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R E L E VA N T M A G A Z I N E . C O M

THE STATE OF MUSIC 2014 FEATURING The Black Keys, Frank Ocean, Propaganda & Grimes


ISSUE 68 | MAR_APR 2014 | $4.95

To whom it may concern

We are not interested in finding the “qualified.” This is a search for the brave few who find value in serving others and showing mercy. This is not a program to participate in but a new way of being, a life dedicated to intentional community, humble service, and the stewardship of grace. The requirement is caring. The measurement is empathy. There will be no credit or accolades. This is not a box to check. Only apply if you are poor in spirit. You mourn. You’re meek. You’re a peacemaker, persecuted and insulted, but also blessed, made righteous and redeemed. Only apply if you believe in giving, not taking. When the world tells you to consume, collect, gain, and prove—you choose to share, help, heal, and love. Christ bids you come and die, to be part of a generation of healers, not those who harm; of those who are here to serve not to be served.


Sincerely The brokenhearted, The bruised, The weary, The redeemed.


A ministry of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission



light up your life We’ve all had “aha moments” in our lives, an insight that changes everything. With everyday examples and trademark testimonies, best-selling author Kyle Idleman (Not a Fan) draws on Scripture to reveal how three key elements—awakening, honesty, action—can produce the same kind of “aha!” in our spiritual lives. Available in print and digital editions everywhere books are sold

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MARCH/APRIL 2014, ISSUE 68 New look. Same office. Publisher & CEO | CAMERON STRANG > cameron@relevantmediagroup.com Associate Publisher | JEFF ROJAS > jeff@relevantmediagroup.com Account Manager | WAYNE THOMPSON > wayne@relevantmediagroup.com Managing Editor | TYLER HUCKABEE > tyler@relevantmediagroup.com Content Development Editor | SHAUNA NIEQUIST Copy Editor | DARGAN THOMPSON > dargan@relevantmediagroup.com Contributing Editor | JESSE CAREY > jesse@relevantmediagroup.com Contributing Editor | JON ACUFF Contributing Writers: Jon Acuff, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, John Brandon, Craig Groeschel, Lynne Hybels, Carl Kozlowski, Donald Miller, David Roark, Angie Smith, Kester Smith, Pete Wilson Designer | EVAN TRAVELSTEAD > evan@relevantmediagroup.com Designer | LAUREN HARVILL > lauren@relevantmediagroup.com Designer | LINDSEY WEIGLEY > lindsey@relevantmediagroup.com Director of Audio & Video | CHAD MICHAEL SNAVELY > chad@relevantmediagroup.com Photographer & Videographer | MARK KAMMEL > mark@relevantmediagroup.com Contributing Photographers: Stephanie Bidouze, Frank Del Corral, Eric Feferberg, Jim Herrington, Abid Katib, Mia Kirby, Marco Longari, Max Rossi, Art Streiber Project Manager | AME LYNN DUNN > ame@relevantmediagroup.com Accounting and Operations Manager | STACEY NOLL > stacey@relevantmediagroup.com Ad Traffic Coordinator | SARAH HEYL > sarah@relevantmediagroup.com Marketing Assistant | CAROLINE COLE > caroline@relevantmediagroup.com Marketing Assistant | MORGAN BECK > morgan@relevantmediagroup.com Web/App Developer | STEVEN LINN > steven@relevantmediagroup.com Systems Administrator | JOSH STROHM > joshs@relevantmediagroup.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: www.RELEVANTmagazine.com/advertise

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first word



egular readers of RELEVANT know that I was away on a sabbatical for the last couple issues. I wish it was just one of those “extended vacations” pastors like to take, but unfortunately, mine was spent dealing with a difficult family situation. My team saw me going through it last summer and basically told me, “You need to go.” So I went, and I embraced an unexpected, difficult season without distraction. It was life-changing—and life-giving. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity without a strong group rallying around me. Like my friend Donald Miller, who filled in for me writing First Word. (Yes, I’m acutely aware of the stupidity of asking our generation’s favorite author to write my column, given inevitable reader disappointment upon my return.) Or Shauna Niequist, who has been a contributing editor for us. Or the RELEVANT team, who did a mind-blowingly good job while I was gone. Because of them, I was able to embrace the season of sabbatical and didn’t think about work at all other than a weekly one-hour meeting.



MAR_APR 2014

When it began, there was no plan for my sabbatical. We went into it just wanting to follow God’s lead. We’d all know when the season was supposed to be up and I should come back to work. Sure enough, that’s what happened. Increasingly, during the last month of the sabbatical, I found myself itching to create. I missed being part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to be part of what God was doing through this team again. So, rested and with renewed vision, I came back. This issue marks the 11-year anniversary of the magazine. And this past year has been one of remarkable growth. Our iPad edition readership has pretty much caught up to the print magazine’s subscriber numbers. Our podcast reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners each week, and our website now attracts millions of readers each month. (Traffic has grown tenfold just in the last year.) It’s been astounding to watch the shift from a “successful” article getting

a thousand social media shares in a day to getting hundreds of thousands. We’ve seen the change in media firsthand, and we’re living in an exciting multi-platform era where we can tell stories in completely new ways. Coming back from my sabbatical, I was teeming with energy for this next era. There’s renewed spiritual clarity, and what you’re holding in your hands is the beginning of that. A new era needs a new look, so we’ve decided to redesign. But more than just a new logo and some new fonts, we’ve been completely rethinking the magazine, iPad and digital experiences. No, not every cover story will be as aggressive and hard-hitting as the current one. But you will find us not shying away from telling important stories, even if some people find them controversial. We will always report with honesty and conviction. You’ll also see an increasing presence of integrated multimedia experiences. What we did with this cover story is a great example: Not only did we write the article, but we spent time in the Holy Land, capturing photo galleries and producing several minidocumentaries, which you’ll find included in the iPad edition and on RELEVANT.tv. We’re embracing the opportunity to create impactful content on every platform—from original series on RELEVANT.tv, to digital innovations (like new apps and website expansion), to things like live video podcasts and some stuff I can’t leak yet. The goal with every single thing we’re doing is to find new and powerful ways to shine a spotlight on what God is doing in this generation and challenge our readers to impact their worlds in meaningful ways. Each one of us has something God has uniquely gifted us to do, and we need to live each day intentionally and purposefully following Him. We want that to come through with every word, design, video and audio experience we create. I’m excited about the opportunities in front of RELEVANT in this new season. Change can be hard, and things rarely go according to script. I know that as well as anyone. But God is doing a new thing in our generation, and we’re embracing this era with everything we have. It’s going to be a fun ride. CAMERON STRANG is the publisher and founder of RELEVANT. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @cameronstrang.



[ T W E E T N E S S ]



@RELEVANT Malcolm Gladwell, N.T. Wright, and Jennifer Lawrence all in the same issue! Well done.



@michaelgungor I really enjoyed your interview in the new issue of @RELEVANT. Thanks for being sincerely honest about tough things.

> “How I Rediscovered Faith” [Jan/Feb 2014] lends even more credibility to an author whom I already consider among the very best alive right now. Gladwell is an intellectual icon, who understands the power that story has to move intellectuals beyond logic and into the core of who they are as a human (while at the same time, not abandoning logic). Inspiring. Love it!


Loved the new issue of @RELEVANT! It even inspired me to take a break from twitter for a while #sorrytwitter


Thank you for publishing “How I Rediscovered Faith”! I have always loved Gladwell’s books and writing, and now to hear how much the Lord spoke to him during this last book is so wonderful. I will buy David and Goliath ASAP. MARY GR ACE JOSEPH / via RELEVANTmagazine.com

As a teacher in a small rural district, thanks for “Grade Expectations” [Jan/Feb 2014]. I appreciate the perspective the teachers you interviewed bring: that teaching is something many of us do because we believe that Jesus loves kids. I can’t separate my faith from my work either. The thing that concerns me about this article is the focus on the fact that high quality teachers are hard to attract. I’d argue that yes, we should try to attract better teachers. But I’d also say perhaps we should invest in the ones we’ve got. Perhaps if we value them, we’ll attract more. And then the burden of opening eyes and hearts and minds will fall on more shoulders, and weigh a little less for us all. K ATE Y GIR ARD / via RELEVANTmagazine.com


Just got my new @RELEVANT. Wow. Thanks for writing on #education. From @donaldmiller's opening to ‘Grade Expectations’: #superb @ J OHN TIB B SMU SIC

“2014: The Year in Preview” [Jan/Feb 2014] was truly fabulous. Spot on, I have to say. Another very funny article by Jesse Carey. He writes like he talks. I very much enjoy his good work.

For a few years, I’ve only heard about your magazine—for a while, I was skeptical of it and of the content. But this past year I’d “liked” you on Facebook and started reading a few online articles, all of which were very, very good. Last month I subscribed to your magazine, and I just received my first issue in the mail. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to be honest, it surpassed any and all expectations I might have had. I’m pretty sure yours is the first magazine I’ve felt like reading cover to cover. I just wanted to pass on my thanks and gratitude for such an excellent publication— I’m absolutely thrilled with the articles and content this month, and can’t believe it took me this long to become a subscriber. Thank you for all you do!

I’ve always been drawn to RELEVANT because it doesn’t stick to expected, safe, articles about Christians doing oh-so-Christian things in their little Christian worlds they’ve created. RELEVANT colors outside the lines, and that’s a good thing. We need to in touch with today’s world—to be “in” it—if we hope to ever build bridges of communication with it.

SAR AH PETERSON / via email

ERIN TOMANEK / via Facebook


MAR_APR 2014


You know why I love @RELEVANT so much? Because they have an article about Malala Yousafzai on the same page as a timeline of Kanye. Perfect. @ YLDAN J OHN SON

I have been a @RELEVANT magazine subscriber for 8 years. The January/ February issue is the best issue they have ever produced! So great! @ ITZ MYWIN D OW

Some people wake up & read the newspaper every morning, I wake up and read @RELEVANT @ STE V E _L AMOTTE

The new issue of @RELEVANT is jam packed! I’m gonna be up all night reading!

Gather at the

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“Ark you not entertained?” Russell Crowe in Noah.



Due out in December, Exodus tells the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. It’s directed by Ridley Scott and stars Christian Bale as Moses and Aaron Paul as Joshua.

LET THERE BE LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION ith a full slate of big screen projects and prime-time series in the works, Hollywood is betting big on the box office success of biblical epics in 2014. So why is Hollywood suddenly so eager to start bringing Scripture to mainstream audiences? It could have something to do with the fact that The Bible miniseries, History Channel’s 10-hour epic from husband and wife producing team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, broke cable ratings records when in debuted in 2013. “So many people said to us—who aren’t people of faith—‘You guys are crazy. Who’s going to watch this on prime-time TV?’” Burnett says. “And Roma would always say, ‘You’re going to be surprised.’” Their faithfulness paid off. Not only did the success


“I think what it speaks to is the hunger that people have for God, the hunger they have for hope.” 16

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lead to a new miniseries (A.D.: Beyond the Bible, which will air on NBC) and a feature film (Son of God), it also helped spark a Bible-inspired revolution across Hollywood. Along with Son of God and Noah, the deluge of Bible-themed movies heading to theaters includes two films about the life of Moses (The Exodus, starring Christian Bale, and Gods and Kings, which Ang Lee is reportedly in talks to direct), a Cain and Able film starring Will Smith, and a Pontius Pilate biopic featuring Brad Pitt—all in various stages of development. TV is also getting in on the Bible action. WGN America is working with 10 notable directors for a series based on the Ten Commandments. And Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet is working on a show about the seven deadly sins that will air on Fox. For Downey, the success of their series—and the Bible’s Hollywood takeover—isn’t just about viewers’ interest in scripture; it’s about their desire for faith. “I think what it speaks to is the hunger that people have for God, the hunger they have for hope,” she says.


Cable network WGN America is teaming with 10 notable directors (including Lee Daniels and, yes, Michael Cera) for the 10-part series.


The cast for Mary Mother of Christ, a prequel to 2004‘s The Passion of The Christ, includes Sir Ben Kingsley and Julia Ormond.


THE FUTURE OF HUMANITARIAN AID hen a natural disaster strikes, a conflict breaks out or a refugee crisis emerges, getting help to those in need is often a difficult task. Things like landing strips and phone lines are frequently damaged or destroyed, cutting off most methods of communication and access to the area. But several new technological breakthroughs are helping overcome this and some of the other challenges of humanitarian relief. New inventions will make it easier to deliver aid, house refugees and keep aid workers safe. Here is a look at four such innovations that are saving lives around the world:


The Extremely Short Take Off and Landing On Any Surface project, or ESTOLAS, combines the versatility of a hover craft, cargo space of an airplane and mobility of a helicopter into one aid-delivering super-aircraft. Created by researchers at two European universities with the support of the European Commission, the ESTOLAS is built to be able to take off and land without any runway so aid can be delivered in areas where local infrastructure has been destroyed. Four versions of the aircraft are expected to be complete later this year.


MAR_APR 2014

RESPONSE DRONES Drones may currently have more of a reputation for executing missile strikes and delivering Amazon packages, but unmanned aircraft is already changing disaster response efforts. Humanitarian drones have been used for delivering medicine to hard-to-reach victims of the Haiti earthquake, aiding in rescue missions after Japan’s nuclear disaster and watching conflict areas for the U.N. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International told CNN that they predict disaster response will soon account for 10 percent of the drone industry.



In many refugee camps, residents live in makeshift tents that often only last for a few months and can barely hold up to harsh weather conditions. Ikea wants to change that. The Swedish furniture maker has teamed with the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, and invested more than $4.6 million to develop state-of-the-art housing units. The spacious, easyto-transport tents utilize solar lighting, insulated wall panels and ultra-light, ultra-durable materials that will last up to three years. The tents are currently being used to house Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

According to report from the U.N. General Assembly, road accidents are responsible for 93 percent of the deaths and 80 percent of the injuries to U.N. humanitarian workers. Now, technology company Mobileye is teaming with road safety data agency Fleet Forum to equip humanitarian relief vehicles with camerabased technology that can detect surrounding objects, engage safety features, process conditions in real time and more. In a press release, the Fleet Forum program manager said improving driver safety will allow the organizations to increase their reach and impact.

I M A G E C R E D I T: S T E P H A N I E B I D O U Z E


Drones aren’t only for missile strikes and Amazon deliveries—they’re being used for rescue missions, delivering aid and monitoring conflict areas for the U.N.


God’ love compels you to take His gospel into the world. But avalanches of moral relGod’s ativism, globalization, and religious ambivalence make for an Everest-sized challenge. You’ll need the right tools to hang tight when scaling those cliffs: a framework for accurate interpretation of Scripture? Check. Missiology that speaks and shows love across borders? Check. A kindred community to climb with you? Check. Western Seminary’s practitioner faculty ensures that you’re equipped for ministry whether you’re starting from base camp or already climbing. No shortcuts. No regrets. Just trustworthy and accessible training for gospel-centered transformation.



Going to tell it on the mountain? Better bring your boots.


hen Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson got in some hot water for his controversial comments about homosexuality and race, some Christians saw it as another example of something they’d long believed to be true: mainstream culture simply cannot abide conservative beliefs.

Whether this actually serves as an example of culture’s low tolerance for faith, the issue is only going to get more prominent. A number of recent and upcoming reality television shows starring Christians are getting attention, and you can bet they’ll bring with them plenty of views that people will be debating at great length.




Bravo follows the opulent life of musician/minister Ben Tankard and family. They call themselves the Black Brady Bunch, but we don’t recall the Brady Bunch having hisand-hers Mercedes.

National Geographic’s series followed the exploits of 22-yearold Andrew Hamblin, a Baptist minister who makes handling venomous snakes part of his Tennessee church’s worship service.

The stars of Oxygen’s show live large. Their lavish lifestyles have drawn plenty of criticism (Bishop T.D. Jakes called it “junk”), but the pastors say they’re just presenting a different side of the Gospel.


MAR_APR 2014

ED YOUNG The Texas Fellowship Church Pastor is considering an offer to put his family’s 7,100 square foot mansion and personal assistants in front of A&E’s cameras for what’s being pitched as a “Christianized Kardashians.”

37% of young antiabortion advocates are white Christians, as opposed to 78% of the older generation. there are far fewer white Christians (37 percent) in the young antiabortion group versus the older one (78 percent). Younger anti-abortion advocates also include almost equal numbers of men and women, while the older group is composed of more females than males. And while the majority of both groups are still Evangelical Christian or Catholic, the younger group had a significantly larger portion of other religions or non-religious advocates.   It’s unclear whether these changes show a broader appeal of the movement or just reflect the changing demographics of the age group, but the increased diversity doesn’t mean the movement is growing in the younger generation: While 50 percent of older Americans believe abortion should be illegal, that view is shared by just 41 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds.



THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT is getting more racially diverse, more secular and more educated. According to new research from the Public Religion Research Institute, anti-abortion advocates from the ages of 18-29 look significantly different from their senior counterparts. For their research, the institute compared several demographic factors from the Millennial group with pro-lifers over the age of 65.   Along with a slightly greater percentage of higher education rates, the most significant finding was that

I M A G E C R E D I T:

Deitrick Haddon is one of the pastors featured on Preachers of LA.






MARK ZUCKERBERG ‘LIKES’ REFORM FOR IMMIGRATION ark Zuckerberg is best known as the founder of Facebook, but the 29-year-old is now hoping to gain attention for launching another website that seeks to connect people in a different way. FWD.us connects users with resources to help them advocate for immigration reform. In an interview with ABC News’ This Week, Zuckerberg called the immigration situation in the U.S. one of the “biggest civil rights issues of our time,” and said he hopes the same generation that made Facebook such a cultural force can unite to enact change. Though a comprehensive immigration reform bill has been repeatedly stalled in Washington, Zuckerberg told ABC he believes in the power of connecting the masses for a common cause. “I’m fundamentally an optimistic person ... The vast majority of Americans want this to happen.”


BIBLE MOVIES [HOTTEST] Noah, Moses and Mary all have movie adaptations about their lives coming soon. Filmmakers are also working on a short film about Zacchaeus.

NEW U2 ALBUM [HOTTER] There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this hot four-piece from Dublin. Something tells us this record from these U2 guys could be big.

PLAGIARISM [HOT] Christian books, blogs, Twitter, everything that comes out of Shia LaBeouf’s mouth— plagiarism is the new original authorship.

WES ANDERSON [COLD] We get it, Wes. Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum are all charming and funny (snore). Would it kill you to try some new actors in Grand Budapest Hotel?


project could be written by you. In January, Millennial-centric cable network Pivot debuted hitRECord on TV, a talk, comedy, art and music half-hour hosted by JGL himself. Unlike traditional late-night programs, hitRECord’s skits, short films and even musical performances are all collaborations between Gordon-Levitt and users who submit, edit and build upon content on hitRECord.org. Artists and collaborators responsible for content that eventually makes it on the air receive a 50-50 cut of the profits.

MAD MEN [COLDER] This spring, the show will turn from Don Draper’s grim character arc, exploring the ad man’s lighter, goofier side instead ... April fools!

MARCH MADNESS [COLDEST] Brackets, numbers, stats—sounds like a lot of math for something that is supposed to be “fun.”


MAR_APR 2014

“I’m not going to look down on people and declare them the audience and say that I’m the performer.” FROM AN INTERVIE W WITH MOTHER JONES

[ M I S C ]

As if you needed an excuse to go visit cool places, according to a new study, traveling offers similar cognitive benefits to doing mental exercises like crossword puzzles or going to museums. So what are you waiting for? Your dream trip to Europe may actually help you live longer ...



Liberty University School of Law gives students the opportunity to serve the community through pro bono programs like the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), which provides free income tax preparation for qualifying income individuals. The American Bar Association awarded Liberty Law’s VITA program an Honorable Mention for the number of taxpayers served as well as the percentage of the student body who volunteered. A champion is, by definition, not only a victor, but an advocate and a defender as well. Find your place as a champion at Liberty University School of Law.



