’m not as valuable as someone with a prostate.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in an Islamic nation and never hear the message of Christ.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to bond with people over a bottle of wine, keg of beer, or glass of bourbon.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to have a spouse punch me in the face.
·         I don’t know how good it feels to scream the work “fuck” as loud as I can at the world.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to face foreclosure knowing that my “Christian” friends are going to talk about me behind my back.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to have to leave my child with someone I don’t fully trust in order to earn a paycheck.
·         I only know me…and I’m pretty sure that I’m more fucked up than anyone else I know.

Pity me if you like, but this is my mantra. This should be all of our mantras…

My grandma, who died in December 2010, distrusted “niggers”, but she had no experience. She loathed the idea of the ordination of a gay bishop in her beloved Episcopalian church, but she had no experience. She was very bold in telling everyone that they’d gained weight since the last time she’d seen them, but she’d been a size 2 all her life. She would spew any opinion that she had at the moment as a means of criticism (or personal attack) and then excuse herself with “I’m just being honest,” but she never knew what it felt like to have such venomous “honesty” directed at her.

…..and I loved that woman very deeply…..

Far be it for me to claim experiential knowledge of her life. She was the way she was, and now I’m betting everything I’ve got that she’s something entirely different.

Experiential knowledge –

Next time you meet a blind person, ask him to explain the color Blue. If you do, I hope he jabs you in the eye with his cane.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

God is my fish that lives in my room

As the first day of school has come and gone a simple thought has captured my attention.

It all started with the promise to my 6 year old soon-to-be first grader that I would let her pick out a couple fish and her own fish tank to go in her room to mark the beginning of her journey in a new school, new house, new town, and new state.

The past week my daughter has taught me something about the human soul and its need for interaction.

A fish is a difficult pet for a small child. Small children do not understand the delicate nuances of contemplative visual observation. They want to touch everything. They need to put everything through a series of paces that I think of as “kid testing.” Their minds, fingers, and eyes explore every way in which a new toy, doll, or game can be exploited for weakness and creativity.

For example, give my kid a stick and it is a wand used to ward off evil dragons and, hence, it must be waved about in a creative fashion for just long enough to either poke someone in the face or knock something onto the ground. Then the princess is saved.

A board game becomes an enchanted world which unravels into a story of “bad men” and battles between rivals until the pieces are lost and the game board flung into the air resulting in someone getting poked in the face again. Then the princess is saved.

Evidently, we deal with an inordinate amount of facial contusions in our home…

There is always a narrative, action, and a general sense that everything must be touched, handled, turned every which way, and tested to the limits of the child’s dexterity.

None of this applies very well to fish…

Don’t tap the glass. Don’t put your fingers in the water. Don’t pull them out with the net. Don’t touch them. Don’t overfeed them.

You may watch them and feed them a moderate amount of food 2 or 3 times a day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I feel so bad for getting her those fish.

She wants to interact with them. I don’t mean to imply that she doesn’t get what fish are about, but I’m worried now that I’m teaching her the skill of loving without interacting.

Matthew 18:3 says that if we do not change and become like children then we will NEVER enter the kingdom of heaven.

I’m wondering if I’ve begun to teach my little girl one of the pathways to NEVER know the kind of peace which results from living in a place where God is truly in charge.

By giving her something to love that she isn’t allowed to touch or interact with in any kind of meaningful way, am I setting the stage for her to relate to God as if in an aquarium?

Say a prayer now and again.
Routinely attend church.
Feed the offering plate.
Vote for the “right” causes.

I think I may have really screwed up on this one. How do I spin this into a positive?

What is "real" anyways?

*(of speech, writing, etc.) high-sounding; high-flown; inflated.

*refers specifically to language that is purposely inflated in an effort to impress.

*characterizes utterances or speakers that use more words than necessary to express an idea.

…all killers when attempting to write something that a wide range of people can relate to and connect with.

So, I think that what I’m beginning to learn is that brevity coupled with simple diction wrapped around profound meaning is the key to success if you want to be a writer.

Whew. I’m glad I got all that figured out. Easy enough, right?

