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God’s in the water at Tourmaline also

Sometimes the surf community feels like the best of what we do in church.

David Nagler: “I’ll be the first to tell you the church is flawed, but it is still the best hope for social change.”
David Nagler: “I’ll be the first to tell you the church is flawed, but it is still the best hope for social change.”
Place

Christ Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach

4761 Cass Street, San Diego

Membership: 270

Pastor: David Nagler

Age: 52

Born: Anaheim

Formation: Humbolt State University, Arcata; University of Redlands, Redlands; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley

Years Ordained: 24

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor David Nagler: The number-one issue is grace, the astounding and unmerited gift of our lovability and acceptance by God that is total gift. You don’t have to believe anything to get it, you can do anything to get it, you can’t buy it, and you can’t con it. It’s the most astounding element of Christianity — this proclamation that God loves humanity even when we’re absolutely messing up. My sense is that I and a lot of people have this image of God as Zeus in the sky throwing lightning bolts, punishing bad people and rewarding good people. My understanding of the revelation of Jesus is just the opposite. As Jesus says, God causes to fall the rain on the righteous and unrighteous, and God gives good things to people who don’t necessarily behave or believe the way we think they should.

SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PN: The problems facing our culture, especially American culture, are primarily spiritual in nature. I’m concerned that the church is not ready for that, and not getting the scope of the problem. For example, basic moral values like honesty — is it important to tell the truth? If you don’t tell the truth, how is that supposed to go? We’re increasingly getting into a place where facts don’t matter.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PN: Initially I wanted to be part of a group that was able to make a significant difference for the better in the world. I’ll be the first to tell you the church is flawed, but it is still the best hope for social change. It’s always the place where social change gets fought hardest in some places, but it’s also where it’s born. I wanted to be part of that.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you’ve found God?

PN: Interestingly, I’m a lifelong surfer. So it’s not at all surprising I would find God in surfing. That’s been one of my chief forms of meditation throughout my life. When you go down to the Tourmaline Surf Park, there’s this incredibly motley group of folks you’ll find there that I care very much about. It’s amazing how much God shows up in that community. Sometimes that community feels like the best of what we do in church.

SDR: Where do we go when we die?

PN: Everyone goes to God and everything goes to God. Everything goes back to the source — even science tells us that matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. So, everything goes back to what happens next. I don’t believe there is a place of burning in hell; I think that’s silliness. I think being with God is being in the fullness of our beauty and our destruction. The judgment part is an awareness of the pain and the generosity we’ve had. I think there is a moment of awareness and reconciliation. Beyond that is speculation, but I do believe the relationships we have and the things we do matter. But I don’t think it’s because God wants to sort us out and send us to heaven or hell. At the end of the day, whatever we call God gives us a revelation of ourselves.

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David Nagler: “I’ll be the first to tell you the church is flawed, but it is still the best hope for social change.”
David Nagler: “I’ll be the first to tell you the church is flawed, but it is still the best hope for social change.”
Place

Christ Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach

4761 Cass Street, San Diego

Membership: 270

Pastor: David Nagler

Age: 52

Born: Anaheim

Formation: Humbolt State University, Arcata; University of Redlands, Redlands; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley

Years Ordained: 24

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor David Nagler: The number-one issue is grace, the astounding and unmerited gift of our lovability and acceptance by God that is total gift. You don’t have to believe anything to get it, you can do anything to get it, you can’t buy it, and you can’t con it. It’s the most astounding element of Christianity — this proclamation that God loves humanity even when we’re absolutely messing up. My sense is that I and a lot of people have this image of God as Zeus in the sky throwing lightning bolts, punishing bad people and rewarding good people. My understanding of the revelation of Jesus is just the opposite. As Jesus says, God causes to fall the rain on the righteous and unrighteous, and God gives good things to people who don’t necessarily behave or believe the way we think they should.

SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PN: The problems facing our culture, especially American culture, are primarily spiritual in nature. I’m concerned that the church is not ready for that, and not getting the scope of the problem. For example, basic moral values like honesty — is it important to tell the truth? If you don’t tell the truth, how is that supposed to go? We’re increasingly getting into a place where facts don’t matter.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PN: Initially I wanted to be part of a group that was able to make a significant difference for the better in the world. I’ll be the first to tell you the church is flawed, but it is still the best hope for social change. It’s always the place where social change gets fought hardest in some places, but it’s also where it’s born. I wanted to be part of that.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you’ve found God?

PN: Interestingly, I’m a lifelong surfer. So it’s not at all surprising I would find God in surfing. That’s been one of my chief forms of meditation throughout my life. When you go down to the Tourmaline Surf Park, there’s this incredibly motley group of folks you’ll find there that I care very much about. It’s amazing how much God shows up in that community. Sometimes that community feels like the best of what we do in church.

SDR: Where do we go when we die?

PN: Everyone goes to God and everything goes to God. Everything goes back to the source — even science tells us that matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. So, everything goes back to what happens next. I don’t believe there is a place of burning in hell; I think that’s silliness. I think being with God is being in the fullness of our beauty and our destruction. The judgment part is an awareness of the pain and the generosity we’ve had. I think there is a moment of awareness and reconciliation. Beyond that is speculation, but I do believe the relationships we have and the things we do matter. But I don’t think it’s because God wants to sort us out and send us to heaven or hell. At the end of the day, whatever we call God gives us a revelation of ourselves.

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Comments
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"Sometimes that community feels like the best of what we do in church." You find that same spirit when an audience attends and tunes in to a great dramatic or musical play. If that theatrical experience doesn't move and uplift you significantly, and hit you in the gut, the playwright, actors and director have failed.

April 26, 2017

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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