Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jeri Massi's "Secret Radio" is out today

Jeri Massi, author of the excellent Valkyries series, is out today with Secret Radio. It's the fictional, but often very true to life, story of a young girl's senior year at a fundamentalist Christian college.

Jeri would probably be the first to admit that some of her viewpoints can be controversial. But I have spoken at length with her over the phone, interviewed her on WQFL and WGSL, and communicated with her via e-mail for some time...and I am truly convinced of her sincere love for the Lord and passionate desire to do what's right.

It may be hard for people who have never been involved in such circles to really grasp, but Secret Radio captures and exposes aspects of this subculture that can indeed be extremist and often hypocritical. I'm speaking as someone who did grow up in it, and as such, I believe I can discern both the good and bad things surrounding Christian fundamentalism. And yes--as with any movement--there are good and bad things.

Secret Radio will no doubt offend some...in fact, in its online form, it already has. But I believe it sends a message that needs to be sent, and dang it, it just makes for really good reading! I have not yet read the printed version, which I believe expands on the original story, adds some new characters, and fleshes out the original characters. But I did read the original online version in its entirety, and it captured me...just as I was captured by "Valkyries" earlier.

Jeri Massi sure knows how to tell a story. She knows how to pull in a reader and get them involved in the characters and their lives. And...knowing that I don't have to agree her on everything...I can still enjoy the work of a wonderfully talented writer.

By the way, Jeri tells me the online blog of Secret Radio is still up, and she will continue adding episodes on it through the end of the story, sometime in January.

Also, if you'd like to hear my radio interview with Jeri, click on the link on my sidebar.

Rockford RiverHawks really do rule!

The Rockford RiverHawks baseball team won the Frontier League championship! I was in the stands Friday night when it happened, as the Hawks beat the Evansville Otters 14 to 9. Kudo's to the RiverHawks for a great season.

I have truly entered the age of technology...

Yep, as of yesterday, I finally have my own cell phone! Now we'll see if I become guilty of the same annoying cell phone behavior that has irked me for so long: yammering loudly in public places (cell yell); gabbing endlessly on the cell phone when real life friends are sitting with me, bored and ignored; subjecting strangers to my family squabbles and histrionics...

Sheesh, I hope not!


Tina said...

Thanks again for another book to add to my list of "must reads". You are an endless source of ideas!

joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

I've read portions of the Secret Radio blog, and I can certainly attest to the quality of writing, both in style and content. The questions I have are for whom and to what extent will this book be edifying and truly God-glorifying in the big-scope panorama of God's kingdom? Since I attended a "fundamentalist Christian college" which is often lumped with the likes of Grace Jovian's (in spite of massive disparities, such as the sincerity and personal holiness vs. hypocrisy and immorality of myriad faculty members). The implicit accusations are not fiction (unfortunately), but the fact that they will now be associated with ALL others who are accurately or inaccurately labeled as "fundamentalist" Christian colleges -- that's a problem for me.

Notably, Jeri does have the "inside scoop" at my university too, having worked alongside a cross-section of the people there for years. She is well aware of the contrasts and similarities between that school and the school(s) she describes in Secret Radio. I do recognize that. I'm not so sure, however, that readers of this book will pick up on the distinctions (even though they are such crucial and fine-line distinctions). Now in our society, more than ever, the very word "fundamentalist" carries with it a spectrum of connotations that are more or less accurate (nevermind flattering). If this is a book that's meant to appeal to a mainstream audience of churched and UNchurched people who are more or less familiar with the jargon and the foundational doctrines and the plethora of interpretations embraced by those who fly the banner of "Christian fundamentalism," I am just curious as to how successful, given its premise and milieu, it can be in conveying a clear, Christ-honoring message of grace. Seems to me the message would have to jump a lot of real or perceived hurdles and out-cry the clamor of conflicting accounts and opinions.

My alma mater is by no means perfect (although I as an insider am far more qualified to criticize it graciously and accurately than some), but there are thousands of past/current faculty and staff and students who held/hold vastly different views and have gone on to live to the praise (or some, unfortunately, to the ridicule) of the glory of God's grace. Our founder used to say, "If you see anything bad around here, we did it. If you see anything good around here, God did it." That's not just true of millions of lives and thousands of churches and hundreds of [nominal or faithful] Christian educational institutions -- but it's also true of you and me, individual believers. We all have enough of our own personal shortcomings and hoards and wounds and awareness of potential fallibility -- enough to make us love grace more than the air we breathe. Will it clarify or confuse? Will it point fingers or point upward?

Does this kind of treatment of this kind of problem perpetuate misunderstandings and broadbrushed connotations? Or, rather, is it really the best way to draw others to that kind of thirsty-for-more knowledge of grace? I don't know. I'm asking.

And Cindy, please stop squinting sideways at your screen. You knew I was going to comment something. =) Looking forward to reading the book, and to reading YOUR review!

Jeri said...

