Guest Editing Apex Magazine

apexmag88I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been tapped to guest edit an issue of Apex Magazine (launching in April 2017). I’ll be soliciting a few stories, but I also wanted to open up the slush pile for potential stories. Normally Apex Magazine brings you 12,000 words of original fiction. My special issue will deliver 20,000 words.

I’m looking for the story only you could write. Something deeply personal and at the same time universal. Smart, literate stories—be they horror or dark fantasy or science fiction—with depth. Stories that make me think, that comment on the human condition and the social order. Stories that are rich in their language use. However, as much as I love social commentary, don’t forget to entertain me.

Submissions will go through the Apex submission page which will open from 12/01/2016 until 12/16/2016. Unsolicited stories received outside this time frame will be deleted unread.

Please send no more than one submission at a time. Simultaneous submissions will be accepted as long as you tell us up front (and immediately withdraw the story if you sell it elsewhere). If you have any questions, reach out to me through my web site contact page.

I look forward to seeing your stories.

Coming February 2017 … (Cover Reveal!)

…my first short story collection!  (Art by Arthur Hugot)

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More details as the release date gets closer.

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Not Like the Rest of Us: An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers

Not Like the Rest of Us: An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writersfeatures seventy-eight notable Indiana poets, fiction writers and essayists, including Marianne Boruch, Jared Carter, Mari Evans, Karen Joy Fowler, Helen Frost, John Green, Philip Gulley, Patricia Henley, Susan Neville, Scott Russell Sanders, and Dan Wakefield. The most experienced writers here are in their nineties, the youngest in their twenties. Some are best-selling authors, some widely known in literary circles, some just beginning. Many were born and raised in Indiana, others found their way here and stayed.

Edited by Barbara Shoup & Rachel Sahaidachny

I have a story out in the latest issue of Mothership Zeta. It’s one of my personal favorites.

Table of Contents:

  1. Edimothership-zeta-issue-5torial: Being Proud of Where You Came From, by Mur Lafferty
  2. Editorial: Check It Again Against Your List and See Consistency, by Sunil Patel
  3. Fiction: Noteworthy Customer Service Interactions, Example 12: Mendoza and Squeakybuns, by Laura Pearlman
  4. Fiction: Rescue, by Sarah Gailey
  5. Nonfiction: Game Review: Have You Met My New Birdie? He’s a Lawyer, by Rachael Acks
  6. Fiction: The Indigo Ace and the High-Low Split, by Annalee Flower Horne
  7. Fiction: Dear Future Customer, by Darin Ramsey
  8. Nonfiction: Story Ideas from the Oxford English Dictionary, by Karen Bovenmyer
  9. Nonfiction: Interview: Jackson Lanzing and Company Take Us All on a Joyride, by Adam Gallardo
  10. Fiction: At the Village Vanguard (Ruminations on Blacktopia), by Maurice Broaddus
  11. Nonfiction: The Story Doctor Is (In) by James Patrick Kelly
  12. Fiction: Making a Good Impression, by James Hart
  13. Nonfiction: NaNoWriMo: Pro or Con?, by Mur Lafferty
  14. Fiction: The Penelope Qingdom, by Aidan Moher
  15. Fiction: The Last Half Hour of Winter, by Meghan Ball
  16. Coming Soon/Masthead

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The Cainite Conspiracies (will be released on Wednesday, November 30th on DriveThruFiction.com.)
A Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition Dark Ages Anthology
 
Young, Gifted, and Ventrue by Maurice Broaddus
Family is Family by Renee Ritchie
Acts of Cruelty by Justin Achilli
A Quest for Blood by Russell Zimmerman
Sand and Dust by Andrew Peregrine
Incarnadine Seas by Catherine Lundoff
The Last Spark by Eddy Webb
The Hidden Stars by Jacob Klunder
Omen’s End by Ree Soesbee
Eighty and Nine by David A. Hill, Jr.
Ghosts of Chorazin by Alan Alexander
Orfeo’s Plague by Richard Dansky
Veil of Power by Danielle Lauzon
Goat’s Nails by Neall Raemonn Price

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“Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling is an anthology of short stories, poems, and essays that will highlight the long-standing tradition of writers who identify tropes in science fiction, fantasy, and horror and twist them into something new and interesting.”

