bonar crump

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


All of you out there who've made the Newtown, CT massacre about YOU should be ashamed of yourselves. From political agendas to unscrupulously subjective rantings about how God has abandoned our secular school system, please shut the fuck up.

Now is a time for mourning. Now is a time for sorrow. Now is a time for contemplation and resolve. Now is a time for grasping one another’s hands and quietly acknowledging that there will be families with presents under their trees this year which were meant to go to children that are no longer with us. It is incomprehensible. And, yet, it is survivable. Somehow, the worst victims of tragedy get better. Somehow, we always seem to heal. Somehow, we eventually accept these tragedies as a part of our new and future reality.

I’m not trying to teach anyone anything by writing these words. I’m just trying to stir it around and mix it in with the rest of my daily food so that maybe it can be palatable enough for me to gulp down. I’m too pissed off not to try to get this down the hatch so I can move forward. I’m pissed at every one of us—every one of our leaders—every one of our schools—every one of our families—and I resent the implication that ANY OF US knows a fucking thing about why this happened.

I resent the implication that ANY OF US understand anything at all about the list of massacres in each of the US States since the early 1800’s. 40 of our 50 States have experienced multiple instances of reckless, unconscionable waste of human life that NONE OF US can wrap our brains or hearts around.

If you really want to explain something to me then try making me understand why all of the malicious, malevolent, cowardly acts of mass homicide within my lifetime have been perpetrated by white men ages 20-35. You know what? Forget I even mentioned it because someone out there will actually try to answer the question. They’ll try to apply a logical answer to a systemic morphing psychological virus of predation.

News flash: seeking a purpose for everything and insisting on defining, labeling, and cataloging unimaginable chaos, depravity, and cowardice leads to a net gain of squat—nada—zilch. We have to wrestle with the reality that another white male between the ages of 20-35 will do this kind of thing again. We have to prepare ourselves for the inevitability that somewhere within our midst is more than one white man contemplating a way to “up the wager” and hurt us even more.

I am allowing myself the next 24 hours to continue visualizing these children screaming out and huddling in fetal positions as a white male stands over them and puts the barrel of a semi-automatic weapon right up to their terror-stricken faces and pulls the trigger. I think it’s important to burn that image in my mind. I think it’s important, somehow, in the sharing of grief and mourning and lamentations. But enough is enough. After the next 24 hours I’ve got to move forward. I’ve got to find the next level of grief. I’ve got to make up my mind that I will not be weakened or rendered motionless by my sorrow.

I’m going to add this experience to the collection of other tragic experiences I’ve witnessed and lived through, and I’m gonna keep sifting through the pile looking for ways to use these negative experiences for something positive. I’m gonna think about ways I can be more involved in the lives of abused children. I’m gonna think about the ways I can watch for troubled white men and bring them closer to me instead of pushing them farther away. I’m gonna take more responsibility for the fatherless and the widowed and the poor and the sick and the imprisoned. I’m gonna use these experiences to fortify my resolve that THIS CAN ALL WORK SOMEHOW.

Tragedy is supposed to evoke a heroic struggle instead of a wave of talking heads and brooding Facebookers relishing the opportunity to scream out their opinions yet again. The heroic struggle isn’t against legislation or hate groups. The heroic struggle is NOT any sort of monolithic idea or policy or attitude. The heroic struggle is a mosaic of hearts and hands and efforts and backgrounds and ideas all coming together to form a unified front of protection from the imminent threat of tragedy next time. There’s always a next time. And if next time isn’t met with cooperation instead of sanctimonious ideological segregation, then more children and teachers die.

And if that happens, we’ve all failed once again. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


When someone turns their back on you, it hurts. When you can tell that someone is talking about you to someone else in the room with the whispered warning of, “don’t look now, but guess who just showed up,” it pushes down on you like a ridiculously heavy backpack. When your very best efforts to please someone result in a dismissive lack of affirmation, it creates distance, anger, and resentment.

When a person is ugly or dirty or smelly or boisterous or crass or impatient or flamboyant we all treat them differently. We turn our back to them without realizing we’ve hurt them. We warn others in our group to be aware of “that person over there” without intent of malice. We dismissively nod thanks to them with a fake smile and hurried eyes if they engage us while unknowingly reaffirming a multitude of rejection stereotypes.

The “Homeless”—I don’t even know what that means anymore. I get that we’re talking about people that don’t have a home. We’re talking about individuals and families that lack the resources necessary to procure sustainable shelter. What I mean when I say that I don’t know what “homeless” means is that I need a definitive explanation of the word HOME.

I’m too philosophically driven to only accept HOME as the place where a person, family, or household lives. That’s the easy definition, but what about HOME as a safe place? A place where a person can find refuge and safety or live in security? What about a HOME office or HOME field advantage? What about a criticism that hits HOME or driving the nail HOME? What if I’m HOME free or happy to be HOME for the holidays?

Certainly, there are connotations of where someone dwells within each of these depictions, but it has to be about more than where someone physically resides. It has to do with one’s origins—less about geography and more about a sense of belonging.

HOME is more about where the heart lives and what the heart connects to than it is about where we keep our stuff.

If that’s true then I think more of us are “homeless” than we realize. I’ve known wealthy CEO’s and pillars of the community that were as homeless as any vagrant living under a bridge. I know families living in 6,000 sq. ft. houses just as homeless as the dirtiest bag lady on the street. Politicians, Clergy, Writers, Doctors, Educators, Sculptors, Executives, and Judges—all as homeless as anyone could ever be because their hearts don’t have a HOME.

When a heart doesn’t have a HOME (a place of safety and nurturing) it develops a sense of entitlement, self-importance, paranoia, and ultimately the mechanism of rejecting others before being rejected.

A heart needs a place to rest comfortably from time to time. A heart needs food and shelter. A heart needs to be fed compassion and trust and loyalty and love and respect in order to remain healthy. A healthy heart needs time to heal and time to rest and time to experience peace.

But that’s not all a heart needs!

A heart also needs exercise through acts of service to others. It needs work and responsibility and needs to be stretched. A healthy heart needs to perform. It needs cycles of rest and work, peace and stress, acceptance both received and given. A healthy heart HAS TO be used or else it decays. And once it has decayed for long enough it becomes a hardened lump of atrophied muscle capable of one thing only—self-preservation.

You’ve seen the street homeless with their dirty clothes, constant walking, bags upon bags of “stuff”, and distant stares shuffling down the street. They are in self-preservation mode. Their defenses acutely devised to keep you and everyone else away. Their trust has died. Their fears have overtaken them. They’ve had backs turned on them for so long that they wonder if they themselves actually exist. Their flamboyant behavior is a warning sign to stay away.

From a broken, lonely, depraved place where a healthy heart struggles to exist we all defend against the sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness we’ve suffered in our lives.