(434) 592-5300







Jack Gleeson looking royally punchable on Game of Thrones.


The BBC’s exquisite, engrossing crime drama is getting a well-deserved American remake this fall. In the meantime, the original, which stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman, is well worth a watch.


The first album from this Las Vegas trio has a dinosaur on the cover, but don’t be fooled—this is the most “now” sound you’re likely to find.


Michael B. Jordan cut his teeth on marvelous roles in The Wire and Friday Night Lights, but his turn in Fruitvale Station will be the one that makes him a star.


The third season of the BBC’s excellent modernization of the timeless detective is now out. If you haven’t fallen in love with it yet, it’s time to get on board.


James Vincent McMorrow garnered some fame as a folksy troubadour, but his latest album Post Tropical sounds unlike anything else out there.


If you’re the sort of person who wishes Sufjan would have stuck with his Illinois-era sound, Blake Mills is for you.


MAR_APR 2014

GAME OVER ritish wunderkind Jack Gleeson was all of 17 years old when he was cast as Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon, one of the most loathsome characters in modern literature. Joffrey is sadistic, thoughtless and pathetically petty. Gleeson has handled the role well enough to become something of an online punching bag, with an Internet meme blaming him for the world’s ills. Evidently, it made quite an impression on Gleeson. After a series of philosophy and theology college courses rattled his conscience, Gleeson took a trip to Haiti that



convinced him his true passion was in humanitarian aid. He has announced plans to retire once his stint on Game of Thrones wraps, saying, “The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something I gravitate toward.” He has come down particularly harshly on the idol worship in celebrity culture, telling a crowd at the Oxford Union, “What’s ironic is that you see celebrity endorsing things like musical tampons and appearing in advertisements for lavender scented teeth whiteners or something, wielding goods whose sell-by dates will ironically outlast theirs.”

CHRISTIAN MARTYR DEATHS ON THE RISE ACCORDING TO A RECENT REPORT from the group Open Doors, at least 2,123 believers died for their faith in 2013. That’s nearly twice the amount reported in 2012. In fact, more Christians were killed in Syria alone than the total killed last year. More than 1,200 Syrian Christians lost their lives in the ongoing conflicts in their country in 2013. Christians around the world face persecution in other forms. While there were no numbers for deaths in North Korea, it topped the list of countries where persecution is the worst, with 50,000-70,000 Christians in labor camps for crimes as simple as sharing their faith or even owning a Bible. In her article for The Daily Beast on the subject, Kirsten Powers quoted reporter John L. Allen Jr.’s comment during a speech: “I always ask Christians in countries [where persecution occurs], ‘What can we do for you?’ The number one thing they say is, ‘Don’t forget about us.’”

RELEVANT is the leading platform that covers what matters to you.





casual wear visits each factory where their clothes are made to ensure ethical conditions and provides a map on their website with pictures and information on each location. They also tell customers how much their clothes actually cost to make—and how much they’re marked up—to help people make informed fashion purchases.


factory list, the clothing maker recently became the first national apparel retailer to sell Fair Trade certified clothing, meaning that customers are now able to purchase parkas, pullovers and pants with third-party confirmation they were made in ethical factories at a fair wage.


MEET THE COMPANIES CHANGING CLOTHES H&M AND OTHER BRANDS THAT ARE ELEVATING RETAIL fter a factory collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 garment workers making clothes bound for the U.S. in April 2013, the world’s second largest clothing retailer decided something had to change. H&M announced that in addition to committing to enforcing factory safety standards among its distributors, it’s their mission to ensure that by 2018, all of its 850,000 international workers will receive a “living wage” for their work. But for H&M, a pioneer in making fashionable clothes at cheap prices, the commitment also means making changes to how they do business in developed nations. In an almost unheard of move, the company said paying overseas factory workers was such a priority, they will be raising prices in their stores to make their products more sustainable. Here’s a look at other fashion companies that are changing the way we buy clothes for good:



MAR_APR 2014

with nonprofits to give funding or a pair of glasses for every pair sold. Also, they are one of few carbonneutral eyewear brands in the world, which means they keep track of their emissions and actively work to reduce their environmental impact. Plus, their home try-on program is very user-friendly.


store’s partnership guidelines prohibit international suppliers from using child workers, conflict minerals, below minimum-wage salaries or dangerous work environments. And through their “The Me to We Artisans” project, they sell handcrafted goods from villages around the world, helping artisans in remote areas earn sustainable incomes.

lost & f ound God’s Relentless Pursuit to Find You keithmrobinson.com Keith serves as lead pastor at Bethel Church in Evansville, IN. He is also the founder and president of Emerge, Inc.

Moving From Superficial Routine to Authentic Faith chuckbomar.com Chuck is the pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, OR and the founder of iampeople and CollegeLeader.


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[ M I S C ]


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2 7



AMERICA’S LEAST ‘BIBLE-MINDED’ CITIES THE 10 CITIES WHERE PEOPLE ARE LEAST LIKELY TO CRACK OPEN A BIBLE vidently, there are people throughout New England with some overdue Sunday School homework. The American Bible Society and Barna Group recently released their annual look at which cities are “Bible-minded.” The survey asked tens of thousands of Americans how frequently they read the Good Book and how accurate they think it is.


The most “Bible-minded” cities list didn’t contain many major surprises: For the second year a row, Tennessee made a strong showing (Chattanooga took the top spot. Knoxville—2012’s no. 1 city, was 10th this year), and all top 10 cities were in the South.

The cities at the other end of the spectrum were more spread out. While seven were in the Northeast (topped by the ironically named Providence), the other nonscripture reading areas are spread throughout the rest of the country, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Phoenix and San Francisco.

LEAST BIBLEMINDED CITIES 1 Providence, R.I. / New Bedford, Mass. 2 Albany, N.Y. 3 Boston, Mass. 4 San Francisco, Calif. 5 Cedar Rapids, Iowa

are reluctant about sharing the Gospel, but new research by the Barna Group says that isn’t rooted in reality. According to the research, Millennial Christians are the only U.S. demographic in which evangelism is significantly on the rise. In 2013, 65 percent of Millennial Christians said they had shared their religious beliefs with someone in the last 12 months. That’s up from 56 percent just three years ago. Though many Millennials have abandoned religion


MAR_APR 2014

According to a new, unbiased, totallyscientific study by Netflix, binge watching your favorite TV shows for hours on end can actually be healthy because “respondents were willing to exercise while binge watching.” So watching nine consecutive hours of Breaking Bad is basically like running a marathon ...

6 Buffalo, N.Y. 7 Hartford, Conn. 8 Phoenix, Ariz. 9 Burlington, Vt. 10 Portland, Maine


Scientists in Australia are attempting to prevent shark attacks at local beaches by signing the sharks up for Twitter. They’ve tagged more than 320 with transmitters that will update a Twitter feed when one of the sharks approaches shore. But what happens when the sharks learn to use our own technology against us? ...

entirely, Barna Group president David Kinnaman believes the ones who keep their faith are more committed. “[It] may be that those who remain committed to these theological perspectives are all the more motivated to make a ‘case’ for their faith among their peers,” he says. “In other words, in the middle of a generation defined by their religious indifference, these Millennial evangelists stand in stark contrast. This trend of younger evangelists should be a source of encouragement to faith leaders.”

1,058 people have made the first cut out of more than 200,000 who applied for a one-way trip to Mars. In 2025, the eventual “winners” will board a spaceship bound for the Red Planet never to return. Logically, they will be accompanied by a reality TV crew to document their exploits. So uh, congratulations? ...



The Central African Republic Borders nations including South Sudan, Congo and Chad and has a population that is approximately 80 percent Christian and only about 10 percent Muslim, according to the most recent Census. CAR has a tumultuous history, but an outbreak of fighting starting last spring had human rights-watchers concerned that CAR might become the next Rwanda.


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C O UP D’ E TAT: Last March, a Muslim group called the Seleka took over the government of CAR, installing their own commander, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s new leader. AT TAC KS O N

In September, after Djotodia dissolved the Seleka, the armed fighters began attacking Christians, carrying out mass killings, torture and other atrocities. C H R IS T IA N S :



Djotodia stepped down in January, violence continued, with reports of Christians attacking Muslim civilians.

SE L E K A: A Muslim rebel group that overthrew the government and attacked Christians throughout CAR.

Militias of Christians formed to fight the Seleka. Later accused of attacks on innocent Muslims.


HOW YOU CAN HELP Support the organizations on the ground with your finances, time and prayers. Organizations including OneHope, MercyCorps and Unicef are working to provide aid to the country’s refugees, advocate for an end to the violence, end human rights violations and minister to the spiritual needs of the people of CAR. Pray for rebuilding and reconciliation.

THE CRISIS By January, nearly 1 million residents had fled their homes to escape the violence. France— once the colonial power in CAR—deployed troops to the region and called for a U.N. peacekeeping mission.

ON THE IPAD EDITION Access a list of resources and videos for more information on the conflict.



conflict left nearly a million displaced and hundreds dead. All-out genocide was avoided in the months of violence and instability, but humanitarian relief is still a major need, and the threat of renewed fighting is a constant reality. But unlike Rwanda, the source of the tension in CAR isn’t an ethnic conflict—it’s a religious one.

I M A G E C R E D I T:


wenty years ago this spring, a genocide in Rwanda resulted in the deaths of more than 800,000 people as ethnic violence gripped the African country. Today, the Central African Republic is attempting to save its own country from a similar fate after a civil

“Lee Kricher is the first person I know who transitioned a struggling and aging church into one that un-churched people love to attend. He’s the expert I point people to with questions about transitioning a church. Now he’s sharing the principles he learned. If you want to ensure that your church is positioned to reach the next generation, For A New Generation is a great place to start.” ANDY STANLEY

Written for both church leaders and members, For A New Generation presents a pathway to allow the reader to become a catalyst in creating a church that will thrive for generations to come. It is based on the assumption that accepting the status quo is the greatest threat to your church’s core mission and, perhaps, to the very survival of your church.

F O R A N E W G E N E R A T I O N . C O M



ntitlement is a word we’ve heard increasingly more in the last few years, as more people and media discuss the Millennial generation. But we can’t really limit the issue of entitlement to Millennials. In a world where the American Dream has trained us to want the “best,” where food is served in 10 minutes or less and where the average American household has more than $15,000 in credit card debt, we’re all guilty of feeling entitled. Researchers have explained why entitlement is a prevalent attitude of the Millennial generation: it was fostered and allowed by everyone else. At some point, parents decided children needed coddling, a ribbon for finishing last and whatever else they deemed necessary to ensure a kid’s happiness. It’s easy to point a finger at specific generations, but the reality is that we all struggle with entitlement each and every day.



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Entitlement is that little voice that takes “I want it” and turns it into “I deserve it.” I work hard. I’ve earned some extra. I’ve spent a lot of money at this place over the years. I deserve some payback. Nobody else is taking care of my needs, so I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do. Have you ever said or thought: “I want it now”? A promotion? A new pair of shoes? Or what about, “I deserve more”? A trip to the beach? An upgrade from your flip phone? I’m willing to bet we’ve all felt entitled to more, now on several occasions. So what’s the antidote? How do we win the battle against this mindset? The answer is gratitude. The road from entitlement to gratitude is tricky because it takes fighting against our sinful human nature of dissatisfaction. To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we have to decide

to turn blessings into praise. Sound familiar? You may have sung these words in a worship song a time or two and thought nothing of them, but for us to fight against our entitlement, we must start living these lyrics. Why? Because every blessing we don’t turn into praise turns into pride. God is the giver of all good gifts. Allowing our hearts to return with praise to Him enables a spirit of gratitude to help shape us into the people He desires us to be. When we don’t acknowledge God as giver and provider, our pride takes control and we give ourselves credit for His work. Enter pride and entitlement. Choosing gratefulness over entitlement is something we have to train our minds to do. It doesn’t happen overnight, but rather in layers—a little bit at a time. Are you truly content? Like, really, peacefully content with what you have right now? Philippians 4:11-13 says this: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation ... I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Paul learned contentment. You can learn contentment as well, through the practice of gratitude. Take time to examine your life and identify where you have feelings of entitlement. Then get into a gratitude routine. Take a moment every morning to list and consider your

Every blessing we don’t turn into praise turns into pride. blessings and turn them in to praise. You might be surprised just how long your list of blessings will become. Embracing a spirit of gratefulness will change your heart and attitude. Don’t be shocked if you begin to feel content with your circumstances, both in times of plenty and times of need. Let’s make entitlement a thing of the past and usher in an attitude of gratitude to our Heavenly Father. CR AIG GROESCHEL is the founding pastor of LifeChurch. tv and the New York Times bestselling author of FIGHT (Zondervan, October 2013).



many times as believers, we are overly focused on looking like other Christians and not nearly as focused on looking like Christ Himself. For a good part of the last 12 years that I have been a follower of Christ, I have struggled to feel peace about what being a “Christian” is supposed to look like. Since I was an adult when I accepted the Lord, I felt like I had a lot to catch up on. I started to have conversations with friends—quietly and nervously at first—about whether they ever wrestled with the sense that when it came to living out their faith, they weren’t sure they were “doing it right.” But about a year and a half ago, the Lord really started to challenge me in the way I was approaching my faith. He revealed a perspective I hadn’t ever been able to verbalize for myself, and it changed the entire way I now live out my faith.



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In essence, I realized that I wasn’t really “following” God or “walking with Him” so much as I was chasing Him. When you are chasing the object of your affection, there is a keen sense of the possibility that you might not ever reach it. More than that, when we see ourselves as the pursuers instead of the pursued, we live out of the desperation that comes from feeling that it’s our effort that leads to relationship. The problem is, I think many people are chasing God without even realizing it, and I want to challenge believers to dig into basic questions about their view of who God is—who I am in light of Him? What are my “responsibilities” as a Christian?—and some much more difficult questions, as well: What if I sometimes doubt this is real? Does that mean I’ve missed the boat on how to live out my faith well?

The bottom line is this: When we try to fill the gaps of our faith with religion, we are chasing God. We place upon ourselves and others more rules, more stacks of what’s required and the driving realization that we might never experience Him the way we long to. It’s easy to measure with the wrong ruler and feel you’ve come up short, and it’s equally easy to spend our efforts pursuing things the Lord hasn’t asked us to pursue. If you’ve ever created false expectations from the Lord or if you’ve lived with a nagging sense of, “Will I ever really catch up with Him?” I have wonderful news. You, friend, were never meant to chase God. He pursues you relentlessly, offers you everything and declares you His in every sense of the word. And yet, a good portion of us insist on chasing despite the truth. We say to ourselves,”How could a God so good come for me? How could He love me? There must be something I can do to make it feel more fair.” But that isn’t the way He designed it, and the more of our days we spend searching, the fewer we will have at the end of it all to say we genuinely walked with Him. The goal is, and has always been, true communion with a God who desires it, not a fumbling, desperate, disappointing attempt to “do the right thing” and hope it leads to at least a glimpse of Him.

When we try to fill the gaps of our faith with religion, we are chasing God. Following someone indicates that you identify them as being ahead of you and you have committed to stay on the path being carved in front of you. On the other hand, chasing after someone leaves you out of breath, searching every chance you get for a sign that you’re heading toward the goal. Following instead of chasing is simple, but not easy. So what do you say? Are you ready to stop chasing God? ANGIE SMITH is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Selah) and the best-selling author of several books, including Chasing God (B&H Publishing, January 2014).


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Switchfoot adheres to the “one fedora per crew” rule.


SWITCHFOOT’S CINEMATIC JOURNEY THE BAND RETURNS TO THEIR SURFING ROOTS WITH A NEW FILM the beginning of the film Fading West, Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman explains, “When life didn’t make sense, I’d run to music or to the ocean.” And after eight studio albums and almost 20 years of touring the world, that’s exactly what he did—seamlessly combining the two. Through April, Switchfoot will be embarked on a nationwide tour in support of Fading West, an album that serves as the soundtrack to their documentary of the same name. The film follows the band surfing, traveling and dealing with the struggles and joys of life on the road. Part surf movie, part rock documentary, part travel log, Fading West finds the band looking for



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new inspiration after nearly two decades of playing music together. Somewhere between all the intercontinental flights and gorgeously shot surf sessions, the five friends from San Diego found the inspiration they were looking for. Though the album still has Switchfoot’s signature pop-rock sensibilities, the decidedly upbeat record finds the band experimenting with sing-along anthems and instruments they found during their trip (such as a guitar made out of a gas can). Even though the album and film represent a step forward for Switchfoot as musicians, they’re a return to the beginnings for Switchfoot as a band. “Surfing is what brought us together as a band in the first place,” Foreman says in the film. “I’m sure surfing is one of the reasons we’re still a band today.”

after nearly eight years apart and pick up where they left off. But that’s exactly what Outkast will be doing this spring and summer as they headline festivals around the world. Arguably one of hip-hop’s most influential duos ever, André 3000 and Big Boi have been nominated for six Grammys and sold more than 25 million records. Their music is as unique today as it was two decades ago when they started. And this summer, a new generation of music fans will see why the pair hasn’t missed a beat, even after years away.

GET READY FOR 4 YEARS OF U2 BEING EVERYWHERE U2’S FIRST FULL-LENGTH ALBUM in five years won’t hit stores until later this summer, but the legendary Irish four piece’s latest media takeover has already begun. Since taking home a Golden Globe in January, U2 is back where they are most comfortable: in the spotlight. In February, they appeared as the first musical guests of new Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. If history is any indication, U2 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The band’s 2011 world tour took them to 30 countries and 110 gigs, raking in $467 million.

You have the passion


We’ll prepare you to lead the way. At Bethel Seminary, we’re committed to equipping ministry leaders. But here, leadership means something more. It’s about living our beliefs and bringing theology to life. It’s about becoming thoughtful scholars and faithful servants. It’s about developing our God-given talents while gaining the biblical foundation we need to think critically, discern faithfully, and act wisely. It’s about using everything we’ve learned and everything we believe to make a real difference in our communities and our world.

seminary.bethel.edu St. Paul | San Diego | Online


here are two things that get in the way of recognizing just how good Warpaint is. The first is their name, which is positively one of the coolest in modern indie music. The second is that it’s a band of women, which has led to a lot of think pieces about the modern state of women and rock and roll. That’s an important topic, but all this can get in the way of what should be the most obvious fact about Warpaint: they rock. Their debut album, The Fool, was released to universal acclaim in 2010, garnering rave reviews from no less a legend than Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, which is interesting, because Warpaint’s brand of rock is on a whole different spectrum than RHCP, especially on their latest self-titled effort. It’s mysterious



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and haunting, painstakingly crafted to float around your ears like mist. According to the band’s multi-instrumentalist Stella Mozgawa, the new sound was very intentional. “We’re known for doing whatever we want to do,” Mozgawa says. “That works to our advantage, because we can follow our whim. There wasn’t pressure externally, but there was pressure from us to do something that was more representative of us than the last record.” Judging by that, Warpaint is represented by some pretty beautiful sounds. And while the lyrics are deeply personal, they still carry a message. “The messages are personal and internal—a reflection of a relationship with yourself,” Mozgawa says. “That resonates with people because we’re all experiencing roughly the same things. It’s just how we react to them.”

WHY WE L OV E THE M: Warpaint deals in a sound that hasn’t been explored very well outside of bands like Pink Floyd and My Bloody Valentine—cavernous, hazy shoegaze. Their brand of rock and roll is more about mood than melody, conjuring wild deserts and haunted houses. It’s a spooky record but, underneath it all, surprisingly pretty, too. This is an album more to be experienced than immediately enjoyed, but, like many experiences that take time to appreciate, it’s well worth it.


Portishead, Massive Attack, The xx, U2, Radiohead.


