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The origins of the blue shirt

It was springtime, about five years ago, and thunderstorms and tornado warning weather had taken over the city. I worked downtown, and we had lots of sporadic power outages due to the weather, sometimes for hours at a time. Life at the office would grind to a halt due to the power outages, and everyone would simply stand around and talk until the lights came back on.

On one of those days, I had just read an article about Steve Jobs and how he wore generally the same outfit every day. That article discussed the theories as to why he made that choice: that he wore the same thing every day to pursue simplicity and to free up time and mental energy so he could be more creative. During one of those stand-around, lights-out conversations with co-workers, I brought up the article. My co-workers thought that it made no sense at all to wear the same thing every day and that only a nut would do something like that. But for some reason it resonated within me.

stevejobs600

What resonates inside you?

As the people around me declared aloud how strange it would be to wear the same thing every day, I started quietly plotting in my brain how I could accomplish it. Over the years, I had realized that I really enjoyed wearing a certain blue shirt to work. On days where I wore that blue shirt, I liked how I looked, and I felt more confident and often moved into a more productive zone. I loved this idea of making things simpler and freeing up more time to do and think about things other than my wardrobe.

In that moment, I realized that I could buy multiple shirts like my favorite blue shirt and test out the idea. And the rest is history — I’ve been wearing blue shirts to work for 5 years now. It took all those naysayers about six months to realize that I was wearing the same shirt every day, and initially it was a great novelty and joke, but over time, it’s simply become my normal.

The blue shirt

People jokingly ask if I wear the exact same shirt every day. It’s not the exact same actual shirt, but I do wear the exact same brand/style and color of shirt every day. I own about 15 of them at this point. My closet looks much like that of the cartoon character Charlie Brown. Blue, blue and more blue. As the shirts age and fade or get worn, I have to swap them out with newer shirts, but it’s always the same blue of the same brand, style and cut. I’ve thought about contacting the manufacturer to cut an endorsement deal; if you know anyone in marketing at Jos. A. Bank, have them get in touch.

Why did it stick?

Why did I do this and why did it stick? Honestly, the reason is because it felt right deep inside for some reason. I couldn’t really explain why it felt right, but it just seemed like it was something I must try. I’ve recently started digging deeper and asking why it felt right. What about the simplicity, what about the freeing up of my time and my mental space resonated?

As I’ve worked through this thought process, I think a big reason this shirt choice works for me is that I don’t want to be about what I perceive to be frivolous. You may not think clothing choices are frivolous, but in my life, standing in my closet, staring at clothes and making choices of colors and styles feels like a waste of my time. I want to be about more than that. I want to do things that matter and want to spend my time doing real things and building real relationships that will have an impact, and for me, it helps to not spend too much time thinking about my clothes.

Back when I made this shirt choice, I realized that, for the most part, no one really cares what I wear day to day, and no one will remember what I wore yesterday. What’s ironic is that now that I wear the same thing every day, people seem to remember what I wore yesterday more than ever. But what they’re actually remembering is that I wear the same color shirt every day. Some of them don’t quite understand that, but for others, it makes a little sense to them and makes them wonder why.

Why do certain things connect?

This is a very small example of paying attention to why you do the things you do and why certain things connect with you at a deeper level. We’re each unique, and thoughts and ideas connect differently with each of us, but we should be paying attention to why things resonate. I changed one thing I do every day to more reflect on a daily basis how I view the world and what I find important. I did it and continue to do it because I believe there are more important things to think about than what I wear every day. That reflects something very basic about my worldview and what I want to be about in this life.

There’s a TED talk out there featuring Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” It is very popular and is one of the most widely viewed TED talks. The ideas in that video have been a revolutionary thought process for me. Sinek’s ideas have helped me look at myself and my place in the world differently.

The Start with Why video led me to hunt down more information on Simon Sinek, and then I actually read his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action. I encourage you to do the same. Don’t just watch the TED talk. Read the book Start With Why and dig into his ideas on both a personal and professional level. He is onto something, and I respect his pursuit of helping people answer the important questions of what drives us and moves us forward.

Seek out and pay attention to what’s driving you

There’s more to life than just the day-to-day of what we wear and what we eat and the like, but we spend so much time on those things. And there’s more to this life than just making it through one day to get to the next. Maybe it’s time to pay attention to your WHY – that thing deep inside that drives why you do what you do the way you do it. You can go to work every day, but without paying attention to your WHY, you’re just producing widgets and burning energy without a clear understanding of purpose.