“In Maurice Broaddus’s meta “Super Duper Fly,” Magical Negro refuses to help his assigned white hero.” (Did I mention the anthology got a starred review in Publishers Weekly?) Available December 13, 2016.

 

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People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror

Here’s my interview with Victor LaValle (and if you’re not reading Victor LaValle, you’re doing yourself a great disservice).

Here are the essays from the three editors of the issue, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (fiction), Tananarive Due (reprints), and myself (non-fiction).

How Addiction Destroys Lives

Guest blog by Sharon Therien

How Addiction Destroys Lives

Addiction can start in many ways: trying a drug with some friends, turning to drugs because of difficulty dealing with problems, using substances socially. But once you’re really on the path of a substance use disorder (a term that includes substance abuse and addiction), it always ends the same way.

Sure, the exact circumstances can differ. But inevitably, if you continue without any personal or professional intervention of the addiction, you end up on a path of decline within your life. Substance use disorder ruins some aspects of your life or eventually it can ruin all aspects. It is capable of affecting every part of life.

Areas of Decline in an Addicted Life

How do your life and the lives of your loved ones decline when you’re addicted to a drug and/or alcohol? Here are some areas of life that tend to decline from substance use disorder:

Health

Addiction takes a significant toll on your body and mind. Even if you’re able to hide your substance use from others, you won’t be able to hide it from your body. Often, people neglect taking care of themselves and fail to eat enough healthy nutrients the body needs when they are focusing their lives on substance use. They can end up with nutrient deficiencies that affect the body’s ability to run itself and heal itself.

The ways substances are used lead to certain health effects. When substances, such as alcohol or pills, are ingested quickly and/or in high amounts, the liver has trouble with its roles of breaking down what you ingest and detoxifying. You can tax it so much you end up with liver damage and/or disease.

Snorting drugs can lead to problems with your nose, such as nosebleeds and losing your ability to smell. By injecting drugs, you could end up with a blood borne disease, develop infections or abscesses, and/or collapse a vein. These are examples of health consequences of using drugs in varying ways.

Addictive substances can cause many other serious health consequences, depending on the substance. Drugs and alcohol are capable of creating brain damage, leading to heart disease and stroke, and setting the stage for a variety of diseases. In many cases, addiction creates a decline of your mental and spiritual health.

Addiction often leads to an early death whether by overdose, suicide or as the result of a progressing disease or health condition created or worsened by the addiction. Also, the World Health Organization points out that addiction can lead to people losing the quality of life they once had through disability.

Relationships

Addiction is considered a family disease because the entire family is affected by it. Family members develop unhealthy coping skills to deal with the problems in the household and within the relationship. They often have to face financial struggles, hiding the addiction, dealing with an unstable household and other concerns.

Nonetheless, it’s not just family members who are affected by a person’s addiction. Friends, bosses, co-workers and others connected to the person’s life can also be affected.

Relationships become strained as the person focuses his time and efforts more on the substance than on the people around him. Relationship strain also comes when loved ones and colleagues have to deal with difficulties that come with the addiction, such as violence, a decline in performance at work, legal and financial troubles, lies and theft, and other issues.

In time, loved ones can change to develop their own unhealthy methods of dealing with life. For instance, they might become codependent and full of shame. They can develop mental problems and turn to substances themselves. Ultimately, as you progress with addiction, you will either have very unhealthy relationships with those around you or you will lose those relationships altogether.

Practical Areas

Addiction also worsens your life in a lot of practical ways. While people often turn to substances to help them deal with problems, the substance doesn’t help those problems go away and instead adds new problems to the old ones.

Because of your substance use, you could have problems performing your work well. You could lose your job or get into professional trouble. For instance, it’s possible to lose your professional license because of actions you took, whether under the influence or from poor decision-making because of how addiction has changed your brain. Another scenario is that you could end up arrested after stealing from work to pay for drugs.

