Nobody Puts Brody in a Corner

BrodyAs some of you know, I have been working on a novel called That’s Me in the Corner  for a few years now, off and on (once this Random House book is finished I will dedicate myself to this more seriously, with the hope of finishing it this year). 

The protagonist, based loosely on me, is called Brody Graham (his Facebook page can be found here  please Like and Share!). He is a young man who is in the process of outgrowing the evangelical expression of Christianity that he grew up with and has become an official spokesman for. 

I have been wondering lately whether Brody’s story should span more than just one volume (I know, typical of a writer to start his next novel before finishing his current one). If the first book ends, as it does, with Brody “losing his religion,” the second would chronicle his inward and outward spiral into self-destruction. I don’t know much more than that at this point (least of all where Volume Three will find him), but I did come up with the opening line:

If there were an omni-malevolent and spiteful Being with enough malice and power to weave together an arrangement in which I could be as ruined as possible, as damaged as possible, and as duped as possible to think that redemption and reaping were real when they’re not, he wouldn’t be able to do a better job executing his twisted plan than by simply copying what the “good” God put me through these past few years. Indeed, “if at all God’s gaze upon us falls, it’s with a mischievous grin.”

This brings up an interesting issue, which is the thorny relationship between belief and trust, between knowing God is there and actually loving him (hell, even liking him a little). 

What Brody endures in That’s Me in the Corner  is enough to make him want to reject the God he has always believed in, but (un)fortunately he cannot bring himself to do so. But how sustainable is belief in a God you hate?


  1. Michael SewellMarch 23, 2015

    I think this is the key question in life. According to many scholars it was the first theme written about in scripture (Job). I think how we deal with this question is what defines us.
    I find that this question arises at every major transition in life, and I have to choose how I will answer or if I will even acknowledge the issue.
    Of course the best stories are based on the grand themes and you are working with the grandest.
    I can relate In my early twenties I ceremoniously ripped a page from the Bible and burned it and rejected the God of Christianity that had been preached to me (my reasons for doing so were very good and very bad). I lived that way for several years and finally in desperation came back to the God I loved and who I knew loved me. Despite the mess of life and the mess I experienced in the faith community, I had to believe that God loved me and He is good of heart.
    Hope this doesn’t sound creepy but I’ve been observing your process for close to twenty-five years, and I respect it and find it compelling. For me as you write this I will be interested to see if you will be honest and clever or simply clever.

  2. JasonMarch 23, 2015

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve been observing your process for close to twenty-five years, and I respect it and find it compelling. For me as you write this I will be interested to see if you will be honest and clever or simply clever.

    You’re right that cleverness is easier than honesty. I do hope to be clever, and I also hope I can be honest, albeit in a veiled kind of way.

    Or, I promise that Brody will be honest, how’s that. . . ?

  3. JimmyMarch 23, 2015

    Many thanks to you guys!! You are my church!! And Hey Jay make some
    Sequels to your book. Hey Christian you are cool too and make my. day you seem a little gay though maybe metro.I trust you guys because you are doing this in the name of truth! Trust and drinking rule!! Metro Christian haahshahhah!

  4. JasonMarch 23, 2015

    Best. Comment. Ever.

  5. ChristianMarch 23, 2015


  6. JimmyMarch 23, 2015

    You made my day!! Haa!! Christian I know your not gay but ok if you are! I went to that school in Costa Mesa but what I remember was Sherman, Dinkiins,Glady Alex. And some dude named Rob who was 2 bit bible teacher! I listen and follow you guys!! Thanks

  7. […] Read more. . . . […]

  8. Christopher LakeApril 26, 2015

    I’m thinking out loud here about faith, and the lack thereof, and the basis for each, at different points in my life… If I measured God’s love by how easy my life has been, at almost *any* point of my life, I would probably still be an atheist.

    I was born with Cerebral Palsy. I was teased and tormented, to varying degrees, from elementary school through high school.I was also born into a pretty messed-up (and fairly non-religious) family background. My mother was severely bipolar. (We called it “manic depression” in those days.) She was loving, but she could also be very, very volatile. She committed suicide when I was nine years old. For about six months after her death, my dad drank very heavily, but he also tried, as much as he was emotionally able, to be a loving and present father. After he stopped drinking, he was a good dad for a while, but around the time that I hit twelve years old, he began emotionally and physically checking out. For my sister and me, he kept food in our stomachs (most of the time), but he just wasn’t around much… he spent more and more time with friends and away from the house and us.

    It was around this time that I stopped believing in God. Maybe it would be closer, actually, to say that I strongly doubted God’s existence, but I thought that *if* He existed, He was not worth loving but rather hating. From about thirteen until almost twenty-two, I basically lived as if God didn’t exist. I was filled with self-loathing inside and anger at many, many people and things externally. These were my “heavy metal/punk rock/horror movie” years, in that I sought out, almost solely, dark-themed music and movies that expressed the intense anger and alienation from most people around me that I felt (I was born and raised in the Bible Belt– Alabama, to be exact).

