A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Monday, February 26, 2007

Southern California Send-Off

The four Southern California riders had our send-off last night and it went off (in my opinion) perfectly. Good friends, good food, good times. Though hosting it on the television sound stage was a last minute decision, I think in the end it worked out nicely. I would post a picture, but my camera battery is dead and thus, no pictures. Many of my friends came out to support us and it was a blast having them all together in one place as I'm preparing to ship out.

I was a little skeptical how playing a clip from Equality U would turn out. Unlike many other Soulforce/Equality Ride events/fundraisers, this one was attended primarily by friends and family members. There weren't many (or any?) "community members" or "donors" or "concerned citizens" -- it was just friends coming to see us off. I thought it might be a little too weighty for them, but then I would have been underestimating our friends.

The clip was stirring and I couldn't help my well up just a little bit. Afterwards, Laura Davis (originally from Missouri) came up to reiterate how excited/proud she was that I was a part of the Equality Ride. She said, with tears in her eyes, "Thank-you so much for doing this. Those are my friends. They just don't know. I saw a lot of them go out of state to college and have their eyes opened up but a lot of them are still there. They just need this to come to them. I Thank you." I was floored. (And a little teary-eyed myself) The outflowing of support that I have received from my friends in this endevaour has been encouraging. I know I will need it in the weeks ahead. I'm glad that they got to see a little bit of what I will be doing.

I told Laura when we stopped in Olathe, Kansas I would find a tall building and try to look into Missouri for her. It reaffirms why I am doing this ride. Every life matters. Every change counts. When we go to Kansas, I'm going for Laura. And that is reason enough.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


As news of our impending visist spreads around the country, reporters, bloggers, students, and administrators have begun to talk about it publicly. I haven't really responded to many of these reports, but one that I read today from The Point (graciously forwarded by East Bus Co-Director Jarrett Lucas) piqued my interest.

Let's pray for all the Christian colleges on Equality Ride's tour schedule. Pray that God would protect the minds and lives of the students on these campuses, some of whom may be struggling with these issues or who may have never before been confronted with them. Pray that God would give wisdom to the administration at each school to know how to handle these uninvited guests. And pray that the men and women participating in Equality Ride will be overwhelmed by God's grace and compassion as they visit these schools. Pray that they would see an irresistible passion and love for God and for others shining on the faces and in the lives of the people they meet on these campuses.
Amen! It is interesting, even comforting to me, that Ms. Steakly and I have the exact same wish for our time on these campuses (though, we certainly hold different beliefs on the matter). The Equality Ride has never been shy about our aim to visit in love, for conversation, and with compassion.

As a Christian, I am daily overwhelmed by God's grace and compassion; He is my joy and my strength. It is my prayer that every individual be blessed with such a wonderful relationship as is found in the Lord. I suppose where our views diverge is how exactly we realize that vision. And it should be noted that some schools on our itinterary (Pepperdine for instance) are happy to have us come and engage the campus on these topics.

It still surprises me that individuals are shunned from the Christian community because of their love for another child of God. I pray for those on all campuses struggling with these issues, that they will know God loves and affirms them. That He has not, and will not, turn His back on them. That they will not be elbowed out of communion in Christ because of misguided and unquestioned prejudices. That they will never be deprived of the grace that is God. May God's light shine through me and the many other Christian riders.

And I pray for those students who have never had to even think about these issues. That they will open their hearts, prayerfully and with careful meditation, to ALL perspectives on this issue. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us to "Examine all things. Hold on to those which are good." That is all I ask.

Only eight more days, I am excited! In Christ, Brian

Monday, February 19, 2007

An Anonymous Donation

comment: "Brian, Asking God's blessing on you venture. Thanks for your help in informing people that we can be gay and Christian at the same time."
Donations have been trickling in from friends and friends' parents but I was completely caught off guard by this one. Alexey told us that often times riders get donations from complete strangers. I believed him, but somehow figured I would be exempt.

This anonymous donor was a powerful reminder to me of why I am doing this. To whoever it was: Thank you, for supporting me in this cause and for being a voice from the outside. I will do my best to let others know.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, and now Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism by John Shelby Spong. Books that have touched my own heart--and the heart of God--in awesome and inspiring ways. I remember the spiritual renewing, the awesome and empowering life-truth, the saving and amazing grace, and the history changing difference that I gleaned from Mere Christianity and The Ragamuffin Gospel. When I set out to complete my Equality Ride readings, I was certainly not expecting a Christian awakening. How wrong was I?

There were moments as I read that the Evangelical inside of me sprung up and I was tempted to write it off as hippie-new-age-mushy-spirituality-not-really-Christian. But that notion was quickly dispelled. On multiple occasions (I can distinctly remember three), the words sent goosebumps over my body. I had previously thought about how there is a temptation to revere the Bible instead of revering God. That somehow it is the Bible that is the source of life, the source of goodness, the source of power.

It isn't.

The Bible is merely a messenger--one of many ways God reveals himself to us. Even the Bible talks of how God reveals Himself to all, even outside of Scripture. Scripture is beautiful. But Scripture is not God. It is the feeble, time-sensitive, culturally-tainted words of men (and women), striving to know God better and to pass on their magnificent, life-altering experience with him to others. God bless them! The Bible is a rich resource and we, Christians, would be lost without it. It's contribution cannot be overestimated. But it is but a mere reflection of the One it honors.

