Note: Can I Say This at Church is produced for audio listening. If able, I strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which has inflection, emotion, sarcasm where applicable, and emphasis for points that may not come across well in written word. This transcript is generated using a combination of my ears and software, and may contain errors. Please check the episode for clarity before quoting in print.
Hey there you beautiful people, how are you doing? Welcome back to the show. Episode 98. Two more until the terrifying one where I just talk, which is, uggghhh, it's all right I’m committed to it and will put it out on the internet. So we're doing it. But Welcome to the show. Really, really, really liked today's conversation. So these last few months. And again, I try to stay political, apolitical, however you say that very intentionally. But I feel like, at least in least in America, and most Western countries, or superpower type countries, the way that we view people that are not from our tribe, our country, our circle, or family, or political party, our church, whatever the circle is that you've drawn that you call home, people that are outside of that, especially religious and socio-economical or language barriers, we just treat them way different. There is an inherent distrust. And if you don't believe me just watch people. There is an inherent distrust. And I know you'll hear people say, well, that's the world that we live in, or you just can't be to say for you don't watch the news. It's just a horrible world. But that is not the case. That is not truthful. And that is not the gospel. Not even close. And that's what I talked about today with Jeremy Courtney. Really hope that you like it. Let’s rock and roll.
Jeremy, a: welcome to the show. I say “a” lot. I said I'm going to stop saying A/B/C, but I can't. It's just the way that I am.
I thought it was a Canadian “eh” or something like,
no I'm from Texas, we don't say we say, what do we say, y'all, but whatever. But Welcome to the show. I'm excited to have you on, I was not extremely familiar with some of your work until I started reading the book, which by the way, thank you for sending me advanced copy of it. I wasn't sure what to expect when I read it. And then they sent me like a link to what you do. And I kind of read through it. I was like, This is different. I don't usually have this conversation. And so I'm excited to have you on man.
Cool, man. Thanks for having me.
For those like me that are just like, well, who that who is Jeremy Courtney? What would you say? Like? What are the things in your life that have made you you and then those things that have kind of propelled you into doing what you do now?
Mmmmm, well, that's largely what the book is about; new book Love Anyway, high level overview, I lead an organization called preemptive love that exists to end war, moved to Iraq, in the middle of the Iraq war. 12 years ago, 13 years ago, something like that. (I’ve) been living in Iraq, going to the front lines of conflict for the last decade, Syria, Iraq, our team's done a ton of work in Libya. You know, the work has grown as we set our sights to end war and the organization's name Preemptive Love, you know, as we seek to kind of lead out in this way of like, really pushing the limits of what would it mean to love first ask questions later, you know, kind of in the spirit of a preemptive strike?
And then, what would it look like to when the wheels fall off the bus and everything gets really scary, and you just want to give up and walk away, what would it look like to press in and love anyway, in spite of the fear in spite of our differences, and spite of the things that are tearing us apart? So that's had us for, you know, 12-13 years, pressing into the front lines of conflict, providing emergency relief, and long term assistance, like job creation and building up communities and infrastructures in the spirit of peacemaking I the spirit of bringing people back together, reconciling groups to one another, and changing the ideas that that lead to war. So that's kind of the high level overview of me and the organization preemptive love and the work that we do together.
So are you primarily focused, centrally, in the Middle East? Or is it many other countries outside of that as well?
We started in the Middle East. And as we've been successful, and grown and developed, you know, models and blueprints that we believe apply universally, we're engaged in everything from: nuclear negotiations on the Korean peninsula, to you know, North Africa, Middle East, and Mexico, Central American migration matters. You know, it's always a combination of providing, providing hard, tangible, concrete solutions. And then working in the spirit of peacemaking to change the idea that lead to war.
to change the systems and to change ourselves. So that's that work is US based in European and, you know, it's about our ideas, and not just our kind of concrete symptomatic things that a lot of us see on the news.
The idea of preemptive love, I like and I feel like, when Christians give “lip service” to other countries that we're going to help they also speak that way. And then nobody does that (love). And so I'm curious, you know, how did you get into like, what was the call that you're like, no, this is broken, and I'm going to do something about it. And here's what I can do. Like, how did that transition actually happen? I can't remember either I didn't read it, or I didn't pay enough attention. Is this posture towards “other” air quotes “other” the way that you were raised like the church that you were raised in? Or is that something that you've transitioned into, as you've come out of, I guess, youthfulness evangelicalism?
