forwarding address…

I have decided to move and figured I’d leave a forwarding address…

ken stoll—aka recovering self-help junkie 


I admit it: I am a Donald Miller fan—and I am sure he’s the kind of guy I’d enjoy meeting up at the neighborhood pub for a beer with.  Maybe my admiration stems from the fact that I am indebted to him for having helped me continually look at the craft of writing from a plethora of various unconventional angles.  Having read Miller—I see writing as much more organic and connected to my life than I had.  Very few of us who attempt to write can ever dream of going toe to toe with him when it comes to the energy level with which he brings the power of story into living and vivid color.  Miller is thoughtful, and his contribution to the church is what many consider to be one answer to franchised faith(see his book list here).  I would certainly echo the sentiment.

A few days ago I caught Donald Miller’s prayer on television(a fellow blogger has posted “A Prayer for All Parties”)  at the Democratic National Convention and I wasn’t appalled, angry or antagonistic.  More than anything, it was intrigue that I was experiencing.  I must admit it though—when I first heard of Miller’s plans to accept the invitation to take the stage I was a little bewildered and moderately concerned.  My concerns were relieved after hearing his prayer, and in the days that have followed I have been able to do some sorting out of my own in relation to the concerns I was harboring.  

Being on Don’s mailing list (with hundreds of thousands of others I am sure), I also had received an email from Miller a day or two after he had taken the stage.  In it—Miller outlined his thought process behind accepting the invitation as well his own exodus from the party of Lincoln to joining the ranks of the party of Kennedy.  Miller, like myself, has been a life-long Republican and had been growing wearing in recent days in relation to the change of direction (or the lack of it altogether) and the many compromises made within the party clearly intended to appease a small minority.  Miller also shared some details concerning the ongoing conversation he is currently having with some within his new party.

I feel a bit tentative in promoting one party over the other, although I do tend to lean one way, and hesitantly at that.  I am a bit more reluctant these days to associate or identify myself with either party due to what I consider  to be a full out watering down in terms of what the political process was intended to accomplish and look like—the role of Government in general. 

Miller gives me the impression that he is a reluctant Democrat.  Reading Greg Boyd’s excellent blog entry last nightThe Audacity of Hope: A Foreigner’s reflection on Obama’s Speech I sort of found myself reading along as if it were something I had written.  Boyd writes, I’m a citizen of a different empire (Phil 1:27; 3:20) and therefore a foreigner in this one (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet 1:17; 2:11). I’m only here as an ambassador and soldier sent to defend and advance the interests of my own homeland while being careful not to get too involved in civilian affairs (2 Cor 5:20; 2 Tim. 2:4). Given this, I don’t feel I need to try to decide how much of Obama’s speech last night was rooted in reality and how much of it was empty rhetoric, as some allege. 

What Boyd is getting at is precisely how I feel about politics—and about Obama or George Bush for that matter.  I know we all have a duty to vote.  But when we put too much stock into politics our faith gets eclipsed to our demise—misplacing our hope (that belongs in God) into a single political figure or a political movement we miss the mark.  What I am not saying is that God doesn’t call certain members among the body of Christ to enter the political arena as a vocation—I just think the rest of us need to be careful not to wrap ourselves up in it all the while missing the mission Jesus would have us pursuing (that is, specifically sharing the love and mercy of Jesus with the masses).

You’d have to have a pretty big rock in front of your cave to not recognize that Obama mania is sweeping the nation and the hopes that are riding on his back will soon be dashed if not shattered.  Watching 80,000 plus cheer for Obama the other night eerily reminded me of the Messiah Jesus and his ride on a lone donkey into Jerusalem a week before the chants of Hosanna turned to Crucify him!  Obama is no more of a messiah than Tony the Tiger is—but you’d sure think so, judging from much of what we witnessing.  How we want a savior other than Jesus.  Faith and culture guru David Kuo spoke about this phenomenon recently on his blogJ-Walking. 

I don’t get the feeling that Miller has any more faith in Obama than I do—and I also get the feeling that Miller wishes to make an impact with his switch rather than merely hijacking some political party.  Or, on the other hand—be their puppet by doing what they tell him to do.  After listening to Miller, I believe he’s not looking to use the party to get his two cents worth of voice from the party as many of my Republican friends seem to eager to barter and settle for—their agenda for a vote.  It’s so easy to feel we have served a bigger purpose with this mentality, but in all actuality all we have done is fed the political machine which rarely offers solutions for any of the real problems that plague society.  More often than not it’s just more rhetoric and finger pointing that results. 

