Friday, August 20, 2010

#11. What's the magic number?

My church is made up of about 75 people on any given Sunday. We're 6 years old and we are located in the heart of the city of Atlanta. I often hear people at our church describe it by it's strength....NUMBERS. It's the inevitable first question when talking to someone new or catching up with an old friend about their place of worship..."How many people go there?"

According to people who care...we're a small church. Because we're small, people find our church to be more like a family. They are encouraged way more by the relationships and gathering that takes place on Monday through Saturday, than they are by the hour we worship together on Sunday. Although both are an important part of church life...there is something to be said for hanging out at your pastor's house on a consistent basis. Or always knowing that someone will be available to babysit or pick you up from the airport. Which leads me to my question...What's the Magic Number? How big can a church get before it goes from Family to Fancy? How big should it get before it sends some people to a new area of the city and starts a new church?

Atlanta just so happens to be one of the places where the mega, non-denominational, juggernaut church was born and has thrived over the past 2 decades. My friend is helping start one of those juggernauts that has been gathering thousands of people since it's first service around a year ago and there is no telling how big it could get. For the record...they seem like they are a seriously healthy church. That being said...nobody but the inner circle is going over to their pastor's house. You might live next door to another church member and never even know it. Not to mention you might live three hours away from another church member who drives in from out of state. Do you see the difference?

Dunbar, a brilliant European anthropologist, just put out a study that states our cognitive ambition is for 150 people. If you're a pastor, church member, or leader...what do you do with that? If 150 people is as big as our sphere of influence can get, how should we strategically structure the way we make disciples and teach people the way of Jesus in our churches? My "small" church just sent 4 of our 75 people to start a new church on the west side of town. I suspect if the Lord ever allows us to double in size we'll send 10 or 20 or 50 more. What's the magic number? What's your answer?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#10. Who hid all the GOOD marriages?

HEllo there blogLAND....thanks for being patient with me! In April I got my real estate license and simultaneously stepped into some sort of inter-galactic entrepreneurial black hole that literally ate my soul. I have recently resurfaced and I hope you will have me back. A good friend of mine always says "The worst kind of blog is a dead one." Here's to grace and the Resurrection.

This is a timely question and I will dedicate it to my beautiful, brilliant, humble, unbelievably good looking wife who also happens to be the best mom I've ever met. Last Friday we celebrated 5 years of marriage and I gotta say, by the grace of God, they have been the best 5 I've known. Full of grace, trust, hoping in tommorrow, reminiscing in yesterday, and wrecklessly living the present. If I were to define the institution of marriage solely by my own experience I would say that it is the tangible representation of all things good. I have been made aware that this is not a popular perspective so naturally, I've been wondering who hid all the good marriages?

I mean seriously, western modernity clearly defines marriage as a dead end life full of pain killers and prozac. It's as if saying "I Do" is a synonym for prison, or suicide, or maybe suicide in prison. In movies and television, if marriage is even a part of the storyline, marriage is beautiful for about the 1st 24hours. They spend a million dollars on a fantastical wedding, and run off to a mystical carribean island, and then "real" life sets in. After the honeymoon it's straight to boring sex [if there is sex in marriage], daily shouting matches, regret, and a relationship that is fueled by self motivation. I understand that there might be a sliver of reality in those character sketches, but that's not the intention or framework of marriage.

And what about the real life examples of what marriage should look like? Think about some of the most popular marriages of the past few years... John and Kate Gosselin, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, the bachelorette and whoever she chose...ugh. No wonder the perception is skewed.

There is no doubt that a good marriage requires hard work, sacrifice, and the supernatural favor of God, but seriously, it's so much better than what we think it is. It's what we were meant for. I am convinced that being a Husband is one of the most important things I'll ever do. More important than a career, or an accomplishment, or even a ministry. It is the ministry.

So who hid all the good marriages? What's your answer?

Friday, March 26, 2010

#9. Why does the Church hate art?

This is a serious question that I feel awkward even asking within the parameters of a one sided conversation spanning a few short paragraphs. However, in real life it seems I've been asking it about 4 or 5 times a week now for a month or two and so, to be consistent, it only seems natural to post it here. 1st let me try to establish some ideas about what art is and why the creative process matters, whether you consider yourself a creative (by hobby, trade, profession, etc.) or not. Then we'll try to have a conversation about the Church's approach or lack there of.

