Hugh for Hire

meijer chicken

Disclosure: Self-promotion is weird for me. I spent most of my twenties in sales, and while I was good at it, I always felt like a dude in a chicken suit trying to get attention. The fact that I liked the attention didn’t make it less awkward.

But the reality is, part of my work is sharing our ideas about how to engage poverty and missions and, in fact, each other. Also part of my reality is I don’t make a lot of money doing this, and we are a one income family because of my wife’s health.

In order to keep my salary at Love Wins Ministries low (and thus decrease my strain on the organization’s meager budget), I supplement my income by speaking and writing. An average of once a month, I get on a train or plane and go to another place, share what I have to say with an audience.

It’s usually about How People of Faith Can Do Good Better, How Relationships Can Change the World, or my Framework for Understanding Homelessness, but sometimes I consult with faith communities about effective benevolence plans and ways to structure local mission plans that honor people, and sometimes I lecture in college classrooms or church basements.

This website is my primary way of promotion, and here you can find the process to book me to speak, you can find my schedule of upcoming events and what folks who have heard me have to say and you can also find lots of pictures of my cats.

If you need someone to lead a retreat, preach a sermon, keynote an event or lead a seminar, especially on one of the above topics, please check out my page that tells you how to invite me to speak. And then send me an email to hughlh@gmail.com to get the conversation started.

Will D. Campbell on Christian Marriage

Photo via Associated Press

Photo via Associated Press

If there is a body, a community, which is truly Church, or even claims to be Church, why should it be the executor of Caesar’s documents? What is a marriage license but a legal contract? And what does any legal contract promise and offer except the right to sue one another at another time and place before another of Caesar’s agents? Perhaps such contracts are socially necessary but what does that have to do with us? And even if we are not Church now but want to become Church, free from the demands and legality of Caesar, why not start by returning all of his documents and refusing ever to do it again? “No, Mr. Caesar, that is not our understanding of what marriage is all about. If you must protect yourself and your citizenry in this fashion you may continue to do so. But not with our help and blessing. Let the faithful come before the altar of the One we must serve rather than, and before, you. And acting on His, and only His, authority we will pronounce them man and woman, husband and wife.”

I was never again to say, “By the authority vested in me by the State of Tennessee.” If my authority as a priest comes from the State, then I have no authority at all. From that time on, I began all weddings by saying, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. If you have a license, we will sign it at this time.” And then saying to the couple, “Now what we have just done is to endow you with a legal contract. It has nothing to do with Christian marriage. It is nothing more than a contract between you and this state which gives you the right to sue one another if you should ever desire to do so.” And the document is tossed casually, and sometimes contemptuously aside. “Now, the passage which begins ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s continues. ‘And render unto God the things that are God’s.’ And the wedding begins at this point.

Maybe one day I will yet follow my conscience and refuse to sign that document at all, ask the couple to have a Justice of the Peace sign the Contract of Caesar. And on a number of occasions there have been no such documents. And by the authority vested in me by Almighty God I have pronounced them man and woman, husband and wife. And I defy Caesar to question that they are married. But those without the document are required to spend an extended amount of time with me and with one another in making sure they are ready for such radical trust and commitment. For they do not have the protection that the legal contract would afford them. They cannot sue one another. They have only themselves, the community if there be one, and the source of the authority which so joins them. Those who have come with no license have not come flaunting liberation but bearing witness to servanthood. They are not products of a new morality but an anachronism of an old morality, a testimony to “Jesus Christ is Lord. Hallelujah!” (from Brother to a Dragonfly, 213-214)

WTH? My love for Will D. Campbell is well known. This post is part of a series – Wednesdays with Will, where I post a quote or selection from Brother Will that has been particularly inspirational or meaningful to me.