Friday, September 9, 2016

History Not Welcome Here

Kenya is a country with 44.4 million people.  Nairobi is a world class city of 3+ million souls with every amenity.  Surveys indicate that fully 80% of Kenyans claim to be Christian of one sort of another.  But when this church history professor went in search of the text books he assigned his Church History I and Church History II students to read (almost 50 students altogether), in Christian Bookstore after so-called Christian Bookstore, nothing.  Blank stares.  Zip.  Nada.  Not only did these bookstores not have N.R. Needham’s 2000 Years of Christ’s Power (Parts I, II and III), they didn’t have any books on any Church History topic.  None.  And these are the major Evangelical/Pentecostal booksellers in the country.  Maybe I showed up on a bad day.  Maybe I missed something.  Maybe there are other enclaves of Christian History out there somewhere waiting to be discovered.  If there are, let's just say they are not very seeker sensitive.

There was plenty of ‘Christian Fiction' (I’m trying to fathom the draw of Amish love stories in urban Nairobi).  ‘Christian Living’ takes up the biggest amount of shelf space, full of books by ‘famous’ authors whose names take up more space than the titles do.  One can see that the people in charge of deciding what books need to be written have done their job in terms of polling.  These books are about the issues these authors and their advisors think people will buy (i.e. are hot) and so they write accordingly. Pandering comes to mind, as does the Apostle Paul’s even less flattering image of those ‘Christians’ who, in their shallowness, gather around themselves a great number of teachers [authors] to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

There is the ever popular ‘Relationships’ section in which book after book dishes out strikingly similar versions of the same advice, depending on one’s age, sex, and marital status.  How many new angles can one possibly create in order to justify writing yet another shallow book on Twenty-two Ways to Better Love Your [Husband? Wife? Children? Parents? Cat?]

And it becomes immediately obvious that the people in charge of these bookstores care only about selling books, not about what the books actually say.  Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Hagin, Reinhold Bonnke, Kenneth Copeland, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyers, Prophet Owour and their tribe sell LOTS of books (and videos) here in Kenya.  But these books and their authors are the equivalent of the 1348 Bubonic Plague to the churches of Kenya (and all across this continent).  Their so-called prosperity gospel is an open sewer that leads gullible Christians and seekers away from the Gospel of Jesus and the Apostles and after the gods of mammon, power and success, the Baal, Molech and Asherah of our day.  The health and prosperity gospel is an invasive species that drives out the native faith and replaces it with a loud, glitzy, exciting, pep-rally sort of religion that is supposed to make one feel good and motivate one to give lots of money to support ‘the ministry’, which actually means to support the ‘successful’ lifestyle of the ‘minister’.  Christianity has been hijacked and is being used by these people to promote their own agendas, not a Gospel agenda.  And people here are drinking this Kool-aid up, not realising that it is endangering their very souls and gutting the churches.  And these ‘Christian’ booksellers have their shelves full of this poison, and they are promoting it, and being very successful at getting it into the hands of prosperity wannabees.  I have noted elsewhere that in a recent survey of the reading habits (such as they are) of Kenyan Christians, by far the most popular author is Joel Osteen.  Imagine!  Joel Osteen!  The go-to diet for Kenyan Christians!

But no books on Christian history.  None are being offered.  None are being sold.  None are being read.  This explains a lot.  In Kenya, there is a revival of just about every heresy that the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers battled against in the first five centuries of Chrsitianity.  Read St. Irenaeus’ Against the Heresies, and it’s like reading contemporary newspaper accounts of Kenyan/African Christianity.  It’s all here, in different forms and in different guises.  But it’s the same weirdness, the same bizarre teachings, the same gnosticisms, the same dualisms, the same paganisms, the same making use of religion to justify what I want to do, the same self-appointed prophets, apostles and bishops running around gathering flocks to fleece.  The only difference seems to be that the heresies pestering and plaguing the early Church didn’t have sound systems, while the ones today do.  Lord have mercy.  There are 5000 different denominations in Kenya and that number will only grow because as the Book of Judges said about Israel, it could be describing us:  ‘In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.’  (Judges 21:25)