Wait…what about that profound meaning part? How is that supposed to work? How is a writer supposed to take top shelf items down and casually place them on the bottom shelf for everyone to easily reach? For that matter, how is anyone (orator, writer, educator) expected to unpack all of the difficult terms and phrases we use in order to convey meaning which is palatable and objectively significant?

My attempt to accomplish the “shelf reorg” is via metaphor…and it drives some people crazy. I don’t realize I’m doing it most of the time. It seems as if I am so visual that even non-visual concepts such as compassion, grace, and benevolence take up residence in my head via images which later show up as metaphors. I’m pretty sure that if you took away my ability to understand the world via metaphor, simile, or implied comparison I’d be spending my days sitting in a corner wearing a diaper and drooling a lot….it’s really that bad.

My world makes perfect sense to me.


Is this world I’ve grown accustomed to a construct of my imagination or is it real? If it’s real and I see some things that others don’t then I have something to contribute via populating the bottom shelf (see, I just did it again). If it’s all my own little construct then I’m wasting people’s time with my ideas that don’t necessarily have any value.

How does one know which is which? And if there is no way to determine one from the other then how can we every discuss absolutes, truth, and reality?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In what ways do you think that your perception of the world is unique?

I'm sick of all the dumbasses

I’ve been cursed by knowing and interacting with a lot of dumbasses.

I’m not trying to infer that I’m a “know-it-all” who looks down on those that don’t know any better. I’m talking about people that have every advantage imaginable and still respond to each and every situation with mind-numbing examples of dumbassness.

In the Christian community we like to talk about the underprivileged and unfortunate but we never think of those folks as being white-collar with multiple academic degrees and 6 figure incomes.

Have you ever been involved in a corporate board meeting? Have you ever witnessed the level of depravity and absolute dumbassness emitted by a person (or group of persons) with high academic pedigrees? Believe me…it is a vulgar site to watch men and women of affluence feed on each other, psychologically rape one another, and denigrate one another in the name of pride and position.

It’s enough to make any “common” man scream WTF.

Here’s the point to this mess…depravity, unconscionable malice, selfishness, and absolute dumbass behavior know no boundaries. As a matter of fact, “upper echelon” dumbass behavior is much more toxic because it goes unsanctioned. These folks allow one another to behave in this manner because there is an unspoken creed that says, “as long as they are one of US then we cannot let them be accountable to the THEM.”

It happens in the corporate world. It happens in the Christian church world. It happens in the suburban dilettante – Jr. League world. I simply don’t know what to do with it.

Do you have any suggestions?

Friday, August 19, 2011

"God is not a monster."

What if Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

by Shane Claiborne
via RLC

"I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're all made of shipwrecks

Six months of words...

There's a video...

There's a story...

You're gonna need both. It's gonna make your heart ache for something so stretching, pure, and diabolically difficult. We are called to be fighters! We are called to give a shit about the ones that are forsaken! We are called to lay down our lives for someone or something other than ourselves!

Hearts are broken before they can be remolded back together with others' hearts. 

Don't ever forget to cry. Don't ever forget to cry louder than you could ever cheer. Don't ever forget...

Protect the broken - don't try to fix them. God is the fixer.

Deep dark naughty secrets that are hidden and guarded make us disbelieve grace. They cause us to devalue ourselves. These things that we despise about ourselves affect the ways that we see the world and those around us. We dare not expect better from others when we know how capable WE are of evil.

Hide it at all cost! Slight of hand...use of shadow...smiling mask...

Don't let anyone know the hurt and suffering that plague our lives. Maintain the image that I am Christian and, therefore, pure. I am Christian and, therefore, holy. I am Christian and, therefore, without need of a good foot washing.