[ S T R E A M I N G N O W ]

A Dallas favorite who has played shows with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu and will be performing at this year’s SXSW, it’s a wonder this songwriter, producer and hip-hop artist isn’t more well-known. But while he’s enthusiastically forging ahead with his career, Cavazos also tries to share a deeper message within his music. “Anybody that creates art, any art—you paint, you do graffiti, you rap, you sing—what comes out is what’s been within you ... So even when I talk about love, it’s not so much about that girl I’m in love with or that girl who broke my heart, it’s also about God’s love in the same token.”

These albums and more are streaming for free on The Drop at RELEVANTMagazine. com/thedrop. Listen in!


Church Clothes, Vol. 2


Cavazos says his music isn’t intended to save souls, but he does aim to make it uplifting, which can be a rare find in his genre. He raps about love, being young and moving past heartbreak with a sort of earnestness that makes every song sound like a pep talk.


I Am Mountain


Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Shad


The Water & The Blood



The Acoustic Sessions




Brady Troops


Working Demos

HOUNDMOUTH Houndmouth was born in 2011 when four friends came together on a whim. The band released their homemade, self-titled EP a few months after that, then their full-length debut, From the Hills Below the City, last year. They’ve been on the road ever since, opening for The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, Grace Potter and more.


“We’ve been touring. We live in a van day-to-day, so it’s kind of slow progress to us. Even though we understand that it’s very fast and we’re very fortunate. But being in a van every day, playing one show a day, you’re kind of living it and you don’t notice how fast it’s moving.”

Houndmouth’s brand of Americana rock keeps it simple and yet is so infused with energy, you can’t help but want to sway and sing along. FOR FANS OF:

Lord Huron, Family of the Year, Beta Radio, Mount Moriah



THE SINGER-SONGWRITER TALKS SUCCESS, THEMES AND ORIGINALITY rooke Waggoner’s story is about as American as it gets. Classically trained on the piano from a young age, she decided to strike out on her own in the music world and move to Nashville. She started playing bars and coffee shops, doing odd jobs on the side to support herself. Then one day, out of the blue, she got a phone call. Jack White wanted to record with her. Fast forward a few months and she was playing with him at the 2013 Grammys. And while that would probably be the happy ending of the average artist’s career, it seemed more like the beginning for Waggoner. After touring with White, she released her third album, Originator, on her own record label, played at Lollapalooza last summer and shared the stage with Jars of Clay in the fall. We sat down with Waggoner to talk about her album, CCM and making it in the music industry.



I really think the big moment for me has been the last year and a half, almost two years of doing what I’ve been doing now for six years ... and kind of watching my business, my label, slowly grow. I still love performing, but so much of those big moments the last two years—playing for Jack and doing other things on a much larger scale—were definitely surreal but didn’t connect for me on that level of the personal ownership of making something.



There’s something so pure about that, to me. It’s so hard now to make something that’s pure. It’s constantly being infiltrated by trends and what’s working and outward influences. I’m just so obsessed with the idea of what is the pure voice, whether that’s the message you want to give or share or even just sonically or visually—like what are you trying to say and is there purity in that that’s fully unique to you? Q: YOU WERE RAISED IN A CHRISTIAN HOME. DID YOU EVER CONSIDER GOING INTO THE WHOLE CCM SCENE?

Well, I guess that’s inevitable when you’re growing up in a suburban white-collar religious world. But that never really took hold. That’s a really great world to be a part of—there are some people that do so well with CCM. [But] it’s never fully been what I’ve felt like I’m supposed to be doing.






A lot of those songs are about specific people and relationships and some things that were going on the last few years that I just really wanted to write about. Actually, a lot of sad things were going on. And I feel like that record was about getting back to before all of that was happening, but still learning how to live within it. That’s sort of a running theme in all of my records, like this nostalgic reflection on childhood and trying to maintain what your voice was at that time. A:


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ON THE IPAD EDITION Listen to Brooke Waggoner’s live album.

I like the term “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” That’s a big part of how I view a lot of this. That’s a good way to pace yourself and help you make rational decisions and not just what is seemingly attractive at the time, like, “Oh that sounds incredible. It seems like the easier route.” Or, you know, “Maybe I’ll get famous from this.” I do kind of question what’s being made if that’s the intent. It’s really cool to be in this phase of my career because I’m kind of learning my pace better. I think for a while, you just don’t really know what you’re doing. You’re kind of reacting to everything.


ob Goff makes a point of living outside the bounds of what is realistic. He put his phone number on the back of his New York Times best-seller, Love Does. He never makes appointments. Every Thursday, he quits something. In the two years since Love Does was published, Goff has been encouraging people to dream, to get out and do something extraordinary. There’s no question that his stories and the example of his everyday life are inspiring, but are the ideas he sets forth realistic for everyone? Goff spins


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globe-trotting yarns of lunching with international dignitaries and inventing rockets with orphaned children in poverty-stricken villages. Incredible, beautiful stories, but a little hard to imitate while you’re trying to pay off student loans. We all know that “love does,” but love has a much easier time doing when you’re a retired lawyer with diplomatic credentials. Or so it would seem. RELEVANT sent Donald Miller, a longtime friend of Goff’s, to talk to him about Love Does, living passionately and overcoming failure. In the course of their conversation, Goff gave a few tips on how to live the wild, whimsical, wonderfilled life—no matter where you are in your journey.

“I THINK YOU’RE A BETTER ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS WITH SOME JOY IN YOUR BACK POCKET.” KEEP YOUR OUTLOOK POSITIVE “Sometimes this idea of joy walks away,” Goff says, and that can be a deadly blow to living out God’s best. You’ve got to keep your perspective positive. “And it’s not a saccharine, artificial, Pollyanna, kind of ‘everything’s great’ perspective,” Goff says. “I deal with serious issues, but it doesn’t stamp out the joy. As a matter of fact, I think you’re a better advocate for yourself and others with some joy in your back pocket, thinking about what might be possible instead of walking around with sort of a dour look.”

GIVE OUT FORGIVENESS FOR FREE If you’re serious about pursuing your dreams, you’re going to get hurt along the way. And Goff says the best way to prepare to be hurt is to prepare to forgive. “Be very free in your forgiveness,” he says. “One of the things I do is I get these little metal cans and I write notes to people and I bury them. I’ve got a little GPS and I just geocache forgiveness. So when somebody screws up, I’m not going to give them a teachable moment, I’ll give them latitude and longitude and tell them, ‘I have a message there for you.’ Wouldn’t that be kind of neat? Doesn’t cost a penny, but I would say that’s an example of living a life of anticipation.”




The single biggest roadblock most people perceive to be standing between them and the life they want is a lack of funds. That roadblock, Goff says, isn’t nearly as big as it’s made out to be. The life God intends, he says, is “not driven by money.” “When I started doing this—the first trips to India—I don’t think we even had a house at the time because we couldn’t afford it. It wasn’t one of those ‘I walked to school uphill in both directions,’ but certainly it wasn’t driven by money. It was driven by passion.”

Goff’s life stories have to be heard to be believed. Fortunately, he’s compiled many of them in his New York Times best-seller on how to live a life of whimsical possibility.

“I remember the kids were getting to the size—they were bigger than trout, and they could walk and talk, and I actually wanted to hang out with them,” Goff explains. “And I decided with Maria that we would start spending three months together every single summer. When I announced this to the partners I worked with, they look at me like I was nuts! And they explained that the sabbatical program they had, you know, every 15 years you get nine minutes off. So I didn’t argue with them. On Monday I just wasn’t there. I left. When I got back, people were fuming. But I was a partner, they couldn’t fire me.” It’s the sort of story people tell about Goff a lot—he’s not afraid to stack his life philosophy against the corporate flow. His philosophy prioritizes people, and nobody more so than his family. They don’t just factor into the life Goff pursues—they’re the committee that determines it. When he decided to quit his job to pursue a career apart from the law office where he was a partner, it was his family’s approval that mattered most.



“YOU HAVE FAITH AND SUCCESS AND FAILURE, BUT WE’RE NOT DEFINED BY ANY OF THOSE.” “Anybody in our home can call a family meeting,” he laughs. “I got them all there and I said ‘You know this big high rise Dad’s been working at? Well, what I’m going to do is I’m going to quit my job and I’m going to go start my own thing.’ They said, ‘OK, Dad. Great.’

MAKE SURE YOUR LIFE PASSION IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST YOU People tend to go off track by centering their life goals around themselves. The key, Goff says, is to start asking a different question: “You say ‘What would be not just good for me, but good for everyone around me?’” he says. In fact, he says, if you’re content in your own role but it’s taking a toll on the people around you, it may be time to rethink your mission. “[People] ask the question, ‘how’s that working for you?’ And I think the real question might be ‘how’s it working for everyone around you?’ Because if it isn’t


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working for them, it isn’t working for you.”

DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO AGAINST CONVENTIONAL WISDOM... Goff thinks a lot of time is wasted by people trying to build a consensus with those around them. “I think everybody ought to do whatever they want,” he says. “I mean, obviously with some parameters. But I’d rather go do some things and then take responsibility for those things, but get things done, rather than saying to everybody ‘well, how do you feel about that?’ constantly.”

...BUT BE PREPARED TO ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES WHEN YOU DO “I don’t want somebody to take up the slack because I’m doing what I’m doing,” Goff says. “I’m totally fine in accepting the consequences. But one of the consequences I wasn’t going to accept was that I would have a job and backfill my whole life behind it. Instead, what I wanted to do is pick my life and then backfill my career. And so that was a huge turning point for me. And if you do that, you’ll lose a couple really good jobs!”

LIVE A LIFE OF STRATEGIC WHIMSY Goff says there’s a lot to be said for being intentional in your spontaneity. “That word, whimsy, has been a very large part of it,” he

says. “If you just go for it, then really terrific, inexplicable things just might happen. It’s like living a life in constant anticipation.” Where people go wrong, Goff says, is in assuming risks won’t pay off. “We don’t try to plot the trajectory in advance of each alternate ending,” he says. “We just know all of them will be good. It’s not like testing the Lord—like if we get in this really sticky situation, God will bail us out. But instead, it’s a strategic whimsy. It’s saying ‘you know what? I bet if we were to do that, some people would really benefit, and I think we’re among them.’”

FAILURE CAN BE PART OF GOD’S PLAN Don’t assume that just because things didn’t work out, you did something wrong. “I’m not saying ‘Hey God, what’s the deal with that?’ Because I don’t hear His voice audibly,” Goff says. “I do my best to understand what Scripture says, and I do my best to apply that to the extent I have the faith to do that. If something doesn’t turn out the way I wanted to, I don’t feel like God did a switcheroo on me. I think you have faith and success and failure, but we’re not defined by any of those.” DONALD MILLER is the founder of Storyline, which helps people plan their lives using elements of story. He is the author of multiple New York Times best-sellers and founder of The Mentoring Project.

I M A G E C R E D I T: J O I N T H E L I G H T S

Bob Goff on a trip in Uganda with his nonprofit, Restore International.


ON THE IPAD Explore this article in its full interactive glory.


here are a few topics bound to raise some strong opinions: Politics, to name an easy one. Religion, for another. But both of those seem about as controversial as a sandwich bag compared to music. There might be calls for bipartisanship in politics. There may be pleas for tolerance in religion. But someone else’s opinion about a band you love can make or break a friendship. That’s the thing about music. It divides and it unites. You and your friends might never agree about The Smiths’ best album, but you all know what it’s like when a great song comes on out of nowhere and everyone starts singing along. For several years now at RELEVANT, we’ve tried to not only look back at redemptive and interesting music trends, but also look forward to what might be coming. To that end, we rounded up a panel of music experts and artists to discuss everything from U2’s return, to whether the folk scene is worn out, to the ever-blurring lines between “Christian” and “secular” music. We’ve also highlighted a few of our favorites from recent years who are releasing new albums in 2014 you should be looking out for. None of this will help you and your friends agree more about music, but it might provide a few more talking points for your next debate.

LOOKING BACK TYLER: Let’s start by looking back. What were some of the biggest things from last year that will shape music this year? LECRAE: I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we all went to bed and woke up and Beyoncé put out an album. [Laughs] It took her, what, four weeks to outsell her last album. ANDY: It dominated everything I looked at for a week. People were losing their minds. TYLER: Is that something only Beyoncé can do because she’s Beyoncé? LECRAE: I think so. Independent artists put out albums without promotion every day and they don’t break the Internet. You have independent artists saying, “Thanks a lot for making it seem like a marketing scheme when this is our real independent spirit and who we really are.” OLGA: People kept saying she changed the game. It’s like, well, of course you change the game if you’re Beyoncé. It’s different for us. TYLER: Was there anything that actually changed the game? For, like, smaller artists? LAURA: One thing I definitely appreciated is that we’re all a little less afraid of bands that are really well packaged. The biggest example is Haim. I hate to use the “h” word and call them “hipsters”—

[THE PANEL] LECRAE President of Reach Records and one of the most exciting rappers on the scene, currently living in Atlanta, Ga. OLGA AND TIM YAGOLNIKOV The lead singer and main guitarist for Kye Kye, Washington’s pre-eminent electronic pop group. THAD COCKRELL Longtime singersongwriter and current lead singer for LEAGUES, a pop rock band hailing from Nashville, Tenn. JOSH MOORE Producer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist who has produced and mixed for Caedmon’s Call, UGK and everyone in-between. He’s currently working out of Houston, Texas. ANDY BARRON One of Los Angeles’ finest music photographers, who has shot the likes of Switchfoot, Mumford & Sons and The Civil Wars. LAURA STUDARUS A prolific music journalist who has covered everyone from Phoenix to Ellie Goulding to Ben Gibbard. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, Calif. TYLER HUCKABEE RELEVANT’s managing editor, who curates the music coverage for the magazine and website.


ike most Millennials, Montreal’s onewoman wunderkind Claire Boucher grew up with access to music from every era and genre. But what sets Boucher apart is her willingness to blend that diversity into one sound. As Grimes, Boucher is equal parts candy-coated pop star, technical DJ and ambient wizard. Her music is anxious enough for a David Fincher soundtrack, but it wouldn’t sound out of place on an Apple commercial either. It takes the already wispy lines between electronica, bubblegum and trance and smashes them together. The word “childlike” is overused in describing Grimes’ voice, but it’s difficult to think of a better word—not just in its ooeygooey pitch, but also in the wonder that infuses every vowel. Boucher seems to be taking in the strange new world around her as if she hasn’t gotten used to it yet. She utilizes digital tricks, but she keeps them at arm’s length as well, acting as her own unreliable narrator in her descent into the digital age. So where will that leave her (and us) on her next release? Nothing would surprise. She’s just as likely to release an ambient wall of sound as an analog-driven disco throwback. Whatever she does, it will be a significant move. She’s already proved that wherever she goes, the rest of the culture is only a step or two behind.

VISIONS Grimes’ 2012 album ended up on many “best new music” and “top albums of the year” lists.




ANDY: How dare you. LAURA: It’s fun to see we can appreciate

things that are well-polished without having to invoke the guilt complex. ANDY: It makes me think of the last album from Tegan and Sara. It was totally different and complete pop, but it’s my favorite thing they’ve ever put out. LAURA: I’ll second that.



hen they started, they were Dan and Pat—two dudes out of Akron, Ohio, who played honest-to-goodness rock and roll like they didn’t have a clue there had been a stitch of musical evolution since Zeppelin. With their one-two punch of guitars and drums, it was easy to compare them to The White Stripes, but the comparison ended there. The Black Keys sounded like they came from a decidedly swampier, spookier corner of the country than their candy-coated counterparts, and while their brand of woman-done-left me blues rock didn’t make them as famous, the fans they did get were fiercely loyal. How could you not be? The impossibly groovy title track from Thickfreakness, the blood-pumping drive from Rubber

TRENDS OF 2014 coming for music this year? THAD: There has been this false humility in music. Like, “let’s get big, but let’s not show that we are.” I think that’s over. I think pop is actually going to get bigger, but it’s going to be more eccentric sounding. And I think everyone’s going to be more cool with that.

I loved the new Arcade Fire record. I’m glad they didn’t cower. The world handed them a microphone, and whether you like Reflektor or not, you can tell they swung for the fences. TYLER: Is the general consensus that Arcade Fire’s new album is good? ALL: Yes. JOSH: I’m seeing kind of a troubling trend, which is there’s now this unholy alliance

Factory’s “Girl Is on My Mind”—if you haven’t heard some of those early songs, you’re missing out. If Muddy Waters had been born during the Reagan administration, this is the sort of stuff he’d be writing. Critics fawned over them. Guitar nerds spent hours trying to figure out how Dan Auerbach did it. They received positive reviews from no less a star than Brad Pitt. Of course, none of that paid the bills. But then, at some point between Attack & Release and 2011’s El Camino, The Black Keys got popular. They started showing up in ad campaigns, headlining major festivals, dating supermodels and, well, getting the recognition they always deserved. And their fame seemed to grow all the more quickly the more they distanced themselves from the gutsy blues stomp they cut their teeth on. This was the sort of music you could build a

car commercial around—so polished, you could see your reflection in it. It certainly wasn’t bad. Quite the opposite, El Camino had some delicious stuff. But longtime fans missed the lo-fi crunch of the old days. Now, The Black Keys are staring down the gun of another album. They certainly haven’t abandoned their roots—the creaky, eerie guitar lick on El Camino’s “Run Right Back” would have fit right in on any of their early work—but they’ve buried it under layers of marketable sheen. With such a platform comes the leeway to experiment, but taking advantage of that freedom can backfire. Will The Black Keys’ next album be another attempt to rocket to even bigger and brighter stages? Or a return to form? Your guess is as good as ours.

TYLER: What sort of trends do you see

EL CAMINO The duo’s seventh album won a Grammy for best rock album.


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between indie and the majors that has sort of been galvanized by what happened when Arcade Fire won album of the year. The RIAA [Recording Industry Association of America] said, “Well, we’re down with indie now.” So there’s been this sort of co-opting. You’ve got this very quick crownand-kill cycle that indie has been in charge of in terms of what is culturally relevant, and now that system and that mouthpiece is being very much controlled.

ALBUMS TO ANTICIPATE TYLER: So looking into this year, are there any bands, are there any albums you’re anticipating? LAURA: The new I Break Horses— people are going to either hate it or love it. I’m obsessed with the new Damien Jurado. The new Warpaint. ANDY: I’ll admit to being excited about the new U2 album—if and when that thing ever shows its head. I’ll always love that band. I don’t care. Danger Mouse is producing their record and I think it’s going to be awesome. TYLER: When did liking U2 become controversial? Today, when someone under 30 says they’re a fan of U2, they feel like they have to defend themselves. OLGA: I think people who don’t like them are just trying to be like “Ooooh, look at me.” TYLER: Admittedly, U2 is a little more famous for what they did than who they are right now. A lot of their new stuff I’ve only listened to one time and it’s made me want to go listen to Joshua Tree again. LAURA: You know, I’ve had the same experience with Bob Dylan. Every time he releases an album, I get really hyped up and, every time, I’m disappointed. At a certain point, why am I rewarding Dylan for making music I don’t like just because he made Blood on the Tracks? TIM: It applies to a lot of artists. What is it that makes them lose touch with what’s going on? ANDY: Maybe it’s because they’re different people than they were when they started. LAURA: It could be that you’re not the same listener.


the many artists emerging in Christian’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, few are as eclectic or exciting as Seattle’s Propaganda. With 2012’s Excellent, Prop established himself as a new sort of hiphop artist. At times, he’d spit his lyrics like fire over thunderous beats. He was at his best, however, when his voice took on the tone of spoken word poetry, with a background of folk-laden guitars and spacious melodies sounding equal parts Muse and Simon and Garfunkel. His lyrics came from a fearless heart—tackling the elephants in the Church’s room with grace and thrilling eloquence. It all had fans clamoring for more. “This is the first album where there are expectations,” Propaganda says of his upcoming release, Crimson Cord. When he lists off bands he’s been inspired by, it’s boggling—Chvrches, Lana Del Rey and Arctic Monkeys all get namechecked. But even that doesn’t sound as interesting as the topics Propaganda takes on, which include everything from questioning today’s lack of Old Testament-type miracles to what Prop calls “the farce of racial reconciliation.” Prop says he’s surprised at how seriously some people take him. “I want to be like, ‘look, it’s just rap!’” he laughs. “They’re just songs! They’re one person’s perspective who has lived one life. But, at the same time, I appreciate the platform. It just needs to be tempered in reality.”