Overall, addiction can create many practical problems, such as financial troubles, legal problems and the loss of school or work opportunities.

High-Functioning Addicted People

Some people can get along better or longer while having substance use disorder than others. They may be good at hiding problems and capable of functioning well within the public aspects of their lives. This is the case with high-functioning addicted people who are still doing okay with their professional lives and maybe even their relationships but who have a hidden personal side devoted to substances.

Some people are able to delay or offset some of the problems that addiction can cause because they or their support systems have money and possibly power. For instance, you might be able to weather the financial and legal troubles addiction can bring because you have the money and social standing to handle them better than people without those assets. So maybe you lose a job because of drinking but you have savings, a trust fund or family support to fall back on. Maybe you have a lawyer who can make your legal problems go away.

But even the people who are able to get by in some areas of their lives will eventually feel the effects of addiction in some way. Family members may get tired of the pattern of bailing the person out of trouble, especially if there are no signs of progress. This can strain and even break relationships. You might struggle with the fact that you’re not able to personally support your family. You could end up with health problems, and while you may have money to help with that too, addiction health problems aren’t always reversible.

 

Addiction always comes with problems, whether it creates them or worsens ones that were already there. It destroys lives by creating a decline in some or all areas of your life. It can also greatly affect the lives of those around you, especially close family members. Even if you’re not dealing with addiction-related problems now, you won’t be able to escape them forever.

The only way to stop this decline is to get off this downward path and commit to recovery. If you’re not able to stop substance use by yourself, a treatment program or professional can provide support and guidance to help you.

Sources:

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/02/high-functioning-addict/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-medical-complications-chronic-heroin-use

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health

http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/global_burden/en/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/complications/con-20020970

https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/family-disease

 

 

Good Mourning, America

You’ll have to forgive me. My thoughts are jumbled and all over the place this morning as I wake up to the reality of this. But the next time someone asks me how can I write horror, my answer’s going to be “because I’m black and live in a land where people just voted for Donald Trump to be president.”

The signs were there from the jump: even when I prepared to go vote, I packed my driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, and voter’s registration card in case my right to vote got challenged. Once I got home, thankfully without incident, it struck me that this is the climate that I live in.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric emboldened people’s racism, which stripped away the polite veneer. It was a reminder that the promise of President Obama remains unfulfilled, that we aren’t as “post-racial” as we imagined, and that with the anger, fear, and frustration behind this whitelash, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about moving to another country, which, speaking as someone who has dual citizenship, that’s not so easy to do. (Dual citizen also means I’m doubly stuck since my country of residence just made Donald Trump president and my country of origin just voted for Brexit.) For those who want to tell me that my true citizenship is in heaven, I’ll just direct you to my election night tweet:

“Watching so many of my fellow Christians so fervently support Trump has really made me question my faith.”

Seriously, if you supported a literal campaign of hate and fear of “the other”, you forfeit your right to talk to me or anyone else about the love of Christ.

Those who clung to “but the Supreme Court…” and other single issue voters basically sent the signal that African-Americans, Latinos, women, the LGBT community, Muslims, and poor lives don’t matter. Your support said that you’d be tolerant of racists and sexists. Oddly enough, people are underwhelmed by “I know I voted for a man whose campaign was fueled by racism/xenophobia/misogyny and buoyed by fear/hate, but God is sovereign” sentiments. Alone in the voting booth, your true allegiance comes out. You’d be better off admitting that your true gospel message of Republicanism, capitalism, and self-interest. So spare me your brand of American Christianity.

And you know what? I’m not blaming: those who voted third party, their (write-in) conscience, or those who saw our choices and said “Screw this, I’m not voting.” Yes, they could have stopped his election, but right now I’m more concerned about the 58M+ people who voted FOR him. When I think about what America essentially told me, all I can here in my head is Ice Cube’s voice from AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted when he said “Here’s what they think about you” and quoted the race rant from Do the Right Thing.