One of my best friends, Scott Erickson, is the only visual artist [painter] I know of in the world that has a full time job as a Pastor at his church. His job is, literally, to paint. A foreign concept to those of us churchgoers who grew up in modernity. But for students of History, it's easy to understand the principle that Ecclesia Church has adopted as a major value...Art Shapes Culture. For children of the industrial age this means that tv, movies, books & music create lifestyles, relationships, habits, and desires that we then adopt in an almost subconscious fashion. For history, that same methodology was calculated, but it used different variables including music (classical and mathematical), the visual arts, and the literary world (novels, poetry, short stories, and prose). There are a trillion examples to prove the principle. But one of my favorites has to do with American real estate. In the mid 1980's to mid 1990's America created, built, and moved to the suburbs. What Television shows were popular then? Family Ties, Mr. Belvedere, Growing Pains...all sitcoms about families living in the suburbs. In the mid to late 1990's America rediscovered it's love for urban living and the city. What shows were popular then? Seinfeld, Friends, Sex in the City, etc. Art shapes culture.

Now we could have a conversation about the validity of the art we consume in modernity and what's true art and what's manufactured art blah blah blah. No time for that...for the sake of this conversation we must assume that among the mess, true art and an honest approach to the creative process exists. We'll ask a question about pop-art garbage vs. honest creativity another day.

History tells us that in the Renaissance the Church really understood this idea that art is shaping culture. The church LOVED ART. In fact they believed in the creative process and it's importance in our lives SO MUCH that they gave a significant amount of time, energy, training, and money to make sure that they were making better art than everyone else. Think about the top five most influential and famous art pieces of all time. I bet atleast 2 of them were created by one guy...Michelangelo. I also bet that both of them ["David" the sculpture and "Adam" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.] were payed for by...drumroll please.....the CHURCH! So I am wondering, OFTEN, what kind of art is the church paying for now?

If we can agree that art shapes culture and we can also agree that the Church should be in the business of doing the same...wouldn't it make sense to put creating, and sharing the created, at the top of our list of things to do?

From where I sit it seems like we don't really care much about art, if at all. We don't think about it, value it, pay for it, discuss it. The only thing even close to encouraging art that I can find happening currently in the American church, and it is happening ALOT, is we are sanctioning musicians to be really mediocre cover bands and sing each others songs. WE SPEND ALOT OF MONEY PAYING FOR CREATIVES TO SUFFOCATE THEIR CREATIVITY, PICK UP A NUETRAL COLORED CRAYON, AND COLOR INSIDE THE LINES. It's as if we flipped the call of Christ to be "IN the world, but not OF it." and we have decided to be "OF the world, but not IN it." We have got our own books, music, clothing, cartoons, television, radio, and movies. They all use language that we can understand and generate revenue validating our "OF"ness.

Derek Webb is very articulate on this subject and so I will end with a brilliant quote from a recent interview he did with the good people over at Mockingbird:

"As an artist, my job is to look at the world and tell you what I see. Every artist, regardless of their beliefs, has some way that they look at the world that helps them make sense of what they see. A grid through which they look at the world which makes order out of it. For me that’s following Jesus, for other artists it’s other things. It could be anything, but every artist has that grid. Most Christian art unfortunately is more focused on making art/writing songs about the grid itself. As opposed to writing songs about what you see when you look through the grid. I’m more interested in looking through the grid and telling you what I see."

Why does the church hate art? What's your answer?

"The job of the artist is to wake the viewer up." -Bo Bartlett

Monday, March 22, 2010

#8. When was the last time you were thirsty?

I realize that today is Monday, not Friday. However, it is my privilege to write this question [one that I have wanted to ask for quite some time] on World Water Day! About a year and a half ago my rock and roll band launched a project called "Buy a record, Save a life." The idea was that we would give all 10 dollars of a record sale away to an organization that was making a life-changing difference across the globe. That project evolved into a deep passion for the almost ONE BILLION people on this planet who do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. 1 out of every 8 humans wake up every day with the trivial task of trying to find a water source that won't kill them. I think that the best way to illuminate the problem is to share a few of the mind-boggling stats that frame it:

*Almost 4500 children die every single day due to illness related to dirty water.