EXCELLENT Part blues, part punk, all rap—Excellent defies easy categorization. but there’s no denying the talent.

ANDY: Or maybe they just suck now. I don’t know. THAD: I think, to me, it’s more of a creative question than a music question. In order to truly be creative, you have to do something you don’t know how to do. What ends up happening is you go back and try to repeat something that you’ve done. It gets on a spiritual level to me. I feel like creating is a conversation between a person and the Creator. It’s a dialogue. At some point, a lot of artists think it’s them, so the other partner that made that really mysterious thing happen was left out of the room. It doesn’t mean that they’re not talented, but you lose that mystery. TYLER: So what should someone who has a successful first record do? THAD: The hell if I know.

THAT’S A RAP TYLER: Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem—these guys all released albums this past year and they all did well, but they weren’t quite the world exploders that a lot of their past albums were. Does rap need some fresh ideas? LECRAE: You’ve got to remember when you talk about hip-hop, we’re talking about an art form that came onto the scene in the early to mid-70s and has only been paid attention to by mainstream media for a few years. JOSH: What did Samuel Goldwyn say? “Nobody knows anything.” I mean, we’re just not detached enough yet to see where we are in the alternate trajectory of rap. Hip-hop is still undeniably the most living, breathing art form that there is in America. And I’m just now realizing that it’s going to be a struggle for anyone to fully keep up with it, in terms of being able to quantify it and say, “Well, now it’s this. Now it’s this.” That’s ridiculous. It’s sort of like trying to label molecules of water in a rushing river. It’s just moving too fast. LECRAE: I’m waiting for someone to rise up from the ashes. I guess I’m just waiting for new variances and kind of a new approach. Especially within hiphop, I think the gate is wide open. It’s kind of like rock music was at one point in time where it just splintered into all kinds of different—you’ve got punk and you’ve got all of these different aspects. And so now I think hip-hop is kind of





CHANNEL ORANGE netted a Grammy for Best Urban Album.


“Bad Religion” from 2012’s Channel Orange, Frank Ocean sings, “Taxi driver, be my shrink for an hour/ Leave the meter running ... just outrun the demons, could you?” His voice betrays the barest quiver of panic, all the more arresting since he spends most of the album in a trance-like calm, generally sounding more like a shrink himself. That’s the thing about Ocean—he plays a patient game, preferring quiet moments of jarring emotion to the aggressive ear candy R&B is known for. Actually, R&B may not be quite the right word for what Ocean’s doing at all. He’s following his own muse, so don’t be surprised if future generations herald Channel Orange as the origin of something special.

Ocean got his start as a writer—penning pop smashes for the likes of Justin Bieber and Beyoncé. Those stars aren’t known for lyrical profundity, but it’s clear Ocean has saved the best material for himself. At his best, he’s one of the finest lyricists of his generation: intelligent, insightful, vulnerable, courageous and inquisitive. Just take “Thinkin Bout You,” which finds Ocean lying to himself about young love. “I don’t like you. I just thought you were cool enough to kick it,” he boasts, before the chorus comes and he switches to an arresting falsetto, sounding much younger and more afraid. “But do you not think so far ahead?” he asks. “I’ve been thinking ‘bout forever.” And, just like that, you’ve got a fascinating picture of the fickle bravado young men in love tend to brandish and the needling paranoia bubbling just under the surface.

He can deliver razor sharp observations, but he’s at his best when he’s asking questions he doesn’t have answers to. The mainstream’s introduction to Ocean was at the very top of “No Church in the Wild” on Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne, where Ocean sings “What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a nonbeliever?” Now Ocean is prepping his second album—a notoriously dicey prospect for anyone so widely touted as a luminary. However, there’s an effortlessness to what Ocean does. There is ample reason to believe he will step into a place of prominence with his next effort. And if none of this gets you excited, try this on for size: his cited primary influence for his next album is The Beach Boys.

splintered and you can have Macklemore talking about a thrift shop, and you can have Odd Future, who’s talking about waking up in a Bugatti. I’m really anticipating somebody bringing a new perspective to what have we not touched on and what we have not tackled artistically yet.

Mountain, and it might have reached critical mass. Can the folk movement be saved? ANDY: I call this group of bands the “Hey!” bands. All they do is stomp and shout “Hey!” with, like, a tambourine. When I first heard Mumford & Sons, it felt new and different, and it was cool. But now it’s the copy of the copy of the copy, and maybe it’s my own personal taste, but I’m ready for it to go away. TIM: I don’t think it’s going to go away. The fact that it got so huge shows that people are more open to connection than a style. The

reason I liked when Mumford & Sons started happening wasn’t just “Oh, I love banjos so much.” It was true. You felt it. They seemed genuine. The generation growing up has less loyalty to a genre. What’s going to make genres bigger than others is if people are connecting to what the singer’s about. TYLER: So lyrical content is starting to matter more than it used to? TIM: All humans beings are spiritual, and there’s a connection with music that’s being made whether you’re aware of the words

FOLK THIS WAY TYLER: The new folk scene seems to have reached a breaking point. For a while, every new band dressed like an extra on Cold


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or not. That artist is genuinely expressing themselves. If an artist is talking about, say, dealing with a death in the family or a drug problem, that realness is what you connect with. The success isn’t the lyrics, whether the lyrics are honest or not. LAURA: Which is why we’re all Sigur Rós fans. OLGA: That’s a great example. He’ll just sing “Ooooh” and I want to cry. TYLER: That’s an issue that comes up a lot with hiphop in particular. A lot of people associate that entire genre with morally bankrupt lyrics. Is that fair? LECRAE: You’ve got to check your heart and your perspective on prejudices and even cultural biases if you come to those conclusions. It’s almost like saying blacks or Hispanics are a culture that are only capable of one thing and limiting them to that, you know what I mean? I think that’s a prejudice and a cultural bias. I’m not an advocate of ignorance. I’m an advocate of education and truth. JOSH: The Beatles’ records had only existed for 10 minutes before they were being burned. We have to give grace on both sides, but I think the Church, at least, is certainly starting to realize how much capital they’re wasting culturally by having these archaic arguments about the value of certain content.

THE CCM CONUNDRUM TYLER: That’s something the Christian music scene has had to start dealing with much more upfront. Is the relationship between Contemporary Christian Music and the mainstream starting to get better? LECRAE: I’m around both worlds, and I hear in the mainstream music all types of commentary on faith and religion and all types of questions and perspectives. And I hear few relevant answers and voices for those questions coming out of the Christian community in the arts. I think many times, Christians only see music as valuable if it is very explicit in its communication about sanctification or salvation. It stifles people from even listening to your perspective or your viewpoint, your views on things. And in my case, it’s been a good and bad thing. I’d love to see more artists who can speak to various different things. When you hear Macklemore come out and speak about things like “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love,” those are paradigms, and there’s no Christian paradigm to agree with or disagree with his in mainstream music because as soon as it’s labelled “Christian,” they say, “We know what it’s going to be talking about, and we’re not concerned with hearing the content.” JOSH: I would like to see Christian artists be more nuanced about their interpretation of the Gospel in art form and be less explicit. There’s a lot of opportunity to turn that universally amazing story into interesting, more nuanced and complex thought artistically. I would love to hear more stories in Christian music, and stories that might have a chapter that is kind of hard for your average Christian to swallow, but at least helps to remind them that life is life. All truth is God’s truth.



Newsom’s folk is so organic, it wouldn’t be surprising if her next album was harvested from a garden. R AD IOHE AD

No band protects their privacy more furiously than Radiohead, but they’ve been spotted in Nashville’s recording studios. Fingers crossed. C HAR LI X C X

Charli XCX has been heralded as the ambassador of new pop for a while now. Expect this year’s album to earn the hype. K E N D R IC K L AMAR

Kendrick’s only been raising the bar for himself since his electrifying first album. At this rate, his follow-up will be in a whole new stratosphere. ALABAMA SHAK E S

Brittany Howard might have folk music’s most riveting vocal range. This woman hasn’t sung a boring note in her life, and she won’t start soon. B E ST C OAST

Best Coast’s sun-soaked surf rock was great when it sounded like the ‘60s. They’re saying their new work sounds like the ‘90s. Gnarly. FOSTE R THE P E OP LE

Foster the People says their next album will sound less electronic and more like, well, people. That can only be a good thing. C R OWD E R

Crowder says his new album—the first apart from his David Crowder Band—sounds like “porch music meets computer music.” P HAN TOG R AM

It’s been four years since Phantogram released their spectacular debut. If the follow-up is half as good, it’ll be one of 2014’s best. JAC K WHITE

White’s solo album not only proved that he had plenty to offer outside the White Stripes­­­—it suggested the best might be yet to come.



I M A G E C R E D I T: M A X R O S S I / A F P

“If you think about the Protestant Reformation, you think of the reaction against the things that were seen as excesses in the Vatican,” Martin says. “I think Martin Luther would be delighted.”





ith its gold-trimmed white fabric, the chair in the middle of the crowded room was even more noticeable. It had an unobstructed view of the orchestra and was slightly elevated over the masses, but on this evening, the throne sat empty. The official reason Pope Francis gave for missing the opulent Beethoven concert—organized to celebrate the Vatican’s “Year of Faith”—was to attend an unspecified “urgent commitment that could not be delayed.” But the awkward image of a room full of Cardinals surrounding an empty chair meant for their leader sent a different message: Pope Francis was making changes. It would seem Francis, who had been elected a month before the event, was a different kind of pope. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large for America Magazine, says it’s exactly this trait—the disdain for the decadence of the papacy and a willingness to shake up the status quo—that has endeared Francis to a new group of followers: Protestants.

Before you can understand the significance of Pope Francis’ influence on modern evangelicals and non-Catholics, it’s important to remember the history of the Church’s split. In 1517, a disgruntled priest named Martin Luther penned a 95-point list of grievances dismantling a variety of controversial Catholic Church teachings of the day. His “95 Theses” spoke against papal corruption and embraced the theological idea of salvation through grace alone. Luther’s move sparked a schism in Christianity, and the Protestant Reformation ensued. The Vatican—which once held nearly universal authority over Western Christian churches—soon inhabited a theologically divided new world. In the modern Church, Protestants (named for Luther’s act of protest against the pope), make up a massive contingent of nonCatholic, mainline Christians. Even today, theological differences—such as papal infallibility, the veneration of Mary and the nature of the sacraments, to name a few—still create a theological gulf between Protestant and Catholic cultures. But where some see a gulf, Pope Francis seems to see an opportunity to build a bridge. While his predecessor Pope John Paul II addressed the Church as a philosopher and Pope Benedict XVI spoke as a theologian, Francis teaches more as a parish priest, Martin says. “As a result, his reflections on the Gospel can sound more Protestant because they are less tied up with Catholic vocabulary.” But it’s more than just his words that are winning Pope Francis fans across the spectrum of Christianity—it’s also his actions.

A POPE OF THE PEOPLE Before there was Pope Francis, there was Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. The priest—who later became the Catholic Church’s first pope from the Americas and the Southern Hemisphere—was known for his passion for working with the poor. When he became pope, he took many of his traits developed doing ministry among the impoverished communities in Central America and the slums of Buenos Aires with

him to the Vatican. During his first Holy Thursday (the day before Good Friday) as pope—just weeks into the papacy—he visited a youth prison outside of Rome where he washed the feet of 12 inmates, including a Muslim woman. It was a tradition he first developed during his days as a priest. “Even as a cold-hearted Calvinist, it’s hard not to warm to the man who’s gone out of his way to connect with the marginalized in the public way that he has,” says Carl Trueman, a Church history professor at Westminster Theological Seminary. In his first year as pope, Francis made international headlines time and again. He sought out a disfigured man in a crowd to lay hands on and pray with him. He made personal phone calls to reply to some letters, taking time to talk to a rape victim, a man whose brother was killed and more. He sent his personal emissary out into the streets of Rome to help those in need. In an evangelical culture that has embraced social justice, international aid projects and even entrepreneurial initiatives such as buy-one-give-one businesses that help those in need, the pope’s passion for the poor struck a chord. “Those things cut across divides because he focuses on words and deeds, just like Jesus did,” Martin says. The humanitarian and aid arms of the Catholic Church have long been a massive force of charity around the world, but until Francis, the Vatican itself seemed more recognized by evangelicals for its lavishness. Pope Francis, for his part, has gone out of his way to change that. He famously moved out of the luxurious papal apartment, opting instead for an understated guesthouse.

“There’s an image that Francis is like a servant pope. People respond to that, from those who are liberal to those who are very conservative.” —Timothy George RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM



his succinct bits of wisdom in speeches and interviews, but also over Twitter, where he’s gained more than 3.6 million followers. Here are some of his notable tweets: I cannot imagine a Christian who does not know how to smile. May we joyfully witness to our faith. Dear young people, let us not be satisfied with a mediocre life. Be amazed by what is true and beautiful, what is of God! Care of creation is not just something God spoke of at the dawn of history: He entrusts it to each of us as part of His plan. Consumerism has accustomed us to waste. But throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry. How marvellous it would be if, at the end of the day, each of us could say: today I have performed an act of charity toward others! Being a Christian is not just about following commandments: it is about letting Christ take possession of our lives and transform them. We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin. Worshipping God means learning to be with Him, stripping away our hidden idols and placing Him at the center of our lives. It is God who gives life. Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb.


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Last summer, while visiting a group of young nuns and monks, he went as far as to tell them, “It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one ... just think about how many children are dying of hunger.” These sort of convictions have endeared him to Christians of all theological leanings. “There’s an image that Francis is like a servant pope,” says Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School and an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention. “People respond to that, from those who are liberal to those who are very conservative.”

TENSION IN THE TEACHING His humble style and dedication to serving the poor may have won Francis fans among many evangelicals, but there’s still a tension that exists between the teachings of the Church he leads and the beliefs of Protestants. Though he’s made waves for seemingly hinting at ideological shifts, Francis has been stringently traditional when it comes to Church doctrine. His now famous, off-the-cuff “who am I to judge?” quote in response to a reporter’s question about his reaction to gay priests prompted The Advocate, an LGBT magazine, to choose the pope as its 2013 Person of the Year. But the full context reveals a thought that seems to reflect ideas on interpersonal kindness rather than a teaching on homosexuality itself: “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.” After U.K.-based newspaper The Independent ran with the headline, “Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven,” Catholic.org released a clarifying article assuring believers that the pontiff’s actual quote wasn’t outside of orthodox teaching. “The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through

Jesus, even atheists ... Francis based his homily on the message of Christ to His disciples taken from the Gospel of Mark. Francis delivered his message by sharing a story of a Catholic who asked a priest if atheists were saved by Christ.” George says some people are simply overextending their interpretation of what Francis has said to assume he might make some radical doctrinal changes, but that likely won’t happen. “Some European journalist speculated there would be women priests or even a woman pope ... but that’s totally fatuous,” he says. Trueman echoes George’s assessment, arguing that even if Pope Francis did want the Vatican to pursue significant doctrinal shifts— ones that would potentially find more common ground with theologically liberal Protestants— there simply isn’t time. “I think the elephant in the room is his age,” Trueman says about Francis, who is 77. “He probably doesn’t have long enough in the papacy to push through any major doctrinal changes.” According to Trueman, despite all of the ways he’s embraced humble living, Francis is still exalting the papacy itself with plans to canonize Popes John Paul II and John XXIII in June. “He seems to want to democratize things and make the papacy more transparent,” Trueman says. “On the other hand, he’s putting things into place that seem to raise the papacy even higher.”

“I have this sense that Protestants and some Catholics are getting their patriotism and faith intertwined and beginning to confuse what is sacred,” Scalia says. “When they look at Francis, they see a guy who’s holy, but he’s annoying them because he’s preaching a Catholic social doctrine that’s rubbing up against their American capitalist profit and market mindset.” Though his ideas about economics may have ruffled some feathers, Francis’ unwavering support of life issues has endeared him to many conservatives. During a message in September, while speaking about the importance of human dignity and the need to pray for victims of trafficking, war and slavery, he also expressed his concern for the unborn: “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ.” As Protestants and evangelicals continue to diversify their own political opinions and allegiances, the pope’s convictions about human dignity have made him a Christian voice embraced on both sides of the aisle.

THE POPE OF PROTESTANTS TOO? SEIZING ON FRANCIS Even if a doctrinal divide between Pope Francis and Protestants exists, there’s another common point beyond his embrace of simple living and heart for the poor: his influence on politics. Since the early days of the “Christian Coalition” and the “Moral Majority,” evangelicals have been a significant voice in American politics. And as policy makers have sought ways to reach out to religious voters, they have seized on the teachings of Pope Francis. Senator Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent who is Jewish, invoked the pope on issues of income inequality with Senate majority leader from Utah Harry Reid, who is Mormon. But some of Francis’ statements have drawn criticism from those on the far right. In November, his references to economic disparity in his pronouncement and exhortation titled “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) became lightening rods. In the document, he said, “Money must serve, not rule!” and warned against consumerism and trickle-down economics, calling for reform to systems that continue the divide between the rich and the poor. The comments prompted conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to call Francis a Marxist (an accusation the pope later refuted). Elizabeth Scalia, the managing editor of the Catholic section of Patheos.com, says Americans need to parse patriotic fervor with their faith.

“There is no competition for the pope as the world face of Christianity. That’s why he is important for Protestants.” —Carl Trueman

Though Pew Research Center surveys suggest that Mass attendance has remained virtually unchanged since his election, Francis remains widely popular. According to a poll by The Washington Post and ABC, 92 percent of American Catholics have a favorable view of Francis, and 95 percent say the same of the Church. Part of this positive view may come from Francis’ vow to clean up the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal and internal financial corruption, issues that marred the legacy of his predecessors. Francis has also found a broader appeal. In December, Time magazine named him its “2013 Person of the Year,” recognizing him for his rise in influence and acknowledging how he’s seemingly reinvigorated the Church. He also landed on the cover of Rolling Stone and The New Yorker. But beyond all of the good P.R. he has done for the Vatican, Pope Francis has also managed to put the teachings of Jesus—and the messages of Christianity—back into the forefront of the cultural conversation. “There is no competition for the pope as the world face of Christianity,” Trueman says. “That’s why he is important for Protestants, even for those who have profound disagreements with the Catholic Church.” SAR AH PULLIAM BAILE Y is a national correspondent for Religion News Service.



And the dichotomy of that last one proved to be difficult territory for the band to navigate.




was that night. We got off tour and had gotten about a month off. I don’t think we’d talked that whole month. That was really rare for me and him. After all this had been going, we got together and said ‘I want to talk.’” Bear Rinehart is talking about his band, Needtobreathe, and how, after the world tour of 2011’s Billboard-topping album, The Reckoning, they were ready to call it quits. “It was real. We haven’t thrown [the idea of quitting] around,” he says. “We’ve been together 14 years. You know, we were really at the point where we were saying, ‘Let’s get together and discuss it.’” This all came in the wake of a grueling tour, with events that left the band butting heads, questioning their purpose and direction. Conflicts drove Needtobreathe to consider breaking up and resulted in at least one trip to the emergency room. “I think we were all just basically saying ‘If this is the way the band’s gonna be, we can’t do this any longer,’” Rinehart says. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

not doing it intentionally, but you can’t get rednecks to stop sounding redneck, I guess.” It’s obvious that Rinehart’s own band is no exception to that rule. At first, Needtobreathe was just a couple of college boys from the backwoods of South Carolina. Bear and his brother Bo (who plays guitar and sings backing vocals in the band) hail from Seneca, the sons of a preacher who ran a Christian camp. Bear’s father named him after famed University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant. It all sounds almost too perfect—a couple of preacher’s boys playing Southern rock that sounds marinated in equal parts whiskey and holy water. They were joined by a bassist pal, Seth Bolt, and started gigging around the Southeast, where they caught the attention of the esteemed Atlantic Records. What followed was a string of four albums, each one garnering more critical acclaim and commercial success. By the time 2011’s The Reckoning hit, Needtobreathe were bonafide rock stars, opening for Taylor Swift and hitting simultaneous no. 1 slots on Billboard’s rock and Christian charts.