    In college, I fell in with a very hard-partying crowd of friends. None of us was Christian. I was drinking very, very heavily, sometimes, to the point of black-out and waking up in unfamiliar places. However, I was also becoming increasingly disenchanted with these friends, because they seemed to be content and happy to go out and get drunk night after night after night. I was radically *discontent and unhappy*, but I didn’t know really know to change my life. More to the point, I didn’t know how my way of looking at my life, life in general, and the world around me could conceivably be *changed*, so that I no longer felt *compelled* to regularly drink myself into oblivion.

    Long story not-so-short: I experienced a radical conversion to Christ in college, right at the nadir of this very dark time. My way of thinking, and my life, changed deeply… so much so that there was, pretty much, a mutual separation between me and my “party crowd” friends– who were, by far, most of my friends at that time. I had to change so many of my behaviors, and they continued to live the wild lives of heavy drinking and drugs, since they saw no reason to change… which made sense, but it also meant that it was hard for me to spend much time with them, as they were still “doing their thing,” and they were increasingly weirded out by me and my newfound happiness and sobriety.

    After my conversion, I did experience a sense of internal peace and stability, and at least, much *less* self-loathing than I had before, due to my understanding of being loved by God and finding my worth in being His child. Life still had many, many challenges, instead of hating myself and seeking oblivion, I was seeking to know and follow God and hate and fight my sin. This was *infinitely* preferable to my former life.

    After some study (not enough in retrospect), I became curious about the Catholic Church in college, but I received very poor catechesis in RCIA, which eventually led to confusion and doubt about the Church’s teaching, and God Himself, altogether. After graduating, I soon fell back into skepticism, but this time, it was even worse than in my teenage years, because I had truly experienced God and His light and goodness, but now, I strongly doubted *all* of it. I lived as a practical atheist for a few years, basically believing that life is objectively meaningless. These were the worst times of my life– which is saying something, given my childhood and teenage years!

    I eventually came back to Christ, but this time, it was as an increasingly anti-Catholic Protestant. I saw the Catholic Church and its “traditions of men” and its “Gospel of works” as the main reasons that I had walked away from God– if I had ever really known Him at all as a Catholic, which I saw as unlikely. Thus were my years of being a “Reformed Baptist.”
    I even convinced a Catholic friend of mine to leave the Church and also become an R.B. during this time. (He still is strongly anti-Catholic to this day. Mea culpa!)

    For years, I was a very happy and convinced Protestant Christian. I loved studying the Bible and theological books, listening to expositional preaching, witnessing about Christ and salvation. and so on. Partially due to my own turbulent childhood and adolescence, my fervent desire, now, was to become a Calvinistic “Biblical Counselor”– meaning, in my church circles of the time, a counselor who used Scripture, and very little else, in his counseling. I built up a large group of friends and mentors and professional contacts in the “Calvinistic Protestant” (Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist) world. Almost every serious friendship that I had was in this world. I came to be close friends with an elder who basically the lifeblood of the Biblical Counseling ministry at our church. Eventually, he took me under his wing and began to train me to become a counselor myself. The idea was that I would eventually counsel people at the church, and possibly, either become a staff member there, doing Biblical Counseling, or that I would have a Biblical Counseling ministry at another, theologically similar, church elsewhere. I could not have been more happy. My life was going as well, relatively speaking, as I could have hoped. I was firmly, happily, ensconced in the Calvinistic Protestant world, and I was, it seemed, even going to be able to have a fulfilling ministry there, with which I could support myself, and hopefully, a future wife and children.

    Then– of all possible times!!–, Catholicism had to come back into my life. I mean, not as an “obvious heresy” for me to Biblically refute, but as something about which I began to wonder if I might have been wrong in dismissing, years ago, as not-the-Gospel. I won’t go into how this happened, specifically, because I don’t want this treatise to become a dissertation (!), but it did happen… and, after several months of meeting, talking, studying, and debating with my elder-and-Biblical-counselor friend, I realized that I had been wrong about Catholicism… and that, horror of friendship-and-professional life horrors, I was going to have to return to the Catholic Church!

    I was angry at God. I seriously, seriously struggled with Him, asking, “Why now?! Why, when almost all of my friends, for years, have been Protestants?! Why now, when I was finally carving out what seemed to be a way for me to help people *and* make a living, when I have already struggled so much in my career life, and I can’t even have this kind of ministry/career in the Catholic Church?!” I just didn’t understand why God would seemingly put it front of me to return to the Church *now*, when doing so seemed to be friendship and professional suicide.

    As it turns out, I was right. Approximately five years after returning to the Catholic Church, most of my friends in the Calvinist Protestant world still shun me as, seemingly, an “apostate, a traitor to the Gospel.” My professional life still has not recovered from my return to Catholicism. I have many Catholic friends now, but my career life is still in a rough place. (It’s not the fault of my friends though or of the Church in general.)