*Dirty water is the number one cause of death in the world

*In sub-saharan Africa over 5% of the GDP is lost due to illness and death due to lack of safe drinking water.

*It would cost around 10 billion dollars (that's 1/75th of the latest U.S. stimulus package) to fix the problem...wells, resources, education, maintenance, clean water....for everyone.

You get the picture right? The Bible says that a love for mercy and a life of executing justice pleases the Lord [Micah 6:8] and Jesus once said that taking care of the desperate and needy [like the 1 billion who are thirsty] meant that you were LITERALLY taking care of Him [Matthew 25]. So why not celebrate World Water Day with a tall refreshing glass of Justice and Mercy? you can get started by checking out what our friends at charity: water are doing to solve the problem, as well as the buyarecordsavealife site. If those don't tickle your fancy find somebody that is doing something and join them. When was the last time you were thirsty? What's your answer?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

#7. Analog or Digital?

Our Family has been traveling at the speed of sound now for about 3 weeks and we're showing no signs of slowing down. We just started the adoption process [see question #1.], we're selling our house, & I'm in the middle of getting my real estate license (school, tests, new job, etc.). So I've been asking myself this question daily, if not hourly, for as long as I can remember. Analog or Digital?

Truth: Our generation is the busiest in history. Truth: Busy-ness kills. Truth: Nobody wants to talk about the relationship between truth #1 and truth #2. The reality is that our lives are accelerating at a wreckless speed and I am not sure anyone knows how to slow it down. But we should really try to at least start the conversation.

In the musical world there's been a war going on for quite some time between digital and analog....the best example I could give would be a drum set. If you've ever heard V-drums [an electric drum set with triggers that simulate real drum sounds] and then heard real drums in comparison there is a significant difference. The V drums try very hard, using all sorts of seriously impressive technological tricks, to mirror the authenticity of wood, design, and quality hardware. But when it is all said and done...there's a reason you'll never see V-drums on stage at a Coldplay or U2 concert. TO give a bit of definition and clarity to the question [especially for all the non-musicians out there] below are some ways that the metaphorical subjects of this question are different....

economical- not necessarily synonymous with "cheap," but it certainly is in a lot of examples
consistent- like a Cracker Barrel - it's always the same.
cold- despite advancements, digital is still a jagged "photograph" of sound and not an actual representation of a real soundwave.

expensive- analog gear is old, heavy, and has a lot of moving parts. These parts are made to wear out, they often need to be replaced frequently. They also require constant maintenance to keep working properly.
inconsistent- analog gear does not always sound the same, depending on a zillion factors like temperature, humidity, and the fact that moving parts are being used to record the sound
warm- despite digital's advances, nothing sounds more human than analog. See the continued life of vinyl as a medium as an example of analog's long lifespan.

The following thoughts are from a brilliant thinker and one of my best friends Jason Harwell. He has spent the last 2 years reflecting on how the war between digital and analog is creeping into our lives:

"I see, in analog, a picture of our relationships as people (and as believers in Jesus). Like the format itself, we as people require constant maintenance and attention, capable of incredible "warmth" and love towards each other but also wildly inconsistent and different depending on the day.

And it's in those inconsistencies that we remember we need each other.

Digital is always the same; it needs nothing. Nor can it do anything beyond what it's programmed to do. Analog is different; rock n' roll, for example, was made possible by that certain sound of having an analog tube amp overdiven and pushed past it's perceived limitations. But that's where the magic is. Tape saturation, distortion, rich harmonics, feedback - these are standard items in the musical toolkit these days, and they exist because they were pushed beyond what they were supposed to do.

Try pushing digital too far and "into the red" and what do you get? Static, and not a good kind. Horrible, unmusical noise.Digital has no margin, no room to be pushed and stretched.

We - real, live human beings - are analog. We are not made of 1s and 0s. We call those things "robots." And while robots are good at building cars, they are not good at giving advice, wisdom, or a shoulder to cry on. I wouldn't want to share my life with one, and I don't really care about what happens after one breaks.

But we are also upping the digital parts of our lives. Increasingly, we are having more of our conversations behind our computer screens or while watching television or on our cell phones. We are forgetting the benefits of being together in real community, rubbing elbows and getting our hands dirty with tons of other cranky, inconsistent, and incredibly warm other live bodies.