Full disclosure:  To it’s credit, my university book store had 2 sets of Needham on sale.  I bought them both so that I could donate them to our library and put them on the reserve shelf and thus make them available for my students to do their assignments.  The library also had a set.  So that makes three sets of my text book on the reserve shelf for my students to access.  And I have 50 students.  Can you see my issue?  This is why I went on a search this afternoon to see if there were any other volumes that I could get ahold of IN THE COUNTRY!  And if that wasn’t enough, some of my students are complaining because they don’t like/want to read.  I provoked gasps and murmurs when, in answer to a question, I said that I would not be providing outlines of my lectures.  My reason was, if I give you an outline of the lecture, then you will lose all motivation to read anything, because you will think that all you need to do is memorise what’s on the outline and you can at least pass the exam.  But I want my students to read.  And I want them to read history.  (But they don’t want to, and I’m having trouble finding things for them to read anyway.)  Is this too much to ask?

To sum up, Christians here are not reading history.  It shows.

Sidewalk bookseller's wares across the street from St. Paul's Nairobi campus.
Notice the titles and note the books in the upper left of the picture.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Dear Friends and Praying Partners,


His Eminence has authorized me to announce that I have been asked to serve as the new Deputy Dean of the Makarios III Patriarchal Orthodox Seminary here in Nairobi, the school where I have been teaching and living this past year.  The Archbishop, of course, is the General Dean under whose blessing I will serve.  I have about a month or so to pull things together before the students arrive and a new year begins.  I am beginning by consulting with as many people associated with the seminary as possible -  the three former DDs whom I know, faculty, staff, students, just to get my mind around all that goes on here and all that needs to be done.  I will have my own raft of courses to teach as well in addition to my administrative responsibilities. We face a lot of challenges which space doesn’t allow me to enumerate right now.  Just to say please pray for me and for us.  This job will be impossible to do unless the Lord goes before me and prepares His way.  The strategic nature of our work is apparent to everyone aware of the growth of Orthodoxy on this continent.  But it also draws the unwanted attention of the enemy who is keen to thwart any advance of the kingdom of God in this place.  So please pray.

His Eminence with clergy, faculty, visitors and students of
Makarios III Patriarchal Orthodox Seminary

I have had to implore my administrators at St. Paul’s to keep them from loading me with an impossible number of courses.  They started by assigning me five (this was after I told them I had to go halftime because of my new upcoming responsibilities).  But ‘halftime’ evidently means different things to different people.  Ideally, I should teach two.  They have talked me into three.  And still I hear of attempts to add at least one more Masters-level seminar course.  So as of now, I’m teaching the Bachelor-level Church History survey courses, I and II (3 hrs on Mondays and Wednesdays, respectively), as well as a repeat performance on Fridays of the Masters-level Theology and Society course I taught this summer.  In fact, as I write this, I am sitting at a coffee shop in downtown Nairobi, which becomes my office every week about this time.  My course is held at ‘Church House’, St. Paul’s high-rise ‘campus’ in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD).  Because parking and traffic in Nairobi are both ridiculous, I ride local buses, and leave myself enough time to run errands, finish preparing and drink coffee.  Class starts at 5:30pm and runs till 8:30pm, which means I’m scrambling for a bus back home at the same time as everyone else getting out of class at one of the 10+ universities that have downtown campuses like St. Paul’s.  Usually I get home before 9:30pm, unless I stop at a local burger joint for a bite to eat.  Tonight, however, the Archbishop will be waiting for me because I am helping him with his correspondence, and he uses my laptop to access his email.  At some point, we’ll retire to his office and he will dictate correspondence.  And finally at who-knows-when o’clock, he will say, ‘OK, Professor, I think we are finished for today.’

In my office at St. Paul's University, Limuru campus.

The big events of this past month were the three conferences I attended.  The first was the first annual women’s conference for the new Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya held about an hour’s drive from Eldoret.  His Grace Bishop Athanasius asked me to speak on the subjects of Money and Sex.  I asked the ladies if they had ever heard a man give a talk on sex before and they all shook their head ‘NO’!  At the last minute, I realized what a fantastic opportunity I had to sample the opinions of Orthodox women in Kenya with respect to this subject (sex, that is). I was so pleased with their response, I decided to try the same thing at the next conference, the all-Kenya Orthodox Youth conference, held in Nandi County also in western Kenya.  At this conference I was also asked to speak on Sex and Money.  And I also had the opportunity to give my ‘testimony’ of how I converted from being a Protestant pastor and missionary to becoming an Orthodox Christian.