We are all homeless.
We are all dysfunctional.
We are all broken.
We are all HOMELESS.

Beware false promises of a HOME for your heart. Physical beauty, possessions, power, influence, control, and stature may be how we errantly label one’s identity, but none of these things provide a HOME for the heart. And once you find that true home for your heart, DO NOT abandon it for promises of something bigger and better. The most honorable, healing, peaceful, loving places a heart can call home are also, more often than not, the simplest places, things, and people in our lives.

Find a home for your heart and then go about the business of finding homes for other people’s hearts. Because if you are interested in fighting poverty, abuse, hunger, and hatred you need to understand that these are malignant tumors on society brought about by a culture of homeless hearts searching for significance through the exploitation of others.

The worst part about a heart without a home is NOT that it dies. The worst part is that it WANTS TO DIE but cannot. The worst part is that when it cannot die it feeds on others. The homeless heart, left unchecked, can destroy and consume and devastate anything in its path. It’s like a tornado—a resulting force of nature without any positive reason for existence. And often, just like that tornado, the chronically homeless heart is arbitrary about who or what it affects.

Here’s the magnificent part—when you are about the business of feeding compassion and trust and loyalty and love and respect to the hearts of others, your own heart is satisfied. It’s circular. It’s rhythmic. It’s organic. It’s what we call communal living and there is no individual achievement that can take its place.

A healthy home for a heart is NOT an efficiency apartment. It is a high school gymnasium filled with cots. Don’t buy into the idea of self-sufficiency. If you do, you might find a place for your stuff, but you will not find a place for your heart.

Think big and give big.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Christian cultural warfare

Let me be clear about something for a moment. No more nuance. No more metaphor. No more poetic adaptations of spiritual revelations. Just straight up honesty…right…wrong…or otherwise. Pure individual opinion and preference.

Today’s brand of western Christianity sucks ass!

If you’ve been brainwashed with the message of fanaticism that HATES Obama or HATES gays or HATES immigrants (legal or illegal) or HATES anything then you need to stay the fuck away from me. I’m trying my best to be a godly man.

I want to be loving. I want to be joyful. I want to be peaceful. I want to be patient. I want to be kind. I want to experience all the “fruit” (or byproducts) of a life lived according to the Holy Spirit of our God, but you assholes keep pissing me off.

I want to be non-violent, but every time I hear a “Christian” spouting hate, disrespect, and malicious slander I want to kick them to sleep. I want to be gentle, but every time I hear a “Christian” reciting their pastor’s particular flavor of scriptural interpretation which clearly runs cross-grain to the life of a peaceful loving Christ I want to bash their teeth in with a Maglite. I want to be respectful, but every time I hear a “Christian” speak with authority about politics, spirituality, and sexuality that they have NO personal experience with I have to fight back the urge to fold their knee backward with a well-placed heel kick. I want to be humble, but it’s hard not to think everyone around me is a complete dumbass when it seems clear that all the noise of the culture war around us is obviously drowning out human suffering in every corner of our world. I don’t want to let these things get to me. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to rant. I want peace.

But today’s most visual and vocal brand of a provocative Christianity is THE biggest stumbling block for me. I’m guessing it’s quite the stumbling block for others as well. Either that or I’m the only one out here psychotic enough to be affected by these lunatics. Yes, I can call them lunatics because I was once one of them. I taught the same garbage. I worshipped the same idols of religion, politics, doctrine, and selfish interpretation of scripture. I was fully dialed in to the frequency of status quo mainstream Christianity. But then God saved me.

I’m certain that the greatest salvation I’ve ever experienced in my life has been a salvation from what I thought Christianity was. I know now that Jesus died on that cross for me that day not to save me from my sins, but to save me from my religion. He sacrificed flesh, bone, blood, dignity, and life so that someday Bonar Crump would be saved from the hell of 21st century western Christianity.

Obviously, everything in me isn’t fixed if I truly have these tendencies of violence toward jackass 21st century Christians, but I’m really really trying and praying and seeking and working on it. This is why I keep ALL forms of organized Christian religion at arm’s length. This is why I try to debrief my daughter each time we attend church. This is why I confer and seek council from my wife anytime the noise of Christian cultural warfare begins to drown out my sense of peacefulness and joy. This is why I write this stuff as I attempt to release it from my brain via verbal processing. I have to verbally vomit into my laptop from time to time just to keep the noise level in my head to a dull roar.

Is it any wonder that I cling so tightly to the biker subculture that I embrace? See, there is peace in being a part of a subculture that the jackass “Christians” don’t want any part of. Don’t get me wrong…there are plenty of Christ followers among the ranks of us bikers, but the really nasty “Christians” stay very far away from us. As a matter of fact, they lock the doors to their cars when we pull up next to them at intersections. That suits me just fine.

The curious thing to me is that there is a lot of the same kind of hate speech within the biker community, but it doesn’t bother me nearly as much. You’ll find a fair amount of bigotry, misogyny, and political fanaticism at any of our large biker meetings, but these are mostly folks exercising their freedom of belief, speech, and lifestyle guaranteed by our Constitution. What appears to me to be intolerance and anger is based on their own authority. It’s their opinion and right to have and express whatever they like. I get it. But it’s different for me when I hear someone reflecting the same exact intolerances while wearing a shirt that says, “Jesus said so.”

You know what! If you’re wearing that shirt today I have one very important thing to say to you: go fuck yourself. That and stay the fuck away from me. I respect your right to your freedoms of speech, action, and lifestyle, but NOT if you’re going to cover it all with a self-serving coat of Christian paint, thereby, presenting the message to the world that you are merely following the directives of your God. You are not! You are following the guidance of your idols. You just don’t know it yet.

I’ve been told that I am actually a very nice person. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that it’s a lot easier for me to be nice when I’m not surrounded by mainstream Christians. Wondering why church attendance all over the western world continues to drop off at an amazing rate? It’s because no one wants to hang out with assholes. It’s really not all that complicated. Figure it out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Herd versus Tribe

A close friend of mine recently told me that mainstream Christianity had made her an asshole. The more we discussed the subject, it seemed to draw toward what happens to an individual when they become part of the “herd”. We discussed our individual rejections of the “herd”. We wrestled with the defiance of “herd mentality”. We resolved to maintain our independent critical thinking and never again follow the “herd.”

The victorious defiance that we shared was real. But…the more thought I put into the matter over the next couple days, the more I began to question if we were trying to function as fully autonomous disciples. It seems counter-intuitive to completely reject the herd as a means of redeeming the herd. (That sentence makes a lot of sense to me and, yet, when I read it the meaning gets tangled up in the syntax.) What I mean is that those of us on the front edge of a Christian reform movement which is driving the post-modern, missional, socially responsive changes that we are witnessing today in the Church have to sell more than just the message of “damn the herd”. Because everyone that buys that t-shirt automatically defines themselves as one group rejecting another group’s dynamics based on the precept that being a part of a group will always make you an asshole. Do you see the insanity of it? I want to be a part of a herd that rejects herds.

