Dear Church, from Corey

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, 

This has been a very rough week for me. I have experienced some very intense emotions: with most of them coupled with anger and disappointment. When Pastor Jeremy asked me to write an article for his blog, I agreed immediately. I took a couple days to try and stable myself emotionally before I started writing. I did not want my anger to guide my words. I simply wanted to speak my truth. Before I move forward, I would like to give you a little background of who I am. 

I am an African American man born in the south, near the end of the Vietnam War. I am an educator by profession with an undergraduate degree in religious studies and English, a graduate degree in education and a doctorate in Organizational Psychology. Presently, I go to different school districts and help create systems that provide successful and equitable opportunities for students and staff. I was recruited to the Portland metro area for this very reason. 


Dear Church, from Jon

This is the first post in a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

Before you proceed, I want to let you know that you may experience some turbulence while reading this post.

Dear church, to those who find themselves shocked, outraged, disappointed, and appalled by the recent protests in our country; to those who are angry and saddened as buildings burned, stores looted, and vehicles vandalized, I want you to know that I share your emotions.

But not for the same reasons.

I need you to understand that “things taste different” to a person of color. I have tasted more about our humanity as a church and our inhumanity in our perspective. I have tasted the utter contempt of NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem and then the initial silence of an officer placing his knee on the back of an unarmed and detained black man.

…silence tastes different.


Climbing the Tree with René Girard

One of the things I love about reading and exploring new ideas is continuing to trace the ideas further and further back. When you find a book or author who resonates with you, take note of who he or she quotes (especially if repeatedly). Then read that author and do the same. This allows you to trace the origin and evolution of ideas and allows you to grasp them in deeper ways.

The merits of this thinking have been explained in different ways, but here is an intriguing way to consider it:

“Chew on one thinker – writer, activist, role model – you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people the thinker loved and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you built your tree, it’s time to start your own branch.”

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

One of the “thinkers” whose name has emerged numerous times in my theological studies has been the French philosopher René Girard. Girard died in 2015 at the age of 91. I recently read his book called I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (see: Amazon link). While it isn’t an easy read (possibly because it is translated into English or it’s just really deep), this one offers plenty to chew on.


Inspired Imperfection

I remember asking a question to a professor when I was in my undergrad program: “What resource do you recommend to someone wrestling with the inconsistencies between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament?” I was pointed to a Biblical textbook that was a generic overview of the Bible. Needless to say, this didn’t actually address my question.

Yet it opened my eyes to the gap of people willing to talk objectively about some of the issues with the Bible (and the Old Testament in particular) without either dismissing it or glossing over it. It wasn’t until I met Greg Boyd years later that I found someone willing to tackle this in a way that resonated with me.

Greg’s latest book is called Inspired Imperfection: How the Bible’s Problems Enhance Its Divine Authority (see: Amazon link). I wish this would have existed when I was in college and first beginning to dive into this idea for myself.

Interview with

Interview with

I had the opportunity to chat with Rich Birch at about what we’ve learned with volunteer staff at Abundant Life Church. Rich hosts an amazing podcast for leaders in the church (“stuff you wish they taught in seminary”) and I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of our recent learnings with him and his audience.

Click here to listen to it (33 minutes).

2020 Reading List – 1/4

2020 Reading List – 1/4

March felt like a year unto itself. But we are actually just a quarter into 2020. I’m just grateful we made it to April!

Here are the books I’ve read since January with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. 

In addition to this list, you might also check out: