We all know that Frank's readers come by here to read Frank's take on those things which interest us. Well, now that Frank's gone (we assume, unless this is some diabolical sidekick loyalty test!?), how about we just sit around and talk about Frank? Yeah, that's no good.
In lieu of that, I submit a bloggerview I had with Frank last New Year's Eve that was posted at Reflections (for those that haven't read it):
December 31, 2005
Reflections Bloggerview: Frank "centuri0n" Turk
I have no doubt that most of my readers here, are at the very least, aware of who Frank "centuri0n" Turk is, if not regular readers of his blog. When I started doing these bloggerviews, I thought it might be fun to pose key questions to certain bloggers, maybe even questions on issues they haven't addressed on their own blogs yet! With that in mind, welcome to the next installment of Reflections Bloggerview: "centuri0n"
Carla: Who is your personal hero & why is he/she so special to you?
Frank: There's a man in Syracuse, NY, by the name of Bruce Aubrey. He's the pastor who baptized me and made me realize that being a Christian is not just about admitting out loud that Jesus is right and you are wrong. He has a wife, a family, a growing church, and a love for God that you just can't beat.About 2 yrs after I was baptized, I got promoted at my job and had to move. My new position was about 4 hrs away from that church, and my wife and I were having a devil of a time finding a church that was alive and preaching the word. After a couple of months like that, I got a phone call from Bruce asking me how things were, and I told him, and he started making a trip out to have lunch with me once a month until we found a church that became our home church - a process that took about a year. Bruce never said, "listen: you have to find a church and stay grounded in the word, and until you do I'm going to check up on you and make sure you don't fall off the apple cart." He just did it. And he did it in such a way that it was obviously out of love for Jesus, His church, and me and my wife.That's what it's all about, and anyone would be blessed beyond measure to have a pastor like Bruce. I think he'd take issue with being listed as a "hero", but he's living the life. One of the things Paul says over and over in his letters is, "if you want to know how to live your life, use me as an example." Bruce can say that without any pride or shame, and I think that's the definition of being a hero.
Carla: How would you define "orthodoxy" as it pertains to the Christian faith?
Frank: Well, no softballs, Carla. That question is why I started blogging in the first place. Orthodoxy starts with the Gospel itself - that's why I have 1Cor15:1-4 listed and hyperlinked at the top of my sidebar. If you properly define the Gospel, you have God's idea about what's important. For example, in 1Cor 15:3, Paul says, "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" - well, who is "us" ("our" is the possessive of "us")? When you know who "us" is, it turns out that "us" are not just receivers of a gift and it's vacation time: "us" has received a gift which in turn places a responsibility on us to demonstrate we have that gift. So for example, "us" are "believers"; "us" are all baptized; "us" are in fellowship with other believers; "us" are repentant; "us" are in prayer; "us" are doing good works; etc.This definition of "us" is the whole practical matter of our faith, but it is not just some kind of pragmatic issue. It is a result of a right understanding of who God is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He intends to do. I have also blogged (once) on an ancient and somewhat-anonymous Epistle to Diogentus, which was penned some time before 200 AD. If you take the time to read that letter, it is striking in the way that what the Christians believe is related directly to, without any Rube Goldberg explanation, how they live, what they do.
That's what Orthodoxy is: a total package of belief and action that distinguishes Christianity from everything else in order to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.
Carla: Your position in a Christian retail business gives you a unique perspective to notice key trends (programs, books, marketing, etc.) that affect Christian thought. If you had to name one trend, or fad that seems to have taken off the most, which would that be?
Frank: Well, to clarify, my "position" in Christian retail is really just participation. I'm an upper-middle manager in a Christian publishing company (which prefers I not use them as an example of anything; because I like getting paid I will oblige), and I'm the owner of a successful Christian bookstore in a market area of about 40,000 people. I'm sure I don't set any trends.
For better or worse, I'm going to answer your question the long way around. I got into Christian retail in part because I felt gifted and called, but in part because Christian retail makes me sick. Most non-chain Christian retail looks like is it run by very nice, ministry-minded people who think that the ideal setting for Christian retail is a flea-market or pawn-shop type environment; most chain CBA retail looks like it is run by somewhat-cynical second-rate retail executives who think that orthodoxy is not their business. When I got into the business, I thought that if we couldn't be a city on a hill, we could at least be a voice crying out in the wilderness.
