Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Methodist Blogger Profile: Brian Vinson

Brian Vinson of Your Brother, The Thief

Though I blog under the name “the Thief” it’s not to be anonymous – that would be silly, as my blog address has my real name in it. I’m Brian Vinson, I am married to Tara, and we have two sons, Jonathan and Andrew (ages 3 and 1). I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana and I have lived in Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio. I have degrees from Northwestern University and Asbury Theological Seminary. Though I was ordained in the Christian Church (at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY, I am now an Elder in the West Ohio Conference of the UMC. I currently serve in the Northwest Plains District – in the NW corner of the state, where I live in New Knoxville, a bodaciously small town. I serve the New Knoxville UMC and help coach soccer at the local high school.

Why do you blog?
I have all sorts of reasons for blogging – I’m a verbal processor and sometimes I just need to get something out so I can think more about it. It used to be for complaining, but I’ve become a little more careful about what I post. Also, because I live so far from my family and friends, it’s also a way for me to keep them updated on what’s going on. Plus I’ve always liked the idea of keeping a journal, but I’m such a non-private person that I actually like that people read mine.

What has been your best blogging experience?
Meeting people. I was at our West Ohio clergy session in Columbus and all of a sudden I heard someone shout, “Thief!” It was Bryan Bucher, of From Bryan’s Office, and though I already considered him a friend (I’d been reading his blog for a while), that was the first time we’d met face to face.

What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Don’t worry about how many comments you get or how many hits your blog gets. Just write about whatever you want to write about; it’s your blog!

If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be?
I read my blogs on Google Reader, so it doesn’t take me long, and a couple of my favorite bloggers don’t blog enough to need to read them every day (“Grace Makes Beauty” -, my brother’s excellent blog “Confederacy of a Dunce” and my sister’s “Call it What You Want” ), but the ones I read as fast as I can anyway are “From Bryan’s Office” (a fellow West Ohio UMC pastor), “Perry Noble dot com” (pastor of NewSpring Church), and the “Wittenburg Blog” - the blogging arm of the Wittenburg Door Magazine.

Who are your spiritual heroes?
Philip Yancey – I love the way he can express the things I was thinking about. Henri Nouwen – he lived the struggle and his book The Return of the Prodigal Son completely captivated me. Chris Kiesling – he was the one of my seminary professors who seemed to take a real interest in me – not only in my academic progress, but in my soul.

What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished Erwin Raphael McManus’ An Unstoppable Force, and I thought it was one of the most important books I’ve read. I’m also trying to work my way through C.D.F. Moule'’ The Birth of the New Testament, which is, well, a bit scholarly for pleasure reading. I, of course, mean that in the best possible way.

What is your favorite hymn and why?
How Great is Our God, by Chris Tomlin might be my favorite hymn. I like a lot of the new hymns that have been composed in the last ten years – since Christian songwriters started to write theologically significant songs again.

Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?
I used to be an absolute literalist when it came to reading the Bible, but I’ve come to understand that the Bible is a compilation of all sorts of genres of literature, and some literature (poetry, for example) was never meant to be read as a scientific statement.

What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Relativism – either all roads lead to God, or Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through him. It can’t be both.

If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
Party politics. It isn’t about representative democracy anymore – it’s about marching to the party drum. The hatred that I see spewed from right to left and left to right disgusts me, but a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. And a politician who doesn’t march the party cadence gets blackballed pretty quickly. I can’t count, so I’ll add that the way lobby money buys candidates (and/or adds pork to bills) is pretty disgusting as well.
If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
Does I have to keep it to one? If so, I’d eliminate guaranteed appointments. (By the way, I’d also eliminate the life-long episcopal appointments while I was at it).

What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Don’t take yourself so seriously!

What, if anything, do you worry about?
I worry about failure.

If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
Yes. I would have lived out my faith more openly and more boldly in high school and when I started in college. There were too many people in those years I could have affected for Christ that I missed out on.

Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
That “other than where you do now” pretty well sums it up, wouldn’t you say? My wife and I wanted to move to St. George, Utah. It’s got to be the ultimate place for a backpacker/hiker to live. There are so many places I want to visit, but I don’t know that I want to live there. All I ask for is some pick-up soccer and some places for my wife to play violin. Is that too much to ask?

What do you like doing in your spare time?
If you’re talking about spare time as in “when I’m not at work” then I’m either coaching soccer (I’m the Varsity Assistant soccer coach for the local high school team) or I’m spending time with my family – which I try to do exclusively on my day off. We go to the park or to a zoo or the Boonshoft Discovery Museum in Dayton. The problem is that there’s not much to do in the corner of Ohio where I live, so we have to drive a long way... If you’re talking about “me-time”, I play soccer weekly, I play basketball at noon with some guys who are not from my church, and I go running – I had a life goal of running a marathon, which I accomplished last October and again this past April – but you can’t train for a marathon until you’ve forgotten the last one, and I haven’t forgotten that last one yet.

What is your most treasured possession?
I’m really not too into “stuff” but some things I considered saying were my wedding ring (the only jewelry I’ve worn consistently since I lost the earrings), my soccer ball (but I can play with a different one and it doesn’t matter), my Palm Pilot (which I’ve had since 2001), but it comes down as a toss-up between my guitar (Fender Stratocaster American Deluxe) and my blanket (I sleep with the same blanket every night and have for the past, oh, 15 years or so. I take it everywhere – if I’m going to stay over night, I bring my blanket).

What talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be a great listener.

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner, who would they be?
Philip Yancey, because he asks great questions, Michael Pritzl (frontman for the Violet Burning), because he’s the most unpretentious rock-n-roll star I’ve ever met, and Pelé, because he’s the all-time king of soccer.

1 comment:

Rudy said...

Well, I am not to sure what I feel about my leader having a "Blanky" but I'll do my best.

As far as playing futbol I would say, "Tis a grand usage of moments granted from above." And I would add watching EPL as equally beneficial to the soul. However, it does rouse the emotions enough to endanger youngsters who would not be familiar with colloquialisms normally heard in college dorms.