Over the last couple of days as I’ve processed our discussion, I remembered writing quite a bit about rejecting the herd and seeking a new tribe in my book. So that got me thinking about the differences between a tribe and a herd. I don’t think I need to drone on and on about the differences, but I will say that the most obvious distinction is that animals form a herd and people form tribes.

Maybe the real discussion is about being a Christian animal versus being a Christian human. I would argue that the Christian animal is concerned with little more than survival (receiving sustenance), procreation (increasing numbers), and preserving the integrity of the herd (worship of religion). By contrast the Christian human embodies the burning desire to question and reason—to seek knowledge and truth—to sacrifice safety and security for the sake of humanitarian efforts—to save and rescue other tribal members from the savages of neglect, abuse, and hunger.

Personally, I reject the institutional church because I don’t want to be fed from a trough—I want to feed from the land. I don’t want to be led by professional shepherds—I want to be interactive in the direction and goals of the tribe. I don’t want to be fenced in by traditionalism and culturally irrelevant ethos—I want to explore uncharted regions of faith and risk injury from time to time. I don’t want to be labeled a Christian beast—I want to be known as a critical thinker even if I’m wrong sometimes.

I want to reject the herd for the sake of being a part of a tribe. Maybe you don’t see the distinction, but there is one. The difference is huge! The tribe is an organism that works together and relies upon one another to meet the collective needs of the tribe. I like to think of primitive indigenous tribes and how they live with one another and for one another. I like to think about my tribe as one that is nomadic, dynamic, and culturally savvy. I like to look around me and see the tribal tattoos and piercings. I like to look around me and see a tribe that celebrates diversity and compassion. I like seeing a genuine acceptance of racial, sexual, and economic diversity in my tribe. And when I say it’s “my tribe,” I don’t mean that it belongs to me. I mean that I get to belong to IT as a contributing, learning, respectful member happy to be a part of something bigger than myself and more powerful than any of the single members of the tribe are independent of one another.

Are you a part of a herd or are you a part of a tribe? The answer will have a profound effect on your heart and soul. Jesus had a tribe of disciples that He led. He was also often found trying to get away from the herd of curious folks looking for healing, food, or hope without the understanding that Jesus was offering them entry into the tribe. He was NOT offering them admission to a herd.

If you’re suspicious that you might be mingling with the herd instead of participating in a tribe then chances are you don’t know yet how to engage scripture, religion, and fellow herd members with independent critical thought. It’s difficult to transition. It’s hard to reject something that has always been a part of your life. It’s physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausting to engage the members of your herd with the message of a tribe. All you can do is leave the gate open when you escape. Some will find their way out. Some will do everything in their power to shut that gate back up.

The herd and herd mentality are powerful agents of persuasion. Do not underestimate their appeal. Most members of my tribe have experiences anything from 2 to 5 years of soul-searching transition, conflict, and self-doubt before ever finding our group. One member that I know of was subjected to such ridicule, shame, and spiritual abuse that he contemplated suicide. That’s right—educated and trained at Southwest Theological Seminary; this guy started asking too many questions about herd mentality and was shamefully cast to the curb without an inkling of concern for him or his family, how they would survive financially, or how it would affect every single aspect of their future. Another is a family member of mine cast aside by a church herd where the pastor of the institution wept at his shameful dismissal but in the end threw up his hands because major financial benefactors in the herd required his head on a platter because this family member had questioned the necessity of a new organ and sanctuary remodeling when 1/10th of that money could have funded an established program to house and feed several dozen homeless families.

We’ve all heard the stories and seen their effects, but we tell ourselves, “wow, THOSE guys are really messed up.” All the while the same things are happening in your herd without you even knowing it. Wake up! Analyze, pray, research, ask questions, seek, find, knock, open, pray again, and be sure to listen this time. Because the thing about being a member of the herd is that you don’t realize it’s a herd. Just like an asshole justifies being an asshole because they always have an excuse for their behavior. You have to separate from these things in order to really allow the blood to begin circulating to the independently critical thinking parts of your brain.

The gospel will not make you an asshole. Jesus will not make you an asshole. Even the being a member of the herd doesn’t make you an asshole. It is the hardening of one’s heart that creates the asshole, and that, my friend, happens when the complacency, laziness, and self-centered nature of the “herd” sets in. It’s simply that WE aren’t designed to be a herd. We are designed to be a tribe.

I’m looking forward to the next conversation with my close friend. I want to explore these thoughts and see if there is somewhere to settle on how to make the transition from herd to tribe more efficient and less damaging. It’s great once you get here, but the trip is murder. Maybe she’ll be able to help me release the anger and resentment I feel toward the herd. Maybe that’s my barrier of forgiveness that I need to breach in order to be a better member of my tribe. Maybe I’ve transitioned to the tribe but still maintain my asshole status. Maybe we’re all living in a constant state of uniqueness transition. Maybe God likes us that way. Maybe the potter likes molding clay more than He does putting it in the kiln. Maybe the journey is everything and there is no destination. Maybe I should wrap this up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Boys of Summer

Every year at this time I try to convince myself that this will be the year I cultivate a love for baseball.

It is beyond me why I’ve never caught the baseball virus. I’m built like a baseball player. Most people assume that I played baseball in college. It’s a game that seems to encourage statistical analysis. Baseball mixes power, finesse, bravado, and steely-eyed competition into a beautiful confederation of colors set on a field of grass and dirt that emit a sense of puckish youthfulness.

I want to love it. I should love it. By all accounts I should be a complete fanatic about the game, but it cannot hold my interest for long. I can find no fault with baseball that would preclude a passion for the game. I think that it is a game I was probably meant to love but for some reason cannot.

I think that for one to truly be a fan of something does NOT mean that they must be a fanatic. I mean…I think I could argue that I’m a fan of baseball, but to do so in the proximity of a few of my closest friends that are fanatics would earn me the label of HYPOCRITE.

These guys that I speak of consume the game. They adjust their schedules around the game. They spend a considerable amount of time and money attending games. They watch the games, analyze the games, and then read someone else’s analysis of the same games the very next day as they are watching the current games. These guys invest the kind of time, money, and heart into the game of baseball that makes me feel hypocritical when I describe myself as a fan.

I don’t deserve to wear the same cool stuff they do when they invite me to the games. I don’t know who the legendary announcers are that have nurtured their love of the sport. I don’t understand the nicknames and histories of individual players (see Fat Elvis). I get it, but I just don’t get it. I get it when I’m watching a game with these guys, but when I’m watching a game by myself I don’t get it.

Passion is a funny thing. It summons enthusiasm that cannot be faked. It invokes emotion that cannot be faked. It induces desire sometimes distinct from reason or intellect. It arouses love, joy, hatred, anger, jealousy, et. al.