For the record, no I’m not moving. Frankly, I don’t have any illusions that there are magical places where people are much better. Besides, my parents survived the lead up to Civil Right and my grandparents Jim Crow and segregation. Fighting for freedom and a better life is what we’ve always done. But now comes the tough part.

I haven’t given up on my faith. I’m not going to pretend that I have much of anything figured out, but the way I see it, if we are to be serious about our faith, we must be about:

1) the business of forgiveness. Stop with the hate. At some point, we have to build bridges and figure out what it means to live in peace with one another. Despite how much I want to snip out the “love your enemies” part of the gospel message, we’re called to be such agents of change. We also have to challenge each other to do better.

2) the business of healing. I love what my friend Danielle Steele wrote on her Facebook page: “I will hold space for you, also, and I will trust you, too, understand that America must work for everyone, not just the privileged, not just the white people, but everyone. Your change can’t come at the expense of other people’s rights. I will hold you accountable if you support policies that harm minorities, immigrants, or people of other religions. But I will also hold space for you and your concerns.”

3) the business of subversion. There’s the world we live in and the world that ought to be. I believe we’re called to create the world we wish to see, to do God’s work of reconciliation and redemption. I believe this means we have to confront injustice whenever we see it, defend the disenfranchised (even at a sacrifice of our self-interests), and love one another (because that’s rather the whole point of our faith).

And I can go back to writing. My pen is my sword and I intend to fight.

Details About My Play Piece

I’m very proud to have my piece “The Trial of John Freeman” included as part of “Finding Home: Indiana at 200,” the Indiana bicentennial “anthology play” at the Indiana Repertory Theater. Written by 29 Indiana writers, there will be two versions of the play, Blue and Gold, the names given to distinguish the two evenings of programming. The Blue and Gold programmatic streams run in rotating repertory. Each evening has at least 12 public performances. Additionally, there are also student matinees.

Gold public performances:dscn0071
Previews: Oct. 19, 6:30 pm
Oct. 22, 5:00 pm
Opening: Oct. 23, 2:00 pm

Oct. 27: 7:30 pm
Oct. 28: 7:30 pm
Oct. 29: 5:00 pm
Nov. 3: 7:30 pm
Nov. 4: 7:30 pm
Nov. 5: 4:00 pm Writers discussion
Nov. 6: 2:00 pm Writers discussion (I’ll be attending this one)
Nov. 8: 6:30 pm
Nov. 12: 9:00 pm
Nov. 13: 2:00 pm

The two performances marked “Writers discussion,” I’ll be one of the writers present to talk to the audience in a staff-moderated post-show discussion. Audience members can get a glimpse into our process of creating our piece(s) and ask us questions.

Here’s a picture of me with some of the writers:

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Here’s what the floor design will look like:

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Here’s a model of what the stage will look like:

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Why no, I’m not geeked about seeing my words performed.  Not at all.  Hope to see you there!

Dark Matters Exclusive 1st Look: Cover of “Buffalo Soldier”

The credit for the art goes to Jon Foster, with cover design by Christine Foltzer.

GO SEE THE GORGEOUS RESULTS!

Indianapolis Peeps – Open Bite Night Event Returns

The United Northwest Area residents come together to showcase the works of professional artists and local entrepreneurs in Open Bite Night Reloaded #BiggerAndDeffer to benefit local non-profits.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – For the second time this year, on October 1, 2016, RoE Creations and The Learning Tree partner to bring together residents of the UNWA community for Open Bite Night (Reloaded) #BiggerAndDeffer.

Held outside, block party-style at and around the intersection of Roache and Burton, a few blocks west of Watkins Park, Open Bite Night Reloaded #BiggerAndDeffer showcases the gifts and talents of a neighborhood. Poets, artists, and local entrepreneurs come together for an all day festival starting at 3:00pm. Come and experience delicious and beautiful dishes from local cooks, chefs, caterers and aspiring food professionals. Each culinary artist will offer a few different small plates so that you can sample from several creators. This event is meant to benefit everyone in our local community with proceeds going towards the GRoE, Choose Joy, and VOICES non-profits.