Yeah, it's definitely something…I'll say it has it's a continual unfolding or unfurling, there are ways to look back at my upbringing generously my family generously and say, yeah, yeah, absolutely. My family raised me to be considerate of the “other”, and here's what it looked like.
There are other people out there who worship false gods, and they need to be saved. And we are right, we have the truth, we need to go save them, you need to go be a part of saving them. That gave way to kind of a next version of that as I grew and matured and experience more of the world, that gave way to a kind of more broadly inclusive version of that, which then some of it fell apart for me all together, and gave way to a more broadly inclusive…So I think, in the most generous way to look back on my past, and where I come from, in my family is to say, yeah, I think we did love others. And I think we did want to love others. But I also look back and go, but I think we did it in a fairly narrow way that that has given way to further and further inclusive of other people. You know, I don't know if that makes sense. I'm still learning how to articulate some of this stuff. But that's how I'm understanding it today.
Well, I can tell you, as this show continues to grow other people email me asking questions similar to that, which is why it's become a question that I asked because I honestly don't often have the same answer either. I had someone asked me the other day, she's like, what kind of Christian are you? And I was like, madly in love with Jesus. And she's like, well, where would you go to church? I don't know how to answer that. I don't think that denomination is the right question to ask. It's not an important, if that makes sense. But yeah, so it's, I like to hear other people's thoughts on that.
I want to touch on some of the things in the book. And I'll probably bounce around. And also say, I appreciate how short and how brief. Many of these stories are. I read a lot of books. And I get sent a lot of books. And I try to be as genuine and possible and read as much as I can before I talk to people about what they've written. Because it's not, that just seems disingenuous. And it's always…
We all appreciate that.
There is a chapter that called “it matters what we call people”. And the reason I bring that one up is You talk a lot about and I'm going to say the names wrong Hold on, is it (edited for privacy). There's like a story that you're referencing in your first book in Preemptive Love. And I don't know how to say his name.
But in there you talk about, you called him a name called (edited for privacy), I don't know how to pronounce that either; and that means “free”. And then you say, but his name wasn't really that and he was never really free.
And then you go on to talk about, you know, it matters, the names, the titles, the posture, it matters to what it teaches us about other people, like the titles that we give them, the names that they're called, by the truths that they have. And so I'm curious kind of how that shift has happened. Like kind of what that means, if you were to break it up part. And if I'll be entirely transparent, because all that we I mean, we you're probably you're back in the new cycle here in the States. So welcome back to the name calling. The pejorative as opposed to normal name, like the degradation of, of humanity, like, people don't care anymore with titles anymore. So why should they? Why does it matter?
You know, these are deeply personal stories. And so the guy in question here, I talked about a little bit my first book as well, and, and essentially in my first book, and even in this book, I've had to play with some of the naming conventions, because the situation is just very fraught with threat and retaliation. And you know, we've paid a really high price in this relationship. But in how this once former friend has has retaliated against us and pit militia and government and spy like agency forces against us tribal forces against us.
when you say “us” you mean Preemptive Love?
Ahhh, our family, first and foremost, and then kind of the organization at a secondary level. Here's the heart of that story, I guess that that I was getting at. He was a refugee on the run from a war in, you know, the 80s - 90s. Growing up his parents were guerrilla fighters, his dad was a guerrilla fighter alongside some very, very prominent guerrilla fighters that went on to become leaders of countries, you know, leaders of the country. And he was named, they literally named him refugee, literally, like in the local language, his name was refugee. So it's as if in the English language, you would call your son to dinner every night. And you would say, hey, Refugee dinners on the table. And when you think about the end environment, and the culture of what it means to be a refugee, kicked out, displaced, rejected, homeless, no place to lay your head not wanted. Imagine being called, “not wanted the reject”, every night for dinner. Every night, when you come in, from playing to go to bed, you know, your parents are essentially calling it calling you or rejected one Come to bed.
