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Our Friend In Need

You might remember reading Charles Featherstone’s incredible post in a comments thread on this site about what he learned about love by coming through an abusive childhood, passing through the radical Islamic movement, and being in NYC, working across from the World Trade Center, on 9/11. It was on that day that love broke his anger. He eventually became a Christian, and entered seminary seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Here is where Charles Featherstone is today, from his GoFundMe appeal. He got a book deal from that blog post; the memoir will come out late this year or early next. It’s in the editing process now at the publisher, Wipf & Stock. But the book, though not even published yet, has derailed his clerical career. Charles writes:

As some of you also know, I had been approved for ordained ministry in the ELCA, and was being considered for calls — placement to churches — in the Chicago area. However, because of what I reveal in the book, the synod here withdrew its approval. So, there are no prospects for ministry with the ELCA coming any time soon. (I have been looking to other church groups, and have had some meetings, but at this point, I’ve decided right now it is best to simply wait for the book to come out and see who comes to me as a result.)

I’ve had no luck trying to find work. I have tried. I have not been looking for anything prestigious, just something — ANYTHING — to tide us by while we wait for W&S editorial to do its work and then for the book to hit the world.

I don’t like to ask, but Jennifer and I need to some help, just to eke by until the book comes out. My father is helping us every month with a little, but anything you could contribute — and it doesn’t have to be much — would be helpful. This is a difficult, and incredibly demoralizing, time. So anything would be appreciated.

(Leads on work, and it hardly matters where, would be appreciated too.)

Thank you, and God bless.

Today the brakes went out on Charles’s van, and he now doesn’t have safe transportation. He’s in bad shape, financially and spiritually, judging by his Facebook feed. I’ve not read the manuscript, but he had told me that something he revealed in it caused ELCA to turn its back on him. What horrible thing could this have been? I wondered. I was afraid to ask, but I asked. What criminal act had he committed?

There was no criminal act. Not even close. In fact, it’s gobsmackingly banal. It’s not my place to reveal it here, but it was something that happened many years ago, when he was a teenager. This was the thing that caused the bishop to nullify all those years in seminary?!

Anyway, because the good that came to Charles through this blog — his book deal — also led to the destruction of his nascent ministerial career, I feel obliged to let you all know the kind of hole he’s in. He could use some help — especially a job, if you have one to offer.

UPDATE: To be fair, a retired ELCA minister points out that neither the bishop nor the institutional church is in a position to give its side of the story in this situation, bound as it is by rules of privacy. Just something to keep in mind.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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