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ISSUE 60 / NOV_DEC 2012 / $4.95


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“Multiply is a simple, practical, biblical, helpful, and personal tool for disciples of Jesus who want to

make disciples of Jesus.” —from the foreword by David Platt

New York Times best-selling author Francis Chan is calling readers to turn the world upside down. Visit for leader videos and coaching helps.

New York Times Best Sellers from Francis Chan

Daley Hake

Available in print and digital editions everywhere books are sold

THE MAGAZINE ON FAITH, CULTURE AND INTENTIONAL LIVING November/December 2012, Issue 60 Printed on Dunder Mifflin supply paper.

PUBLISHER & CEO | Cameron Strang > Managing Editor | Tyler Huckabee > Content Development Editor | Stephanie Smith > Editor-at-Large | Roxanne Wieman Copy and Process Editor | Christianne Squires > Associate Editor | Heather Croteau > CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: John Brandon, Jesse Carey, Dharius Daniels, Bob Goff, Os Guinness, Bethany Hoang, Carl Kozlowski, Eric Leyden, Bret Mavrich, Tyler Merrick, Debbie Miller, Caitlin Muir, Matthew Sleeth, Kester Smith, Laura Studarus, Kelli B. Trujillo, Lauren Winner, Ralph Winter, David Roark Director of Accounts and Partnerships | Michael Romero > Senior Account Manager | Jeff Rojas > Account Manager | Wayne Thompson > Ad Traffic & Customer Service Coordinator | Sarah Heyl > Design Director | Chaz Russo > Graphic Designer | Mike Forrest > Multimedia and Marketing Designer | Evan Travelstead > Production and iPad Coordinator | Christina Cooper > Producer | Chad Michael Snavely > Photographer | Julia Cox > CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Gary S. Chapman, Eric Charbonneau, Andrew De Francesco, Jenny Linquist, Pamela Littky, Sebastian Mlynarski, Jay Sansone, Steven Taylor Digital Development Director | David Barratt > Web Producer | Lin Jackson > Web Production Assistant | Steven Linn > Systems Administrator | Josh Strohm > Circulation & Fulfillment Director | Stephanie Fry > Marketing Manager | Calvin Cearley > Partnership & Distribution Coordinator | Frankie Alduino > Finance and Project Director | Maya Strang > Operations Coordinator | Victoria Hill > ADVERTISING INQUIRIES:

NOT SURE WHAT THOSE BOXES ARE? They’re QR codes. Here’s what to do with them.

DOWNLOAD AN APP: QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can be read by smartphone cameras. Search “QR code” to find a free QR app for your phone.

SCAN THE CODE : Hold your phone over a box. The app will use your camera to read the code. ENJOY: The code will direct your phone to a site with a video, some music, a photo or other goody.

RELEVANT MEDIA GROUP Does anyone have a copy of our last issue? We need to look something up. 900 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789 Phone: 407-660-1411 | Fax: 407-401-9100

TO SUBSCRIBE Phone: (Toll-free) 866-402-4746 Rates: 1 year (6 issues) U.S. $14.99, Canada $24.99, International $30.99

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DISTRIBUTION If you are a retailer and would like to carry RELEVANT, please contact: Michael Vitetta | Curtis Circulation Company > > 201-634-7424 RELEVANT Issue #60 Nov/Dec 2012 (ISSN: 1543-317X) is published 6 times a year in January, March, May, July, September and November for $14.99 per year by RELEVANT Media Group, Inc., 900 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789. Periodicals postage paid at Orlando, FL, and at additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to RELEVANT Magazine, P.O. Box 6286, Harlan, IA 51593-1786. STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION RELEVANT magazine (Publication Number: 1543-317X) is published bimonthly by RELEVANT Media Group. Filing date: 9-26-12. Number of issues published annually: 6. Annual subscription price: $14.95. The complete mailing address and General Business Offices of the Publisher are located at 900 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789. The names and addresses of the Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor are: Publisher, Cameron Strang; Editor, Cameron Strang; Managing Editor, Tyler Huckabee; 900 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789. The owners are: Cameron Strang, 900 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789; Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. There are no known bondholders, mortgagees and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities. The tax status, the purpose, function and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income purposes have not changed during the preceding 12 months. Issue date for circulation data: July/August 2012. Extent and Nature of Circulation are as follows. Total number of copies (net press run): average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 49,811; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 55,000. Mailed outside-county paid subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 20,835; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 24,450. Mailed in-county paid subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Paid distribution outside the mails including sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other paid distribution outside USPS: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 17,287; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 17,274. Paid distribution by other classes of mail through the USPS: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 372; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 373. Total paid distribution: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 38,494; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 42,097. Free or nominal rate outside-county copies included on PS Form 3541: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Free or nominal rate in-county copies included on PS Form 3541: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Free or nominal rate copies mailed at other classes through the USPS: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Free or nominal rate distribution outside the mail: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 7,484; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 7,903. Total free or nominal rate distribution: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 7,484; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 7,903. Total distribution: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 45,978; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 50,000. Copies not distributed: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 3,833; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 5,000. Total: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 49,811; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 55,000. Percent paid: average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 83.72%; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 84.19%. Annual publication of this statement is required. Published November/December 2012. —Cameron Strang, RELEVANT magazine

The all-New

relevant store t h e e xc lu s i v e s o u r c e f o r :


QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can be read by smartphone cameras. Search “QR code” to find a free QR app for your phone.

2. SCAN THE CODE Hold your phone over a box. The app will use your camera to read the code.


3. ENJOY The code will direct your phone to a site with a video, some music, a photo or other goody.





P l u s a r t, m u s i c , a P P a r e l a n d m o r e :







r e l e va n t s t o r e . c o m

n o w ava i l a B l e Co

rv nse

e at i v


“Jesus did not mince words and neither do Shane and Tony. The Good News of the Gospels is that Jesus guides us with lessons that are abundantly clear; there are no ambiguities, no rationalization of war, oppression, wealth, or of the disgraceful economic divide that threatens to consume us. In Red Letter Revolution the uncompromised truth of Jesus’ teachings are given voice by two modernday Christian leaders who do more than preach this Good News. They walk the talk and lead the way.”





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look at the night sky, studded with numberless constellations of stars. each is a celestial shard of glory—bestowing glimpses of the eternal.

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Cameron Strang is the founder and CEO of

RELEVANT. Connect with him on Twitter @CameronStrang or CameronStrang.

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

is the founder of a nonprofit that fights injustices committed against children. As a student, he once spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of meat. He’s now the Hon. Consul for the Republic of Uganda. When his grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, he sat on a bench outside the dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll. He now runs a large law firm in Washington while also teaching at two different law schools in California. He once pursued a girl for three years before she would agree to go on a date with him. She’s now his wife. He doesn’t make appointments. Every Thursday, he quits something. He regularly sets up office on Disneyland’s Tom Sawyer Island. Clearly, Bob Goff is more interesting than the most interesting man in the world. His recent book, Love Does (which was his first foray into writing— and, of course, hit the New York Times best-seller list), tells story after story of Goff ’s very intentionally unconventional life—how he engages dreams, pursues strategic whimsy and truly loves people. Goff creates intentional margin in his schedule (hence that notmaking-appointments thing) so he can always be in the moment. He lives out his faith in tangible, inspiring ways and is touching countless lives along the way. For example, Goff put his cell phone number in the back of Love Does—yes, his actual number—and tries to never let anyone who calls go to voicemail. And he’ll fly halfway around the world to attend the wedding of a person he just met. Who does that? People like Bob Goff don’t just inspire me, their lives challenge me. They see each day differently than most of us. They see God opportunities in every moment, and then seize them with reckless abandon. As we cruise to the end of yet another year—barring any Mayan surprises—many of us will inevitably take stock of our lives and think

about tweaks we want to make moving forward. So with this issue, as you can probably understand, we wanted to go to Goff for some year-end advice. He’s a pro at embracing and cultivating an intentional carpe diem passion in his daily life, so who better to challenge us as we head into the fresh-start of a new year? (You’ll find the resulting article on page 60.) Maybe you can tell, but I’m kind of a sucker for carpe diem. It’s the common thread through some of my favorite movies: Field of Dreams, Good Will Hunting and, of course, Dead Poets Society. (That hallway scene where Robin Williams shows his students pictures of previous generations? Probably no movie scene inspired me more.) The plots of these movies drip with people who move from a place of restless complacency to complete, passionate pursuit. They go all-in. It’s also probably no surprise that Rick Warren and Richard Branson rank among my heroes. While very different, they are guys who don’t see obstacles; they see opportunity. They look at incredible, unrealistic, massive dreams and say, “Why not?” They try to change the world and in doing so, inspire others to do the same. We’ve been publishing RELEVANT almost 10 years now, and looking back, that’s one of the common themes you’ll clearly find in the magazine. We love giving voice to people who challenge status quo, point to what’s possible and spur our generation to say, “Let’s go!” Cynical people bore me. I always want to pursue life outside of my own context and comfort zone. Take our cover story on actor Rainn Wilson. Many people don’t know the funnyman is also intentionally using his platform and resources to make a difference in areas important to him: Like starting a foundation in Haiti that’s doing charity differently, and cultivating a massive multi-faith conversation through his website, SoulPancake. Wilson knows he won’t be on a hit show the rest of his life, so he’s purposefully living every day and pursuing every opportunity with a larger life imprint in mind. Would it be easier for him to just save his money, rather than pouring it into projects he’s passionate about? Sure. But then what difference would he have ultimately made? Life is all about purposeful risk-taking. Passionate selflessness. Gratitude. Love. That’s the way God created us to live— being fully engaged in the moment and realizing the eternal impact each of us can have when we have our ear to God’s heartbeat. Carpe diem.
















Thank you for this article. I love the


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T WEETNESS @apkoetters I just subscribed, and your iPad app is a sensory experience like no other. Magazine reading will never be the same. Thanks, guys!

idea of finding yourself sometimes on the Left and sometimes on the Right, because no





political party can fully contain the Gospel.” ­— ERIN HILL / Wilmore, KY

ISSUE 59 / SEPT_OCT 2012 / $4.95

Were the artisan economy [“The Artisan Economy,” Sept/Oct 2012] to take hold on a larger scale, I can’t help but wonder what the next movement would be. Would the pendulum swing again, with the children of pickling hipsters rolling their eyes at the romanticism of their forebears, craving instant coffee and throwaway furniture? Maybe it’s up to the artisan to pass on the love of the process and not just the love of the product, however creative and excellently crafted it may be.

From what I’ve watched so far, I’d have to agree that Last Resort is the best new show on television [“A Guide to Fall TV,” Sept/Oct 2012]. None of the other dramas even come close to comparing. —JESSICA HASTINGS / Portland, OR

When I got married, I thought my life as an adventurer was over. Thank you, Adam and Christine Jeske, for reminding me that putting down roots doesn’t mean you can’t uproot them [“Settling Down Without Settling,” Sept/Oct 2012]. —MARYANNE SAUSONIO / San Francisco, CA

—JACK DUBBA / Roanoke, VA

Reading about the church in Asia [“Persecuted but Prospering,” Sept/Oct 2012] puts my perspective on notice. I’ll remember this article next time I get upset about someone driving too slowly on the freeway. —MARK O’MALLEY / Seattle, WA

—CHLOE DELAPA / Kansas City, MO

—CHERYL MATERI / via email

Flipped through a friend’s new issue, and the work your designers are churning out is just blowing my mind. Good job, people. —ANGEL FERNANDEZ / Bulacan, Philippines

[L E T U S H E A R F R O M Y O U : F E E D B A C K@ R E L E VA N T M A G A Z I N E . C O M , F A C E B O O K . C O M / R E L E VA N T O R T W I T T E R . C O M / R E L E VA N T.]


@ashleymcdizzle Hey, @jonathanmerritt, I just read your recent article in @RELEVANT and wanted to say thank you! Seriously. @Scrappylicious Man next to me on a flight asked what magazine I was reading. His daughter will soon be getting a subscription to @RELEVANT. @MeganLovesJesus In no other magazine would I find the don’ts of thrift store shopping. Thank you, @RELEVANT! @RachelleEve_Onion Why, hello there, new @RELEVANT Studio Collection. We shall be spending lots of quality time together. :) @laur_ schneid Today everyone needs to subscribe to @RELEVANT magazine and download their fall playlist. It’s making everything wonderful.

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

[“The Story of Our Stuff,” Sept/Oct 2012] was a difficult article to read, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to. It didn’t give a guilt trip, but the stories made it really difficult to be apathetic. It does take a lot of effort to be an engaged, passionate consumer, but it’s now an effort I’m willing to make. I’ll be checking all my labels from now on.”

The N.T. Wright article [“What Are the Gospels Really About?” Sept/Oct 2012] left me slightly confused and wanting more. What does Wright say the Gospels are actually about? “How God became king.” I’ve never heard that interpretation before. I have no problem with an article that leaves the reader with questions and the need for discussion, but it didn’t even give me enough for that.

@ElaineC_K AMB “A Guide to Fall TV”­—@RELEVANT, these reviews are spot-on! Looking forward to watching a couple (maybe all) of them!


O N LY a $112

Get your first subscription to RELEVANT for $14.97, and each additional subscription is only $9.99—our lowest price of the year (by far)!


RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM/CHRISTMAS Rate valid in the U.S. only. Offer ends December 31, 2012. Orders outside the U.S. must be prepaid in U.S. funds. Subscription rate for Canada: 1 year $24.97. For all other international orders: 1 year $30.97. Please allow 5-6 weeks for delivery.




[ B Y T H E N U M B E R S ]

31% Percentage of countries with extreme religious restrictions in 2009.

37% Percentage of countries with extreme religious restrictions in 2010.

THE FALL OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM New global restrictions on religious liberty are putting it at its worst place in recent memory .



in a turnaround for religious freedom remains to be seen, but the Middle East is not alone in seeing the steady decline of religious freedom. Nigeria, Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, the Maldives and Russia were added to the Pew Research Center’s list of countries with very high restrictions on such freedom in 2010. Overall, more countries are being added to the list than are being removed from it. The trend is going in the wrong direction—and the United States is not exempt, either. For the first time since the study began, the U.S. experienced a slight uptick in government restrictions on religious freedom, owing to the case of a Sikh inmate who was not allowed to keep his beard and an ultra-maximum-security-prison inmate who was not allowed to convert to Islam.

63% Percentage of countries with decreases in liberty from 2009 to 2010.

75% Percentage of global population living in a country with high religious restrictions. *Sourced from statistics compiled by The New York Times and PRNewswire.

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

ast year, the Arab Spring helped bring the full extent of the Middle East’s troubling restrictions on religious freedom to light. And recently, those revelations were brought into even broader perspective through a study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, which rated most of the Arab Spring countries as “high or very high” concerning governmentimposed religious restrictions. Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen—three key countries involved in the multination civilian uprising—experienced a particularly sharp increase in restrictions on religious freedom between 2009 and 2010, precipitating the riots. Whether or not the Arab Spring events will result





Mike Bickle, Allen Hood, George Otis, Jr., Misty Edwards, Cory Asbury, and others.





[ M I S C ] Reports have surfaced that Sylvester Stallone is adapting The Hunter, a classic sci-fi novel about a genetic experiment

FLAVOR OF THE BIMONTH 10 Things That Are Happening Right Now


Wii U Nintendo’s latest toy,

releasing Nov. 18, is a game/TV

gone wrong,

hybrid that will revolutionize the

into a whole

way you waste your time.

different kind of experiment: Rambo 5 ...


Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

With a long list of genre-defining

Dr. Dean

works like Atonement and

Fishman is on a

Enduring Love, McEwan is one of

mission to wake

British literature’s surest things.

America up to

His new book releases Nov. 13.

the dangers of ”text neck,”


a spine injury caused by too


Halo 4 Your boss will no doubt

be mighty suspicious when the

much texting.

whole office calls in sick on its

It turns out your morning happy juice may not be totally perfect for you.


release date, Nov. 6.

Coffee lovers, you might want to skip this one. An article in Forbes is calling shenanigans on the oft-touted benefits of coffee, saying java is murder on regular drinkers’ emotional health. While coffee does provide its famous burst of energy to those who drink it rarely, coffee addicts (read: everyone) are actually just being returned to their normal, functioning levels when they drink the drip. And while coffee does mimic adrenaline in its effect on the body, adrenaline is only meant to be activated in actual emergencies, like getting attacked by a bear or walking through a spiderweb. These situations send your body into a “fight or flight” mode, but adrenaline isn’t meant to be what gets you through your workday on a regular basis. In short, the adrenaline-mimicking effect of coffee makes you treat all conflicts—like a fight with your boyfriend or criticism from your boss­—like an attacking bear. Not drinking coffee, on the other hand, means you treat everyone as if you, yourself, are an attacking bear. Coffee drinkers, the choice is yours.

spelling in an

can include abbreviated, typo-riddled language ... Florence restaurant L’è Maiala lets customers pay with fresh produce. Why


Christmas Specials The rocket speed of newer

computer animation has yet to

wouldn’t you

conceive anything as perfect as

just eat the

Rudolph’s claymation nose.

produce? ... WATCH A Rudolph clip.

Americans Throw Away So Much Food


to give their aisles a more robust look. But vendors who toss out buckets of unattractive but perfectly edible food, restaurants that serve more food than customers can finish and the leftovers that rot in our refrigerators are also to blame. The study showed that trimming American food waste by just 15 percent would create enough food to feed 25 million Americans for an entire year.


USS Coachella The indie music festival

sets sail on Dec. 16. What could be better?

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

The National Resources Defense Council recently released a study that says Americans throw away 40 percent of their food every single day. That works out to $165 billion wasted in food each year—quite an accomplishment for the country leading the world in obesity. A lot of this waste is owed to grocery stores, which are notorious for overstocking shelves with more food than they can sell




A new Gallup poll has determined the majority of people in each of the 50 states is overweight or obese. Slowly but

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln


Eggnog Love it or hate it, you

won’t be able to avoid it this Christmas. And yet precisely how one “nogs” an “egg”

becoming as

remains a mystery.

American as the flag, the Fourth of July


Skyfall On November 9, the world

and apple pie.

will once again be reminded why

And a second

we should all be British spies.

slice of apple pie ... Laugh all

When Lincoln releases on November 16, Daniel Day-Lewis will don the top hat and beard of America’s most beloved president and join a proud line of actors who’ve taken a stab at recreating history. Performing as a real person is one of the more daunting challenges an actor can face, but as this list of stunning biographical performances shows, the results are often unforgettable.

for Disease

The man’s jaw-dropping recreation of Ray Charles’ onstage persona made the movie a treat, but it was Foxx’s quiet revelations of self-doubt that made us feel we were seeing Ray Charles for the very first time.


overweight is

you want at

and complicated socialite. But Hoffman’s interpretation avoided the easy characterization, giving Capote a relatability the man himself avoided.

10 Things That Are Happening Right Now

surely, being

It’s time to pay homage to those biopics that wowed us all.