I just, I just when he turned on us, which I cover much more deeply in the book, I always had a lot of sympathy for him, even as he was trying to destroy our family and threaten our kids and threaten my wife, and we were arrested and put in jail, I always had a lot of empathy for him, because I just thought what must it do to a person psyche to be called the rejected homeless one, day after day after day after day growing up. And what motivates due to your psyche to make you overreach and overreact and, you know, kind of pursue these overwrought tactics to make yourself matter and to show that you're significant and to show that you're strong, and you'll never be rejected, again, as an adult.
I think we ended up bearing the brunt of his insecurities and the brunt, of in a way, this is a bit of a metaphor…but I also think there's some literalism to it, what his parents named him what his parents called him and what society had called him for his entire life. And I…it’s is a very, this isn't a metaphor, like he's my friend, and his name is literally refugee. But it also somehow just landed with this global significance to me, once I realized it like this, this is what we do globally, as well, we reject entire groups of people, we overwrite these names on them as essentially terrorist, rejected one, dirty, rapist, you know, all this other kind of stuff.
What must that do to the idea of a person and an individual and a group to have that overlaid on them year after year after year? And maybe we have some complicity in how how things play out, it matters, what we call people. So maybe we should take the risk to name people more generously, to call people more affirmingly who they are. At a deeper level to even dare name people who we believe they can be overcome or, you know, resilient one. The one who perseveres, you know, like, what if we What if he had been named that? Yeah, instead of homeless refugee rejected, I just wonder, might his life turned out different?
In your experience, if someone begins to try to live into a new identity, like a new template of what they're supposed to be by name, you know, as as a calling, are they successful? Like, is it traumatic? How do you walk alongside that? Because I think you're right, like the church should do that humans should do that. Canadians should do that Europe should do that, Chinese people should do that. Beyond language barriers should do that. But how well does the person that's trying to do that, in your experience succeed? Are they able to ascend, like what's required a sense, probably the wrong word, I'm using a bad word there. But the best I can come up with.
though I get it. I mean, I think the psychology, the personal development studies are pretty clear that we, there are significantly important things that happened to us in childhood, that can start to chart the path and direction for the rest of our lives. Those things can be overcome. But they are often overcome, in a way where we are bringing that baggage or that scar or that trauma or that shadow with us, you know, kind of wherever we go from this point forward.
So I think it's hugely important that we instill this kind of stuff in our kids at a young age, and that we work to help our kids be resilient against the insensitivity is of the playground, and the cafeteria, that can really wound us all. At a young age, in some ways that we never fully grapple with or understand, we just carry the wound with us without understanding what Timmy said to me in gym class, and why I still feel insecure as a grown man about how Timmy made fun of me, you know?
So I think we have to do this stuff early. Because helping our kids avoid the deepest wounds, is the best methodology is that it's the best hope and the best solution. Once they're wounded, and traumatized and hurting and secure, then the next layer as well, how can we help each other overcome. And, again, I am of the understanding that the research is out there to say that there is a definite connection between how we think, and how we live, how we identify, and how we live. I don't know if it's enough necessarily to say that, you know, maybe some of the theists mantras about, we are what we think or whatever, I don't know if that is perfectly true or not.
But there's definitely a connection between how we see the world; I do believe that we find what we go looking for, you know, so if you're if you're wounded, and your wound might be justified, and your wounds really happened to you, and it's legitimate, but you constantly live the rest of your life from a position of waiting to be wounded again, you absolutely will be over and over and over and over.
I think there's a lot of truth, and we find what we're looking for. I say that often to people when they're reading the Bible, like if you want to find a hateful, angry God that despises humans, you can find it, you just read the right verses, and you'll find a version of God that doesn't look like Jesus. But if you want to find a different version, as well, you know, of a loving, compassionate, kind, welcoming, inclusive, divine being, you'll find that too. And there's a lot of things in between there. I'm curious, because your perspective is different than anyone that I've ever spoken to, so from what I understand, like you've sat face to face with people of different cultures, different religions, different, I mean, different everything. And so what are some of the biggest misconceptions that someone like me here in Central Virginia, or in LA, or in Denver, wherever; have of the the culture and the posture of, you know, people in Syria and people in Iraq, and Iran and everywhere else like, what what are some of the misconceptions that keep us back from actually having an honest dialogue with them?
