FAQ

 

Q. Do you have a short bio?

A. See the About page.

Q. Where do you live?

A. Denver, Colorado. My grandparents moved here in the early 1920s from Boston. Grew up in Kansas City. I consider Whitefish, Montana home.

Q. What are your social media contacts?

A. I don't do social media, except for LinkedIn.

Q. Weren't you a Mormon?

A. Yes. A couple of years at BYU. Served in the Germany Munich Mission (1975-1977) I officially left the Mormon Church in 1979.

Q. Weren't you one of those who got shot at New Life Church in Colorado Springs?

A. There is at more to my story than that particular incident. That is a chapter in my life, not the whole book.

Q. Are you a professor? Why theology?

A. I have spent most of my life in business and in information technology. My undergrad was a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

After the shooting, some of the pastors at our church were reading theology. I started reading on my own. I discovered that I had a knack for it. I can't explain why my life journey did not include academic theology earlier. But, like most things I do, I jumped in with both feet. I acquired reading lists from the major divinity schools, loaded them into a spreadsheet and then depleted my savings buying all the books. I only have time to read 2-3 books per week.

A major question I had was my vocation. Since the experience in May 1985, nothing seemed to work out as I imagined. Turns out most things don't go according to the way I imagine or want them to be. I found that admitting that I didn't know all that much to be liberating. Not only do I not know much, I don't have to have answers for all the questions.

Dr. Bill Neal casually mentioned in an SBL session in 2016, that trauma causes an "identity crisis." I was in an identity crisis and theology was the main way I have been finding my way through. More precisely, that was one path of grace I was led through. The other path is counseling and working on "my stuff". Strangely, to me at least, theology has dovetailed into my own recovery.

I guess in a perfect world, I would have gone from existentialism to atheism to, after conversion, a cozy professorship at a divinity school. But, as I discovered in the hospital, "Neverland" is gone and living in reality in the present moment is far healthier.

Q. As a trauma survivor, what books do you recommend reading?

A. More important than any book, is relationship. First, if you have been traumatized, seek counselling. Second, if you have a family, stick together as close as you can. Third, find a community to share your life and to learn from others. You cannot do this alone. However, be aware that most Christian communities are not equipped for trauma or violence survivors. Frankly, I find it scandalous, that a community founded by One who died a violent death can be so lacking.

Only then will books do any good. Please see the Reading List for some resources.

Q. I have often heard you talk about the "Cycle of Violence" and even seen you make a funny sign like a figure 8. What is that?

A. It is called the "Cycles of Violence" and I learned about this at Coming to the Table in 2006.

Along with that, is the Snail Diagram, which shows how to break out o the Cycles of Violence.

In my story, I was able to put it into practice in real time immediately after the shooting. A day or two after the shooting, I was watching the news and found out who the shooter was. I flew into a rage, but quickly realized that was not going to work. While scrambling for a solution, I remembered (more precisely, I believe I was caused to remember by God the Holy Spirit) these diagrams I had seen the previous year. That functioned to help me visualize a way out of that awful situation.

"Your mileage may vary"

Q. Do I have to forgive someone who has hurt me?

A. It is impossible for me to explain forgiveness in a short FAQ. There are many good reasons to forgive but it can NEVER be forced or contrived. It is a personal choice. Suffice it to say that forgiveness is one step in a continuum from wounding event to full reconciliation. Forgiveness does not necessarily lead to reconcilation.

For more resources on forgiveness, please see the Reading List.

Q. Are you still in contact with the parents of your shooter?

A. Yes.

Q. What about Restorative Justice?

A. I was involved with Restorative Justice prior to the shooting as a function of my work as a descendent of Thomas Jefferson seeking for reconciliation with my black cousins.See question about Coming to the Table.

Colorado is one of the leaders in Restorative Justice work thanks to the efforts of Pete Lee. Also, here.

For more information about Restorative Justice.

Q. What is Coming to the Table?

A. I was privileged to attend the first national gathering of Coming to the Table at Eastern Mennonite University in 2006.(My dad and I happened to be in MacIntyre Park when Henry Wienczek introduced the founders of Coming to the Table, Susan Hutchinson and Will Hairston.) See the above link for more information.

Q. As a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, are you still in contact with your Sally Hemings relatives?

A. This is one of the main things with which I am involved." Where much is given, much is required." Charlottesville is one of my favorite places and I don't get there often enough.

Q. Frankly, you don't talk much. Why not?

A. This question would surprise some of my friends and family! Seriously, as part of my recovery, I read the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It helped me realize that much of my talking was over-compensating for being an introvert. Our culture seems to be run by extroverts and "Type A''s." I find that tiring. I'll just take my books and my thoughts and go sit and read in my easy chair thank you very much.

As I said in another question, I find it liberating to not have to have answers for all the questions that come my way. This also explains that when I do engage with a topic, I will gather as much data as I can. (See my Reading List for an example.)

Also, a website is an artificial means of communication. I don't warm up to it. In person is much different.

Q. What does the future hold for you?

A. He shall come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead. Or, in other words, He will make all things right. In the mean time, I do what He said - live in the present moment.