I wish my friends who are so preoccupied with outlawing abortion and changing the oppositions mind about it would just turn some of their efforts towards their local crisis pregnancy center (or in some cases start one where one doesn’t exist).  For too long too many of us have looked to a political movement or operatives for the changes we we wish to see and have neglected a preaching of the whole gospel followed with action in regards to just what that gospel entails—our going and feeding the poor, caring for the destitute and forgotten, visiting those in prison and the elderly, tending to the needs of the orphans and widows—and so forth.  It is a tragedy whenever the church at large in any nation is reduced to something as infinitesimal  as a political party.  Whenever our idea of doing the good works Jesus has called us to participate in is reduced to legislating morality—I see a real danger.   

I have listened to the brief interview (below) Miller gave Christianity Today before taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention and I have to say—I thought he handled himself very well considering his awareness that he was being viewed by millions and millions via television and the Internet.  Miller makes some great points on the pro-life issue that were both thoughtful and correct in my opinion.  The religious right has been unbending when it’s been time to be servants—not understanding when it’s been time to pray—and intolerant when it’s been time to care.  The fact is this: Even if abortion is outlawed (which on that front the Republicans have not done near as much as they led us to believe they could and we had hoped they would).  Think about it—outlawing something that is murder isn’t going to simply solve the problem.  Making abortion illegal may stop a few abortions I am sure, but it won’t stop abortion—or the larger societal problems that shamefully result in abortion.  And yes, I think it is a modern day evil that abortion is legal in this country—that’s not my point though. 

Drugs are illegal—they aren’t as life-threatening as abortion—and you can’t tell me we don’t have a drug problem in modern day America.     

Donald Miller, like me, is entitled to hold his own views—and I’m not one who thinks we are entitled to much.  It is a privilege to live in a country where we can express those views.  As I said earlier, like Miller, I have been a registered Republican for as long as I have been voting (which would be a couple more years than Miller)—it is the party that we were raised to believe was the correct one if you had any regard for decency or any sort of sense of what is right.  I have serious questions about what I was sure was the political party for me.   

As I look at many of the issues being debated in the light of the gospel message and the scandalous grace it embodies—the Republicans have been closer to wrong than right all along. 

I can see where Miller is coming from and if you take a listen you might to.

Watch the 4 minute interview:



If all goes according to plan, I will be voting for John McCain this November, but I will be careful in terms of what I expect in doing so.  I will no doubt be reluctant in casting that vote—and a bit more respectful of my brothers and sisters who choose to cast their ballot for Obama.

Does any one else have an opinion?

I have an interest in politics—more than some folks I suppose, less than others for certain. 

For the life of me, I can’t think of one friend, teacher, brother or sister in the faith—that I agree with entirely when it comes to every jot and title of thought and belief.  And the same can be said for me when it comes to the hot button topic of politics.  Shoot, I don’t even see eye to eye with my own brother who I respect and admire as much as anyone.  I am not all right and I don’t believe anyone else has it all figured out either.  Some of those I agree most with in one regard I would have to say I disagree with vehemently on another issue or two.  This is nothing new. 

When it comes to the essentials concerning the person of Jesus and the authority of Scripture however—I would say I agree entirely with the man I want to introduce to those of you who may have never heard of him.  Greg Boyd is a geniuene man of God as far as I am concerned and for those who have labeled him a heretic, I have yet to see or hear anything that would bring me to the same far-fetched conclusion.  And if you feel the need to mention his views on open theism that’s fine—I don’t agree with him myself. 

Even though Greg is a no Calvinist, I don’t believe he teaches any sort of Pelagian doctrine.  I am reformed to a large extent in my doctrine—but to be crystal clear—I am not a messianic American Calvinist.  I appreciate my country, but I am not a nationalist and neither do I promote America as anything other than a free and blessed country in which I can worship God without worries of being imprisoned.  It’s also a land of incredible opportunity, thanks be to God.  And I am thankful for the soldiers—both men and women—who risk their very lives to protect the liberties I cherish. 

The bond I share with my fellow Jesus-followers has no similarities with any bonds I may have with my fellow Americans.  I need no more duel allegiances than I already have—my children and friends compete enough.  The point I am attempting to make may seem elementary to some I realize but it’s a realization few of us mention.  And it is this: If you are a Christian—being a Democrat, an Independent, a Libertarian, or a McCainiac isn’t necessarily of eternal significance or importance.  Whereas, whether you forgive others or feed the poor does have both lasting and meaningful consequences.  That’s not to say either gets you any closer to getting into heaven.  Nonetheless, our actions here on earth have eternal value and ramifications. 