I'm not trying to convince people to abandon technology but to encourage us all to actually think about the things we use and do every day. To consider how our relationships with each other are changing as we become more and more attached to our devices... and especially how this affects our most "analog" of relationships, our relationship to God, the Father.

For me, I'm trying to actually spend time with people in person. To maybe write some old-fashioned letters. To commit to find out what's going on with those I love by giving them a phone call or sitting in the same room with them rather than finding out about them on Facebook.

Digital is speeding our culture up, and we are developing new technologies and doing new things faster because we can without taking the time to think about whether we should or whether it's actually beneficial for us as people."

So there you have it. Slower, warmer, and more authentic? Or faster, more convenient, easier, and very, very, very, cold? Reminds me of the tortoise and the hare...remember who wins that one? Analog or Digital? What's your answer?

Friday, February 26, 2010

#6. How do you define success?

This question is for church people....Pastors, Leaders, Elders, Members. If you are not a church person, keep reading...I'd love to hear your thoughts on this discussion. I grew up in church and, since I can remember, the identity of my church was always attached directly to the amount of people in the building AND the size of that building. Now if I ask any evangelical American pastor, "How do you define success in your church?" the answers will probably be predictable. Any well intentioned church leader is going to blurt out a rote answer like "the transformation of lives" or "discipleship and the development of passionate Christ followers." Good answers [I hope they're true!], but let's be honest...the real answer is NUMBERS. As a pastor your life is wrapped around those empty spaces in the parking lot on Sunday morning, or the lack thereof. It's where encouragement comes from. As leaders you talk about how "Awesome the worship was last Sunday!" coincidentally, "last Sunday" just so happened to be the largest gathering of the year. Sound familiar?

It's happening all over the country, and sometimes even in my own church. We say we are about the things of God and his Kingdom in our community throughout the week, but we put the majority of our time and money into 1 hour on Sunday [see question #4].

One of my new favorite people is a guy named Dave Gibbons. He asked 1200 pastors this same question last Tuesday morning while he drew the above diagram. He wants to re-define success. So do I. Maybe success should be less about Sunday morning and more about Monday-Saturday. Maybe success should be less about the number of people in your pews and more about the number of foster children and orphans who still need families in your city. Maybe success should be defined by a shrinking crime rate or the elimination of poverty. How do you define success? What's your answer?

Friday, February 19, 2010

#5. Is technology for information, communication, or both?

The story of technology coming to earth and invading humanity is a passionate soapbox that I cannot step off of. I am concerned with the potential technology has to separate humanity from reality. I think that it is IMPERATIVE for us to discuss and be keenly aware of the rapid paradigm shift that we are all riding on thanks to the advance of technology in every second of our day and in every avenue of our lives. And I am amazed at how fast and without warrant it has become a necessity in our lives.

A friend of mine was at a parenting conference not too long ago and the keynote speaker was addressing the burgeoning issue of teenagers and even pre-teens and their accessibility to mobile devices (laptops, ipods, cell phones, etc.). The speaker was unpacking what is a healthy approach as a parent to monitoring the previously mentioned accessories and he made an interesting statement...

"Technology is for information, not communication."

Now I have a strong and definite opinion on that statement, but I want to save those thoughts for a later date and a different question. I will, however, say that I think this guy's point was an interesting one. It sounds like his position was that all of the good and safe aspects of technology sit underneath the banner of information. Meanwhile all of the evil, dangerous characteristics lurk in the shadows of a lifestyle that uses those same informational tools as our primary mode of communication. Interesting theory. Is technology for information, communication, or both? What's your answer?

Friday, February 12, 2010

#4. Where's your treasure?

If it hasn't happened already this is probably the place in my long-illustrious-brilliant blogging career where conflict and hypocrisy take root. So I'll just go ahead and start by saying that my thoughts surrounding this question are inadequate at best. In fact, I'll probably need to go and repent as soon as I finish writing this. The reality is that, especially for anyone who lives in the developed world, this is an unfair question. In the West our occupation is privilege and therefore, by necessity, we hop in the metaphorical ring with selflessness every day in an attempt to grip entitlement as tightly as possible. More on that idea later, but for now let's define the term so we're all talking about the same thing...

