Thursday, March 12, 2009
Jason Berggren turns negative tension into positive momentum
Can Anything Good Come From Hate?
A recent article in Britain’s Telegraph brought international attention to a decision by Oxford University Press to remove certain terms associated with Christianity (i.e. disciple, abbey) from a popular children’s dictionary, replacing them with modern words like “MP3 player” and “blog.” In short order, this story has become fodder for the blogosphere, and it’s not hard to see why. After all, our understanding of the world and of ourselves is formed, in the most foundational sense, by our vocabulary. Words are powerful. Words are important.
Author Jason T. Berggren is among the many who have spoken out against the attempt to expunge Christian words from the new lexicon. And so it comes as a surprise to many that his first book release is entitled 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, with his website similarly dubbed http://www.10thingsihate.com/. How could a Christian author—and former pastor, no less—use such derisive language to describe his faith?
Choosing the right word has always been important to Berggren. As the founder, former front man, and lyricist for the hardcore Christian band Strongarm, he developed a knack for turning memorable phrases. Strongarm is considered by many in the hardcore Christian music community to be one of the most influential bands in the history of that genre, based in large part on the power of Berggren’s verbal style.
His rocker/poet days behind him, Berggren now traffics in prose, with recent freelance credits including an article for Engage, a newsletter for North Point Community Church leaders. As an author, Berggren is convinced that the right words—even negative words—can bring about positive change. 10 Things I Hate About Christianity is based on his realization that all of the problems in his Christian life originated from a relatively short list of issues and misunderstandings. The book is completely free of pretense, church-speak, and even the basic niceties one would expect from a work on Christian living. Berggren’s goal is to get readers talking about some of the biggest let-downs in Christendom—whether it’s faith that doesn’t deliver, love that doesn’t come easy, or churches you’d rather avoid—and to see them rise above their frustrations.
His website, http://www.10thingsihate.com/, will be the main site for the book once it releases, featuring ordering and booking information and a free sample of the book, as well as the link to Berggren’s blog. The blog (http://www.morethingsihate.com/) is the perfect place for believers, seekers, and skeptics to engage in the kinds of discussions that fill the pages of Berggren’s book. Featuring everything from the latest non-chick movie trailers to laugh-out-loud personal reflections to commentary on current events, Berggren describes the blog as “the ongoing version of the book.” Recent posts include “Sometimes I Hate Christians,” “I Hate the Green Bible,” and “I Hate the Media.”
Berggren firmly believes that positive momentum begins with negative tension. This often requires plumbing the depths of difficult issues, both for him and his readers. As such, Berggren expects to offend some people—but he considers this to be merely a step in the process of maturing in faith. “I have worked in construction off-and-on for years. The first thing you do before you remodel is demolition. If you ever watch HGTV, you know this to be true,” Berggren states. “You tear down walls and break up old cabinets to make way for the new. That’s what this book and this website are about. I am simply trying to change into the person I want to be and inviting you to join me in the process.”
While his fledgling writing career begins to take flight, Berggren also runs a handyman business to provide for his family. He and his wife have been married since 1999. The couple has three boys and attends North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, where they lead a small group.