What I want to ask my Republican friends is this: Do you have to be a Republican to love Jesus?  I’d sure hate to live in the jungle and hear about Jesus if so!  It’s nonsense really, but I sure get a strange feeling that’s the way some of you think.  And while I’m at it—the way some of us talk sure makes me wonder if we see Jesus as our Lord or if we consider that spot reserved for the USA with it’s baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet?  It’s sort of a give and take—so long as Jesus can handle sharing the stage with country—Jesus is alright with us. 

As I wrote a couple of days ago elsewhere—It’s not Jesus of Ohio or Jesus of California that we serve—it’s Jesus of Nazareth to be sure.  And his Kingdom isn’t of this world, despite what Sean Hannity might suggest.  For instance, my Argentinian brothers are my brothers due to our bond in Christ, not due to some pact our countries may or may not have among a United Nations.  My salvation (or anyone else’sforthat matter) doesn’t rise with the success of or fall with the destruction of the country I was born in.  Jesus wasn’t kidding and it wasn’t a play on words when conversing with Pilate—Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’  (John 18:36, ESV) 

Greg Boyd is certainly controversial.  To my friends who may hesitate to listen to what he has to say—I would only say—Is it because you are afraid to be challenged?  In no way am I posting his interview to suggest he is the final authority, but he sure has some interesting and thought-provoking takes (the interview is from August ’07).  With the political climate heating up and the election quickly approaching, I think it’s important we remember that our witness isn’t worth trading for a vote or two for the candidate we happen to be convinced is the right man for the job.  We may be even convicted, or possibly we will be merely casting our vote for the guy we’d be most delighted to share some curly fries with. 

No matter which man wins—God will still be God on November the 5th, 2008.  

For me, I don’t make it a habit to promote one party over the other on my blogs for personal reasons that might be obvious to some—I decided some time ago who I would be voting for (actually who I wanted to vote for is no longer in the race).  For me—it doesn’t come down to healthcare, the environment, off-shore drilling, abortion, the war in Iraq—or even the economy.  There is more to it as far as I am concerned.  I am pro-life through and through but would appreciate it if one unnamed political party that likes to use that platform as the sole reason I am supposed to vote their way would come up with better ideas and solutions for real problems before it’s conveniently an election year.  Off-shore drilling is token politics from the Republicans (and a side note—it makes less and less sense any longer to vote along those lines unless it’s just out of habit, your wife expects you to, you are a tycoon/oil baron, or you have a thing for boring navy suits with goofy looking ties).  I am supposed to vote for these guys while they continue to line the pockets of big business claiming it’s all good for me, the little guy—in the grand scheme of things?  I have voted for these knuckleheads for twenty years now and I can’t say the party has evolved for the better on any of the fronts it has needed to change.  It has sadly only become weaker and greedier it seems—and has played a shell game with us evangelicals for a good share of appeasement, a seat at the table, and a little popularity of our own. 

I want a government of and for the people, including Christians, not limited to Christians.  And I am sick and tired of politicians who wish to legislate how I, or anybody, should be brushing their teeth.  

And then for the party who is going to pass out steaks and caviar for a song and a dance to anyone willing to give them a vote—okay, they have some good things to say—those Democrats.  I can appreciate some rich guys in Washington DC trying to relate to us every day folks.  I mean these guys will tell you anything to get elected.  I find it hilarious when they poke fun at the Republicans for being wealthy, as if, unlike their Republican counterparts—they live in cardboard boxes and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on day old bread.  Many of the years I was voting Republican (and a Democrat was in the White House smoking cigars)—I was making a modest $25k annually to support a family with a wife as a stay at home mom (and I was glad to do it).

It’s good to consider what our country can do to more effectively serve the poor and overlooked (hello local churches and mercy ministries!).  It sure makes superb talking points if nothing else.  So, as far as the other party goes—they may just be pretending when it comes to caring for all I know.  And for those of us who can no longer or never could afford it—they are sure to deliver health care that better resembles A Nightmare on Elm Street than it will anything else.  What’s worse—not going to the doctors when you need to, or going and being treated like the gum on the bottom of the doctors shoe that doesn’t know you from Adam and knows you have no choice in the matter when it comes to visiting him?  If I thought the service I used to get at the campus McDonald’s was terrible some twenty years ago in inner city Dallas where I attended college—I can’t wait to get in line for Obama-care.  Even what I used to get at the clinic a few short years ago when I could afford it ($550 a month my way for my family of five)—that was mediocre coverage to put it kindly.  And don’t forget these are the guys who are telling us it’s the same quality of coverage that a U.S. Senator gets.  Yeah right—and Brad Pitt is a geek!  