Me speaking at the Diocese of Western Kenya's Women's Conference
His Grace, Bishop Athanasius addressing the All Kenya Youth Conference.
Me speaking at the Youth Conference, talking about sex, pregnancy, abortion, domestic violence,
and forgiveness in Christ.

The final conference was held in Arusha, Tanzania, and was a training conference for university lecturers.  Like most such events, some of what was presented was rather obvious.  But there were other things I took away that give me some new perspective on things to try as I seek to engage my students to learn at a deep rather than a surface level.  Tanzania looks a lot like Kenya, except, at least where I was, considerably more laid back.  I get to go back in January for part 2 of the training.  I think I’ll be ready for more laid back by then.

With my St. Paul's colleagues at Tumaini University near Arusha, Tanzania

A couple of matters for prayer:

I have written a book: Stewardship and the African Orthodox Christian -The Forgotten Secret Behind Christian Giving and Healthy Churches 

I have struggled to find a publisher.  Currently I am thinking to self-publish here in Kenya.  There is a desperate need to get Christians here interacting with these ideas, and nobody else is addressing them.  I think I can keep the cost down to $3-$4 or less per volume.  I have asked the Archbishop for his blessing and also to write the Forward.  My ideas are ancient (Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church Fathers were all in agreement as to how we should use our money, as opposed to the default positions here of Dependency and the so-called Prosperity Gospel) which means they are RADICAL for the Kenyan context (and maybe even the American context as well).  I also hope to publish with an academic press so that it will ‘count’ as a legitimate publication in the eyes of the university and academic world.  Pray that the right doors will open.  Pray that I can come up with enough capital to finance self-publishing the book here (such things are not in my budget).  And pray that His Eminence will find my book and its message useful in furthering his own vision for the Archdiocese.

His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Nairobi and Exarch of Kenya
and His Grace Athanasius, Bishop of Kisumu and Western Kenya
preparing to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy to close the Youth Conference.

Well that’s more than enough for now.  Thank you for praying.  Thank you for your financial support.  As our new Liturgical Year is underway, may we all find renewed strength and perspective as we follow our Lord these next steps along the way.

By grace,


Monday, August 8, 2016

My First Twenty-Four Jobs

'So what do you want to be when you grow up?'

I remember being asked that so many times.  And the answers I heard from myself and from others were usually rather standard:  'I want to be a doctor!'  I want to be a teacher!'  'I want to be an astronaut!'  'I want design software and become a zillionaire!'  Well, maybe not in the 1960s.

The expectation behind such a question was that one would grow up and have a career.  Which means one would get hired and work at the same place until one retired.  Or one would train for a profession and then go and do that profession until one retired.  So one could legitimately say, 'I am a doctor', or 'I am a national park ranger', or 'I am a librarian' or 'I am Marlin Perkin's sidekick Jim and will be shooting scenes of Wild Kingdom until one or the both of us can't chase lions anymore.'

There are still many people who find themselves doing what they were originally hired to do, or doing what they were trained to do in college.  But more and more, there are people like me.  I just compiled a list of all the jobs I've had.  I is sobering to think that people have actually paid me money to do these things.  Here it is, more or less in order:

Bag boy and Stock boy at Grocery Store (A&P in Anderson, SC)
Encyclopedia Salesperson (World Book (!) in Anderson, SC)
Printshop delivery truck driver (Campus printshop, Duke University)
Offset Press operator (Curry Copy Centre, Hilton Head Island, SC)
Math-Physics night shift librarian (Duke University)
Motel Maid (Aspen, CO)
Bookstore clerk (Chapel Hill, NC)
Campus Minister (Chapel Hill, NC and Williamsburg, VA)
House Cleaner (Ipswich, MA)
House Painter (North Shore area, MA)
Gardener and Lawn care guy (North Shore area, MA)
Handyman (North Shore area, MA)
Presbyterian Minister (Pilot Mountain, NC; Reading, PA)
Cambridge Summer School of Theology Administrator (Cambridge, UK)
Missionary (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya)
College and post-graduate lecturer (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Megachurch Pastor (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Graduate School Lecturer (Nairobi, Kenya)
College and Post grad lecturer (Limuru and Nairobi, Kenya)
Receptionist (YMCA, Crozet, VA)
Front Desk Manager (YMCA, Crozet, VA)
Gardener (Waynesboro, VA)
College and Post grad Lecturer (Nairobi and Limuru, Kenya)
Personal Secretary (Nairobi, Kenya)

When people go off to college or head out to get a job, more often than not, they are thinking to themselves that they are training for their 'career move'.  That's what I thought when I left home and went off in search of a degree and qualifications and experience.  But a career track was not to be, for me at least.

