Things I Think
1.When I was a child I grew fearing losing people who were so important to me that they were part of me…so I would practice dealing with their deaths or departures before they were gone.
Why a child would learn to do such is irrelevant at this juncture, it simply was a way to survive the inevitable in my mind.
I learned how to survive the loss…and to not allow many people to become that important.
When Charles Bowden died this weekend, I lost one of those people.
I didn’t have time to prepare…
I didn’t discover his writings until later in life and his words told me how ignorant I’d been up until then.
It was a gift.
“The rising of the dead means the spiritual awakening of those who have been sleeping in the graveyard of ignorance.”
He was fearless in pursuing truth, fair even to fools, coarse, harsh, lyrical, and bold….with a deep river of compassion and love for people and land flowing through it all.
The things he saw and the things that he chose to tell us crushed his soul…but he chose to see and speak no matter the cost.
“If you can write, it’s a gift, you didn’t earn it…and if you betray a gift and just use it to make money it goes away. It’s a sin to do that.”
The writers job was to speak truth to power…“no one needs court jesters except the court”.
To do less, from fear or compromise, was a rejection of a calling and a defilement of the gift.
His partner and co-author Molly Molloy:“He did it with no fear. It has to be told and he had to tell it, because if he knew it and there was that level of injustice, he would not let it stay unsaid.”
He wasn’t a professing Christian, but he understood depravity and redemption more clearly than anyone I’ve ever read outside the pages of Scripture.
He was brave, passionate, brilliant, and real and he spent his life speaking for those without a voice of their own.
He never sinned against his gift.
God help us all to do the same.
2. The loss of Bowden is the loss of a prophetic voice to me…the world has few of those left and the church ran ours out long ago.
3. People are complaining on Facebook that they are tired of people posting videos of their “ice bucket challenge”. I refuse to get tired of people trying to do something to help someone else.
4. The greatest legacy you can leave is having loved those whom you have been given, the second greatest are words that spoke truth and love to them and others. Not all of us can be gifted writers, but we can all leave those legacies behind.
5. Our words will be remembered long after we’re gone…what are you saying?
6. Good to see so many insiders coming out in the Mars Hill debacle now that it’s safe and fashionable to do so. I just wonder where all these heroes have been for the last ten years…
7. Sometimes it’s a blessing to be heartbroken…it means you still have a heart.
8. Never, never, ignore the small joys of life…in each of them is a promise of something greater and eternal.
9. “I am always an optimist. The pessimists are the liars who refuse to admit what is happening”. Bowden
10. It’s only when a giant falls that we see how small we are by comparison…because the true giants have a way of making us all believe we’re about the same size…
Sorry to hear about this loss. I know he was a personal hero of yours.
Dang… sorry to hear about Bowden. But every time I heard him speak on a video I thought it might be the last. He was grizzled and crusty for a while.
I’m sorry, Michael. I know how important his writings have been to you.
Your #7: “Sometimes it’s a blessing to be heartbroken…it means you still have a heart.”
This is so true. As a young, ignorant blow hard, I used to say I would be a pastor by the time I was 40. Although there were some great times of ministry, that “pastoring” thing never happened (it actually did, just not in a way I recognized). One of the most important reasons…God had to break my heart. I used to be one of those “Suck it up, what have you got to be depressed about? After all, you have Jesus” kind of guys. Thank God I was not a pastor!!!!
Three things that the Lord used to break my heart: My time interacting with people here on the PhxP, helping out with a homeless ministry in one of the raunchiest neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona, and my own experience with pain, fatigue and depression. Now, when people come to me with their beaten-down lives, I begin by hugging them, crying with them, praying with them, and telling them it’s going to be alright.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but I don’t ever want to be the guy I was before. I’m not looking for my heart to be UN-broken, and Michael, you are one of the instruments that God has used to keep my heart in check.
“6. Good to see so many insiders coming out in the Mars Hill debacle now that it’s safe and fashionable to do so. I just wonder where all these heroes have been for the last ten years…”
There is safety in numbers, particularly when rising up against a tyrant. The real challenge for abused people is not to become abusers themselves. Some of them probably need to make their own apologies for participating in a system that ostracized the non-compliant ones. Matt Redmond asked the most important question in this whole debacle; when are they (MarsHill) going to pray for those who are under their bus? They need follow the example of their repentant former pastors and take ownership of their own participation of what has now been branded as “Driscoll’s sin”.
I am sorry for this loss, he used his talents for great good, he will be living on the other side, Michael and you will meet him in person at the great restoration when all this pain will be healed.
Thanks all…I’m going to be scarce for a while.
