An Update from Bill Dahl

Well, here we go.

Welcome to the new blog. This blog provides a new platform for sharing  Bill’s writing and photography in one place. So many people have shared their desire to comment on Bill’s writing and photography that we are very pleased to migrate to this blog format that integrates the written word with photographic images ( wherever possible ) to accommodate your requests. We have transferred the bulk of Bill’s writing from the old website, as well as The Porpoise Diving website to this site. Explore and Enjoy!
Bill remains dedicated to creating dialogue in a world gone different.

As many folks know, I have taken a sabbatical in 2008 from writing (for the most part). I am recharged and very excited about 2009. Some of the writings you will see from me in 2009 include:

1. Books – One for certain, the other is a distinct possibility within the year.

2. Writings, poems and songs from the perspective of those who do not have a voice during this time of unprecedented economic malaise and chaos.

3. Other authors – Encouraging and working with other emerginf authors who have some superb works under development, assisting them in crafting their manuscripts and ideas.

4. Ideas – Consulting (gratis) with non-profits and others who are seeking to transform themselves in the midst of a riptide of socio-economic change.

5. Bridges – Building bridges in the inter-faith arena.

6. Book reviews – Although I have read a ton in 2008, I remain dedicated to reviewing pre-pub manuscripts and early realease new books.

7. I will remain an outspoken voice for U.S. immigration reform, particularly from the perspective of the children and young adults caught in the midst of this morass.

8. Assisting people to realize entrepreneurial faith breakthroughs via the ability to think differently and then carry out a strategic plan accomplish just that.

Special Thanks to David Dear at Setwise Technology in Newport Beach, CA for all the technical help. Without David’s expertise, this just wouldn’t be possible.


The Little Ones

Little One
Little One

Mommy and Daddy had a fight today.
It was really loud – in a most unusual way.
I heard them very clearly,
Every word they had to say.

My little brother came running in,
Tears of fear ran down his left cheek.
He jumped up on my lap,
Startled, afraid, innocent and meek.

“We can’t make ends meet!”
We heard daddy yell.
“I can’t live like this!” he shouted.
“This economy’s gone to hell!”

We could hear mommy,
Sobbing in depression,
“What are we going to do?
To survive this recession.”

We peeked out my bedroom door,
Daddy hugged Mommy tight.
He ran his hand through her hair,
Comforting her plight.

Dad just got laid off,
Mom works just part time.
The best parents in the world.
This recession – it’s a crime.

“Our savings are all gone,
I wish we could borrow.
All our credit lines are maxed.”
He shared with mom in sorrow.

“The equity in the house;
It’s gone or going south.
“We’re going to lose our home,”
He raised his hand, covering his mouth.”

“Bailing out Wall Street!
Billions for the largest banks.
Rescuing sub-prime borrowers.
Where’s the help for families in our ranks?”

My mom and dad used to be happy,
The joy was delirious.
We had so much fun together,
Now it’s way too serious.

When your house is worth –
less than what you owe.
Why should mom & dad keep paying?
Why don’t we just pack up and go?

Dad:”We can’t even sell,
With all the homes on the market.”
Families in mainstream America,
We’re the bulls eye in the target.”

Mom: “Should we sell the house,
We’ll get a 1099.
We’ll owe the IRS —
This law’s outlived it’s time.”

Dad: “Friends and relatives are hurting.
What’s a family to do?
Does Congress understand our predicament?
Will they come to our rescue?”

Mom: “With our health insurance gone,
We cannot get sick.
Don’t spend any money whatsoever,
Until this economy begins to click.”

Mom burst out in tears,
My little brother began to cry.
As I reached out to comfort him,
I caught my daddy’s eye.

Mom and dad surrounded us,
We hugged on my bedroom floor.
“Please help our family —
We can’t take this anymore!”

Walking Home From School Today

Walking Home From School
Walking Home From School

I was walking home from school today,
When something caught my eye.
“For Sale” signs are everywhere.
I began to wonder why.