FIRST BREATH Needtobreathe hails from South Carolina, a state that’s been enjoying a bit of buzz lately on account of a thriving music scene. Band of Horses, Iron and Wine, Darius Rucker and Toro y Moi have all lent the state—especially Charleston, where the music scene is growing—a touch of music cred. “There’s a lot of good stuff going on downtown here,” Rinehart says. “I think this used to be kind of an Old South kind of town, and all the sudden in the last five or 10 years the scene is starting the come around a lot. “Everybody has a little bit of that Southern flair if they’re from here,” he drawls. “They’re

Needtobreathe are refreshingly candid about their Christian faith—never letting it pigeonhole them, but never hiding behind the “we’re a band of Christians, not a Christian band” excuse either. With them, faith never seems intentionally obscured, but it never feels strongarmed into the conversation either. “The band really has always done what we were going to do,” Rinehart says confidently. “I can honestly say when we started this thing out, the most conscious decisions we ever made were not taking a lot of the Christian offers we got early on, because it might stereotype us or limit our opportunity.” The Rineharts were raised in a home where anything besides Christian music was forbidden. But Rinehart says he has not found the rock and roll life any more filled with temptation than the average day in South Carolina. “I think the main temptations in life are all around us, no matter what work you’re in.” What was difficult to deal with was the pressure—the constant feeling of needing to do more. “We had a sense that the band was getting bigger as we were making [The Reckoning], and our tours were doubling in size as we were making that record. So you can’t help but put pressure on yourself about that. “I think our whole career, especially recently, you get to a time where you feel like you can’t say no,” Rinehart explains “There’s some importance in what you’re doing. You get wrapped up in that. Your sense of purpose, even. It’s intoxicating in a way. You feel like you’re indebted to this big machine that’s moving along, and that’s just not the truth. And that’s something we had to learn the hard way.”


“There’s some importance in what you’re doing. You get wrapped up in that. Your sense of purpose, even. It’s intoxicating in a way.”

Thus began the tension—conflicts within the band that spilled into the recording studio. Rinehart says there were decisions being made that didn’t square with Needtobreathe’s identity. “Things had gotten a little bit too big for us to handle, to be honest with you,” he admits. “Or I don’t know if it was the size of it, but it was how we were handling it. We needed to step back and make some priority changes, and we hadn’t taken the time to do that, so pressure was just getting too great.”



KIDS OF A PREACHER MAN The Rineharts are far from the only PKs in the music industry. Katy Perry, the daughter of two California pastors, was initially Katy Hudson, an aspiring CCM artist. Marcus Mumford’s church background is apparent in his lyrics. But some of the other PKs of rock and roll are not as well-known:




The father of the three Followill brothers is a former traveling pentacostal preacher.

The shock rocker’s father was a preacher in the Church of Jesus Christ denomination.

The Civil Wars’ Williams (a former CCM star) was raised by parents who were both in full-time ministry.

All that led to scuffles, and the realization that Needtobreathe may have to call it a day. Rinehart doesn’t care to get into the details about what exactly the fights were about (or what events led to that ER visit). He is, however, open about the general sense of losing his way. “Sometimes, I think we were faced with that success—some levels of it feel like you need to be not true to yourself. There are opportunities that come along as a band gets bigger, and we certainly were faced with some—they just don’t feel right. And the first time you make a decision that doesn’t feel right, it feels horrible. It caused an incredible amount of turmoil and soul searching. That’s what the wasteland is.” This word, “wasteland,” comes up a lot with Rinehart. It doesn’t sound like a flowery metaphor so much as a real, tangible place he and the rest of Needtobreathe have been. And it’s a place where they found the inspiration to not just stick together, but to make their best album yet.

STREAMS IN THE DESERT “We felt like we had a little bit of hope left but not a whole lot,” Rinehart says. “Making this record ... felt like something was coming out of nothing. We talk about the verse Isaiah 43:19 (‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’). God is going to do something. He’s going to place a river in the wasteland, and that’s what this record really was about for us.” The band members realized they couldn’t continue in the wasteland one night about a month after the band’s tumultuous tour. A band meeting was called to determine whether to break up or stay together, and it


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was the first time any of them had spoken for the whole month. “I’d come up with my own speech,” Rinehart says. “And Bo had his own speech. And it was essentially the same. That night was the beginning of the whole thing coming around. And it was both of us apologizing for what we’d let ourselves become and what we’d let the band become. That’s how change starts.” That moment of reconciliation resulted in the band’s newest and finest effort, Rivers in the Wasteland. It’s about as different from the band’s previous efforts as Needtobreathe can get.

BREATHING IN To explain, you need an understanding of Needtobreathe’s previous work. If you’ve heard The Reckoning, you know there are plenty of words that could be used to describe it, but maybe the simplest is “big.”
 “We weren’t intentionally trying to make a bigger sounding record,” Rinehart explains. “It started to turn out that way. We were just thinking ‘Let’s go kitchen sink and have fun with it.’ And next thing you know it’s, like, arena rock sounding.” It’s the sort of sound that grabs people’s attention and, in this case, convinced J.J. Abrams to use them to promote his latest TV show. There’s not much restraint showed whatsoever, and although it’s fun, it left the band pining for simpler times. “We really love that record, but as soon as we got back on the road and sort of went down that path, we missed the simplicity of being able to go into the club and not have all the stuff around us,” Rinehart says. “And even when we have that we still do that—we still cut the lights off in a show and get back to that. It just felt like Rivers in the Wasteland was time to really do that. To be honest, we

really haven’t done a record as stripped as this in all of our records.” It’s evident from the first track, “Wasteland,” which feels about as simple and honest as a campfire sing-along. “In this wasteland where I’m living, there is a crack in a door filled with light,” Rinehart sings. “And it’s all that I need to get by.” It’s a delicate lyric, made even more vulnerable by the fact that his usually powerful voice quivers with emotion. Compare this to The Reckoning’s ballistic “Oohs and Ahhs,” and you’ll gather this is a band who has seen some trouble and decided to scale things back. “All the effort you’re putting into it isn’t making it better, it’s making it worse,” Rinehart affirms.” You’re getting in the way. We’re just going to get in there and do what we’re made to do, which is make the best music we can about the things we know about, and we’re not going to worry about what happens to it after we make it.” That might mean saying no to opportunities, but if it bothers Rinehart, he’s not showing it. The band is being pickier with the directions they allow themselves to go, and when asked what sort of things they might veer toward, there’s an almost uncomfortable pause. “It has to feel right, simple as that sounds. We have to believe in it. That’s pretty much it.” But Rinehart stops here and seems to catch himself, going a little deeper. “Our faith has become much more a part of our decision making now,” he says. “Success has clouded that at times, but for us, it has to be at the top now. Our faith is the most important thing in our lives, and it’s definitely the most important thing in our career.” That’s made not just a change in the structure in the band, but a whole new sound, as well. This fresh understanding of their

L-R: Seth Bolt, Bear Rinehart and Bo Rinehart

identity and re-prioritizing of their faith has resulted in a more authentic sounding band. As good as Needtobreathe’s earlier efforts were, there was a disconnected sense to them. Their dusty, Americana vibe never quite gelled with their arena ambitions. Here, finally, all their disparate influences come together in a cohesive whole. It’s a little bit Lynyrd Skynyrd and a little bit O Brother Where Art Thou, but it distances itself admirably from the folksy troubadours so popular over the past few years. “We’re just trying to keep some of that real feeling,” Rinehart says. “We tried to get some of the raw things on there, leave some mistakes. It was a raw emotional time, and we were trying to get those things across. What I’m most proud of when I listen to the record is the sort of marriage of those two. The statements that are being made feel to me that they’re matched musically. There’s a rawness to it. We certainly were in that place when we were writing those songs.”

BREATHE OUT So here we are. Fourteen years after Needtobreathe first starting playing shows around South Carolina, they’re now coming back from the

“Our faith is the most important thing in our lives, and it’s definitely the most important thing in our career.”

brink of a bitter breakup. And to hear Rinehart tell it, things are better than ever. “I feel like our perspective is so much better about ourselves and about where we’re going,” he says. “And our appreciation of each other has gone up drastically. Obviously, being on the road together for that long creates some tension, but with just a little bit of a gap like what we had, you start realizing you love each other. “I’d say, today, after having finished the record, we’re in a better place than we’ve been as a band since we started,” he continues. “That shows how quickly things can turn around for people.” Rinehart does this sort of thing a lot—trying to find ways to make his own experiences opportunities for others to learn. It’s part of what makes Needtobreathe’s music feel so alive—it’s about them, but it’s written for you. “We’re trying to make music that multiplies, music that means something to us in one way, but is taken far beyond our experience,” he explains. “So if people can have an interaction with it that means something to them beyond what it meant for us, that would be the ultimate goal. “We’ll do it as long as we can do it well, and as long as we can do it the right way.”





hen Bassam Aramin was 17 years old, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for being with a group of friends that lobbed grenades toward Israeli jeeps. It was his most severe crime against Israel’s military rule, but it wasn’t his first. As a child in the ancient city of Hebron in



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the West Bank, Aramin had raised a Palestinian flag on the school playground—which was illegal. When he was 12, he and some other students threw stones at Israeli tanks. Soldiers retaliated by shooting one of the students dead. “At that moment, I developed a need for revenge,” Aramin says. “I joined a group whose mission was to get rid of the soldiers controlling our town. We called ourselves freedom fighters, but the outside world called us terrorists.” The law called him a criminal, and he ended up in jail. With limited options for entertainment,

Aramin attended a showing of Schindler’s List—Steven Spielberg’s famous Holocaust opus. His first thought as he began watching the story of the European Jews was, “I wish they had all died. Then I wouldn’t be in this place.” But minutes into the film, he found himself crying—crying for the 6 million Jews who had been herded into the gas chambers. For the first time, he truly felt the horrific reality of Jewish suffering. “I decided to try and understand who they were,” he says. This led to conversations with a prison guard who asked, “What makes a quiet guy like you become a terrorist?”

“You’re the terrorist,” Aramin said. “You’re the one sending settlers and soldiers here to take my land. I’m just a freedom fighter, trying to keep my village and home.” Aramin had never considered the trauma of the Jews. His jailer, in the meantime, had never considered the sobering reality of daily life for Palestinians—one without many of the basic civil rights he took for granted. Through their dialogue, the prisoner and guard discovered many points of contact. They listened to each other’s history and discovered each other’s humanity. Aramin was shocked and sobered to hear of inconceivable

losses experienced by the Jews. Likewise, the guard acknowledged that Aramin was right—not right to use violence, but right to try to protect his home and his land. By the time Aramin was released from prison, the transformation he had seen in himself convinced him that the only path to peace was through nonviolence and dialogue that allows Israelis and Palestinians to see the other’s sincerity of heart. In 2005, Aramin helped start Combatants for Peace, an organization of former Israeli and Palestinian fighters who decided to put down their guns and fight for peace through

words and friendship, working patiently toward the day when there will be safety and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians. Many have given up on the idea as a pipe dream, but the peace and freedom of millions hinges on its success.

IT’S COMPLICATED Few regions of the world receive as much global attention as the Holy Land. Its religious significance to Christianity, Judaism and Islam—and its seemingly intractable conflict—make it continually newsworthy. For more than two decades, diplomats have



tried to broker peace between the State of Israel and the Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military control for more than 45 years. For many Jews—who are haunted by centuries of persecution, the inconceivable horrors of the Holocaust and the anti-Semitism that persists in many places throughout the world—the security of the State of Israel is paramount. Not only do they claim a

“THERE’S A WAR OUT THERE WAITING TO BREAK OUT ... WE ARE LIVING IN A BUBBLE. AND THAT BUBBLE WILL BURST.” —DANIEL SEIDEMANN 3,500-year unbroken connection to the land, but they see the modern state as a necessary refuge in a world sill teeming with deeply hostile anti-Semitism. For Palestinians—many of whom have lived under the military occupation of a foreign government since 1967 without citizenship and no civil rights—freedom and sovereignty are paramount. Palestinians want to have the fundamental rights long denied and delayed in the land of their ancestry. The relationship between Israelis and Palestinians currently is characterized by fear and distrust. With each new act of violence and additional year of conflict, the fear and distrust grow. The conflict is one of the world’s oldest and most divisive, in which theology, politics, human rights and history are all tangled into a hopeless-looking web. The sheer complexity of the situation on this relatively small plot of land has provoked many in the West to exhaustion, if not outright apathy. Throughout history, there have been a few crises of immense global importance—ones that transcend their time and place to become parables of justice, or the lack thereof. One thinks of America’s Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, South Africa’s Apartheid. In each, the call of Christians has been to take a stand for those who cannot. And the


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Church’s track record hasn’t always been great. “The Church has played a pathetic role in dealing with conflicts globally,” says Sami Awad, executive director of Bethlehem-based Holy Land Trust. “The Church has either been completely out of any equation in dealing with conflicts or, worse, on the wrong side of the equation.” There is an opportunity—and need— for the Church to raise the global alarm for peace in the Holy Land. But the window is closing, and the situation is increasingly dire. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has initiated a new round of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, has acknowledged that without rapid progress, the future will be bleak. Daniel Seidemann, founder and director of Israeli peace organization Terrestrial Jerusalem, speaks more bluntly: “There is a war about to break out. “We’re not necessarily talking weeks, but certainly not many years,” he continues. “There’s a war out there waiting to break out, and it just hasn’t decided where and over what, but we are living in a bubble. And that bubble will burst.” It’s a problem that hits closer to home than many in the Church might think.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHURCH? “Palestinians are the descendants of the early Christians,” says Palestinian legislator Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. “We are probably the straightest line to original Christianity. The Christian presence in Palestine is important. Christianity is part and parcel of the Palestinian identity.” The modern Palestinian Christian community traces its roots back to Pentecost, representing an unbroken Christian presence in the land of Jesus since the first disciples. Today, most Palestinian Christians are Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Melkite. There is also a small evangelical Palestinian Church, but Christians are becoming an ever smaller part of the overall population. In the land where Jesus walked and His disciples

founded the early Church, Christianity’s presence is dying. Christian faith once thrived in the Holy Land, but Christians now make up only about 2 percent of the population. And their growth rate has not kept pace with higher Jewish immigration and Muslim birthrates. Palestinian Christians say their situation is increasingly precarious, with extremely high emigration rates due to the pressures

they face. “We are the indigenous people here, and we have continued an ongoing Christian tradition,” Ashrawi says, “but pretty soon you won’t find any Christians here. The churches will become museums.” In the West Bank, there are currently 14 evangelical churches, according to Bishara Awad, founder of Bethlehem Bible College, the only Christian college in the West Bank. “There are maybe 800 to 1,000 members in

these churches,” he says. “The evangelicals are very small, a minority within the Christian community. It’s a struggle.” Palestinians boast a high percentage of college graduates per capita, but the military occupation impedes commerce, and unemployment rates are high, so the brightest and best of Palestinian graduates are leaving the region. Many of these departing young people are Christians—they are often better

educated than their Muslim counterparts and have stronger connections in Europe and the U.S. Many who are leaving have lived their whole lives under military occupation and see no future for themselves in a place where official military policy makes the hope of a decent job and a better life unlikely. “There are more Palestinian Christians living around the world in other places than are living in the Holy Land now,” says Todd Deatherage, executive director of Telos Group, a D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to education and peacemaking. “The Church is beleaguered. Soon there won’t be a Christian presence here at all if the diaspora Palestinians don’t come back, or if those who are leaving don’t stop.” And Palestinian Christians also look to neighboring Arab countries, fearing that religious and political tensions there—which have largely had little expression in the Holy Land—might one day bleed into their communities.



has a farm surrounded by five Israeli settlements. His family has legally owned the land for almost 100 years, but the road to it has been barricaded, blocking access. The family is prohibited from having electricity or running water. Settlers have cut down the farm’s olive trees, pictured here, which take more than 10 years to bear fruit.

One Christian Palestinian leader who has chosen not to leave is Daoud Nassar. In 1916, while Palestine was a province of the Ottoman Empire, Nassar’s grandfather bought 100 acres of land southwest of Bethlehem on a hill 3,000 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can see from that hilltop all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, and in the evening, you can watch the distant sun set over the Jordan River. The hilltop has become ground zero for the fight of Nassar’s life—and also his quest for peace. Nassar’s farm is surrounded by five Jewish settlements. In 1991, Nassar heard a rumor that the Israelis wanted to take control of his land to build another Jewish settlement. Unlike many Palestinians who live on land their ancestors never legally registered, Nassar’s grandfather meticulously acquired the many necessary documents to fight a legal battle. It’s a battle Nassar fought for 12 years in front of the military court, and now continues to fight in the Israeli high court. While Nassar has not lost the land, the situation is grim. The Israeli



government has prohibited all construction on the land, denied access to water and electricity, and blocked the primary access road to the farm with a massive barricade. Israeli settlers, in attempts to drive the family from the land, have chopped down Nassar’s olive trees and threatened his family and friends at gunpoint. “So what if you have registrations papers,” he says he’s been told. “We have papers from God. He promised this land to us.” Sitting at a long table in an underground cave at the farm hearing the story of Tent of Nations—Nassar’s project to bring people of different cultures together to build understanding and peace—one marvels at his soft-spoken gentleness. The slogan of Tent of Nations, painted on a rough stone at the farm’s entrance, is “We Refuse to be Enemies.” Nassar explains that the frustrations Palestinians face often prompt one of three responses: they become passive victims, blaming “the other” and doing nothing to help themselves; they leave the region to find a better life in America or Europe; or they turn to violence. “But,” he says, “we believe all people are created in the image of God, and they are not created to hate each other. So we have claimed a fourth way of action, which is the Jesus way. To overcome evil with good, hatred with love and darkness with light. This is the Christian witness needed in this area of the world. “We have to show people that it’s possible to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s important to not just read but to live your readings. This is what we are trying to achieve here.” Nassar and his volunteers—which increasingly include Jewish groups from Israel and even some local Jewish settlers who have been “won” by Nassar’s quiet and consistent strength—choose to turn frustration and anger into positive action. Denied drinking water, they’ve built cisterns to catch the rain. Denied electricity, they’ve utilized solar energy. Denied building permits, they’ve renovated existing caves. When olive trees have been destroyed, they’ve invited Palestinians, Israelis and internationals to come and plant new ones for peace. “An olive tree won’t bear fruit for 10 or 15 years,” Nassar says, “so when you plant an olive tree, you are saying you believe in the future.” But what that future will look like is an issue that has caused a deep divide—even among Christians.



ISRAEL AND THE WEST BANK A look at how the division between Israel and the West Bank has changed over the years.

