I have been a fan of the tech blog GeekBrief.tv since its inception in 2005. When I read that Luria (Cali Lewis) and her husband/producer/writer Neal Campbell were getting a divorce, I felt as though this was something happening to old friends. I had been watching their program for years, and felt as though I knew them. (I think there is something there about the power of technology and media, but that’s a blog post for another day…) As someone who has gone through the pain of divorce, I felt compelled to reach out to Neal. I sent him an email meant to encourage, assuring him that he wasn’t alone, and offering to meet with him over coffee to talk if he ever felt the need. I never thought in a million years that he would respond—but he did.
That was the start of something that has turned into a friendship that continues to this day. When Neal and I first met, he was wrecked (understandably) by what was happening in his life and marriage. In the midst of this pain he began to experience a crisis of faith (read the details in Neal’s introduction). Over two years later, Neal has gone from the point of returning to the faith of his youth to now rejecting the story of Christianity. As he said in a recent Facebook update, “Breaking up with Jesus is hard to do. It’s such an embedded part of the southern take on life. However, shift happens!”
My story is very different. Where Neal grew up in the faith and rejected it as an adult, I grew up cynical about Christianity yet came to faith as an adult. This fascinates Neal—How is it that as he became an adult he recognized that “a relationship with God [is] a delusion,” yet I as an adult (shaped in the forge of empirical rationality) came to recognize that a relationship with God through Christ is the only hope any of us actually has? In Neal’s introduction he speaks of how reading the book of Job began to open his eyes to the ridiculousness of the Biblical message. Interestingly, it is through the story of Job that I find the greatest comfort in the midst of suffering. (I preached on this recently. If you’re interested in a brief exposition as to how I find comfort in Job, you can watch/download the message here.)
Thus begins our conversation. Over the next several weeks and months, Neal and I will be talking about this shift on our respective blogs. Today we have both posted our introductions to this conversation. Going forward Neal and I will be posting regularly, interacting with the other’s blogs. The neat thing about this conversation is that Neal and I are friends; we disagree, but we don’t argue. This is a fundamental issue, indeed, I would say the fundamental issue. If we simply verbally beat each other up, our friendship would be scarred, and this conversation would be pointless. I know Neal well enough to know that this will be a respectful, challenging, and thoughtful exploration of why we believe what we believe. We look forward to doing these blog posts in the public square and hope that you will join us with your respectful and thoughtful emails and comments.
And so it begins!