Maybe folks don’t like it here.
Perhaps some people just need a change.
It’s unusually quiet now.
Gosh – this is really strange.

Jenny’s dad was just laid off,
Her mom works just part time.
Jenny overheard her parents say,
“We’re down to our last dime.”

My friend Junior, he has asthma.
Sometimes he struggles to get air.
His parents can’t afford his medicine,
They have no healthcare.

I am passing Mr. Jacobsen’s,
“This economy really blows!”
He remarked to Mr. Johnson.
“A real recession I suppose.”

Mr. Johnson walked toward the fence,
As he shut off his hose.
“My banker said this morning,
The credit markets froze.”

Katie’s mom was at the mailbox,
As I approached I could hear her sob.
What’s the matter Mrs. Brown, I asked.
“I just lost my job!”

Miss Koski chatted with Mrs. Fern,
She spoke softly, almost paternal.
“I’ve never seen it quite like this,”
As she waved her Wall Street Journal.

As I turned right on Elm and crossed the street.
A man emerged looking quite distressed.
A truck was towing away his car,
His bank had repossessed.

He wandered out into the street,
He brandished one middle finger high.
As he watched his car go down the road,
Behind the tow truck guy.

As he turned I recognized his face,
He wasn’t angry, he was awfully sad.
I began to run toward him.
To comfort my own dad.

He put his arm around me,
As we walked toward our front door.
“What’s the matter dad?” I asked.
“Can we go to the store?”

Mom was seated in the living room,
Her face – a shade of red.
She held a tissue in her hand,
Soaked with tears of dread.

My dog Barney lay in the corner,
Head on paws, he didn’t move a muscle.
He always jumps up to greet me,
Engaging in a joyful bustle.

Mommy rose and smiled at me,
Tears twinkled in here eyes.
When Daddy joined our family hug,
I began to realize.

Somehow, life has changed,
In these unsettling economic times.
I express my own observations,
Writing these little rhymes.

We didn’t go to the store tonight,
Dad said, “Let me explain something honey –
Our family is really hurting.
We’re terribly short on money.”

I always enjoyed shopping with my dad.
For me, a source of joy and thrills.
We can’t do that anymore.
What we have must pay the bills.

I learned something walking home today,
A lesson they don’t teach in school.
Republicans or Democrats –
Everyone can use this tool.

In a world full of viewpoints,
Regarding who, what, when and whether.
My family’s no exception –
We’re all in this together.

It’s All About Us

Photography above by Bill Dahl – All Rights Reserved

It’s All About Us – Lyrics by Bill Dahl – Performed by Todd Baio – ALL RIGHTS Reserved 2007

Click it’s all about us to listen and follow the lyrics along below:

Instrumental Intro:

He provides the air we breathe
He provides the light we see
The source of our community
All praise for this reality…

Chorus: (Spread your arms wide when you sing ‘us.’ Point up when you sing ‘God,’ to the person next to you at ‘You‘ and to yourself when you sing ‘Me.’ ).

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God, You and Me.
It’s the way God designed us,
The way it’s supposed be.

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God you and Me!
He’s here to remind us,
Become all we can be.
It’s all about us!

He adores our diversity
He forgives our iniquity
We’re the ones the world can see
Reflections of His majesty…

Chorus: (Spread your arms wide when you sing ‘us.’ Point up when you sing ‘God,’ to the person next to you at ‘You‘ and to yourself when you sing ‘Me.’ ).

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God, You and Me.
It’s the way God designed us,
The way it’s gotta be.

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God you and Me!
He’s here to remind us,
Become all we can be.
It’s all about us!

Weeping over all forms of poverty
Suffering from every infirmity
You’re the comfort beyond every tragedy
Open our hearts so we may see…

Chorus: (Spread your arms wide when you sing ‘us.’ Point up when you sing ‘God,’ to the person next to you at ‘You‘ and to yourself when you sing ‘Me.’ ).