I'll say it this way, people are more than we think they are, always. Whatever thing is conjured up in our minds, when we say Iranian, Iranians are much more than that. Whatever thing you might think when you hear the word Muslim, Muslims at large are definitely more than that white evangelical, white evangelicals are more than that, you know, so on and so forth. So I think it's just helpful to keep that as a principle in our life, when we're making generalizations.
Generalizations are useful to a degree, we all need boxes to sort the world into and make meaning of things. But when we start to over identify others by the labels that we put on them, when we reduce people to just a handful of labels that we put on them, things start to go awry.
So it's helpful, like traveling the world, sitting with people broadening your, your network and your set of relationships, or not traveling the world. I guess, traveling the world is a bit of a metaphor now. I mean, I still think there are unique things that you can experience by going to other liberal countries where that's the predominating culture, or the predominating religion or politics, but you can also leave home in some very significant ways in your car, just an hour from where you know, any of us live. And I think those can be profoundly important, significant experiences. But it's important that we do so under the rubric of believing that people are more than we think they are.
And if we allow people to become more colorful, more three dimensional, more fully orbed in our minds, I think we will, will get the more beautiful world that many of us claim to want but don't quite seem to know how to access.
I want to make sure I ask this question, right? Because I don't want to be it won't be offensive. I just want to share it's said correctly. So I think I can guess at what half of the church would think of the way that Preemptive Love is trying to minister to people. Because it seems antithetical to the way that our government tries to do anything with be like we just flex power, and you're trying to flex action as opposed to bullets. Is that a mischaracterization or is that close?
Yeah, I think we're definitely about action.
I'll let you make the comments about the government.
(laughter) That's fair, I’m happy too
And I'll just say…We think we think in terms of peace through action.
Yes. So how have other communities you know, as you're living in Iraq, or whatever, how other faith communities like how have you been able to partner with them? If you've been able to, like, how have you been able to sit with, you know, with sheiks, and with Muslims, and with Imams and with other, I have to think that those aren't the only religion there. There must also be Buddhists and Sikhs and everything else as well. So how have you found a channel? I don't feel like there's a chasm. I think that that's made up because I've found from doing this, most people of other religions are entirely excited to talk with somebody and do things with other people. If it is changing the world and not in a real like transactional way. But in a real, I'm changed in your change. And so my kids are changed, which will change things for generations, like, how have you partnered or been successful partnering? How did you form those partnerships if so, with the people there locally?
Well, let me go back to the how, through a lot of mistakes through a lot of arrogance through a lot of trial and error, mostly error is what propelled us to the next thing that actually ends up working. I came in extremely arrogant I came in really hot to the Middle East, I think in ways that I would never said at the time, but I now say I now believe I was actually some kind of agent in the war on terror. I was recruited in some ways into the war on terror.
Recruited by whom?
Uhhh, by the church. I think the church was as much a part of the conversation about the war on terror as the government or the CIA or Homeland Security was. We couched it in terms of loving others, serving others, missions, but because of the American environment. evangelism has has been in particularly in that time was so tied up with a seeking for power and control of the government that government functions and government messaging was also pulpit messaging and preaching. And, you know, in the aftermath of September 11th, when our collective psyche was extremely vulnerable and wounded, it wasn't just the World Trade Center, that got attacked, it wasn't just the Pentagon that got attacked, it was essentially the American religion, they got attacked, it was, it was like the destruction of the Jewish temple, after which nothing was ever the same.
Our Temple was destroyed. And if you come after our temple, and you come after our white capitalist evangelical American God, then the only response for a tribalistic government religion is to fight back. And so I think a lot of what we were doing in our early response, and I cover this in the book was a weird admixture of religion and nationalism.
And so I brought that angst, I brought that energy, I brought that arrogance, I brought that dominating spirit of the war on terror and a kind of Christian supremacist worldview into the Middle East at a time, where they were rightly, very scared of people like me, and Americans and Christian Jihad or Christian crusades, you know.