Sometimes I envy my good friends that are passionate about baseball. This is an exciting time of year for them. From the moment that pitchers and catchers report to camp until the last game of the World Series these guys gleefully grin and toast and argue and cheer for a game, a team, and for individual players that throw, hit, and catch a ball. It’s quite a zen-like thing to watch as a non-fanatic wannabe baseball fan.

Having passion is good, I think. Your passions help to mold you and define a piece of who you are. I love that passion can change us at our core. I love that passion is somehow reliant on hope. Whatever we are passionate about will get the majority of our time and mental RAM.

I want more passions in my life. My passion for Jesus, my wife, my daughter, my Harley, and my running should be enough. But I’d like more. I’d like to be as passionate about people, in general, as I am about people’s ideas. I’d like to be passionate about child abuse and human trafficking and hunger and need. I’d like to be passionate about grace, mercy, and peace. I’d like to be passionate about injustice. I want to be passionate about the things that Jesus (one of my passions) is passionate about. I feel hypocritical being a fan of these things when I’m in the presence of those that are passionate about them.

Maybe I’m a fraud. Maybe we’re all frauds. Maybe we all want to take sides on the Trayvon Martin issue without understanding that Godly passion is laced with hope not hatred. Maybe we all want to be passionate about our political agendas without considering that righteous passion loves—it does not destroy or discredit. Maybe we all want to formulate exhaustive opinions about anything and everything as a means of convincing ourselves that we are not living lives void of passion. Maybe we all suck. I suspect that we most certainly do.

I hope we don’t all suck. I don’t want to believe that we are all frauds, phonies, and hypocrites. I want to believe that we all have passions that might be misguided instead of believing that we are absent of passion. I’d much rather think of us all possessing misplaced passion rather than being passionless. Passionless means dead. I don’t want to be dead. I don’t want to have misguided passions—but I know that I do. Still, I’d rather know there is passion in my life than to be dead inside—absent of hope—eyes at my feet instead of on the horizon.

Here’s to passion and all the messiness that it brings with it! I do love people, but I hope to become passionate about their lives and their suffering. I want to be infected with the passion that I see in Jesus. I’m not interested in the passions of His followers. I want the real stuff. I want to know that what I’m passionate about matters. I don’t want to be a fraud. And as these righteous passions grow inside of me I’m hoping that there isn’t a limit on the number of things one can be passionate about.

I still want to be passionate about baseball. That part is real, too. It’s just that I want to be equally as passionate about people’s heart as I am about the Cardinals. It’s much less messy to be a Cards fanatic than it is to be a fanatic of suffering, environmentalism, economic disparity, and the elimination of hate. However, I still think baseball might be my gateway drug. I sense that the green grass and rosin and smell of beer might represent the pleasant hopefulness necessary to dive into the messier passions of human existence.

I want to know what a RALLY SQUIRREL is. I want to put 20,000 miles a year on my ’07 Dyna Lowrider. I want to run 4 full marathons a year. I want to be fully engaged in the everyday miracle that is my wife and daughter. I want to “seek first the kingdom of God.” And through kingdom seeking I hope to add the passions of Jesus to my growing list of passions.

All of that and I’d like the Texas Rangers to win the World Series. But don’t tell all my buds that are Cardinal fanatics. The reason they all say that the Rangers didn’t win the 2011 World Series is because Ranger fans aren’t the same caliper as Cardinal fanatics. The say Ranger fans only show interest in the post-season. They say a team without passion can never ultimately achieve their goals against adversity. Maybe they’re right. Maybe a group of fanatics CAN raise the level of play of the team they’re passionate about. I’d certainly like to think so. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spiritual Awakening in the Desert

It was a long hard run into the arid region of far West Texas. We ran a consistent pace along the Rio Grande for hundreds of miles. Three rows of barbed wire separated us on both sides from scrubby mesquite and cacti as we thundered West on two cylinder steeds with rubber hooves.

“West” always makes me think of adventure and survival and Josey Wales. In my mind, “West” is where there is newness and hope of something better. It’s where the daring (and sometimes crazy) go to escape preformed existence. “New” lives out West. “Old” is wherever you’ve been long enough to exhaust all of your resources and have explored all of the contemporary modes of advancement.

As long as you’re travelling West you know what lies to the East. You know which towns to the East show promise of fuel and which are ghostly reminders of lives long since departed. You know where the “road dragons” are to the East (road dragons—long curled chunks of tire tread that mark spots in the road where someone has blown a tire). “Been there Done that” is to the East. You’ve already conquered the East. You’ve already absorbed the scenic pleasures it has to offer and have survived the hazards it has thrown at you. Even the sun loses interest in the East and is constantly trying to escape it to no avail.

I’ve been writing, researching, and cajoling people to embrace the spiritual West for half a decade now. At first, I thought I was the only one spending my evenings with a glass of whiskey meticulously reviewing roughly-drawn prospector’s maps of the spiritual West. I kind of thought I was the only one foolish enough to point my horse in that direction. I remember at one point thinking I might have to turn around because all I was finding the further West I went was miles and miles of barbed wire and seemingly uninhabitable land.

But something has happened.

Something has changed.

Others have felt the call of the spiritual West and have been heading that direction. You run into them the further you go into the unknown West. The spiritual pioneers are out West seeking, exploring, finding, and sharing. You see them up ahead and you quicken your pace to catch up. You are invited to ride in formation with them because there is protection, power, and energy in numbers. You share each other’s resources. You learn from each other’s stories. You build confidence in knowing that your desire to discover the spiritual West hasn’t been about escaping the East—it’s been a call TO something instead of AWAY from the past.

When we discover what lies West we discover a new level of potential. We discover a new perspective and we realize that although the old perspective works fine to the East, the new perspective of the West requires a different set of eyes to see and ears to hear. Not everyone is ready for it. Not everyone is capable of making the journey. Not everyone is bold enough to reject the cautionary tales of Easterners and quietly travel West. And to be honest, not EVERYONE is being called to travel West.

But if you hear the call of the spiritual West (and you know it if you do), you need to heed that call. You need to pack as little as you can into your saddlebags, backpacks, carts, or buggies and start following the Son.

We need you out here. We’ve begun to establish some communities out here. We’ve discovered water and food sources and we’re beginning to figure out how to use these new eyes and ears.

The stars are much brighter and not an inch of the sky isn’t owned by one. Those stars were always over your head, but you couldn’t see them. You needed a new perspective.

Resources are harder to find out here, but you appreciate them so much more than ever before. Succulent tiny quail hiding under the very same mesquite that you use to cook them with—powerful winds that bring the promise of rain—mountains to look up at and valleys to view from above.

Changes in perspective require movement.

New ideas, dreams, challenges, and hope require effort and time and loss and sincerity.