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God, You and Me.
It’s the way God designed us,
The way it’s supposed to be.

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God you and Me!
He’s here to remind us,
Become all we can be.
It’s all about us!

We’re the ones Your children meet
Transform us God, we’re incomplete
Help us to live as
Your  heart, hands, and feet…

Chorus: (Spread your arms wide when you sing ‘us.’ Point up when you sing ‘God,’ to the person next to you at ‘You‘ and to yourself when you sing ‘Me.’ ).
It’s all about us!
It’s all about God, You and Me.
It’s the way God designed us,
The way it’s gotta to be.

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God you and Me!
He’s here to remind us,
Become all we can be.

It’s all about us!

Today we pray that You will restore us
Prepare us for the day before us
Accept our praise as we sing this chorus

Chorus: (Spread your arms wide when you sing ‘us.’ Point up when you sing ‘God,’ to the person next to you at ‘You‘ and to yourself when you sing ‘Me.’ ).

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God, You and Me.
It’s the way God designed us,
The way it’s supposed to be.

It’s all about us!
It’s all about God you and Me!
He’s here to remind us,
We are who they see.

It’s all about us!

The Question

Sacred questions,
Mysteries beyond my reach.
I stretch and strain to grasp you.
Through curiosity you teach.

Lives soaked in tradition,
The rain upon every generation.
You squeeze us like a sponge,
Reawakening our thirst for imagination.

We believe too much
Of what we’ve heard so many repeat.
Suffering silently in acceptance,
Our ignorance complete.

Experts, teachers, and noted authorities.
Blind faith without exploration they serve to guide.
Your question draws me out beyond the fog:
“Is it possible they’re wrong or their truths have died?

Questions born of you Great Spirit.
In pursuit of certainty we race.
Perhaps it’s the beauty of your mystery,
We must learn to cherish and embrace?

Unknown, Unfounded, Undiscovered.
We refer to You and Yours by name.
Lives anesthetized by routines,
Reinforce captivity to more of the same.

Transform our reluctance into courage!
We surrender to Your inspiration.
We beg you Great God of More,
Teach us to treasure Your gift of the imagination.

Walls, ceiling, floors and traffic lights.
Structural attempts to insure uniformity and order.
Surrounded everyday on all sides,
Unaware of the seriousness of our disorder.

Norms, beliefs, attitudes and media
Lenses sifting what we think we know.
Worn out couches left behind by heart disease,
Evidence of the postmodern’s new death row.

Our relentless pursuit of certainty.
How You must ponder what seems so odd.
The centuries we’ve spent defining You,
The Creator of the question…our sacred God.

Endless expressions of doctrine and theology,
Attempts to decipher the truth of Your essence.
We’ve crammed it down the throats of others,
Distancing all from the beauty of Your presence.

Blessed Mystery of Mysteries,
Never quell our indigestion.
Soothe us only as we pursue You,
Led by your gift for the capacity to question.

Majestic beauty that surrounds us,

Forgive us as we ignore,

The truth of your ever unfolding wonder—

You are The God of More!

The Next Questians

“Where are you?”

Can you actually remember the first thought that came to you this morning during that first moment of consciousness? For most of us, we can’t recall. The day usually begins with a question like one of the following: “Where am I? What day is it? What time is it? How’s the weather? ”  Yep, most days start with questions.

In the Bible, do you know what the first question God ever posed to man was? It’s “Where are you?”(1)

This question continues to ricochet through the corridors of time, penetrating the souls of all. The way I look at it, if the most frequent thing that registers with the human mind during that initial moment of conscious awakening everyday is a question, and the first question God ever posed to man continues to inhabit our existence several thousand years later, maybe questions are a lot more important in life that we give them credit for. Let me explain.

A Day Without Questions

It’s apparent to me that God created us with the capacity to consider, ponder, become perplexed, curious, and inquisitive, contemplate and question. Imagine that you wake up tomorrow and human beings no longer have the ability to question. Yep, your ability to inquire about anything would be absent. The human species would be instantaneously thrown into an even more serious state of tumultuous chaos. I tried it.

