Serve Somebody

I sat in the car outside Starbucks yesterday afternoon talking to a girlfriend. I was telling her how frustrated I was because I had learned that a bookstore that would be representing me at an event had informed me the day before that no one on staff intended to read the book they would be selling.

I was having a difficult time wrapping my head around that.

You regular readers of the blog know how much I advocate for Independent bookstores. One of my favorite movies of all time is the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks flick You’ve Got Mail.

Anyway my girlfriend, who was trying to encourage me, told me that she knew exactly why the people who worked at this particular bookstore would be reluctant to read my book.

“You are a Christian,” she said. “And they are the most liberal of liberals.”

I told her I didn’t see how that applied since this wasn’t exactly Christian literature, whatever the heck that is.

My friend, who grew up a pastor’s daughter, went on to say that the irony is that sometimes the very people who reject Christians because they consider anyone who confesses Christ to be too narrow-minded, are themselves pretty narrow-minded.

Yes. It’s true being narrow-minded isn’t a trait reserved solely for those with a faith. Those without a faith can be equally guilty. I wrote about all that in Where’s Your Jesus Now?

We do not have to be religious to be wrong about all the ways we claim to be right.

I find that a lot of people would much rather be right than redeemed.

Anyway, at the time she was saying it my friend’s advice seemed as rationale as any other excuse I’d heard over the past 24 hours. So I said, Wouldn’t it be great if we rallied all the Christians in that community and blessed the socks off that bookstore by having everybody buy books from them? You may recall I suffer from these delusions from time to time. Remember when I was picking up trash in the field and thinking the whole town was going to turn out to help?

I blame these delusions on those musicals I watched as a child.

Whenever there is discord I always hope somehow we’ll all end up singing a song together.

Perhaps we will one day.

But as it turns out, sometimes we people do get it right

That whole grace thing.

Our buddy John in PDX sent me a link to a story about Patrick Greene, the San Antonia atheist who set out to protest  a nativity scene set up in front of a Texas courthouse. Greene was threatening a lawsuit but then he learned he had a health condition that could leave him blind.

A Baptist Church learned of Greene’s condition and donated money to help him. The woman who organized the donation said it was a great opportunity to extend God’s love to Greene, who was reportedly moved by the outpouring.

Not to be outdone, atheists got together and raised money for Greene, too.

It was a moment straight out of my delusions.

Atheists and Christians coming together to serve somebody.







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  • Great message Karen. As one who myself has suffered from being delusional I have to say RIGHT ON! It does not matter with whom we serve but in whose name we serve. Christians here in Portland (me included), are learning these lessons in our community as we serve others in the name of Christ while serving side by side with local government and other organizations.

    When I look back at the fear that kept us from serving because “they” were serving the same people it just amazes me. It’s like we finally realized the wheel was already invented and jumped on the service bus! This change in our perspective not only provides the resources we so desperately need to really bring help to others but a greater visibility in living our lives out for His glory.

  • Tim

    Great points here, Karen, very well said. And then to get Stubby Kaye and Bob Dylan clips in the same post? Outstanding! I give Stubby the edge for true entertainment value, Karen, but doesn’t Bobby clean up nice?


    P.S. What happened to the Blue Like Jazz post? I tried to click on an email notification of a new comment and was directed to a page not found error notice, and when I look on your home page the post is nowhere to be found.

  • carla

    Love the post, but this one teeny thing. . . “bless the socks off” . . . adorable as it sounds to us christian types, I think may be a little bit of the problem. We sound so . . precious . . .sometimes. We have our own lingo, reflective of our own little subculture that the rest of the world finds at best bewildering and at worst, sorta obnoxious.

    • Funny.. most people complain about my salty style, few ever complain about my being “precious.” Maybe this new grandmother role will render me irrelevant after all. Well, as my own mother likes to say, Shit fire, save matches, I can’t win for losing.

      • Tim

        Actually, in the context you used it here I didn’t think it came across as precious at all. I mean, it’s not like you said “We just wanted to love all over that bookstore!” Now that would have been pukily precious.

  • In the end, it’s not about what other people do but about what we do. Some people will be inspired and join us and that is good, BUT, in the end, it’s our life and what we do with that is what matters not what others do with theirs. Good post!

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking along these same lines today when I heard an NPR piece on the “Reason Rally (“Woodstock for atheists”) being held in Washington, DC, this weekend. Several atheists interviewed talked about “coming out of the closet” and about the rejection and discrimination they experience. It sounded similar to the struggles that those in the GLBT experience, and one of the interviewees actually made that parallel.

    Anyway, it made me realize that those of us who are trying to expand our definition of “neighbor” need to include atheists in that definition. You and other readers have noted some practical ways to love these neighbors. There have also been some recent stories about atheists who are recognizing the value of certain aspects of religion, even if they don’t buy the underlying belief. This, it seems to me, provides some useful bridges between Christians and atheists, as opposed to the usual strategy of trying to debate them into the Kingdom.