• Greg Paul "Resurrecting Religion" | Episode Transcript

    Karen Pascal: Hello, I’m Karen Pascal. I’m the Executive Director of the Henri Nouwen Society. Welcome to a new episode of Henri Nouwen: Now and Then. Our goal at the Henri Nouwen Society is to extend the rich spiritual legacy of Henri Nouwen to audiences around the world. Each week, we endeavor to bring you an interview with someone who’s been deeply influenced by the writings of Henri or perhaps even a recording of Henri himself. We invite you to share the daily meditations and these podcasts with your friends and family. Through them we can continue to reach around the world with Henri’s writings, his encouragement, and of course, his reminder that each of us is a beloved child of God.

    Now, let me take a moment to introduce today’s guest. Greg Paul is a pastor, a writer, and a very inspiring and challenging thinker about what it takes to be a Christian in today’s world.  Greg’s the author of some wonderful books: God in the Alley, Close Enough to Hear God Breathe, Simply Open, and the most recent, Resurrecting Religion. As founder and member of the Sanctuary Community for almost 30 years, Greg has been on the front lines of ministry to people often living rough on the margins of the inner city. I want you to know Greg Paul and hear from him what true religion looks like in today’s world.

    Greg, I’m delighted to welcome you to Henri Nouwen: Now and Then. It’s great to have you share a little bit about your story with us and perhaps a little bit of how Henri Nouwen has influenced you in your work and in your life. I want to start because Greg you’re so well known and associated with something called the Sanctuary Community here in Toronto. Tell us what Sanctuary is, how has Sanctuary impacted you and in turn, how has it impacted the city of Toronto?

    Greg Paul: Sure, thanks for the invitation, Karen, I’m glad to be talking with you today. Sanctuary is a community in the downtown core of Toronto. It’s been around for almost 30 years and I’ve been part of it since the beginning. The center of it is located right near the Yonge Street corridor, which is a main street of Toronto; sort of at the top end of the immediate downtown core. And the community is a place that welcomes and holds at its center people who are poor and excluded. And in our context that usually means people who are homeless or street involved or struggling with addictions or mental illness or trauma issues, sometimes gender identity issues, people who are marginalized because of all of those things. And our goal is to live our lives together in some fashion. And of course sometimes that looks like social service and sometimes it looks like church and sometimes it looks like relief mission. But really it’s about living our lives together not only those who are poor and excluded, but also those of us who like me come from places of privilege.

    Karen: You’ve written wonderfully about the world that you’re working with over the years. I know you wrote the book God in the Alley and I loved seeing some of the quotes here. They were from people that I enjoy as writers, like Eugene Peterson saying, “Greg Paul tells the stories of horrors and crazies, misfits and rejects that sound as if they stepped out from the pages of the Bible,” and another special friend, Leonard Sweet, author of numerous books, including Soul Tsunami. He wrote, “I dare you to read this book at more than one sitting. Each page is a seatbelt that straps you in and the turning of the page pulls the straps tighter. When the ride is over you’ll want to start again.” I think you couldn’t have higher praise than that. You’re a wonderful writer Greg, and it’s important to say that as we begin this because one of the things I want to ask about is a book that you’ve just written called Resurrecting Religion. Why did you write that book?

    Greg: Oh, well, thank you for the comments, by the way. And you know Len is a really supportive guy and I really appreciate him. I should just say I’ve always been a little uncomfortable, more than little uncomfortable, with Eugene Peterson’s words which are on the cover of the book and very appreciative of the endorsement, of course. But I’ve never thought about the people that he’s describing as horrors and crazies and misfits. They’re my friends, they’re my brothers and sisters and so I think that’s really key to understanding what Sanctuary is about. And it’s really out of that, out of learning, relearning for me, the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of the people that he put at the center of the kingdom: the poor, the poor of spirit, people who are mourning – that is people whose lives are full of loss, people who are hungry and thirsty for justice for instance, that I learned enough, I think, to try to write this book Resurrecting Religion. And the key with it, conceptually, is just that for many good reasons people have become very wary of religion and even people who are themselves religious, claim not to be religious.

