Timothy Willard and Jason Locy argue that God wants us to "be brilliant." But they don't mean what you might think. - Photos courtesy of Timothy Willard and Jason Locy

Timothy Willard and Jason Locy argue that God wants us to “be brilliant.” But they don’t mean what you might think. – Photos courtesy of Timothy Willard and Jason Locy

When you hear the word “brilliant,” you may think of IQ scores and framed diplomas, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. But authors Timothy Willard and Jason Locy give the term a different meaning in their new book, “Home Behind the Sun: Connect with God in the Brilliance of the Everyday.” In it, they claim that God wants us to “be brilliant.”

Here, we discuss what they mean and how this concept affects the way we should live with regard to the internet, celebrity culture, and parenting.

RNS: You argue in this book that God wants us to “be brilliant,” but you aren’t talking about intelligence. Describe what you mean.

TW: To “be brilliant” means to let Christ rule in our lives. For real, not just with lip service in our rhetoric, but actually applying Christian virtues in our interaction. A good application of this is in the way we use the internet. At times being brilliant may mean not saying or posting something that we really desire to. It may mean that our voice doesn’t get heard on an issue that is popular.

When news about Mark Driscoll’s dealings hit the web, people took all kinds of “stances.” But who among us actually possesses the right to speak into Mark’s life? Are we to toss criticism at other leaders in the name of “justice” or “accountability” just because we have access to a blog platform? Being brilliant means, in this case, means dying to our desires and allowing a posture of peace to rule our hearts and blogs.

Book cover courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Book cover courtesy of Nelson Books

RNS: Speaking of the internet, you guys make some strong comments about how Christians interact with one another online. Can you talk more about what it looks like to be brilliant in our internet engagement?

JLWhen a popular pastor, thought leader, or “celebrity blogger” says something via a book, blog, or conference presentation, it seems that the folks in the audience must make their dissent heard—airing disdain in their own social media fiefdoms for the world to see. Those actions often create little distinction between our Christian discourse and the bickering heads on cable news or cynical celebrity gossip columnists. We watch, we skim, we post, we stir the blogosphere—our new means of burning our so-called heretics.

The internet provides everyone with a voice. The larger the platform, the louder the voice. Too often Christians, in an effort to gain a seat at the cultural table, sacrifice good judgment for a spike on their social media platforms.

Like the ambulance chasing lawyer, the loud voices of the internet wait for a misstep, a mistake, a faulty theology. Then they chase the story looking for profits and a growing platform. The internet creates a distance between the loud voices and those they attack. This, when poorly stewarded, allows us to throw up cheap grace as our license to say what we want, how we want.

RNS: In the book, you address the “brutalization of human kind.” From the fashion industry to national pop media, you describe how these things can cover up the true beauty in our world. Can you speak to that?

JL: Well, we certainly pick on culture a bit, mainly our consumptive mindset and over-sexualization. This critique comes from our point of view as fathers. I have two boys and two girls, and Tim has three girls. We see the effects of a society that operates this way. Navigating the world as an adult is hard enough, navigating it with your kids is almost impossible. That’s where understanding and acknowledging what is going on is helpful. By saying, “Hey, this is what we are seeing and here is why its a problem” we can begin thinking about our role as Christians in society.

By the way, I believe we should have an active role. We can look at the world and see that the hyper-sexualization of women, for example, leads to violence, eating disorders, harassment and other issues. I don’t want my boys to view women that way, and I don’t want my girls viewing themselves through this lens either.

TW: Jason is right in that these views are problematic not only for adults but for kids. Kids these days lose their innocence earlier and earlier. As adults, it seems we no longer have any inkling of innocence. Its no wonder then that we can’t see beauty.

RNS: We’ve all seen a beautiful sunrise, felt the joy that comes with a much-needed chat with a friend, or the exhilaration of finishing that weeks-long project at work. But how do we make sure to see God in these everyday events?

JL: A friend of ours sent us this poem by William Martin:

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

Maybe that’s a good start.

TW: That poem is a wonderful reminder of what it means to see God in the everyday. But it’s only a start. We always look for God in these grand and incredible ways. Like parting water and crumbling city walls and killing giants. And certainly we see him there. But he is a God of infinite wonder, so this places him in the small things too. In the everyday.

20 Comments

  1. The Bible truly is ‘silly putty’.
    And this story proves it.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. Think of some idea you want to promote.
    2. Look for verses in the Bible to support it.
    3. Show people that they have been misunderstanding the Bible all along.

    Result? There are now 20,000 versions of Christianity.
    The true miracle is why there aren’t more!

  2. Jason Locy says,
    “We can look at the world and see that the hyper-sexualization of women, for example, leads to violence, eating disorders, harassment and other issues.”