TREASURE. Before we talk about where the treasure's at we should probably figure out what the treasure is. Merriam Webster defines treasure as "something of great worth or value stored up or hoarded." My pastor always says "If you want to know what someone treasures look at their checkbook and calendar." Pretty good idea huh? People can talk all they want about what or who they love, the great organizations they believe in, or the faith that compels them towards living, but where you spend your time and money is probably a stronger barometer of what you really care about. The last directive i'll give to the kind of treasure we're talking about comes from the sermon on the mount where Jesus said "for where you treasure is there your heart will be also." In another part of the bible Jesus said this "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life for me will find it." At the risk of being heretical what if we replaced the word life with treasure? "Whoever wants to save his TREASURE will lose it, but whoever gives his TREASURE for me will find it."

So where is it? Is it in your mortgage...or maybe your marriage? Your children or career? 401k, 403b, roth ira? Maybe it's not that significant...maybe your treasure is locked up in that vacation destination this summer or how you'll perform in the big game. Maybe it's in the plasma tv you'll watch the game on. It could be in the world of academia or in becoming an innovator. Or maybe, just maybe, your treasure could be hiding in those simple, elaborate thoughts about where you're going for lunch tommorrow.

There are some serious nooks and crannies for us to stick our treasure in. As Americans the possibilities seem endless...even for those living below the poverty line in America we are among the wealthiest human beings in history. Everything in our world is elaborate, extravagant, and immediate. But is that reality? I am convinced that we are at a great disadvantage when it comes to understanding the truth, because our worldview is cloudy. The lenses with which we watch the world through are scratched by possessions, wealth, and dispensation.

Ammon Hennessy was a radical social activist who lived a wreckless life for much of the 20th century, but I think his words concerning the American condition might be helpful to us considering the question..."You were born a white man in mid-twentieth century industrial America. You came into the world armed to the teeth with an arsenal of weapons. The weapons of privilege, racial privilege, sexual privilege, economic privilege. You wanna be a pacifist, it's not just giving up guns and knives and clubs and fists and angry words, but giving up the weapons of privilege, and going into the world completely disarmed. TRY THAT." He penned those words over 40 years ago. Before the internet, before social networking, before cable television, before HD. Lauryn Hill wrapped up all of my loose thoughts into 10 concise words..."What people want is fantasy, what people need is reality."

So where's your heart? What rocks are you hiding all that time and cash under? What would the world look like if we all went and found it, then put it where it belongs? Try that. John Piper and his friends over at "Don't waste your life" answered the question in the video below. Check it out. Where's your treasure? What's your answer?

Friday, February 5, 2010

#3. How young is too young?

Our son Josiah turned 2 years old last November and so we thought [as any logical, healthy, loving, parents would] "It's time he had his very own Ipod touch! I mean after all, he has been on the planet for 24 WHOLE months, and he can almost use the bathroom on his it's time right?" He loves using his ipod for a myriad of mind-numbing activities. He holds our family's high score at the paper toss app, and his favorite song to listen to is "paparazzi" by Lady Gaga. We really think those little white ear buds are the key to his educational and social success. What a bright future that Ipod is going to provide for him!

If you're picking up on my sarcasm don't feel too special, because I am laying it on pretty thick. I have a love-hate relationship with all things technological. I love it's provision of information and it's speedy delivery of that information. I love how it eases the burden of research and communication, and how it provides instant access to the media and art that shapes our culture. I HATE how you have to sell your soul to love any of the previously mentioned "advantages" in the information age. I could talk for hours about this subject, but you probably wouldn't read it, so allow me just to share 1 story...

...I'll never forget the first time I saw it. About 5 years ago I was in a Chili's restaurant in the suburbs with the in-laws on a Friday night. I needed to use the restroom and, as I rounded the corner, there it was. In one paradoxical moment I looked on in wonder and devastation. He was about 9 years old and was having dinner with his parents...well sort of. Their table was stiff and cold. Absent of conversation or eye contact. It was as if there were three tables all with one person sitting their eating and living and breathing solo. Did I mention that the 9 year old had two white earbuds in and was gripping his new Ipod? IT WAS THE WEIRDEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. Three people sitting within 2 feet of one another eating and living completely divorced from the reality of their familial situation. Technology had wedged itself in and was not going to take "Not at the dinner table!" for an answer. You know what's the craziest thing about that, my first, experience with the incredible Apple Ipod is? The craziest thing is that 5 short years later a 9 year old who would rather listen to JAy-Z than his own parents at the dinner table isn't so crazy.