We don’t go to tame the spiritual West! We go to learn how to be a part of it!

That’s why we pack so little. It’s because with every bit of spiritual baggage we bring along, we risk missing out on the full scope of a REAL perspective change. If we bring our old eyes and ears with us then we cannot survive out here. It’s a place that requires adaptability, freedom, and most of all it is a place that requires faith.

My recent 1,000 mile roundtrip out West recharged my faith in new sunsets, ghost towns, prickly pear, and that a new tire may be hard to find, but somebody’s out there with just what you need. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s okay. If you DO know what I’m talking about then you GET IT. Sometimes spiritual changes at our core occur because we’re standing somewhere we’ve never been before. We can be dramatically changed by our surroundings. We almost always are.

As I relived three days’ worth of riding to my wife it sparked a thought—we depart home with the excitement of visually experiencing a new environment, but we arrive back home telling all our stories about the people we met along the way.

I’m not exactly sure what that thought means just yet, but it’s definitely fermenting in my brain.

I couldn’t wait to clean all the dead bugs off my Harley. I couldn’t wait to check all my fluid levels, air pressures, and snug up all the loose bolts. I couldn’t wait to ready everything for the next opportunity to ride West. I couldn’t wait because once you begin to satisfy the yearning in your soul to travel West you become addicted.

Yes, it’s about riding the Hog. Yes, it’s about finding those long stretches of rode where you can run 115 mph before you crest the next hill. Yes, it’s about challenging your ability to adapt and problem-solve. But most significantly, it’s about the subtle change in vision and the noticing of embedded sounds you’d never noticed before.

It’s called living.

It’s called joy.

It’s called peace.

It’s called faith.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Christian PTSD and a bunch of other stuff

Warning: Stream of Consciousness Ahead—Slow down when approaching the curves.

·         There has to be a respectful way to argue that Christianity may be the greatest threat to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
·         There has to be a way to open up the discussion with spiritually honest folks about the burden of Christianity on the intent of Christ’s message to ALL of humanity.
·         There has to be a meaningful way to investigate the problems generated by Christianity without attacking individual Christians.
·         There has to be a way to criticize the belief system without tearing down the believers.
·         There has to be a way to look at Jesus, the red letters, and the Cross from a first person perspective instead of through the filters of Christianity.
·         There has to be a way to escape the zoo of Christianity and view Christ in the wild—no barriers—no separation—no vendors—no warnings—just people standing right in front of the Lion of The Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5).

There has to be a way……...but I don’t know what it is.

I’m never so “on point” and cautious as I am when I attend a Christian church service. Most would think that it’s because I’m damaged goods or that I’ve been wounded by church folk in the past and just haven’t healed yet. Well, that might be part of it, but I’m nobody’s punk. I don’t whine about injustices and angrily stomp around fuming over defeat. I have a pretty short memory when it comes to confrontation and even rejection. What I don’t forget easily is disrespect or contempt—both personally and when observed from a third-party perspective.

I don’t carry a chip on my shoulder, but you won’t ever sneak up on me easily more than once.

Let me explain what it’s like participating in a church service (traditional or contemporary—mainstream or off-the-grid—clean-cut preacher or guy with an 8” goatee) when you have all your senses in hyper-active mode at the ready for any type of a flanking maneuver. It’s exhausting!

It’s like playing soccer on a field where there MIGHT be a couple landmines. You’re not sure if they’re there, but they MIGHT be so you’ll need to diligently scan the ground as you “play” the game. All the while the other players on the field joyfully play the game without worries or hesitation. In contrast to them, you play the game like Rain Man trying to get on an airplane.

I like to think of it as Christian PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Does that mean I consider myself a victim? Of course not! I was a volunteer. No one made me participate in the system dynamic which is Christianity.

Or did they?

No. What am I saying? No one forced Christianity on me; it was a choice I made on my own at the age of 9.

But………..… I don’t know. I mean what other alternatives did I have? At 9, the choice was quite clear—either accept the basis of Christianity as expressed through my particular church congregation or reject the message of Jesus Christ and what his life/death means to me for all eternity.

And THEN radically remodel those Christian ideologies at age 11 due to the different philosophies at our new church community. Then there was the refashioning of those beliefs at age 15 after my parents had given up religion all together and I had to start evaluating doctrine and theology on my own (which meant I would attend the church where most of my friends went).

That was a Christianity based on the sound ideology of: God wants our youth to have a full-functioning gymnasium and lounge areas with pool tables and old couches. That wasn’t a bad Christianity. It provided many of us a place to meet members of the opposite sex that appeared to be like-minded Christians and thereby “safe” for exploring the nuances of dating during our mid-teens. We really took advantage of that one!

Next month’s overnight lock-in—Hell, yeah, I’m gonna be there!

There were lots of other churches with just as many different flavors of Christianity. All of them had good points and bad points IMO. But there was always one thread of consistency that ran through all of them—Jesus. So it came to pass that when I finally got tired of readjusting my own sense of who Jesus WAS based on the plethora of versions I came into contact with (Jesus version 3.7 – Jesus version 20.8) I began to think about what all of the different flavors of Christianity must look like from Jesus’s perspective (confession: I usually type “Christ’s” instead of “Jesus’s” because I’m never quite comfortable with that spelling—too many ssssssses).

I still don’t have any idea what it all must look like from the Jesus perspective. I realized the dangers of that thought process early on. It required me to assume that I knew anything at all about how a creator evaluated his/her creation. However, I think that it was that time in my life that led me to pursue writing. I wanted to know what it was like creating something you were proud to present to others whether they appreciated it or not and then see what it would feel like witnessing what others would do with your creation. Sometimes they tear it apart. Sometimes they OVERLY embrace it. Sometimes they respectfully ponder it and give you a little chuck on the shoulder (those are probably the best).

But sometimes they ignore it. Sometimes they disrespect you and carefully shoo you out of the room so that the “real” grown-ups can talk. Sometimes they label you and your creation too artless or ordinary to be the work of anyone worthy of their time. Sometimes the flaws in what you create are evaluated contemptuously overshadowing any beauty, honesty, or truth you may stumble upon in the process of being creative. Sometimes you’re considered a piece of shit no matter what you have created because it’s not what the “real” grown-ups want to hear or are looking to decorate the walls with.

Dude…did I just hear an “amen” in the distance?

There is a point to this weird post. Let me see if I can find it.

Oh, yes! What it feels like to attend any form of church service with Christian PTSD. It’s exhausting! I know I said that before, but I don’t know what more to say without coming off like some kind of raving lunatic hell-bent on throwing all Christian church-goers under the bus whether they have a “real” relationship with Jesus Christ or are just going through the motions in order to get an invite to the lock-in.

I don’t know where it starts or ends. Oh, wait! What about that Alpha and Omega thing? Isn’t Jesus the beginning and the end? Give me a second to Google that…

I knew it: Revelations!

You see, all those different forms, flavors, and versions of Christianity kept teaching me that Jesus was the “first and the last, the beginning and the end.” They kept telling me that, “Jesus is all you need, son.” They kept telling me that the spirit of Jesus lives inside me somehow as a guide or conscience or something like that. They all pretty much unilaterally agreed that I was safe as long as I was walking alongside Jesus following him to our next venue or just sitting atop a hillside watching a rain cloud come our way.

And then they turned the tables on me. They told me that I needed their approval. They told me that I was taking some of this Alpha-Omega talk a little too literally. They said that THEY were commissioned to be my shepherds and that I should get back to the flock. And do you want to know what I finally found in the midst of all of this conflict, chaos, and confusion that gave my soul a peace it had never felt before?

Jesus—Lion of the Tribe of Judah standing four foot in front of me on the savannah grasslands without a tree in sight—nowhere to run—nowhere to hide. I stared that Lion square-ball in the eye as long as I could anticipating some answers. I stared him square-ball in the eye—a bold man daring the Big Cat to attack. I grasped a knife in each hand and prepared to TAKE whatever answers I could get.

But in the end there were no answers. In the end, I dropped my knives, knelt reverently on my left knee, and began to weep.

I wept for all the people I had failed instead of all the folks that had failed me.

I wept for all the times I made others feel like shit because they didn’t know the right scripture or where a certain book was located in the Bible.

I wept for all the people I had forsaken because they were reluctant to buy into my version of Christianity.

I wept because I had planted some of those landmines on the soccer field hoping to expose those that didn’t believe the way that I did.

I wept for about 2 years.

And when the weeping was over I looked up to see the Jesus lion still standing there staring at me. He locked eyes with me for a moment as if to say, “you good now?” and then he turned around to leave. He walked a few steps away before turning to look at me over his shoulder. Then he said, “you coming?” (I know Lions can’t talk, but I swear on a stack of Bibles that this Lion said, “you coming?”)

I’ve been following Jesus ever since in a way that defies convention and tradition and ritual. It’s all so clear now. I didn’t need answers. I needed experiences. I needed time with Jesus. I needed to watch how Jesus loves.

Now I get to witness this same scenario playing itself out over and over between Jesus and other folks as I stand back about 50 feet and just watch the stare down until each individual, in their own time, bows to one knee and weeps however long that they need to. Then we all follow together as we move to the next venue or sit atop a hill watching rainclouds gather. It’s all very surreal and yet it seems so normal after a while.

This is all based on a totally real dream that I had once, BTW!

I’m still traveling along watching and learning as the Big Cat (that’s what I call Jesus sometimes) gathers folks from all cultures, creeds, colors, and walks of life. I still don’t know where we’re all going or exactly what’s on the horizon, but these people I hang with are radically different than any of the folks I grew up going to church with. I’m not trying to say that they are better or worse—just different.

I’d much rather attend a 1%er function than a church service any day – any week – any month – any year. I feel safer at an outlaw mc gathering or bar than at any Christian function. What I mean is that there’s definitive protocol in the biker world. There are expectations and consequences that don’t shift or change depending upon the situation. You can always feel secure around a bunch of 1%ers as long as you know the rules—and the rules are always the same. Show respect and you get respect—act an asshole and you are sure to be treated like an asshole.

Church isn’t like that. Christians aren’t like that. The varying forms, expectations, and beliefs of different versions of Christianity can switch up on you so quick you have no idea what you’re supposed to do or who you might offend in the process. You might even be the BIGGEST asshole in the group and be honored because of it. It just doesn’t make any sense and it is NOT the least bit consistent.

Jesus makes sense. Jesus is consistent. He loves. He leads. He rescues. He bleeds. He roars. He finds YOU. He doesn’t care what you look like or what you THINK you know about anything. He wants you to watch HIM work. Pay close attention. He leads.

He leads because not only is he love, truth, honor, and majestic Lion but also because he is RESPECT.

He is respect to others. He is respect to our planet. He is respect to all of HIS creation. He places value in his creation whether we do or not and expects us to respect it (all of it) as well. This protocol does not waver. This protocol is a constant.

The lion demands you to respect yourself. If you cannot respect yourself due to the ongoing pressure of whatever group you belong to then you need a new group. You’re welcome to join me hanging with bikers, but you’re gonna need to know the rule of respect first.

I’ve found more personal discipleship at the hands of patch holders in the mc world than I ever did in 25 years of bible studies, retreats, or church services. What’s that supposed to mean to someone like me? I’m still trying to find out. I will tell you that learning the very specific means of conveying respect whether in the mc world, military, or any other organization which highly regulates and values honor, respect, and loyalty can elevate you spiritually to a place that looks down on Christianity. Yeah, I said it!

Give me the respectful cadence of a biker rally any day over a Christian function. At least with the bikers I know what’s expected of me. With Christians, you never know what they’re gonna spring on you. Hence, you have to always be on your guard with your speech, actions, and even body language.

That kind of hyper-active sense of uncertainty doesn’t bode well for the Christian PTSD victim and neither does participating in a game of “watch your ass” played on a minefield of expectations.

You get my drift……… 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When words fail the Heart can still hear

I don’t trust Christians.

Wait; it gets more offensive.

Christian functions make my skin crawl.

I’d rather listen to 24 hours of shrieking hurricane force winds than listen to Christian music.

I can’t stand Christian “worship”.

If I had my way society would cease all forms of sanctioned Christian activity, henceforth.

I trust Jesus with all my heart, soul, and spirit.

Wait; don’t roll your eyes yet.

Good music, good drink, and meaningful discussion are healing to me.

The silent private moments of sensing Jesus somehow revealing things to me heals my spirit.

Good days and bad days—my life is my form of worship.

My idea of heaven is being around a group of real people with real problems talking about what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re turned off by where I’m coming from with any of this then I guess we have to agree to disagree. Simply put, I reject the notion that corporate worship, sanctioned lists of dos/don’ts, and Biblical teaching provide direct pathways to the soul-heart-spirit. In a world of abject poverty, moral depravity, and social injustice I think we need to focus on direct pathways to the soul-heart-spirit. This is why I don’t trust Christians.

For one thing, Christians have traditionally been identified by their knowledge of Scripture, participation at Christian gatherings, and adherence to Christian mores. This results in a reasonable conclusion that an exceptional (more righteous) Christian will usually be one that has an exceptional knowledge of Scripture, an exceptional record of participation at Christian gatherings, and an exceptional adherence to Christian mores.

Herein lies the rub—no matter how beneficial those activities or compliances may be, they will never directly impact the soul-heart-spirit. These things can never ever replace the simple private reassurance deep in your heart (way down deep where the real stuff lies about like a cave full of treasure) that Jesus really likes you just as you are right here—right now.

The expectations of other Christians don’t mean shit. Listen TO your heart.