    This is dangerous nonsense. It is a wild claim.
    Repression of sexuality in men and women is the problem and Jason is yet another tyrant trying to squash women. Pop culture – his real complaint – feeds on the abject ignorance of christian women and men.

    In cultures where women are free to express sexuality in a healthy, responsible way you do not see such inhumanity and abjection.
    Look at Sweden, Denmark, Holland or France. Women are free and the culture is much healthier.

    Abandon these prudish ideas about what it is to be a woman!
    And this is a 50 year-old FATHER OF A DAUGHTER talking!

    • “This is dangerous nonsense. It is a wild claim. Repression of sexuality in men and women is the problem and Jason is yet another tyrant trying to squash women. Pop culture – his real complaint – feeds on the abject ignorance of christian women and men. ”

      Max it very much appears you do come here trolling looking to be critical. Your comments seem to be completely out of turn since they dont seem to be accurately addressing anything the interviewer or author are saying. You seem to have your own bias about what Christians actually think about sexuality.

      The fact is that therapists have found a very direct relationship between the sexual objectification of women in the media and poor self image problems for girls that directly lead to eating and other disorders. Read the literature. That is what the interviewers are talking about when they speak about the oversexualization of women. It appears you think they mean some objection to women being seen as sexual beings. Nonsense! Thats not Christianity, its your biased version of Christianity.

      Its not the Church that is obsessed with sex! Its not the Church that represses sexuality. Its the world that has sexualized everything! It uses sex to sell products, and people. The media sexualizes everything even for children! Its sick! And, the Church is simply pointing out that sexuality is not for sale! Its a gift to be used in the proper context. People also develop plenty of disorders when they sexualize every need or impulse they have, and thats exactly what the culture and the media is doing – sexualizing everything, and turning sex into simply fun and entertainment! That is simply contrary to what the human psyche knows is good and for itself! The world and media teach: “Feeling good, go party and have sex! Feeling bad, go find pay to have sex! Feel lonely, have virtual sex!

      It doesnt take religion or a religious person to know this behavior is contrary to human nature! But it seems to be that only Christianity has the courage to try to warn the world about the sexual implosion we are about the experience unless we learn more respect for sexuality. Respecting sexuality is NOT repression!

      • @Mickey,
        I repeat, I am not the one looking for argument.
        I am addressing the wrongness of the argument
        as presented by the writer of “Behind the Sun..”

        1. Jason is WRONG. Christianity is patently destructive to healthy, normal sexuality:
        It forbids masturbation.
        It forbids homosexuality.
        It forbids sex without marriage.
        It forbids sexual THOUGHTS.
        It forbids sexual honesty.
        It endorses sexual repression
        It criminalizes contraception for goodness sake!

        2. The Bible is a breathtakingly ‘male made’, male dominated set of assertions about sex which advocates:

        RAPE as proper punishment,
        criminalizes women’s sexuality,
        Women are property, unlike the men.
        endorses sexual slavery even “if perverse”
        Sex as a power play of men over women
        Women as PERMANENT second class citizens.

        3. Christianity asserts that sexuality itself is to be feared and NEVER enjoyed as an act in itself outside of a Christian marriage.
        What a wild, unhealthy and impossibly ridiculous bar to set for any honest teenager or young adult!

        Your whining about the world enjoying sex is nothing more than a symptom of your own Christian indoctrination. All of the science, common sense and sanity flies against this Bronze Age garbage.

        Christianity is nonsensical enough with its death cult and its blood sacrifices – but to subject young people to this outrageous part of the agenda is pathological nonsense.
        All of it.

        • Max, the Bible does not condemn human sexuality. Things like sex outside of marriage may be normal to you, but I think most people know that sex outside of marriage is damaging. Also, I think your suggestion that the Bible is against sexual honesty is totally out of left field. I think maybe you have just had bad experiences with religion in the past.

          • It is normal for adults who do not want to have 6 kids before they hit 30. Who want to focus on creating a life for themselves with an education and careers.

            The Bible is very much against sexual honesty. Women are treated as property of a man. Also the idea that abstinence before marriage is any kind of policy people actually follow. Everywhere in the world where abstinence only is the sole form of birth control, it is a joke. 100% rate of failure.

            People who consider premarital sex damaging generally no little of what they are talking about. Much of it is simply self-validation and conformity to religious beliefs. They want to feel better about choices they already made.

            Abstinence before marriage is very damaging in a real and tangible way, It creates cultural pressure to get married when one is barely mature enough to deal with adult relations. It creates higher incidence of spousal abuse, higher incidence of divorce, lower income and education opportunities for families (especially for women), greater strains on household economies, less opportunity for children produced in a marriage.

            For a developed nation, when populations generally decline, per capita incomes to increases. Countries become more prosperous. Decline is typically caused by greater number of women getting educations and careers. Avoiding becoming baby-factories in their teens and 20’s. Abstinence before marriage being ignored.