Jamie Foxx, Ray



[ M I S C ]

the Centers Control’s new book, Preparedness


101: Zombie

The Skyfall trailer.


guide for how


to defend yourself in a zombie apocalypse. It


The End of Daylight Savings Time

Otherwise known as “National

Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

won’t be funny

Show Up at Church One Hour

when you’re

Late Day.” Celebrate on Nov. 4.

How does one approach a dimensional portrayal of Idi Amin, one of history’s most maniacal dictators? If you’re Forest Whitaker, you do it with heart, and you make sure no one can take their eyes off you every time you’re on screen.

desperately trying to find copies on Amazon ...


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

“My precious!” scream millions of fans, clutching their tickets.

A man attempting to

Helen Mirren, The Queen

end his life in

This French biopic of singer and cultural icon Édith Piaf may sacrifice clarity for art, but Cotillard’s performance anchors it in truest reality. Cotillard doesn’t seem to be so much acting like Piaf as being possessed by her.

Kazakhstan was foiled by his trusty dog, who pulled his owner— unconscious from drinking— off train tracks. The man was


The End of the World No need to cry over spilled

milk, everyone. We did the best

rescued, but

we could with the time we had,

the dog was run

and we had a lot of laughs.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

over just as he

Thanks for playing, Planet Earth.

Truman Capote was one of America’s weirdest celebrities—a singularly odd

got his owner


to safety ...

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

Honestly, this list could be comprised entirely of Helen Mirren roles, since her chameleon-like ability to adopt others’ personas has made her the go-to pick for great biopic roles. Her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II caught her at the height of this idiosyncratic prowess.

Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose



ARE YOU SLEEPING WRONG? Get the most out of la-la land with these tips for a better night’s rest.

you know, getting eight hours of sleep every night is impossible. There’s work to do. Movies to watch. Books to read. And Facebook doesn’t check itself. So, what’s a sleep-strapped soul to do? Here are a few tips on maximizing whatever sleep you do get for optimum restfulness.


Get into a routine. Find a bedtime and stick to it. Disciplining yourself to set hours of work and rest will train your body when to shut down. Turn off the screen. Studies show that flickering screens, like TVs and computers, actually stimulate your mind. Don’t let a screen be the last thing you see before bed. No midnight snacks. Eating builds up the acid in your stomach. Drinking means more trips to the bathroom. Give yourself a couple hours between meals and bedtime so your body has time to settle itself down.

[ M I S C ] Forty percent of Generation Z think they’ll

Exercise early. Daily exercise is great for getting a good night’s sleep. Nightly exercise? Not so much. Your body cruises on endorphins for a few hours after you work out, which makes it harder to get to sleep. Schedule your workouts earlier in the day and you’ll be out like a light come bedtime.

have an inheritance from their parents, while only 16 percent of parents believe they’ll have an

Stop worrying. Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like stress. Before you hit the hay, take a few minutes to chill out. Take a shower. Read a book. Pray. Put your mind at ease. Whatever you’re worrying about isn’t going to get fixed at midnight.

inheritance to give ... Researchers from Stanford have found that reading is really good wildly groundbreaking, maybe, but they were surprised at just how good for you it is ...


Taras Polataiko, a Canadian-Ukranian artist, has installed a performance art piece in the National Art Museum of Ukraine based on Sleeping Beauty, in which young ladies sleep on a bed in front of museum-goers. But it’s not just make-believe here. Each model is contractually obligated to marry any museum-goer who manages to open her eyes with a kiss. One of the beauties told press, “If it’s my true love, I will feel it on an intuitive level ... What if it’s the only way I’ll meet my soulmate?” As of press time, fate has yet to strike.

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

for you. Not








that time of year once again —when the air turns crisp, halls get decked with boughs of holly and our crack team of culture hawks predict what the coming 12 months will bring in terms of trends, entertainment news and technology breakthroughs. This kind of flawless insight, folks, is why you buy magazines.

Newly solo Justin Vernon will join the cast of Whale Wars.

In 2013, the Sea Shepherd will recruit the former (and currently aimless) lead singer of Bon Iver to use his majestic falsetto voice to communicate with pods of whales and divert them from the dangers of Japanese whalers. As an unintended consequence, the whales will become incredibly sad while listening to Vernon’s weepy ballads, sparking a global outbreak of aquatic mammal depression.


Instagram will develop Instaglasses.

Bored by your eyesight? In 2013, you won’t have to suffer through a single day of anything looking just regular. Combining the technology of Google Glasses and the hip, retro filters of Instagram, Instaglasses will make it look like you live in a Wes Anderson movie.


Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos will inspire other fast-food mash-ups.

White Castle will release “Moon Pie French Fries” that combine the marshmallow gooeyness of a Moon Pie with the tiny, minced onions of White Castle burgers. Not to be outdone, the “Arby’s Oreo” concoction will spawn a barely edible roast-beef cookie. Have it your way.

Clippy, the Microsoft Office Assistant, will marry Siri.

Celebrity weddings have long been the subject of cultural fascination and tabloid fodder, and 2013 will be no different. This year, the celebrity marriage to dominate the pages of Us Weekly and People will be the union of iPhone’s Siri and Microsoft Office’s retired digital assistant, Clippy. Despite an obvious age difference, “Sirippy” (as the couple will become known) will set trends for couples looking for unique children’s names. Weird names. Like “Suri.” And “Apple.”

Note: These predictions have a 97.8 percent chance of all being completely accurate.


Dubstep will come to church.


The cancellation of Jersey Shore will spawn a cultural renaissance.

Following the final episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore, America will experience revolutionar y breakthroughs in art, design, literature, medicine, diplomacy and science—literally the very next day. No more drunken antics, nightclub brawls or Ed Hardy shirts will be found here.

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

Cool worship leaders in edgy churches will abandon their faux hawks and soul patches for long, blackdyed, Skrillexstyle hair as they incorporate dubstep into Sunday services. Flag teams will be replaced by glowsticks. People still won’t like dubstep, though.





The Whig Party will return.

Following a vitriolic presidential election and a wearying year of negativity, the Whig party will storm into political prominence. But unlike the Whig Party of the 1800s, the key issue of the new Whig Party will be, well, wearing wigs. Since it’s impossible to take yourself or your opponents too seriously while wearing powder wigs, the party will be actually able to work across the aisle and pass legislation.


New York’s soda ban will prove just the beginning.

After New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, banned the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces, other cities will attempt their own health-promoting laws. St. Louis will ban Slim Jims more than 4 inches in length. In Denver, Dilly Bars given more than a single dip in fudge sauce will become illegal. Meatballs that can’t be eaten in just one bite in Boston will be punishable by three years in prison.


Five-toed shoes will be the rage in dress-shoe form.

Women’s shoe designer Christian Louboutin will release a stylish, 6-inch high heel with five-toed design to encourage proper walking form even while attending a formal, black-tie ball. Cole Haan will sell a patent leather five-toed option for men who desire to look good in the board room without sacrificing their ability to jump on the bandwagon of this hilarious fitness trend.


Everyone will try to rejoin Myspace but forget how.


After its tumultuous public offering and volatile stock value, in 2013 Facebook will go bankrupt, forcing everyone to try rejoining Myspace— just so they can remember who their friends are. Unfortunately, no one will be able to recall their old passwords, and the migration will prove unsuccessful. Without social media profiles propelling interaction, people will be forced to rely on uncomfortable conventions like phone calls, face-to-face conversations and social gatherings to keep up with family and friends.

Hollywood filmmakers will get desperate for more superheroes.

Hollywood needs more superheroes than actually exist in comic books. In 2013, out of desperation, studios will greenlight films about new heroes like Captain Obvious and Yes Man, before targeting religious viewers with the likes of Sunday School mainstay Bibleman and the ever-virtuous Proverbs 31 Woman. Even breakfast mascot Cap’n Crunch will be featured in a thrilling multi-billion-dollar trilogy about his quest to defeat evil while searching for a cereal replacement that stays crunchy in milk without slicing the roof of your mouth open.

Pinterest will eliminate the need for actual retail stores.

In 2012, sites like Pinterest and Etsy helped fuel the DIY revolution, allowing creatives to share their craft and design skills with the wide world. In 2013, the trend will become so popular there will no longer be a need for any kind of retail store. Savvy consumers will use Pinterest to download homemade project instructions for anything they need. Want an acoustic guitar? Don’t worry—someone pinned instructions on how to fashion one from a single piece of mahogany. Looking to buy a new computer? Here’s a simple 400step guide to constructing one from spare junk lying around your garage. What about a gaudy quilt that’s clearly handmade by an amateur with no design experience? Perfect! Etsy has plenty of them.


Vintage trends will get out of control.

In 2013, the term “retro fashion” will take on new meaning as stylish hipsters reach even further back in time for vogue inspiration. We’re talking about the ’60s—the 1860s. Monocles, puffy shirts, petticoats, pocket watches, stove-top hats and canes will become all the rage as trends take a more dignified turn. For women, a parasol and bonnet will complement any smart outfit, along with a hanky to daintily wave at gentleman callers. No self-respecting man will want to be seen without must-have accessories like a fiddle and scepter. And the truly fashionable among us will spare no expense, trading in fixed-gear bicycles for authentic, thoroughbred show ponies. RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM / 27







Debbie Miller, LMHC, is director of Living Water Counseling (Orlando, Fla.) and founder of “Entering the Story” Bible studies and “Art for the Heart” collage workshops.

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was December 31, and a few close friends were dripping cheese fondue on my coffee table as we waited to say an enthusiastic goodbye to the ending year. It had been a hard one. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my tinsel crown couldn’t conceal my baldness. My best friend had been fired unexpectedly. Another friend was reeling from a betrayal that shattered her marriage less than six months after it began. We were celebrating a clean break with the old. We were quite ready to rush into the new. In this, we were doing what millions of people have done since Julius Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the civil calendar to honor Janus, the god of new beginnings. Janus traditionally had two faces, allowing him to look forward and backward at the same time. In our progress-oriented modern culture, we still look to unreliable gods to serve the same purpose—and among our favorites is our seemingly endless pursuit of the latest and greatest. On the brink of the new year, we are eager to dropkick the past and plow headlong into a future we assume will be brighter, happier and more meaningful. On this particular December 31, I declared I was going to join a gym and become healthier at 50 than I had been at 30. My friends were going to network more and get some counseling. We were all going to work harder to make it all work. Yet the next morning, we woke up with the same nagging fears. We wanted a new beginning to replace a painful past, but instead we were stranded in the wilderness of transition—and transition would require integrating our past into our souls, which we didn’t like one bit.


x x x x x x x x x x x x

Transitions can be painful and disorienting, but I’ve learned they’re also the places where God shapes, humbles and ultimately meets us. Transitions reflect the cycle of death, waiting and rebirth—a supremely familiar pattern to those of us who claim to be resurrection people. While ancient pagan culture perpetuated a jump into each new year, the Church knew something else was needed. Around the fourth century, it adopted the season of Advent to mark the beginning of the Christian year. Weeks before noisemakers mark the start of a new calendar, Advent arrives to guide Christians from the old into the new. It’s a time that invites us to look back in gratitude at the Incarnation, to look forward with hope to Christ’s second coming, and to look squarely at ourselves with honesty and grace. It’s a time of spiritual reflection as well as joyful anticipation, a time of preparation and waiting. Advent offers a much-needed rite of passage to a culture lacking rituals that teach how to let go, make room for what is next and bear the inevitable anxiety of the fallowness in between. Most of us are far removed from the agrarian cycles of growing, harvest and resting that used to serve as ready reminders of this. We’re disconnected from this natural pattern that resonates in the DNA of all creation. But we can at least recognize that in deep midwinter, when nights are long, the earth is in a season of waiting. And perhaps instead of rushing headlong into 2013, we can learn from this season. For in God’s economy, dormancy is always the twin of productivity. Looking back is always kin to looking forward. We must let go and wait, empty-handed, before we receive again. We can look back with as much passion as we look forward—feeling our disappointments, grappling with our losses and grieving what is left behind. We can prepare for what is coming by sitting with what has happened in the past. In ancient Judaism, the concepts of redemption and remembering are bound together. For contemporary Christians, should it not be the same? Over and over, God exhorts His people to remember. To remember His faithfulness and commandments. To remember our stories. To remember His death and resurrection as a sure pattern of our own. To remember that He is coming again in glory to redeem creation from its groaning. Wherever you find yourself this New Year’s, consider resolving less, reflecting more and responding to God’s sacred whispers of “Remember.”


NT ELEVA FOR RADERS RE tapathy de: rejec o c r te n E

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@u r b a n a mI s s I o n s







Os Guinness is an author and social critic. His latest book is A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future (IVP, August 2012).

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light of the presidential election, it’s important to ask ourselves what our national identity is beyond the partisan squabbling, the front-yard election signs and the campaign ads. In other words, we need to ask ourselves: What makes America great? There are any number of answers to that question: the strength of America’s GDP, the power of its military, the prestige of its universities, the breadth of its infrastructure. But many would answer with none of those things. St. Augustine maintained that to assess a nation, you must consider first what it loves supremely. Can there be any doubt that from its beginnings until today, what America loves supremely is freedom? Both for itself and for the world, freedom is America’s heart and soul—the “empire of liberty,” “the land of the free.” Nothing is more daring than the founders’ conviction that they could build a free society that could stay free forever. Yet liberty never lasts without a fight, and the fight is also close at hand. For at its heart is a stunning paradox: The greatest enemy of freedom is freedom. Freedom, left unchecked by self-restraint, easily spirals into permissive license, which inevitably undermines freedom. As Benjamin Franklin asserted, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” How do we sustain freedom when its very nature poses a danger to itself? Our founders’ solution to this dilemma is arguably the most original answer to the problem in all history—and it’s an answer we have strangely neglected today.



Alexis de Tocqueville famously called it “the habits of the heart.” My own term is “the golden triangle of freedom,” because America’s founders stressed three interlinked ideals intended to cycle through each other ad infinitum. Their sustainable model looked like this: Freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; and faith requires freedom. Today, all three themes of the triangle are under assault. The American view of freedom has shifted from positive (freedom for) to negative (freedom from). This is as true of conservatives (“Get the government off my back”) as it is of liberals (“The government can’t tell me what to do with my body”). Whatever your political stance, the bottom line is that these contemporary views of freedom are unsustainable. Freedom’s decline is not inevitable, but the U.S. faces a stern choice. Lincoln put it plainly: “As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” The U.S. will never be brought down by any external foe, whether that is the Nazis, the Soviets, Islamist radicals or whomever. Free people always bring themselves down. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor. The founders may have been wrong in their policies toward slavery, women and Native Americans, but it is a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath water. We can learn much from the founders’ system for sustaining freedom. And sustainable freedom is critical to the Millennial generation more than anyone. You have been described as the “cynical generation” and the “screwed generation,” with good reason for both. From Washington to Wall Street, the generations ahead of you have handed down not a bright future but a heavy mortgage—and you have every excuse to view issues of public life with cynicism. The sustenance of freedom is only one of many issues, but it is vital in this country because it bears the weight of so many others. Toward the end of his life, de Tocqueville remarked that in a revolution, as in a novel, the hardest part to invent is the ending. All eyes are now on the Millennial generation as you rise to play your part in the world. Yours will be a critical chapter in the long, stirring story of human freedom, so this is no time for the fainthearted. To echo Winston Churchill, your challenge is to live so that generations beyond yours will rise to say of you, “This was their finest hour.”




The Smackdown on Illegal Downloading

WHO OWNS YOUR DIGITAL MUSIC? (HINT: NOT YOU.) In the ever-evolving world of digital media, just because you paid for music doesn’t make it yours. Why is it so hard to own something you legally bought?



This, of course, has been instituted to prevent you from burning dozens of copies of your downloads to give to your friends. But it also means you have no long-term say over what happens to your music. This isn’t new. Record companies didn’t want you making copies of compact discs back in the day, either. And even though you could will those CDs to whomever you liked, you only had possession of the physical item, not the music on it. If you scratched a CD, nobody was obligated to give you another. None of that reasoning will likely satiate concientious iTunes customers, and the world of digital media will eventually have to deal with what happens when the first generation of digital music owners starts passing on. Although Willis should stop worrying. He can’t even tell when he’s dead.


The fall album for subscribers is here! Have you gotten yours yet? It will totally make your autumn (and your winter, too).

DOWNLOAD The RELEVANT Collection: Fall 2012.

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

interesting rumor surfaced in early September about Bruce Willis suing Apple for total ownership of the music he’d purchased on iTunes. The story goes that Willis, contemplating his mortality, was looking for a way to ensure his substantial collection of digital music would be left to his daughters after he died (hard). As it turns out, there’s nothing to the rumor, and how it even got started is something of a mystery. But it sparked a conversation that has yet to be resolved. The long and the short of it is that Willis should be thinking about what’s going to happen to his music after his death, and so should you. That user agreement you agreed to? It grants “nontransferrable rights” to your digital files— meaning those files are on loan. You can’t give them to anybody else.

Almost 10 years ago, Joel Tenenbaum downloaded and distributed 31 songs. That’s no strange feat for a teenager these days, but in the early ’00s, when the recording industry was just waking up to how file-sharing might reshape the entire industry, it made an impact—and the industry asked the government to do something about it. The broad ramifications and government response to file-sharing remain hotly contested, but for Tenenbaum, the response has been a decade in the making—and it’s pretty brutal. He’s been fined $675,000 for his offense, which works out to just under $22,000 per song. Though he attempted to contest the ruling, a U.S. district court judge determined that since he’d received and ignored multiple warnings to stop sharing the songs, he’ll have to fork over the money. The lesson is simple: Unless you feel you’re getting $675,000 in value from sharing your illegally downloaded copy of the Eagles’ Greatest Hits, you might want to consider cooling it.

CHANGING A LIFE STARTS WITH A SHOE BOX GIFT See the unexpected impact you can have at Operation Christmas Child is a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham.



[ M I S C ] Regulators recently approved Universal’s $1.9 billion takeover of EMI, creating one music


label that now controls 40 percent of the music market. Hope you like your music homogenous ... The foremost Black Eyed


Pea,, is looking to jump on board the reality

The Christian rockers sue a hip-hop duo over identity confusion.

TV train with

If you’re confused why that last Newsboys album you bought plays like a hip-hop album of questionable content and not the twirling drum kit anthems you have come to love, you are the victim at the heart of a lawsuit over somewhat similar band names. And don’t worry, the Newsboys are out to avenge you. The Christian rock act has filed a formal lawsuit against New Boyz, a rap duo not particularly famous for anything. The Newsboys say the New Boyz, who’ve been around since 2009, have created “genuine confusion” among listeners seeking their gospel rock who instead find the morally “meh” hip-hop of the New Boyz. Eric Copeland, a prolific Christian music producer, says he thinks the Newsboys’ case might be a bit overblown but admits, “The whole thing about contemporary Christian music is that we’re trying to bring the message of Christ through a secular sound, so I can see their concern for being mistaken for a wholly different kind of secular music.” Current sounds, secular music, a hip-hop duo’s name hanging in the balance ... there’s a lot of drama here. Now would be a good time to reconsider the name of your trick-lasso act, The Noose Boys.