One of the great lessons I learned (or rather, re-learned, because I knew this when I worked for the WAL*MART in another life) is that while 50% of the problem in any retail car wreck is the retailer's fault, the other 50% is the customer's doing. The matter of whether your store looks like a flea market or a pawn shop (disorganized; rarely cleaned; third-rate fixtures; lousy inventory control; tons of old inventory; dark; etc.) is your fault, and it's going to define what kind of customers you get. But even if you have the sense to control all that and your shop looks like Barnes & Noble, you can only sell what people are going to buy - and you have to sell what people are buying because you can't take a collection at the end of the month to cover the rent and the lights.
Carla, I am sure you and I know a lot of people who are disappointed by what they find at their local Christian bookstore. But you know what? That's the stuff that sells. Let me be very clear what I mean by that:
• That's the stuff 90% of Christian shoppers are looking for
• That's the stuff pastors and preachers are recommending
• That's the stuff people are using for spiritual reference
So the major trend I see in Christian retail is a kind of perpetual dumbing-down of the Christian life. It's horribly ironic - we have at our disposal extraordinarily-powerful means of delivering any message we want, especially when we compare it with first-century means, and rather than people lining up for Mahaney and Sproul and MacArthur and Piper, they are killing themselves for Lucado, Osteen, Warren and Joyce Meyers. In the end, it may not be so ironic since it is in our weakness that God is strong - maybe Christian retail turns out to be a man-centered religion of works as opposed to faith.
Carla: What has been your greatest joy in life, so far?
Frank: [snark for the fans]I have no joy. I am a dour Calvinist who wants to suck the joy out of all the lives I come in contact with.[/snark](editorial: I'm sorry Frank, that job is already taken by ME, you'll have to apply elsewhere!)
Leaving atheism in 1991 was a joy; finding my wife was a joy; growing with her in Christ is a joy; raising my kids is a joy. Not to be a smarmy greeting card, but today is a joy. Being able to be grateful even in hard times is a joy.
Carla: What would be the number one thing you'd like people to think of, when your name, or your blog, is mentioned?
Frank: For the non-believers who wander through my blog, I want them to be completely rattled by it. I want them to see true Christianity, which, as they say, is not actually a very tame Christianity. Christianity is not a bacchanalian frenzy, but it is not a passive, stoic, theoretical thing. For the believers, I want them to think about things they aren't thinking about, and to start doing things they didn't think they could do. So "the number one thing I'd like people to think of" in reference to me is "radical Christian message".
Carla: What’s the one thing that might surprise people about you?
Frank: This is not a joke. I was a cheerleader in an all-boy's Catholic High School.
Carla: If you could only have 5 links on your blog, which links would they be, and why?
Frank: That's a somewhat-unfair question because I have so many links and someone (Challies) is bound to get his nose out of joint.
In no particular order:
http://www.aomin.org/ -- because James White is smart enough to be able to make you feel stupid, and loves Jesus enough not to.
http://www.dougwils.com/ - because someone has to keep an eye on Doug Wilson ...
triablogue.blogspot.com - because Steve Hays is the man, and in 2006 he is going to have both Jonathan Felt and Gene Bridges as sidekicks. Did you know he is about to publish a 500-page e-book refuting atheist arguments against the resurrection? I'm trying to write a review/recommendation for it that does it justice.
PyroManiac - Phil's a great blogger because he has a conversational style and, unlike me, he can stay on-topic. Some day he is either going to just blog and stop worrying about how many posts he makes a week, or he's going to quit because it's too distracting. I hope it's not the latter.
A blog aggregator for Calvinst Gadfly, Brad Williams, Daniel @ http://doulogos.blogspot.com/, Eric Vestrup (to whom I owe a phone call - I'm such a lousy friend), Kerry @ http://theologicallycorrect.com/webmaster/blogs/, and of course my sidekicks JIBBS and Gummby.
And I would sneak links to Kim and Carla in when no one was looking. :)(awww, how very kind of Frank to mention myself and Kim!)
In closing, I’d like to thank Frank “cent” for agreeing to do this interview, and sharing his views. I really enjoyed reading Frank’s answers to these random questions. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. (I will refrain from making any comment about the cheerleading thing – I’ll leave that with the readers).
Be sure to read the initial comments here, as well.