First Ever Interview: Living in Chronic Pain with the Whiskey Preacher

“Every time I look for God amid sorrow, I always find Jesus at the cross, in death and resurrection. This is our God. Not a distant judge, nor a sadist. But a God who weeps. A God who suffers not only for us but with us. Nowhere is the presence of God more salient than on the cross. Therefore, what can I do but confess that this is not a God who causes suffering. This is a God who bears suffering. I need to believe that God does not initiate suffering. God transforms it.”   – Nadia Bolz-Webber from Pastrix

Recently I was invited by Phil Shepherd aka The Whiskey Preacher to be the subject of an interview for his blog.  Turn about being fair play, I asked if I could interview him for Word of a Woman.

In the last couple months Phil has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and is living with chronic pain.

Following is our discussion on living with that pain…

In the next day or two I will be posting the flip side of this video in which Phil talks to me about my personal evolution to becoming an LGBTQ ally.

Please look up Phil at:

Outlaw Theology on Patheos

On Facebook

On Twitter

The Eucatastrophe

Phil’s personal webpage

Invitation to Dance.

So you think you can dance – Fix you – Robert & Allison from Laura U on Vimeo.

Ever see a dance so sad and beautiful and painful that it made you cry?

This morning my friend Kris Irvin posted the following as his status.

I’m a Christian, I love Jesus, but I am not alright. I am sick of the facade. I am disgusted at what “christianity” has made me think that I have to be. I hear songs about God turning mourning into dancing, about him taking away all of our pain and sorrows. It just isn’t true. Is it possible, yes, but not the norm. I don’t want to be emotionless, I want to cry, I want to hurt, I want pain, these things are real to me. I also want joy, peace, comfort. I want to be human, because God made me human. He gave me these emotions and I want to embrace them. No one wants their parents to tell them to stop crying when they are in pain and hurting, they want them to hold them close. I want God to hold me close.
Shit happens and let’s be honest, life NEVER seems fair, and I don’t want to act like it is. No more facade, no more smiles to hide the pain. I embrace what God has made me and I hold onto the fact that sometimes it isn’t just going to be all better right away.
And when sorrow can’t rejoice, he holds me close.

This is truth. Naked, beautiful, honest, ugly truth.

Shortly after I read his post The CBE Scroll arrived in my inbox. It said in part:

God tells us that when we want an accurate picture of himself, we should look at his Son whom he sent as a tangible representation of Divinity; transcendence made flesh; God made human. In Scripture, I find that Christ was moved deeply by feeling. He was filled with compassion, love, loyalty, hope, and sometimes even righteous anger. Christ’s emotions moved him to be surrounded by the sick, the dirty, and the poor. His emotions led him to wash his friends’ feet, and weep when his friend Lazarus died. He told us to love one another, act with compassion, to be merciful. Christ was anything but a numb, distant, and “thick skinned” leader. Christ felt things, and he felt them deeply.

Years ago, at a workshop which is now called The Encounter, Derek Watson said, “Why do you laugh in the face of what sorrow brings?”
It is a brilliant question. I learned later that Derek was actually quoting the great Bob Dylan in his song, What Good Am I. The last verse says,

What good am I if I say foolish things
And I laugh in the face of what sorrow brings
And I just turn my back while you silently die
What good am I?

You can read the lyrics or listen to the full song here.

When I was in theater in high school, our teacher Mr. Avery (or just Avery, as we used to call him) would remind us that when things were particularly sad or tense or difficult not to be surprised when the audience laughed. Why is that do you suppose? Is it our mask, is it our upbringing, or is it just the voice in our head that calls us weak?

In Romans 12:15, Jesus asks us to rejoice with the rejoicing and weep with the weeping. He asks us to entwine our hearts with those around us so that they beat to the same music.  So that the music of life, the rise and fall, rise and fall of the driving happy beats and the sorrowful moans of the cello become the soundtrack by which we live and breathe. And when “sorrow can’t rejoice, he holds [us] close.” We need to allow our feet to move to the beat of the music of the heart we are entwined with and allow our arms to encircle our brother or sister who in their sorrow just simply needs to be held and know they are not alone.

Jesus, Kris and Dylan, thank you for the invitation to dance.