Many others share my experience.  And it provides a fascinating window in how not just our economy has changed in 40 years, but how our society has changed as well.  And it's not something one can blame on the rigours of underclass life, or the lack of education or opportunity.  Many of us with a plurality of jobs are, if anything, over-educated.  So there I was, little more than a year ago, with a PhD from the University of Cambridge, sitting at the front desk of the local YMCA answering phones, wiping down machines and cleaning toilets.  It happens.

Just to say, much in our society is changing, in flux.  Nothing actually remains the same for long when you think about it.  The world that my grandparents, even my parents understood as their unchanging context simply does not exist anymore.

All of which raises the challenge, to me at least, that with the demise of career, what comes into sharper focus is vocation, or calling.  Or to put it differently, the job may change, but the vocation - the calling - remains the same.  It enables one to be just as comfortable preaching to 1600 people week after week as one is pulling weeds on a hot afternoon in a quiet corner of someone else's beautiful garden.  Satisfaction comes not from the position or the recognition or the perks, but from the doing.

I'm grateful for all my different jobs, and the opportunities I had to learn new skills and work with different people.  Ok, all of my jobs except one.  I loathed trying to sell encyclopaedias.  The only benefit I derived from that job (and a significant one, at that) is the realisation that I could never, ever be a salesperson.  Other people do it well.  Not me.  But all the other ones?  I'd do them all again in a heartbeat.  Even being a maid.  Especially if it meant I could live in Aspen again!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Final Exam

I've been teaching a course called Theology and Society to six MDiv students and tonight I am invigilating their final exam.  Darkness is falling over Nairobi where we are sitting in a small classroom in the high-rise building that functions as the downtown campus of my university.  We are situated directly across the street from the Memorial Garden, the site of the former United States Embassy that was blown up in 1998 by al-Qaeda in a massive truck bomb blast that killed more than 230 and injured more than 5000.  Tonight, as I watch my students write their essays, it's just the normal rush hour Nairobi traffic sounds that I hear through our open windows.

I had to construct this course from scratch.  The reading that I came across tended to be much too abstract than useful, and I found that almost nothing was written with an African urban context in mind.  So I led the class in seminar mode,  telling provocative stories or describing realities which I then used to jumpstart a discussion on how to think Christianly about the particular issue of the evening.  Amongst the issues we tackled included corruption, domestic violence, sex and Kenyan youth, money and the churches, racism and ethnic violence, among other things.  Let's just say our discussions were usually rather lively.

So tonight they are having to choose four questions from the following six and then write essays in good form to answer them:

1. Describe the similarities and differences between rural and urban societies in Kenya.  Demonstrate how Christian theology engages the concerns of each kind of Kenyan society.  What, if anything, should local churches be doing differently to better engage the society of which they find themselves a part?

2. Bus and matatu drivers and their assistants form a well-known part of Kenyan society.  Describe the context and challenges faced by these people.  How might Christians and Christian theology more effectively engage them with Christian hope and new life?

3. Prostitutes and other sex-workers are shunned by most Christians as reflecting a lifestyle that is considered sinful, even though very few of these people would pursue this way of living if a better option were available to them.  Examine Kenyan Christian's attitude towards prostitution.  How might churches more effectively reach out to these people?

4. Examine the evidence for materialism that exists in Kenyan society.  What is a realistic Kenyan response to materialism?

5. Imagine that you are part of a new church being started in Kibera [a notorious and vast Nairobi slum].  What should the ministry priorities be?  What steps, if any, should be taken to address and engage the Kibera context?  What might Christian-inspired transformation look like in a context like this?

6. The Christians living in Lamu face the challenges of being a minority living in a Muslim majority community.  There have also been several al-Shabaab-inspired violent attacks against Christians and churches in recent years.  How should the Christians there respond to the threats against them?  What guidance does the Bible give Christians living in minority or threatening situations?  How should Christians live in the midst of the Muslim neighbours?

The purpose of these questions is not just to gauge what my students learned this past term, but by the act of answering them to get them to unabstract their theological thinking and stretch their minds to encompass realities that exist all around them but which they have never brought a Christian perspective to bear on before.