    They claim for instance, that they have a relationship with Jesus, but they’re not religious, or they claim that they practice certain spiritual disciplines, but they’re not religious. And really what they are trying to distance themselves from is the bad behavior of religious organizations and religious people. And there’s been lots of that, let’s face it, down through history. But the problem is that we are religious people. And one of the things I appreciate about Henri is that he–who’s never afraid of terms like religion– he understood that religion is how we live out publicly and communally what we actually really believe personally and privately. And so religion is about congruity with my inner spiritual life and my outer spiritual disciplines and activities in my life. And so I wanted to write something that addressed that because I think one of the challenges that we have in our world today is that we have people who, for instance, claim to be followers of Jesus, claim to be Christians, and yet they clearly don’t follow Jesus. What they do and say doesn’t sound anything like or look anything like the words and actions of Jesus. So I think what’s happened in that case is that people have taken a very personal view of, for instance, salvation. So they they’ll say, well, Jesus is my Savior and that’s enough. And then they deny him really as the one who is master, teacher, Lord in their lives. And I think if we’re going to have any kind of validity in the world, or even in our own souls, we need to have congruence between those things.

    Karen: I know you drew much from the book of James for this particular book. Tell me a little bit about that so that we kind of understand who in a sense has inspired you in the word, and then I’d love to hear about good religion. What does it look like? Tell me a bit about why James?

    Greg: Well, I think it started because James actually specifically addresses religion. He says that if you walk around and you talk a lot and you think that you’re being a good person, that’s just false religion. And he says this is what true religion is about: it’s about looking after, which also means looking out for and truly looking at widows and orphans and widows and orphans of course are the categories of people that in the time of James and in the Old Testament who were most vulnerable and most needy. And so James is saying the true religion is watching out for people who are really poor and excluded and vulnerable in society, and to keep yourself unspotted by the world. And then he goes on and he talks about what that means.

    He talks about how dangerous it is and how wrong it is when we favor people who are wealthy over people who are poor. So that’s really what struck me when I began to wrestle with this sense that everybody keeps saying that they’re not religious but really they are or most are. So what do we do with that? And if there’s such a thing as bad religion, the answer to it is not no religion. I’d argue that it’s what James describes as true religion. And as I look more at the writing of James who, by the way, was Jesus’ brother. And we’re not talking here about the James of Peter, James and John, this is the brother of Jesus who wrote the epistle. And so really familiar with Jesus as a person growing up and with his teaching, but a late convert actually to believing that his brother was the Messiah.

    And James writes this short little letter that really is an attempt to explain and work out what it looks like in real time to follow the teachings of Jesus and especially his Sermon on the Mount. You begin to realize that James is quoting from, or referencing, the beatitudes in particular throughout the course of his little letter. And his letter really is amazingly hard on people who are wealthy and privileged and really lifts up people who are poor and excluded. And so that resonated with me of course, because I I’ve spent my life living among people who are really poor and excluded, although I myself am a person privilege. So that’s really where it came from deciding to work from the epistle of James.

    Karen: I love the subtitle to your book, it’s called Resurrecting Religion, but you write: Finding Our Way Back to the Good News, which I think is as I’ve been reading it, that’s exactly what you’re doing is kind of redirecting us. And what’s the good news that we’re missing?

    Greg: Well, it’s all right there, isn’t it, it’s the teaching of Jesus. It’s that people who are poor and excluded are actually right at the center of the kingdom of God. And the great news for somebody who’s, relatively speaking, wealthy and privileged like me is that if there’s room for “the least of these” as Jesus referred to them in Matthew 25, if there’s room for “the least of these,” there’s also room for me. This Sunday I’ll be speaking from a passage in Luke in which Jesus heals the servant of a Roman centurion and a Roman centurion was at the opposite end of the scale of everything that Jesus was teaching about. He was an oppressor, he was powerful, relatively speaking he would’ve been wealthy. So he’s not the person that you expect Jesus to treat well, and yet Jesus does. And he does this because as I said, when there’s room for the least of these, there’s room for everybody. I think that’s really good news for everyone.