Listen, sharing a stage with Planned Parenthood is an abomination as far as I am concerned.  How many baby killings are they responsible for I wonder?  And as much as I have tried to stomach the politics of the Democrats , they still make me queasy. 

If I told you my choice would you disrespect me if it were different than yours—would you call me a right wing nut job or a liberal heathen if I were on the other side of the fence from you?  I have heard more from those on the so-called left calling those on the so-called right dirty names—and more on the so-called right calling those on the so-called left dirty names than I could ever recall.  It’s quite sickening really considering that  Jesus didn’t ask our political persuasions when he suffered brutality and hung on a bloody Cross for us—and for all we know, he doesn’t care near as much as we do about which political persuasion we favor. 

Without any more discussion on my part I’d like to share the link to Gregs’ site (Christus Victor Ministries)—I was unable to retrieve the piece from YouTube as it seems it was taken down for some reason unbeknownst to me.  The interview is with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Greg doesn’t start in until about 2 minutes into the feature.Greg Boyd on CNN’s “God’s Warriors”

I’d sure like to hear a comment or two—agree or disagree. 

Anything you’d add?

a worldwide crisis

…it is unfortunate that this type of imagery would rear its head during something that is supposed to be a time of world unity.

-The deputy director, George Wu, for The Organization of Chinese Americans—In response to the team photo of the Spanish Olympic men’s basketball squad in which they make tasteless gestures depicting those of Chinese decent.


Bad judgement guys. 

I’m not one for poking fun at or mocking one another, but the way many in the larger news-media go about reporting the supposed news (not to exclude a good majority of the clowns who end up in the news)—is enough to remind me of a television program I watched while still in elementary school called Romper Room (please forgive me, I didn’t know any better).  The show was rather childish and for good reason—it was for little kids.  

And so is much of today’s reporting is selective reporting—which would be generous.

The stuff that sells is sensationalism, bigotry, man-bashing, hyped up stories, and meaningless crap.

World unity—please!  And sillier yet—we are gullible enough to think it’s even a possibility.  We have Islamic terrorist groups mocking and threatening America around the proverbial clock and no one bats an eyelash.  We have a Middle East steeped in hatred.  Need I say Darfur?  And what happens when radical Islamic terrorists strike again?  It will be our fault—of course.  Not only will the world community point the collective finger at us when it does happen—a good many of us will say the killers were just and right to do so because we are bullies—pornographers—rich and greedy—ruining the ozone layer—or whatever. 

And we are.

They all are not—of course—they’re angels.

A world wide crisis isn’t some childish and insensitive basketball team acting like a bunch of three year olds.  Today I read that the Spaniard men’s Olympic basketball team participated in a photo shoot in which they were foolish enough to make gestures with their hands in conjunction with the corners of their eyes (like 92 percent of us haven’t done something on the same level at some point in our lives)—and it turns out to be enough to cause a worldwide crisis.  I’m not excusing racial slurs and the like, what I am saying is—grow up.  And if you are an Asian friend of mine (and I have some), you know I don’t typically poke fun at anyone.  I have been made fun of for worse and it hasn’t stopped the world from turning.  Seriously, you’d think the sky was falling.  And the double-standard is killing me.

Newsflash—world unity hasn’t happened, isn’t happening, and isn’t going to happen.  The fighting has only escalated since the Tower of Babel how many eons ago—and any semblance of peace usually is for nothing more than the cameras that capture it.  I believe in world unity less than I would believe Paris Hilton was just named the new international spokesperson for the Girl Scouts.  The picture ruined it all guys.  Thanks for nothing.  There goes world unity

If we had world unity before the photo shoot I must have been sleeping in a cave!  I’m no Bush nut, I can think for myself—there have been, no question, some stupid decisions and some flat out wrong turns the Bush people have taken.  But I am still an American.  America is, and will continue to be, more than George Bush.  And the same goes for Bill Clinton, Ann Coulter, Jesse Jackson, Rush Limbaugh, or dare I say it—Barack Obama the anointed one (he’ll get us world unity, don’t you worry).  Let’s quit polarizing one another just because we aren’t exactly like one another and let’s stop pretending that there aren’t bigger problems than stupid photo shoots, George Bush’s supposed failed presidency—or the liberal and conservative tags we just can’t wait to put on eachothers’ backs as soon as we are given the chance.