Understanding your WHY will help you understand how you, in your own individual way, can change the world. It will help you work better, create better, connect with people better and live out your unique way. It will ultimately help you figure out how and what to do with your time, both big and small. For me, one small step was as simple as making the clothing choice to end all clothing choices. It will be different for you. But if you can figure out some of your why, how and what and refine your day-to-day (in the same way that my shirt choices have helped refine mine), and we inspire others to do the same, maybe together we can change the world, one refining choice at a time.

QUESTIONS:

  1. When you view your life as a whole and look back over the defining successes and relationships in your life, what are some of the underlying emotions, drivers, and motivators that help you feel more confident in action and more ready to move forward, and that nudge you to seek a more fulfilled life?
  2. Knowing why you do things makes a huge difference in your decision-making day-to-day. Who in your life is best situated to help you sort through your thought processes and life choices and help you figure out the WHY that drives so many other things in your life?
  3. What is one small lifestyle choice that’s been lingering in your mind that might bring you one step closer to being what you want to be and to helping you do more of what you want to be doing?
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Daily Download: Sept. 19, 2013 (Faith/science books, Miley’s Wrecking Ball, apologetics tension, New Zealand sky)

Some Brutally Frank Relationship Advice from a 98-Year-Old Woman — For starters, this interview is taken from “Dana Adam Shapiro’s You Can Be Right (Or You Can Be Married), a by-turns funny, wise, harrowing, and heartbreaking collection of interviews with divorcees,” so don’t expect her to be telling stories of her perfect, loving marriage of 60 years. And the representative quote from the article is:

“First of all, you have to be sexually compatible. That’s very important. If anyone tells you different, they’re nuts.”

That’s a glimpse of where this is going, but it’s a very entertaining read knowing that it’s coming from a 98-year-old woman. And if you avoid reading the advice of people who aren’t coming from a Judeo-Christian worldview, I’d skip this read. As one friend noted, you won’t be reading this advice in Christianity today.

Faith Outside the Bubble — Speaking of Christianity Today, a friend pointed me to this review of the book The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith by Matthew Lee Anderson. The subtitle of the review is “Christians who question their beliefs deserve better than defensive slogans and cliches,” which is a great quote in general. Reviewer Alister McGrath notes:

Anderson cuts to the quick, avoiding scholarly detachment and academic jargon. A series of well-chosen examples allows him to probe why we are reluctant to engage questions, while at the same time illuminating how such questions can enrich faith. We need to do more to help Christians—especially those attending college—to internalize their faith, gain a proper confidence in its roots, and learn to express this in gracious responses to the questions they will inevitably encounter.

I’ve always been a fan of Christian apologetics, helping defending the faith to challenge, and I even was once working on an institutional Certificate of Christian Apologetics offered from Biola University. Over the years, though, I’ve found apologetics, while having value, can also chop questions off at the knees and can actually stunt the growth of those who simply trust the apologist instead of working through the challenges and questions for themselves. Apologetics, as important as it is from an intellectual point of view, can lead many to pat answers instead of honest questions and relationships with those who really want to own the answers. There must be a balance. McGrath, who is known as an apologist, notes in his review that the straight apologetics approach:

neglects the crucial relational aspects of faith. More problematically, it also encourages people simply to learn the answers, without having internalized the deep logic of Christianity. Anderson worries—with good reason—that a faith that knows the answers, but doesn’t understand the questions, is both superficial and vulnerable.

Although the book is directed to pastors, I may have to check it out. McGrath wraps up his review:

Anderson is right to point out that the current emphasis on “dialogue”—particularly within emerging church circles—can stand in tension with a commitment to truth. But it doesn’t need to. I wish the book had included more on the role of dialogue as a form of apologetics or a means of spiritual development. And I would have liked more on the role of friendship as a way of helping us to cope with doubt, of deepening our appreciation of aspects of our faith, and as a context for exploring disagreements without provoking division.

But on the whole, this wide-ranging and well-written book does a fine job of opening up the place of questioning in the Christian life. Anderson has insightfully explored how questioning can be a legitimate form of intellectual inquiry, and a means of growing in faith. Further questions remain, not least about how to convert these ideas into pastoral practices. But it’s a great handshake to begin a conversation.

Origins, Faith, the Bible and Science — I’ve been engulfed in a very engaging conversation with friends about the origins of the universe and how to mesh Genesis and science. How important is it, as a follower of Jesus, to believe that the earth was formed in six 24-hour periods? Some would have you believe it’s vital. Others are fine with an Old Earth view that includes God and his handiwork. I’m intrigued at how much energy is spent in the Christian world on these question. Some have really made a believer’s views of Genesis 1 & 2 a litmus test of faith, and I’m not so sure it’s as vital as it’s made out to be. I once was a very solid Young Earth believer in the idea of six 24-hour days, but I’ve backed off that in recent years. I can heartily make all the arguments for the shorter period, but I’m no longer as certain as I once was when I look at the scientific discussions on the matter, and I’m admittedly disenchanted with the sometimes adamant evangelical tone that can demand a certain belief. Is this type of hyperfocus on certain pet issues really what Jesus came and died for? I’m really struggling with that question because in some circles, they really hammer on this topic.