Have you seen the movie A Day Without A Mexicans? It was the brainchild of Sergio Arau that was released in May 2004. It’s a fantastic comedic satire about how the state of California would be paralyzed without Mexicans. Inspired by the film, I decided to experience A Day Without Questions. The only rule was that I was unable to consider, pose or respond to any question either audibly or intellectually. It started out badly and got worse. Before I shut off my reading light the night before this critical experiment began, I taped a sticky note to my alarm clock. It says, “No Questions.” The alarm woke me at 7:45AM. I see the note and am prepared to succeed with this important exercise in self-discipline. As I began to get dressed for work I caught myself wondering: “What color are these socks, dark blue or black? Oops! Strike one. That’s a question. Rushing to gather my stuff, I started looking around wondering, where are my car keys? Strike two. Driving to work, I go to the drive thru at Starbucks. Before I can blurt out my order, the voice on the other end says, “Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get for you today?” Aargh! I am forced to drive off with no coffee. Strike three. Upon arriving at work, somebody scoffs, “Hey Bill! Are you color blind? Nice socks man!” (One black, one blue, along with a red face to start the day). Now, I’ve publicly embarrassed myself. Strike four.  Next, somebody says, “Bill, are you going to have that done by 9:30AM as we discussed yesterday? I’m unable to respond to their question so I just pretend I didn’t hear them. They storm off miffed. I can hear them mutter, “What’s up with him today?” I can’t respond to their confusion. I’ve hurt somebody’s feelings and I’ve only been at work three minutes. Strike five. I decide to cloister myself and simply get on-line and review the morning’s headlines. I’m doomed without the ability to be curious. Pursuing my interests and curiosity are forms of questions. Strike six. I head to the safety of the Men’s room. I lock myself in a stall. Standing there, I begin wondering, “What am I doing wrong?” Strike seven! I give up. It’s not even 9:00AM. I’m either a dismal, undisciplined failure or the results of the experiment simply support my hypothesis that questions and answers are inseparable to our existence. You try it. Let me know the results of your attempt to live a day without questions.

“Why are you so afraid?”

Frankly, the thought of an existence without the capacity to question frightens me. Life would be incredibly boring. Our interaction would be akin to a bunch of robots spewing statements at one another. I’m grateful that God created us with the ability to question. I think it’s a blessing.

In pondering this issue, I believe God created our capacity to question along with our desire for answers to things we are curious about for a reason: They’re essential. It’s kind of like a hot dog and mustard, a taco and salsa, teriyaki and chicken, or a Reuben sandwich and sauerkraut…they were simply made to go together. One without the other just doesn’t taste right. The question/answer capacity that we humans possess is an essential ingredient that adds tremendous flavor to the human experience. One without the other, well, it just tastes strange. It’s obvious that something’s missing.

Our ability to question is fundamental to our pilgrimage in life, as well as our faith journey. It provides us with the equipment to explore the God of More. Perhaps it’s indispensable to realizing His promise to reveal more of Himself to us. Unfortunately, most denominational Christian churches in the western, developed world claim to possess “the truth.” What “the truth” really turns out to be is “all the answers you require” conveniently packaged in a box of beliefs, creeds, rituals and statements of faith. The extent to which you can convince yourself and others (typically verbally) that you’ve digested this can of theology, is granted to you as “faith.” You may have successfully completed several milestone rituals during this process like a public confession of your faith, baptism in water, membership classes in a church, seminars, a mission vacation, or various roles within an established church. Your ability to become deceptively content with what you think you know is considered to be a sign of maturity. You have reached the stage of having unquestionably become a Christian. For the most part, you possess all the answers you think you need to know, and are prepared to share those answers with those you interact with. However, as Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor suggest, “Sometimes what we think we know becomes an obstacle to the truth. This applies to the truths of our faiths as well as our faiths themselves.”(2)

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with developing an approach to life based upon certain principles, beliefs, routines, reference points, attitudes and practices. My point is that when we arrive at a place where we proudly exclaim, “That’s it! That’s all there is!” we’re in trouble. As Brian McLaren writes, “The desire for specifics is certainly natural, and there’s quite a market for it. It’s the unknown that frightens us.”(3)  My Question is: What are we so afraid of and why?