19 67 BOR DE R




16 MIL E S


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In a lot of ways, the American Church has often been more committed to taking sides in the conflict than to helping Israelis and Palestinians find peace. Differing Christian theological perspectives have turned the Holy Land into a pivot point of controversy. American Christians hold a variety of views about the Land of Israel and the conflict. Some Christians believe the establishment of the modern State of Israel

“WE HAVE TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT IT’S POSSIBLE TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” —DAOUD NASSAR in 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy. They believe it is a divinely mandated return of ancient Israel to the Promised Land and is directly connected to pre-ordained End Time events and the second coming of Christ. An expression of this theological leaning is based on God’s promise to Abraham that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse it. These Christians equate the modern state of Israel with the Old Testament theocracy and, not wanting to curse Israel, use that Scripture to support the Israeli government’s actions. “That thinking really makes no room for the Palestinian Christians, for that indigenous Church that’s been here,” Deatherage says. “For the local Christians, that’s a very hurtful and offensive thing—to say that they have no place in God’s plan, in the land in which they live and the very same land in which Jesus lived.” The other theological perspective believes the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people happened through Jesus, making the inheritances and blessings of Israel available to all believers through Christ. They emphasize that God’s Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom, not a piece of land. These Christians believe they “live in the New Covenant, and we are not living in the Old Covenant,” Bishara Awad says. “We live in the covenant of grace and peace, a covenant where a state is not an important thing. The Kingdom of God is more important. A covenant where the Temple is not important anymore because of Christ, the One who died on the Cross and is the last sacrifice. So biblically, there’s no need for a temple.” Enthusiasts from both camps tend to caricature the other in broad strokes and make harsh political judgments. One camp equates supporting the state of Israel with hating Arabs. The other thinks that those who want to talk about the plight of Palestinians must hate Israel. So, far from being peacemakers, many Christians—fueled by theological conviction—contribute to a

polarized conversation that actually fuels the conflict. Christians focused completely on “blessing Israel” leave Palestinian Christians asking, “Where does this leave us?” Christians focused completely on the spiritual aspect of God’s Kingdom leave Jews—including Messianic Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah but still hold to many Jewish practices—feeling that their legitimate history is being dismissed “The theology can be debated,” Deatherage says. “You can have different views of the End Times and different readings of books of the Bible that may speak to that. But those would seem to be overridden by Jesus’ teachings that we should love our enemies, that we should do justice, that we should walk in humility and love and that we should care about Christian believers in different parts of the world. “So if any of our End Times eschatology, any of our theologies, come in conflict with Jesus’ commands to love

and to do justice and to be peacemakers in the world, we may want to rethink those enough to make sure that we can continue to carry out that mission. Which I think is more central to how Jesus taught us to live in the world.” That’s a sentiment shared by Abuna Elias Chacour, an Israeli Archbishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. “I beg Christians in America to stop reading the Bible in a selective way,” he says. “To select the verses that justify their own ambitions, feelings and emotions, and to reduce God to be subservient to our own wishes—it would be a distortion of the Bible and God’s will. In the Bible, there is a balanced view about ownership of the land.” Deatherage says: “Christians in America must recognize that beneath their theological—and perhaps political—differences, there is a foundation of truth that every human being is made in the image of God and deserves to be protected from violence and treated with compassion and justice. On that basis, they must seek to be both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, convinced that when Jesus called His followers to be peacemakers, He was talking not just about inner The wall separating Israel from the West Bank cuts through many cities, like here in Bethlehem.



peace, or peace between God and man, but also about peace between neighbors, ethnic groups, cultures—even between enemies. “Though the peaceable Kingdom of God will not be fully realized until Jesus returns, believers are called to work toward that Kingdom as best they can,” Deatherage says.

THE BIRTH OF A STATE Long before the State of Israel was established in 1948 on a portion of land in a region of Palestine, a remnant of Jews had been living in that land since Old Testament times. They were a minority population, and though they had lived for long stretches of time in relative peace with other residents of the land with whom they shared a common language and culture, they lived as minorities often do, in some measure of distrust and insecurity. Then, in the late 1800s, as the idea of nationalism grew throughout the Western world, and as persecution of Jews in Russia and Europe increased, the long-held dream of a homeland for the Jews was fueled, and thousands of European Jews began to migrate to Palestine. These Jews called themselves Zionists, or Jewish nationalists. And although Zionism was initially rejected as heresy, many Jewish theologians began to see God’s hand at work. After all, it was only in the Land of Israel that Jews could observe all the commandments of Jewish law. And now God seemed to be calling the Jewish people back to the Promised Land. But Palestinians, too, saw themselves as proud stewards of that land. Many Palestinian families had been living in Jerusalem for more than 1,500 years, and Palestinian Christians claimed faithfulness in keeping the way of Jesus alive—despite eras of unthinkable persecution—for 2,000 years. So both Jews and Arabs felt the pull of nationalism and a strong connection with the Holy Land. In 1947, in the aftermath of World War II and the great horror of the Jewish Holocaust, the newly established United Nations suggested a division of Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. This is still referred to as “the two-state solution.” Arabs initially rejected this plan as unfair, since they were a majority of the population and were offered a minority of the land. Jews rejoiced at the proposal, seeing a historic opportunity. When Palestine’s British rulers left in 1948, Israel declared independence. Scores of countries around the world—including the U.S.—welcomed the fledgling Jewish state. But the next


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RTV EXTRAS Visit RELEVANT.tv to watch two original mini documentaries from the Holy Land, as well as a primer on the conflict.

Visit Tent of Nations and see the compelling story of peacemaking by Palestinian Christian Daoud Nassar.

Visit Israeli Roni Keidar’s bridge-building efforts in Netiv HaAsara, on the Gaza border.

Sit down with Todd Deatherage in Jerusalem for a 5-question overview on the conflict—as well as a path toward peace.

day, neighboring Arab armies attacked Israel. Israel defended itself and prevailed. Within a year, they had taken control of even more land than had been recommended by the U.N. It was a remarkable triumph for the Jewish people. Just three years after the last of the Nazi death camps had been liberated, the Zionist dream of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the ancient land of Israel had been achieved. But for the Arab residents of that same land, the accomplishment was less welcome. More than 700,000 Arab Palestinians became refugees as more than 400 of their villages and towns were either abandoned due to violence or forcibly depopulated by Jewish forces. Some Palestinians remained in the newly created state of Israel and were eventually granted citizenship rights (Arab citizens make up about 20 percent of the Israeli population today, though they do not have the full civil rights of Jewish citizens). Most Palestinians ended up being moved to the Gaza Strip, the West Bank of the Jordan River or outside historic Palestine altogether. Between 1948 and 1967, Palestinians in Gaza lived under Egyptian control, and those on the West Bank under the rule of Jordan. Then, in

The West Bank city of Nablus, home to Jacob’s Well and the Balata refugee camp.

1967, Israel and surrounding Arab countries again went to war. In just six days, Israel defeated neighboring Arab armies and gained military control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which it still maintains now, nearly five decades later. Israel did not annex the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, so the Palestinians living there are not citizens of Israel. “I believe in the state of Israel as a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people,” Deatherage says. “If you look at Jewish experience in history, I think they have every right to live in a state of their own in which they’re in control—and to do it in their ancestral homeland. “But Israel also aspires to be a democracy, and to be democracy means that you have to give equal civil rights to all your citizens,” he continues. “Palestinians have a right to live in dignity and security, too.” The crux of the “peace process” over the last 20 years has been about ending the Israeli military control—or occupation—of the West Bank and Gaza so the Palestinians can establish an independent, sovereign state.

Each side—Israelis and Palestinians—blames the other for 20 years of failure.

DAILY REALITY Because Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are not citizens of Israel, they do not have the civil rights of Israeli citizens. However, they are almost completely controlled by policies established by the Israeli government. What this means in everyday life is that Palestinians have limited access to local resources such as water. Israel only turns on water for most Palestinian towns intermittently. That’s why you’ll see large black tubs on the roofs of every Palestinian building in the West Bank—residents try to fill them up before the water is turned off, and then ration their supply until the next time water is available. By contrast, Israeli settlements, which are often adjacent to these West Bank villages, have uninterrupted water supply. Palestinians in occupied territories have their ability to travel between their own communities restricted by military checkpoints, and they are forbidden to travel or

work inside Israel except by permission. These restrictions that limit mobility for Palestinians sometimes separate families and often prevent farmers from tending their lands. They also severely hinder economic growth and development. Life is also complicated for Palestinians by Israel’s ongoing settlement enterprise. Settlements are basically communities for Jews established on land inside the West Bank. Some settlements are small outposts; others are large, modern towns. Some are populated by young couples looking for affordable housing in quiet and close-knit communities, which many settlements offer because living costs are often subsidized by the Israeli government. Other settlers are more ideologically motivated, seeking to make a religious or political point, essentially saying, “This is our land, and we will populate and claim it.” Some settlements have been built on ancient biblical sites holy to Jews, such as Hebron, Bethel and Shiloh. Most people who support an equitable and sustainable peace agree that settlements are a major obstacle to achieving it. While settlers often claim they are living on land that was uninhabited and not owned, Palestinians see towns being built on land that was once theirs. Suddenly the trees and water rights and roads that were part of that land pass from Palestinian families to Israeli settlers. And the Palestinians look across a road or a razor wire fence to the olive trees they used to harvest or the fields they used to plow. Many Israelis—who may or may not support the settlements on biblical grounds—argue that parts of the West Bank are necessary for Israel’s security. They note that Israel is a tiny country, at one point just a few miles wide, in a hostile neighborhood—surrounded by countries that have repeatedly waged war with Israel and have often harassed or expelled their own Jewish populations. While some Israelis vehemently oppose the settlements, many others view them as a difficult but necessary aspect of Israeli security.



WHO’S DREAMING? While many people suggest conflict in the Holy Land “has been going on forever,” historians disagree. Arabs and Jews have both lived together peacefully and with common purposes. Many Israelis and Palestinians describe the neighborhoods where their parents or grandparents grew up in the early 1900s; while their children played together, Christian, Muslim and Jewish parents shared common values of faith, reverence for life and hospitality. In fact, many Jewish families tried to protect their Arab neighbors during the war of 1948. Against that backdrop of peace, the violence that has marked the last century is especially heartbreaking. Neither side can claim innocence. Many people think Israel has used unnecessary military force against a demilitarized opponent. On the other hand, Palestinians who strapped bombs to their bodies to blow up Israeli civilians fueled fear and hate. In 2003, during an era of extreme violence, Israel began constructing a physical barrier—in some urban areas it’s a concrete wall 26 feet tall, and in more rural areas it’s a chain-link fence topped by razor wire—to physically protect Israelis from Palestinians. While the barrier has not yet been completed, violence against Israelis has radically diminished in recent years. Unfortunately, so has nearly all contact between Israeli civilians and Palestinians.

For those who believe the solution to violence is not abstinence, but engagement, the wall provides a significant and literal barrier. And they have been forced to get creative in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together. One person doing that is an Israeli grandmother named Roni Keidar who lives in the village of Netiv HaAsara on the Gaza border. In the direct line of fire for rockets launched by Gazan extremists, the small farming community of Netiv HaAsara and the nearby town of Sderot are among the most vulnerable places in Israel. Keidar knows that when the alarm sounds, she and her children and grandchildren have seconds to find a bomb shelter. She also knows that the crude rockets being launched from Gaza toward her village will be fought with the sophisticated bombs of the Israeli military. And the cycle of revenge and retaliation will continue. So, against the rockets and bombs, she fights with a different weapon. Using a network of cell phones, she keeps relationships between Israelis in her community and Palestinians in Gaza alive. Although Gaza no longer has Israeli settlers or military bases, the Israeli government—along with Egypt to the south—keep Gaza virtually sealed from the rest of the world. Keidar breaks this seal by connecting old friends who used



2008, I thought I had a pretty good idea where my life was headed—and frankly, it did not involve the Middle East. But when a respected mentor asked me to attend a conference in Jordan, which would be taught by Christians from the region, I decided to go. Every day for nearly a week as the Arab Christians spoke, I cried. I was grieved to learn how abandoned they felt by Western Christians. When American evangelicals seem to offer blind support to Israeli policies and actions while ignoring the painful daily life of Palestinians, it inflames the Arab world.

“We used to live in relative peace with our Muslim neighbors,” they said, “but now we’re being equated with ‘Christian America’ that seems to hate Arabs. That’s turning us into enemies in our own neighborhoods.” Several months later, I sat in a circle of leaders from a large Egyptian evangelical church. The pastor spoke: “What are you going to do with what you’ve learned? We need Americans who are willing to speak the truth about what’s happening to the Palestinians.” Within months of that, I was in the Holy Land, walking where Jesus walked 2,000 years ago. I couldn’t help but wonder how He would respond to the hostility that envelops the Holy Land and ripples throughout the world.



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“WE HAVE TO REALLY LISTEN. WE’VE GOT TO OPEN OUR EARS AND OPEN OUR HEARTS AND START UNDERSTANDING ONE ANOTHER.” —RONI KEIDAR to be neighbors before the barrier separated them. And whenever a Gazan receives a permit to enter Israel for medical care, Keidar meets them at the border and drives them to the hospital. “We have to really listen,” she explains. “We’ve got to open our ears and open our hearts and start understanding one another.” Keidar’s children say she’s a dreamer, an old woman who wants to believe that peace can come through words and understanding. “If you think I’m the dreamer for thinking things can be different, maybe you’re right,” she says. “But I say if you think this is sustainable … no, you’re the dreamer.

A PILGRIMAGE FOR PEACE Each year, thousands of Christians throughout the world take a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, his

WHAT DID JESUS MEAN WHEN HE SAID, “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS?” What did Jesus mean when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers?” To be honest, nothing has ever challenged me as much as my ongoing journey with the people of the Holy Land. It’s been a journey of awakening, anger and action. Awakening to the fact that things are not as they should be

spiritual pilgrimage took him from the Holy Land to the last place on earth one would expect to find a spiritual revelation: the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. As an advocate of nonviolent resistance to the occupation, Awad knew what it was like to walk unarmed toward a line of armed Israeli soldiers, quietly defying the power of oppression. He knew what it was like to be pinned to the ground and handcuffed for doing nothing more than speaking. But one day, while reading the Sermon on the Mount, Awad was gripped by words he had read hundreds of times without really seeing: “Love your enemy.” He was totally committed to nonviolence; he would not think of striking an Israeli. But love them? Still, he couldn’t escape those words commanded by Jesus. So he traveled with a small delegation of Muslims, Jews and Christians to the cold concentration camps of Poland. He and his colleagues spent an entire night in the children’s bunker—the place where Jewish children were held before being sent to the gas chambers to die. In that quiet night of torment, still haunted by the suffering of the innocent, Awad’s heart was rent. He broke down and wept. And he prayed for the peace of Israel. Awad returned home understanding that his enemy is his enemy because of fear and trauma and unhealed wounds resulting from

centuries of racism, discrimination and violence against Jews, from the Spanish Inquisition to the Russian czars to the Holocaust—and continuing even now throughout the world, including the Middle East. Awad realized that the Israeli soldier meeting his quiet words of protest with an automatic weapon is not just an angry young Israeli who hates Arabs. He’s most likely a terrified young man fearing what might happen to him—and to all Jews—if they don’t stay vigilant and strong. Awad has come to believe—and teach—that nonviolent protest with a political agenda is just one part of authentic peacemaking. Much of his time is devoted to learning and creating new ways to build trust and respect between the various communities in the Holy Land, trusting that even something as simple as a purposeful conversation can be an effective antidote to violence.

and not as we hear on the evening news. Anger about violence, injustices and human rights violations that are being perpetuated year after year. Action because I realize I can’t be silent about what I’ve seen. But then one day about two years ago, I was broadsided and humbled by the realization that there’s a huge difference between being an angry activist and being a peacemaker. I saw that I was well on my way to doing more harm than good and adding more pain to people—both Israelis and Palestinians—who have already suffered way too much. Before one trip to the region, I sensed that I Corinthians 13—the love chapter—was the scriptural focus for me during that trip. I read

the passage each morning, and throughout the day I prayed for the capacity to love both Palestinians and Israelis better. I’ve come to believe that’s a major part of what it means to follow Jesus into the Holy Land. It means spending time with people on both sides, listening and empathizing and allowing love to grow. British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote, “The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation.” If one views Israelis and Palestinians only through the lens of media reports of violence and hostility, one would wonder what Sacks’ words have to do with the Holy Land. But all the Israelis and Palestinians working toward peace

A SOLDIER’S STORY Robi Damelin is an Israeli woman who shares Awad’s commitment to dialogue. She has lived a life dedicated to peace, with an impressive resume. Damelin has been fighting injustice for decades. Growing up in South Africa, she spoke out against apartheid and worked actively for coexistence. In 1967, she moved to Israel—“to solve the conflict,” she says with self-deprecating humor. She ended up working on a kibbutz. “Ever since then, I have had a love-hate relationship with this country,” she says. Damelin loves the reality of a homeland for the Jewish people, but she hates the oppression of Palestinian people that results from the Israeli military occupation. “Israel will never be free until the Palestinians are free,” she says.


A Palestinian demonstrator throws a gas bomb toward Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron on April 4, 2013. Clashes rocked the West Bank as thousands attended the funerals of a prisoner and two teenagers shot dead by Israeli troops. Photo by Marco Longari/AFP

attest to the truth of his statement. Elias Chacour, an Arab Melkite priest living in Galilee, echoed those sentiments in his challenge to the group of American women I was traveling with. “If you’re here to pick sides,” he said, “then please leave. We don’t need you. But if you’re willing to figure out what it means to be a common friend to both Israelis and Palestinians, we welcome you.”

LYNNE HYBELS is a co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church, author of Nice Girls Don’t Change the World and a columnist for Sojourners magazine.




by Elias Chacour In this touching autobiography, Elias Chacour recounts his family’s ancient connection to Galilee. An Arab citizen of Israel, he writes movingly of his work to improve the lives of his people while seeking the common good for all who live in the Holy Land.


by Dale Hanson Bourke News about the

Israeli-Palestinian conflict often seems to have an agenda. This book helps sift through all the noise to encounter and understand people and perspectives on both sides.


by Sandy Tolan Combining history with a true story of hope and reconciliation, Tolan brings the conflict down to its most human level, exploring the complicated issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians and the shared history and future that unites them.


produced by Ethnographic Media This beautifully filmed documentary highlights the stories of three Israeli and Palestinian nonviolence activists, including Christian Palestinian Sami Awad.


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Damelin’s son, David, shared her perspective about the occupation. She claims he “would rather have gone to jail than serve in the military, but he knew that as soon as he was released, he’d just be posted somewhere else. In the end, we agreed it would be better for him to serve as an officer and set an example to other soldiers by behaving like a human being.” David fulfilled his required service, but in 2002 he was called up to the reserves. Again, he and Damelin decided he should serve and set an example. But as a soldier, “he was a symbol of an occupying army.” On March 3, 2002, 28-year-old David was killed by a Palestinian sniper. “I was beside myself with grief,” Damelin says. “I had all the good things in life, but it all became totally irrelevant. I just wanted to prevent other families from experiencing this.” To anyone who has not lost a child, such sadness is unimaginable—but Damelin was not alone. She was invited to a meeting where she met Palestinian mothers who had also lost children. “I saw there was no difference in our pain. I realized that through our joint pain we could speak out and make a difference.” Today, Damelin is a spokesperson for The Parents Circle, a group of more than 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost an immediate family member in the conflict. They join together to share their stories so they can empathize with one another and grieve together. “Then,” Damelin says, “we can stand together on stages in schools and governments and tell our stories of loss and reconciliation.” Damelin attends events to tell her story of losing David and her desire to help build peace. Her partner during one recent presentation was Bassam Aramin, the former Palestinian fighter turned peacemaker. Two years after he started Combatants for Peace, Aramin’s daughter was shot and killed by an Israeli border police while she was waiting in front of her school. Her name was Abir. She was 10 years old.

