Tom Krattenmaker, of USA Today fame, recently wrote this article for Huffington Post titled, “6 Evangelicals You Don’t Know… But Might Want To.” I was included among a list of people that I would consider heros including, Lisa Sharon Harper, Kevin Palau, Dr. Paul Metzger and Jim Henderson.
Here is the section he wrote about me:
Tony “the Beat Poet” Kriz
Recent headlines furnish a fresh example of a disarming trend afoot in evangelical America. Alan Chambers, head of a group that has been busy for decades teaching homosexuals to “pray away the gay” (as cynics like to phrase it), issued a public apology for the hurt his work has inflicted on gays and announced he was shuttering his organization, Exodus International. Stunning–but not the first instance of evangelicals saying “sorry” and repenting for the misdeeds of the church.
Chambers’ moving apology has a forerunner in a creative act of humbleness and vulnerability captured in Donald Miller’s seminal Christian spirituality book Blue like Jazz. Meet Tony “The Beat Poet” Kriz, the iconoclast Christian and Miller compatriot who decided it would be crazy–in all the right ways–to set up a confession booth at the end-of-year festival at ultra-secular Reed College. No, not to take the pagan Reedies’ confessions, but to confess to them.
In the decade since, Kriz has gone to be become an influential, and at-times controversial, speaker, teacher, and author. Informally, sporadically, and very unofficially, more evangelicals have been reproducing the legendary confession booth at Reed and making confessions of their own–for evangelicals’ undiscerning attachment to partisan politics, for loud mouths and closed ears, and for rhetoric that has demonized atheists, sexual minorities, and liberals.
Consider it an on-going truth-and-reconciliation process–but one, alas, where the participation has been generally one-sided. As more evangelicals steer clear of culture wars and venture into the “gap” of which Jonathan Merritt speaks, or the radical middle as some prefer to call it, will progressive non-evangelicals reciprocate?