Needless to say, Christianity is presently navigating some rather tumultuous times in the western, developed world. It reminds me of the passage in Matthew chapter 8 where the storm comes up on the lake and the disciples think their boat is going to capsize and they’re on the verge of drowning. They awaken Jesus, who responds with the first question I can find Him posing in the book of Matthew: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”(4)

I believe we are afraid of questioning the state of our individual and collective Christian beliefs and practices. Questioning takes courage, effort, time. It requires one to become vulnerable, humble and deliberate. As George Barna states, “Questioning what we do, who we are, how we minister, and what we stand for is not a hallmark of fear and weakness; it is a sign of wisdom, courage and hope.”(5)

I sure hope so.

The Hard Questions

Let’s return to the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis for a moment. God has just posed his first question to man, “Where are you?” Adam’s reply to God is pregnant with pertinent meaning. He says, “I heard you in the Garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”(6)  I am absolutely convinced that the fall of man, as it is so often characterized, has absolutely nothing to do with Eve’s first bite of the forbidden fruit. I believe it has everything to do with Adam’s response to God’s first question of man. Adam’s answer was lame. It was dishonest. It was a response based in fear. It is the first recorded instance of a disease that man continues to be infected with. Henri Nouwen captures the essence of this point when he says, “One of the moral diseases we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask.”(7)

Adam was attempting to hide in the shadows of  “the pale light of an insufficient answer.” God would have none of it. The rest, as they say, is history. Adam had the opportunity to behave quite differently. What if Adam’s actions in the garden had gone this way: “God, I’m right here. (Adam’s on his knees in the middle of the Garden, head in hands with tears of remorse streaming down his face). I have disobeyed you. I am ashamed of my stupidity and disobedience. I am terrified of the thought that I may now be somehow separated from You. I’m afraid of the possible consequences. Please forgive me! What must I do to restore your confidence in me and insure the ongoing relationship You intended us to have? What have I done?”

Unfortunately, Adam’s behavior, his answer to God’s question, actually mocked God. He was unable or unwilling to ask the tough questions. Instead, he attempted to hunker down in the pale light of an insufficient answer. Unfortunately, man continues to succumb to the same posture that Adam modeled. Twenty-first century Christians continue to do the same. We relentlessly grip the inadequate answer. Perhaps, we need to assume a new posture, as characterized by Leonard Sweet: “To receive all that God wants to give requires we release those things that we grip (and that are, remember, gripping us) and open our hands to receive what God wants to give.”(8)  What we need to break our grip on the handful of rock solid answers we clutch are some hard questions. As Brian Mclaren says, “In tens of thousands of heartbreaking ways, the secret message of Christ has been mocked by the behavior of those who bear His name. This is why we must ask ourselves the hard questions.”(9)

What are some of the hard questions about Christianity and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Here are a few I’ve come up with:

– Do we know all there is to know about our God or does He truly have more to reveal to us?
– Does what we think we know about God help us, or restrain us, from cherishing, exploring and embracing the mystery of living the Christian faith?
– Is it completely honest and healthy to have faith without question? Is there really such a thing?
– What gives man the unchallenged legitimacy to claim we know about all there is to know about God?
– What if we’re wrong? What I am referring to is denominations and faith systems that proudly proclaim, “Just believe what we believe and you’ll be fine.”
– Instead of continuing to endure the antagonism and division caused by arguing over who’s got the right answers, perhaps we can move toward exploring our commonly held questions…together.
– If I arranged an in-person meeting for you with Jesus tomorrow afternoon at 3:00PM, could you put together a list of ten questions about Him and Christianity that you currently, legitimately wonder about? If not, don’t you think Jesus would be disappointed?
– Do you think it is, or will be, terribly important to Jesus what you referred to yourself as, as a disciple of Christ during your life on Earth? ( “I’m a Christian”).
– Imagine how the Bible would read without questions in the dialogue? Allow me to conclude this section with the thoughts and a question from N.T. Wright:

“The way to Christian growth is often to allow oneself to be puzzled and startled by new apparent complexity. There is great simplicity at the heart of this picture, and to us strange and perhaps even repellent, first century ways of thinking that characterized Jesus. Is it after all Jesus we want to discover and follow, or would we prefer an idol of our own making?”(10)

“But what?”

If you’re like me, you are asked about your faith, beliefs, and/or religious affiliation, by a wide variety of people, in a number of different social settings. I’m tired of answering their questions with, “I’m a Christian, but…” After the “but,” I attempt to go on to enlighten the inquirer about my spiritual beliefs, my relationship with Jesus, and the way I live my life. By this time, their eyes are usually looking around for a way to escape, or their head falls to examine the tops of their shoes. They are prisoners of the definition they have adopted about what I’m going to say before I get it out of my mouth. They cram me in a box right along with everybody else. I instantaneously become “one of those.” I placed myself at an immediate and distinct disadvantage by using the Christian label. I have also done Jesus a disservice. It doesn’t matter what I say, the “Christian” label I innocently uttered has overshadowed anything I can share with them that actually reflects my faith journey, and my Guide. Actually, they’re not listening. My dilemma is quite common today. People are yearning for a different label to apply to their Christian faith rather than the traditional one that is infected with all sorts of attitudinal, experiential and socio-political baggage. “Christian” doesn’t work anymore in the postmodern, western, developed world. The term has become irretrievably corrupted. Are we willing to accept that fact and move beyond it? Why not?

I find it fascinating that I unintentionally developed an audible mechanism when people inquired about my faith. I kept hearing myself say, “I’m a Christian, but…” This response is one I guess I developed because I realized that my Christian faith has been hijacked by people who claim to have boxed up Christianity in the U.S. in a socio-politically useful dichotomy. As Sojourners Managing Editor and theologian Jim Wallis writes, “This is a call for people of faith everywhere to stand up and let their faith be heard. This is not a call to be just concerned, or just a little worried, or even just alarmed. This is a call for clear speech and courageous action. This is a call to take back our faith, and in the words of the prophet Micah, “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.”(11)  It’s time to move beyond being the ‘but’ in response to somebody else’s stuff.

I am going to give you a gift today. Many of you reading this article have yearned for: Permission. From now on, if your experience is anything like mine, when people ask you about your faith, you can respond, “I’m a Questian!” Of course, they’ll look at you dumbfounded so be prepared to spell Questian. They’ll still be perplexed so tell them “I’m a follower of Jesus on a quest. A Christ led human whose beliefs about God are not neatly packaged in a box that somebody else confined God to, or defined God as. I believe in the God of More. My spiritual faith is being formed and reformed. I’m on a journey exploring the wonderful, awe-inspiring transformation only He can accomplish, when we pursue him outside somebody else’s box.” Do you think Jesus really cares what you call your faith in Him? (My New Testament reads that He is always more concerned about loving behavior than labels. Frankly, I’d go so far as to suggest that Jesus was and is the Great label stripper). Does dropping Christ from the label of your spiritual beliefs suggest that you are somehow abandoning Jesus? Does the thought of doing so engender guilt within you? Instead of answering somebody’s question about your faith affiliation with the quip, “I’m a Christian,” which may end the conversation before it starts, maybe we should reconsider the response we so readily provide. If you respond to an inquirers question with either “I’m a Christian, or I’m a Questian,” which response do you think will engender the curiosity of the inquirer and provide you with a less biased basis upon which to have a fruitful, authentic dialogue? I suggest to you that a ‘Questian’ is a bridge builder to new frontiers whereas a ‘Christian’ has become a negative, widely held, deeply embedded social stereotype from which we must emerge.

