What Did You Say?

Earlier this year I got to meet a very well known New York Times Bestselling author who is a Christian, published by a Christian publishing house, who writes about Christian themes. I’ve sat on this post for some time because I wasn’t sure what to do with this information. I was going to call him out by his name (because at the end of the day anyone can be whoever they want in front of the public – but you can’t hind your true self behind closed doors!), but after a clearer head prevailed as to what my scope of bridge building is all about (thank you Brenda and Mom), I’m not going to do that. Instead I will tell you what happened, what I’ve learned from the following situation, and how I promise each and every one of you that I will never, ever become like this man.

He has set the standard in my life for what I strive to not be like.

Here are the cast of characters for this story:

Andrew Marin

New York Times Bestselling Author #1 (NYTBA1)

New York Times Bestselling Author #2 (NYTBA2)

Third Party Group (TPG)

Background:

I have a good friend (NYTBA1) who is such an encouragement to me, who also just happened to sell 10 million copies of his last book worldwide, launching him into a rare stratosphere of influence. NYTBA1 is one of the most genuine, sincere, humble and real people I have ever met in my life. NYTBA1 knows NYTBA2. NYTBA1 has been telling everyone he knows about Love is an Orientation, The Marin Foundation and the unique things we are doing to bridge two opposed communities because he believes in this work so very much. One of the people he told was NYTBA2, because NYTBA1 knew that NYTBA2 and I were going to be in the same city at the same time.

Story:

Earlier this year I was speaking about my book and work, and after I finished I was hanging out with some of my friends in that city who work for a TPG—which was my next speaking engagement. It just so happened that that TPG also had NYTBA2 coming in to speak to them about his new (new at the time) book. NYTBA2 and I’s mutual friend called both of us to let us know that we’ll be in the same place at the same time so we could hang out. The day arrived. I was with my friends from the TPG and in walked NYTBA2 with his entourage. There was a small group of people surrounding NYTBA2 from TPG working out the details for the day, so I just waited for them to get done before I introduced myself in person. This is the following conversation TPG and NYTBA2 had while I was waiting:

TPG: “Are you ready to do the video before your talk?”

NYTBA2: “Ready to do the video? I won’t let anyone video anything of me.”

TPG: “But we confirmed it with your assistant that we could video.”

NYTBA2: “I don’t care. I’m not videoing anything.”

TPG: “Why?”

NYTBA2: “Because I talk to gay people and they listen to me and I can’t be associated with anything Christian.”

[Andrew Commentary: This TPG is faith based and what they asked him to talk about had absolutely nothing to do with the GLBT community. TPG did not ask him to talk about anything gay, nor was gay ever mentioned, not once! TPG wanted him to talk about his new (new at the time) book, which has nothing gay involved.

So then I’m thinking, did I just hear him say that he talks to gay people and they listen to him and therefore he can’t be associated with anything Christian even though he has a Christian publisher, talks to Christian groups and says he’s a Christian?! That makes no sense to use the gay community as a sorry excuse for not wanting to do something. No wonder he never wants to be videoed.]

Story Cont:

NYTBA2 finishes putting my TPG friends in place, and then turns to me. Here is our conversation:

Me: Hi. I’m NYTBA1’s good friend and he told me he told you about the work I’m doing and thought we should meet because we’re in the same town today.

NYTBA2: Yeah, I remember he said something.

Me: Cool. Do you have anytime to grab some food or coffee or anything.

NYTBA2: No.

Me: I’m sure you’re super busy and all and I understand how that goes. So anyway, it was great to meet you face to face. Maybe we’ll run into each other some other time.   

[Andrew Commentary: At this point everything is going great between him and I. I know he is a busy guy, and I had no expectations that he actually had time to hang, so none of this was big deal. I totally understand that. Then….]

Me: Well, I autographed a copy of my book for you, so here you go. I hope you enjoy it if you have time, and I’ll be sure to tell NYTBA1 that we got to meet.

NYTBA2: Don’t give me your book because I’ll just throw it away and not read it.

[And then NYTBA2 turns around and walks directly out of the room, leaving me and the four other TPG organizers that he was going to be speaking to later that day just standing there feeling totally stupid wondering what the heck just happened. I had been warned by every other person I know that knows NYTBA2 that he is big-headed, but I instead believed NYTBA1 because I know him well and trust him. And then I realized what happened. NYTBA1 is the only person who has sold more millions of books that NYTBA2, so he can take time for that person, and not the rest of us who aren’t on his level, which is why NYTBA1 thinks he’s a good guy, because that is all he has ever seen, and still every single other person I have ever met who met NYTBA2 thinks he’s a jerk.]

