*Love Over Fear* #5 – Chapter 4: Affection for Monsters


Chapter 4: Affection for Monsters

This morning, I wrote a first draft of my overall book review for Love Over Fear, by Dan White, Jr.Part of that review lists key reasons why this book is a valuable, practical resource for us to be better both/and bridge-builders in an either/or era of polarization.

One thing I’m finding I especially appreciate is that Dan doesn’t send us into a realm without nuances, where all differences are now acceptable and anything goes. There are still issues of right and wrong, good and evil. This seems particularly important to keep in mind while reading Chapter 4, “Affection for Monsters,” which makes the case that Jesus Christ’s command to love our enemies does not contain any loopholes.

Underneath any and all differences we have as people, we share in common the reality of being made in the image of God. There is something worthy of acknowledgment and respect in that, even if there are behaviors that show that image has been broken.

Here are some quotes from Chapter 4 that I found most thought provoking. Some relate to that seemingly impossible command to love our enemies (thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to make that possible!). Others give us some indicators for how we can know whether we’re making progress. The chapter itself offers some in-depth examples from Dan and others showing how to love enemies through listening, through presence, through dialogue.

[“Siloing” is] the tendency to interact mostly with like-minded people … We know we are siloing when we are unable to relax and relate with people who don’t share our convictions. (page 111)

These silos we live in create a void, and the void is violent on the growth of love in a Jesus follower. Attack ads, adhominem arguments, and excessive claims about each other’s impact on America’s future have become staple elements of beating back our enemies. The void is fortified by this type of hostile rhetoric about “them,” “they,” “it.” And yet, our fundamental identity is those created and beloved by God—this is the more accurate label Jesus places on us. The mystery seems to be that my enemy shares the same glory that I share in—we are both made in the glorious image of God. (page 112; emphasis added)





For Such A Time As This–Rally Against Abuse at SBC 2019 Annual Meeting

If you’re going to the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham, please consider attending this rally. It highlights crucial issues about abuse, to help the SBC become safer and more sustainable. I see this as especially needed in light of cultural and congregational #MeToo movements of recent years. Here are the goals for this year’s Rally.

The speakers are well known among abuse survivors and advocates for offering practical approaches to recovery, and challenging yet constructive approaches and resources for church leaders.

You can find out more details about this Tuesday, June 11th, event at these Rally links:

Official website.

2019 Rally news and details.

2019 Rally – getting involved.

Download resource page for SBC church leaders.

Facebook page.

Twitter: @SBCForSuchATime.

Thanks for considering For Such A Time As This Rally Against Abuse!


*Love Over Fear* #4 – Chapter 3: How Fear Polarizes Us


Chapter 3: How Fear Polarizes Us

I’ve continued my reading through Dan White Jr.‘s wonderful book, #LoveOverFear. In Chapter 3, he deals with “How Fear Polarizes Us,” and describes that in ways that made it easy for me to get the drift of how he sees that destructive process working.

Dan also does a great job in describing the paradigms and political views at the time of Christ, and how Jesus called a representative ragtag group together, drawing from pretty much all the viewpoints. This quote caught my attention: “Jesus did not play by the rules of any political parties of His day. Jesus was frequently pressured by people to fit into a category. Everyone had political or religious agendas they placed on Jesus, and He frustrated them with divine delight.”

Holy humor? Borderline-perverse providence? Or was something else going on …

See the rest of the quote for details of how Christ’s chosen band of disciples and what points of view they didn’t sway Him to.

Basically, Jesus didn’t embrace or endorse their legalism, anti-supernaturalism, purity culture, power-mongering, or violence. Instead, He used their presence all together at one table to draw out differences so He could fill in their gaps, file off their excesses, change their centerpoint. In essence, His presence offered a situation with an optimal opportunity for personal growth and forging a dynamic team.

Common ground for the common good: That’s one way that perfect/complete love works to cast out fear and bring us together, when fear inherently ends up emphasizing opposites and driving us apart.

Meanwhile, the book has launched. You can read the first few reviews on its Amazon page. Six chapters more to read, and then my review will join them!