Imagine what churches might be called: First Questian, Second Questian, Eastside Questians, Assembly of Questians, Questians Aplenty, Southern Questians, Free Questians, Calvary Questians or Just Questians. Imagine the inviting slogans that might bring people together like: “Questians Gathered Here – Got one? Join us!” “Looking for Answers? We’ve Got Questians!” “No Dumb Questians Here.” “Questians – Everyday 6:30PM.”  It’s a marketing executives dream! It’s attractive. It’s inclusive. It’s descriptive. It’s who we are created to become. It’s what the journey is all about. It’s time to move beyond the confines of the Christian label and embrace all The God of More has in store for us. This movement will require shedding unnecessary baggage. It’s a fundamental issue that contains an essential question that we don’t discuss with one another. There are shades of shame, sorrow, guilt and remorse associated with this issue. It’s the unspoken question. We contemplate this question in shadowy conversations within the privacy of our souls.  It’s time to pull up the shades and let the light shine in on this issue. Lesslie Newbigin captures the essence of my point when he says, “Eagerness to listen, to learn, to receive even what is new and strange will be the mark of one who knows the word of Jesus: “All that the Father has is mine.”(12)  Let’s get this question out in the open and make it a part of the mainstream dialogue shall we?

But what? As Leonard Sweet says, “Christianity in the west was built by adventurers; it is being lost by back-covering, back-scratching look-alikes.”(13)  Maybe it’s time to get off our butts.

Final Word

Any Questians?
Any Questians?

Yeah, I know…I’ve taken too much of your time writing an article of this length. However, it represents a fraction of the time, and number of issues I’ve contemplated as part of the process in becoming a dyed in the wool Questian. I don’t pretend to know or understand it all. It’s not like this is the final word on this issue or anything like that. As Brian  McLaren points out, “There’s nothing more common than some religious kook claiming to have the final word.”(14)

At this juncture, you might be thinking that all this is actually some sly attempt at being silly or cute. I can assure you that I have rarely written anything that resonates with the depth of sincerity that motivated my heart to author this article. You may have concluded, “So what? What’s in a name or label anyhow? Who cares what emerging Christians call themselves?” For those in this camp, I would urge you to read this article again. It matters. Big time. This article is not a veiled attempt at some form of conversion. It’s an upfront, in-your-face call for, to use Reggie McNeal’s term, deconversion.(15)  McNeal challenges us to rethink the way we think about Christianity, to subject ourselves to deprogramming, to intentionally disentangle ourselves from all that restrains us from becoming the movement, led and empowered by the love of Jesus. I’m on board with that.

I’ll begin to conclude with the words of author Russell Rathbun. He writes:

“I used to be so rock-solid sure; I used to misunderstand so much. And I used to preach that misunderstanding, preach it hard like my rock of faith. I used to pound that misunderstanding hard until other people believed it. I used to be so sure. Now I preach questions and a little faith. And reaching out to take the steady hand of Jesus, and reaching out to steady someone else. And forgiveness. I preach forgiveness. I do this not for any credit in heaven or for an eternal reward, but because this is how I try to live my life. I try to have a little faith and two outstretched hands. A little faith and two outstretched hands.”(16)

Did this article strike you as heretical? Maybe…maybe not. Listen to Burke and Taylor: “First, everyone should be a heretic. Our times demand it. These are not times for conventional wisdom. New ideas for new times are needed now. All around us imaginative people are rethinking and re-imagining the possibilities of what it means to be human.”(17)  This article is simply some food for thought about what it means to be a ‘Christian,’ and the possibility for becoming a Questian.