Billy Joel was right after all.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
Though we did ignite it
But we tried to fight it

And you thought George Bush number 43 was supposed to fix it.

I know—Al Gore would have solved all of our problems.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God—walked the earth some two-thousand years ago and he didn’t stop the madness.  Jesus showed us how to make a difference in the short time we are given, and ultimately provided the way out of the mess— if you weren’t paying attention.  Jesus, when you consider who he was and what he accomplished, made George Bush and even Ghandi look like the rest of us. 

The headlines on Yahoo and every other whacked out news site exists to get looks—if you don’t believe that you need to get your head checked.  They put up controversial subjects, better put, teasers—with just enough to push our hot buttons and get us riled up and clicking away.  It’s not working for me—every other day the damn site has something about how to know if your partner is cheating.  And when it’s not about cheating it’s about some supposed Christian setting fire to an abortion clinic.  Am I the only one with a stomach ache?  Please guys—it’s getting old and way too predictable. 

And who says man-bashing doesn’t sell as much as sex? 

When it isn’t sex the media is selling—it’s anything controversial that divides people, even if it is reminiscent of something from the aforementioned Romper Room.  The Spaniard team could have poked fun at us Americans and it all would have been fun and games.  But they poke fun at whoever else and it’s a worldwide crisis.  And if America is so horrible—why is half the world willing to risk their lives trying to get here?  I’m no nationalist—I am a Christian—it’s no contest for me.  Jesus wasn’t from California, or Ohio for that matter.  God doesn’t rise or fall with America.  But you know what—even though I don’t have an American flag under my pillow doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate this country I was fortunate enough to be born in.  I am sick of seeing the land I love being treated as the evil empire.  America has much too long been the whipping boy for spoiled brats who insist on being politically correct or flat out idiots. 

Save it.  Call Al Gore and ask him to move to the other side of the world with you and start a movement for all I care.  Poor China.  I feel so bad for them.  And about the 12 year olds the Chinese have tiptoeing up and down the balance beam—if they were Americans there would be an international panel commissioned to investigate.  Maybe we should have the Spanish players hung in the gallows at sunrise to make an example of them so that we can get back to solving the problems in the way of world unity.  My question has remained the same since I got out of college twenty years ago and started reading the news most don’t report—how much news is written merely intended to sell papers?  Why haven’t the news outlets ever lifted the lid off of the trash can regarding China’s true self?  Why not let the world in on the news about all of the people (including hordes of Christians) that the Chinese government has continued to have conveniently silenced by sending them off to a nice cozy prison camp (and in many cases brutal execution) for attempting to practice their idea of religion? 

I mean, if you want world unity—wouldn’t a great place to start be religious freedom in oppressive countries?  Some things aren’t going to change.  For starters—the real world crisis’ and what they truly entail are not going to be reported by Big Media (they are in bed with the enemy).  And secondly—world unity isn’t on the horizon—it’s a farce.

For more on the true China and a genuine crisis, visit:  The Voice of the Martyrs

It’s way past time we got the truth about what qualifies as a bona fide atrocity.

99 percent truths

In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness.  Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99 percent honest is no longer enough…  

-Former Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards (August 8, 2008), from a statement admitting to an affair.  


Another one bites the dust. 

I grieve for Elizabeth (his wife with terminal cancer) and their children—and for Edwards as well because most folks won’t care to reach out to him since he is the one who cheated. 

Personally, I am not a Democrat.  However, during the last few years I have considered being anything but committed to any party in particular to be quite honest.  So, I am not writing to bash John Edwards.       

I’m guessing the main accusation in question back when the story broke wasn’t whether Edwards was here—there—or the father of a child with a woman who wasn’t his wife.  It was about whether he had an affair or not—not whether or not the sex was with a woman he loved or with a call girl he just met.  The news as far as I know was never spread all over the front page (and I don’t feel much like spending the next forty-five minutes to find out)—it’s a good possibility if it was, that I just never tuned into the news or read my usual sources on the days it may have dominated the air waves.

The point I want to make is simple—since when is being 99 percent honest the equivalent of doing all you can to absolutely cover up and deny an affair over a technicality or even a series of them?  I do realize that Edwards is a well trained and shrewd lawyer—that must contribute something as to how he’d come up with such a lame excuse.  

The line of thinking Edwards demonstrates does beg the question—What kind of truth do we get from those in political leadership today after all?

And if I can throw in two more cents—I think 99 percent of us would consider his actions 100 percent dis-honest.