    Many people (especially first-world people like me) would look at my life, externally, and say that it sucks. In returning to the Church, I lost many, many friends and a once-promising ministry and career. I’m not even considered to be a Christian, seemingly, by most of the people alongside whom I used to worship God and share life together years ago. They just won’t have anything to do with me, other than occasionally commenting on my Facebook page, when I post something which sufficiently offends their Protestant sensibilities. I don’t have the heart to unfriend them. I guess that I still hope, one day, that they might come to accept that I’m still their brother in Christ, and that we can be friends. It might be a faint hope, but it is still there. Losing their friendships still really hurts. I’m very, very grateful for my Catholic friends, and I have many of them in the Church… but I still miss my old friends who, I believe and the Church teaches, *are* my brothers and sisters in Christ, even as they can’t reciprocate that statement about me, due to their own convictions about what constitutes the “Biblical Gospel.”

    Daily life is often hard for me. I can’t lie about it. I’m physically disabled and jobless. My disability doesn’t allow me to drive a car, so I can’t even always easily get out and about and distract myself from my struggles.

    However, I don’t regret– I can’t regret– returning to the Church. I don’t understand why God seemed to take so many years to call me back to Catholic Christianity, when going back to it caused so much disruption, pain, and loss in my life. Still– returning to Catholicism was a matter of truth for me. A matter of personal integrity. If I could have remained a Protestant without lying to myself and others, I would have done so, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t.

    I would have any of my “old lives” back now– atheist, Protestant, etc. Never. Epistemologically, Biblically, eccesially, theologically, I can’t be anything other than a Christian and a Catholic Christian. I’ve paid some dear personal prices for it, but I have yet to shed my blood for Him, so all things considered, I haven’t done much compared to what Christ has done for me. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to like the things that God has asked me to do– but love Him? I still do. I also “like” Him. 🙂

  9. Christopher LakeApril 26, 2015

    Sorry for typos! 🙂 I would *not* have any of my “old lives” back now– atheist, Protestant, etc. Love my Reformed Protestant friends, but I can never go back to Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide, so… and I can’t return to atheism. I just don’t believe that it’s true.

  10. JasonApril 26, 2015

    Thanks for opening up and sharing, Christopher. I’ll admit, when compared to what you’ve gone through I have had it pretty easy. But while I’m admitting stuff, I may as well divulge that the passage I cited above from Brody is straight from a recent journal entry of mine. But I suppose shaking my fist at the heavens is itself a kind of act of faith, so.

  11. LaneApril 27, 2015

    Wow, Christopher. Thanks so much for your willingness and courage to share your story. I found it both moving and inspiring.

  12. LaneApril 27, 2015

    “But I suppose shaking my fist at the heavens is itself a kind of act of faith”

    Yes it is a relationship after all. Shaking your fist is a little Job-ish. But hey, maybe you’ll get a 4 chapter response from God as well.

    There is no clever answer one can give to suffering in the world. Nor would we be content with one, if there were one. However, when I do see great suffering, I wonder: how big must the good be that God allowed that to happen?

    I lean on Hope in the future to come. My favorite Biblical verse:

    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4 ESV)

  13. Christopher LakeApril 27, 2015

    Jason, I was happy to share some of my story here. Believe it or not, even with the great length of the comment, I actually left out some of the most incredibly painful (actually traumatic) events of abuse from my teenage years, because there are some things that I just can’t share publicly at this point. Friends have encouraged me to write a book about my life, but I don’t know if I ever will, because having to “relive” certain things that I’ve been through would be very, very hard. Still, if it could help some people, I *might* eventually do it.

    Man, I do hear you about shaking your fist at God. I definitely don’t get all of His ways with me or with other people. (To do so, I would have to basically *be* Him, I think.) I don’t know why He has allowed me and you and so many other people to go through so much loss and pain. I do believe that He has been there with me and you and others *through it* though, and He still is.

    Ultimately, I’m trying to keep the perspective that my own sin is truly a bigger problem, personally, in my own life, than my suffering. Don’t get me wrong– I’m not just saying that to keep myself sane, or because it’s the “right Christian answer.” That’s the consistent witness of the Saints throughout history– better to suffer than to sin. I don’t suffer very well though, and for that and other reasons, I find myself going to confession regularly. I’m grateful for that Sacrament. I need it.

  14. Christopher LakeApril 27, 2015

    Lane, I’m happy to share, if it might help other people. Thanks for reading and commenting. God bless.

  15. Stephen BeamMay 14, 2015

    Tired argunents and rhetoric that is fading fast. Check out “A More Christlike God” and stop your whining. Geez.

  16. JasonMay 16, 2015

    I’d settle for a more Christlike commenter. . . .

  17. LucasSeptember 5, 2015

    hey Jason, maybe too personal to ask from you: are you still in communion w Catholic Church? Or does this book chronically a journey into agnosticism?

  18. JasonSeptember 6, 2015

    Hi Lucas,

    Yes, I am (and have no plans not to be!).

    The book is about someone losing their evangelical faith, but where Brody ends up remains to be seen….

  19. LucasSeptember 6, 2015

    Good to know man! I’ve followed ur journey via blog posts etc. been interesting to see. I like u man! I also love ur stuff on drunk ex pastors. Looking forward to this book

  20. JasonSeptember 7, 2015


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