So I made a lot of mistakes. I wounded a lot of people with my words, and my aggressiveness and my sort of absolutist approach to how to talk about faith and how to engage culture. And I just, I just brought all that arrogance with me, and I hurt people that I really loved. I hurt friendships that I really hoped would endure for a while and that changed me, you know. Losing people changed me getting locked out of the room changed me, having people not return, my phone calls anymore, changed me. Because I had just been so arrogant and made people into projects and reduced people to just their religion and reduce people to just notches in my belt that I could try to accrue. All that changed me. So I could say more positive things. And I'm happy to in a minute. But I want to start with the error side of things and say, we became who we are, we became these kinds of people who are more inclusive. And this kind of unfolding that I talked about, we did it through, I did it through great arrogance and error.
Let's talk about then how you partner with like, as you move through that arrogance, I hear a lot of truth in that as well. I have found more recently that I am still entirely arrogant. And I'm realizing that where I'm at in my faith is not the same that I was 10 years ago. And it's not a realistic expectation to expect anyone else to have done any of the work that I've done. And it's also not realistic to assume that the work that I've done has always been beneficial, either. I may still misunderstand something and I need to be willing to go, “Oh, I think I'm wrong here”. Which I know the past versions of me I was never wrong. “Of course I'm right you Jeremy, you know, you're wrong. You just don't know you're wrong. But let me tell why you're wrong”. So how then did you take what you've learned? And what are some of the practical things that you've done, because my goal here is maybe somebody is listening. And they've been afraid to walk over to this Imam or this mosque, or they've been afraid to walk over somewhere else, and figure out how we can partner locally. Because like it or not, you know, the demographics of America is shifting very quickly. They won't stop shifting because that stuff happens exponentially, because people like to have babies present company included, so it won't get any better.
And I think it was past guests a few weeks ago. You know, I asked Brad Jersak something similar. And he's like, you know, we need to figure out how to treat other people that we disagree with better because their children will be the ones taking care of us. And they have long memories. They will remember how they were treated as children getting back to you're talking about childhood trauma earlier. So what have you done practically there locally, that has bridged partnerships with other faiths and with other circles have not influenced but circles of impact?
I think it's helpful for me to just remind people that I got on a plane and I moved into another environment. My first country that I landed in Turkey, I landed in with all that arrogance that I was talking about before, that I had a profound spiritual waking up experience that I talked about in the book that essentially launched us into a new era I left behind the arrogance, it wasn't really a conscious thing wasn't really a decision. In many ways. It happened to me, I fell into another way of being I I literally saw the light heard the voice, everything changed in ways that spiritually speaking or theologically speaking, I didn't believe could happen. I didn't believe that stuff happened anymore. And something happened to me from deep inside my psyche, or from externally, God above I don't know, but something happened and I changed, which then catapulted us into this next era.
We moved to Iraq, we left behind a lot of what we were doing in the past, we're we're definitely not a part of the war on terror kind of approach to life anymore. And I started a new way of being. And I guess the point I want to highlight here as step number one is I left home, even though I left home messily, even though I left home with arrogance. I suspect that something about that spiritual awakening still only happened because I left home. And a lot of us want the change. And we claim we want the all new world of some variety or another. But we don't want to leave home.
And you can take that any way you want. Like, we don't want to literally leave the neighborhood we live in, we don't want to literally leave the house that we're halfway on our mortgage on, we don't want to leave our city, we don't want to leave our family where we are kind of alongside the grandparents. All that's understandable and valid. It's isn't about shaming or right or wrong. But there's just something about that leaving home that allows us to change. And if if we utterly refuse to leave home, refused to leave our faith refused to leave our church refused to relinquish anything.
That's cool. There's a lot of people who live that way. And like that's most of us. But you don't get extra ordinary results, you don't get results that are out of the ordinary, if you don't do something that's out of the ordinary. And so I think we should just be mindful of that, whichever way any of us choose to go, I'm not here to shame or say one things better than another necessarily. But I think sometimes we carry a lot of us, because like social activist or social influencers, or missionaries or you know, charity types get brought on these podcasts, it can create an environment where it's like, “Oh, I wish my life was more like that I should have something epic going on”.
So we carry a kind of shame with us. Even though we know we're probably never going to leave home, like we're never going to do the step that would lead us to that sort of thing. And it actually creates an environment of shame. And I'd rather just remove the environment of shame and say, Look, if you don't want to leave home, and you don't want to relinquish your control on the way things are, I'm not here to say that's bad at all, we need people to hold it down. But just like maybe give up on the idea that you're supposed to have some like drastically different life as well, because you're probably surrounded by people who look a lot like you. And so like maybe don't live with all the shame that you need to have this super diverse life, if you're not willing to take that first step that would lead you to a much more diverse life.