You might be surprised! - Jamie the VWM

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm done with living like a Christian

by Kurt Willems

Something happened last week.  I went on a retreat with an amazing spiritual director / teacher named Jan Johnson.  By the end of our time together I realized that I’m done with living like a Christian.
  • I’m done serving the poor.
  • I’m done going the extra mile.
  • I’m done being a husband who strives to love his wife as Christ loves the church.
  • I’m done visiting the sick.
  • I’m done opening up my life to Christian community.
  • I’m done loving my neighbor.
  • I’m done living with integrity.
  • I’m done loving my enemies.
  • I’m done giving finances to global causes.
  • I’m done opposing violence.
  • I’m done speaking out against hatred.
  • I’m done standing up for the marginalized.
  • I’m D-O-N-E done…
This past week made me realize that doing all these things won’t change the world.  That’s because the world can’t be changed unless God changes me.
For the past several years, ups and downs defined my spiritual life.  Moments in the journey were some of the most intimate encounters with Jesus that I’ve known.  Real (nearly tangible) experiences, that can’t be explained by anything but the power of the Holy Spirit, took place. Other moments, when I showed love to a neighbor, prayed for an enemy, served the poor… these were times when Jesus was right there with me.
Then there were the times when I got stuck trying to live like Jesus.  In the Christian world we call these “good works” or “ethics.”  I made my aim “doing” rather than “being.”By “doing” I believed that my “being” would be consumed by an experience of the life of God.  Unfortunately, the God encounters often fade when all my time is spent “doing” or theorizing about such “doing.”
For me, it’s time to stop doing.  It’s time to simply be done.  Done “doing” because the Holy Spirit invites us to stop and to “be.”
  • To be the kind of person who serves the poor.
  • Be the kind of person who goes the extra mile.
  • Be the kind of person who is an awesome self-giving husband.
  • Be the kind of person who visits the sick.
  • Be the kind of person who opens my life up to Christian community.
  • Be the kind of person who loves my neighbor.
  • Be the kind of person who chooses integrity.
  • Be the kind of person who loves enemies.
  • Be the kind of person who gives generously to global causes.
  • Be the kind of person who responds to evil with creative nonviolence.
  • Be the kind of person who not only speaks out against hatred, but who suffers for the sake of the hated.
  • Be the kind of person who stands in the margins with those who’ve been placed there by society (and even the church).
  • I want to BE, and in the process, become a different kind of follower of Jesus.
Why the distinction?  It’s easy to follow the Sermon on the Mount and other ethical teachings of Jesus and to miss the Christ who taught such things. Dallas Willard puts it this way:
Jesus never expected us simply to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, bless those who persecute us, give unto them that ask, and so forth.  These responses, generally and rightly understood to be characteristic of Chrsitlikeness, were put forth by him as illustrative of what might be expected of a new kind of person – one who intelligently and steadfastly seeks, above all else, to live within the rule of God and be possessed by the kind of righteousness that God himself has, as Matthew 6:33 portrays.  Instead, Jesus did invite people to follow him into that sort of life from which behavior such as loving one’s enemies will seem like the only sensible and happy thing to do.  For a person living that life, the hard thing to do would be to hate the enemy, to turn the supplicant away, or to curse the curser…  True Christlikeness, true companionship with Christ, comes at the point where it is hard not to respond as he would.[1]
So, yes, I’m done with living like a Christian.  I’m trading that in for living in a deeper relationship with Christ.  I want to know Jesus.  I want to hear Jesus.  I want to be empowered by Jesus.  Not simply in theory as I do the good things that he calls us to do, but as the natural outflow of intimacy with God.  The former way “gets the job done.”  The latter way changes the world.
For me, this means a new-found intentionality of placing myself in a position to hear from the Spirit.  Spiritual practices like – solitude, Sabbath, lectio divina, silence, confession, prayer, and practicing the presence of God – these neglected areas of my life have led to a Christianity defined by “doing” rather than “being.”
My prayer for us is that our intimate relationships with Christ would make it impossible to not respond with the ethics marked out by the Kingdom of God.  Not out of effort to do good things, but out of our efforts to know Jesus Christ through an awareness of the presence of God’s Spirit.  When this becomes normative, we won’t be able to help it… we will just start looking like Jesus.

Kurt Willems is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting next year by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.  He writes at: the Pangea Blog and is also on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Desperate Need for Imagination

by Shane Claiborne
via Red Letter Christians

Shane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way. He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world.

The world is desperately in need of imagination.

I will never forget the words of an Iraqi doctor I met while I was in Baghdad as a peacemaker in 2003, protesting the “shock and awe” campaign. As the bombs fell on the city, the doctor held a young girl with missile fragments in her body. He raised his head to the sky and said, with tears rolling down his cheeks, “This violence is for a world that has lost its imagination.”