”an American

his own idea: Idol for young wizards,” meaning aspiring inventors and creators. Sounds promising, although we’d rather it was about actual young wizards ... The FBI listed “Juggalos”— the nickname



Clown Posse’s rabid fans—as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” This made the band angry enough to sue the FBI for what they see as discrimination against their fans. Trial-ofthe-century stuff here ...

The first week of September was a history-making moment in Christian music when former Jesus Freak TobyMac released Eye On It, which sold 69,000 copies its first week and became the first Christian album to land the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart since 1997. Eye On It is only the third Christian album ever to carry the top spot. It’s been 15 full years since LeAnn Rimes’ You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs landed there, and earlier in 1997, Bob Carlisle’s Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) also nabbed that coveted slot. The Billboard chart has proven tough ground for Christian artists. Casting Crowns’ Come to the Well, Red’s Until We Have Faces and David Crowder Band’s Give Us Rest have all reached the runner-up spot. Even TobyMac’s old outfit, dc Talk—pioneers of the Christian alternative rock scene—couldn’t climb past the No. 4 spot with their 1998 finale, Supernatural. But never forget: Jesus Freak was the highest-selling gospel album of all time when it dropped in 1995.

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When it comes to ’90s Christian alt-rock, few names are as revered as dc Talk and Audio Adrenaline, who inspired Jesus Freaks the world over to keep their eyes on heaven’s big, big houses and who soundtracked every Christian summer camp worth attending. And now, at long last, they’re joining forces. Kevin Max, the sole member of dc Talk who isn’t a rapper or already in the Newsboys, is joining a newly reunited Audio Adrenaline. He’ll take the place of Mark Stuart, the original lead singer, who retired in 2006 due to vocal chord issues. So, Max and the rest of his new/old band are hitting the road in 2013, with a lineup that actually features only one of Audio Adrenaline’s original members.

for Insane

TobyMac’s Album Reaches Nu Heights

Earn your theological degree:

On Campus or Online


ACCRE DIT E D. R E L AT I O NA L . M I S S I O N A L . C all 8 0 0 . 3 6 9 . 8 3 87 or f i n d out m o re o n l i n e a t ud ts l ea rni





Purity Ring Shrines

Why We Love Them They mix the electro swirls of The Knife with the hip-hop beats of Wiz Khalifa and still come off with a

FOR FANS OF Imogen Heap, Phantogram, The xx ONLINE


Grizzly Bear Shields warrants all those Beach Boys comparisons Grizzly Bear’s been getting.

Easter Island Frightened sounds like Explosions in the Sky with lyrics—songs that pummel you with their sheer beauty.

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

wholly original sound.


the phrases you’d use to describe Purity Ring would work for any number of other trending indie bands: electronica synths twinkling over vaguely hip-hop beats—that sort of thing. But that belies just how good Montreal duo Megan James (lyrics, vocals) and Corin Roddick (everything else) really are. Their sound might be “in” right now, but their debut album, Shrines, will captivate long after the electronic craze has run its course. That’s thanks in large part to James’ lyrics, culled from her own diary, which are mostly sweet sentiments expressed in a disconcerting vocabulary. Get a little closer, she sings on “Fineshrine.” Cut open my sternum / and pull my little ribs around you. It sounds like romance by way of Hannibal Lecter, and James says she’s OK leaving the interpretation open. “When I write, I’m not trying to make anyone understand what I’m saying or what I’m feeling,” she says. “It’s a release of emotion. I don’t worry about other people hearing it, because I don’t think anyone else will understand.” But just because listeners don’t understand it doesn’t mean there’s no connection. “They relate in a way that makes them feel closer to something in themselves,” she says. “That’s something I really appreciate. It’s something humble.”

[ M I S C ] Beck, America’s favorite monosyllabic vegan artist, has announced his next album will be released exclusively on sheet music. Yes, fans will have to learn how to play an instrument if they want to hear it ... The onetime Dresdon Doll Amanda Palmer, who paid for her new album with a Kickstarter campaign, came under fire for paying her musicians in hugs and high-fives.

DIVINE FITS Spoon’s Britt Daniel is about the closest thing indie rock has to a legend, so any side project from him is worthy of attention. And if that project also features members from Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks, so much the better. I didn’t have this idea that I wanted to start a band comprised of people that the general public had heard of or anything like that. I just knew them. It came together naturally. We’d never sought out [the term ‘supergroup’] whatsoever. As soon as it got announced, that was the word we saw everywhere. I guess it’s fine. We are super.


Why We Love Them With Britt Daniel from Spoon, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade and Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks, they

Divine Fits

A Thing Called Divine Fits

sound like Spoon, if Spoon had been formed in the ‘80s. Why wouldn’t we love them?

FOR FANS OF Flock of Seagulls, Kraftwerk, The Human League ONLINE

After a huge Internet


backlash, Palmer agreed to cut them all

Why We Love Her

a check ...

The heavenly folk sound of Anaïs Justin

Mitchell makes the girl-with-a-guitar


thing sound like a revelation. She takes

the lead

folk to its storytelling roots and knows

singer or sole

how to tell a good one.

member of Bon Iver, depending on who you ask—has asked fans to design a tattoo based on his favorite TV show, Northern

Anaïs Mitchell

Exposure. He’ll

Young Man in America

review entries FOR FANS OF Sharon Van Etten, Bowerbirds, Bon Iver, Joanna Newsom

and get his favorite one inked on his arm ...





Q &A



the Law, and the Law condemns us. We need to be singing about the Gospel. I’m really excited because I think more music like that will come, along with more music that’s more engaged culturally—less of a sound to it that you would turn on the radio and your 5-year-old can be like, “Oh, is this Jesus music?” Because it all sounds the same. How is Modern Post trying to change how worship sounds? I don’t think anything com-

out of modern worship Amusicingshould be touted as, “This



The first venture from Mars Hill’s music label is a very different kind of worship band, and it’s led by the former Thrice frontman.



Few career arcs are marked with as many surprise twists as Dustin Kensrue’s. Of all the ’00s screamy, angsty, post-hardcore bands, few have been as consistently interesting as Kensrue’s Thrice. But his earthier solo work is equally captivating and reveals serious moments of faith. So maybe it’s less of a shock that Kensrue’s newest gig finds him the frontman for Modern Post, one of several worship bands at Mars Hill in Seattle, Wash. Kensrue took time out of his schedule to talk about his new band, his new role and worship’s new generation. A few years back, you probably didn’t see yourself leading a worship band.

I never thought I would go into leading worship in a church setting. I was just kind of sitting on the sidelines, complaining about it. [God] started



It’s just a revelation to hear modern worship that doesn’t sound like it’s trying to be U2. Here’s the thing. U2’s great.



How do you handle the tension between being a performer versus being a worship leader?

LISTEN To Modern Post’s “Grace Alone”

The goal of a [worship] leader is to get out of his own way and do the job at hand, which is proclaiming boldly and firmly and excitedly and emotionally what God has done for us.


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


Where do you see modern worship headed?

Right now, there’s a lot of man-focus. It’s a lot of Law wrapped in pretty language: What I’m supposed to do. But the reality is that our worship should be about what God’s done for us through Jesus— that’s the Gospel. And then we have a response to that— that’s worship. If you flip those around, it ends up being about


found something that has broad appeal. That’s good, and there’s room for that. But I think it just stagnates over time. It ends up doing a disservice to what we’re actually singing about. Different music communicates different feelings. I think there’s a lot to be said for exploring those different connections.

putting on my heart this desire to engage in leading worship in the local church ... just trying to influence it so that it would be primarily two things: more Gospel-Christ-cross-centered and more engaged culturally.


is what music should sound like.” That’s the point. It should sound like a bunch of different things. For Modern Post, it’s really joyful as a response to what God has done. Someone said it sounded like Thrice and the Cure got in a fight and then decided to worship Jesus.



4 WAYS THE WEB REWIRES US Like it or not, you’re being changed by technolog y. he Internet has forever altered everything, from the way we communicate to the way we date to the way we shop. But one less-discussed effect of the Internet is how it might be changing us. Although it will be a while before the full scope of the web’s impact on our consciousness will be realized, here are four ways the online revolution has already changed your brain.


Think of the Internet as a collection of millions of different coffeeshops, each with a sign on the door about what kind of people you can expect to find inside. You’re not going to darken the 40 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12


All this “we” talk is a bit misleading, since only 44 percent of the world is even online. For all its lauded “worldwide-ness,” the Information Age has yet to hit the majority of humanity— which means all these changes to the way we think are actually siloing us off from a huge chunk of the world.


It’s no surprise to anyone who’s ever logged into Facebook, but researchers

have proven it: When people like the product, they keep their happiness to themselves. When they don’t like it, they complain. When it comes to the Internet, then, open forums and crowdsourced reviews bring out the worst in us.


The printing press taught the brain to read left to right, top to bottom. But what’s become more natural for us now is skimming. Faced with a constant flood of information­, we jump to the headlines, the bold words and the bullet points in what we read. It’s a survival tool, sure. But it also means we rarely take the time to see if the facts line up. The Internet has made us more gullible.

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doorway of one that doesn’t suit your tastes (at least, not for longer than it takes to shout your disapproval). The Internet has crafted a world for us in which our interest groups are increasingly polarized.

Hearing from God is extraordinary. But the circumstances He uses to reveal Himself may be more ordinary than we think.

Get to know Tony Kriz (known by many as “Tony the Beat Poet” in Donald Miller’s best-selling book Blue Like Jazz) through his real-life conversations and experiences that prove that God can and will use anyone and anything—from Muslim lands to antireligious academics to post-Christian cultures— to make Himself known.

“Every human being is a story. This book is simple, because it is story. This book is profound and challenging, because it is story.” —William Paul Young, best-selling author of The Shack

Available wherever books are sold

Free chapter dowload.



5 THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT ... We asked five successful visionaries what they wished they’d known about chasing their dreams.


hink you’ve got a great idea? Tough news: So does everyone else. What makes an idea actually great is what you do with it. So we rounded up five successful visionaries

and asked them to share the things they wish they’d known when they were just starting out. Want to get your dream job going? Learn from their mistakes.


1. I wish I’d known it was going to take longer than I’d planned or hoped. It’s one thing to prepare yourself for a 500-mile trip and quite another to end up taking a cross-country road trip you never expected. 2. I wish I’d known I was going to make mistakes. It sounds cliché, but when you’re starting something, the slate is clean and you don’t envision stubbing your toe or getting your fingers slammed in car doors. But you will. 3. I wish I’d known to be ready to adapt and change my model. It’s not so much selling out as it is

being a chameleon—surviving in new environments by changing colors. If you do, there will be opportunities for survival—and, hopefully, success. 4. I wish I’d known it was going to take substantially more money.  However, I have to wonder if I’d have ever started Project 7 if I’d gotten a chance to peek behind the curtain. 5. I wish I’d known it does no good to gain the world and lose your soul. This life goes fast, and you only get one shot at your family and at building community. Create boundaries and margin for the important things in life. Business is not your identity.




me, it won't change your life as dramatically as you might hope it will. 4. I wish I’d known I should try not to worry too much about whether my family members liked the book. For anyone with complicated family relationships, the publication of a book can be trying. Try to keep expectations that your family members will like it—or even read it—low. 5. I wish I’d known publishing can be spiritually tricky. There’s so much ego and so many hopes. A friend told me to write a liturgy before the publication of my first book, giving God my hopes and fears.  I believe it was part of what kept me protected while on the spiritually vulnerable terrain of publication.

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1. I wish I’d known that you’re a writer because you write. Publication—and the reception (good, bad or indifferent)—of your book does not make or unmake you a writer. 2. I wish I’d known that my own reading of the book is not privileged. I thought I knew what I had written. Readers had other interpretations. The book has a life of its own, and as much as I try, I cannot control how it is received by others. 3. I wish I’d known that publishing a book will change your life, and it will not change your life at all. As you write and prepare to publish a book, be in honest discernment about the impact publication might or might not have on your life. If you're like


ERIC LE Y DEN, CUL IN A R I A N A ND W INNER OF SI X “BE S T OF CEN T R A L OR EGON” AWA RDS 1. I wish I’d known opening a restaurant is consistently hard, solid work. Just like the daily operations of a restaurant, opening a restaurant is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent execution. It’s not 88 percent. It’s not 89 percent. It’s a hard 90 percent. 2. I wish I’d known the customer is not always right. You have to give yourself the mental freedom to say no. 3. I wish I’d known about the egos. In this line of work, it’s to be expected that the restaurant owners and chefs with the biggest egos will come

into your place—always between the busy hours (between lunch and dinner)—and want a tour, wherein they’ll passive-aggressively tell you how much more awesome they would have done the restaurant than you. 4. I wish I’d known most food vendors will negotiate on price. At least some of the time. It never hurts to ask for a deal. 5. I wish I’d known compromise is important. Especially when it comes to your vision, compromise is really OK, as long as it’s moving you forward.


DHARIUS DANIEL S, SENIOR PA S T OR A ND FOUNDER OF K INGDOM CHURCH IN E W ING, NJ 1. I wish I’d known what works well on paper doesn’t always work well in practice. In other words, an idea isn’t a great one because you thought of it. It’s great when it works. 2. I wish I’d known it takes time. The development of teams, people, ministries and programs will all take time. A lack of patience caused me to push our team and myself at a pace that was unhealthy and also unsustainable. 3. I wish I’d known the importance of money. In an attempt to be non-offensive and “non-churchy,” I all but avoided the subject of finances. In doing so,

the church endured some unnecessary financial challenges, and others did not grow in the spiritual discipline of generosity. 4. I wish I’d known how much the name of the church matters. Some people will make assumptions about a church and decide whether or not to visit based on the name alone.  5. I wish I’d known how much I didn’t know. I was seminary-trained, well-connected and wellread, but that doesn’t substitute for the wisdom that comes from the “school of hard knocks.” There’s a wisdom that only comes from experience.


R ALPH WINTER, PRODUCER OF T HE X-MEN FR A NCHISE A ND MULT IPL E S TA R TREK F ILMS 1. I wish I’d known producing is about the story. I thought if I just worked harder and did a better job than anyone else at producing, I would get to be a producer. But it doesn’t work that way. Instead, it’s all about the story—that’s what the audience is concerned with and why they come to the theater. 2. I wish I’d known everyone is important. While doing the Star Trek movies, I worked for a great man named Harve Bennett. I worked for him and with him on eight or nine TV and movie projects. Years after we went our own ways, I got a call from a studio head, wondering if I would hire Harve, and my recommendation got him the job. Every business is a small business.

3. I wish I’d known this would be a long haul. I used to think the right big project would make a fortune or bring fame. But again, that’s not the way life works. It’s a journey. What matters is doing great work for a long time. That’s how you win.   4. I wish I’d known family should win out over ambition every time. Especially when I was building my career, it was hard to turn down seemingly great projects. My wife forced me to rethink this, and I thank her regularly. 5. I wish I’d known leadership is a learned skill. The technical skills I can learn or hire others to perform. Leadership and persuasion skills are gifts and must be practiced. 





DOING BUSINESS UNUSUAL While most companies stake their pride in innovation at the farthest edge, Bulldog Drummond—the creative consulting team helping Starbucks, ESPN Zone, Nestlé and CMT, to name just a few—has

earned its world-class reputation for going back to the basics. So, what’s their model of success? We asked founder and CEO Shawn Parr to explain the secret behind what he calls “uncommon sense.”


Can you give an example of “uncommon sense” at work?


We challenged the executive team of Jack in the Box to go into their restaurants, take a friend, order lunch, and then go to the bathroom with a camera. They asked their friend to do the same (without the camera) and then talked about their observations. It set the tone for our relationship, where candor and total honesty are not only welcome but expected.


How is Bulldog Drummond unique in its industry?


We demonstrate the principles of disruptive thinking by doing real innovation and executing. We are like serial entrepreneurs—experimenting, observing, connecting, talking, collaborating with a massive network of inspiring people. Our people are willing to roll up their sleeves and pack a massive punch for the challenge at hand.



What does the intersection of faith, creativity and work look like for you?


It took me a long time to figure out what I was here for, to pay attention to God tapping me on the shoulder. After a World Vision trip to Africa in 2004, it became very clear: I get up every day to help others realize their full potential, to unlock their best. This applies to my role as husband and father, my work at Bulldog and the not-for-profits we help.


What collective vision drives your company every day?

At Bulldog, we believe the biggest opportunities can be realized—and the most complex challenges can be solved—by using a powerful combination of no-nonsense passion for simplicity, common sense and determination. We apply this lens of “uncommon sense” to help drive change with our clients. 


World Vision


Bulldog Drummond serves as a

To educate Americans about




HIV/AIDS, Bulldog Drummond


Starbucks as they launch new

designed a traveling learning

centered on health and wellness,

commissioned Bulldog to tailor

phases of the customer experience—

experience in partnership with

out of which evolved Nestlé’s

their product shopping experience

from new products to local events.

World Vision.

experimental “Innovation Lab.”

to moms and kids.




Mattel Drummond



designed summit

Having researched the purchasing trends




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




HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS The return of Christmas lights and stockings may signal the best season of all to some, but it also commences a season of survival mode for the homeless.


provision in this season, more and more church communities are choosing to open emergency shelters. Nearly 30 churches in Fairfax County, Va., for instance, have partnered with government at a local level in a commitment to host the homeless with a “no turn away” policy from November to March. At these volunteer-run emergency shelters, homeless individuals find a safe place to sleep, a free meal and sometimes even a hot shower. “Fairfax County has a unique partnership with our faith communities and nonprofits,” says Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Sharon Bulova. “We are committed to serving the homeless population in a way that is compassionate and ensures their safety.” As temperatures fall, this type of creative solution may be just what’s needed to bring the homeless in from the cold.



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any given night in the United States, approximately 800,000 homeless people are out on the streets. And on winter nights, when temperatures drop below freezing in much of the country, the streets can be incredibly dangerous. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, homeless people are three to six times more likely to become ill—and develop hypothermia or frostbite—than those who have a place to call home. Of course, many homeless people will migrate from the streets to the shelters during winter. But many are also turned away as shelters hit capacity or as individuals are denied entry for insobriety. In response to the growing need for compassionate

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GOOD WORK Here are a few other organizations making a difference. Check them out, and get involved. 1

A Well W ithin

Combining a traveling art exhibit with an educational experience about the global water crisis, A Well Within funds welldigging in Africa.


R atanak Inter national

In response to one of Cambodia’s biggest social issues, Ratanak International leads anti-trafficking efforts, including prevention training courses in the rural villages where children are most often sold. They have educated over 21,000 GARY S. CHAPMAN


A CUP OF COFFEE CAN DO A WORLD OF GOOD In 2001, Jonathan Golden’s experience as an industrial psychologist and Anglican priest converged on surprising common ground: the coffee fields of Rwanda. Moved by the great needs of this country scarred by genocide, Golden founded Land of a Thousand Hills—a company advancing a bold recipe for good coffee and national healing. Through fair wages and reconciliation efforts, Land of a Thousand Hills provides a dignified living for over 10,000 farmers and their families in Rwanda, Haiti and Thailand. We talked with Golden about the redemptive mission behind his company’s motto, “Drink Coffee. Do Good.”