I like that. And I like it for a couple reasons. I used this metaphor yesterday. So when I was playing football in high school, we had a coach that drew two big circles on the blackboard and in a small circle was all of our plays. And then in larger Circle was effectively here's where the magic happens. So like sometimes we have to break out of the mold and do some I'm saying, but that does not mean that someone that can't leave home or won't leave home, or doesn't have the means to leave home, or entirely fearful of leaving home, that they don't have a purpose to serve in a role of someone that's doing what you do.
Because you need people to pay for it. You need people to, here, I'll break this down a different way. Like, there is no way to do refugee like after an earthquake type of support without an organization like an institutional church or the Red Cross or something like that. But there's also no way to administer it without people actually leaving, and doing work doing things with that. So there's a case for both places. But I like the shame part. Like if you can't do it, just figure out what you can do instead, and do that like how to come alongside at work. Because everybody has a voice, I find people are unwilling to use it for fear of being shunned.
I want to talk a bit about war. And then children is there. And I say this because I'm aware that the Bible is written primarily to refugees and the oppressed people of whatever the superpower happens to be at the day, you know, Babylon, Assyria, you know, Israel, and when Rome is oppressing that, like there's always the oppressed people that the Bible is written to, but we tend to take it the other way of, we're blessed by God. And so we get to now do what we want to do, because of course, we're God's chosen people, when really it's always the migrant, the immigrant, the downtrodden. So is there a case at all for a nation to ever go to war? Like, is there a justifiable reason to do so? Or can we actually solve things just through love and that type of mediation? Like, with your experience, Is there ever a reason to hold that posture?
I want to avoid anything I'm about to say, from being seen as like a Christian case for…. or whatever, that's not, that's not the voice with which I'm trying to speak right now. Or, you know, even a Preemptive Love case for. I think institutions of various kinds, ranging from the marriage as an institution, if you want to see it that way, partnership, or whatever, to the family, you it to the clan, to the tribe, to the government, to the UN international inter coalition type things.
I think the institution should, they all have different roles. And they all mean to protect and serve different people in different ways at different times, at different threat levels, you know. At threat level, red, there are different responses that, that any one of us would probably want from the institution that is meant to organize us or protect us, than we would expect that threat level green. So I think massively sweeping statements that like a country should never go to war, it, I don't find it to be that helpful. I am generally pacifistic, and that's pacifist with a C, not an S. It means to pacify, to mollify to try and you know, bring the temperature down to reckon style to bring about a piece without doing violent harm to one another.
I am generally diplomatic, and that way I look first, middle, and last, hopefully to diplomatic solutions. How can we each get what we want somehow and what do we each need to give up so that we can get there and not destroy each other. But a general approach called pacifying may not always work. I mean, when you when you've got a terrorist organization, like ISIS barreling down the highway slaughtering people everywhere they go, when there's literally no one to negotiate with, when there's apparently no interlocutor who could broker peace with whom diplomatic negotiations could be pursued a group that cannot be trusted to deal in good faith. A group that doesn't represent some kind of principle of nationalist sovereignty. Groups like that present real challenges to some of our ideals and our values that we might otherwise wish to see upheld. I just want to be sober minded about that, because it's been my friends and my family who have, and I say that with a grain of salt, you know, we have been at risk, and we have friends, good close friends, who have lost utterly and absolutely everything, everything to this kind of environment.
This kind of situation and groups like ISIS. So do I believe that it is completely ever only always disallowed for a government to use force to stop the slaughter of thousands? No, I don't. I don't think that's helpful. Do I think we probably use force to freely…to quickly? Do I think we use forceful rhetoric in ways that actually makes real diplomacy almost impossible? Yeah, I think lot of our foreign policy is a mess and a disaster. But I would not go so far as to say that, you know, force or violence should 100% be disallowed.