Earlier this year, Open Bite Night launched to encourage local businesses and artisans. It came in the wake of a spate of police violence toward the African American community. The event proved to be a healing one, allowing residents to grieve and protest while celebrating a sense of community. Open Bite Night Reloaded builds on that sense of community.

Open Bite Night Reloaded #BiggerAndDeffer kicks off with the opening of an open air art gallery and music at 3:00pm and a burger battle at 5:00pm. The official Open Bite Night Reloaded activities kick off at 6:00pm with live cooking (featuring small plates from various caterers and restaurateurs); live music (featuring open mic poets and a variety of musicians); and booths of neighborhood entrepreneurs and artists.

Among the cooks that will be featured in our Open Bite Foodcase are: ROE Creations, Oya’s the Trap, Foodlovetog, SistaFriends, Indulge Personal Chef Services, Januarie York & Damon Dulin dba DaeWhy Unordinary Culinary, Exclusive Events, Anitra Malone, Lets Taste, Renee King dba Slice of Soul, Dulce Delights, Nicole Kearney dba Sip & Share, Niesha Nichole Neal dba the Neal Deal, Chef J.O. Jeremiah L. Oliver, Justin Calloway dba Culinary Designs by Justin, Crows Place, and more!

Headlined by M’Reld Green and Januarie York, some of the artists that will be performing are: Earl Feeray Phillips, Dennis Adrien Green, Jeremy Rhetoryk McClure, Zachery Le’on, New Wave Collective, Lyndon Womack aka The Grand Chief, Alex Hall, Unequa Ganodu, Harlem Indynois, Hekima Ashé, Kay Diamond, and more!

This is a family friendly event. All are welcome!

 

***

open-bite-night-reloadedHere is a link to a short film about the first Open Bite Night.

Here is a link to some footage from the first Open Bite Night.

RoE Creations – a catering and community organizing small business here in Indianapolis. We are currently spearheading a community effort to feed children of the MLK neighborhood who may be going home to little or no food after school.

The Learning Tree – a leading arts and community organization now in its third year of encouraging creative expression in the arts and nurturing the gifts and passions of the community.

The Learning Tree and RoE Creations … harnessing the power of community.

 

If Only We Believed All Lives Matter

A couple months ago I attended an event, Open Bite Night, an open mic and small plate event put on by RoE Creations (my sister’s non-profit). It was to highlight small businesses and budding caterers in the neighborhood … and we almost didn’t go. For that matter, they almost didn’t hold it. In the weeks leading up to it, across the nation it was like black people were being targeted by the police. Black body after black body brutalized, dismissed, disregarded, considered a threat no matter how young or how unarmed. We were tired, we were grieving, we were angry. But we ended up attending.

Open Bite Night was awesome. A couple hundred folks, all these neighbors, showing up and showing out what they could do in a kitchen. A community coming together to celebrate the gifts within it. The stage (my sister’s porch) became a place of healing. Poet after poet gave voice to our feelings. The pain. The anger. The hope. To protest how we have been treated. To demand to be seen and heard.

Then the police showed up.

A ripple went through the crowd like an electric shock. A wave of emotion swept through me. Anger. Resentment. Suspicion. Fear. I was afraid. Of our police. The Indianapolis Police Department, where I have friends who serve proudly and the sight of them put me on alert. My aunt started packing up her stuff and her son immediately saying “I’ve worked too hard to raise this black young man just to see him cut down by the police … a week before he’s off to college.” The fear was real. That we were seen as a mob, an unruly assembly. That we were a threat. Images of the two patrol cars calling for backup, of armed men arriving in riot gear. That our voices didn’t matter. That our right to assemble, protest, and critique didn’t matter.

That our lives didn’t matter.

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Excerpts from a voice mail message left for a local church who had a Black Lives Matter sign in their yard: “Jesus would say ‘all lives matter’” … “…the blacks around here are almost as bad as in Chicago …” … “It’s not like the blacks are slaves anymore.” … “Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.”