Here is What I Learned:

1. In no way, shape or form will I ever, ever become ‘that guy’ who doesn’t have time for anyone in any situation!

2. I will always respect everyone, and I will always gladly accept books that are given to me—autographed or not, written by the person or not (especially since I love to read, I don’t care what the topic or if I agree or not with the premise, because that is how intelligence and balanced worldview grow.)

3. The moment I ever think I’ve ‘made it’ or that I’m ‘big time’ is the same moment that I am also able to act like a jerk and make up excuses in my own head to rationalize terrible behavior.

4. I will never, ever, ever use anyone (gay, conservative, etc) as an excuse to why I don’t want to do something. In fact, to date, I have never turned down any request to speak—whether from the GLBT community or from conservative Christians. It’s still funny to me why he used gay, because I’ve never heard of him speaking in any gay circles anywhere.

5. I will never deny my faith, my publisher, the churches, universities, conferences or organizations that bring me in to speak. I am Christian. Period. I love be associated with Christian, even though at times it is not the best associations. The moment I deny that is also the moment I deny the core of who I am.

You all can hold me to each and every one of these promises.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://mattnightingale.blogspot.com Matt Nightingale

    Seriously. Keep it real, Andrew…

  • Mandy

    This whole story is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. The gossip-monger/schaudenfraude side of me definitely wants names revealed ;)

  • Mandy

    Maybe you should just list all the people who it ISN'T.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    I know it's hard not to foucs on the name (hence the reason why I sat on it for so long because I don't want to be a rumor-mill). But I thought it was really important for me to tell this story because I want to personally be held accountable for my life and actions to make sure I continually live out exaclty who I strive to be in Christ. This story was one of those unique experiences I've had that have taught me very valuable life lessons regarding character, leadership and belief – and what it means for those things to be lived out in real-time in the public.

  • http://twoworldcollision.blogspot.com/ Eric Leocadio

    Hey Andy,

    Miss you bro! Let me know, next time you're in SoCal so we can reconnect. =)

    This post reminded me of the time I visited a church because I was actually looking for a place to fellowship regularly (that was predominantly gay people) and the jerk pastor totally disrespected me, making assumptions and statements proclaiming his "non-affirmingness" of gay whatever, when I hadn't even said anything gay-themed.

    So I blasted him in a blog post too – LOL!

    http://twoworldcollision.blogspot.com/2009/04/dis

    I'm still pretty bitter about it. And I'll admit, my faith took a hit because I was pretty spiritually vulnerable at the time.

  • http://twoworldcollision.blogspot.com/ Eric Leocadio

    Andy, I could let you off the hook by revealing the names for everyone.

    nah, just kidding. I won't say, no worries.

    But these are some good lessons in humility. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twoworldcollision.blogspot.com/ Eric Leocadio

    darn, i wish there were an edit button. In my first comment, I meant to say:

    "This post reminded me of the time I visited a church because I was actually looking for a place to fellowship regularly (that was NOT predominantly gay people) and the jerk pastor . . . ."

  • Bart Wang

    What a dick. That is so lame. I can appreciate your desire to not 'name names' so as to be the bigger person, more respectful, etc. I also feel like Michael W and want to avoid that guy. And a little public shaming might be a good thing for someone so arrogant. Hahaha. Much love, Andrew.

  • http://timothykurek.wordpress.com tim kurek

    I'm with Michael W. I wish you could tell us so we could avoid reading their books. Seriously! At least email me and let me know lol…

  • http://mwalcher.auzigog.com Michael W

    The only reason I want to know who NYTBA2 is now, is so I can be sure not to buy their books.

  • Laura

    I think it’s so sad when people believe they are truly above others. All I can think concerning this situation is the poor message this person sent the few people in the room in regard to Christians….their representation was horrible! Thank you for sharing this story, Andrew, for I never want to become like this person either!!

  • Audrey

    Eric, what was wrong with a predominately gay church? You do have to be very cautious with straight christians and their churches. They might not mean harm, but do it out of ignorance, or they might just be jerks like that guy you mentioned. Be careful. God loves lesbians and gays, we are not poor step children or some liberal charity project. We are about a people in formation as we discover god, and avoid those who try to deny us her word.

  • http://twoworldcollision.blogspot.com/ Eric Leocadio

    Hi Audrey, oh believe me, I get it! I used to say often that we’re not second-class Christians.

    I’ve been to lots of churches. I’m a bridge builder and a networker in the work that I do. I’ve invested time in fellowship in churches with both predominantly gay people and also predominantly straight people. Me looking, at the time, for a fellowship that was not predominantly gay has more to do with the fact that I wanted to build more relationships with straight people. After coming out in 2005, I made a lot of friendships with other gay people. In the process, I found that I didn’t have a whole lot of straight friends any more that I hung out with regularly (or that wanted anything to do with me).