I'm always thinking, what can I do better so that my kids have a church to be a part of and five decades, because I'm genuinely fearful for that? And I asked that question a lot. And I get a lot of different answers, because everybody comes from a different lens and a different bias. How has raising children in a country not around, but mixed with and blended with, you know, the culture that you bring with you, as well as the culture there? Like, how is being a father in that environment, changing the way that you parent? And then what could other parents listening take to their children to be like, here's some things that we can try. And when we're explaining, you know, scenarios, when we're talking about fear of others, we're talking about bullying or when we're talking about, and I'll tell you why. Because one thing I'm afraid of is my son is extremely logical. And so if I give him something, he'll take that, and he'll just shift who's being targeted. So if it was this thing being targeted, the other aspect of it becomes the goal of targeting that there's no nuance in between. And I don't know if I'm explaining that well.
But like, if I'm talking about like, Don't fear, homosexuality, then everybody that does is now the enemy, when really, that's not what I'm trying to tell you. I'm not telling you that I'm telling you to lead by example. But how is raising children in a different culture but mixed with yours? Because I think it must be I don't know how you turn that off? How is that changing the way you parent?
I guess, in a way, it comes back to that principle of leaving home. These are not ideas for us their relationships. So where once in a way we came from an environment where Muslims were sort of the ultimate other. Where the word itself was all but equated with terrorism, or terrorist. That's not how my kids have been raised. That's not what my kids know to be true. Muslims are aunt or uncle, are neighbor, are great, great cooks are really fun friends, are coworkers, you know, like, that's what Muslim means to my kids. I couldn't get my kids to think Muslim means terrorist for anything like that would that would take some massive reprogramming at this point. For my kids to come to believe that Muslim means terrorist, it would take some massive reprogramming for my kids to come to believe that queer means deviant like that, that would, that's not how they know and experience the world.
Even though that's how I grew up knowing and experiencing the world. So I think relationship, I think it comes back to the year we've we've, we have an opportunity, I'll just keep calling it an invitation.
There's an invitation in front of us if we want to take it to educate our kids, relational Lee, I know a lot of us deeply want to educate our kids in a principled way. We want to be able to talk to them about values, and we want to use our dinner table time to instill values and principles. But that can only get us so far. What will take us to a deeper, more resilient place is relationship where you're not essentially preaching at your kids or rationalizing with our kids. But we're just experiencing life with our LGBTQ friends, and our Muslim friends, and our Buddhist friends, and our black friends, or our white friends or, you know, our migrant undocumented friends.
When those become the warping wolf of our life, then we won't have to preach the principles. We won't have to run nationalize, because they will just know.
So I want to end with this point people to what you're doing. How do people partner because I want to revisit what I said the beginning, like, I'll be honest, I was entirely off the radar with Preemptive Love Coalition even existed, like I wasn't familiar with it until I forget who it was reached out and said, Hey, what do you think about chat with Jeremy, and the more that I researched, the more that I feel guilty that I wasn't.
And so I'd like other people to kind of know, like, how can others that can't leave, won't leave, but want to do something? How can they partner, you know, maybe at a local place within the United States, and then also with other organizations like yourself, point people in the right direction? And where can they find the book as it comes out? I believe in September the 26, September 26?
Dang it. I was guessing was so close.
Get two days early.
Yeah, yeah, sure. pre order on Amazon, you probably will get the Kindle version or the Why not? Where would you point people to partner with people like yourself that are doing work that matters? Because I genuinely really think the work that you're doing does matter? I can't say that strongly enough. So where would you point people to?
Well, I appreciate that.
Yeah, let me just reiterate a couple things:
The organization is called Preemptive Love. You know, in the middle of living through these wars, and these uprisings with ISIS and things like that, our work has become largely about providing emergency relief to people who are fleeing conflict, and helping provide jobs, businesses, to help communities rebound and be resilient to fend off violence and war. And then the deeper ethos that runs through everything we do is what you might call peacemaking or reconciliation work or how do we change the ideas that lead to war and help bring people back to each other?
It got really scary there at times where I didn't want to love anymore, that the preemptive love idea is born of this idea that like what if we love first and ask questions later, it was full of like youthful optimism and zeal. And then the wheels came off the bus and like, I didn't want to love anymore. And this beautiful friend and person in my life spoke up and said, “I think we need to press in and love anyway”.