Shortly after my ordination, I asked one of my bishops how our church plant could help with the healing of Rwanda. Coffee was the answer. Today, we help farmers discover their life’s work, and we witness reconciliation through their common work.




Why business instead of nonprofit?

We work directly with the individual craftsmen who form the fabric of the world through their work. It would be hard to create sustainability if, as an organization, we were solely dependent on donations. Our goal is to be a sustainable company that is a good example of healthy capitalism.


Explain your “community trade” model.

The money you spend on a cup of coffee goes directly back into local communities, providing food, education, orphan care and coffee production training. There is a social, spiritual and economic aspect to work. Through community trade, we engage coffee farmers on all three levels.



Samaritan Aviation

This nonprofit uses planes to deliver medical assistance to Papua New Guinea and to provide “mercy flights” for ailing travelers in the U.S.




How can coffee farming heal a land?


Last month, I interviewed two of our Rwandan farmers—a perpetrator of genocide and a victim. The victim said, “God has given me a heart of forgiveness. We all now work in the coffee garden together—the murderers and the victims.”

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Why did you choose to pursue coffee?

community members and counting.

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AMERICA: THE CIVILIAN WAR ZONE The mass shootings of 2012 are difficult to pin down to a category. This year alone, crime scenes have gone viral across the face of the nation—from the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., to the Sikh temple in Wisconsin; from Texas A&M University to the foot of

the Empire State Building—and the list goes on. They are certainly acts of violence, but they additionally exhibit the disturbing trait of spreading like an epidemic. Here are some statistics about gun violence in the United States.



























1 * Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997



2 * Gallup Poll, January 2011

3 * U.S. Department of Defense, 2012

4 *

5 * National Center for Health Statistics, 1993

6 *, 2012

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Bethany Hoang is the director of the IJM Institute for Biblical Justice, where she develops biblical justice theology with

Adapted with permission from Deepening the

global Christian

Soul for Justice (InterVarsity Press, © 2012


International Justice Mission).

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each individual entered the room for International Justice Mission’s Global Prayer Gathering, their eyes were filled with images chronicling the reality of modern-day slaves enduring brutal labor under the violence of a slave master. The room was dark and the images darker. And then, without a sound, words began to appear on the screen. Blessings abound wherever He reigns; All prisoners leap to lose their chains; The weary find eternal rest, And those who suffer want are blessed. The contrast was palpable. The juxtaposition of the inherent despair in each of the slavery images and the hope of the words we sang together was fierce. Were we all fools, ignorantly moving past the pain of modern-day slaves as we sang of God’s goodness? Mark Labberton, founding director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching, writes, “Christian worship—corporate and individual—can and should be one of the most profound and relevant responses to power abuse in the world. In worship we cast our lives upon the faithful and just power of God. When we do so, we oppose all acts of unjust power.” This kind of worship is not easy, nor is it comfortable. And yet it is the way the Church has been called to move. Consider the context of Jesus’ proclamation in Luke 4, when He stands in the temple and declares His mission to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free. Consider Proverbs 14:31 and the inextricable relationship between how we treat the poor and



our worship of God: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Justice is always connected to worship because both worship and justice are about the right ordering of the world. They both declare God’s lordship over all—including evil and oppression. Singing that Jesus is Lord stands in protest to all other lords the world has to offer, be they the lords of security, of self-righteousness or of profit through slave ownership. The juxtaposition experienced on those screens in that moment was, I think, exactly as it should be. When we worship first, we uniquely encounter grace for the justice journey. We remember that we, too, are unjust and need forgiveness. Just as worship proclaims the right ordering of the world, worship invites us to be reordered so we may be grounded in God’s purposes. And as we praise Him together, we realize we are not alone in this justice journey. History is filled with stories of justice heroes whose lives serve as a benchmark for the hopes of this generation. Heroes like William Wilberforce, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King Jr. are each rightly remembered for their inspiring leadership. But what and who stands behind these leaders—worship of the true God of justice—is what often gets missed. My colleagues in Kenya recently secured the release of an innocent man, James, from a Nairobi prison. He had been framed for a crime he had not committed and was tossed in prison to rot. But today James is free. As they were leaving the court together, one of my colleagues asked James about his plans. She anticipated he would share about his first meal as an exonerated man, next steps for his job or reuniting with his family. But this free man turned to her and spoke of different plans: “For my future? For today? For my life? To praise the Lord and thank Him forever and ever.” To praise the Lord and thank Him forever and ever. Yes, truly. Amen. May our response to justice ever be the same.


“This education will absolutely influence and change the way you live your life.” BRENDANMCALPINE

At Wheaton College Graduate School, we create a community where the culturally and theologically diverse student body engages in rich dialogue and pursues excellence in and out of the classroom. “For Christ and His Kingdom” is integral to our students’ experiences, with classes that equip scholars to become better learners, practitioners and Christians. We invite you to explore our programs and discover how YOU can become better equipped to serve the body of Christ and His worldwide church.

Check out the video viewbook to hear more from Brendan, other students and faculty at WHEATON EDU/GRADSCHOOL .

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ansas City, Mo., is known by many as “the heart of America,” but to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it is known as one of the most overlooked yet pivotal battlefronts in the war against modern-day slavery. The reason is evident from the vantage point of West Missouri U.S. district judge Beth Phillips’ downtown office. Five stories up inside the U.S. federal courthouse, her office boasts an impressive view of the Missouri River as it converges with the Kansas River at Kaw Point. Four major thoroughfares intersect here, snaking along the water. In the distance, Phillips can see the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, where I-35 stretches across the river and heads toward Des Moines and eventually Minneapolis. Highways spread in every direction over the plains of the American Midwest, paving the way for a steady flow of goods and commerce. But it’s the illegal trade that interests Phillips. Standing at the crossroads of America, Kansas City serves as a case study for why trafficking is so difficult to fight—which is why the FBI has selected it for a unique pilot program that will encourage the ability of federal, state and local law enforcement to work together. It wasn’t until the 2000 passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act that trafficking was made a federal crime and prosecutors like Phillips were given the legal tools to rescue victims and put traffickers behind bars. Then in 2006, the Western District of Missouri launched the Human Trafficking Rescue Project (HTRP)—the pilot program coordinating federal and local police forces and nonprofits between police forces at both local and federal levels, as well as nonprofits that provide victim services. And now this collaborative model is nationally expanding. Just this fall, President Barack Obama announced the first-ever federal action plan to monitor domestic trafficking and strengthen services for victims—a landmark move that will amplify national efforts to keep victims from slipping through the cracks. And there are cracks. “Criminals don’t care about jurisdiction,” Phillips says. While there are federal laws in place that clearly define trafficking, it falls upon the states to enforce the laws—and the space between the two is where justice often falters. That is, if law enforcement even recognizes trafficking in the first place. Modern-day slavery is so elusive that without special training, victims of forced prostitution or labor are difficult to identify. That’s why the HTRP is in place: to educate

law enforcement officials on how to spot victims. But sometimes even that is not enough. Phillips says victims of human trafficking are often conditioned by their traffickers to fear the police. So even when given the opportunity to escape, victims may avoid the police or lie about their circumstances. “Human trafficking,” Phillips explains, “preys on vulnerability, and a negative stigma of law enforcement creates a major vulnerability.”


Last December, Google issued an $11.5 million grant to organizations fighting trafficking around the world—$8 million of which went to the International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Alesha Guruswamy, the senior program manager for IJM’s campaigns in South Asia, says the money will go toward two important initiatives in the war on slavery. The first initiative raises the bar on government-led rescues, which IJM hopes will result in freeing 3,600 people from bonded labor. “To paint a picture of bonded labor,” Guruswamy says, “we’re dealing with a person who is the poorest of the poor. Often they end up in this situation because they took a loan or advance from some kind of a loan shark who then required they go to a facility—be it a rice mill, rock quarry, fishing boat or brick kiln—and work there until they reportedly pay off the debt. But the loan is just used as bait. Some people have worked 70 years to pay off the equivalent of four dollars.” In South Asia, this scenario is rampant, but these methods of labor trafficking are also happening closer to home—in places like Kansas City. In 2009, the HTRP prosecuted a group of Uzbeks working for Giant Labor Solutions (GLS) who had lured hundreds of international workers to the United States with the promise of a job opportunity. Once the workers arrived in Kansas City, they were holed up in cramped apartments, forced to clean hotels for little or no pay and kept enslaved by the fear of deportation—a legitimate fear, since GLS had confiscated their visas. Thirty years ago, the GLS scandal might have gone undetected. But by training law enforcement to identify victims, the HTRP has helped increase the number of convictions. For its second initiative, IJM is creating an advocacy program—the first of its kind—that has the potential to protect millions of at-risk individuals. By targeting national media outlets, as well as launching massive awareness campaigns, IJM hopes to raise the visibility of bonded labor to prevent its reach in the future. They know—and they want the world to know—that as long as slaves stay invisible, they stay enslaved.



—ALESHA GURUSWAMY Yet for all the progress made in rescuing victims of trafficking, the fight is far from over at the point of freedom. Trafficking victims then face the long, hard road to recovery—a road Kristy Childs knows all about. Childs knows the challenges of re-entry after rescue through her work as CEO and founder of Veronica’s Voice, Kansas City’s only organization dedicated solely to sex trade victim recovery and a partner of HTRP. Through two local shelters, the Veronica’s Voice team helps prostitutes make an actionable exit plan and work through a long-term recovery plan that encompasses mind, body and soul. RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM / 55

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Childs also knows the challenges of re-entry firsthand as a trafficking survivor who found freedom 15 years ago. She believes a war on pimps and traffickers alone cannot end slavery. It’s like squeezing a balloon, she says—when pressure is applied to one area through new laws, the problem squeezes out of one of the cracks. Childs also knows how a prostituted woman can circumvent the latest laws to continue to make money. After all, if she doesn’t find a way, she risks a beating at the hand of her trafficker. Such are the choices of those in bondage. In fact, “choice” may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of trafficking. The trafficking culture deliberately instills its victims with the illusion of choice, says Childs, brainwashing them over time into submission so that, after a while, victims feel their choices are their own. This misperception is inherent in the very language forced prostitutes use with each other. Childs offers a bleak example: “Girl, you should choose up with my man— he don’t beat me.” Some choice. This confusion over choice can be so deeply rooted that rescued victims must often be taught to dream again, as Guruswamy has witnessed through the work of IJM. For the newly rescued, she says, the euphoria of that first taste of freedom is overwhelming. After a few months, however, many begin to realize that a life of freedom has its own set of challenges. IJM helps former bonded laborers by transitioning them into a new life gradually, over a two-year period, by assisting them in finding honest work and applying for government benefits to help them get on their feet. For only $400 (provided by IJM), a slave-turned-entrepreneur might start his own brick kiln or open a DVD rental shop.


It’s easy to imagine rescue as a heroic event, but Beth Grant, 56 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12


Join the Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery Human trafficking is not just happening “out there.” It’s happening on your home turf—and it takes ordinary people who care to keep up the fight. • Learn how to advocate for anti-trafficking legislation at www. • Research the red flags of trafficking and how to report them. • Plug into one of IJM’s campaigns at • Follow news updates about the war against modern-day slavery at

founder and co-director of Project Rescue, an organization dedicated to restoring sex trafficking victims in India, sees it differently. And in the stateside war on slavery, law enforcement can learn from her surprising perspective.
 “‘Rescue’ is a confusing word,” Grant says. “In our culture, we tend to think of rescue as a raid—John Wayne goes in, fights and gets them out. While sometimes there is no way to help without doing that, in the place where we work, raids are the most feared thing. Little girls in our programs who write about their perfect world write, ‘It would be a world beautiful with no bad men and no police raids.’”

For many women caught in the trade, a raid means just another man forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to do. The problem is that trafficking victims are not just enslaved physically. Their bondage is emotional and spiritual, too, and gaining a woman her physical freedom is often the easiest task of the three. A victim of sex trafficking has received a significant education in the understanding that her reigning identity is wrapped up in the sex trade. This lie is confirmed to her every day by an immediate community of madams, pimps and clients. To extricate victims from that world without providing a healthy alternative community is a short-sighted solution that cannot ensure victims will not end up back where they started. Grant attributes the success of Project Rescue, both in freeing women and keeping them free, to a new way of seeing community. Its workers reject what Grant calls “selective compassion”—meaning that every pimp, madam and john must be shown the love of Christ without discrimination. Her team believes those individuals, too, are part of a dark system in need of healing and that healing can only last when a community of slavery is traded for a community of love. Community reception is especially important for victims, who carry the stigma of their trafficking past with them into freedom. Without special care, the wellmeaning Church can re-exploit those trying to find their way to a full recovery. Childs tells of one victim who was asked to share her testimony before she was ready—before she had even thought about whether or not she wanted to be a cause representative. “I felt like a prostitute all over again,” the former victim said. It makes sense. After all, a woman telling her story is a victim going public with a secret most want to forget. Grant contends that a woman who has been set free physically, emotionally and spiritually through a relationship with Christ must be treated as she truly is: a new creation. “Are we going to freeze them in this identity as the victims,” she asks, “or bring them through our care and discipleship so that she is no longer referred to as the victim [but as] a woman of God?” It is far easier said than done. Grant has witnessed the American Church explode with passion for this issue and give toward it generously. But the next step, she says, is for Christians to make a commitment to walk out the long journey with victims on their road to recovery. And the road is long. Childs confides that after 15 years of freedom, she is still on occasion haunted by the remnants of her past. But her determination to help others gives her strength—when she first found freedom, there was no one there to help. Childs, and many other law officials and nonprofits with her, are doing everything in their power to make sure trafficking victims have a different story to tell.

BRET MAVRICH is a missionary and independent journalist living in the Kansas City area.

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most-hyped movie of 2012, The Dark Knight Rises, features Tom Hardy as a hulking, accented terrorist; Anne Hathaway as a slinky, morally ambiguous thief; and Christian Bale as—well, you know who Christian Bale was. So it’s saying something that the most-talked-about character arc was that of the steel-nerved Gotham City cop John Blake. Though blessed with no latex costume or throaty growl, Blake added a layer of human nuance to the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy—a nuance that largely owes its success to the assured, idiosyncratic skill of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is quickly establishing himself as one of today’s most consistently interesting actors. Gordon-Levitt could easily trade



on his handsome looks and ample charisma to churn out predictable dreck along the lines of Dear John and The Lucky One. But in every film he takes on, there are surprising layers beneath the surface. He prefers themes that challenge and leave viewers scratching their heads. Whether playing a victim of childhood sexual abuse who becomes trapped in a life of prostitution in his under-seen 2004 breakthrough film Mysterious Skin, a hipster everyman learning about the harsh realities of love in 2009’s (500) Days of Summer or a twentysomething wrestling long odds with cancer in last year’s 50/50, Gordon-Levitt rose through the indie film world by making tough choices with intellectual heft, plenty of heart and limited mass appeal. Even as he stepped into blockbuster roles with The Dark Knight Rises, Inception and his new film, Looper, he has kept his aim straight, as each of these films have plenty to say about society and the human condition. Looper, in particular, stands out for its willingness to ask big questions about good, evil and the consequences of life choices—all amid a dizzying array of adrenaline. For this son of two former political activists who tries to avoid the trappings of celebrity life off-screen, acting is just a window through which he can look at the world. “I have pretty eclectic taste in the movies I like to watch and am inspired to work on,” he says. “I don’t think action for action’s sake is so fun, but when it helps tell the story, I love doing a good fight scene. But you always have to find a connection in any role; you won’t be believable if you’re alienated from the part. I come away from acting learning how much we all have in common and that we can all connect with anybody if we allow ourselves to.” Gordon-Levitt has put those lessons to good use by founding hitRECord, an online creative hub in which writers, artists and filmmakers propose creative projects and team up to bring them to life. The results are dazzlingly collaborative, as evidenced by the new tworecord vinyl album the site recently released, Move on the Sun, in which 78 artists blended together to create a dozen original songs. The site and its projects simply wouldn’t exist were it not for Gordon-Levitt’s funding, name recognition and extremely hands-on involvement. And it’s an endeavor that reflects his desire to find and help others find meaning in each moment. It’s a lesson he feels was expressed well in his August film Premium Rush, about a New York City bike messenger named Wilee who has to pedal harder than usual—and under higher stakes—to deliver a mysterious letter that could literally save a family.


JG-L's 2012 You might say it’s been a big year for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The Dark Knight Rises Batman takes a bow. Looper The hunter literally is the hunted. Lincoln Don’t worry. Vampires not included.

Premium Rush Bike messengers for saving lives, unite.

“[Wilee’s] a guy who lives very much in the present, and there’s a really strong upside to that,” he says. “Now more than ever, we’re obsessed with the future and making plans, like, ‘What am I gonna be? Where am I going five years from now?’ Wilee’s turned his back on that. That’s admirable, but the movie shows the bad way of that thinking, too, because he might lose his girlfriend if he doesn’t start looking down the road of life a little bit.” Big life decisions are nothing new to Gordon-Levitt, who was thrust into the world of adult choices at the age of 6, when he made his professional debut as an actor. His first big break came with 3rd Rock From the Sun in 1996, when he was 15 years old, and he realized young that celebrity culture and the pursuit of fame aren’t important to him. This grounded attitude stems from his upbringing as the son of Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt, who met while working at the liberal radio station KPFK-FM

in Los Angeles. Gordon-Levitt was raised Jewish “but not religious,” though his parents imparted plenty of social justice values in him and his older brother, Daniel, whose death from cancer in 2010 helped inspire Gordon-Levitt to take the lead in 50/50. The fact that his grandfather, Michael Gordon, was a movie director for 30 years also helped the young actor keep his head out of the clouds. In fact, Gordon-Levitt dropped out of acting from 2000 to 2004 to study history, literature and French poetry. He points out that actors weren’t treated like celebrities until the United States broke free from England and was left lacking a glamorous class of wealthy aristocrats to gossip about. It’s a topic he speaks about with a surprising amount of eloquence. “Now there’s this coming together of show business and celebrity, and I don’t think it’s healthy,” he told Newsweek. “I think it works in close step with a lot of other bad things that are happening in the world. It promotes greed, it promotes being selfish and it promotes this ladder where you’re a better person if you have more money. It’s not at all about the work itself.” Gordon-Levitt finds the way some people interpret films, including his own work in (500) Days of Summer, can be unhealthy too. Out of all the roles he’s played, the audience reactions to that film most concern him. “Anyone who has a crush on my character needs to watch it over and see how selfish he is,” he says. “He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. That’s not healthy, and young teens and college students especially need to be aware of that.” Gordon-Levitt may have found his most thoughtprovoking film yet with Looper, a science-fiction film in which he plays a mob assassin sent 30 years into the past via continuous time loop to kill particularly nasty criminals as pre-retribution for their misdeeds and to wipe out their wrongdoings. The film’s central twist comes when the assassin is assigned to kill the older version of himself (played by Bruce Willis), at which point he must consider his job’s moral implications. “One thing the movie reinforced with me was that violence begets violence, and I don’t think any conf lict is ever really solved that way,” he says.   With another big role this winter as Robert Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s hotly anticipated biography of the 16th president, Lincoln, plus his featurefilmmaking debut as a writer-director with Don Jon’s Addiction and his hitRECord empire of more than 10,000 participants worldwide, Gordon-Levitt has plenty to keep him busy in the years ahead. He believes he gained valuable insight into how to handle it all from his work dodging traffic in Premium Rush. “If you want to avoid hitting something,” he says, “don’t look at it. Look at where you’re wanting to go.”