When I was 16 [that was a little over a decade ago for those of you keeping score at home] the greatest piece of mobile technology available to us was a pager. That's right...a pager. I was a freshmen in college before I got my first email address. "Social Networking" came after college. NOW, most 16 year olds demand a cell phone, with unlimited text and web, a lap-top for school or maybe just pleasure, and an ipod. Completely mobile, and ISOLATED lives. I know some 8 & 9 year olds that have nicer cell phones than I do. I know some middle-schoolers who spend between 6-10 hours on any given day validating their existence on myspace and facebook.

Steve Jobs just announced that Apple sold their 300 millionth Ipod a few weeks back. That is one for every single person in the United States. Pretty impressive right? 300 million people who, thanks to technology, can now eat dinner by themselves. How young is too young? What's your answer?

Friday, January 29, 2010

#2. Isn't DEBT a four letter word?

Ever heard of a guy named Frank X Macnamara? War hero? Famous old tv or movie star? Politician? Nope....Macnamara deserves our gratitude and applause for inventing the modern credit card. Three cheers for that guy! In 1950 Macnamara started a small company with his lawyer and Alfred Bloomingdale called the Diners Club. The first charge card that wasn't connected to a single business, but rather the individual shopper. And we all know what happened next, right? Along came some competitors in the late 50's...some small no-name companies called American Express and Bank Americard [Visa]. Everyone starts using them to purchase everyday items cause it was easier than lugging that heavy, cumbersome, bulky cash around. Eventually the banks get greedy and issue interest bearing cards, then the consumer got greedy and decided he needed things he couldn't afford and needed them immediately. And all of the sudden we were at the end of the 20th century and the average american household was carrying around 14,500 dollars in consumer debt!

Raise your hand if you still have absolutely no idea why America just led the world into the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression?

Now I understand that the concept of credit has been around about as long as humanity and certainly much longer than money, but DEBT is a 4 letter word in my house. Callie & I were insanely fortunate to grow up with parents who did a phenomenal job of blueprinting how to save and spend only what you make. We both went to college's we could afford with scholarships we earned and no student loans. Our cars have always been bought with cash. We pay off our ONE credit card at the end of every month, and in the five years we have had it the balance has never rolled over. The only reason we have that is so about twice a year we can fly for free with the miles we build up. Novel idea right? Actually the bible says pretty clearly that "the borrower is a slave to the lender." in proverbs. We're not really excited about slavery so we make concious decisions, even when they mean "sacrifice" or "discomfort" that protect financial freedom for our family. We hold tightly to the words of Paul in Romans 13 "Owe no one anything, except to love each other."

A lot of people think that some debt is O.K. In fact we've created a culture in the United States where going into COLOSSAL LIFE-LONG debt seems like the only possible way to own a home. I don't want to turn this into a math lesson, but have you ever considered what you might would do with the interest you pay to a bank on a 30 year fixed mortgage if you didn't have to pay it? What if you waited a few more years before you decided you HAD to own a home, rented modestly, saved tenaciously, and payed cash for your home. Well.....the 1st thing that would happen is that you would instantly save about the cost of your home in interest. For example if you buy a $200,000 house at a 5.5% rate you'll pay $208,000 dollars in interest for a grand total of $408,000. Do you see where I am going here?

The 37th book of Psalms says “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously;” How about being a giver and making a difference in the lives of people who have nothing? When the tsunami hit a few years back, or the earthquake in Haiti, when our neighbors in New Orleans were all living in the Superdome, or when you heard about the massive poverty and oppression happening in Darfur you couldn't help. Why? Cause debt, interest, and the banks OWN us. I know lots of people weren't as fortunate as Callie and I to have the blueprints of money management laid out for them, but what's stopping you from flipping that switch now? I guess you gotta start with answering the question.... Isn't debt a 4 letter word? What's your answer?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

#1. Are the pro-lifers really PRO LIFE?