    Karen: Very good news. Very good news. It’s interesting. Just an aside, but it’s an important aside, as I read your books, I see a writer who, with that level of inner honesty reminds me very much of Henri and how Henri wrote. And he often wrote out of the identifiable flaws within him that he was wrestling with and somehow finding God’s answers and finding God’s grace. I find that as I read you, and I find that as I listen now. Has Henri been an influence for you?

    Greg: Oh, absolutely. I’m gratified to hear that.  You know, Henri was the first spiritual writer I ever read who was willing to speak about his own flaws and about his own neediness. Everybody else I had ever read and a great many of the writers that I’ve read since, spoke from a position of inviable authority, and Henri spoke and wrote really out of vulnerability. A tremendous wisdom also, but out of vulnerability and that’s such a gospel position to take; to be honest about your need. The people that Jesus responds to are the people who come to him and say, look I’m in need. I need you. I need you to help me. I need you to help me to see again, I need you to heal my servant. I need you to heal me. I need you to cast the demon out of my son.

    Those are the people that Jesus responds to. And so that kind of honesty I think, was really, really powerful for me to encounter in the first place. I think it really helped to begin to dismantle some of the ego and egotism that I had both naturally and had had inculcated in me by the religious systems of my own youth. And then the other thing that’s been really profoundly impactful from Henri and of course Vanier as well, was this idea, which again, is totally rooted in the gospels, that if we are serious about being the people of God, then we need to place people who are poor and excluded, whose lives have been full of loss and who hunger and thirst for justice, right at the center of the community. They’re the people that Jesus says are at the center of the kingdom of God. They are the people about whom he says to the ones that he welcomes into the kingdom at the end of all things or the consummation of all things, he says, “Come into my kingdom because when I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink, when I was in prison you visited me, when I was sick you looked after me, when I was a foreigner, you welcomed me in,” and so on. Those are the people that Jesus says are important. And you can see and hear echoes of this in the prophets of course as well. It’s not a new idea, but Jesus really hammered on it.

    And I think again, my encounters, first with the writing of Henri and then with Henri as a person, were the first encounters I’d ever had with somebody who was saying when you encounter somebody who is poor and excluded, understand that this person is at the center of the kingdom of God, not you. Understand that this person has something to teach you. Something to bless you with. This person has a wealth, a spiritual wealth that maybe you don’t have. So make sure that you’re vulnerable, don’t come from a position of condescension or position of power. In fact, if you want to be like Jesus, you’ll find ways of giving away whatever power the world has conferred upon you. So it was a profound impact and still is at Sanctuary.

    Karen: It’s interesting because when Jesus starts to describe the judgment he really talks about in that “you did it for the least of these, you did it for me.” So really seeing Christ in another, whether they are weak or strong, seeing Christ in everyone and recognizing the opportunity that we have and how we deal with people, how we love them, how we receive them, how we forgive them, how we include them. It’s interesting because it brings to mind right now the present that we’re living through where we are looking at what has just, I think, exploded across North America and certainly around the world and that is the sense of injustice, racial injustice. Having mistreated and abused native people, people of color, disadvantaged people for generations this is quite a time of reckoning. What do you see? How do you speak to that as a person who’s already been moved and challenged to put people of need in the midst of your ministry? Tell me about that.