CARL KOZLOWSKI is a Los Angeles journalist who has been bringing humor to the page and the stage for more than a decade.





hen Bob Goff answers the phone, it’s a bit of a shock. It shouldn’t be. His phone number is one of the world’s most easily accessible—available at any bookstore in the country. He printed it in the back of Love Does, his best-selling collection of stories about a few ways he’s managed to turn each day into a “hilarious, whimsical, meaningful change to make faith simple and real.” As you dial the number, you might expect a hotline, or a secretary, or at least a voicemail. But you’ll get no such thing. Call the phone number, and you’ll be greeted with, “This is Bob Goff !” If it’s possible for someone to become famous for no other reason than that he loves genuinely and lives fully, then Goff has done it. He’s a lawyer in Washington. He’s the Ugandan honorary consul to the U.S. He’s a professor at Pepperdine Law School and Point Loma Nazarene University. He’s the founder of Restore International, which serves underprivileged children in Uganda and India. His endless supply of stories charm, his overseas work inspires and his demeanor encourages—but the most truly fascinating thing about Bob Goff is Bob Goff. Somehow, using the same 24 hours in a day the rest of us have, Goff has crafted an extraordinary life of adventure, joy and love. It’s an appealing prospect for anyone, and we wondered: What are his secrets? And: Will he share them? The answer, as with most things in Goff ’s life, was an emphatic yes.



“We get really busy,” Goff says. “But the less time Jesus had on earth, the more available He became to people.” So when Goff put his phone number in the back of Love Does, he made the promise to himself to answer every call—regardless of whether or not he knew who it was. There are practical limits to this, of course. “I don’t feel guilty if I’m on the other line, or on a plane,” he says. But from where Goff sits, Jesus wouldn’t have ignored many phone calls. So neither does he. “If I get a call, I answer it,” he says. “And it’s been terrific! “There’s a God we can talk to anytime, anywhere, about anything, and I’m so glad He doesn’t screen my calls—because I don’t have anything that’s particularly interesting to say. And I’m understanding that better because I’m available to people.”



Goff says, “When someone calls me and says, ‘Can we meet two Tuesdays from now at 3 p.m.?’ I say, ‘How about now?’ If you call me two Tuesdays from now at 3, I’ll probably say the same thing.” That’s right. As implausible as it sounds, Bob Goff, lawyer and

Ugandan consulate, doesn’t set appointents. The benefit of this thinking becomes evident even now—he is, as we speak, driving home from an impromptu meeting with a young man who needed to talk. “Guess what!” he says, laughing. “I didn’t have any appointments that I needed to cancel ... I’ve got all the time in the world because I don’t have any appointments.” Goff insists when your life is appointment-free, your time is at the service of others instead of your personal demands. Plus, you become a different person when you structure your life around others’ needs. “Can you imagine a lawyer who doesn’t make appointments?” Goff asks, recognizing the absurdity of it. “But it’s been great.”



“Don’t do an efficient brand of love,” Goff says. Then he does what he does best—launches into a story without missing a beat. “The woman who lives across the street from us has cancer. She called me up and told me the bad news, and I told her, ‘I’m not going to call you ever again.’ She’s like, ‘What?’ “I went to Radio Shack and got us two walkie-talkies, and it was terrific. For the last year, we’ve been talking on walkie-talkies every night. It’s like we’re both 14-year-olds and we’re both in tree forts. “She took a turn for the worse about four days ago, so this morning, I woke up about 5, and I went to the hospital. I sent the nurse in with a walkie-talkie, and I sat in the next room and called her up. I heard her just start crying—because there’s something inefficient and beautiful about it. We were sitting in a hospital, separated by a room, talking on walkie-talkies.” Here he breaks off and seems choked up for a moment. Then he continues. “Be inefficient with your love. The more inefficient, the better. It would have been a lot more efficient for God to not send Jesus to die for us. That was very inefficient love. But so sweet and so tender.”



When it comes to Bible studies, Goff says simply, “I’m done. I’ve got all the information I need.” But this doesn’t leave the Bible out of his daily routine. To the contrary, he’s upped the ante. “I’ve met with the same guys every Friday who I’ve been meeting with for a decade,” he says. “And we have a Bible Doing.” The idea, Goff says, is basically that memorization is only effective if it motivates you to action. It’s great when believers meet together to internalize the Bible, but why not externalize it as well? Goff is likewise unconventional in his approach to a morning quiet time. “I can’t do them,” he says. “I think I got sent to the principal too much when I was a kid.” “Instead, I take Scripture, I let it wash over me, and I say, ‘What do I really think about this?’” Then he shares his reflections by sending out a morning tweet. This morning habit helps his day start on the right foot in front of God and everyone else. “It helps me dwell in Christ,” he says. “But it also helps me not be a pill midday. I can’t send a beautiful tweet in the morning and then be a pill.” RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM / 61



“Every Thursday, I quit something,” Goff says. It’s one of his more infamous habits, one that he follows faithfully—and, often, dramatically. He’s been known to break apartment leases, throw out furniture and quit jobs. “You can quit cussing if you want,” he says, “but go a little higher up on the tree. It can be something really good.” His most recent Thursday resignation was from the board of a prominent charity. “I called the guy that runs it up and said, ‘I’m out!’ And he said, ‘How come?’ And then he paused and said, ‘No! Thursday!’” The idea is not to be a liability to charitable organizations (although that might be part of the fallout). It’s to give yourself room to grow and to give God room to work. The patterns of life can weigh down and hold back. Quitting things forces you forward to explore new opportunities, to try things you wouldn’t have time for otherwise and to fill your life with things that are fresh, different and dangerous.



In today’s functional culture, the common question is, “What am I able to do?” People take tests to determine skill sets and aptitude and then march off to pursue a career based on the results. But Goff says the better question is, “What am I made to do?” He goes on to say, “It’s as simple as asking, ‘What are the things you think are beautiful? And you want in your life?’ ... And then there’s other stuff you stink at, and they cause you a bunch of stress. I just try and do more of the first and less of the second.”



For most people, friendship is accidental. You see someone often enough, find a few common interests, hang out and strike up an easy friendship. New friends probably come from the people you work with or go to church with. The childhood idea of “making friends,” a proactive pursuit, has been replaced with the idea of “letting friends happen.” Goff suggests making friendship intentional and, moreover, risky. Because sometimes you can learn more from friends who stand just left of center than those with whom you share everything in common. One of Goff ’s dearest friendships began with a simple thank you, for example. “They call me Mr. G at the airport, because I’m there just about every day,” Goff says. And before every flight, the same TSA security guard—Adrian—checked Goff ’s ID. After a few months of this, Goff decided to extend his appreciation. “You start every day for me,” he recalls telling Adrian. “When I think of you, I think of God. You’re so tender and kind to everybody!” And just like that, the diminutive security guard put his arms around Goff and held him, in front of a line of waiting passengers. “It started this terrific friendship,” Goff says. “We spent the next six Christmases together with his family at our house.” Adrian tragically passed away last summer, but not before coming to Jesus. “And now, when I think of heaven,” Goff says, “I don’t think of St. Peter. I think of a guy like Adrian, who’s checking IDs. And all of that came because I decided to get more unschooled, ordinary friends.” 62 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12



Goff spends most Wednesday mornings at Disneyland, prepping to teach his courses at Pepperdine University. From his vantage point on Tom Sawyer Island, he watches hundreds of park visitors board the monorail, content to be whisked wherever the train takes them. And their park experience, says Goff, suffers because of it. The real adventure, both in Disneyland and in life, is when you venture outside the fixed loop. But Goff is quick to point out there’s a difference between fighting the system and choosing to explore new paths outside the system. He says everyone should be jumping more tracks: “Not with a militancy. Not with a black arm band around your arm, just saying what you’re against. But with a resolve.” And what can you expect to find off the beaten path? Adventure, and good company. “I’ll know more about my character, and I’ll know more about Jesus,” he says. “I’ll meet a lot of cool people.”



At a speaking event, Goff met a man who had just received word that his 8-year-old son had been diagnosed with leukemia. Someone suggested everyone lay hands on him and pray for healing. “That means the four dudes next to him put hands on him, and the guy in row 50 is really just putting hands on the guy in row 49,” he says. Not satisfied with this set-up, Goff called out, just as the group was bowing their heads, “Let’s crowd surf this guy.” So the man was passed up and down the rows of the auditorium. “That’s the picture that’s etched in my mind,” he says. “This man in agony and delight.” Goff, who is big on physical touch, doesn’t shake hands. “If we say we’re the body of Christ, let’s act like it,” he says. “Let’s stop treating this faith thing like it’s a business trip. I want us to treat it like it’s a family. Family picks up the phone. Family surfs each other. Family hugs each other.” Goff ’s personal policy is to hug whoever he meets. It doesn’t suit everyone’s comfort zone, but he says it’s part of his identity as a believer. And the benefit of breaking through these bubbles of security is being opened up to a deeper understanding of community. “I’m the big winner,” Goff insists, on crowd-surfing others. “I understand more about my faith and the idea of being a body.”



Many people are passionate but often have no idea how to get where they want to end up. Goff says you don’t really have to. You just have to start. “If I could do this Jedi move over a lot of people, I’d just tell them to take the next step,” he says. “And then the next step. You don’t know all the steps, but most people know the next step.” And even if not, Goff says that’s no excuse. “I’m not that freaked out about knowing what the next step is. Because I know that if I trip, I’ll fall forward. I’ll be moving toward the next thing.”

BOB GOFF is the author of Love Does (Thomas Nelson) and the founder of Restore International. He and his wife, Sweet Maria, live in San Diego.





ven before he turns around, Rainn Wilson knows he’s being watched. The watcher in question is a man in his twenties who has just walked into a Los Angeles coffee shop, caught sight of Wilson and stopped dead in his tracks. And although Wilson looks nothing like his famed alter-ego, Dwight Schrute, in a Sub Pop T-shirt and jeans, the look on the man’s face is obvious: Wilson has been made. “Hey!” says Wilson, offering the man a wry smile and wave. Too shy to approach, likely fearing he’ll somehow incur Dwight’s stuffy wrath, the fan drops eye contact and steps in line. Wilson has embodied Dwight on NBC’s The Office for the last seven years, so he’s as used to this as he is to hitting the Van Nuys, Calif., set every day at 6:15 a.m. With his hair combed forward and his 6'2" frame stuffed into a parade of cheap, mud-colored Oxfords, Wilson has endured what has felt like days spent at a real office, logging hours behind a desk at the world’s only truly beloved paper sales company. Dwight’s enduring popularity is a mystery. Not as suave as his archnemesis Jim (John Krasinski) nor as central as any of his increasingly absurd bosses (Steve Carell, Will

Ferrell, James Spader, Ed Helms, Catherine Tate, then Ed Helms again), Wilson’s character has nonetheless become the show’s anchor. With his ongoing obsession for “bears, beets and Battlestar Galactica,” Dwight has come to represent a peculiar, narrow niche: the television character you root for onscreen but would find unendurable in real life. Through Dwight, Wilson has pulled off the impressive feat of making his character lovable without making him particularly likable. “He’s very specific,” says Wilson. “You never know how he’s going to respond to something. He can respond to a prank by crying or bursting into anger or imploding—any number of different things.” “Any lesser writers would have written Dwight as an annoying nerd,” Wilson continues. “He would have had a pocket protector, and he would have made a lot of Star Wars jokes, and he would have been petulant and annoying. “But the writers of The Office, they’re just not interested in pigeonholing anybody. So they kept writing new colors and textures and facets to Dwight ... At times, he can be the most sensitive, insightful person on the whole show. They wrote him a season where he was just heartbroken the whole season. I think fans RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM / 65

have gotten to go along that journey and see all these different sides to the character. He’s become real to them.” Now staring down the barrel of The Office’s final season, Wilson has nothing but positive things to say about the experience. “I know it sounds cliché,” he says, “but it’s been an incredible ride.” While he may lament saying goodbye to his co-stars, it seems likely Wilson’s tenure with Dwight will be extended. “I won’t be giving [Dwight] up,” he says. “I’ll be playing him for seven or eight more years.” “We just shot the pilot for the Dwight spin-off, called The Farm,” he explains. “It’s going to air as an episode of The Office. It’s called a backdoor pilot. And then we’ll see if NBC likes it ... We’re introducing a bunch of new characters—Dwight’s family members. If they like it, then I’ll be shooting episodes of The Farm in the spring.” Television spin-offs are a tricky beast, Wilson acknowledges. “It’s very rare that spin-offs work,” he says, while assuring that every effort has been made for comedic and commercial success with The Farm. “But it was an incredible opportunity that was handed to me. ‘Hey, you wanna co-create a show that stars yourself and have ownership interest in it and be an executive producer and start it from the ground up?’” The answer—of course—was yes. And even though this new venture is trickling down from a well almost everyone agrees went dry about two seasons ago, Wilson promises that for both his and the viewers’ sanity alike, The Farm will be a chance to see Dwight in a different light. “We’ve seen him in The Office,” he says. “He hangs up samurai swords and paints the walls black and shoots off guns in the office. But not so at the farm ... We talked about that when we were developing The Farm as a show. One of the things we nailed down is that Dwight really needs to care about [the farm]. At Dunder Mifflin, he cares about getting ahead, he cares about beating Jim, he cares about making a lot of money, he cares about power and prestige, about being number one—and if not number one, then number two. A clear number two.” “The farm is different,” Wilson goes on. “He loves the land, he loves the animals, he loves his family. I think that’s what potentially can center him and ground him.” Until the pilot airs in mid-December, it’s difficult to say where the chips will fall in the high-stakes financial game of television. 66 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

But that’s a series of calculated, behind-the-scenes moves that Wilson blithely dismisses. “I’m in the best of all possible positions,” he says. “If NBC decides not to pick it up and The Office ends, I’ll be done with Dwight. That’s fine with me. I’ll see what other horizons are out there for me as an actor.”


Rainn Wilson, the man, is so unlike Dwight Schrute, the assistant to the regional manager at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, that a real-life introduction can be disorienting at first. Wilson is talkative, articulate and expressive—which makes pulling off the decidedly inarticulate Schrute no easy feat. It would have seemed even more impossible to Wilson as a teenager, who didn’t realize the horizons of acting extended any further than performing in a handful of school plays. He credits a conversation with his drama teacher in helping him see that acting full-time might be a real possibility for his future. “I remember going to her, and I was having some success in high school doing acting,” he recounts. “I said to her, ‘Is this crazy? Can I study acting? Do you think I could be an actor? Is that even possible?’ She was like, ‘Oh, yes! You really should do it! You’re very good.’ She was very supportive of me pursuing that path. A bell went off. It was like, ‘Oh, maybe I can do this!’” To hear Wilson tell it, it wasn’t so much that he’d never considered that he could make it as a full-time actor as much as he’d never considered anyone could make it as a full-time actor. “People who aren’t in artistic families, they don’t realize that you can make a living doing all of this stuff,” he says. “That switch needs to go off in a young artist’s brain to kind of go, ‘You can do it.’” “You need to follow the right path,” he’s quick to add. “You

can’t live in a pie-in-the-sky fantasyland and think you’re going to be discovered and not do any work and it’s just going to happen. There’s a lot of that going on. You have to do the grunt work.” Along the way, Wilson’s father also served as an inspiration for his pushing himself to succeed as an actor. “It was a great benefit of having a father who longed to be an artist but who never could and always had to work day jobs to support his family,” Wilson says. “Seeing that—that was a very real presence in my life. And going, ‘I don’t want to be that.’ It’s not like I don’t want to be my dad—I love my dad. But I want to be successful at the art that I choose. So when I chose acting, I went at it with a really singular vision and persistence.” Although a major source of support, Wilson’s father may also have felt conflicted about his son’s career path. “My dad, when I first started getting interested in acting, was a little weird about it,” Wilson says. “I would do other things that he would be way more supportive about. I played the bassoon, and he was like, ‘Oh, that would be so great—you could be a professional bassoonist!’” The source of his father’s hesitance? “My natural mom, who I basically didn’t see between when I was 2 to 16, she used to be an actress,” Wilson says. “She was a professional actress in Seattle. I didn’t even know that growing up. I didn’t find that out until later.”


After attending the University of Washington and then Tisch School of the Arts in New York, Wilson kept the acting bug alive, often by creating opportunities out of thin air. Gradually, his commitment began to pay off. “I got one little crappy job,” he says. “And then I got another little crappy job. And then I got a slightly better crappy job. And a slightly better one, and a slightly better one.” It’s one of the riskiest of all possible career paths, but Wilson admits he felt very little fear during those early years. “I knew in my heart of hearts that if I had to commit to being an actor, I was going to have to make a 10-year commitment to it and go all in,” he says. “You can’t halfway do it. I knew that once I made that commitment, there was no looking back.” Self-doubt wasn’t an issue. But Wilson admits that even after early successes—including a pilot that brought him out to Los Angeles for a show that was ultimately canceled—he spent much of his twenties wrestling with self-criticism. “It’s a cliché—every actor who moves to LA has to work on a screenplay,” he says. “So, I was one of the many actors working on a screenplay. I started working on this project called I Am Doug. It was about this loser guy who lived in his parents’ basement. It was a very slackerish indie comedy. I started taking notes on it and writing ideas and scenes and characters and stuff like that in a notebook. Then I was reading through this and thought, ‘Ah, this is stupid! I can’t do this. This is dumb.’ And I put it away.” The story doesn’t end there. “My wife and I moved about five years ago, and I found that notebook and I



looked through it. This was from about 11 or 12 years ago, when I first moved to LA. And you know what? The ideas were really good! I wouldn’t do it now, but what was it in me that re-read it and said, ‘Nah, this is dumb. I can’t do it’? It’s that voice that really shuts us down.” Now, at age 46, Wilson has learned to tune out that negative voice of self-doubt. But it took time—and practice. In those early days of making a living in LA, Wilson’s dramatic stage roles led to guest spots on TV shows, such as One Life to Live, Charmed, Entourage and Six Feet Under. He had reached his childhood dream. But he discovered success wasn’t as sweet as he’d hoped. “All of a sudden, I was a professional actor,” he says. “But I wasn’t very happy. I thought, ‘This doesn’t make any sense. This is what I’ve wanted since I 68 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

was 16 years old. Here I am—I’m 24, 25, 26. I’m doing it. I’m making a living, and I have an agent. I’m getting work. But I’m really not happy. What gives here?’”