My friends and I have shared lots of articles and book titles with each other, and I’m trying to find time to fit them all in, but I figured I’d share a few links of you’re on this journey yourself. The conversation started based on the article “A Defense of Six-Day Creation” as juxtaposed against Peter Enns’ book Evolution of Adam, The: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins. I’ve read much on the topic over the last 20 years or so, but my reading list is suddenly multiplying. Thanks to Amazon.com and its ability to recommend books that might be worth your reading when you’re looking at a subject, as well as some personal recommendations from the group based on books we’ve read or are reading, we’ve come up with the following aspirational reading list on the subject:

I can’t specifically recommend any of these books, but I haven’t read any of them yet, but they come out of personal conversations and Amazon results, so take them as you will. I’ve created an Amazon list to track books on the subject that I find. If you want to jump in and read as well, go for it. It’s sometimes a very technical topic that is routinely oversimplified on both sides, and we all want to understand it a little better. If you’re in the same boat, I hope this list jumpstarts your study.

Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball — Last week I made the case to a friend that Miley Cyrus knows exactly what she’s doing. This isn’t Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan or Justin Bieber acting out their wonder years because they didn’t get to be children. Miley Cyrus, whose career has been quietly tapering away as the former Hannah Montana, is taking a calculated risk that she’s about to make a ton of money and climb the mountain of fame. I would argue that this moment in her career is as calculated as anything Justin Timberlake has executed in his rise to fame. She’s taking the reigns of her career and shapeshifting into the Madonna of this decade. She is in the midst of a tightly choreographed career change, surrounded my agents, managers, and handlers who are helping her pull it off. No one was really noticing until her VMA appearance with Robin Thicke but that was the kickoff of the main event. Between that VMA grandstanding and her very naked and suggestive Wrecking Ball music video, Miley is making the move, and it’s no mistake. As this insider article notes:

Miley Cyrus is incredibly smart, she’s manipulating the clueless … to increase her fame, to drive her record to number one, and she’s executed beautifully.

To me, it’s obvious that this isn’t personal to her. It’s business, and she’s aggressively making her way in the entertainment business. Agree or not, she will get rich and famous off this for a while. No, that’s not the point of life, but that is one of the resounding and persistent themes of show biz, and she’s in show biz. I’m glad Mr. Lefsetz agrees with me.

Amazing New Zealand night sky time-lapse video — My mom sent me this link to an article about a photographer who has focused on time-lapse sky photography in New Zealand. Apparently, you can really see the sky in New Zealand. The photographer notes that sitting out under the stars and creating these images over long periods of time has become a spiritual experience for him. After watching the video, I can understand why.

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Daily Download: Sept. 12, 2013 (The Pope and atheists / “Boy World” / Mass hysteria from Facebook)

Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven – For a Pope, Pope Francis is really putting himself out there. In an open letter to founder of a newspaper, the Pope wrote:

“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.

“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

The response is being referred to as “him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world.” Even the party who asked the question noted that the Pope’s comments were “further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all.”  I don’t foresee other critics being so kind.

‘Boys Have Deep Emotional Lives’ — Rosalind Wiseman, writter of Queen Bees and Wannabes and Mean Girls has now tackled the world of boys with her latest book, Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World.  I have 3 boys, all of whom I’m trying to help develop into men of character and wisdom, physical and mental strength, who are closely connected with God, the people around them, and their world.  Here’s an interview with Wiseman about today’s world of boys (which seems much like the world of boys I knew back in my younger days).  It sounds like the book might be worth the read.

What Witchcraft Is Facebook? — Could Facebook cause events of mass hysteria much like the one attributed to Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials? Could you “catch” a disease and really believe you have it simply because others are posting about it on Facebook? Sociologist Robert Bartholomew thinks it may already be happening and that we may soon see epidemics of physical symptoms (primarily in girls) where the contagion is actually a mass hysteria propogated by social media.