PRO-PRO-PRO Like Damelin, Aramin and so many other Israelis and Palestinians, many are beginning to believe it is possible to be authentically proIsraeli, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace. “Right now in the U.S. it seems like you have to fit in a box,” Deatherage says. “You either have to be pro-Israel, which means you’re anti-Palestinian, or you have to be pro-Palestinian, which means you’re anti-Israel. “I see that as such a false dichotomy. I think

if you support the state of Israel as a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people, then you have to also support the creation of the Palestinian state with the same ambitions that the Palestinian people to have: to live in their own state. “If you support the Palestinians and their right to live in freedom and in their own state, you have to support that for the Jews to live in Israel. You can’t be pro-Israel without being pro-Palestinian, and you can’t be proPalestinian without being pro-Israel, and all of that is pro-peace.” To remain a democratic state that is Jewish in character and majority, Israelis must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands for sovereignty in a portion of the historic land of Israel. And in order for Palestinians to achieve dignity and freedom, they must either be allowed to create their own state in a portion of historic Palestine or be given equal civil and political rights in Israel. However the problem is resolved, many Israelis and Palestinians agree that the military occupation of the Palestinian territories is unsustainable and is a violation of human rights that ultimately hurts everyone involved. While it is up to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to determine exactly what a future peaceful Holy Land should look like, Christians globally can and should advocate for a sustainable solution that recognizes and honors each person in the Holy Land as an equal child of God. “When Jesus called us to be peacemakers, He was really smart,” Sami Awad says. “He knew what He was saying. In order for us to spread His message, you cannot spread it through bombs and war and destruction. If the Church understands its role as a peacemaker, for the agenda of evangelizing and bringing Christ to the communities, then that is the approach to engage it. Peacemaking is the approach to do it. “A holistic approach of peacemaking will create an opportunity for real peace here,” he continues. “And if there’s real peace in the Holy Land, it will create a domino effect globally. Many, many issues will be resolved by resolving this conflict here. It will open relationships that the Church would never have been able to imagine.” With additional reporting by Lynne Hybels. CAMERON STR ANG is the publisher and founder of RELEVANT.

worldcompassion.tv/iamsyria worldcompassion.tv/iamsyria

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

am i your neighbor?


ou wouldn’t expect to hear an acclaimed indie artist gushing about Britney Spears and Top 40 hits, but that’s exactly what Danielle Haim is doing as she talks about the music she grew up on. “Think of Britney Spears’ ‘Slave 4 U,’ she says, “Now, the melody is very pop and simple and almost lullabyish. But ‘Slave 4 U’ is a weird song. Same with Justin Timberlake­—that first single off his first album [“Like I Love You”]. It’s cool that was number one, but it’s a weird song!” The hipster crowd might dock her a few points for owning up to it, but she’s right. The early aughts of pop was onto something with some of those minor key melodies wrapped in bubblegum grooves. And that formula has just been sitting there, buried in the past, waiting for the right band to come along and mine it for all it’s worth. And now that Danielle and her sisters, Este and Alana, have done just that, the rest of us are getting a taste of what we’ve been missing. Haim’s indie aesthetic lends them loads of street cred, but it’s their pop sensibilities that made their band the most talked about debut of 2013. “We love Beyoncé. We love Top 40. We love Aaliyah,” Danielle says. “I grew up on it. I always listened to it. It’s kind of bizarre.”

SISTER, SISTER By now, Haim’s rapid-fire ascension has been welldocumented. Their 2012 EP, Forever, was immediately hailed with critical fawning. The BBC called the sisters the year’s most promising new music act, and Fuse declared they were one of SXSW’s must-see artists. When their full-length Days Are Gone took the stage in August 2013, it did so to thunderous applause. BuzzFeed promptly minted them “Your New Favorite Band.” The album showed up on just about any “Best of 2013” list worth making an appearance on. The New York Times called it “as convincing as any major label rock album this year.” “We always hoped it would be a ‘thing,’” Danielle says. “We always hoped it would work out, but for a

couple years, we were like ‘Is this ever going to happen?’ But not until we released the EP was it ever like, ‘Oh my gosh, I think something is starting to happen.’” Something certainly was happening. In April of last year, all three girls were working day jobs. By November, they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.

WALKING THE WIRE Immediately, Haim drew a flood of comparisons to another band that had the good sense to bury pop hooks under a rock and roll vibe. Indeed, so many people have hailed Haim as this generation’s Fleetwood Mac that the analogy feels almost lazy. And yet, Danielle’s husky vocals have more than a passing resemblance to those of Stevie Nicks. She’s aware of the reputation, and acknowledges that Fleetwood Mac did have an influence on her musically (“Obviously, we grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac. In high school, I got really into Tusk.”), but she swears the similarities between the band and Haim are not intentional. Aside from the aforementioned Top 40 acts, the band’s inspiration comes from slightly quirkier edges of the classic rock spectrum. Danielle cites Talking Heads and Tom Petty as major influences along with Kate Bush (“I think she’s kind of the best,” she says). As you might guess, the Haim sisters were raised in one of those lovably nerdy music families. As a family band, they played covers under the so-bad-it’s-good name Rockenhaim, and Danielle and Este were part of an all-girl tween pop group called the Valli Girls. All of these ventures were more successful than they might sound—the Valli Girls landed a song on the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, back when that was no mean feat—but none of them sound today like they were ever particularly sold on the concepts. They did, however, catch the attention of some of the industry’s cooler musicians. As soon as Danielle graduated high school, Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis (who basically is to indie music what Yoda is to The Force) asked Danielle to play for one of her opening bands. While she was on tour with Lewis, Danielle was approached by The Strokes’ frontman




Left to right: Danielle, Alana and Este Haim.

Julian Casablancas, who needed a guitarist for his solo tour. It was here she caught the attention of no less than CeeLo Green, who wanted her to be a part of his all-female backing band. It was the chance of a lifetime for many guitarists, but by then, Danielle was entertaining other dreams. “I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I just didn’t really want to continue. I wanted Haim,” she says. “So I asked Julian, ‘what do you think we should do?’ because he asked us to open for his solo tour. He said, ‘Honestly, disappear for a year and just write and write and write. Get your recordings exactly how you want them.’ And that’s what we did.”

FALLING FORWARD The journey to indie darling has been a slow one, and Danielle is refreshingly candid about the toll fame has taken on the band. “Right now, it’s kind of a stressful thing,” she says. “Because we’ve never had to answer to a label before. Recording for us has always been tough. We’ve been a band since 2007, playing around LA a few times a month, getting a fan base. Every six months we go into the studio to record something, and every time we come out not happy with what we recorded. It took us until [2012]


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to really believe in what we recorded. Now that we have to do that on time constraints, it’s really frustrating and really scary.” She pauses briefly and seems to weigh the pressure of high stakes recording against the luck of her band’s big break. “But we can’t complain,” she finally says with a cheerful sigh. “We’re so happy. Before, we had to pool all of our money to go into a studio for two days, and it never worked. But now we actually have time to be in a studio and to explore if that’s what we want.” What they want has turned out to be largely songs about the bread and butter of all good pop songs: love. Finding it, losing it, accepting it and rejecting it. There’s a five year split between the oldest sister (Este) and the youngest (Alana), and they’re all at various stages of dating’s turbulence. It makes for some great songs, even if there’s a learning curve when it comes to performing them. “It’s easy when you’re writing,” Danielle says. “But then when you play it in front of a person it’s. The. Most. Awkward. Thing.” She laughs. “Whatever the most pleasant thing I’m feeling, though, is usually what ends up coming out.” She references Gotye, whose infectious “Somebody That I Used to Know” whet

the world’s palette for hipsters with an ear for mainstream radio. “That Gotye song, melodically, when the chord comes in, you want to sing along,” she says. That’s what Haim’s doing better than almost anyone right now: writing songs that are fun to sing. It sounds almost too simple to be worth mentioning, but then again, who else is even trying? You’d have to be crazy to try to match Beyoncé’s vocal acrobatics. Lorde is doing something special, but her mopey hooks don’t exactly invite you to roll down the windows and turn up the volume. Haim makes you want to sing into your hairbrush. And maybe it’s just that appeal that has the band a little nervous, wondering just how high they can fly. “It’s a mix of a bunch of different emotions,” Danielle says. “I’m terrified, but I’m so thankful. We’ve wanted music to be our day jobs for a long time, and for a while, when I was touring with different people, it was ... but it was kind of a different thing. It was all fun, no pressure. You work for someone else. It’s not your own music. Now, the pressure’s all on us. But I’m so excited.” T YLER HUCK ABEE is the managing editor of RELEVANT magazine.



on the iPad





hen I was 10 years old, I got in an epic fight with my then 9-year-old sister, Kristi. While the details are foggy, I do remember that I had been fulfilling my obligation as a brother to tease and torment my younger sister. As we ran into the house, she slammed the back door in my face. My momentum carried me right through the glass door, leaving me cut in several places. Numerous stitches later, I was assured I would be fine, but there would forever be scars to mark this fight. For years as a kid, I would proudly show off my scars. It was proof that I was tough, that I had survived. (I often left out the detail about getting beat up by my younger sister.) Over time, though, I became quite selfconscious about that scar. It’s interesting how childhood innocence fades away into grown-up mindsets that teach us scars are to be hidden. And not just the physical scars, but the emotional ones, as well.

CHOOSING TO LET GO Most of us have at least some scars, some fragment of yesterday in our hearts, and there’s no doubt it has shaped who we are. We would not be who we are today had we not fallen and stumbled, been hurt or abused. We really don’t have a choice about whether the past has impacted us. We do, however, get to choose if we embrace it. We

through that pain and that life is not fair. And therefore, they miss out on the brandnew ending that could, in fact, be theirs. Then there’s a group of people who take a different path. They realize their past isn’t really their past. They come to grips with the fact that their past pain is still impacting them and choose to rise above it. In an incomprehensible twist, they surrender their pain instead of ignoring or denying it. They choose to be emptied of it. And in a glorious miracle, God actually uses the pain of their past to help redeem others—in effect, allowing them to find purpose in the pain.

get to choose if our past, with all of its unique sorrows and joys, helps us grow—if we learn from it, if we use it to bless others. We all know people who have become meaner and more irritable because they held on to the suffering they endured in their past. And we’ve seen people who have been through similar suffering and seemed to let go, rise above it and find healing that engenders an attitude that draws others to them. How could the same suffering produce such different demeanors? Are some people lucky or blessed while others are cursed? Some people never get beyond the pain of their past. It wreaks havoc in their personal and professional lives because they keep cursing their pain, and it keeps cursing them back. They choose to believe they are inseparably attached to their past without realizing they are, in fact, making a choice to hold on to it. They hold on to it in one of two ways: Either they give in to it with a self-loathing that ensures perpetual misery and failure, or they wage an angry and desperate war against it in an effort to bury its devastation in self-denial. Either way, they never surrender the past pain. They hold on to the idea that they shouldn’t have had to go

This choice to let go isn’t easy. You have to choose to do something you think you can’t do. It requires a resolve that can only be found deep within your soul. But this choice does nothing less than determine your destiny. It’s the choice to let go of your desire to have life go the way you planned it. It’s the choice to find hope in your hurt. Ultimately, it’s the choice called surrender.

WE REALLY DON’T HAVE A CHOICE ABOUT WHETHER THE PAST HAS IMPACTED US. WE DO GET TO CHOOSE IF WE EMBRACE IT. And surrender is drastically different than just trying really hard not to think about things or to move on in your own strength. A good example of surrender is the 12step program. My friend Jon has been sober for almost 14 years now after battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol for over two decades. He gives the credit for his freedom to Christ and the practice of immersing himself into an authentic, broken community, which for him was his AA group. One day, we were talking about AA and how it has helped so many people overcome their addictions. He made a good point that it is ironic that the group, which is one of the most powerful tools against one of the most powerful addictions, never asks people



Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR We talked to Wilson about his book Let Hope In. Q: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WRITE ABOUT HOPE? A: So many people think of hope as the positive feelings they feel when their circumstances are going well. But if their circumstances are falling apart, it goes away immediately. I believe the Bible talks about a kind of hope we can all have, regardless of what we’re going through. Q: WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR US TO JUST BE PRESENT? A: There’s this tendency to live with the regret of our past or the worry of the future. There’s a lot going on these days that’s trying to capture the attention of our mind and our heart. Q: CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT THE IDEA OF TRUSTING VS. PLEASING GOD? A: You’re either going to choose the path of pleasing God or the path of trusting God. What we find out is that, in trusting God, He’s already pleased with us. [We think] “If I could do just a little more for God, then I know He would love me.” But I don’t think you’re a Christian because you’re trying to be like Jesus. You’re a Christian because Jesus became like you, and He died in your place for your sins. And now I have to trust what He has done for me and trust the freedom I now live in because I follow Him.


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to decide to stop doing what it is they have to stop doing. AA doesn’t try to mobilize the addict’s will. The addict has already tried that. They probably have decided to walk away from whatever addiction is plaguing them hundreds of times, but it never worked. Rather, in AA, addicts try to surrender their will. If you’re not familiar with the 12Step program, the first steps are: 1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable 2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity 3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God Millions upon millions have found strength to overcome what had rendered them helpless through this program. And for each one of them, that healing starts with a single step: admitting that they are powerless. Why would this be the starting place? After all, the goal is to gain power and strength over a demon that has knocked us off our feet. So why start by admitting our weakness? On the surface, it doesn’t make sense. Yet this seeming impossibility is the great untapped reservoir of strength within the human heart. There is great strength in owning our deepest weaknesses. If we try to overcome our past, our pain, our junk, our sin, on our own, it will beat us. Surrendering our will, humbling ourselves, as scary as that is, makes another kind of life possible. As Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). There is strength in letting go. There is radical power in surrender.

FROM PAIN TO GLORY Surrendering our hurt and brokenness to God is essential for many reasons, but there’s one benefit few think of. When you surrender your past to God, He can take it and use it to help others and to bring Glory to Himself. As author Brennan Manning put it,

“Anyone God uses significantly is almost always deeply wounded.” The Bible is a story about broken people and God’s choice to love them anyway. King David was a great king. With a great lust problem. Peter had great faith. And also stuck his foot in his mouth during important moments. God sent Jonah on a mission. And he literally ran in the opposite direction. The Bible makes it clear that broken people matter to God. But we must surrender our brokenness. So what is it that will turn the people of God from a group of washed-up, hiding-out people to a group willingly surrendered to allowing God to use their past? It will be a renewal of confidence, implanted in us by this one simple truth: We are loved by God— absolutely, unconditionally and forever. As Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39). It is only by focusing on that truth and making it the foundation stone of our lives that God can use us and all the pieces of our past—the good, the bad and the ugly—to minister to struggling, lonely, fearful, hurting, discouraged, sinful people—people like us. We are, each and every one of us, insignificant people whom God has called and graced to use in a significant way. The wounds of our past have inevitably left scars. But the scars are only there to remind us that we are human. That we survived. Those scars can be a reminder of the unique way we can embrace our past and, in doing so, shine the light of hope in a unique way into other’s lives.

PETE WILSON is the senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tenn. He desires to see churches become radically devoted to Christ, committed to one another and dedicated to reaching those outside of God’s family. Pete and his wife, Brandi, have three boys. Adapted from Let Hope In: 4 Choices that Will Change Your Life Forever by Pete Wilson. Copyright ©2013. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.


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will shift as you go along, anyway. When I was 22, I didn’t know one of the things I wanted to do was teach authors how to use social media. Know why? Because social media didn’t exist back then. For all I know, you might do something amazing with hover boards.

hen people meet me, they tend to ask two questions: 1. “Wow, you’re much taller than I thought. How tall are you?” 2. “What’s the one piece of advice you’d give me?” That first one is easy to answer, I’m gigantic. Thank you for noticing. I appreciate that. The second question, though, is a little harder. I don’t have one magical piece of advice that will forever change your life. (Other than “don’t trust people who voluntarily choose unfrosted Pop-Tarts.”) In fact, I don’t have much advice at all, just a series of questions you need to ask.



Many people go about this question the wrong way. They ask, “What exactly do I want to do with my life?” That is actually the worst question you can ask, which is why you have to murder it and get it out of the way immediately. We tend to think that we should be able to quickly and completely figure our lives out—that perhaps there is one purpose custom designed for us that we should be able to discover perfectly after reading a few articles like this. That’s garbage. As a twentysomething, it’s much better to figure out some broad goals rather than focus on the one lifedefining thing you want to do. Your goals



In a lot of ways, friendships and relationships are easier when you are in high school or college. There’s a natural structure to the whole thing. You’re in school for hours with the same people, doing roughly the same things, in roughly the same way. But after college, or at some point in your twenties when you move to a different city, get a job or whatever else, something changes. Suddenly, those structures are gone and things get a little fuzzy. For the first time ever, you really need to be deliberate to have meaningful relationships. You have to reach out to friends and be vulnerable. That last word is key, especially in a world so full of online “friends.” If you have a thousand Facebook friends but no one really knows you, you are the worst kind of alone. Think about who knows the best and worst parts of you and still chooses to be in your life. Someone who only cheers your successes isn’t a friend, they’re a fan. Friends are OK with you being a failure sometimes, too.



This is such a simple question, but you would be amazed how many people struggle with it. We tend to be completely blind to the things we’re good at and instead focus on trying to be something else. Take my friend Matt, for instance. That is not his name, of course, but when you write about people you usually end up changing their names. (Unless it’s Rick Warren. You use his name because he’s great and gives awesome hugs. This is not

an exaggeration. Google it. Best hug ever.) So, my friend Matt is a triathlete. He wins most of his races, has done an Ironman on four continents and is sponsored by a dozen major sports companies. We had lunch one day to talk about his blog. I asked him what the topic was and he said, “life change.” I replied, “Do you ever talk about your involvement in endurance sports?” He said, “No.” Why did Matt ignore his greatest strength? It seems that if he wants to write from the heart, he should write about the thing he’s most passionate about. Why did he skip over one of the things he’s best at? Because everyone does. Often, it’s almost impossible to see your own talents. The worst part is that when you miss your talents, you end up trying to be someone you’re not. Why should Matt write about life change when that really wasn’t the thing he’d focused on for 10 years? Why not start with endurance running and then move into life change down the road if he wants to? Play from your strengths first. To answer this question, lean on a friend. Ask someone who knows you and loves you enough to tell you the truth. Often, the first step toward a career you love is as simple as figuring out something you’re good at.



I meet a lot of twentysomethings who believe their life is divided into two neat little chapters. The first chapter is called “learning,” and it occurred from preschool to college.




WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR TWENTIES, YOUR FIRST THREE JOBS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED YOUR MASTER’S PROGRAM. The next chapter of their life is called “working,” and it occurs from graduation until death. (That’s a happy thought!) When they’re out of school, it’s time to work, not learn. Class is over. There are bills to be paid and taxes to be filed and serious adult stuff to do. This a huge mistake. You should never stop learning, regardless of your age. In fact, when you are in your twenties, your first three jobs should be considered your master’s program. It might feel different than college, but it’s time to learn how to be an amazing employee. It’s time to learn how to run meetings and launch projects and be on a team. The best part is that when you approach work this way it has the power to turn a horrible job into an OK job. Hate where you work right now? What could you learn there that would help you with future jobs? There are a million things to learn from a job itself and a lot more to learn in your free time after work. You no longer have homework or assigned reading. Read what you want to read, travel where you’ve always wanted to travel, do the things you promised you’d do someday. You are the Dean of your own life. Don’t just work, always learn.



This one might feel more specific, but it’s critical. Your ability to be smart on social media dramatically impacts your ability to get an amazing job. Employers now use companies to do online background checks of possible employees. They put together thick folders about everything you’ve said and done on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Think that’s an invasion of privacy? Maybe, but welcome to 2014. A simple rule to follow with your social


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media presence is to always ask this question before you post anything: “Would I want to talk to my boss about this?” Is the keg stand photo something you want to have a meeting about? Is the criticism of your company something you want your manager to bring up? If they are, by all means, post away. Break that “publish” button with how many times you hit it. If they’re not, though, be discerning. Don’t leave a horrible digital footprint that will stay with you for years.