Wilson was born and raised as a member of the Bahá’í religion, which teaches that God sent a series of divine messengers to preach His gospel, including Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. Yet as an adult, Wilson turned his back on the teachings of his church, becoming an atheist shortly after moving to New York for school. His reasons for leaving his beliefs behind were simple. “I didn’t want to deal with morality,” he says bluntly. “I wanted to do what I wanted, when I wanted, without any twinges of guilt or right or wrong. I wanted to find things out for myself. Art and theater and acting became my faith. I really thought theater could change the world, and uplift people, and touch people’s hearts, and bring people together. I took my evangelical fervor growing up as a Bahá’í and shifted it over to acting and theater.” Theater can do a lot of things, but Wilson found that it could not answer life’s big questions. For that, he had to embark on a spiritual trek, using various holy books as his guides on a journey that would endure the better part of a decade.

What he discovered is that—for him— all roads led back to what he was originally taught as a child. It also stirred up his longstanding fascination with the world’s faiths. “I’ve always been interested in religion, spirituality and the questions of faith,” he says, noting how many people are surprised to learn that a professional actor with a Twitter feed filled with jokes and a career centered on hyper-cerebralism concerns himself with matters of the soul. “I’ve wrestled with the questions of faith and spirituality, which are not just questions of faith and spirituality—they’re questions of life. The most important question of life is, What happens after it? It’s not a question that people like to examine or think about too much, I find.” He pauses, affecting a dopey voice and seeming saddened by this fact. “Mostly they just say, ‘I don’t know—we’ll see what happens!’ To me, that feels a little bit like a copout.” This process of asking life’s deeper questions is what Wilson hopes to facilitate with his online venture, SoulPancake. Part production company, part social network

and part conversation-starter, the project asks one simple question through the use of conversations, videos and a menagerie of user-driven activities: What does it mean to be human? The answer, Wilson contends, varies. “We should not just take the truth from our culture,” he says firmly. “Culturally, there are a lot of truths that get handed down. There’s Democratic and Republican truths. There’s materialism truths. You find yourself through work and success. The more money you make, the happier you are. There’s a number of these truths that get passed down. But we need to find these for ourselves.” Wilson launched the site with friends Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry in 2009, but it’s clear from even a cursory browse of the site that it’s no vanity project. It’s more like an online playground with high stakes, big questions and a handful of famous friends. Aside from weekly appearances on the site for a segment called “Metaphysical Milkshake” (which can include anything from wrestling Deepak Chopra in the back of a van to a comedic sketch about killing off Blitzen Trapper before a concert), Wilson allows the site’s users to generate the bulk of its content. “I’m sensitive about my image,” he says. “Anyone in the public eye is. I didn’t want to be, like, ‘self-help dude.’ It seems like there’s the Oprah, Wayne Dyer world of self-help, feel good. A lot of them are really good at it, but a lot of times it feels really hokey.” “I wanted to bridge comedy and say that it can be cool to talk about this stuff,” he continues. “It’s OK to talk about God and the soul and love and free will. It doesn’t need to be Wayne Dyer giving people hugs. You can be in college and you can do it. You can be an adult. You can be a mom. You can be struggling and do it. You can be successful and do it. You can have a sense of humor about it. It’s OK.”


Although he counts himself extraordinarily lucky to have been handed a large audience as both an actor and an armchair philosopher, at the end of the day, there are only two sets of eyes Wilson concerns himself with. “I prioritize family time,” he says. “I make sure I get some real weekends and time with my son and wife.” When it comes to parenting, Wilson has learned that it’s one thing to create a company offering people unlimited license to seek out spiritual enlightenment but that the same vision takes a different shape at home. Wilson

and his wife, writer Holiday Reinhorn, together face the age-old parent trap: getting your kids to think outside of themselves. He’s had to get creative regarding this when it comes to raising their son, Walter. “He gets money—he has little jars,” explains Wilson. “He divides his money up between them. That way, he realizes that he needs to spend some of his money, and he needs to give to people who are more needy than him. He can decide where he wants to donate it.” Deciding where to donate time and money is, for Wilson, a decision that carries no small weight. For his part, he’s chosen to donate to a variety of Haiti aid organizations, but he’s careful about where he lends his support—and he doesn’t mince words about why.



An Awakening in Hollywood? A spiritual stirring seems to be happening in Hollywood, and Rainn Wilson isn’t the only one joining the conversation. Here are a couple of Christians bringing faith to the industry.

Justin Mayo Tired of Hollywood’s selfserving culture, Justin Mayo launched Red Eye, Inc.—a rare community in which celebrities and starving artists alike join side by side in humanitarian work. “Red Eye’s focus and heartbeat is always about others,” Mayo

“The worst thing you can do in a place like Haiti is come in and hand out rice,” he says. “It would be better to go blow up a village. It’s awful. Handouts are awful. It disempowers everybody. People who are actually growing rice are like, ‘I’m going to go get free rice down on the corner.’ Children grow up expecting that they don’t have to take care of themselves because someone will eventually show up and hand out rice. It’s really the wrong way to go.” To combat this mind-set, Wilson, Reinhorn and their friend Catherine Adams are in the process of starting a charity called Lidè. Haitian for “leader,” the after-school program focuses on adolescent girls, teaching them leadership skills through honing their artistic talents. “Adolescent girls are the most at-risk population and the most sorely needing help in the population,” Wilson says. “It’s about building community and empowering people and leadership training through the arts. It’s really exciting doing that.” “I’ve been in tent cities,” he continues, “teaching teenage girls about acting and theater games—not to become professional actors but to learn to play together, and listen to each other, and to believe in themselves, and to realize that they are worthwhile and they can express who they are through the arts.” Lidè may find its roots in Wilson’s own personal

says. Canned food drives or senior citizen proms are all part of Red Eye’s mission to lay aside personal ambition to love the least of these.

Naima Lett Actor and producer Naima Lett has seen how Hollywood can negatively influence Christians in the industry— something she hopes to change. “My husband and I recently founded Hope in the Hills, a church plant in Beverly Hills, because we’re called to create a filling station,” she says. It will help people ask, “How can I serve?” instead of, “How can I advance my career?”


beliefs, but it branches out across many spiritual platforms. Wilson sees education as a cause that can unite—and transcend—various belief systems. “Education is very important in all the world’s faiths,” he says. “You see how education can really change lives. It changes families. It changes communities. If you teach an adolescent girl certain skills—empowerment skills and job skills and literacy—she’ll go back to her village, her family. 70 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

She’ll teach other people to read. The kids that she raises, she’ll teach them the same skills. It will pass on and spread out.”


With one hit television show under his belt, another one (hopefully) in the works and oversight of several organizations that promote social and spiritual change, Wilson is no longer the hungry drama student or the spiritually wandering young adult he once was. Acting is still his primary passion, but his other life roles have a lot of pull over his

career. His beliefs matter to him, and he’s not about to compromise them in order to land a role. “I have taken many roles that are morally questionable, but I have turned down roles that are morally reprehensible,” he notes. “There was this TV show, and they really wanted me for it. The character—all he did was wake up, party, sleep with different people and do drugs. He lived in the crassest, animalistic, most material kind of way. That was the comedy of it­—that he was just this odd character. That’s how he lived.” “I was not going to sign on to seven years of playing that character,” he declares. “I can’t be known for that! ... I’ve played a lot of very dubious characters that have done a lot of gross things. I think that’s OK, as long as the overall message of the work is a positive one.” By all outward counts, Wilson should be the picture of happiness. “I’m an actor and an artist and a producer and a writer,” he says. “I’m really lucky that I get to work in my chosen field and be creative.” But “happy” is not a word Wilson would ever use to describe his life. “I truly believe that happiness is not an if/then statement,” he says. “I think through most of our culture it’s, ‘If I get this, then I will be happy. If I get this job, I will be happy. If I make this much money, I will be happy. If I find my mate, I will be happy. If I have success in my career, I will be happy.’ Whatever it is, there’s this series of if/then relationships. I think that’s not how happiness works.” “I don’t like the word ‘happiness,’” he clarifies. “I think we have it in the United States—‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ What is the pursuit of happiness? Happiness, to me, is like my son when you take him to Santa Monica pier and he goes on a roller coaster and eats cotton candy. He’s happy. And then eight minutes later, he’s not happy. He wants to do it again to get happy again. Or he wants to go on the merry-go-round so he can get happy. He wants to go swim in the ocean so he can be happy. Happiness is this thing that you’re chasing.” “I think that the better word is ‘contentment,’” he says. “Contentment lies in living fully in your life’s purpose. Living in God’s purpose for you breeds a contentment that’s not contingent on achieving certain things or doing certain things ... The ancient Greeks believed in a concept called eudaimonia, which translates as ‘human flourishing.’ That was the highest ideal in the Greek world.” He wonders aloud, “Can you imagine if our natural motto was, ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of human flourishing?’ It’s not happiness; it’s human flourishing—deep, soul-enriching stuff. It’s connection. It’s service. It’s work. It’s creativity. It’s beauty.” Then he settles into that thought, declaring, “I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of human flourishing.”

LAURA STUDARUS is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to Under the Radar, Filter, eMusic and RELEVANT. Follow her @Laura_Studarus.





a sweltering August night in New York City, and the gentlemen of The Heavy have just finished prepping for a set on The Late Show With David Letterman. It’s a decent gig for any band, but it carries special import for these Brits, since their first performance on the show in 2009 landed them with the unique honor of being the only band ever to receive a request for an encore on the air from Letterman. No sooner had the boys finished a genuinely spine-tingling performance of “How You Like Me Now?” than Letterman, positively gushing, asked them play it again. It was an understandable request. The Heavy may hail from Bath, England, but the music is about as American as it gets: swampy, funky, roots-infused rock that sounds like it’s being piped from a runaway train haunted by ghosts of the South’s savviest gospel choir. “How You Like Me Now?” played as well with the rest of the nation as it did with Letterman, and The Heavy—comprised of Kelvin Swaby on vocals, Dan Taylor on guitar, Spencer Page on bass and Chris Ellul on drums—found themselves overnight stars, their music popping up on what felt like every other movie trailer, commercial, television show and soundtrack from 2009 till now. On this August night, the band has just released its third album, The Glorious Dead, which digs even deeper into the guts of the Gothic South with crunchy guitars, funky horns and head-banging beats oozing from every note of every song and Swaby’s thrilling vocals laced over all of it—vocals that can swing from Sunday morning crooning to Friday night yelps at the drop of a pistol shot. One might think a man about to attempt the re-dropping of Letterman’s jaw would be a nervy, distractible mess, but Swaby is as engaged in conversation as he is on stage. And a few hours later, the band performed The Glorious Dead’s rollicking

first single, “What Makes a Good Man?“ for Letterman ... who asked for another encore. Here’s Swaby:

So, you go back to the studio to start recording The Glorious Dead , and obviously everybody is expecting an album full of "How You Like Me Now?" clones. How do you deal with that pressure? We knew we were up against that, of course. We see how many sinks it got—and really big sinks. But we don’t change the way we write. We just get better. And with this record—it just makes more sense. For me, there are tracks on here that are definitely better than “How You Like Me Now?” But it’s not necessarily what I think—that’s just what I feel.

As a whole, how has your style changed since The House That Dirt Built ?

It’s not that it’s changed. We had two tracks on The House That Dirt Built that were kind of built around samples [portions of existing songs looped into new tracks]. But with this record, we really dug deep into our record collections between the four of us. We were continually going for reference because we knew that we couldn’t throw any samples into this record. But we wanted it to feel like we had sampled from yesteryear.

Is most of your inspiration from the deep past? While we were on the road touring The House That Dirt Built, up until all of the time we were recording, I split with

my girlfriend, got back together with my girlfriend, split with my girlfriend, moved to Barcelona and lived in Barcelona for a while. It was all a little bit crazy. But throughout that time, I was listening to loads of garage punk as well as loads of doo-wop. It was a really odd combination. I started reading loads of blogs on all these doo-wop masters and old soul that had been buried—people like Lord Luther. I thought I knew soul, but then these guys came before the soul I had been crate-digging for years. I just found some incredible songs. I really dug deep, but I never forgot that hip-hop is one of my first loves. The way The Heavy always makes a record, it always has that hip-hop chemistry to it. We always have a tough beat, a booming bass line or something. But it will kind of feel as if we’ve ripped it from the ’50s or ’60s.

Do you have any working theories on why we've lost that older music you talk about?

Right now, with modern music, there’s a lot of marketing. There’s a lot of hype around a particular artist. I think, generally, it’s about ability rather than the content of the song. You’re not really trying to say anything. What The Heavy deals with is content—just singing the song and getting the song across as honestly as possible. I think you should go back and listen to the greats. You need to listen to Al Green or Syl Johnson—they just used to sing the song. It’s all a little bit plastic now. It’s all a little bit computer-game-like. I embrace technology, but I still have to go back to the vintage ideology.

Is that part of the reason you started reaching out to a gospel choir on the new stuff?

Yeah. I was talking to Sam, our bus driver, and we were doing something like 29 shows in 32 days. Sam’s this guy who has seen it all. He used to be in a band, and he’s driven all these huge bands. So we would just sit in the bus and talk for hours while going across this amazing American landscape. We got to talking one day, and I said, “You know, I’ve got all these tracks I’m working on, and all I can ever hear with a lot of the choruses is—well, I don’t want to just use two or three girls on them. I want it to sound like we’re doing it on a Sunday morning and making people just rise out of their seats, but then for it still to be dirty sounding.” So when I started talking to Sam about it—and Sam’s from Columbus, Ga.—he said, “Man, you have to come down to Columbus, because I can find you those singers. You’ve got to meet this guy called Lloyd.” We have this song, “She Got to Go,” and originally that was going to be the test. It’s like a chain gang singing it. We were like, “If we can get them to sing this, then they’ll sing everything.” There was some umming and ahhing when it came down to it—feet were getting cold as to whether it was actually going to work. I have to stick by the guns, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. The goal is not to use gospel on


So, you don't listen to your stuff and wish you could go back and redo things?

No. Because what we tend to do as a group is listen to the whole thing. It’s not necessarily just listening to the drums. We listen to everything, and if the drums aren’t working, we’ll go back in and do the drums. But if they work, then it’s like, “OK, well, this is all working.” You have to listen to everything as a whole. If I’ve made a couple of mistakes or you can’t hear some of my words or I phrase stuff so that it’s inaudible, but it sounds right, then it stays in.

What are you hoping people take away from the new album? With The Glorious Dead, it’s a trip. The album really switched when we went to Georgia. We kind of saw this Southern gothic zombie movie happening with it. Especially “Lonesome Road,” which sounds like a funeral march carried by skeletons—it’s creepy! All I want people to take from it is our experiences over the past two years. Some of the experiences stretch back further—they’ve taken a little longer to write. But just listen to it and know that we’ve been honest.

Is the Southern gothic movie vibe what inspired the B-horror movie that starts the whole thing out? Yeah, it’s some kind of horror film we kind of created in our heads. The Glorious Dead name—I think Dan saw it on a wall monument, because you see it on wall monuments all over England. He’d seen it and thought it was a great title, but it really struck home when we went to Georgia. You imagine in the swamps that you could have zombies you’re not supposed to be seeing.

everything but to have all these incredible singers on hand that we can say, for another track, “We’ll just use three of you.” And that’s what we did.

You've talked about how some of the guys use vintage instruments and how you leave imperfections in your recordings. Why do you like the rough edges? Because that’s the way it’s always been. There are so many mistakes in our first record, but it just sounds right. If you start getting down to, “It has to be pinpoint”—well, we’re not robots, and I love that kind of human element to what we do. I love that Spence plays a bass line and is like, “Ah, could I do that again?” No, you’re not doing that again, because it sounds incredible. If I sing a vocal on my phone and I can’t get the same vibe on a microphone, then we’ll just use the phone version. It’s that simple. When it sounds right, it sounds right. 66 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

The Skinny on The Heavy The Glorious Dead isn't The Heavy’s first foray into gutsy, bluesy rock. The House That Dirt Built 2009

Great Vengeance and Furious Fire 2007

WATCH The Heavy on Letterman

There's certainly that romantic, inspiring sense to the landscape in the South. I remember we were recording crickets for “She Got to Go” and, being down by the swamp, it would just be totally silent. Imagining yourself out there on your own ... yeah, it’s a little scary. But then again, it feels totally harmless because the hospitality down there is incredible. I love the South.

What do you hope people remember The Heavy for?

To understand that you can mix anything with anything. That’s what we do. We take all of the classic pieces that we absolutely love, and we throw them together—it doesn’t matter what the genre is. I would hope people can see it’s not just a one-genre trick pony. I want people to understand that you can live out exactly what it is you want to do, and it doesn’t have to be specific to one genre. When we were in Europe, there were some countries that were, like, “Oh, but you fuse this and this and this together? How do you do that?” And it’s like ... because you can. Because you can, we do. It doesn’t sound odd. You just create the sound. I just want people to think that we brought it, and you liked it.


B Y D R . M AT T H E W S L E E T H


WHY CREATING MARGIN MEANS MORE THAN JUST CLEARING YOUR SCHEDULE here aren’t enough hours in a day.” It’s a near-constant refrain. Many of us are masters at double-booking, multi-tasking, and overcommitting—and then, when we’re too tired to stand, we look back and wonder where all the time went. Just a short while ago, almost everything in Western society stopped one day a week. Gas stations, banks and grocery stores locked their doors at night and on Sundays. Sunday was the day when shop signs flipped to “Closed” and people got dressed up and drove to church. Those without particular religious convictions simply took the day off. Jews marked Saturday as a holy day and called it “Sabbath.” Seventh Day Adventists did likewise. Most Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian clergy relaxed on Mondays. Irrespective of faith, society was given—and even guaranteed—a day each week when it could rest. But not anymore. This day went missing in the metamorphosis to a 24/7 world—and all the benefits of intentional rest and margin went with it. We’ve seen a cultural treasure stolen. Despite reassurances of convenience, safety and choice, we’ve been conned. Today, we are charged and running 24/7. In the last 20 years in America, work is up 15 percent and leisure is down 30 percent. And things are only going to continue this path if we don’t re-learn the value of margin. If there is to be any hope for recovering

space for rest in this fast-paced life, we must first admit something is missing.


In an average life, 11 years of time are missed by living this non-stop, frenzied pace. Fifty-two days of leisure per year times an average lifespan equals more than 11 years’ worth of time. How did it happen? The truth is, it happened so quickly and yet so gradually that no one even protested. And the effect is monumental. Subtracting a day of rest each week can change the course of an entire life. Removing 11 years from the life expectancy of anything can’t help but have a profound effect. This is a law of the universe: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Subtract over a decade of sleep, work or education from a person’s life, and the entire character of an existence is altered. Then multiply those 11 years times, say, 300 million Americans, and the result is a lost continent of time. Regular days intended for rest are missing from modern life. And by the time most of us get through the holidays, we’re exhausted by all the days we’ve spent “doing.” When did we forget that the root of “holiday” is “holy day”? Most importantly, what biblically based resolution can serve as a reminder to keep God front and center, now and throughout the coming year? Going into this holiday season, perhaps the best New Year’s resolution one can make will actually be a non-resolution—a

commitment to stop. Instead of resolving to do something, what would happen if we resolved not to do? What would life look like if everyone instituted something like a weekly Stop Day—a day of sleeping in, reading, going on walks and spending time with family instead of running errands, completing house projects and filing or filling out paperwork? It might be difficult to put tasks on hold and risk falling behind, sure. But building margin into our busy lifestyles can, in fact, strengthen us for the work week ahead. And, after all, taking a day off is not just a good idea. It’s also a gift from God.