You rest Michael. I wish I could but at times there are just too many demons but rest my brother.
A great thinker and a great writer. His influence on you Michael is obvious; another great writer are you.
Captain Kevin, you just made me cry. That was beautiful.
Michael, Thank you for this article. So much to think on. Like many others, your writing has had profound influence on me; most of all, to remind me of the beauty that comes through brokenness. I’m praying for you. May the Lord embrace you today in His comfort and hope.
Nonnie, and now you just made me cry. I love your phrase, “…the beauty that comes through brokenness.”
Bowden was a brave man and gifted writer. He made quite a dent in his brief time in this existence. His was a noble and just cause.
This is what I like about you Michael, you recognize that ‘good’ is ‘good’ and does not have to wear a Christian label to be ‘good’.
If “all good things come from God”…then Bowden was of God.
To my pleasant surprise…I had a long meeting with Bob Caldwell of CC Boise recently…and he is much more liberal theologically than I ever imagined.
He had some very interesting opinions when I asked him about the fact that today there are 2 billion humans who will never hear the gospel message and will die…I asked if they go to hell to be tortured forever by a good and loving God…w/o ever hearing the Gospel ergo no “choice”…just hell.
His opinion was very similar to mine. He has thought through that issue and is open to a very non-fundamentalist non-conservative position.
BTW, CC Boise has very solid Child Protection policies in place (very much a priority), they have open/transparent finances…if you give money, you have access to the finances and can see where the money goes. Bob Caldwell makes less than $100K a year in compensation, despite being a mega-church. CC Boise has a Food Bank, several ministries that help the poor, the homeless etc. Bob Caldwell has been very accessible so far, and he was very frank and didn’t try to b.s. me on anything (yet).
We are attending this CC now.
Alex, that is impressive!
Very cool, Alex
Thanks guys. I told Bob C. that I wanted my mission to be more positive. He said he’s all for the truth and all for many of the things that we here (and at the CC Abuse blog) are for. He’s not going to lead a charge, but he does agree with the main things we all are calling for…as he is already doing them.
I hope his will be one of many good examples in CC as the Movement transitions and grows and learns from past mistakes.
“He wasn’t a Christian…”
this saddened me that such a profound loss you feel, Michael, will be an even more profound loss felt by the heart of God. there is no expressing the ‘loss’ God feels for those who choose to reject His Son while in life, and will not be able to enjoy Life with Him afterwards.
it can end all too quickly, suddenly and unexpectedly… we can only hope that Charles had a last minute opportunity to hear, receive and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
praying for his family and those who have ben impacted by his writings. hoping that somehow, God can/will send a messenger to share the Gospel of Jesus and Hope for an eternity with the God who loves them with the wide open arms of Jesus from the Cross.
I should have written…(and will make the correction) that Bowden was not a “professing’ Christian.
It’s way beyond my pay scale to know what Christ has done in a persons soul.
My only prayer is that someday I get to share some strong coffee and a pack of Lucky Strikes with him in the desert of the new earth.
Had you ever met him, michael?
Nope…and I regret that more than I can express.
Had some email contact, but I never made it south to see him.
In your email contact, did the subject of christ or faith or church come up to the extent that either you were able to share jesus or he (charles) was able to communicate his ideas or position on the subject of faith to you?
No…that wasn’t the point of the emails.
He was well known and loved by many Christians working in humanitarian aid on the border and in Juarez…I trust that God will judge righteously.
I look forward to meeting him…
You know I took care of this lady who had dementia and she would say the foulest vile things about God if I am remembering it correctly she was a Christian and served God for most of her life. But because she used foul language and blaspheme God so she could not be a Christian because she went back to “sinning”. It was back when I kept running into people who did “sin” but had some type of mental or cognitive disability.
I was reading a blog today where the subject of child salvation came up and some idiot blabbered on about covenant children being saved but children of the reprobate were not. That is disgusting pathetic weak “cop out” theology. I use to be impressed with that nonsense not any more. I know this Michael you will meet him again.
Alex I am glad you are attending a CC and reconnecting. I wont go back myself, a verse that was quoted to me that was seared into my soul, there is no room at the inn. I am a universalist but I think God will make an exception for something like me. That is all I have taken away for the faith for some time.
thanks for the compassionate, balanced assessment of Bowden.
the grumpies on facebook are simply doing their own ice bucket campaign–throwing cold water on a generally positive thing.
I’d love to hear your broadened discussion of ‘prophetic voices.’
Alex, I need to ask – why did you leave the church you were at? You made them sound supportive, mostly doctrinally correct and had membership, transparency and child protection policies.
It seems as if none of those bought any loyalty in the end.
So what was up with that?