*Love Over Fear* #3 – Reflections on the Introduction, Plus Chapters 1-2


As I continue working through Dan White’s book, #LoveOverFear, I run across quotes that I find particularly intriguing, or that cause me to stop and reflect more deeply about a current situation. I’ve been choosing one quote per chapter to share here, along with brief thoughts they sparked.

If all goes well, I’ll have my review posted this week … Meanwhile, check out the Love Over Fear Project website for backstory, book details, and links to (pre)order from some favorite sources. Official release date is Tuesday, May 7th.

Reflections on the Introduction

Polarization uses fear as a shovel to dig holes in what should be common ground, and to put up fences between us and them. Love removes the poles, fills in the holes, restores common ground, and hosts a picnic unbound.

Chapter 1: The Way Fear Works

I find that a “video” of how people are over time is far better than a single snapshot from just one situation. Love waits and watches for the video version of others, instead of making snap judgments based on a snapshot.

Chapter 2: Love and Fear at War

Not all Christians hold this assumption, that the image of God in us may be marred by sin, but not removed. The image of God gives us a basis for “un-othering.” It’s difficult to treat any person with due dignity if we believe their essence in God’s image, and their worth in the eyes of God, are fully drained from our brokenness.

*Love Over Fear* #2 – Constraining by Fear versus Constraints of Love


I’m just beginning to get into the first section of chapters in #LoveOverFear by Dan White Jr.. A challenging topic, but so relevant for our times! I’ve been reflecting on quotes from him on what fear does to us and others, in shutting everything down [first image] … versus how real love opens things up in surprising ways [second].

These made me think about examples, and what came to mind was this Voice Italy audition by Sister Cristina.

I’ve watched this many times since it first aired in 2014, yet it always makes me smile with delighted surprise at the paradox there–this unexpected juxtaposition of opposites, where those who might normally find enmity instead go on to forge friendship. Give it a go, and see if it makes you smile as well! (This link has captions in English: If you aren’t familiar with that option, look for the [[CC]] box on the bottom right-hand side of the video.)

It would be so easy to just stay in a silo, relate only with people like myself, let comfortability and/or fear dominate. But I know how much my life and outlook have been enriched by others who aren’t like me, and hope my differences draw out something better in others as well …

Okay, back to reading!

Well, first, a P.S. Dan’s been putting together this transmedia and resource website for his Love Over Fear Project. He’s already posted clips from some songs written specifically for the project, quote memes, overview, and backstory.

And links to a range of bookstores to (pre)order Love Over Fear: Facing Monsters, Befriending Enemies, and Healing Our Polarized World by Dan White, Jr. Release date is May 7th, from Moody Press

Check it out!

And a P.P.S. Here’s the Moody Press’ YouTube posting of the book trailer for *Love Over Fear*. Really liked it and will have more to say about this thought-provoking video later!

Okay — NOW I’m going back to reading …





*Love Over Fear* #1 – Participating on Dan White, Jr.’s, Launch Team

Love Over Fear: Facing Monsters, Befriending Enemies, and Healing Our Polarized World is the third book written by Dan White, Jr. It will be released May 7th, from Moody Press. After seeing Dan’s social media posts about his launch team being formed, and reflecting on the insightful stuff I’ve seen from Dan over the years, I decided to apply.

Glad to report my application was accepted. I’m drawn by Dan’s core message. After hearing about how he’s extracted and practiced the principles of overcoming fear with love in his own church and community, I know I’ll learn more about how to be constructive in the face of the disturbing either/or thinking that’s become so prevalent.

Over the years, I’ve intentionally made and maintained (as best I can) friendships with people across the broad spectrum of perspectives on politics, religions/philosophies, and theological streams within my own faith as a Christian. I also get input from a range of news sources–right, center, and left.

But why?

People who are different from me in some way help me fill in gaps, file off excesses. They pose questions I never had, share experiences I may never have. This is not mere self-serving “iron sharpens iron.” I value how such connections support my desire to build understanding and empathy, affirm dignity, extend hospitality. Bridging our differences is a “relational MRI” process for developing community, finding common ground for the common good.