          • @TRANSFORMED CHRISTIAN,

            you claimed, “most people know that sex outside of marriage is damaging.”

            Not me. And not if both individuals are unmarried. I had lots of sex before I was married and no harm came from any of it. And my wife was no virgin either when we met.

            If you are referring to ‘cheating on a spouse’ that is different.
            But no religion needs to be invoked for that! Good grief.

            The Golden Rule of moral behavior:
            “Do not do to others what you would find unacceptable to yourself”

            It requires NO Gods and it more than suffices for any cheating on your wife. If you don’t like the idea of her cheating on you, don’t do it yourself.

            Result? This Atheist has been married for 28 years – to another Atheist.

      • @Mickey,
        “only Christianity has the courage to try to warn the world about the sexual implosion”

        Courage?? Obedience to an upper atmospheric air pocket is “courage”?
        Fear is all that Christianity offers. Nothing courageous about it.

    • Seriously?
      Are you saying that Pop Culture is not cashing in on the youth market for its curiosity about sex?

      Some of this is inevitable and normal. But certainly those kids would be better served with a frank and open discussion about sex and relationships instead of shoving it under the rug as this Jason Locy seems to be suggesting.

      Nobody is perfect – maybe he hadn’t thought this through.
      But seeing sexuality as ‘sinful’ is EXACTLY HOW you pump up the very things in Pop Culture that cashes in on that taboo. You can still explain to kids that sex without a relationship is not healthy. You don’t need religion to do that.
      And Christians are terribly repressed when it comes to masturbation and all that.

      Wanna get rid of Miley Cyrus videos? You can’t. But you can teach your girls and boys how to grow up and have healthy relationships and be comfortable about their own bodies.
      Religion has not been a help for any of that.

      • Even more curious that you just go for a personal attack rather than address Max’s point.

        Actually not that curious. Christians are known for being passive-aggressive types when facing someone who doesn’t kiss their posterior.

      • The statements by Jason Locy reveals a philosophy which is generating the very thing he claims to be against:
        “the hyper-sexualization of women, for example, leads to violence, eating disorders, harassment and other issues.”

        I agree that these are terrible problems – But what Jason cannot seem to see is that religion has more to do with why these problems persist. His ‘remedy’ of bringing people to the Bible is a nuclear face palm!

        Over and over again Christians think ‘going back to scripture’ would make the world better – and it only leads to a worse culture.
        Religion is the problem not the solution.

        You disagree? Fine. Make your case, then. because I haven’t seen a single Christian explain why I’m wrong yet.

      • @Christopher,
        I study religion the way a cancer specialist studies cancer. I’m looking for cures.
        I do not troll. I read these stories very carefully – especially RNS.

        You would not say to someone who studies infections that they are wrong to go to sites reporting on diseases.

        If you think Religion is only for the religious
        then why are your Christian Fundamentalist laws being forced on millions of American atheists and agnostics like me from coast to coast?

        Creationism in schools,
        prayer in Town Hall meeting,
        Trans vaginal probes,
        breaking down separation of church and state…..

        your pushy Christian religion is coming at me
        in a hundred ways as if I had no freedom in America to reject it !
        Hands off!

  3. “This is dangerous nonsense. It is a wild claim. Repression of sexuality in men and women is the problem and Jason is yet another tyrant trying to squash women. Pop culture – his real complaint – feeds on the abject ignorance of christian women and men. ”

    Max it very much appears you do come here trolling looking to be critical. Your comments seem to be completely out of turn since they dont seem to be accurately addressing anything the interviewer or author are saying. You seem to have your own bias about what Christians actually think about sexuality.

    The fact is that therapists have found a very direct relationship between the sexual objectification of women in the media and poor self image problems for girls that directly lead to eating and other disorders. Read the literature. That is what the interviewers are talking about when they speak about the oversexualization of women. It appears you think they mean some objection to women being seen as sexual beings. Nonsense! Thats not Christianity, its your biased version of Christianity.

    • You completely missed/avoided Max’s point.

      It is the unhealthy attitude towards sex which is promulgated by Christianity which creates this objectifying. “Madonna/Whore syndrome” in culture didn’t come out of thin air. Its name is even a Christian reference.

      Treating women as either an idealized but asexual being or a dirty slut creates these cultural tensions and is entirely fabricated by Christian ways of looking at sexuality. Something is not considered taboo, or has a cultural cachet as being “edgy or dangerous” unless there is some kind of societal norm being bent. In this case it is the immature attitude Christianity has towards adult sexual relations.

      Blaming the media and culture is ridiculous. They are us. They reflect what we want to show to the public. Doubling down on religious based sexual repression is essentially putting one’s head in the sand and ignoring a situation.

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