Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Coffee's on the sidebar, over there. Super-trooper and decaf. Mugs, real cream (no fake crap) and all the fixin's are next to the pots. Nosh in the fridge. Help yourself.

Welcome to the Oxygen of Grace blog.

My name's Ken and I'm your semi-geezery 46 year-old host here in California. I've been a Christian of one flavor or another for over 30 years. Sometimes merely surviving for a long time brings its own wisdom; you tend toward a visceral knowledge of what works and what does not. I've also been privileged to spend time in community with many people who walk their talk as far as grace is concerned and I've tried to learn from them. My godparents, Allison and Lola, stand out as examples.

I find I can learn about grace from unlikely sources. CNN, the newspaper, poetry, movies, TV, atheists and agnostics, believers of other faiths, believers from Christian traditions different than mine. I believe to God, we're all Balaam's ass and He will speak through us regardless of what or even if we think about it.

I find strangers often the richest sources of grace: The man who looked like a stereotypical Hollywood fashionplate on the airliner who spoke to me kindly when I was standing in the crowded aisle waiting for the toilet to free up and everyone else was ignoring me. The dark-haired woman at the library who stopped, looked at 13 year-old bundle of teen angst me, and said, "You're an extraordinarily handsome young man," and then walked away. The man in the next lane of traffic at the entry to Dodger Stadium who paid for my parking when, pulling up to the booth, I realized I'd forgotten my wallet and could not turn around because of the crush of incoming cars.

I'm not promoting any political or social issue, I'm not going to try and sell you anything nor am I a member of any denomination. I describe myself as "post-evangelical." Here's my agenda: Grace, grace, and more grace. God's grace every day, every hour, every minute, every moment. God's grace for us to breathe, to live, to exist, to possess meaning, to live life, to become fully human, to live life in love with other people regardless of who they are or what they believe, to live our lives pointing out God to a cynical, hostile, desperate and watching world, grace to live life with the integrity Jesus did, grace to embrace daily His cross in our hearts. Grace to recognize our own cornucopia of sins and weaknesses and grace to ask God's forgiveness for them and to forgive ourselves for them--the most difficult bit of the process.

To my sorrow, I did my time as a legalist in my early years as a Christian, and I pray never to return to that swamp of refused thinking, canned beliefs, lazy belief, sterile relationships and fear of the unknown, the alien, the potentially suspect, in fear of anyone who's different.

My daily need for grace is no less than anyone else's and more than some. My ability to cock it all up and piss on His grace is as great as anyone else's and likewise more than some.

Now you know why I titled this blog as I did.

Some personal info: I'm a freelance writer and married to the lovely Sturdy Wench. She has two children, one of which still lives with us, so I get to experience the joy of step-fathering a teenager. As the comedian said, "Now I know why tigers eat their young."

I have a...hmmmm..."complex" relationship with God. Some believers seem to skate their way through life, God is their best buddy and troubles seem few and easily conquered through prayer and personal holiness.

That's not me.

I know how to show grace to other people. (I even do it sometimes.) Even though "treat others as you would be treated" is simple to say, it's not easy to do. It requires serious stones and a willingness to look like an idiot or a heretic in front of other people. It requires you die to yourself, die to your need for other people's approval of you. As far as I know, it's the only way the word of God gets walked out in truth. Someone standing behind a pulpit or in front of camera, banging their gums without walking this out in moments when it is most inconvenient, is worthless. Shut the fuck up and get a real job.

For 'complex' read "rocky, uneven, halting, contradictory, frustrating, occasionally joyful, mysterious, bloody, sublime, citrusy-tasting." When I finally face God for my judgement, I'm half-terrified He's going to bitch slap me out of frustration before He hugs me and welcomes me home. Then I'm angry that He won't bitchslap me and will instead just hug my neck, tell me sins are forgiven and forgotten and welcome me home. How dare He not kick the shit out me of as I deserve?! Look at all the times I've deliberately chosen to sin, the times I've screwed up, been a complete asshole to Him, to other believers!


Thus, you see a snapshot of some of my issues with grace, with God, with myself. I have more posts to come, and I promise they won't be as navel-gazing as this one. Well, I don't mean for them to be. It's my occupational hazard.

If you have a response, please comment.


Anonymous said...

Refreshing to see someone tell it like it is, facing the issues of our imperfection and God's wonderful grace in a refreshing, yet "in your face" kind of way. Thanks, Ken!! I'm looking forward to your next words of wisdom.

Mindy said...

Looks like this might be an interesting place to hang out. Okay if I just watch?

Marty Daniels said...

Struggling to accept grace is much harder than extending grace...I guess my boat isn't built for one.

Nice to find your blog.

trudymorgancole said...

I love your agenda, Ken. I miss you on the Ship and will bookmark your blog now that my attention has been drawn to it.

As a writer people sometimes ask me what the "theme" of some particular thing I've written is and I always say: "I only know one theme: grace."

duchessSoF said...

Hey KenW enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Your vulnerability and honesty are so refreshing, especially to a perpetually pissed-off post-evangelical like myself.

Thank you for the fellowship and enlightenment.

Prattman said...


"Hang in there!" I'm wrestling myself with understanding and accepting God's Grace. We're both in our 40s, an age that brings much reflection.Thanks for sharing your experience!