The rules and regulations don’t mean shit. Listen WITH your heart.

The behaviors of the people you associate with don’t mean shit. Listen to THEIR hearts.

Christianity (i.e. the belief system) will always be about molding and shaping people into what Christians think they should look like. What about what Jesus wants us to look like? What’s supposed to happen when we listen to our hearts and what we hear contradicts what Christians want us to believe? What happens when Christians convince you to stop trusting what your heart is hearing? What are we supposed to think of a Jesus that conveys messages to our heart that challenge us to ignore traditional Christian values? Who’s the real Jesus? And after a lot of these kinds of frustrating questions: who really gives a shit, anymore?

Ephesians 6:12—for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The rulers are those that set the rules. The authorities are those that enforce the rules. The powers of this dark world are those that treat humanity with disdain and contempt.

With a fully open mind and a fully open heart I cannot ignore the shocking similarities between the rulers, authorities, and powers that we struggle against and the prevalent mainstream belief system we call Christianity. I just cannot ignore the potency of Christianity to poison and hate and corrupt. I want to ignore it. I’ve been trained to make excuses for the disparity between what Jesus teaches our heart-soul-spirit and what Christianity teaches our minds. I’ve spent days at a time fasting and praying that all of this Christian learning would miraculously jive with what I sense is Jesus speaking to my heat-soul-spirit.

I’ve discovered that you cannot serve two masters without unwittingly discovering that you’ve grown to love one of them and hate the other (Mathew 6:24). It’s basic human nature. One cannot focus their supreme affection or devotion on Jesus AND the “riches” of this world. Be careful not to take the lazy approach to the word “riches”. Riches don’t always mean money. Toxic riches of the world are more often power, prestige, acceptance, notoriety, accolades, deference, etc.

Part of the problem with Christianity is that it is easily converted to a system which promotes power, prestige, acceptance, notoriety, accolades, deference, etc. That’s why I don’t trust Christians, enjoy Christian music, or attend Christian activities. It’s because you never know which one you’re dealing with—either it’s a Christianity contemptuous of humanity or it’s a Christianity filled with the flamboyantly prestigious. Rarely is it a Christianity that connects directly to the heart-soul-spirit.

I don’t trust Christians because the righteous ones look just like the toxic ones. I don’t trust Christians because they lie to themselves so much that it makes it easier for them to lie to everyone else. I don’t trust Christians because they don’t know they’ve been deceived. I don’t trust Christians because they never love me; they only love their version of me that they picture in their heads. I don’t trust Christians because you cannot trust someone that doesn’t believe in themselves more than in the system. I don’t trust Christians because I know how good the Kool-Aid tastes: it is very addictive.

I trust Jesus because he died for me and everyone else I’ve ever known or will ever know. We (the scumbags, scallywags, rebels, and misfits) are worthy based on the simple fact that we’ll listen to someone that we can trust. We’ll listen to someone that gives a shit and isn’t trying to sell something in the process. We’ll listen when we don’t have to sacrifice our dignity. We’ll listen because if you’re willing to die for me then my honor moves me to die for you if the time ever comes.We'll listen if we believe that you like us.

I am not willing to die for Christianity. Christianity did not die for me on a cross.

I am willing to die for Christ—even if my death is a result of fighting against the toxic effects of Christianity.

Listen to your heart. What’s in there? What’s happening inside there when the pastor speaks? What’s happening in there when people treat each other with contempt because of differing social/political/religious views? What’s going on in there when you witness a community of Christians affected by all of the same moral depravity as the rest of the world that they reject?

Listen to your heart. Then you can start learning how to listen to other people’s hearts. Then you learn that being willing to die for Christ means being willing to die for those around you whose hearts need someone to trust. If you’re gonna spend your time learning something: do yourself a favor and learn these things. Then you get to see what making a difference really means.

Don’t wait—do it now!

This is a very small part of what the religious rulers, authorities, and power brokers of his day did to Jesus.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

From Zoo to the Wild - Spiritual Madagascar

The reason I write stuff like this is more often than not to work out some of the noise in my head. The noise that says: why can’t you just play nice—why don’t you go with the flow—aren’t you worried about risking your family’s spiritual growth because of your baggage—when are you gonna accept that you’re a lunatic?

Self-analysis is my means of weeding out static from the Morse code sometimes embedded within that static which is what I understand to be God’s voice.

It kind of pisses me off sometimes. How do I (and many others like me) profess this omniscient omnipresent Creator of the universe and, yet, God evidently chooses not to communicate with us via our ears. Seriously, that makes me mad at times.

If you want me to get to steppin’ on something, God, then talk to me for crying out loud. Don’t make me have to guess about it or seek someone else’s counsel about it. Just tell me with spoken words! How is that so hard?

Maybe my 6 year old daughter is right. One time she told me that God’s words are too loud to be heard by your ears—you have to hear them with your heart. Maybe…I don’t know. Maybe God doesn’t know how to whisper and a simple “how you doin’” would blow out the windows in the truck while I was driving and cause a massive wreck on the highway. Whatever…

So the whole point of Lady and the Tramp meets Shawshank was to lay the foundation for what I think might be a universal model that explains why much of what we do, see, hear, and struggle with via religion seems so useless, irrelevant, and downright abusive.

·         Tame—an animal which accepts the control of humans.
·         Feral—animals that live in the wild after having been domestically reared.
·         Wild—the natural, free state of an undomesticated animal.


If you were born into a Christian home and have been nurtured by Godly parents, you are spiritually tame. That’s a good thing. That’s a fantastic thing. I, too, am raising my daughter in a home where we pray together and discuss God on a nearly daily basis. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you are spiritually tame.

Spiritually tame folks get along well because they are more dependable. They are more likely to be peacemakers. They have hope for things like joy, peace, and love. They are a part of things. They guard our traditions and remind us of our heritage. These folks teach the Gospel well because they’ve been around it since they were weaned from the teat. These are good people that we should never ignore, dismiss, or reject.


From a purely Christian perspective, if you were born into a non-Christian, agnostic, or atheistic home then you are spiritually wild. Same wholesome values sometimes, but without the Christian deity involved. Spiritually wild folks challenge us. They keep us on our toes. They keep us honest with ourselves. Christians might think of spiritually wild folks as criminals or perverts, but that’s not the case. That’s getting into behaviorally wild people and that isn’t what we’re looking at. Besides, there are plenty of Christian criminals and perverts sitting in our pews and preaching from our pulpits so be very careful if your knee-jerk is to label folks by their actions or appearance.

Spiritually wild folks such as atheists are intellectually lean because they are able to engage the world without the confusing effects of mysticism. Not that they don’t acknowledge the mysterious nuances of the human spirit as expressed through love, art, music, literature and such. No, these people are appreciative of the mysteries in life and the world, but they don’t tend to attribute those mysteries to an unseen deity who comprises the ability to create and destroy at his/her discretion.