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Daily Download: August 29, 2013 (Will Smith wasn’t watching Miley, underrated sci-fi & shrimp boudin)

No, That Wasn’t Will Smith Reacting to Miley Cyrus — I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong.  The other day when the Miley Cyrus story broke, I posted the photo of Will Smith and his family that went viral.  I am guilty, along with lots of other people, of believing that just because Twitter says something it’s true, it must be.  That photo is a perfect case of how things can take on a life on their own on the Internet (and in the media) out of context but with the right tag line.  That photo was actually taken during Lady Gaga’s performance, and it’s actually just one of those moments where everyone in the family got a goofy look on their face all at the same time.  It’s not in response to Miley Cyrus or even anything specific.  The above link actually shows the video feed of what was going on alongside the video of the Smith family.  I hereby declare my error and announce this correction.  Sorry.

The improbable truth — Have you ever noticed that when Solomon comes to his conclusion at the end of the book of Ecclesiates in the Bible, it’s not with much fanfare?  He just makes his conclusive statement and moves on.  John Fischer has a knack for noticing these moments in Scripture and attempting to explain them.  Here’s a great real life take from John Fischer on the book of Ecclesiastes, its place in the canon of Scripture and what you can take very simply out of that moment.

What happens when the pastor of a megachurch loses his faith? — Peter Enns writes good blog titles that catch your eye.  This is one of them.  But the blog post is actually about a book that really sounds like it’s worth reading.  I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist, so I wanted to share.

10 Websites that Teach Coding and More — I wrote about the value of teaching kids to code the other day.  Here’s another resource that 10 lists sites, paid and free, where you (or your kids) can learn to code.  Get to it.

The Five Underrated Sci-Fi Movie Masterpieces — I’m a fan of sci-fi movies.  I was intrigued to see what movies were listed in this “underrated” list.  I’ve only seen 1 of the five — “Gattaca” — and I’d agree that it was a really good movie you don’t hear much about.  I need to find the others to see what all the hubbub is all about.   I found several on Netflix, but I’ll probably have to watch them without my wife because they all sound somewhat ethereal and not very mainstream.

Seafood Boudin Recipe — I learned something new in the food world today.  I had no idea what “boudin” was or that people even make sausage from seafood.  Who knew?  I saw a reference to “shrimp boudin” on a menu, looked it up, and now I’m intrigued.  I stumbled upon the recipes linked here from Emeril Lagasse.  I probably won’t make it, but I need to try this stuff.

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Daily Download: August 21, 2013 (Paglia on Hillary / Apologetics deals / Birth of a star)

Camille Paglia: “It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton is our party’s best chance” — Camilla Paglia unloads on Hillary Clinton’s experience in an interview on Salon.com as she says it’s time to move on from baby boomer candidates and openly dreams of a 40something governor with actual executive experience to step into the fray of presidential politics and become the next hope of the Democratic party:

As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.

I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.

Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood.

20+ Apologetics Books on Kindle from $0.99 TO $2.99 — I’m into Christian apologetics, which is the study of the evidences, proofs and facts that support the Christian faith, and I even once started the process of getting a certificate in apologetics studies from Biola University, but then my life got crazy with having kids and running a business.  But, for those of you who are into apologetics as well, there are few things better than a good book to read.  This link is to a list of apologetics books you can get on your Kindle for cheap.  Have fun!

The birth of a star, captured in stunning photographic detail — Astronomers have captured photos of the development of a star called Herbig-Haro 46/47 that is located in the southern constellation of Vela, 1,400 light-years from Earth. The photos reveal massive jets of gas, such as carbon monoxide and ionized oxygen, shooting away from the forming star at speeds of up to about 621,000 mph. According to Hector Acre, an associate professor at Yale University who is studying this star formation, newly forming stars send out large jets of gas, even as they pull gas and other matter toward them in the process of their formation.

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Daily Download: August 20, 2013 (Christian unity / caffeinated Christians / undercutting Amazon)

Can Christians Be Unified If We Don’t Want the Same Thing? — Interesting personal journey blog post that was sent to me overnight after I made a frustrated Facebook post about the backbiting, insulting, insinuating, slandering, demeaning, misquoting and maligning that goes on in the evangelical Christian culture towards fellow believers who don’t believe quite like you do.  Someone referred to it as “friendly fire” jokingly, and I understand that, but it’s sure not friendly.  It’s a fear of being wrong that causes you to hold onto your “right” so hard that you have to tear down anyone else inside the Christian camp who has a different view of things.  It boggles me how rampant it is.  The great quote I took out of this article is:

I have committed myself to Jesus and to living the kind of life he modeled and talked about in the Bible. I am fully convinced that it is true. And because I believe it is true, I will live my life erasing boundaries and reaching out to anyone, and I mean anyone, who will listen to the story of Jesus.
Living in the truth of the Gospel means I’m committed to removing the boundaries that others think the Gospel compels them to build.

