In 2002, I visited Maine to see Gregg, my college roommate, and his young family. At the Naval Academy, Gregg and I made strange bedfellows: he was white, I was black; he was Catholic, I was Protestant; he was a Republican, I was a Democrat; he questioned climate change, I absolutely believed it was real. We were friends, not because of our similarities, but rather in spite of our differences. Except on one point: we both had just enough of the intellectual and theological rebel in us that we clicked. At the conclusion of that weekend visit, he gave me a Catholic Bible with a note and a finishing inscription that read, P.S. Enjoy the “uncut” version 😉
Over the years, long stretches of time passed before we saw each other again. When we were able to clear our calendars, our time together was always good. It was also predictable that by the end of whatever time we had, we never came to agree on much, except that society was becoming less and less what we thought it should be. That was the story of our friendship until I called him in May 2020. That is when I heard a string of yesses coming from the other end of the phone that startled me. There was some pushback on a few points, but we pretty much came to total agreement in the end.
This little book is about what we came to agreement on. It is about the fact that after I called him up a few weeks later to talk about the realization our conversation had brought me to, I also noticed that the Bible I was reading at that point was the one Gregg had given me eighteen years earlier. I cannot help but believe there was something divinely inspired in that—in two people, from opposite sides of almost every social fence, talking to each other as friends and coming to a common understanding about what God had been trying to say to us over all those years. The message underlying that commonality is for pastors, priests, and other members of the clergy. If you belong to a church where you have never been tempted to call the congregation the audience, then it is also for you.
In the pages that follow, I intend to write as Paul wrote, as if in a letter between friends, “not in lofty words or wisdom” dripping with clever logic. I will say this much of my own accord: over the days that this message has unfolded, I have been surprised by tears on more than one occasion. Not something that a military guy like me will easily admit to. My hope is that these chapters will likewise move you—beyond faith, beyond tears, and into the love of God to which these words are meant most directly to speak.
Read More from Love: The Foundation
In the aftermath of my conversation with Gregg, I wondered if wise-love was just a concept I had made up in the moment to try
The Bible is not a dead book. The breath of God is alive and well within it. That indwelling—the Spirit of love—converses with the voice