    So before coming out, I had nothing but straight friends. I was in the closet, didn’t know anyone else who was gay, and so my assumptions and false stereotypes of gay people prevailed. Then I came out, having reconciled my faith and sexuality, and was intentional about building friendships with gay people (both Christian and not) so that I could better understand the gay community. I’m comfortable living a lifestyle of faith in an authentic way. So then I got lots of gay friends. But not having straight friends doesn’t really help break stereotypes by letting people see that a person like me, a sincere gay Christian, can exist. So at the time when I was looking for a fellowship that wasn’t predominantly gay, I wanted to be more intentional about bringing some balance to the relationships in my life – both gay and straight.

    Sadly, now I have lots of straight secular friends that are totally okay with me being gay (not so much okay with the Christian part), and I’ve found it more of a challenge to build meaningful friendships with straight Christian people because few are secure enough to attempt such a thing in a non-missionary-project kind of way.

    The good news is that I am building some friendships with straight Christians that are intentional, safe, positive, and productive as we share hearts and stories and faith with each other. It’s been cool.

  • Audrey

    Hi Eric,

    Your explanation of the whole thing is very interesting. We often had a joke that being christian could get your lesbian card revoked in the lesbian community, and that being a lesbian could get your christian card revoked in the straight christian community. It’s still really true, and difficult to move in so many complex worlds. Even to this day, conservatives use words like “lifestyle”– which now seems pretty comic with my 34 year union with my partner. It looks like most straight divorced people are in multiple married lifestyles in comparison LOL. It is the straight people on marriage number three that look positively gay these days :-) I never thought I’d live to see the day when I met more than four people this past year who had married their third non-gay spouse!!

    The best friends are always out there lesbian or straight. Some of my very best women friends are atheists, they have the most acceptance of me as a lesbian, and are the most at ease in a world of change and complexity. They simply are comfortable with me, loving, generous, positive, smart, and very very at ease with being straight women. They accept completely my butch self, and find me funny and fun to be with. This is really great, and more common lately. I always said that when an American president says the words “gay” or :”lesbian” in public with a positive look — well, that sends a message Eric! First we had Clinton and now we have Obama!!

    I’ve been around the block a few times, and now I connect with christians on a one-to-one basis. I simply outgrew all the churches out there, and find them lovely on holidays — Easter and Christmas, but somehow, the messages are mixed in all the places. In straight churches there is no feminism, and within gay or lesbian churches we don’t have the intellectual foundation a lot of times. Even quoting Mary Daly in a gay church might cause a gay male pastor to give you a blank look :-) They haven’t done the reading either, oh well. Reading is really big with lesbian feminists. We probably read more books than any group in the world :-) and write the most complex theories. More and more, I do notice straight people connecting with lesbians and gays within our own worlds. I mentioned the elderly straight couples that come to our events, or the PFLAG parents who reach out and are real.
    I don’t know what the ideal spiritual community would be, and I think as a lesbian feminist, there really isn’t one. But it is up to each and every one of us to find our spiritual selves, to transcend a world that demeans and undermines us, and it is also up to us as lesbians and gays to show hospitality to straight people, so that they are welcome in our homes.

    Who said this was easy ? :-)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Eric said: “Sadly, now I have lots of straight secular friends that are totally okay with me being gay (not so much okay with the Christian part), and I’ve found it more of a challenge to build meaningful friendships with straight Christian people because few are secure enough to attempt such a thing in a non-missionary-project kind of way.”

    You are so right. I only recently found I can do that very thing — build friendships with gay Christians without feeling like I must help them “see the light.” Is that because I have walked in their shoes previously? Maybe. I am focused on seeing them through the eyes of Christ, and finding delight in that. What a concept! I have yet to really see how my Christian friends who have known me for so long, knowing nothing of my past, will react to “the new me.”

    Here I go again, thanking Andrew for giving me that push.

  • http://carleton1958.xanga.com/ Jeff S.

    Andrew, this post is a great lesson in self-restraint for all of us. Thanks for sharing it. I see similarities to certain situations I’ve been in both my church world and my corporate world.

    No need to mention names. The lesson to draw from all of this is self-restraint when needed and how not to be. And how to pray for someone who acts in such a manner. That lesson I learned from dealing with my own narcissistic brother.

  • Mrs T

    I hate snobbery. That’s what that guy appears to be – a snob. I’d rather deal with any kind of sinner that is genuine. There are words some of us would like to use for that guy, but we are Christians & need to be above such attitudes of vindictiveness! :)
    Anyway, stay away from him & pray for him.
    Meanwhile, let’s hope that maybe he was exhausted from much work & didn’t know what he was saying. There are famous folks who come across as unkind, but are just busy. There are some leaders in my church that can appear that way, but are very godly. Over the years, one has improved, but I know not to take their time with small talk. I stick to my peers more for talk & encouragement.


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