This is the country, world and global neighborhood in which we live.

Where the average North American consumes the same amount as more than 400 Africans.

Where we have enough weapons in the U.S. alone to create more than 100,000 Hiroshimas.

Where 25,000 people die a day from poverty. Nearly 16,000 of those are children, which means every five seconds a child dies of a preventable disease like malaria.
Suffice to say, much of the death and suffering of our world is fundamentally caused by a lack of imagination.

It’s time to take the words of Romans 12 seriously, with the admonition: “Do not conform to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Historically, the prophetic imagination has shown us that God’s people are holy troublemakers, rabble-rousers and mischief-makers. We are folks who refuse to accept the world as it is and insist on moving it closer to what it should be.

It’s time for fresh imagination. It’s time to reimagine the world.

Thankfully, God is good at dealing with a world in crisis—He has had a lot of practice.

And the human imagination flourishes when times get tough, because we are forced to innovate.

This is how I’ve seen it in my little world—the concrete jungle of Philadelphia.

Just this past year in Philadelphia, there was a congregation that was doing what Christians do—hospitality. As many congregations do around the world, they had begun opening their church building to the homeless so they could have a warm, safe place to sleep overnight. The city government got wind of it and began to crack down.

The pastor was told they were not allowed to run a shelter as they did not have proper permits, nor would they be granted them because the city did not want a shelter there. So the congregation prayed, and the Spirit moved. They announced that they would not be running a shelter, but they would have a revival from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night. The city did not dare stop a revival. It was brilliant. I attended the revival one night. It began with great singing, worship and sharing, and transitioned around 10 p.m. to a 10-hour period of “silent prayer.”

We see this imagination in friends in Atlanta who were met with anti-homeless laws that made it illegal to urinate in public. (In fact, some homeless folks have been arrested and charged with public indecency and exposure, which makes them registered sex offenders.) So our friends launched a “Pee for Free with Dignity” campaign, which insisted people could not be arrested for public urination if there were no public restrooms. They marched to City Hall carrying toilets and laid them at the mayor’s door. Soon Atlanta had some public restrooms.

This imagination is seen in the growing movement of urban farming. Vertical gardens tier food production with full-sun plants on top, working the way down to the bottom where there are fish cleaning the water that is then pumped back to the top to trickle down. One of these urban farms in Wisconsin boasts of being able to produce food for more than 2,000 families on two acres of vertical urban farming—and much of it is done by the people in the neighborhood.

I saw this imagination on a college campus that had created a “green dorm” where they recycled the water from their showers and used this “greywater” to flush their toilets, and where they had laundry machines powered by stationary bikes. Not only was it good for the creation, but it was good for their cardiovascular. After all, if you wanted clean undies, you had to work for it.

In Jesus, we see an invitation to join a movement that preaches the Gospel with our lives as well as with our mouths. For too long the Church has promised the world life after death, while a dying world has been asking, “But is there life before death?” I am convinced the Kingdom of God is not just about going up when we die, but about bringing God’s dream down to earth. It is time to reimagine the world. As Indian activist Arundhati Roy has said: “Another world is possible. Another world is necessary. Another world is already here … on a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”

The world is waiting, groaning, aching for another world—for the Kingdom of God to come on earth.

An Imaginary Law: the SBC Approach to Undocumented Immigrants

by Tony Campolo
via Red Letter Christians

"The Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, and pretended to develop a guide for law and/or legislation concerning undocumented immigrants. As one political commentator pointed out, the resolution they developed was “vague, confusing, and perhaps inherently contradictory,” and that it wouldn’t help those in Congress to pick through the complexities associated with addressing the plight of the undocumented.

While making sure that they wanted the undocumented men and women in this country to hear the Gospel story and be “saved,” they deliberately avoided any attempt to suggest amnesty for such immigrants, nor did they offer any hopeful suggestions as to what should be done to help those whom they referred to as “illegal immigrants” a way to find a place among us here in the United States.

They wanted a solution to the problem that was both just and compassionate. While these are wonderful words, their resolution gave neither meaning nor idea as to what meaning they attached to those words so far as social policy is concerned." [...]