So we ran our Eighth Letter conference a few months ago in Toronto. It was good times. After the conference a bunch of us went to a pub in Toronto and hung out with Peter Rollins and we had a little Q&A time with him. Besides a few inebriated people the conversation was good. Rollins is a polished speaker and I’ve heard him rhyme off his canned answers, not because he isn’t thinking but generally the questions he gets asked are just the same. Sometimes I wonder if public Q&A is that helpful, its generally very shallow and not able to really dive into a conversation.
In the middle of the conversation, there was this guy in the back who tilted the conversation quite a bit. He was louder, and dominated the last half of the conversation. He was a bit arrogant and at times came across angry. The guy at the back of the room just couldn’t wrap his mind around Peter Rollins ramblings about doubt, the existence of God and intentionally pushing back on everything that is comfortable and normal about the Christian faith especially. Peter Rollins is a nut case if you are approaching him from any kind of typical evangelical background, and even more so if you are not a conceptual thinker. He is trying to communicate very in depth concepts that are hard to put into words. Eventually this guy at the back just said “I call bull shit” and then some other kid said something about Jesus not being God then the room exploded and the conversation ended.
On the drive home, Rachel and I were talking about this guy at the back. I was trying to explain the kind of guy he was. I narrowed it down to two guesses. I said he’s either just a huge angry jerk who just wanted to try to trap Rollins in public but wasn’t nearly smart enough to do so. Or, he’s confused, seeking and just trying to figure this faith thing out and Rollins was saying things that hooked him, but when you start to hook on to what Rollins is really saying, you become angry really fast because you instantly realize he’s saying things that the church should have been saying all along in dealing with people, faith and doubt. So he came across strong, but really he just needed someone smart to help pick apart what little faith he had left and encourage him that his doubt could actually move him forward. So I thought he was either a jerk or he was just a confused seeker.
Turns out the guy at the back was Drew Marshall, a radio show host in Ontario who has admitted to being in the midst of a crisis of faith. Joe was on his show a little while ago talking about his documentary, and he piggy backs on some of our conferences by interviewing our speakers. I linked to an interview that he was part of back in 2007 on 100 Huntley Street (Part 1 | Part 2). After the conversation, Rollins has been building a relationship with (which I was hoping would happen and that conversation wouldn’t end there) Marshall and they seem to be getting along just great. Drew had him on his show recently, and you listen below.[audio:http://peterrollins.net/blog/wp-content/Dr.-Peter-Rollins.mp3]