Jesus Trailing in GOP Primary Exit Polls

Scripture reading: Mark 8:31-38

If Jesus ran for president, I’m sure he’d get wiped out in the primaries. You just can’t go around saying the kind of stuff Jesus said and expect people to follow you! I mean, can you blame the disciples for their confusion when Jesus, their supposed Messiah, the one who was supposed to save and deliver them from their enemies, gives a rousing speech about how his path to victory is to go through rejection, suffering and to be killed. Talk about soft on defense! That kind of talk isn’t likely to rouse the base, much less win the independents.

I’d love for Jesus to be a populist. I’d love a God who tells me what I want to hear and always makes me out to be the hero. I’d even settle for a realist, a God who tells it straight, who isn’t afraid to ask me to do my fair share, so long as I get my fair share on the other end. But this Jesus, the Jesus that Mark is talking about, I don’t get him. All of this talk about denying self, of losing your life, and taking up your cross, what kind of a platform is that?!

It all seems a bit excessive. I mean, have you heard this guy talk? “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” Look, I’m not trying to “gain the whole world” here, I’m just hoping to secure my own little piece of it.



Well, It's been a while since my last post - and lots has changed... Solveigh is 15 months and full of personality, I am no longer at Starbucks (and thus the end of the barista monologues), taught high school at St. Paul Prep for a year (lots of fun!), have been home with Solveigh all summer and am now getting ready to begin a new chapter. I'm preparing for re-entry into congregational ministry and could not be more excited about it. Nonetheless, I am confident this journey will provide plenty of fodder for extrospection. More to come soon...


new blog site

I'm going to keep this address, but I thought it might be fitting with all of the recent life change to change it up a bit in the blogosphere. Therefore, I have begun a new blog and I invite you to check it out. I call it... the barista monologues. Check it out at www.baristamonologues.blogspot.com. See you there.



Well, it's been an amazing week. Solveigh Elise Bratulich was born last Tuesday, April 29th at 8:49am right here in St. Paul, MN. I can't even begin to describe how much fun it is to be a dad! We are so grateful for the incredible support we have seen from our family and friends over this past week. Now, as the journey of parenthood begins, I am confident that the love and care that we have received from so many of you will continue on and overflow on to our beautiful daughter Solveigh. Here's a peek at the little peanut if you haven't yet got to see a picture.


on parenting... part 2

JW's comment on my earlier post entitled "on parenting" is a thoughtful response to my seemingly pollyanna conception of God's activity in parenthood. I do not deny that human nature and simple biology are what have "given" Jenni and I a child, nor did I intend to imply that being "entrusted" with parenting a child has anything to do with ones fit-ness to parent. Indeed, I think a recognition of child-rearing as a very human enterprise involving choice, action and consequence is needed for parenting thoughtfully and responsibly. Yet, I do not want to lose the sense of wonder which was the impetus of my previous post. I reject the reductionist approach to life that boils everything down to cause-effectual relationships. At the same time, I also reject the too often typical, evangelical spiritualization of nearly everything (which I gather may have given rise to my critic's likening me to Chuck Swindoll). We should most certainly be carefully what we attribute to God, if not how.

Those of you who know me well know that the mere mention of blood or simply setting foot in a hospital immediately makes me queasy. Jenni has joked ad-nauseum about how I will likely need more medical attention from the doctors once we're at the hospital to give birth. Birth is a messy, bloody ordeal. I don't speak from experience of course, but I did force myself to watch a birth video last week. Yeah... queasy. At the same time, I cannot imagine a more beautiful, more miraculous, more God-given gift than life. Now, I recognize that we often take our gifts and smash them, that we are prone to act selfishly and destructively out of our own self-hatred, the consequences of which explain why my friend JW has great job security as a family therapist.

Nonetheless, I agree with JW that we have been given choices, brains, natural laws, and from a trinitarian perspective, the Holy Spirit to guide us in parenting. It is a much more layered, complex and holistic enterprise than what I had articulated in my previous post. In fact, the complexity draws me even deeper into wonder and causes me to enter fatherhood with an even greater sense of humility. I ended my previous post with a comment that the journey ahead will be one of faith and not of sight. To elaborate, I do not see faith as blind resignation, but active and imaginative. The book of Hebrews puts it like this, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not yet seen." Hebrews 12:1 NRSV

The journey of faith that I anticipate is one full of hope and vision. It is hopeful in that I believe that our family will create space for self-giving love, that our child(ren) will be given the grace to explore and become whole selves in the context of intimacy and community. It is full of imagination and vision in that I believe that we will find new ways of being as a family. Certainly we will bring both a healthy legacy and some unhealthy baggage from our respective families of origin, but we also have the opportunity to create or recreate what our family will become. I fully expect fatherhood to transform me, as any intimate relationship should. It will transform Jenni's and my marriage, our values, ideas and our ways of being God's beloved. I should hope that I am not simply one who seeks comfort and then likes to set up camp. Rather, I imagine, indeed I hope that parenting will be unsettling. In my experience, it is usually in the places of destabilization that transformation occurs most profoundly.

Thanks JW for inviting me to reflect more deeply on this one!



I think the last time I was unemployed was a short stretch between flippin' burgers at Buck Hill for the free season pass and my glorious career as a pizza artist at Dominoes my senior year of high school. I've been a responsible working citizen for 20 years now, well... until today at least. Yep, it all began with my first paper route delivering the southeast metro edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I'll admit that I was never all that fond of waking up at 4:30am every weekend to hit the pavement on my Steve Caballero skateboard, paperboy bag slung over the shoulder, skaterbangs flapping in the wind. Yet, I couldn't resist lining my pockets with the 13 crisp greenbacks that I earned every two weeks. It's true, I was all about the Benjamins... well, actually the Washingtons.

But it didn't end there. At a mere 14 years old, still considered among many to be but a child, I joined the ranks of burger flipper at Burger King, and then on to chicken fryer and customer service representative at KFC. I climbed through the ranks fast, a rising star among fast food giants. Onward and upward I rose... camp counselor, then youth pastor, on to mission leader, even program director! But now it has all come to a crashing halt. Unemployed. Laying on my couch, posting a blog. What have I become? Who am I if I do not work?

Identity is a powerful thing. If we are not careful, we begin to believe that we are the sum of what we do. What a tragic life if that is the case. I think maybe it is good for me to be unemployed. How else would I deconstruct this idol that I have too often worshipped, call it work, call it ministry, call it what you will. Whatever you call it, it is a false identity, an idol of our own construction, and it needs to be smashed. So here's to being unemployed! Let the demolition begin!


New directions

Well, I have now officially announced that after 5 1/2 years, I am going to be moving on from YouthWorks in order to pursue some new directions in my life. I'm not quite sure what this next season will hold, but Jenni and I are excited for what lies ahead. Right now the plan is to try to find something part-time while I begin to work on going back to school for my PhD. We are also looking at spending anywhere from a semester to a year overseas with Nacel (Jenni's employer) at one of their international schools. I haven't been in this kind of a place of transition for quite a while and though it is a bit scary at times, I must say that it is exhilarating to take a drastic step of faith and walk out into the unknown.

As a youth pastor and a missions leader I have talked a lot about taking steps of faith. Like so many things it is much easier said than done. I cannot imagine that these steps will be free of confusion or pain, but it is good to know that we are loved by a God who walks with us, who says to us, "Do not fear, for I am with you." So here we go, stepping out into the unknown... and yet I think, is this step really any different from any other step? I have often thought that I've known where I was headed, but in truth every day, every step, every decision is really an act of faith. And what's probably even more true is that every breath is really an act of God.