As we continue on this stationary journey of social distancing and relaxed home arrest, the information I share as the Lead Pastor of Peace Lutheran Ministries is all “Need to Know,” in the interests of not overwhelming our people with communications. That also means that everything I write is pretty serious. So, although I had some good serious posts ready to go before this whole covid-19 thing hit us here in the U.S., I am postponing them for now in the interest of lifting your spirits with some lighter fair.
Now, for some reason, as much as I love writing on serious topics, my Blog statistics show that you, my faithful readers, are for some reason far more interested in what I write about myself. It’s a mystery to me, but hey – give the people what they want, right? Or at least, I’m going to have some fun with it, at any rate. So, without further (and longer) ado, here are some random things about me, myself and I…
- What made you want to become a pastor? It’s a long story, but I you can read about it here. And here. And here.
- Do you have a basic philosophy or motto that you live by? I am a man who has been very blessed to be the husband of an incredible wife and the father of three amazing children. I am a believer in Jesus Christ who identifies as Lutheran. I used to believe that denominations didn’t matter, but now I understand that knowing the Truth matters far more than how you feel about it. I love being a pastor, and I believe that humor, honesty and authenticity are essential to being one. I believe that faithful ministry is contextual to congregation and community. I believe that real discipleship means being real, being yourself, and being thankful that you are forgiven in and by Jesus Christ, because you come as you are… but you don’t stay that way. I work constantly to be more forgiving, because I tend to be far too critical of others. I strive to know at least a little about a lot of things, and am blessed to know a lot about a little. I live to make people laugh, and am honored to preach the Gospel, teach the Word, and lead a group of people who make me look far better than I truly am.
- Why should I read or believe what you write? I write honestly and I write real. I don’t do phony, and I’m not out to start or win arguments, I just want to educate people on things that I find especially interesting or important. I try and cite my sources as often as possible, but most of what I write is based on the knowledge I have accumulated through reading, classes and experience. I have been a pastor for the last nine years. Prior to that, I built and taught collegiate courses in Philosophy and Religion for four years, and prior to that I worked in retail, from the service floor up to management. I have three degrees from three institutions, including a Bachelor and two Masters. I am open and honest about my Christian faith, and I tend to see both (or all) sides to most issues, rather than simply accepting what one side or the other says. In short, I strive to be fair, honest and informed before I write anything.
- But are you liberal or conservative? That depends entirely on the context and the issue. I find I am quite often the liberal in a room of conservatives, and the conservative in a room of liberals. I am far from moderate, however, and feel very strongly about what I believe, because I strive to learn and understand more about the things that are important to me and the people I love. I find I am able to learn a lot by conversing with and reading people I disagree with, and it helps me to understand them and their points of view better. I think we would all do well to remember (realize) that nobody has it all figured out, and that we are far more than the sum of our political views. When we encounter each other with love and respect, things are so much better. Often, this means putting away our political opinions and remembering there is an entire world of things to talk about that are far more interesting and important than who is or who should be President of the United States…
- Do you have a life outside of theology and church stuff? Goodness, yes. Although, I also have to admit that my faith plays a huge role in how I view the world. Additionally, I have to be aware that as a pastor I am a public figure and am being watched, and my career takes up a whole lot of my time. So a great deal of my life is made up of and colored by “theology and church stuff.” But I love being with my family – watching TV and movies, playing video games, taking vacations, going out to eat and cooking special meals for them. I love the water, I love Michigan, I am a huge music-lover, and a collector of many random things.
- What sorts of random things? I have bins full of sports cards and toys, including especially Starting Lineup and McFarlane figures, most of which I collected in the early 2000’s, prior to the collectible market collpasing in on itself. They even used to be worth money… I have Funko Pops of random movie characters like Ash from Evil Dead, Farva from Super Troopers, Mal from Firefly and Rowdy Roddy Piper. I have a Martin Luther Playmobil figure and a miniature Planet Express ship from Futurama. I have far more hats than I will ever wear and a ridiculous amount of physical and digital movies and music. I have slowly accumulated an interesting collection of Ghostbusters toys, because Ghostbusters (the original) is awesome.
- What other movies do you like? First, let me say that I love movies, and I’m fairly easy to please. If a critic hated it, I probably loved it. I especially like comedy and action, with an affinity for heist movies and mysteries. Second, I like movies that are family-friendly and movies that are NOT family friendly, so PLEASE don’t take these as recommendations from a pastor…! Anyway, here are some of my favorites: Luther (about Martin Luther, the 2003 version with Joseph Fiennes), O Brother Where Art Thou, Gladiator, Tommy Boy, Deadpool, John Wick, Knives Out, Chef, all of the Star Wars movies (yes all of them), The Lord of the Rings trilogy, all of the MCU, all of the James Bond movies, all of the Broken Lizard movies, and SO many more.