This is my first official question here at questionsthatmakepeoplemadatme and so I figure..."Hey, why not start out with a ZINGER!?!?" The pro-life vs. pro-choice conversation has been a tenacious political debate since January 22nd 1973. For over 35 years the good ol' U.S. of A has been at odds with itself on the rights of mothers and their unborn child [or fetus depending on which side of the aisle you sit]. It has become such a dominant force in the world of politics that every four years millions of Americans consider this one issue alone as the determining factor in who they think should lead the free world. But my question is a lot less political and a whole lot more logical in nature. Now if you are a pro-lifer, awesome....this blog is for you. If you are a pro-choice-kind-of-guy or gal...stick around I think my thoughts might interest you...and I desperately need your feedback.

Generally speaking [I realize I'm using a very broad stroke here], the pro-life side of the aisle is made up of Conservatives, often Evangelical and sometimes Republican. None of these people groups are 100% full proof in their make up of pro-lifism, but in general it's a principle they hold on to tightly. And you know one when you see one, right? Ironically these SAME people groups love the death penalty as a method of justice. They are also the #1 fan of war to ensure peace as a national defense policy. Now let me remind you that my question is not political, but I wanted to start by pointing out the paradoxical nature of the political affiliation.

11 days ago there were 400,000 orphans in Haiti...that's 5% of their population. Then the greatest earthquake in modern history hit killing over 200,000 people and displacing another 3 million. Here's what I want to know and the logical angst of my 1st question...where will they go? If PRO-Life is not a political tag, but rather an ideal that, with integrity, you revere...what are you doing? Have you ever considered inviting one of the 132 million orphans on this planet into your home? And I don't mean for tea or a slumber party...well that might be a good starting point, but I'm thinking a little more long-term. Did you consider the 4500 kids that died yesterday because they don't have access to clean drinking water while you were flushing 3 gallons down the toilet or taking that extra long shower? I use the toilet and take showers too...I am just being honest about the responsibility I think comes along with a title like PRO LIFE.

Last year there were 43 million abortions worldwide. In the good ol' U S of A there were almost 1.3 million. 1.3 million babies that should have been born according to the pro-life side. Now I realize that there are a myriad of reasons that mothers choose abortion, but let's just chase a rabbit and pretend that 1/3 of the abortions from 2009 would have been born into families that were completely incapable of actually raising a chid financially, mentally, or socially. I have a hunch the number would be much higher, but let's just pretend 1/3. Where will they go? 430 THOUSAND BABIES...the population of WYOMING. Are they coming to your house? If you're going to be pro-life, shouldn't you passionately also be pro-adoption? Shouldn't you have at least 1 or 2 at risk children living in your home and calling you mom or dad? And what about that worldwide number...43 million in 2009..ugh. Heaven help us if we use the previous equation and plug in the worldwide abortion number. I better build a bigger house.
Are the pro-lifers really PRO LIFE? What's your answer?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

#0. Hey there's nice to meet you!!!

HELLO world! How ya been? My name's Jonathan RIch...I'm 28 years old and I live in Atlanta. My wife is hot...her name is Callie and she's a labor and delivery nurse at Grady Hospital. She also happens to be pretty much the most incredible mother I know. If you wanna know more about that check her out here. And then there's my 2 year old...Josiah. He loves basketball, drums, and chic-fil-a & I had nothing to do with any of those interests....promise.

I grew up in a southern baptist church and I'm very grateful for that [don't judge me]. I play rock and roll in bars for a living...well for a partial living. I make up the difference by pastoring, building things, designing things, and mooching off my wife. I think dr pepper is nectar from heaven and my favorite restaraunts include [in order of preference] in-n-out burger, chic-fil-a, little five points pizza, chipotle, & fox bros. barbecue.

Now that we've played the get-to-know-you-game there's one more thing I should tell you...I've got questions. Lots & Lots of QUESTIONS. Sometimes they keep me up at night, sometimes they make people angry...actually most of the time. And then, every once in a while, they start a conversation that makes me glad that I ask questions. So I thought I'd ask YOU a question or two...the goal will be (cross your fingers) to post a new question every Friday right here at Then YOU come and read it. Get mad or angry or happy or whatever, collect your thoughts, and drop a comment. It's gonna be fun...I promise. Until's nice to meet you and I'll look forward to the conversation.