    Greg: Yeah. Well, the things that you’ve mentioned are really positive, you know, this growing awareness of injustice and this growing honesty about injustice. The unfortunate thing is that there is at least an equal and opposite reaction, which is all about doubling down on power and hegemony from the people who already have it. And unfortunately it’s people who identify as Christians who seem to be the dominant drivers of that way of thinking and being. And here’s where I would argue that their true religion is not the religion of Jesus. Although they say that they’re Christians and that’s why they’re behaving this way, they’re not following the teaching of Jesus. They’re not behaving as Jesus would behave.

    I saw something on social media the other day about some pastor in the United States who’s calling for civil war.  I just think, ‘What on earth is this? This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.” And so we have this enormous dichotomy. There’s this great gap. And it seems to become harder and harder to speak across the gulf between the people for instance, who say Black Lives Matter and on the other side, people who say all lives matter. And they’re speaking in different language, they don’t get each other. And so what I would say is that I feel like what I’ve written in Resurrecting Religion is actually really an important word for the time, which is to say if you are serious about following Jesus then actually look at what he teaches and do your best to live that. Do your best to actually follow him.

    I had an experience a few years ago where I’d often spoken to church groups saying if you want help figuring out how to [unclear] your community that’s something that I’d learned a little bit about, and I’d be glad to help. So this church invited me to do it. I sat down with a group this one night, and just as an attempt to kind of take the temperature of the group I said to them, “Well, what would you say it means to be a follower of Jesus? What kinds of things do followers of Jesus do?” And they came out with answers like, well, they pray and they study Bible and they go to church and then they kind of sputtered to a stop. And you could tell that as the people came up with these answers, they realized that these were not good answers; that they might be true in and of themselves, but they weren’t enough.

    And I let the pause hang there for a bit. And then I said, “We know it’s not enough, don’t we? So what does it really mean? What would a follower of Jesus do, actually do in the real world?” And there was another long pause and then one person spoke up and said, “Well, I guess we go where Jesus went and we would do what Jesus did.” Which I thought was brilliant. It was so simple, so clear and so true. If you’re going to follow somebody, you go where they go and you try to do what they do. So what would it mean in a world such as ours, where we’ve got people who are arming themselves, particularly in the U.S. to defend themselves against perceived threats and other people, black people who were being murdered by police officers routinely almost it seems. And it happens to a degree here in Canada as well. What would it mean for people who claim to be Christians if they actually began to do that, to say, well, I’m gonna go where Jesus went.

    Well, where did Jesus go? Well, he went to places where people were poor. He walked amongst the people who were in need. He walked amongst the people who were in danger or who did not have enough. He came to an oppressed nation. He didn’t arrange for himself to be born into the household of the Caesar. So that’s first thing, we’d go where the people are that Jesus described as being the beatitudes people. And what would we do? Well what are the things that Jesus did? He fed the hungry and he healed the sick and he cast out demons and he flipped the tables in the temple because of unjust economic stuff. He raised the dead.  Now some of that obviously takes a little interpretation. I’m not sure what it means for us honestly, to cast out demons or raise the dead now. But we can kind of figure that stuff out. But we’d need to be serious about it wouldn’t we? We’d need to take it seriously. What does it mean for me day to day and for my community of faith to actually live this way together? That’s what we’ve been trying to live out at Sanctuary for the past 30 years.

    Karen: It’s interesting because I’m reminded of something that in a sense, Henri became known for which was downward mobility, the choice to leave the intellectual arena where he’d been at Yale, he’d been at Harvard and he was really well received by students and loved by readers and all of those kinds of things, which kind of positioned him. What a big decision to say, ‘I’m going to leave that and I’m going to go to a community where nobody can read one of the books that I’ve written.’ Going to the L’Arche Daybreak community, which was a community of adults with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, but in a sense letting go of everything that sort of says you arrived and you’re successful. And finding success in coming down and making choices that connect us in a very real way to the world that we are called into. And we can all do that at any point in our life. We may be going in one direction, but we can stop, reevaluate and say, ‘If I’m going to follow Christ, it’s going to look different than everybody else around me. It’s got to look different. I have the opportunity to make that choice.’

