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Open Invitation

I had a very unexpected and somewhat exciting phone call the other day. It was from my Wife’s Pastor. He was calling me on my personal cell phone. He stated that he wanted to come over to the house and more or less ‘catch up and see how things are going.’ I was not in a position to have a house guest, so I countered his offer and we decided to meet this coming Wednesday, one on one, at a local coffee shop. After I hung up with The Pastor my mind was abuzz with ideas of what this meeting may imply. Am I going to be preached to? This is unlikely, given what I know about The Pastor. Was I going to be cornered by some heavy duty witnessing? Again, unlikely. So, what then would he possibly want to chat about?

The Pastor is Pastor for my in-laws, my wife and many of the people in their social, academic, occupational and personal life. The outcome of our meeting could, potentially, have far reaching consequence, both at home and in my interaction with many other people. What I have decided to do is take a very open approach to our meeting. I will be armed only with knowledge, curiosity and a pen and paper. I thought about sharing some of my recent readings (Hitchens, Harris, Gould), or maybe some of the text that I peruse on non-canonical Christian text. But, I think that my approach will be much more sponge-like, flexible and absorbent.

I will place a post-meeting post about my experience and the gist of our dialogue. Frankly I feel a little outgunned and maybe even a little out of my league. Although, I am hopeful this will be the first of many such coffee shop chats.

I would love to hear any thoughts from you all regarding similar experiences or even some help with my approach.


  1. August 25, 2009 at 2:59 am

    I am dieing to hear what is brought up — people have you on their prayer list. Christians call that having “you as their project” before the Lord. Actually, they probably only care about you as it relates to your innocent children who still have a chance to escape hell.

    In the end, unless that discussion happens, it is all fake.
    Oooops, don’t mean to be negative.
    Good luck you have a positive attitude.

  2. atimetorend
    August 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    My approach has been to discuss Christian literature that discusses faith more honestly than what I think the evangelical faith of the pastors of my old church, like authors who while being Christian accept the scientific findings about evolution or historical criticism of the bible. I feel that offers them the best chance of learning and of us having a fruitful dialog, finding some touchstones we have in common rather than clashing Christian fundamentalist ideas with secular ones. It’s worked for me, but that’s my personality, non-confrontational and dialog/consensus building. I think your comment about being more sponge-like and flexible is wise.

  3. August 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    @ ATTR — there you go, that is just like you, trying to calm down our aggressive, non-productive, confrontive sides. Gee, you take away all the fun. Smile.
    I think the WVS would benefit from a short list of liberal Christian works that you think fit your description — any ideas?

  4. atimetorend
    August 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Sabio, I recently copied the preface and introduction of Kenton Sparks’ God’s Word in Human Words. More orthodox than my beliefs, but lots of common ground for talking rationally about the findings of historical criticism.

    re: taking away the fun: The thing for me personally is that kind of confrontation is never fun for me, it just raises up anger and anxiety which I then have a hard time quelling. Maybe that’s what drives me to non-confrontation. I know some people are better at rising to the confrontational situation then walking away from it and forgetting about it, or not letting it affect them emotionally. I can’t do that.

  5. Anoat Ozzel
    August 25, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I have had brief conversations with The Pastor at various times. I had to go through an 8 week marital counseling session with him. He is a very bright, mid-40’s, amiable sorta fellow. He actually has some martial arts training and meditates, so hopefully I can find some non-Christian common ground. I know that The Pastor heard through the grapevine that I was reading text analyzing the Non-canonical early Christian works. He expressed some admiration and curiosity about that. I think he was surprised that a Non-churchy like me would be reading those, when most of his congregation doesn’t even know they exist. I actually find that same point very cool, but that is my ego talking!

    As a side note, I tend to get too emotional and insulting when conversations get heated and conflict arises. This is a side of my argument style that I am constantly working on and critiquing.


  6. Anoat Ozzel
    August 25, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    As you know, I am a very synical and sarcastic bastard, but I can’t completely lose hope that maybe The Pastor is reaching out to ME for guidance. Maybe this poor bloke just wants a sane person to talk to and reason with. Maybe he has some admiration for how I live my life, handle my medical practice and treat my family; all without seeking God’s advice or having a direct relationship with the Church and God. I am hoping he is burnt out and feeling a bit apostolic!

    Of course, I understand that this is a bit delusionary on my part, but damn that would be cool!

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