Genesis reveals a full portrait of the very first week in creation’s existence. On Monday, God cooks up a universe with a few simple ingredients. He mixes nuclear weak and strong forces with a dash of gravity and a pinch of electromagnetism. He seasons the mix with covalent and ionic bonds. By midweek, He forms the dry land and the seas and says, “Good.” On Friday, after coffee, He stocks the lakes and fills the sky with birds. When the sun sets, He steps back and admires a flock of starlings bursting in one direction like a cumulus cloud. Each day, the universe becomes more multifaceted and interdependent. Each day, things get more complicated. On day six, God forms Adam, and then—the capstone of His creation—God makes Eve. It is only then that God looks upon all His


creation to pronounce it “very good.” But the first week in cosmic history is not over yet. How can God top creating a universe and men and women in His image? The pièce de résistance comes out of left field. Up to this point, everything has been created out of nothing. But on the morning of the seventh day, God makes nothing out of something. Adam and Eve are certainly the crown of God’s creation, but He adds the finishing touch—the magnum opus—as His gift to them: rest. The Bible’s next mention of this day of rest happens 400 years later—when God’s people need a reminder. The ancient Hebrews were exhausted. They had spent generations in slavery, making brick after brick under the whip of Pharaoh, and next God was calling them into the wilderness to make one of the longest and most strenuous journeys in history. During the course of their travels, God gives the Hebrews a total of 613 laws. But at Mount Sinai, God pens the top 10. The fourth commandment is the longest and most inclusive of them all: “Remember

commandment applies equally to men and women. It is made to protect those who believe and those who don’t. It’s to be followed by humanity, and it’s observed by God Himself.


Ultimately, intentional rest is for God’s glory and our benefit. Yet the way our culture celebrates the holiday season—overflowing it with chaos and credit card spending—is antithetical to a sabbatical way of life. We live in one of the most prosperous eras of human history, yet many of us never get beyond survival mode. And unrelenting busyness can keep us from asking life’s big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What does all this mean? Jumping off the hamster wheel once a week allows a person to consider their purpose in life, beyond the daily tasks and deadlines that often drag them down. This holiday season—and beyond— resolve to live 24/6 in a 24/7 world by committing to a weekly Stop Day. As Eugene Peterson says, the only rules

temptation to work. It’s arrogant for anyone to think the world cannot get along without them at the steering wheel one day out of seven. But holy days—like holidays—are never meant to be spent alone. Stop Day is best when it’s practiced in community. Celebrate your weekly Stop Day with friends and family, and hold each other accountable when life’s demands threaten to compromise this time meant for rest and recharging. The Sabbath is not just another rule to follow—it’s a gift from God for humanity to enjoy throughout the year. It’s a way for God’s people to give their stressors and struggles over to Christ so He can help them carry the load. And its effects are cumulative. Commit to at least a month of Sabbaths, and the peace that surpasses all understanding will seep into the other days of the week. A new kind of resurrection and renewal will emerge. The empty spaces in the heart, instead of being filled with busyness, will be filled with God. The practice of stopping one day a


the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns” (Exodus 20:8-10). God then gives the reason for this weekly schedule: It is the pattern He Himself followed at creation. This commandment’s placement is not by accident. The first three commandments are about loving God; the last six are about loving humanity. The fourth acts as a fulcrum. It is a bridge between the two sections, helping God’s people be better at both. The Sabbath commandment embraces the wealthy, the slave and the illegal immigrant alike. It pertains to minimum-wage workers and to students. It covers animals. It includes children. This fourth 78 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

on a Stop Day are to play and to pray. Figure out what “work” is for you, and simply opt out of it one day out of seven. Instead of checking email, check out God’s glorious creation. Replace small talk with God-sized quiet. Go on a walk. Read. Take guiltless naps. Spend time with family. Spend time with God. And remember that intimacy cannot be rushed; it requires both quality and quantity time. Because rest cuts against the grain of a society ever on the run, it does not happen unless we create space for it. Like the Hebrew people collecting extra manna in the desert the day before the Sabbath, we have to prepare for it. The day before Stop Day, then, finish errands. Clean the house. Make sure there’s food in the fridge. Then put it in park. If an important deadline looms ahead, trust God instead of succumbing to the

week—of living with holy margin—is not new for humanity. It started the day after human history began, and it endured the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It didn’t perish when it was exported to the New World, and it survived the American Civil War. It was still going strong when women got the vote. It prospered in the Depression, and it blasted off at the dawn of the Space Age. Only in the last few minutes in the scope of all time has rest been misplaced—and we are missing it more than we know. In our quest for a healthier, happier life, perhaps, as C.S. Lewis once said, “Going back can be the quickest way forward.” MATTHEW SLEETH, MD, is the executive director of Blessed Earth, a Christian environmental nonprofit, and the author of the new release 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life (Tyndale, 2012).



4 5







hristmas is awesome. Of course, there are the obvious perks: spending time with friends and family, opening gifts and getting away from work. Oh yeah, and celebrating the birth of our Savior. But beyond the obligatory emphasis on thankfulness and the annual time of reflection it affords, Christmas has come to represent something very peculiar to our generation. Here, the line between corny and cool becomes so blurred that even the hippest among us could be caught wearing a snowman sweater, sipping a glass of eggnog 80 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

and fighting back tears while watching a cheesy Santa movie. Yes, somewhere between our too-cool hipsterism and our anti-mainstream cynicism, we lose our sense of irony. That careful detachment becomes sincere affection, just like it did for skinny jeans and Chuck Norris.   How does Christmas force us to fall in love with it? Are the corny, over-the-top expressions of kitsch actually showing us who we really are? Do we just love Christmas cookies? Are we all crazy?   In search of an answer, we bring you seven things it’s still OK to completely love about the Christmas season.



Nothing can take a neat, suburban front yard and give it a classy makeover like an 8-foot-tall, rotating, inflatable nativity scene. Combining the tasteful subtlety of a two-story snow globe with a Homer Simpson Santa Claus, inflatable lawn ornaments can take any Christmas-spiritless yard and turn it into an understated, stylish, eye-searing holiday extravaganza. Looking to add a little whimsy to your light display? How about something like a triplelife-sized Snoopy riding a motorcycle? (Don’t worry—he’s wearing a Santa hat, so it totally makes sense.) Or maybe you’re more of the Garfield-tangled-up-in-Christmas-lights type? The possibilities are bewilderingly limitless. Just a few dozen yards of extension cord can turn your lawn into the winter-wonderland-slash-used-car-lot scene that you, your family and your neighbors have always dreamed about.



Christmas is the one holiday where there’s a high likelihood your aunt is the most well-dressed person at the dinner table. Every family has at least one aunt who has a secret compartment in her wardrobe that contains a collection of finely knit, redand-green light-up sweaters adorned with enough glitter, tiny bells and hot glue to stock a Hobby Lobby. These glorious garments (many of which have at least one battery-operated component that syncs twinkling lights with an audible Christmas song) get to make an appearance just once a year and require only one essential accessory: a white turtleneck undershirt.



Somewhere in the realm that exists between dreams and nightmares, claymation Christmas specials are born. Every year, this strange brand of animation finds its way back to primetime and we are reminded how unsettling it is to see talking raisins wearing Santa hats sing Motown songs. There’s something about the jerky movements and bizarre plotlines (an elf wants to become a dentist?) that make all claymation specials seem just a bit, well, terrifying. They have an ominous tendency to come across like trippy dreams fueled by the sugar rush that comes from an overdose of candy canes and eggnog. It’s only at Christmastime that children around the country enter a David Lynchian fever dream of ogre-ish “Heat Misers,” illfated snowmen and the land of “misfit toys” ... and actually enjoy it.



In your father’s mind, because it’s Christmas and he possesses a brand-new digital camera and a classy idea for a matching family wardrobe, he’s given complete license to stage a Glamour Shot of your family and mail it to everyone you know and even some people you don’t. These always start with a good idea— perhaps everyone wearing Santa hats with white dress shirts tucked into jeans, a tallest-to-shortest profile shot of everyone in front of the mantle, or an action shot of the entire family leaping for joy in front of the decorated house. But either because of unwilling family members or a lack of photographic skill, the idea is lost in execution. The result is a future submission to



What better way to have a daily reminder of the coming holiday than a cardboard poster filled with cheap candy? Sure, the scene depicted on the three-dimensional calendar looks like a children’s coloring book put together by an artist who gave up halfway through, but no matter the package, don’t we all deserve one regular piece of chocolate in the days leading up to Christmas? Or, in some cases, 24 pieces of chocolate in an unfortunate moment of weakness on the afternoon of December 2?



Many classic Christmas songs offer reverent reflections on the humble entrance of our Savior into the world. Others are completely insane—especially when sung by a mob of doorto-door amateurs. The opening lines of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” seem harmless enough, for instance, but a crowd of strangers gathered at your front door to shout, “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding” and “We won’t go until we get some, so bring it right here!”—that counts as a legitimate threat. Especially if you have no idea what figgy pudding is and have no means of procuring it to appease the earnest crowd gathered outside your home.



Looking for the perfect way to express the passive-aggressive resentment you’ve been harboring all year toward an obnoxious co-worker? The Secret Santa gift exchange is your opportunity. Just pretend they really wanted that homemade “candleholder” you worked so hard on. Or re-gift that dazzling new reindeer-themed picture frame you were just given by your new sister-in-law. And if your office opts for the White Elephant approach to its gift exchange—a fun, good-natured way to celebrate Christmas by literally stealing the gifts you want from other people—just bring your set of napkin dividers, cross your fingers and hope you end up with that $10 Starbucks gift card that’s sure to grace the pile. Maybe the reason it’s easy for the line between honesty and irony to blend is because trends have a way of circling back on themselves. What was once cool becomes kitsch, then cool again. One day (sooner than you think), wood paneling on the side of a car will be back in style and elastic-waisted jeans will be worn with pride. Or maybe the reason we ironically embrace things that are kitschy is because we long to expose things that are true and authentic. And with music, fashion and art, that search for authenticity constantly redefines itself. The thing about Christmas (unlike the trends in culture and art) is that its message—Jesus coming into the world to save the souls of humanity—will never change. Authenticity and truth can be found. And in its own way, Christmas kitsch reminds us of that. We love Christmas because behind the irony, the message never goes out of style.

JESSE CAREY is a frequent contributor to RELEVANT and a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT podcast. He’s also a really funny guy.




been let down before, but this weekend—you’re sure of it—you’re going to meet “the one.” You deliberate through a half-dozen outfit possibilities, dressing to dazzle on a first impression. Then you brush your teeth, hope for the best and head out the door to one of the trendiest new spots in town. It’s not a first date, but sometimes finding a church can feel like one. Especially when you’ve been out of the groove for a while.

Maybe you grew up in the church but life has gotten so busy you kind of quit going. Maybe church has never been your thing in the first place. Or maybe you’ve been burned and are tentatively wading back into the scene years later. Whatever your reasons, you don’t have a church you’d call home right now—and when your relatives ask you about it over the holidays, you fake a smile and change the topic. But maybe today’s the day it’s going to be different. Perhaps today you’ll find the church you only thought existed in your dreams and in late-night reruns of 7th Heaven. As you slide into a back seat in the sanctuary, you find yourself keeping a running tally of pros and cons. Could you commit to this place? How are the small groups? Are you connecting with the worship? What are the service opportunities? Where are all the hot singles? It’s easy to romanticize the perfect Christian community. But when you visit a church, a wish list can actually get in the way of the real essentials you need to consider when finding a church home.


The problem with mental catalogs for the perfect church or spouse is that they often miss the heart of the matter. That is, they’re missing the heart, period. Lists tend to focus on quantifiable features, which are all too often just surface issues. The way people dress. The songs they sing. The types of cars that fill the parking lot. What coffee brand the café or bookstore uses. How many members are in the handbell choir. While there’s nothing wrong with personal preference, preferences should not be equated with essentials. Such expectations can set people up for disappointment—perhaps contributing to the seven out of 10 young adults who went to church as teens and dropped out by age 23, according to a LifeWay Research survey. Lists are a good way to sort out your standards, but something is wrong when a church wish list reads like a spoiled starlet’s Starbucks order. And when Christians build a dream church around a check-off list, they’re bound to miss the Gospel alive and at work within the walls of the actual churches they enter. In fact, when you get so stuck on the individual items on your wish list, you often lose sight of the whole package. Ladies, when was the last time you dated a Ryan Gosling lookalike who loves Jesus,

flies a jet for a living, makes his own organic pasta and serves the homeless on the weekends? Men, have you found the woman who looks like a model, cooks like Julia Child, loves football and dreams of having a home full of very large TVs? Society tells Christians they need someone who will complete them and make everything better. But are these qualities really what they want—pre-programmed settings that satisfy selfish desires? More likely, Christians are looking for someone who will love them while challenging them to grow. In the long run, character lingers longer than looks, tax brackets and hobbies. And when character is refined and sharpened in the refinery of a committed relationship, the result is a strong and healthy marriage—or a strong and healthy church.


Most of the time, the church really isn’t the problem. Truth be told, the 15 churches you “dated” last year were just fine. Well, except that one ... but seriously, it’s not them. It’s you. Any time you catch yourself serially dating— whether in relationships, church shopping or anything else—it may be time to step back and examine whether you’re the one with unrealistic expectations. Let’s be honest: Are you going to church to glorify or be glorified? The Church (capital “C”) is not about you. This seems obvious at first, but Christians dismiss it every time they walk into worship with the expectation of being satisfied, accommodated or entertained. The Church was designed to glorify God and bring you into a closer relationship with Him and His people. Committing to a local congregation is about serving the Church body as a whole and glorifying God together. When you commit to a church, you willingly put yourself under its leadership. Your actions become accountable to others, and you begin to grow through the friction and sanctification that happens in close community. Your decision on a church home may carry little ceremony, but it’s more like a marriage vow than you might think. A vow at the altar is intended to be more than an official alignment of two lives. It’s intended to be a complete lifestyle changeover—a promise to let go of selfish pursuits and to serve one’s spouse every day. When a marriage is lopsided, trained in a direction to promote one spouse over another, it makes for trouble. Similarly, when a church is lopsided to promote one individual or authoritative leader over the rest of those who belong to it, this is known as a cult. When Christians try to find a church created in their own image instead of God’s, it promotes the cult of self. If you want to get married, you have to go through the dating process. And if you want to find a church home, you have to go check a few out. Church shopping, hopping and hunting are all necessary parts of the process in order to find the place God has called you to be. RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM / 83

of the eternal consequences of our sin. Find a church that proclaims truth, no matter how difficult it is to hear at times. Jesus said the truth will set you free (John 8:32). You won’t find healing and freedom by going to churches that tickle your ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Theology may seem like an issue to worry about when you’re older, but the way you view God shapes the way you live your life. And a church’s treatment of theology will point you in the right—or wrong—direction.


But as you search, it’s what’s on your list that matters. So, now that you know what not to put on your list, here’s what you should really be looking for.


The perfect church doesn’t exist. It never has. And entertaining this ideal is like refusing a relationship with a genuine person because you’re holding out for the mall mannequin. The New Testament Church was full of scandal simply because it was full of people. The disciples squabbled (Acts 15:36-41). The Corinthian church swarmed with sex scandals (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Even when Jesus chose Peter to lead the Church (Matthew 16:18), He was picking the man who had just publicly denied Him three times. It was only when the early Church centered itself on the Gospel that its members stuck together (Ephesians 4:14-16). Clearly, the Church Jesus founded was flawed, yet He loved it dearly—He even identified it as His bride. No matter how damaged a church might look on the surface, Jesus is still able to redeem it today. Yes, you can assess a church’s worship style, denomination or leadership structure based on a single Sunday impression. But the real essentials take more than a first meeting to discern. Does that particular church preach the Gospel? Does it proclaim Jesus crucified, dead, buried and resurrected? Is the leadership and community transparent about their need for forgiveness and grace? No church will have its act together, nor should it pretend to. As whenever a group of sinners meet together, you can expect to get hurt, disappointed and even outraged. But none of these are reasons to give up on a specific church. A community steeped in Gospel grace will be as aware of its shortcomings as you are 84 / RELEVANT_NOV/DEC 12

of yours, and together you can mourn your sins and grow in a holiness that’s not the result of following rules but of being in a committed relationship with Christ. Beware of churches that present extrabiblical rules for holiness. Jesus said the world would know who His disciples are because of their love, not because of their lack of rule-breaking (John 13:35). Besides, love isn’t something you can quantify on a list. And it’s more than a mid-service greeting. A church embodying Christ’s love is actively engaged in serving, in bearing each other’s burdens and in praying for each other. It echoes the love of God for each person, regardless of personal opinion or affection. This Gospel-inspired love is far more than pretty words. It’s action—faith wrapped up in skin and presented as a representation of Christ to the world. As you visit a new church, consider its local reputation. What do people in the community say about this church? Is it known as a place of judgment filled with town gossips, or is it known as a place of wide and loving welcome? Also take a close look at the church’s theology. Stay away from those that outsource truth—using songs, pop culture and inspirational anecdotes in lieu of biblical teaching. Those churches tend to tiptoe around the concept of sin, which may make us feel good about ourselves in the moment but also ingrains in us a false perception

It takes time to get beyond the visitor veneer and under the skin of a church—and again, this can’t be accomplished on a first visit. Building relationships with the people in the next pew takes time, energy and a fair amount of coffee money. Most of all, it takes a willingness to be vulnerable. Resist the temptation to darken the church door as a critic. Show up honestly, willing to learn. Immerse yourself in the culture of the church by helping out during a church cleanup day, by braving the Wednesday night potluck or by trying out a small group or two. The process is bound to be uncomfortable at times, but through it you will learn about the people—just like you—God has called to Himself. So, next Sunday morning, adjust your expectations for what a church can do for you. A church is not meant to complete you. It can’t magically make you perfect or happy. But it can constantly point you toward the One who is ever working to make you whole—“the One” you have really been looking for all along.

CAITLIN MUIR is a coffee snob from Portland who finally found her home in Austin, Texas. When she’s not daydreaming adventures, she’s living one or writing about past ones at

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My husband was mostly joking, but slightly serious, as he teased our friends who’d just shared their surprising news: She’s pregnant. The news for them—and for many couples in their twenties entering parenthood—was a mixed bag of joy and excitement topped off with a good deal of trepidation. How would their life change? What about their careers, finances, free time, marriage and cultural cache? Were they destined to become a couple bedecked in burp cloths, mom jeans and a Baby Bjorn? Would their identities be swallowed up in the new monikers “Mom” and “Dad”? Would their sex life fade into oblivion? Would they become “those people”—the ones who never go out with their friends anymore and can only stick to a subject if it involves their seven-poundthree-ounce bundle of joy? The worry—even dread—many twentysomethings feel about parenthood and the inevitable lifestyle changes it brings may be one factor in the current demographic shift toward later parenting. The average age for a woman’s first birth is 25 years old. In fact, according to a Pew Research study, the number of babies born to women over 35 has grown 64 percent since 1990. Later marriage, more schooling and acute dedication to one’s career are significant factors leading many young couples to wait longer to have kids. The reality is, no matter your age, babies really do change everything. As soon as crying and cooing enter the scene, the landscape of life is radically altered. But what changes—and how it changes— may not be what you expect.