    Greg: Yes. It was the most powerful thing Henri did, wasn’t it? When he left the big Ivy League universities and went to a little community of handicapped people north of Toronto. I think if he hadn’t done that no doubt Henri would have a place in academic theology and devotional spirituality and so on, but it would be minimal, I think. That’s not to diminish him or his skills or anything like that, but he would still be speaking only to academia I think. His writings would still be only speaking to a smaller and smaller group of people in academia. And instead he’s become or his writings and his life have become a testament around the world to a great many people who can access it, not because they’re academics, but because maybe they have a son or a daughter who has an intellectual disability or they know somebody else who does or somebody like me, who’s getting involved with people who have a lot of other kinds of issues. But there’s some coherence with what Henri taught and said.

    I mean, it’s a powerful, powerful thing. And it shouldn’t be any sort of a surprise to us because that’s what Jesus did, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus left complete privilege and came to a place where he didn’t have any privilege and put himself in the power of the people there. So again, if we’re serious about following Jesus, what Henri did made perfect sense, and it’s just a matter of who we follow.

    Karen: It’s interesting for me too, as I look at Henri’s life. I love looking at people who are continually growing, continually growing and changing. Coming to L’Arche Daybreak opened Henri up to some much deeper experiences, spiritual experiences that really were life changing for him. And really out of that was birthed his profound, clear understanding that you are God’s beloved. And once he got that, because his own war was whether God could love him. I mean, he had all sorts of… I remember when he writes about self-hatred, he writes about it with an honesty because he has his own to deal with, his own doubts about himself. But it’s wonderful in that whole process to come to that place, that ground place that you can give to anybody in your life, that you are beloved by God.  You don’t have to achieve to be beloved by God. You are beloved by God because Jesus comes down to where we are and loves us and says, I love you and I want you and you’re mine. So it, it’s quite powerful. And it’s liberating. It’s really liberating.

    You’ve got a new book on the go that’s coming out this fall. Tell us about that because it looks really interesting. What’s it called? What’s it about? Let’s hear.

    Greg: Yeah, it’s called Queer Prophets: The Bible’s Surprise Ending to the Story of Sexuality and Gender. It’s certainly got a theological core argument at the center of it, but it’s written as a narrative. It’s a story of my own multi-decade struggle to find better answers to the exclusion of gay, lesbian, bi, trans, two-spirited, non-binary folks –that whole continuum of people who are not cisgendered. And so really it’s interesting. You were just talking about being the beloved. Really what kept me going in that search was a sense that if God is truly love and the God I’m slowly coming to know a little bit better, certainly is a God of love, then how is it that he can create people who have particular struggles which apparently condemn them.

    And so I found that I had a growing sense of dissonance between this God who says you are my beloved and the scriptures that apparently said that if you are queer then there was no place for you in the kingdom of God. And so it’s a story of my struggle to find better answers for that. I think I found a better answer for me anyway. And I won’t give the story away, but really it is about understanding that the Bible is presented as a story. And in order to understand the beginning and everything that happens in the middle, you have to look to the ending. If I could put it like that.

    Karen: That sounds like a good way of summing it up. I’m sure that there’s many that are listening that will go, I’d like to read what you’ve got to say about that. I want to know what you’ve found, because obviously, interestingly enough, you live really at a point in North America which has a very large gay community. Toronto in particular does and you’re right almost at the crossroads of that in terms of the location of Sanctuary. And it is a really important question to be asking and life-giving to come with the right answers.

    Greg: Yeah, you know, I didn’t have any intention of delving into this stuff when I ended up doing street outreach downtown in the early nineties. But discovered very quickly that, although I’d been involved in street outreach of various kinds for a decade before that but discovered that when I was there day by day, how truly present the queer folk were, and that we were in the corner of one of the largest gay communities in the world at the time. And in fact, at the time it was called the gay ghetto because it was a ghetto. It wasn’t safe for people who were gay to be outside of the immediate environs. And I tell stories about picking a guy up on Yonge Street who had been beaten almost senseless in the middle of the night because he’d wandered outside of that area and somebody’d found him on Yonge Street, put the boots to him.