And so this idea of like loving anyway, has become the dominating theme of my life and our work. The book is called Love Anyway. And it's all about acknowledging that, yes, sometimes this stuff can be scary as hell. yes, we have these things that are truly different between us that are driving us apart. But without surrendering, in the first step, who we are and how we know ourselves to be, we can press in toward one another, we can press into the front lines, we can press in toward the things that we don't understand. And we can work together to heal what's tearing us apart on the front lines where we live. You know, in Virginia, in Los Angeles, this this isn't about when I say leave home, it's not about getting on a plane and going to a rack. It's about leaving the familiar, it's about the circles your coach drew on the board, it's where the magic happens. So if we want to do more than rationalize with our kids over the dinner table, if we want to do more than, you know, take a principled approach to education, but a more experiential, relational approach. We are building and have built those tools for you, we we have what's called the love anyway, gathering.
Love anyway gathering is meant to be a new kind of community in your neighborhood. So if this is all interesting to you, and you want to help us end war, you want to stop the next war before it starts. It's going to start over economics, it's going to start over partisanship, it's going to start over ethnicity, resources, religion, these are the things that we use to tear each other apart. And so love anyway, gathering is about saying, why don't you grab someone in your life, it's going to take risk, but take a little bit of risk to walk across the office, or to walk across the street and go to that neighbor who's a little bit different than you. You’re left they are, right, you're up they are down, you're in they are out, you know, whatever. And and take that next step and say, Look, I want to build a more robust community, I want to build a more robust neighborhood, I know you probably want that too. I want to be a part of healing what's tearing us apart, I heard about this thing called love anyway, gathering where people who are different, try to bring their crew together to just listen and learn from each other. Because most of us are kind of like isolating ourselves in our own echo chambers. But what if we took the leading edge here to make a more robust neighborhood, and we loved anyway. So you hold on to your beliefs, I'll hold on to my beliefs, but we're mostly going to work to come together and listen and learn and love each other anyway, without trying to convert each other, you know.
So these are happening all over the US Canada, we're growing it out across the world right now it has as much applicability on the Korean peninsula as it has in Indonesia, Middle East, and across the US. Our conflicts are the same, you know, our conflicts are all essentially rooted in the same kind of stuff and fears of scarcity and all that. So if this idea if sort of the heart of what we've been talking about today is interesting love anyway gathering would be one of the coolest things that I think you could get involved in healing with tearing us apart on the front lines where you live before the next war starts you can find out more about that on our website preemptive love.org love any way.com is is also another URL that will work for that love anyway calm you can find out more about the book will be launching all of this at a you know bigger level. When when the book and we got an associated film with it, and all this stuff is coming out on September 24. So September 24 is a big launch day for us. September 24 will have a film called love anyway come out the book will land in your Kindle or on your doorstep from Amazon, you know, all that Love Anyway.
Yeah, I didn't know about the film. I saw a film referenced somewhere. I couldn't find it.
No, it's not out yet.
Well that make sense then. Thank you again, for coming on, Jeremy. I've enjoyed the conversation. And again, I enjoy what you're doing. Keep doing it. Even when it sucks. I'm sure there are days that it is sucks. So keep doing it man. I appreciate you coming on.
Thanks. Appreciate it.
This planet seems to be, the people that live on it seems to have the intention of pitting side A against side B; having side C watch waiting to see who's the weakest person society you can come in and win at all.
And then start all over and over and over again. pitting fear, and apathy, and anger and lack of motivation. And finger pointing and unlovingness. A character to that is not represent any god. Period. That seems to be the world that we live in. And I truly believe conversations like what just happened? Conversations like that should happen with those in our communities that we don't intentionally engage with. And I've done more digging since talking with Jeremy, he's doing some great work.
So I cannot encourage you enough go out and get a copy of this book. It's fantastic. But dive into some of his work. The world needs people that don't go I think Jeremy's right. Not everybody can up and leave. Not everybody is equipped to do that. And that's fine. Find what you're equipped to do. And do it. Just go and do something. Wonder what would happen.
Special thanks to The Collection for their music. In today's episode, you'll find their music listed in the show notes and added to the Spotify playlist, which also has been converted into an apple music playlist as well. I have no idea how to get that because I don't use Apple Music. But if you do, I have a feeling you'll find out. I cannot wait to talk to you next week. And then after that I'm terrified but we'll figure that out together. Thanks for being here. Be blessed. Talk to you soon.