You might want to check Version Two of SECRET RADIO, in which several remarkably godly people "get the mic" and are allowed to speak of the Grace of God. In fact, check today's episode (or tomorrow's, actually) when Emily Breethe gives the clearest declaration yet of the sacredness of each believer's relationship with God.

Here's the URL for today:

You'll have to tune in for tomorrow, but this will be the URL for Wednesday Sept 15:

As for this or that Christian college being good while another is bad, I have set up the ever-present "Interdom" in the book, which plays a larger role in Version Two. And it is clear that Interdom is far more Biblical a place than GIBC, where Grace attends.

But in Scripture, you never see a prophet or a preacher excuse a corrupting population from the enunciation of sin because there are good men left in it. Christ excoriated the Pharisees, but there were believers among the Pharisees. God called Elijah to rebuke a kingdom going into paganism where 7000 men had not bowed to Baal, yet Elijah was still called to confront the sin, and Jehu still killed the ungodly leaders.

Indeed, one problem endemic in Fundamentalism is that it has refused to police itself and hold its own preachers accountable. Children have been molested, marriages destroyed, young people turned into slaves, sanctification by works widely taught, easy-believism promoted, and women derided and called Jezebels from the pulpit, and preachers have stood silent for decades because it all happened in other independent Baptist churches, so it was not their concern.

Well, if SECRET RADIO gains a large audience, it will be interesting to see how those men who could not be bothered to trouble themselves or their congregations on behalf of Christians in bonds to bad preaching will finally shake themselves and address the problems, if only to show that they have not committed such error. Good! One way or another, God's flock may be protected.

The command to confront sin in the Body of Christ is not rescinded at the walls of a physical church, and corruption and ignorance have reached the levels they have reached today because good men did nothing. A preacher *doesn't* choose his sheep. All sheep are God's flock, and every shepherd is under the jurisdiction of God to care for the sheep. To walk away from those who are wounded or suffering because they belong to somebody else is gross abdication of one's calling. And no sin is ever held at bay forever. As God warned Caine, sin is crouching at the door. Better to warn of the real dangers than insist such corruption could never spread to good churches and schools.

joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

Let me say one thing about a book that is simultaneously quite possibly my most and least favorite book at once. I don't question what C.S. Lewis was ultimately trying to accomplish in his book The Great Divorce, but I do question his choice of milieu (the purgatorial scenario, be it a dream or not). It was a handy platform quite tailored to fit his purposes, but it brought with it a margin for misunderstanding and points of confusion rather than clarification.

I know there are all sorts of risks that come inevitably with the publishing of anything. You are bound to be misunderstood or misinterpreted by some. You're certain to be scoured and scorned by non-thinking people who write you off as an ex-fundie with a chip on her shoulder due to what they deem abnormal glitches in the system, mere exceptions to the rule rather than the painful reality of what does occur in extreme camps.

You can't help but take that risk, if you're going to say anything at all. I know you're not trying to please everyone and that you're trying to reach particular people more than others. I'm simply leery of that margin...and I would hate for your points to be missed.

I see your points, Jeri. We're not inspired prophets, so perhaps the comparison breaks down a bit; but we are members of the Body and are commanded to take heed to what's going on and exhort one another and confront false teaching and admonish errant or ensnared brothers and sisteres in meekness and love. I'm not denying it's personal, on all sides. That's what the Church is all about, relationships within Christ.

If it's any encouragement, the spectrum of Fundamentalism IS broad these days. There are all kinds, THANK GOD. =) There are those who still claim the label (for sake of its original historical stance on the authority of God's Word) but are striving to reform the movement (knowing that its original applications and aims have been perverted to varying degrees with dire consequences). Here are just a few articles by thinking Fundamentalists in my acquaintance:

Unanimity vs. Unity, Or Why Young Fundamentalists Defect(Bob Bixby, weblog.wordcentered.org)
The Label of Fundamentalism(Bob Bixby quoting Daniel Davey, weblog.wordcentered.org)
Pensees: Index of Fundamentalism Posts(Bob Bixby, weblog.wordcentered.org)
How To Know a Legalist When You See One(Adam Bailie, www.adambailie.com)
The Folly of Decisionism(Adam Bailie, www.adambailie.com)
Trends, Traditions, and the Work of the Ministry
(Adam Bailie, www.adambailie.com)
Fundamentalism: Here Are My Questions(David Morris, www.graceandpeace.us)
Fundamentalism: Take 2(David Morris, www.graceandpeace.us)
Apelles: Index of Fundamentalism Posts(David Morris, www.graceandpeace.us)
Young Fundamentalists: Their Baggage, Their Blogs(me, www.karagraphy.com)

I don't know many people, but I look at some of the people I know as representative samples of what God is doing on a far larger scale. I believe He's sovereign, He's the Head of His Church, and He's moving in it for His glory.

I'll be reading. And I do love the "secret radio"/"tuning"/"mic" analogy. It's pretty great.

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