Hi Catalyst Community!
My name is JR. Forasteros – welcome to my blog! Jonathan and I worked to put this page together to help you get to know my wife Amanda and me before we visit on Sunday, August 10. Amanda and I are excited at the possibility that you’ll extend an invitation to us to join the Catalyst Community. We’re inspired and excited by your vision to reach those in the Rowlett community who are far from God, and we’re prayerfully preparing for our week with you.
But you’d probably like to know a bit about us, so here we go!
Amanda and I have been married for 5 years. We both grew up in Missouri – she’s from St. Louis and I’m from Kansas City. We met in Columbia (about half-way between) at the University of Missouri (so yes, that means we’re both still getting used to the SEC). Our last name is Spanish for “stranger” or “outsider”, and we chose it because we feel called to serve those who are outsiders, especially those left out by most churches.
We also love to travel – the stranger the place, the better. We love exploring our community, trying new restaurants and going on an adventure, whether it’s around the corner or across the globe!
We designed this page to help you get to know us. So take a look around, and if you have any questions, send ’em to Sprang. Apparently we’re going to do a Q& A (or, if you’re a redditor, an AMA).
The Catalyst Profile
I was creeping on your website and I saw your staff all filled out this profile. I figured I should probably provide you that information, so here’re my answers. I already wrote a bio above, so we’ll skip right to education:
Education: M.A. in Religious Studies with an emphasis in New Testament and Early Christianity from the University of Missouri – Columbia (2006); B.A. in Religious Studies with minors in Biblical Languages and Philosophy from Southwest Baptist University (2003).
INTERESTS AND FAVORITES
Places: I was born in Clarion, PA, just north of Pittsburgh (go Steelers!). I grew up in Kansas City, MO. I moved to Columbia, MO for grad school, met Amanda, and we moved to Dayton, OH (the Gem City) one week after we got married. I’ve been to Germany, England, Guatemala, the Holy Land, Egypt and Abu Dhabi. Amanda grew up in St. Louis, MO and went to college in Columbia. She spent the summer after her Freshman year in Mexico City, her Junior year in Spain and has lived in El Salvador and spent several weeks in Honduras. She’s also been to the Holy Land and Abu Dhabi. Next up: I want to drive to Mexico City and we want to go to Brazil and Argentina!
iPod: I don’t use Apple products. But I love music. I was in a metal band in college. These days I’ll listen to just about anything, but I love writing sermons to Rage Against the Machine, Norma Jean or Johnny Cash (depends on my mood). I also love Matt Nathanson, Martin Sexton, Switchfoot, Eminem, Rise Against, Foo Fighters, Unearth, Underoath, Zao, Stavesacre (always and forever!) and if I’m being totally honest, Ke$ha.
What I’m Reading: Some fantasy novels by Joe Abercrombie, Playing God by Andy Crouch (again) and 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric Cline. I also read lots of comics: Scott Snyder’s Batman, Jason Aarons’ Scalped, anything by Mark Waid, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stuff, etc.
TiVO: True Detective, Arrow, Game of Thrones, Fargo, Community (#sixseasonsandamovie), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Mindy Project, Silicon Valley, The Walking Dead
Sport Teams: Steelers, Pirates, Royals. In the interest of full disclosure: Amanda’s a huge soccer fan.
Movies: The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Shawshank Redemption, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Seven Psychopaths, Gone Baby Gone, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, MST3K: The Movie
Hobbies: Reading, watching movies, podcasting, canoeing, concerts, cooking, smoking meat, exploring and adventuring.
Dislikes: Justin Timberlake. Nickelback. Cats. Broccoli. Apple.
Odd Fact: I look totally different without a beard. It’s actually pretty creepy.
Life Scripture: Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the reality of what we hope for and the evidence of what we can’t see.”
I generate a lot of content via podcasts. I have a sermon podcast where you can hear my preaching. I have taught several classes. I also co-host two podcasts called StoryMen and Origami Elephants. You can check the all out here.
BONUS: Here are my top 5 favorite sermons I preached last year… including one on “Baby Got Back”.
What’s the Big Idea? (Class)
Theology for the Rest of Us (Class)
World Religions (Class)
The StoryMen podcast explores the intersection of faith, history and pop culture. I co-host with authors Matt Mikalatos and Clay Morgan.
Origami Elephants is a podcast about religion and philosophy. My co-host Bryne Lewis and I wrestle with the elephants in the room no one else wants to talk about, and we find beauty (rather than fights) in the tensions.
What About Amanda?
You’ll have a chance to meet Amanda soon, but for now, here are several pieces I wrote about her. It’ll give you a window into why I think she’s so awesome:
How We Fell in Love
Here’s the story of how Amanda and I met, started dating and decided to get married. We played this video at our wedding.
I Be Blogging
These days, I use my personal blog to post previews of my sermons and write about church and leadership. Here are some posts from the last year I really enjoyed:
- What Would the Lord’s Prayer Sound Like Today? I imagine Jesus were speaking in today’s language – we don’t hallowed anyone’s name these days, so how would he pray today?
- I don’t usually write about music, but I had to reflect on Eminem’s newest album, and the single “Rap God”. I had a lot of fun doing it.
- What Bible Translation Should I Use? I get asked this question all the time. So I decided to answer.
I do the vast majority of my blogging these days at NorvilleRogers.com. Here are several of my favorite posts from the last year or so:
- My review of the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- A piece I wrote on Game of Thrones (About the Mountain and the Viper)
- 5 Things to Know-a before you see the new Noah Movie
- A piece on Thor: The Dark World and Theology (it is about a god, after all!)
- My review of Doctor Sleep – Stephen King’s excellent sequel to The Shining
The BroBQue Tour
One other thing you should know about me: I love barbeque. As a Kansas City kid, I grew up on the best barbeque in the world. In Dayton, I became friends with a guy from Memphis and a guy who spent a lot of time in Birmingham. We argued all the time about who has the best barbeque, and we decided the only way to settle it was with a Barbecue Tour.
We hit 19 restaurants in 7 days in 5 cities from Kansas City to Memphis to Central Alabama. And we recorded each and every one. You can see all those videos here.
And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute. Texas has amazing barbeque. How can any tour not include Texas?” Don’t worry. That thought crossed my mind as well. I’m willing to be proven wrong if you have a favorite joint!