Spong proposes that while Fundamentalism offers a literalism that is both irrational, unacceptable, and eventually spiritually fatal, the alternative that many liberal/mainline churches present is no more appealing. Devoid of saying anything definite, lacking Biblical knowledge and authority, missing a real and urgent quest for God. Fundamentalism does not have a monopoly on the Bible. I was refreshed to hear an educated, progressive theologian talk about the importance of the Bible and the timelessness of its message. We have another option! Searching after God is not easy--but He never said it would be. When you wade past the limited knowledge of the day, the preconceptions, the assumptions, the culture, the language, and the experiences what you find is truly remarkable.
You find God.

I thank God that I might search after Him. And I pray that He might guide my journey as I do.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

First Encounters At Pepperdine

Fellow Pepperdine organizer Jillian Nye and I had our first visit with Dean of Student Affairs Mark Davis and Associate Dean Tabatha Jones today. It was great to sit down face-to-face and get to know each other. Luckily they are very open to our plans for the visit and this has been very much a cooperative effort. We are still pulling everything together but we've already got a bunch of great things to look forward to.

  • Morning worship at the Chapel to kick-off our two days together
  • Working with the AIDS Awareness postcard writing campaign (it's AIDS Awareness week)
  • Talking to Social Justice classes
  • Presenting to the students
  • Mingling in the cafeteria
  • Supper with professors, administrators, student leaders, and GLBT students

Jillian, Mark, Tabatha, and I closed our time together at Heroes Garden on the top of the big mountain on campus with a prayer. It was majestic and beautiful. I praise God for the work that the four of us will do on this campus.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Equality Ride and the LDS Church

This year's Equality Ride will stop at two Latter Day Saints schools this year, BYU and BYU-Idaho. Last year Equality Ride stopped at BYU and were able to speak with students. When riders attempted to speak with groups, they were arrested. Later, a protest honoring the GLBT BYU students who have killed themselves drew more arrests. The Equality Ride organizers, as well as the riders ourselves, see the current policies of the LDS church as a threat to the mental, physical, and spiritual safety of GLBT individuals. We will be returning to BYU and adding BYU-Idaho to our stop list because of this.

In anticipation of the upcoming visits, Affirmation, an organization for gay & lesbian Mormons, recently featured an interview with Matt Kulisch.

Matt Kulisch, 24, became well known one year ago when, as a BYU student, he decided to join the Soulforce Equality Ride demonstration held at his own campus and led a “die-in” event in remembrance of gay Mormon suicides. Matt, who has since transferred to the University of Utah, is one of four young people with an LDS background who will participate in this year’s ride as it stops at BYU, BYU-Idaho, and some 15 other religious colleges that discriminate against LGBT students.

The Equality Ride will visit BYU on March 21-22 and BYU-Idaho on April 16-17. For more information on these four Riders of LDS background, and to help sponsor their Ride, please visit the pages for Mike Cramer, Matt Kulisch, Kourt Osborn, and Emil Pohlig at www.soulforce.org/2007riders.

One year ago, as a BYU student, you joined the historic demonstration that the Equality Ride was organizing at BYU and, as a result of your participation, you were placed on probation. Had you planned to play such an active role in that demonstration?

Honestly, no. I didn’t, at least not initially. Several of my roommates and friends had been following the Equality Ride as it was traveling towards BYU, and they had been communicating with the Riders in preparation for their visit. I didn’t decide to get involved until the day the Equality Ride arrived in Provo. But a friend of mine had just lost someone to suicide because he was gay and couldn’t reconcile his feelings with his religious beliefs, and another very close friend had come out to his family the very day the Ride came to BYU—it went pretty badly. I decided to demonstrate for myself, and for them.

One thing I found interesting is that you were not disciplined for being gay, but for refusing to remain silent. Do you think BYU is a healthy environment for gay and lesbian students?

I think you have just identified BYU’s true policy toward their LGBT students: You’re welcome so long as you’re submissive and silent, which is a pretty poor way of following the counsel of LDS church leaders on the subject. Any environment that does not offer LGBT students—or any other minority group, for that matter—a voice to speak their minds and share their concerns is not a healthy environment. BYU is certainly no exception.

Read the full article here
It is with a heavy heart and a renewed resolve that I prepare to stop at BYU, BYU-Idaho, and other stops that so forcefully oppose our presence. I am inspired by the stories of individuals such as Matt and Kourt Osborn. I am blessed to know them and I know that they will be a blessing to the students we will encounter at these schools.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Website Updated

Soulforce has updated it's page for the Equality Ride and you can now view it at www.equalityride.com or www.soulforce.org/equalityride. It is complete with an overview of the ride, some pictures and stories from last year's ride, profiles for the 2007 riders, and the complete list of schools we are visiting (along with their policies).

You can view the EAST ROUTE here and the WEST ROUTE here.

Some highlights include Notre Dame, BYU, Trinity Bible, Yellowstone Baptist, George Fox, and Bethany Lutheran. Be sure to check out the complete lists for both schools.

I am coordinating the West Bus stop at Pepperdine University. If you are interested in coming up to support the ride or are connected to Pepperdine in some way (current or former student, faculty, staff, family, community, etc) please contact me for information on how you can get involved. We can always use supportive voices and assistance.

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