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Acts of protest, acts of civil disobedience, by their nature and intent, disrupt the natural order of things. That’s the point. The natural order needs to be questioned, the fact that not everyone experiences this natural order equally needs to be highlighted. To say “Black Lives Matter” is a reminder. There is an unspoken “too” (as in “Black lives matter, too”) because it’s obvious that to many people they don’t. Black Lives Matter is not a difficult concept to grasp unless a person willfully doesn’t want to.

Those same people understand that saying “Blue Lives Matter” doesn’t mean they think only police lives matter to the exclusion of all others. Pro-life activists saying #unbornlivesmatter doesn’t mean they don’t care about anyone else. If an environmentalist chants “save the rainforest,” people understand that they aren’t saying the other biomes don’t matter. When Jesus said “blessed are the poor,” he didn’t mean that everyone else was out of luck. All of them are attempting to draw special attention to the fact that the object/people they are defending are under threat or being destroyed at an alarming rate. But people know this already and are disingenuous when they pretend otherwise. Obviously it’s the word “Black” they have issue with. That’s the word they find “divisive” and that’s rather the point.

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If “All Lives Matter” was the case in practice, there would never be a need for Black Lives Matter. To go one step further, if All Lives Matter was the natural order of things, when a black life was cut down unjustly, all people of all races would rally in objection. They wouldn’t complain about how other people grieve their tragedies. Hiding behind #alllivesmatter is a distraction, an act of erasure, where people retreat to in order to cover their indifference with platitudes. Well-intentioned words instead of real action.

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At church, the day after Open Bite Night, I was angry. Angry at the world. Angry at the country. Angry at how scared I was made to feel. Angry at how taken for granted my black life was. Angry at white people in general. Ironic, considering that I currently attend a predominantly white church. We’d fallen in with their community due to their work in the city and their commitment to the arts. And I never felt so apart from them.

I strode in, mad and determined to be mad. Dressed in all black, both to mourn and protest, as my t-shirt had the word REVOLUTION across it and featured portrait of historical black leaders. I barely got two steps past the door when the youngest daughter of dear friends of mine ran up to me. “Hi Mr. Broaddus. I’m so glad you’re here.” A few moments later, their next oldest daughter came around the corner and ran up to me. “Good morning, Mr. Broaddus,” she said and then gave me a hug. I managed a couple more steps when their *next* oldest daughter snuck up on me and gave me a hug. “Mr. Broaddus! You’re here.” Finally, before I had reached the coffeetable, their NEXT oldest daughter found me and gave me a hug. “Mr. Broaddus, I’m so happy to see you!” And I was left trying to figure out how to keep my anger in the face of unconditional love.

They were the welcoming arms of Christ. No guile, no politics, simply reaching out in love. Sensing my sorrow and grieving with me. It was not about needing validation, I have that by birthright. It was about being known, being recognized, being valued. I was still angry at a system that perpetuates racism. At the unjust power structure. The anger was real and just. Which brings me to whether or not Jesus would say “Black Lives Matter.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” –Luke 4:18-19

The simple fact was that Jesus often emphasized groups of people. The poor. The “least of these.” Those whom others—the majority, the system—would tend to discount or condemn. The marginalized. Those denied a voice. The persecuted. His was a ministry of empathizing the other. He stood in opposition to oppression and systematic racism.

The bottom line is that my life matters Just as much as anyone else’s. It’s not so hard to understand.

Yeah, Yeah, I was Hospitalized on Labor Day…

img_1348I’m being discharged from the hospital now. In terms of recap/lessons learned…

1) When I was 15 yo I had a rod surgically implanted in my back to correct scoliosis and can’t do everything a “fully able” person could
2) Even if I could, I’m no longer a young man and whatever athletic prime I had is in the rearview mirror
3) It doesn’t make sense for me to compete with my 15 yo son in any sort of athletic endeavor
4) I accept the fact that it’s not all worth it because I did beat him (but I *did* win … though I know that’s not the point)
5) Next time my wife says “we should call someone” I should listen to her sooner (I am writing that one under duress)
6) EMTs and firemen (yeah, there was quite the production of them trying to get me out of our tiny hallway … don’t ask … the first one to make an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up comment gets blocked) and NURSES all rock. And doctors, too, but special shout out to the nurses (because I have so many in my life including a mother, sister, and several of my closest friends)