It’s time to become God’s real people, who:

– Assume a new posture and refrain from hiding behind the pale light of insufficient answers when they hear God’s voice each day calling, “Where are you?
– Live life energized by the blessing of the reality that each day is populated with questions. He formed us with this capacity. Let’s celebrate and implement this tool in our spiritual growth.
– When we hear His voice ask, “Why are you so afraid?” we are reminded that we are His people who deeply appreciate the fact that ours is the God of More. We must cherish our capacity to question as God uses it to lead us to places on the journey where He reveals more of Himself to us, particularly if this path is unfamiliar and strange to us.
– Become a people whose faith journey is invigorated by the hard questions.
– Are a people eager to move beyond being labeled as somebody else’s but.
– Understand the fact that there is no such thing as an authentic spiritual journey without questions. Frankly, to attempt to live with all the answers, ignoring or avoiding the fundamental necessity for commensurately valuing the questions, is an experiment in the absurd. Just as a day without questions is ridiculous, so is a God-honoredl faith without question.
– The final word? We are His people, on a quest to live and love as He did, inhabited by His Spirit, led by a hunger to know Him more intimately, lured by the mystery of the The Next Questians that He has sewn into our souls.
Any Questians?


1 Genesis 3:9 – NIV

2 Burke, Spencer and Taylor, Barry A Heretics Guide to Eternity, Copyright © 2006 by Spencer Burke. JOSSEY-BASS Publishers, A Wiley Imprint, p. 55 (This citation is from a pre-publication copy of this book. The citation may differ in the published version of the book to be released in August 2006.).
3 McLaren, Brian The Secret Message of Jesus-Uncovering The Truth That Could Change Everything, W Publishing Group-A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright © 2006 by Brian D. McLaren, p. 185.
4 Matthew 8:26 – NIV

5 Barna, George The Second Coming of the Church – A Blueprint for Survival, Word Publishing, Nashville, TN Copyright © 1998 by George Barna, p. 28

6 Genesis 3: 10 – NIV

7 Merton, Thomas No Man Is An Island, Published by Barnes & Noble, Inc. New York, New York by arrangement with Harcourt, Inc., Copyright © 1955 by The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, Copyright renewed 1983 by the Trustees of the Merton Legacy Trust, p. xiii.

8 Sweet, Leonard I. SoulSalsa – 17 Surprising Steps For Godly Living In The 21st Century, Zondervan Grand Rapids, MI Copyright © 2000 by Leonard I. Sweet, p. 101.

9 McLaren, Brian The Secret Message of Jesus-Uncovering The Truth That Could Change Everything, W Publishing Group-A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright © 2006 by Brian D. McLaren, p. 154.

10 Wright, N.T. The Challenge of Jesus – Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, InterVarsity Press Downers Grove, IL Copyright © 1999 by N.T. Wright, p. 93


12 Newbigin, Lesslie The Open Secret – An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, Copyright © 1978, 1995 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI 2nd Edition  p. 183.

13 Sweet, Leonard I. SoulSalsa – 17 Surprising Steps For Godly Living In The 21st Century, Zondervan Grand Rapids, MI Copyright © 2000 by Leonard I. Sweet, p. 32

14 McLaren, Brian The Secret Message of Jesus-Uncovering The Truth That Could Change Everything, W Publishing Group-A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright © 2006 by Brian D. McLaren, p. XIV.

15 McNeal, Reggie The Present Future- Six Tough Questions For The Church, Published by Jossey-Bass – San Francisco, CA, A Wiley Imprint, Copyright © 2003 by John Wiley & Sons, p. 11.

16 Rathbun, Russell Post-Rapture Radio – Lost Writings From A Failed Revolution, Copyright © 2005 by Russell Rathbun, JOSSEY-BASS Publishers, A Wiley Imprint, p. 165

17 Burke, Spencer and Taylor, Barry A Heretics Guide to Eternity, Copyright © 2006 by Spencer Burke. JOSSEY-BASS Publishers, A Wiley Imprint, p. 225 (This citation is from a pre-publication copy of this book. The citation may differ in the published version of the book.).

"How might words, images and ideas open minds, warm hearts and inspire imagination? May you find them refreshing and share them among your people."


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