It seems to me that’s the essence of what it means to be a “person of peace” like Jesus talked about. For instance, how can we stand for justice if we can’t stand or stand with those who’ve suffered injustices? How can we earn the opportunity to share our point of view if we refuse to listen to the views of others?

Really looking forward to reading, riffing on, and reviewing Love Over Fear, and will be posting about it occasionally as I dive into Dan’s book. I fully expect I’ll find it uncomfortable, but ultimately encouraging …


Book Review: *Glorious Weakness* by Alia Joy

After one chapter in on Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack by Alia Joy, I already knew that I would inevitably be rereading this book. Her master storyteller’s use of poetic prose creates vivid, vulnerable pictures of life difficulties and the impacts of suffering. Alia gave me a portal directly into what she was seeing, thinking, and feeling; and made me feel at home in the midst of uncomfortable topics.

Many such scenes involved real-world issues I personally relate with: lack of something needed (as with poverty) or the presence of something depleting (as with chronic illness). Alia welcomes us and shows how weaknesses affect the whole person–mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and imaginational—and how we can heighten or lower our horizons of hope.

This is what makes the book relevant and relatable to every reader. Hurting and hoping are warp and woof in the human condition. Who among us hasn’t experienced some kind of lack in our own life, or come alongside a family member, neighbor, co-worker, or friend in their affliction? Glorious Weakness inspires and equips us because it is far more than stories of facing difficulties; it’s about a core perspective of finding God in the midst of them.

I don’t know of any other memoir where an author lives in the overlap zone of all these issues, and yet shows how God’s grace both sustains and brings hope. Alia’s story inspired me to gather statistics about the kinds of ongoing difficulties she faces. I found that Americans in 2017 (the most recent year a full set of statistics is available):

1 in 8 live below the POVERTY line.

3 in 4 live from PAYCHECK-TO-PAYCHECK.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be A VICTIM OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE in their lifetime.

1 in 8 endure a PHYSICAL DISABILITY.

1 in 5 adults live with some kind of MENTAL ILLNESS and, for about 1 in 20 adults, that is a serious mental illness.

For those not familiar with these specific issues, this book offers an opportunity for developing empathy. Lack of empathy is a crucial concern I have for those who lead and serve in our communities and congregations. Since the 1970s, I’ve worked with non-profits, churches, and social entrepreneur projects that seek to make a difference. It’s all too easy to assume we understand issues, bypass the very people we think we’ll serve, and zoom right into leader-dictated activities with plug-and-play programmatics. Instead, we need to hear deeper dynamics from insider sources, and then consider collaborative, recipient-centered ministries. Glorious Weakness is the best “textbook” I’ve found to show us the who-to and why-for, when our tendency is to jump right into how-to’s that ultimately get it wrong.

I heartily recommend Glorious Weakness, whether to read for yourself, to know in your soul that you are not alone; or to gain understanding and empathy, for partnering in ministry that is more pertinent to people living with lack. Whatever your situation, I have every confidence you’ll find Alia Joy’s captivating voice well worth your hearing!

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Glorious Weakness releases Tuesday, April 2nd. Those who pre-order thru April 1st can register on Alia Joy’s website for a bonus audiobook version. It is read by Alia Joy herself.Having heard her on podcasts and video clips, I can assure you, she is engaging and there will be heightened humor not just intensive insight.

Alia Joy’s webpage gives links to sample chapters, and to some favorite places to pre-order/purchase Glorious Weakness. You can also register there for the bonus audiobook if you pre-order the book before April 2nd. She also provides a link to the Devotional App: Glorious Weakness Free 7-Day Devotional YouVersion Reading Plan.

You can also pre-order or purchase Glorious Weakness from Indie Bound–A Community of Independent Local Bookstores.

Amena Brown interviewed Alia Joy on Episode 26 of her podcast, posted on March 27, 2019.

You can follow Alia at Alia Joy- Writer and #GloriousWeakness on Facebook, or Alia Joy and #GloriousWeakness on Twitter.