Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I’m slowly working through a pile of recommended readings I’ve accumulated over the years in college. One of these books is Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. As I was navigating my way through the book this evening, I came to his chapter on confession. In it he shares his involvement in Renn Fayre (a big party weekend) during his own college days).

Wikipedia says Renn Fayre is a three day weekend where the students’ events include bizarre art installations, bug-eating contests, the alumni Meat Smoke, a  occasional motorized couches, fireworks, naked people painting themselves blue (a tribute to the ancient Picts),naked Slip 'n Slide, a beer garden, the Glo Opera (performed at night by actors covered in EL wire and glow sticks), lube wrestling, full-contact human chess, parachuters, castle-storming and bike-jousting.

According to Miller, the few Christians that attend the college often opt out of the festivities, giving the Holier-than-thou impression. During his days though, there was one year where him and his friends set up a confessional booth for those who wanted to confess the sins they’ve committed.

Don’s fellow classmates would approach the booth in a drunken stupor, doped up on hallucinogens, expecting their carelessness that weekend would be forgiven. But their confessions wouldn’t be heard by Don and the other believers on campus. Instead, Don and the other disciples of Christ would confess and apologize to the lube wrestlers, human chess pieces, and bike jousting contestants.

For decades and centuries, the human race has poorly represented Christ and everything he stood for during his days on earth. Entire wars have been fought “in the name of Christ” or “under the authority of God.” After you consider the motivation or purposes of the armies involved, their use of the term “for Christ” is an abuse and misrepresentation of the man’s stance and reason for being. (One such army is the LRA or the Lord’s Resistance Army.)Things of this nature and other monstrosities have given Christ, the Church, and other Christians a bad rap sheet through the ages.

Rather then win people over by sponsoring intellectual arguments or pointing out one’s failures, Don – and the other Christians present chose to admit they were guilty of giving Christianity a bad reputation. Don says this repentance, as cheesy and lame as it may sound, made a significant impact in the student body at Reed College that year.

Don Miller’s confession of not always having it together and seeking forgiveness from others, got me thinking of the times the Lord has lead me to apologize to people from my past. If don’s experience of seeking forgiveness from those he has wronged has brought all parties to tears, I wonder what impact my letters of apology have had on the ones I’ve sought an apology from.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... good thoughts Tim but, do you think we are in a position in which we should apologize for the actions of such groups as the LRA?

    I recently read a book called 'Why We Love the Church' (You'll find it linked on my blog) and they actually bring up Donald Miller's experience of the confessional booth. I can't say I agreed with a lot of Kevin Deyoung's and Ted Kluck's arguments against the missional church but I actually really appreciated their thoughts towards the apologetic church.

    It is true that the church has committed great atrocities and grievances in history right up to current events such as the LRA. I might even argue that some of those errors have wrongly shaped dogmatic and "religious" institutionalism. Confessions and redemptive repentance are most definitely needed to bring healing and refocus on the true mission to which we are called BUT... but, we must do so delicately and with a true outreach to the contexts in which these errors were formed.

    I am not a member of the LRA, nor do I support the gross perversion to which they bring to Christ's gospel! I say that with tears and an adamant sentimentality to the grievance and remorse over the rape, theft, and murder they have committed to their people, land, and country.

    Confession and true remorse is not something to be trivialized and locked into a booth. It is an expression of deep emotion and repentive transformation leading to a change of total behavior. If the church is truly to be apologetic for the wrongs of it's past it must do so through transformational action with the understanding of a redemptive renewal in context! All of which comes not by our works but by the simple graces of Jesus' lordship.