Perhaps the most enduring sacrifice of new parents is the reality that it’s no longer just the two of them. They can’t spontaneously hop in the car to catch a late-night movie, hit the beach for the day or even sleep in soundly on the weekends. They can’t upgrade their smartphones without keeping an eye on the diaper budget. And, sadly, baby isn’t welcome at the wine bar on Saturday night. Life’s former freedoms are a thing of the past, as now every decision, purchase and plan must be made with a third party in mind. The stage without baby is a special one for couples—a time to build and strengthen their emotional, sexual and spiritual bond. In fact, this time was considered so important in ancient Hebrew culture that newlywed

men were legally excused from army service and other public duties in the first year of marriage. God wanted young couples to focus entirely on building a happy, healthy life together (Deuteronomy 24:5). Likewise, couples today can invest their full energy into building a strong marriage relationship that sets the foundation for a future family. Pre-kids, couples can enjoy the freedom of spontaneity and the flexibility of pursuing their careers and personal interests. But when a baby enters the scene, life changes. It isn’t just about you anymore.


You’re excited to tell your childless friends about your big news. But they, truth be told, are expecting you to disappear. You won’t be the only one to feel the limits of freedom in this new place. While you’re at home with the baby, your friends will be out and about—likely missing you and the way your friendship used to be. Some friendships won’t endure these changes. Others will—but they will look different. New parents can go a long way with friends in different life stages by intentionally widening conversation topics beyond the baby and maintaining common interests with old pals. But the onus of understanding also falls on kid-free friends. Those friends who can celebrate the changes of parenthood rather than resent them pave the way for friendships that last. When friends cultivate empathy and understanding, children enter social groups as blessings rather than unwanted intrusions.


From here on out, if you want to have a sex life, you’ll need to utilize the locks on your doors. There’s a kid in the house now. There will be times when it feels literally impossible to have even a single uninterrupted

conversation with your spouse, let alone leisurely dinners or extended make-out sessions. Maintaining a dynamic, intimate relationship with a spouse once kids arrive requires a new level of intentionality. For most new moms, the exhaustion that accompanies roller-coaster hormones, stretch marks and nighttime feedings takes a toll on their libido and sexual confidence. Meanwhile, new dads often struggle with “sharing” their wife’s attention and body with a demanding infant. In the initial adjustment to life with baby, a couple’s sex life may seem practically nonexistent. But the good news—the essential news—is that it doesn’t last forever. Your intimacy won’t inevitably disappear just because you now have a crib down the hall. In fact, moving into the new roles of “Dad” and “Mom” can actually lead you into a deeper level of intimacy and attraction with your spouse than you’ve ever known. Parenting requires a couple to work as an interdependent team. Nurturing a child together will stretch a couple to listen, compromise and support each other to a whole new degree. Yes, it can be tough at times to navigate parenting differences. But a couple that’s intentional about extending grace, prioritizing intimacy and preserving a sense of humor will end up closer—not further—apart as they do their best to raise their kids together.


When friends become new parents, their lives blare a loud message: We need help! The sleepless-zombie-inthree-day-old-clothes look is an obvious clue hinting at the deeper reality that new parents simply can’t do it alone. And they don’t just need the grandmas in the congregation to ooh and aah over their baby; they desperately need the practical help and spiritual support of their kid-free friends. Nieces, nephews, children of close friends, babies in the nursery at church—these little ones present a profound opportunity for selfless service and spiritual growth. You can minister to your friends by sacrificing a Friday night so they can go out on a much-needed date. Even if it’s not at the top of your weekend list, you can accept an invitation to a first birthday party bash. Your presence will be a bigger encouragement to your friends than you might guess. And even if you’re not a “kid person,” you may be surprised by what God can teach you when you volunteer for children’s worship. Even if the kids are not your own, caring for the kids in your life is more than just a way for you to bless their parents. It’s an avenue of discipleship for you as you sacrifice time to pour into the littlest members of God’s multi-generational family—and you’ll likely be blessed in the process.


Unfortunately, some new parents become consumed by their new role. They fixate on their child’s milestones, eating habits or diaper issues while all other pursuits and interests atrophy. RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM / 87

The university that combines ministry training with 24/7 prayer and worship.

The fading sense of one’s personal identity can be especially poignant for a parent who chooses to stay at home with a baby. The loss of workplace accomplishment and the gratification of saying, “I’m an [insert career of choice here],” can wreak havoc on their sense of self-worth. This identity crisis may be a contributing factor to a recent Gallup poll reporting that stay-at-home moms are more likely to feel sad and depressed than employed moms. Yet this identity upheaval can also serve to strip a person down to the core of who they are created uniquely by God to be. We are more than our careers (or the careers we gave up), and parents are more than “Dad” or “Mom.” Parenting certainly requires a love rich with self-denial and giving without thought of return, but it should never toll the death knell of an individual’s identity. A person’s unique gifts, God-designed personality and eternal soul are the same as they were before a baby entered the scene.


parent’s example of Christ’s love in the context of everyday life will form a child’s understanding of who God is and what life is all about (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). This is a privilege that shatters pride and brings parents to their knees—and rightly so. Because when the kids are watching 24/7, they see both our inspiring example and moments of selfishness side by side. Like a brutally honest mirror, living with little observers painfully reveals our sin. But this, like many of the difficult aspects of parenthood, is a tremendous blessing in disguise. Being observed by a child prods us out of bitterness into forgiveness, out of anger into peace, out of self-centeredness into compromise, out of judgment into grace. Daily obedience seems a lot less “optional” when seeing words and behavior echoed by children. Parenthood is a spiritual furnace—a crucible in which sin is revealed, pride is burned away and a more Christ-like character is shaped.


Nothing may be more awe-inspiring and intimidating than bringing a new baby home from the hospital. Here is this new and precious life—entirely dependent upon you to stay alive and to be fed, clothed and kept safe. Parenting is a tremendous calling—but it ought never supersede the highest calling in a person’s life: to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37). Dads and moms are still called to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19), make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), practice justice (Micah 6:8), love their neighbors (Matthew 22:39) and use their spiritual gifts to build up the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7). Parenting certainly changes one’s life in the church, as commitments shift to accommodate the time family life requires. Yet new discipleship opportunities abound, too, in the endless occasions for selfless service on behalf of little ones, through outreach at the playground and through new ways of practicing faith as a family. The means may change, but the calling doesn’t. The new role of parent never supplants the role of disciple.


Nothing is more sobering than the realization that a child learns what it means to follow Jesus by observing a parent’s example. Yet in this sense, parenting is one of the most significant opportunities to make disciples. A

Moving from “couple” to “family” is a tremendous change that spans from wonderful to just plain hard. It begins with the incredible gift of new life, and from there on out it requires some degree of sacrificial loss. But in Jesus’ economy, loss is great gain. And for the follower of Jesus, the embrace of parenting is a meaningful and worthwhile choice. When parenting is tough, reliance upon God deepens. When childrearing stresses a marriage, couples can grow in grace toward each other. And when the demands of parenting bring out the worst, it can be an opportunity to chase hard after the spiritual fruit God is cultivating, even under pressure.

KELLI B. TRUJILLO is a mom of three and the author of several books, including The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival. Join her in conversation at



WATCH The video for “Knock Knock” off Mirage Rock


> Rootsy, rambling and raucous, the new Band of Horses release, Mirage Rock, is a throwback to the days when Gram Parsons sang weepy harmonies with Emmylou Harris and The Band ruled the radio. Lead singer Ben Bridwell finds his upper registry on crooners like “Slow Cruel Hands of Time,” while a new warmth emanates from every G-sus chord, thanks to producer Glyn Johns (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton). On “A Little Biblical,” the band drops into full-on ’70s rock mode, while on “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone,” they experiment with a country vibe. “Feud,” a song about failures and daydreams, gets dangerously close to sounding like something Nirvana could have produced.

ANDREW BIRD HANDS OF GLORY (MOM + POP RECORDS) > Recorded in a barn with just


one microphone, Andrew Bird’s Hands of Glory EP has a liverecording feel—instruments that sound distant were physically recorded that way, solos feel organic and sanguine and Bird turns his fastidious violin into a countrified fiddle, often mid-song. There’s a traditional folk song (“Railroad Bill”), a Handsome Family cover (“When That Helicopter Comes”) and a mournful, laconic take on “Orpheo Looks Back.” Brilliant, old-timey stuff.

> Oh, Eustace Scrubb. We feel your pain. The storyline of this character from C.S. Lewis’ fantasy series—a reactionary rube who encounters the lifechanging truths of Christ— adds depth to Benjamin Dunn’s latest release, Fable, based entirely on Narnia and the Space Trilogy. Synth-driven power ballads (think Handsome Furs, with better orchestration) meet toe-tapping melodies.



> Named after the state flag

motto for Nevada, Battle Born is less about surefire hits and more about resonance and depth for this band that just returned from a several-years’ break. Spiritual references by way of lead singer Brandon Flowers’ Mormon background are lighter here than on previous albums, though Flowers name-checks spiritual allegories, like crossing a river to find truth. The band blasts a rollicking vibe on this album with newfound vigor.

> Here’s how to break your

heart / in six places sings Paul Cook on his masterful debut—a raw collection of folky, forlorn love songs. On “Candlelight,” Cook’s voice crackles with deep pathos while singing about lies and forgiveness. Often, the songs are just Cook and a lone electric guitar or light percussion. “I Forgive You” marches up a scale of doubt and down a chord progression of letting someone go without bitterness or regret.



> Remember that Super Bowl commercial where someone drove a Suzuki Kizashi on a frozen lake? Maybe not, but the song Cookbook played on it was memorable—“The Party’s Still Jumpin’” has a slick bass line and a triple-tracked rap by Styliztik Jones, El Prez and UNO Mas that can’t help but cause immediate head-nodding. “We Got That Fire” is the single most unique Puerto Rican rap song ever made—it’s one part classic rock by The Doors and one part swirling synth perfection.


Created in seven days (ahem), this ode to nature starts with a cello grinding like a buzz-saw in the distance, followed by a lilting acoustic guitar and achingly angelic vocals. Originally intended as a collection of children’s songs, singer Allison Sudol expanded her intentions after spending time in the mountains of Washington State. Sudol, known for her song “Almost Lover,” finds a balance here between bright melody and purposeful intent.




> This magical, life-affirming vision from writer-directorcomposer Benh Zeitlin moves like a creation myth. It starts in “The Bathtub,” a utopian community that parallels Southern Louisiana, where father and daughter Wink (Dwight Henry) and Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) live in perfect shalom. But as swiftly as you can utter “Genesis 3,” this paradise falls. We learn that Wink is dying, and a tropical storm—allegorical of Hurricane Katrina—sweeps over the land, leaving the Bathtub inhabitants homeless and seeking for things to return to the way they used to be. Through Hushpuppy’s buoyant outlook, realized in her Malick-esque voiceovers, the story transcends cynicism, insisting that to combat death and gloom, we must dance— and Zeitlin captures this dance with sheer imagination. From his lyrical, visual style to the distinctly American score, he creates a stunning and wondrous revelation.



> The best thing about Natural

Selection is Rachael Harris. She stars as Linda, a devout Christian who gets stuck hauling her husband’s biological child, Raymond (Matt O’Leary), across the country after he breaks out of jail. A fresh blend of comedy and drama, the film not only gives Christianity a fair shake, but also culminates into a moving story of hope and healing. It’s no wonder it brought home the Grand Jury prize at the 2011 South by Southwest film festival.

> Christopher Nolan gives us a

fun and satisfying conclusion to a series that unquestionably changed the superhero genre forever. The Dark Knight Rises comes to the screen with more on its mind than both its successors, evoking current cultural events, from the War on Terror to Occupy Wall Street. Though somewhat thwarted by complexity, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt provide the film’s saving grace.



> As a work of sci-fi horror, this

prequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 cult classic Alien doesn’t compare with its predecessor. But as a piece of philosophical sci-fi, it offers an enthralling exploration into human existence. Centering on a team of scientists that board the spaceship Prometheus in search of a Creator they have reason to believe exists, the story lends itself to stunning, grandiose visual effects and a set of honest turns from Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender.

> It’s hard to think of a recent documentary as enveloping as The Imposter. The film, made up of a mishmash of interviews and reenactments, follows the story of a 23-year-old Frenchman who impersonated a missing teenager from San Antonio, Texas, and was accepted into the boy’s family seemingly without question. Director Bart Layton suggests deception is happening among more than one of the parties, which proves a convincing angle by the film’s end.



> In this beautifully animated picture from Pixar, the studio features its first female protagonist and a twisty tale of laughs and depth. When Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a fire-headed princess as talented as Katniss with a bow and arrow, refuses the wishes of her mother (voiced by Emma Thompson) and declines an arranged marriage, she finds herself on a rocky road to independence. An unforgettable adventure ensues.

> This biographical dramedy

why i came back a pacifist. "Logan mehl-Laituri is one of the contemporary prophets for peace, decrying the evils of war and declaring the nonviolent love of Jesus." —shane claiborne, author of The Irresistable Revolution

reborn on the fourth of july Reborn on the Fourth of July is the true story of an American soldier who, after a full tour in Iraq, was baptized in the Christian faith, sought conscientious objector status and ultimately left the military with a new assignment for peace.

Watch a video introduction to Reborn on the Fourth of July: 800.843.9487

became a cultural phenomenon in France—and when you watch it, it’s easy to see why. Anchored by the lead performances of François Cluzet and Omar Sy, it follows the remarkable real life story of a handicapped millionaire and his hoodlum caretaker whose friendship brings redemption to each of their lives. The Intouchables is one of those films that leaves you with a newfound faith in life.




> Mary Anne Schwalbe was the founding director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, leading the commission from 1990-1994. She was an advocate for women and children affected by war and persecution, and for refugees around the globe. She was also Will Schwalbe’s mother. And, in 2007, she was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. When Will accompanies her on one of her medical visits, a simple question he asks her in the waiting room changes everything: “What are you reading?” And thus, a two-member, mother-and-son book club is formed. Over the next two years of her treatment, they read and discuss a vast array of books—and, as is wont to happen in book clubs, they branch out to broader topics. The End of Your Life Book Club is about books, but it is also about how books connect us to one another and to our larger shared story. It is about compassion and courage.


he said?” Red Letter Revolution is an intergenerational conversation between Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo that explores the implications of saying yes. While there are places the authors disagree, Campolo says, “Our goal has not been to homogenize but rather to harmonize our dreams.” The book explores 26 topics, including Islam, sexuality, violence and reconciliation.


Porter’s In Between Days is the story of a family on edge. Elson and Cadence Harding have recently divorced after 30 years of marriage. Their son, Richard, still lives at home. Then Chloe, the youngest, returns after getting kicked out of college for reasons she can’t (or won’t) explain. With all the Hardings under one roof again, Porter explores the familiar themes of family and forgiveness and the age-old question of whether we can ever really go home again.

Engaging faith to engage the world. Bridging difference. Listening generously. Tell i ng Good News.

800.264.1839 |

Brian Davis

Master of Divinity Student | Louisville, Ky.

Explore these degrees | Master of Divinity, MA Marriage & Family Therapy, MA (Religion), Doctor of Ministry

HOW MUSIC WORKS DAVID BYRNE (MCSWEENY’S) > Writing as musician, historian

and social scientist, Talking Heads founder and lead singer David Byrne has penned a witty and winning reflection on a subject he made a career out of: music. Whether readers approach How Music Works as encyclopedia or love letter, it can be enjoyed as both. Byrne’s insights are sharp, and his celebration of his subject is infectious. Music could not have asked for a better apologist or anthropologist. Byrne makes the book a remarkable read.

MISREADING SCRIPTURE WITH WESTERN EYES E. RANDOLPH RICHARDS & BRANDON J. O’BRIEN (INTERVARSITY PRESS) American Christians are thousands of years and miles removed from the cultural and geographical contexts in which the Scriptures were written, creating blinders that dull the full impact of the texts or obscure their meaning altogether. By becoming aware of cultural assumptions, the authors say we can move “beyond the paralysis of self-doubt and toward a faithful reading and application.” >



> Yunior, who first appeared

in Junot Díaz’s short story collection Drown and again in the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, returns in This Is How You Lose Her, serving as a link between all but one of the nine short stories in the collection and painting a picture of an almost ambivalent approach to love and loss. As always, Díaz’s dialogue has punch, his characters have panache and his stories have equal parts humor and heart.

> In 1984, David Janzen moved

to Reba Place Fellowship, just outside Chicago. He was doing intentional community before it was cool. Today, with an increasing number of Christians being drawn into intentional community, he offers this handbook as a practical guide and resource for those exploring the New Monastic movement—either as practitioners of community life or as curious observers.


CONTENTS The Flip Side of Rainn Wilson  64 You think you know this guy. But there’s so much more to Rainn Wilson than being Dwight Schrute.


The Spiritual Importance of Space 76 You need margin more than you think.

54 Unslaved


In the war against human trafficking, rescuing victims is only the beginning.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt 58 2012’s busiest actor on being picky about roles, expanding beyond Hollywood

7 Reasons Why We Still Love Christmas

and the downsides of fame.

The holiday brings out the sentimentality in all of us. Why is that?

A Good Church Is Hard to Find 82 We’ve all been there—trying to find that elusive “best fit.”

60 10 Ways to Live an Extraordinary Life


Bob Goff has lived an incredible life, and he thinks you can too.

The Heavy 72

The Kid Effect

You’ll want to get to know these Brits who infuse gothic and Southern

Here’s how to anticipate the little thing that FALL changes everything TV GUIDE THE XX

gospel into their sound and leave even David Letterman wanting more.

for everyone.









FA I T H + P O L I T I C S 2 0 1 2






The Drop


Reject Apathy

• 2013 in Preview • The Fall of Religious Freedom • Top 5 Biopics—Ever • Os Guinness Answers “Can America Stay Free?”

• Purity Ring • Divine Fits • Anaïs Mitchell • Dustin Kensrue of Modern Post

• Rewired by the Web • 5 Innovators: “What I Wish I’d Known ... “ • Shawn Parr and Bulldog Drummond

• Homelessness at Christmas • Land of a Thousand Hills • Gun Violence in America • Worship and Justice


Feedback First Word 14 Recommends 90 ISSUE 59 / SEPT_OCT 2012 / $4.95




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RELEVANT Issue 60  

You think you know Rainn Wilson. He's the assistant to the regional manager at Dunder Mifflin, right? Think again. There's so much more to R...

RELEVANT Issue 60  

You think you know Rainn Wilson. He's the assistant to the regional manager at Dunder Mifflin, right? Think again. There's so much more to R...