- What about TV shows? I am much more inclined to mysteries and crime dramas when it comes to TV shows. I think Justified is the most underrated show of all time in terms of characters and writing. I think Firefly was criminally cancelled too soon. I love Sherlock and Seal Team, the first 12 seasons of The Simpsons and the first 6 seasons of The X-Files, all of The Office (even post-Michael Scott) and the first 3 seasons of Arrested Development, NCIS, King of the Hill and the first few seasons of CSI. I also think Phineas and Ferb is the greatest “kids show” ever made.
- Read any good books lately? Unfortunately, my job is such that I don’t get a lot of time to read for fun, between staying up to date on news and trying to grow in terms of theology and management/organization. As far as books I have loved, J.R.R. Tolkienn’s Lord of the Rings will always hold a special place in my library, as do Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Space Trilogy and Mere Christianity. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series.
- What about video games? I grew up on Infocom word games like Zork and Enchanter, and I still have an affinity for them. I miss having an X-Box, I have never gotten used to the PlayStation controller, and I have mostly been a Nintendo guy, with a Switch currently being our home system. Some of my favorite games are MicroLeague baseball on PC (long since gone), the original Goldeneye 007 for N64, Super Mario 64, NCAA football (bring it back!), Tecmo Super Bowl on Super Nintendo, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I mostly play solitaire and Pokemon Go on my phone, and I am king of the Sporcle quiz.
- Sports? I love sports. I love to play, but was never particularly good – except softball, I love softball. Baseball was my first love, and I grew up a fan of the Detroit Tigers, and am still a devoted fan of the big four Detroit sports teams. I became a diehard fan of the Detroit Lions in college, when I was surrounded by Bears and Packers fans. In fact, I love the Lions so much that it is my solemn duty not to make anyone other than my family watch them with me, because I am not emotionally stable when the Lions are on TV. I love following sports. This does not apply to soccer, which is not a sport.*
- What about music? I love listening to music, and I listen to all kinds. I like everything from bluegrass to heavy metal, and although there are some genres that make me want to rip the stereo out of the dashboard and throw it out the window (hello, jazz and folk), my tastes are still pretty broad and eclectic. A few of my favorite artists are Third Day, Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks, Metallica, Jars of Clay, and Guns N Roses. My absolute favorite artist is Mumford and Sons. My favorite song is “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi, and the best song ever written is “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. At any given time I may be listening to Queen or Johnny Cash, Eminem or Michael Jackson, The Steeldrivers or the Wood Brothers, Def Leppard or Tesla, Megadeth or Pantera. It’s hard to pin me down.
- What is your dream job? Who says I’m not in it now? My fantasy dream job is to be the starting third baseman for the Detroit Tigers and, barring that, be their General Manager. Since neither of those are going to happen, my dream job is probably to travel around and work with other churches and faith organizations, helping them do ministry in whatever way I can. But I wouldn’t want to do that until my kids are out of high school, and that’s still more than a few years away. All that said, I absolutely love what I am called to do right now and where I am called to do it. I have been blessed for the past nine years to serve as a pastor, something I never dreamed of while I was growing up, but wouldn’t dream of giving up today.
- What other random facts about you might we find interesting? Uh, let’s see… I don’t like coffee (not even like the smell). I have never broken any bones. I did not try seafood until I was 24, and I love it now. I desperately wanted a dog for the first half of my life and now I am repulsed by the thought of pets. I cannot stand mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip), which makes it very difficult to navigate potlucks without offending everyone – and yes, I try it about once a year to see if my tastes have changed – and no, they have not. I learned to drive a forklift and a dump truck before I learned to drive a car. I love Burger King’s breakfast (hot tip: eat the hashbrowns with Zesty sauce). I have never smoked a cigarette but I enjoy a cigar about 2-3 times a year. I had an earring in my left ear briefly during college, but it never healed right, even after a second piercing. I have two tattoos, but I was 36 when I got the first. I often think about what my next one will be. My last meal would be a turkey dinner with all the fixin’s, but only if I could make it – because my turkey and mashed potatoes are the best. I also love prime rib, French onion soup, JIF peanut butter, and cheese on just about anything. And as you probably noticed, food plays far too large a role in my life.
And there you have it! Thank you for letting me have a little fun to break up the serious topics.
*I love throwing this out there, because soccer fans cannot resist overreacting to any criticism of their beloved futbol.