    So you know, really if you invest yourself in a neighborhood, it’s amazing the stuff that you’ll find. And if you’re committed to this idea that it’s the least of these that you need to go find and be with in the name of Jesus, then it’s going to shape your whole path and it’s going to shape who you become. And I might add that it will actually lead you deeper and deeper into the reality that Henri found also, that you yourself are the beloved. I mean, I think I always believed that intellectually, but I’ve learned it, how would I say, experientially? Learned it in my guts, learned it in my heart through the years, in the context of a community of people who are really in bad shape in normal human terms. I’ve learned it more there than I have anywhere else, including in the church and from theology and so on.

    Karen: You’re a creative force to be dealt with, by the way. Greg Paul, you have wonderful ideas and you have a wonderful way of writing about them. And I’m going to encourage those that are listening to us to go to our website and get details about the books that Greg has written. And I’m just so grateful to get some time to talk with you about this.

    I want to know, when you’re giving out so much, and you’re kind of on the front lines of ministry on a daily and weekly and monthly basis, what renews you? What is, what’s renewing you today? Where has God got his finger on your life right now?

    Greg: Well, for many years a big part of what renewed me was the love and care that I received from people who were poor and excluded; from street people. And they really did. They loved me and cared for me and looked after me really well when I was going through very difficult stuff in my own life. And I used to say to new staff, people who were joining us at Sanctuary, this how you’ll survive – you’ll survive not just because you have supports from outside of the community, but because you make yourself open and vulnerable enough to receive the love and the care of the people that you think you are here to serve. And that certainly is stuff that Henri lived and taught as well. I mean, his book about Adam for instance kind of explains that really thoroughly. So that for many years was a big part of it.

    Now I need to be honest about this and say that for the last three years, I’ve struggled a great deal with my own post-trauma issues. And that’s from 30 years, I’ve seen people that I love die in often horrible circumstances. And that’s done some damage to me and it’s done some damage partly because we didn’t in the early days know how to deal with that stuff very well. So I’m hopeful that younger staff won’t deal with it the same way I’m dealing with it now. But at this point I need to be mostly physically away from Sanctuary. I’m still involved in some ways, but I need to be physically out of the immediate environment. But that has been a loss and a grief in itself, not being able to be there because that’s my family.

    And those are people that I loved, and those are people who love me and being loved by people is the greatest therapy there is. So I mean there’s lots of other technical stuff. I had a network of mentors and caregivers, and Henri in early days was one of those people. And you know getting therapy, counseling of one kind or another is really critical either continuously or at particular points during your journey. Times of retreat – Jesus in the gospels is always disappearing to go out into the desert or up the mountain or somewhere away from his disciples for a couple of days. And so he teaches us very clearly by his actions that we need to retreat, times of Sabbath. So there’s all a variety of things that I think we need to do to take care of ourselves. But really ultimately, human connection is what fills our cup. And that’s certainly been my experience.

    Karen: I so appreciate your honesty. You know, it’s great to put up this thing and say, it’s all ideal, but I really appreciate your honesty. It’s funny. It reminds me of a moment in my own life when I felt God say, ‘Are you willing to be plowed under?’ You know, we talk about having a harvest, being planted, being a seed, bringing a harvest and then I remember hearing very clearly, are you willing to be plowed under? And there are times I think of being plowed under and they’re dark and they’re hard times. But there’s also, God has a new crop in mind, has something new in mind in our lives. And I’m very struck by that. I appreciate your honesty. I hope people can hear in that the truth of that. There are times that we just need to be tended to, we can’t do all the tending at the time. You shared a story with me yesterday, which I just loved and it sort of almost a non-sequitur, but I’m just going to ask you to share it again. You told me that Henri once blessed you. I’d like to know what that was about. How did that come about and what did it mean to you? It was kind of interesting.