So if you were to take an exam like this, how might you do?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Systems, and the Practical Atheists They Produce

I was taught that the Scriptures could be studied and boiled down into discreet facts about God.  And that these discreet facts about God could be organised and systematised and that what gaps remained one could use God-given reason to colour in what missing puzzle pieces might remain.  The Scriptures, and the theology that was distilled from them, was the truth.  I grew up as a Christian in the safe confines of these tight systems - systems for doctrine, systems for church practise, systems for right and wrong, systems for In the Beginning and systems for the Last Days.

Systems are comfortable.  They exist ‘out there’ without me having to do anything about them.  They give one something to adhere to, a cause to which to belong, a movement to identify with, a mission to sign up for, a church to call home. But I learned the hard way and over many years that such systems are not what Jesus set out to establish.  Such systems are not the kingdom of God.  But they do go a long way to explain why there is such a disconnect in Christianity today between what people claim and what they actually do.

A couple of examples.  Students of mine, as part of an apologetics class project, were asked to get to know and interview people considered by Evangelicals to be outside the sphere of Christianity.  I wanted my students to go beyond the traditional boundaries of what passes  for apologetics and uncover what the real issues were keeping Kenyans away from Christianity.  In this case, I was totally blown away by what my students discovered.

This group of students was tasked with interviewing prostitutes in downtown Nairobi as to their attitude towards Christianity.  I’ll spare the story of their challenges in finding prostitutes to interview, as well as the ‘Yeah sure, that’s what they all say’ response they got from the women they finally found when they said, really they weren’t interested in sex because they were theology students.  What unfolded, when they finally sat down for a conversation (the students paid the women for their time since they were being kept from work), was an astonishing story.  It turns out that both of the women my students found to speak with were single parents.  Both of them had husbands who subjected them to abuse and who finally abandoned them.  Both women had no education and no means to support their families and turned to prostitution as a last resort.  When asked about Christianity, the women asserted that they were members in good standing of one of the large Pentecostal churches on that side of Nairobi.  When asked why they didn’t reach out for help to the church, they women said that Christians condemn women who no longer live with their husbands.  They were afraid of being kicked out of the church.  Not only that, one of the women claimed that one of the pastors had become a regular customer.  The church was so large that the pastor did not know that this woman he was paying for sex was actually one of his church members sitting in his congregation week after week.

Whatever else may be said about Pentecostals, they do have very strong and tight systems of doctrine and how one is supposed to act or at least appear to be (in church, at least), and can often take stands on morality, dress and behaviour that seem almost like American Fundamentalism redux to these Western eyes, at least.  But these systems exist ‘out there’.  Adherence brings membership, and membership brings belonging and identity.  But none of this touches the heart, nor does it touch relationships, or how one treats another person, or character.  So long as the offence is out of sight, one apparently need not worry.