Want to kill entitlement? Help someone other than yourself. If I could go back in time, Michael J. Fox style, this is what I would tell twentysomething me. I was wildly selfish back then. I lived for one person, and that person was me. The idea of helping other people seemed boring and unnecessary. (I know, I was a jerk.) But now, I’ve discovered how fun it can really be. The problem is that we think helping people is one size fits all. We think the only way to help someone is to work in a soup kitchen or raise money for a charity. Both of those activities are great, but they’re not the only way. What if there were a thousand different ways to help someone? What if you could take the thing you love doing and then help someone in your apartment complex do that too? What if our definition of “help” was a lot bigger? I think it needs to be. Help is as simple as you giving a friend a ride to the airport. Help is as fun as inviting a friend who’s trying to lose weight to play racquetball. Help is as easy as donating a bunch of books you’re not going to read anyway. There are a million ways to help people. Twentysomethings often get the rap that they’re narcissistic, but I think that’s unfair. I think in some ways, the older generation is

just as guilty for providing a really narrow definition of what it means to help someone. Let’s blow it up.



My dad used to ask me this question sometimes when I was in elementary school because I had really chiseled good looks like a movie star. Or it’s because I was making mistakes. It’s one of the two. His point was that sometimes we need to step outside ourselves and see what the story really looks like. So right now, if you were a character in a movie, would you be cheering? Would you be clapping in the theater? Would you be yelling, “don’t give up!” Or would you be falling asleep? Would you be daydreaming about something more interesting? Would you be wishing you were watching a different film that had more adventure in it? And don’t confuse “adventure” with “exotic.” Your movie can be amazing even if you don’t go to Bali tomorrow. Your movie can be noble and engaging from right where you are. So, would you cheer? Now you’ve got a handful of questions to ask yourself going forward, and probably even more that have sprung from those. Don’t wait. Your twenties might feel like they will last forever, but they won’t. I promise. Like any fun thing in life, they go by a lot faster than you anticipated. I don’t have all the answers for you, but I do know something. The more often you ask these questions, the more awesome those twentysomething years can be. And that tends to make for a pretty fun movie. JON ACUFF is the New York Times Bestselling author of four books. He lives in Franklin, Tenn. with his wife and two daughters. Read more from him at his blogs, Acuff.me and StuffChristiansLike.net.

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Tom Hanks has won two Oscars and four Golden Globes for Best Actor.


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om Hanks is riding high. In 2013 alone, his two films, Saving Mr. Banks (which releases on DVD in April) and Captain Phillips, were two of the most critically praised movies of the year, garnering seven Oscar nominations between them. But things weren’t always so easy. In every career there are highs and lows. And then there are the bottoming out moments. The moments when opportunities get so bleak, you resort to keeping library books about icons just as a reminder of what success actually looks like.

SLEEPLESS IN NEW YORK Before the days of Forrest Gump or Woody, Captain Phillips or the tale of Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks was just another struggling actor trying to make it big in New York City. It was there that he picked up a book about one of his childhood heroes at a local library. That man was Walt Disney, the very same man who had meant so much to him as a kid growing up in a broken home on the West Coast. “I had read a great biography literally in the 1970s,” Hanks remembers while explaining the role the book would later play in the research for his latest critically acclaimed blockbuster,


tells the story of how Walt Disney spent two weeks in 1961 convincing author P.L. Travers to allow him to adapt her classic children’s tale Mary Poppins into a movie.



Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and P.L. Travers.


was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in over 200 years. With a stalwart protagonist, modern-day pirates and a dramatic rescue, it’s a small wonder Hollywood smelled a story. The Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass was the natural choice to direct, and he tapped Hanks to play the beleaguered Captain Richard Phillips. The movie was a hit at the box office and nabbed an Oscar nomination for best picture.


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But for Hanks, even in a career that has been punctuated by frequent critical recognition and success, there was still something special about 2013. It was the year that the once unemployed, out of place New York actor finally got to fill the shoes that meant so much to him years before.

THE CAST AWAY KID Today, Hanks’ offscreen image is one of a happy-go-lucky everyman who’s rarely seen without his signature grin. But behind the good-natured demeanor and well-adjusted exterior is a past childhood of loneliness and a kid just trying to fit in. His parents divorced in the early ’60s, when Hanks was just 4 years old, so he spent much of his early days bouncing around California while his father worked as a cook, rarely staying in one place for very long. But for all of the difficulties, the young Hanks had at least one consistent thing in his life that constantly brought him joy: A weekly series of family-friendly specials called The Wonderful World of Disney.

I M A G E C R E D I T: F R A N Ç O I S D U H A M E L / D I S N E Y

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips.

Saving Mr. Banks, “a book I kept from the New York Public Library when I lived in New York and needed something to do because I was unemployed.” Hanks says that in addition to giving “a good history of [Disney’s] early days,” the book provided a look at the struggles Disney himself had in trying to find success. At the time, it would have been hard for the young Hanks—the one who couldn’t find a job and spent more time reading about Hollywood movies in overdue library books than actually acting in them—to imagine where his career would take him. Today, at the age of 57, Hanks is one of the industry’s most successful actors. To date, his films have brought in more than $8 billion at the global box office. (You read that correctly. Billion.) He’s won pretty much every type of acting award there is, including two Oscars for best actor. And he’s also proved to be one of the most prolific actors of his generation, having starred in at least one film every year for the last three decades.

FAMILY GUY The Hanks family seems gifted with extraordinary drive. A number of them are making their own mark in film, music and television. Here’s a look at the Hanks family tree.




Hanks’ wife is a fixture on TV. She currently has a recurring role on Girls.

You’ve seen Tom’s oldest son on shows like Mad Men and Dexter.

Hanks’ youngest son. No family tree is complete without an aspiring rapper.

Hosted by Walt Disney himself, the primetime event offered a fantastic escape into a world of adventure and friendship. There’s a scene in Saving Mr. Banks that you’ll probably miss if you blink. It’s a small moment in a film packed with dramatic tension and witty dialogue, but it has special meaning for Hanks, who plays Walt Disney in the film. “My favorite scene to shoot was getting to do one of those openings of Wonderful World of Disney where Walt’s interacting

come from inside. Tom is such a fine actor that that’s where he begins his work—from the inside.”

SAVING MR. DISNEY Despite his iconic status in American pop culture, Walt Disney himself is not without his critics. In a recent speech at the National Board of Review dinner, actress Meryl Streep praised actress Emma Thompson for her work in Saving Mr. Banks, but said Disney’s reputation as a “hideous anti-Semite”

“It was amazing to watch Walt on The Wonderful World of Disney each week. And now here I was, playing the man himself.”

with Tinkerbell,” laughs Hanks, referring to a quick clip that appears on a TV in the background of a scene. In the seeminglythrowaway few moments, Hanks got to re-enact an episode of Disney’s old weekly series—the same ones that would keep him company as a kid. “That was a dream come true, and just a blast,” he says. But, of course, not all the scenes were as carefree. Some required more gravitas. And to convey both the fun and the serious sides of Disney, director Lee Hancock says Hanks was the only choice he could think of. “I wasn’t trying to put a rubber mask on Tom and make him look exactly like Disney,” he says. “I wanted Walt Disney to

and a “gender bigot”—referring to his views about the professional roles of women and disturbing anti-Semitic beliefs—should not be ignored. Even Abigail Disney, Walt’s own grandniece, admitted that though he may have been a visionary, he still held his own prejudices, acknowledging that Walt was a racist, misogynist and anti-Semite. On her Facebook page, she confirmed Streep’s comments, adding “A devil he was not. Nor an angel … [Streep] said exactly what I said about how in spite of it all, his vision was amazing and he brought joy to so many around the world.” It’s that status of an icon and visionary, not an unapologetic racist, that made Disney’s

work so culturally pervasive. For people like the out-of-work actor and lonely kid watching TV, the idea that even with his own deep personal flaws, a dreamer could actually make it and find success was what was so inspiring about what Disney represented. “It was enlightening to see that he had suffered from financial struggles and doubts at points even in his own career,” Hanks said. “But he rose above it and overcame those challenges to become a man who could make a mouse come to life in a funny way, make a giant squid attack a submarine and place a giant castle in the middle of Anaheim, California.” In the last 30 years, Hanks has taken viewers on a journey to the moon, made toys come to life, fought Nazis on the beaches of Normandy and run across the entire country. But through all of his success and magic movie moments of his own, those quiet evenings watching Disney unveil the latest amusement park rides, Disney World attractions and coming cartoons still inspire the kind of awe that keeps him making movies today. “It was amazing to watch Walt on The Wonderful World of Disney each week and see what the latest rides they’d created were, to see the things that if we were very, very lucky, we might get to go and ride some day,” Hanks says, recalling the full circle journey of his own career, from kid looking for a little inspiration to an actor who is inspiring a generation with work of his own. “And now here I was, playing the man himself.” JESSE CARE Y is a contributing editor for RELEVANT Magazine and a mainstay on the RELEVANT Podcast.



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Fans of indie music know the drill: pay attention to Danger Mouse. The eclectic producer for Beck and Gorillaz—and the brains behind Gnarls Barkley—is back with a synthpop affair. For the sophomore album of duo Broken Bells, he’s joined again by The Shins’ frontman James Mercer. As expected, the duo can be a little hard to pin down. “Medicine” is full of deeply felt sentiments about sour relationships and destructive tendencies. Musically, all is not lost: On “Holding On For Life,” the shimmering synths lift the song into Wolf Parade territory, and “The Changing Lights” reverberates with acoustic charm.


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[O A R / P O LY D O R R E C O R D S ]


Arthur Beatrice’s debut album features chanteuse-like vocals and surprising musical twists. “Uncut” starts with an overly produced piano intro that eventually gives way to explosive drums. “More Scrapes” starts like a lounge song with snappy drums until the guitars hint at a dance track. Curiously hard to pin down, the foursome won’t even reveal how they got their name.

John Mark McMillan’s voice is what grabs you—it hits deep and strong, rugged as an oak. On his new album, this voice is used to project your thoughts skyward, with songs overcome with heavenly emotion. “Future/Past” is a standout track, with a gripping melody that soars on waves of pure worship. It’s an excellent release from a very exciting musician.












[L O M A V I S TA]

One of the best Christian rock bands is back. This Is All We Know hinges on the melodic emo-rock tendencies of lead gunner Jeff Schneeweis, but check out the fantastic percussion, searing guitars and a vocal cameo by Stephen Christian from Anberlin. And they don’t bother with generic power-pop lyrics—The songs are about redemption and fresh starts in life.

The fourth Wild Beasts album has a spacious, well-honed feel. The drums pulsate against lush vocals. The band created a foundation layer with synthetic instruments and then added analog accents. You almost need to get your passport stamped before entering their furtive realm. The songs are about the illusions of love, temptation and clinging to what is true—even if it hurts.

Part of a series exploring evolutionary advancement, this third release from the Britrock group is more accessible, dreamier and less percussive. “We’re The Future,” about pioneering cell mutations, adds a touch of M83 and Shiny Toy Guns. The glockenspiel fills and musical saw make lines about future humans joined at the spine a bit more palatable. It’s Darwin by way of Moby.

Manchester Orchestra have retraced their roots. Cope is full-on garage rock that demands high volume. The opener pummels you with a buzzsaw guitar they borrowed from Motörhead. Assaultive drums, droning low-level distortion and a nearscreamo chorus on almost every song match the curiously transparent themes about a relationship gone awry.




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[ S U M M I T E N T E R TA I N M E N T, R ]




[L I O N S G AT E F IL M S , R]

In his latest, David O. Russell works his magic once again. Centered on a con man (Christian Bale) who, along with his seductive accomplice (Amy Adams), is forced to work with a dim-witted FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to take down a group of politicians, the film soars with laughter and energy, thanks to the all-around top-notch performances.

There’s pressure when adapting a successful book to the big screen, especially when it’s Orson Scott Card’s brilliant story of a child defending the world against aliens. Yet Gavin Hood pulls it off. It may lack philosophical gravity, but the movie capitalizes on the book’s other novelties, from the intense action sequences to the provocative moral dilemmas.

Where the first Hunger Games movie lacked the scope and scale of the novel, the second makes up for it. In Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen, played by the vibrant Jennifer Lawrence, finds herself in a physical and metaphysical prison. Dark, gritty and buoyant, this second installment is the franchise’s Empire Strikes Back.

On one hand, Inside Llewyn Davis represents the quietest work of Joel and Ethan Coen. On the other, the film marks their most dense. In the crisis of a singer-songwriter in the 1961 Greenwich Village folk scene, the Coen brothers spin a complex moral odyssey, brought together with great music and an honest lead turn from Oscar Isaac.



With over 60 academic programs, NCAA DIII Athletics, and a strong commitment to the Arts, Cairn offers a dynamic university experience centered on Christ and His Word.


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Akhil Sharma artfully presents the sacrifices of family life as both painful and beautiful. When the Mishra family moves from Delhi to New York, each member must make adjustments and face challenges. Soon after, Birju, the promising older brother, suffers severe brain damage; Family Life examines how the incident affects every member of his family.

Much ink has been spilt in the search for the perfect adjective to describe what the Church is called to be. Incarnate may be one of the best. The Church is to be the Body of Christ at work in the world. Frost calls the Church to its original mission and provides a vision for finding our way back, providing insights into forces that keep us from experiencing the Kingdom.

“Most of us publicly eschew the ‘prosperity gospel,’ but secretly we believe it,” Rivadeneira writes in this challenging memoir. Broke is her story of how God used loss as a way of drawing her into deeper relationship with Him. At times both hilarious and heartbreaking, it is an important book for anyone who ever mistook making a good living for God’s abundant life.


This novel tells the story of three women during the Somali civil war. Kawsar is an elderly widow opposed to the regime; Deqo is an orphan living on the streets; Filsan is an ambitious army officer. As their lives begin to intersect, their circumstances become more complicated. Each story tells the larger tale of life in war-torn Somalia.

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JANUARY 17, 2014

JANUARY 24, 2014

Professor N.T. Wright is one of the most respected minds in modern day Christian thought, but it’s his humility that stands out in our interview with him. He talks about his most recent book, In Defense of the Psalms, why he thinks the Church has abandoned what he calls her first hymnal and why that’s a problem. He’s a wonderful communicator and a very intelligent person, but we’d guess you’ll be thinking more about his heart.

After the success of Michael Gungor’s early worship albums, he found himself in a place that sounds odd but is quite common: he wasn’t sure what he believed. From there, it was a long and fascinating journey to find where his beliefs and God’s reality met, and it’s one he walks us through in our chat with him. Gungor is one of the most eloquent apostles of redemptive doubt we’ve ever heard.

It’s been 13 years since Louie Giglio started the Passion Conferences and, in that time, it’s become one of the Church’s most influential movements of this millennium. It hasn’t just changed worship music—it’s changed how we think about worship music. However, as he looks back, it’s clear that Giglio sees himself as the one who has been changed the most. In this interview, he opens up about how.

Before he was the author behind the New York Times bestseller Pursued, Jud Wilhite was just a pastor in Las Vegas—”Sin City,” if you will. In this conversation, he trashes the myth that God’s interest in people is mostly in order to punish them. Using the biblical narrative of Hosea, Wilhite talks about a God who is interested in loving you. It’s as comforting a conversation as you’re likely to hear.

Act One exists to create a community of Christian professionals for the entertainment industry who are committed to artistry, professionalism, meaning, and prayer, so that through their lives and work they may be witnesses of Christ and the Truth to their fellow artists and to the global culture. Currently, Act One offers two programs geared to prepare artists for career a in Hollywood:



The Writing for Film & Television Program offers premium instruction and training in plot, character, dialogue, theme, world building and more. Students are supported throughout the writing process by working professionals. We offer three options to go through the program: • Spring Online Writing for Film • Summer Online Writing for Film & Television • Summer Writing for Film & Television (In-Person)

Designed for aspiring producers, development executives, agents, managers, financiers, entertainment attorneys and other high-level decision makers, our highly acclaimed Producing & Entertainment Executive Program offers a comprehensive overview of the industry, access to established Hollywood professionals, and a highly coveted internship.

www.actoneprogram.com | information@actoneprogram.com | facebook.com/actonehollywood | @ActOneProgram


MAR_APR 2014







As a pastor at Hillsong NYC, Carl Lentz has gotten a lot of attention for working as a spiritual leader and mentor for some serious celebrities. And although that earns him street cred, the coolest thing about Carl Lentz is that he seems so normal. In this video, as he shares his thoughts about God’s call to love a hurting world, you realize that he loves people no matter their social status. You’ll be inspired to do the same.

Hillsong United recently recorded acoustic versions of some of their songs for the RELEVANT Studio Sessions. Among them was this gem—a genuinely spine-tingling take on “Oceans,” from their most recent album, Zion. It was one of those truly rare moments in which the music seemed to be coming so naturally to the band, they seemed to be as lost in the magic of the moment as you are sure to be. Don’t miss it.

Any time you read anything about Bob Goff (including an article in this very magazine), you can hardly help being inspired to copy a few of the wise, whimsical and wild rules he’s set up for himself. If you would like a primer on a few of those rules, look no further than this video, which lays out some of Goff’s field notes on the everyday adventure he calls “life.” It’s inspiring, ingenious and, most importantly, imitable.

JON ACUFF’S CHRISTIAN PHRASES WE NEED TO STOP SAYING Almost anyone could write a list like this, but few are more qualified to do it right than Jon Acuff, a noted expert on Christianese. He put together a list of a few Church clichés we really need to let go of, and this video will explain why (not that you’ll necessarily need much convincing). So, what do you say? Ready to do life and love on one another through a video ministry? Here’s your chance.

faces of ministry

How do we lead so the church stays relevant in the 21st century?

We’ve got to take risks, to look at church from a stranger’s perspective, to reach out and embrace the people around us who need to hear the Word. Michael east

interested in learning more? austinseminary.edu/visit

Preparing strong, imaginative leaders for the church.







WHAT ABOUT BOB Donald Miller talks to Bob Goff about how to live an extraordinary life every day.


A POPE FOR PROTESTANTS? Pope Francis has become immensely popular, and not only with Catholics. What does he mean for Protestants?


THE STATE OF MUSIC Our panel of experts and artists discuss trends in music and what to look forward to this year. Plus, we spotlight notable artists releasing new music in 2014, including The Black Keys, Frank Ocean, Propaganda and Grimes.


NEEDTOBREATHE The band talks about coming back from the brink of a breakup to make their best album yet.


IS PEACE POSSIBLE? A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT A push for peace in one of the world’s most divisive and complex conflicts.


THE RISE OF HAIM How indie’s coolest sister act made it big.




Pete Wilson on letting go and learning to let God use brokenness.








Bible movies, ethical fashion, the future of humanitarian aid, Craig Groeschel and more.


MAR_APR 2014




Music, movies, books and digital content you should know about.

7 QUESTIONS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE Jon Acuff’s questions that can change your perspective.


Interviews with Warpaint, Houndmouth, Brooke Waggoner and more.



SAVING MR. HANKS Tom Hanks tells how the man he would later portray onscreen inspired him in his childhood and days as an out-of-work actor.


YOU’VE NEVER FELT “NORMAL.” It’s not that you’re really weird or anything, but a performance-based spirituality centered on one day a week has never quite done it for you. Is this all that Jesus came and died to give us?

Don’t believe the DO=BE lies anymore! Transformed: A New Way of Being Christian was written to awaken our hearts to our true identity and birthright as Christians. The Bible teaches that the moment we believed in Jesus we were transformed in an instant; given a new identity as part of God’s own family of missionary servants. This is who we are. This is our new identity. This is the secret to a fulfilled life. And this is true of us as Christians even if we never knew it. Author C A E S A R K A L I N O W S K I uses narratives driven by every day, normal life experiences that invite us to believe who we are and how we get to live. Transformed.


Learn more by following Caesar on Twitter @CaesarKal.

the white album [remix project]

a v a i l a b l e e v e r y w h e r e 3. 4 . 14




Profile for RELEVANT Media Group

RELEVANT - Issue 68 - March/April 2014  

RELEVANT - Issue 68 - March/April 2014