Interestingly, his ultimate point is to question whether we can even have “unity” in the evangelical world when there are two different crowds who are seeking after different seemingly different results.  It’s a fair question, but I really hope the true answer is in the negative.

Wanted: More caffeinated Christians — In a similar but more motivational way, I post this article from John Fischer.  I can honestly say that John Fischer has likely had more influence on my thinking over the past 25 years than any other Christian author during the time.  These days, N.T. Wright is coming in a close second, but Fischer has been influencing me since my junior or senior year of high school back at Bolivar High.  In this article he notes an Australia study that looked at the thought processes of those drinking caffeinated coffee and those drinking decaf, and the study came to this conclusion:

[C]affeine makes people more open to logical argument, even when it runs counter to their previously held opinions. The caffeine group, across the board, tested out as being consistently more open-minded than the decaf group.

Fischer then makes the argument (and it appears has written a book on the topic) that Christians today could really learn from this concept:

All of this applies, across the board, to being a vital Christian in the marketplace. Being able to connect with others, looking for touchpoints of truth, putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, being able to come to where someone else is instead of always asking them to come to us, are all ways of establishing relationships with unbelievers
Unbelievers today are largely expecting our minds as Christians to already be made up. Let’s surprise them.

Again, John Fischer has hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Problem for Bezos: Mall Becoming Cheaper Than Amazon — Whoa!  I never would have guessed this one!  For a basket of 30 items at Bed, Bath & Beyond, the cart was 6.5% less than those items would have cost on Amazon.com.  And if you include the 20% off coupons the Bed, Bath & Beyond sends out, the price gap spreads to 25%.  I’ve always found Bed, Bath & Beyond expensive, so I’m surprised by this new.  Also, Overstock.com has said it will undercut Amazon book prices by 10%, but then Amazon said it would match the Overstock.com price.  Who knew the brick and mortar market could catch up to Amazon in price?  Now if they’d just ship everything to me in 2 days!

Pastor to burn 2,998 Korans on 9/11  — And in other news, another evangelical has way too much time on his hands ….  and sadly enough, he’s actually a Missouri native.

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Daily Download August 8, 2013 (Libs & progs / “Hurry up” / Homemade treats / Christian anarchism)

There is a Difference Between Liberal and Progressive — Based on this blog post, which was actually very helpful, I’m certain I’m not a liberal, at least by his differentiations.  That being said, I’m not sure if I’m a progressive because all I really got out of the article on that matter is that a progressive “would be Liberal but [has] learned from Feminist, Liberation and Post-Colonial critiques.”  I need to read up more on that element to know what he’s saying.  Author Bo Sanders seems to note in this article as well as in Leaving Behind The ‘Liberal’ Label from a couple days ago that he considers himself left-leaning, progressive, postmodern and emergent.  The labels get tiring, don’t they?  He ultimately identifies himself as a HyperTheist.  I’m not sure which, if any, of those I am, but I’m willing to read up (and listen up) on them to figure it out.  My concern, though, is that the definitions shift depending on who’s using the term, so maybe it’s better just to avoid labels.

The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up’ — This article made me think intentionally about my pace of life and making sure I’m really being in the moment with the people I love.  It’s so hard to practice sometimes, but so important.  Just this morning I said, “If you’re anxious and fearful of what could go wrong in the good times and not just enjoying the moment for what it is, you’ll really beat yourself up in the bad times that you didn’t simply sit and enjoy the good times when you had them.  It’s a vicious circle we should all seek to avoid.”

6 Healthy, Homemade Treats That Won’t Make A Mess — These snacks looked yummy and healthy.

I was drunk and lonely: Geraldo explains his half-naked selfie — Tweeting half-naked self pics has become so commonplace on Twitter that even Geraldo Rivera decided (under some level of influence of alcohol) that it might be a good idea.  Who knew Geraldo Rivera was 70?!?!?  But he thinks he looks pretty good for a 70-year-old.  I’m not disputing it, but I agree with everyone else that it wasn’t a good idea to show the Twitterverse.

The UnKingdom of God: a book by Mark Van Steenwyk: Therapy for Living the Modern Life Under His Rule — All we are saying, is give Christian Anarchism a chance?  That’s the theme of this blog post and the concept behind the book it discusses.  The concept of Christian Anarchism says, “[A]ll forms of coercive rule – government, church or otherwise – should be rejected. Jesus is Lord and no one else is. Together we must find ways to live out His rule, not accomodations to other powers and principalities.” David Fitch asks American believers to take the moment to ponder the idea by reading this book and not just writing off the concept.  He notes that he doesn’t completely agree with the author, but that when he does, it’s usually an earth-shattering concept.  I might need to give this book a look.

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