7) Yes, my family takes pictures of everything. Luckily I’m subscribed to all of my children’s social media accounts for this very reason.
8) Yes, the no social media while medicated policy is probably for the best (looking back, I can see that naming my catheter and spinning a series of secret adventures with it my not be the best look for my image)

8a) Yes, there was a flashback to the previous catheter incident.
9) Yes, I begrudgingly accept that I am responsible for the “Broaddus Family Comedy Hour” tour that followed me and that mocking me at every turn is their way of showing support. My family has jokes, needless to say the EMT, nurses, and doctors loved us.
10) Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers (even the rest of my friends/family who ALSO had jokes).
11) I am blessed and humbled (of course, there are several catheter stories that could explain the sudden onset humility, but I know, I know, not while medicated).

Simple Theologian

I was recently asked what kind of Christian I am. The person was looking for an easy label to pin on me (Baptist, Presbyterian, Calvinist, etc). I get it. I’ve been called everything from a Christian Buddhist to a Christian humanist. They just want to get an idea of my theology. Though I’m not one for labels (if I were, I’d call myself post-denominational), I consider myself a simple theologian.

I’ve lost all interest in debating with folks. The devising of clever proofs, apologetics, strengthening my arguments none of it holds any interest for me. Two reasons:

  1. It reminds me of a typical Facebook argument and I’ve seen how often people change their minds there
  2. Typically these sort of debates lose sight of relationships. I’m no longer engaged with you, I’m formulating my comeback, I’m devising a better logical trap. I’m busy missing the point.

All I could see was how far I fell short, the gap between where my life was and what I know. Sunday after Sunday, attending church, those paeans of knowledge and pastoral aggrandizement, all but worshiping Scripture as part of the Godhead. I know what we’re called to be: God’s hands in this world, ambassadors of love. I know the message, the grace, the peace, the healing I’m supposed to bring. I know how far I fall short.

Faith is a journey, full of peaks and valleys. A few years ago, I was trapped in a deep valley, so dark I didn’t think I would ever see my way out. My faith as shattered and I was trying to figure out if I should try to put it back together, much less how. I kept coming back to one question (and the central failing of my life as I saw it): what does my life say about my theology?

Words are cheap. Ideas are cheap. If they have weight, it’ll impact our lives. While I was busy playing “gotcha” games with theology, it’s actions that prove the words.

““Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””–Matthew 22:36-40

So I boiled down my Christianity to “love God and love one another.” So that’s pretty much all I focus on. It makes for a simpler exegesis of even troublesome passages. I interpret/filter all the parts of the Bible I don’t understand through the parts that I do.

I don’t understand much. As I understand the overarching story of the Bible, it’s one of God just saying “I know you and I love you”and pursuing a relationship with us. “I know you and I love you.” My life should be a response to that. All I know is that I want to know God and pursue a relationship with Him. I want to follow Christ, model him, and pursue relationships with others.

I could talk about the story we’re in or the holes inside of us or how we’re more than the story of our sin. Might be all right as an intellectual exercise, but in the end, it comes down to being known and being loved anyway. There’s no point in debating theology with me. No point in playing “gotcha” games with me.

I am called to love. I am called to reconcile. I am called to pursue justice. In response to that, I in turn return that love and, caught up in an overflow of that, endeavor to love others. I am into getting to know you and having conversations. I love to hear people’s stories. In practice:

-If I don’t challenge the paradigms of society, I have missed the point of my faith.

-If I don’t challenge the social constructs about me, I have missed the point of my faith.

-If I don’t challenge power dynamics, I have missed the point of my faith.

-If I don’t challenge oppressive systems, I have missed the point of my faith.

-If I don’t love you well, I have missed the point of my faith.

See? Simple.

love your enemies