A second example.  A young Christian husband found his attempts to accommodate his blustery, strong-willed wife by subsuming his desires to her strongly asserted preferences and by self-consciously taking a servant’s posture towards her in the hope that she would remember the same Scriptures and reciprocate.  Reciprocation never occurred. Instead the need to control and dominate began increasingly to characterise her interaction with her husband.  This often took the form of rages and outbursts of temper, during which the husband would be accused of being selfish, of being incompetent, of not caring for his family.  None of this was true, but sadly, as this was the only input he was getting and coming from someone whom he thought cared for him, the man began to believe what he was being told.  Confronting the abusive behaviour head on led to more conflict and only made it worse.  So he tried to stop the abuse by accommodating.  His psychological perspective was limited at the time, and by trying to avoid conflict he paradoxically became the enabler of his partner's abuse.  Accommodation seemed to work.  It would quiet the storm for a week or two, only to see some small inconsequential issue blown all out of proportion signalling the onset of a renewed blizzard of verbal blows.  The constant verbal pummelling kept him off balance and nearly drove him mad, and finally lead to increasingly severe depressive illness.  What was perhaps most terrible about what was happening in this family was that the man felt he had no place to turn.  He had agreed to marriage counselling at one point, but discovered in the course of the ‘counselling’ that his wife had persuaded the counsellor that she was right and that her husband was a jerk and the cause of all their problems.  This experience understandably turned the husband off from seeking more ‘counselling’.  The husband was repeatedly told that he was the one who needed to change.  Only the problems he was supposed to fix were never specified and were a constantly moving target, like goal posts suddenly shifted just as the player is kicking the ball.  As the years went by and the treatment he received at the hands of his wife only got worse, the man felt he had no recourse but to gut it out.  He belonged to a conservative Christian mission that sent couples home who were exposed as having marriage troubles.  He was part of a conservative Christian faculty that would not tolerate that kind of trouble.  And so for fear of the consequences he chose not to seek help, until he experienced a major episode of his depressive illness.  This time he reached out for help and found it in a very gifted psychiatrist.  It was under her care that he began to understand what was happening in him and to him.  First, he began to understand all of his wrong ways of coping.  He had tried to avoid conflict, and then he had self-medicated when the pain of that conflict felt too great.  One of the great problems is that for most of his life he had felt that his self-medication was the problem.  He never allowed himself to think that his relationship problems with his wife were the actual root, first of his melancholy, then of his wrong efforts to cope, and finally of his depressive illness.  Having grown up in a broken family, he simply could not allow himself to admit that his own family was failing.  Sadly his wife, not willing to admit that she bore any responsibility for how this marriage went, excoriated him for admitting to his attempts to self-medicate his pain, calling them grounds for divorce and then later making them her justification for kicking him out of the house.  He was never allowed to return.  And while he took the initiative to seek a divorce (seized on by his former wife as evidence that she was the true victim in this marriage!), he did so only after multiple attempts to engage his wife on what he felt were the real issues facing them both in their marriage led to further abuse and ridicule.  All of this was going on even though the husband and wife were members of solidly Evangelical ministries, both with impeccable theological credentials, both were ordained ministers, both educated at the highest levels and both missionaries.  But not a single one of those systems did this couple or their marriage any good.  They were both able to exist as part of these ‘Christian’ systems without allowing a single one of them to touch their hearts or their marriage.  The former wife has carried on in Christian ministry, totally convinced of her rightness, with a devoted following, totally oblivious to any perspective on the matter but her own.  The former husband, as he emerged from his depression and began to understand the dynamics that had so shaped his life, experienced a crisis of faith.  While still a Christian, he abandoned the systems that provided such misleading security and is pursing a spirituality that is helping him to heal his battered heart and to learn anew how to love God and love his neighbour. 

A third example.  I am often given the task of teaching Systematic Theology.  Given my issue with Christian systems, the fact that I am regularly given the responsibility of teaching them I find bemusing.  Nevertheless, my goal is to help students find out what they believe, and to ask enough hard questions that they are forced to think about not just the good things, but the short-comings of a particular doctrinal perspective.  All of my students come into the class with systems, whether they acknowledge them or not.  And more often than not, they leave with the same system intact, though hopefully they have been challenged to think more deeply about what they believe.  These same students, at both institutions where I teach, when given the opportunity to write a research paper will, more often than not (at least according to my most recent experience with research papers), cheat.  Whole paragraphs, even whole sections, and sometimes entire papers are downloaded from the internet and presented as if the work is the student whose name is on the cover page.  Thirty two of forty students in two of my classes egregiously plagiarised their papers last January.  Fifteen of twenty-two students at my other school took varying amounts of material from the internet without giving due credit for it.  These are all Christian students, who all go to their respective chapels, sing their respective songs, prayer their respective prayers, and then go about their studies as if their Christianity has nothing to do with how they actually behave.

In all this I am trying to get my mind around the vast difference that seems to exist between the systems to which Christians so ardently adhere and their actual behaviour -their lives as they are lived.  Except for the gazillion churches that exist everywhere in Nairobi, one might not ever guess that such a thing as a ‘Christian’ actually exists here.  The same is true throughout the US.  The term I’ve used before is that we are ‘practical atheists’.  We live as if God doesn’t actually exist.  For all the noise about the Bible among the more conservative Christians, I’m increasingly convinced that most have never actually read it, and certainly not taken what they have read to heart.  Is it too harsh to say if they had, we’d be living in a different world, we’d be going to different churches, we might be living in different marriages?  And that’s just among those who profess to have a ‘high view’ of Scripture.  Again, another example of a comfortable system that actually doesn’t touch how we live.

My examples are admittedly dark.  And discouraging.  It is sort of where I am and where I’ve come from and what I struggle with.  I more than anyone wish it were not so.

Never too late?