    Greg: Well, it was at my first or second meeting with Henri I think and it was a friend of mine named Mike Clarke, who had known Henri for a little bit, who took me to visit with Henri up at Daybreak. And we met with Henri in his room, which was a very modest little room with a single bed and a couple of chairs and the little coffee table. And we sat there and we talked for quite a while and you need to understand that I was not in any way Catholic. I was coming from a very fundamentalist evangelical background. I was maybe just a few years into getting out of the very fundamentalist aspect of it, but would certainly still describe myself as an evangelical. I can just pause and say that I think probably that meant something a little different than it means to most people today. Nevertheless, very, very conservative, very Protestant. And Henri just listened, he was such a great listener and he was always – when you spoke to him he’d be sitting on the edge of his seat with his chin in his hand and looking right into your eyes almost as if he couldn’t get enough. And then when it was time to go, I don’t remember anything he said really but I know I kind of blurted out a whole pile of stuff. And when it was time for us to go he just, he said, ‘Let me bless you.’ And he embraced me very lightly and then put one hand on my shoulder and made a sign of the cross on my forehead. And I had never experienced anything like that. I mean, for lots of folks I suppose that would be just routine, but for me it was something totally different. And I think it was the first time in my life that I felt consciously as if I had been blessed.

    It was a powerful moment for me. And in fact, I would say that to greater and lesser degrees, I’ve spent all of these years since asking myself periodically, well, how can I bless people the way Henri blessed me? You know, what word is there? What symbol is there? What embrace is there that would tell somebody that that person is the beloved of God.

    Karen: It’s interesting because the mark of the cross is much more of a Catholic tradition than it is perhaps a Protestant. But the thing you described is just so rich to everyone. When somebody looks at you and really sees you and really listens. And my sense is that you have been a blessing to so many because you see them and you listen and I’ve also really appreciated you saying how much you need them to see you and listen to you too, that it’s mutual. It’s not you coming down from some place and giving out, but it’s the mutuality of relationship that’s very truthful.

    Greg: Yeah. I think if you’re really following the way of Jesus, it really puts the boots to your ego. You know, I often say that when I first arrived at what would become Sanctuary, commissioned as a missionary from a suburban church, an evangelical church, I thought I was there to preach the gospel to people and to be the presence of Christ to people. And I discovered that Jesus had got there before me and that he was waiting for me in poor broken people who previously I would’ve said look nothing like Jesus. And I began to understand that it was precisely because they were poor and broken that they looked very much like Jesus. So that was a conversion for me. I would say.

    Karen: I’ve loved this conversation. I’ve enjoyed it. I think others will as well. And I’m making promises to everybody, go to our website and you’ll see the books that Greg has written and you’ll get to know him a little bit better. I think this conversation has been really birthed at the heart of that book that he wrote: Resurrecting Religion: Finding Our Way Back to the Good News. And the good news is right in the middle there, it’s Jesus.

    Greg: Although I’m not much of a social media guy, I do have an author page on Facebook. And if people want information about book stuff certainly they could go there. Except for this new book that’s coming out, all my other books are available through Amazon or Indigo or many of those places.

    Karen: That’s great. I hope you get lots of orders. Thanks so much for talking with us today. 

    Greg: Thanks Karen. My pleasure.

    Karen: You’re a gem and, and we’ve loved it. Thank you so much.

    Greg: Thanks so much.

    Karen: Thank you for listening to today’s podcast. I hope this conversation with Greg Paul has left you wanting more. For more resources related to today’s podcast, click on the links on the podcast page of our website. You can find additional content, book suggestions and other things that we talked about today. If you’re enjoying our Now and Then podcast, please give us a thumbs up or a good review and be sure to invite your friends and family to listen and to sign up for our daily free Henri Nouwen meditations. Thanks for listening until next time.

In the words of our podcast listeners

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