Aug 292017
 

I wrote this last year and it upset a lot of people.

Therefore, I repost it this year.

After 16 years of dealing with some of the most despicable people I’ve ever encountered who are acclaimed as “saved”, I’ll go ahead and hope that Jesus has mercy on a noble pagan.

“Tomorrow is the worst day of my year and will be every year…tomorrow is the second anniversary of the day Bowden’s heart finally gave out.
Some people like to talk about the day the music died…I mourn the day that truth died.
No one seeks the truth as in better times…reporters like Bowden would not take your money to tell your story…he’d tell your story if it was true and hoped people found the truth valuable enough to pay for it.
They didn’t…he told the truth anyway.
When I speak of him the pious always must ask me if he was a Christian.
I suppress the desire to curse at them.
Most of the time…
It is as if the worth of his work and veracity of the truth he told depended on whether he had spoken acceptance of a particular doctrinal formulation.
He did not.
His work and his legacy are still about the truth and they are priceless and immense whether you count him as a candidate for sainthood or not.
I do.
What he did was feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison… and he told the truth.
Some people think he was killed by the CIA, some by a battered, shattered, and broken heart…broken by what he witnessed, the truths he told, and the deaf ears it fell on.
His writing was profane and gruff, poetic and lyrical, gentle and utterly terrifying.
It was always true to what he knew, what he saw, and what he felt.
It all rang holy to me.
My guess is that he got into the pearly gates by a loophole, because God couldn’t find a Christian that committed to telling it like it really is…”

  15 Responses to “In Memory of Bowden”

  1. Looking to take on yet another fight tonight, now are ya. 😉

  2. I’m a known brawler… 🙂

  3. Sometimes rebellious teenagers see and state the ugly truths that parents ignore…

    His writing has changed me profoundly and I’ve shared several things with others.

  4. JTK,

    Thank you again for listening and hearing.

  5. Thank you for reposting this, Michael. Where would you recommend that a newcomer to Bowden’s works begin?

  6. I resonate with your desire that God’s grace in Christ extends more widely than just those who have chosen Christ. It’s often said “I’m not a universalist, but I hope Jesus is”.

    In the story of the good Samaritan, God’s people got love wrong while the outsider got it right. Jesus said to go and do likewise. We on this site seeing you doing that, following the example of good Samaritans like Bowden.

  7. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

    I think Bowden chose Christ without knowing he did.

  8. CK,

    I’ve learned the hard way to start people on the magazine articles, of which there are hundreds.
    Some good ones are here… http://www.motherjones.com/author/charles-bowden/

    His magnum opus is still “Down by the River”… I heartily commend it.

  9. Eric,

    Some of the best people I know, (including my best friend) died without a profession of faith, or at least a public one.

    I can’t help but think that Jesus loved them more than I did…and I’ll trust in His mercy without creating another doctrine to try to explain why I can…

  10. My guess is that he got into the pearly gates by a loophole,<<<

    At the risk of angering everyone, I will wade in.

    For starters, I do not doubt the human goodness of Mr. Bowden and I appreciate Michael's understandable fondness for this man.

    People often accuse me (and Orthodoxy) of believing in "salvation by works." I have spent the past 15 years here on the Phxp trying to explain why we don't believe in salvation by works but instead, in a synergistic faith + works. Most folks here don't agree with my view and want to reduce it to "faith produces good works," which I always say isn't quite what we mean.

    But even in the Orthodox scheme, of paramount importance is faith in Christ. Good works without Christ is the very definition of salvation by works. And without Christ, there is no salvation at all. There are no loopholes. If a person denies Christ, even if the Gospel was presented to him or her in a less than satisfactory manner, there is still denial.

  11. Xenia,

    You’re not going to anger me.
    I understand the tradition and the Scriptures and I have little in either to commend my hope…except that the work of Christ is that of reconciliation and that someday He will be all in all.
    16 years of writing about Christian scoundrels requires hope that there is more than has has been written…and I fully acknowledge I could be wrong.

  12. Xenia

    That was a touching way to address this. Thank you.

  13. this may be presumptuous of me and isn’t posted without heartfelt sympathy

    to see good people pouring their hearts into good works and good words, while ignoring the state of their own soul’s relationship to their Creator, makes it so difficult to condemn them for not loving God…
    it isn’t quite as hard to condemn as unworthy, the pontificating, sidewalk superintendent who slams god when bad things happen on this planet
    the latter hasn’t a leg to stand on at judgement day and the only hope the good person has is in the fact that a perfect God is perfectly fair…
    and that is the hope that we who love good people can cling to – still…

    the ultimate question we must ask ourselves is, “should a person who hears of, but has no time for the God Who loves enough to pay our sin debt on a cross as the one obedient incarnate son… should the one who has no response in his soul to that fact – either in time or in eternity – get a free pass into redemption because they cared about some of their fellow man’s suffering?
    it is a hard question to face and i suspect most of us hang up on it when we think of some good people we’ve known…

    ask yourself this hard question: “can i truly love someone who ultimately proves to not have the capacity to respond to this amazing God’s perfect grace and love?” … is the person who judges God instead of himself any different that the arrogant Pharisee? it will be well – trust God, indeed and know that He is a perfectly fair God …
    just thinking on what is a hard thing to think on – hard for all of us

  14. I certainly am glad the decision of who is in who is not doesn’t lie with me.

  15. …who is in AND who is not…

    That’s what happens when you type while falling asleep.

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