Just imagine how much simpler it would be as a Christian to explain your worldview without having to refer to an ancient text written only by men thousands of years ago. That’s what I mean by being intellectually lean—you save all that bandwidth by eliminating the need of carrying around all your mystic beliefs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Spiritually wild folks that do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and savior to mankind but do embrace some form of religious mysticism are some good folks, too. They might not share the core beliefs of the Christian, but they will usually line up very well with the Christian when discussing matters of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (fruit of the Spirit).


If you were spiritually tame at one point and are now wild then you are spiritually feral.

The spiritually wild person fears the spiritually feral one because if the feral crossbreeds beliefs with the wild it might disrupt the fragile ecosystem and adversely affect the harmony of the wilds’ balance with their natural habitat. This is why a feral person must hide their residual churchy-church vocabulary and worldviews when amongst the wild ones or else they will be perceived as weak-minded and rejected. In nature, the reason that a pack of wolves may turn on a sick or injured member of the pack and kill it is because of the natural instinct that one weak member makes the entire pack weaker as a group. This perception is quite valid. Christian views hard-wired into the brain of a once spiritually tame individual WILL dilute the integrity of a group’s non-Christian viewpoint.

Likewise, the spiritually tame person fears the feral one because feral beliefs crossbred with tame beliefs disrupt the fragile Christian ecosystem and adversely affect the harmony of the natural habitat (church). This is why feral people must hide their worldly vocabulary and competing worldviews when amongst the tame groups or else they risk rejection. Same scenario applies—the worldly views and mannerisms of the feral person must be killed as soon as possible lest they weaken the entire group via a dilution of the integrity of the Christian belief system.

All of this makes it hardly worthwhile to jump the fence of organized religion and disappear into the surrounding forest. The very real risk one faces is a rejection of the wild and of the tame folks. Perpetual spiritual purgatory is never really a favorable selling point. The feral Christian risks everything if they wish to experience anything outside the fence.

The domesticated person (spiritually tame) has many advantages. They are fed well and often. They are safe behind the fence of religious expectations. They rest peacefully without worrying about what stealthy hunter might silently kill them in the darkness of the night. They can trust in the safety of their numbers. They are comfortable, happy, and content folks who are excited by wild ones that wish to convert via accepting the confines of the fence in exchange for regular meals and security.

However, it is imperative that wild ones willing to convert must follow the rules that maintain order within the compound. These are expectations that have proven for many years to sustain the order and safety of the tame lifestyle. To live within the yard, it is very important to respect the sanctity and righteousness of the fence. The fence is there to protect. The fence is there to defend. The fence is there to offer peace of mind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The spiritually wild lifestyle has many advantages as well. They eat food sources that thrive naturally and without cultivation. They stay alert even when at rest which sharpens their analysis of reality. They, too, trust in the safety of their numbers as they readily form packs. They are comfortable, happy, and content people but in a different and equally as valid way as the tame folks.

They aren’t as excited about converts that have been raised behind the religious fence. The thought is that formerly tame people cannot ever fully put aside their preconceptions and worldviews. Simply put, wild folks remain skeptical of newly escaped tame folks because the tame ones are always trying to trick wild people into coming into the yard. It’s like the tame people want everyone to be like them—to the wild mindset that is completely egocentric and maniacal.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In all of this analysis we see two different groups separated by fences, rules, opportunities, worldviews, beliefs, traditions, etc. What the tame have to embrace as the core of their mission is Matt. 28:19.
·         But does this mean that the tame are being called to entice all of those that are wild and feral into voluntarily setting aside their lifestyles and beliefs in exchange for life inside the fence?
·         Is life inside the fence the goal of discipleship?
·         Has the fence been built by God or by man?
·         What is it that is so harmful and scary about living in the wild?
·         Does God have authority over the wild areas as well as within the fence?
·         What kind of psychological and physical stresses are placed upon a wild beast that is brought into captivity?
·         Is this enough bullet points?

I’m still working on the answers to these questions. To tell you the truth, I don’t even believe that there is a fence at all [1].  I think both tame and wild have blindly accepted the reality of the fence for so long that they haven’t stopped to verify its existence in a very long time.

Because of this suspicion, I’ve developed a working hypothesis that the spiritually feral person seems to be the only one that can truthfully evaluate what is real and what is not. One that is capable and willing to function within either group brings a useful perspective to the table. They are able to discern the positive value of domesticated lifestyle as well as its negative implications on the soul. Likewise, they are able to evaluate the harmony inherent within the wild lifestyle as it conforms and adheres to the environment as well as understand the kinds of stresses and difficulty these things impart on the soul. The feral person is in a position to embrace the values of both and potentially bridge the gap between tame and wild. The feral person jumps whatever barriers exist at will.

If this is true then I boldly assert that the contemporary Christian generations of post baby-boomers who seem to be abandoning the ideas of domesticated lifestyle and jumping the fence are not moving away from spirituality or the church. Instead, they are moving toward the great commission of Matt. 28:19 but in a new and uniquely different way than anyone has ever devised before [2]. We’re not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime scenario—we’re staring at a once-in-a-civilization event.

They are becoming spiritually feral (sometimes at great societal risk to themselves and their relationships with older generations). But is this a bad thing?

As a lone feral animal roaming about the deep forest with no pack to protect you and uncertain about food sources or the location of water—yes, you can be in great danger potentially preyed upon by all varieties of creatures more likely to consume you than share their resources. However, as packs of feral animals begin to form providing legitimacy and knowledge of resources we begin to envision a scenario ripe with possibilities. We begin to see the abandonment of fences, divisive ideologies, and behavioral signposts.

What eventually emerges from the proliferation of a spiritually feral population is a new kind of revival—a renewed sense of loving one’s brother as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31)—a removal of the barriers we’ve long been devoted to as the source of our protection and safety. The reality is clear that these religious fences have failed to keep evil away or believers in check. The reality is clear that barriers and beliefs and rules of behavior do not create disciples or save lives or teach love, loyalty, or respect.

Robert Frost’s Mending Wall is oftentimes remembered most for the saying that, "Good fences make good neighbors." But what Frost is actually writing about is that traditional values are all that keep us mending these gaps in the wall. He hints that the barrier between he and his neighbor doesn’t make sense—that the futile upkeep of their divide serves no real purpose that he can discern. I like Frost’s questioning of tradition versus reality.

I think Frost would rather have a glass of bourbon with his neighbor while laughing at all the effort they’ve wasted over the years maintaining something that was completely irrelevant. I think Frost would rather blur the boundaries between he and his neighbor and so would I.

I think Frost would agree with Jesus’ teachings of inclusiveness and embracing the leper as an antidote to fences and their upkeep.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

I think God is that something.

In order to raise people’s expectations you have to challenge their preconceptions.