“His Word Found Here” – a Ballard Coffee and Bible Shop?

His Word Found Here LogoIf you’re local to Seattle, and spend any time near downtown Ballard (especially during the weekly Sunday Ballard Farmers Market), you’ve noticed many businesses going in and out. A few months ago a paper sign went up on a window near Old Ballard advertising “His Word Found Here” in a thorn-ringed heart (Sacred Heart). I’m sure I’m not the only one who pondered what this business could possibly be, and if it could be successful, given Washington is one of the least religious states and the Seattle metro area one of the most secular in the nation.

This past weekend I noticed they finally got the sign up for the new His Word Found Here shop, indicating (and confirming on the site) that this will be a coffee shop that also has Bibles and assorted resources. In this area of Ballard, you don’t have to walk more than two blocks from the intersection of NW Market and 22nd NW to go to one of eight coffee shops that serve fine espresso beverages, many with pastry, cake, take-away and hot food options, not to mention at least one promising a luxe coffee experience. One even has a used bookstore in the back (Bauhaus Books and Coffee.) Admittedly, I’m a bit sad that the sign for His Word Found Here has been up for months, and barely anything can be found on our neighborhood blog, My Ballard except for a fairly recent forum post which offers little except speculation that the shop would be affiliated with Mars Hill Church, a Neo-Calvinist empire headquartered near the Ballard Bridge. However, Mars Hill already has a coffee shop (well, not really, but Storyville Coffee and Mars Hill Church have close ties.)

Given that I’m a bit of a data junkie, I decided to answer my own questions since our neighborhood “media” hasn’t so far.

The business license for His Word Found Here has the governing person as Diane L. Bundrant. A Google search indicates through multiple sites Diane L. Bundrant is in her late 50’s or early 60’s she has for many years made multiple political contributions (and is listed as an employee of Trident Seafoods) both to Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as one of the largest contributors to the Lingle Victory Fund. Trident Seafoods is owned by Chuck Bundrant, and he is married to Diane.

Business and politics are easy to find, and it looks like the political contributions are heavily in favor of politicians that support the fishing industry that is their livelihood. However, since this new shop is definitely a religious one, this doesn’t answer the question of what *kind* of Christianity they’re selling.

You don’t have to be Christian to have absorbed all these ideas of what “being a Christian” means. It’s so entrenched in our culture that you can be raised outside of Christianity, and know just as much about Christianity as a self-proclaimed believer (or maybe even more.) Some forms of Christianity and their believers do not make a big deal about the private choices of individuals. While clergy and members of some of these institutions may personally be against women’s reproductive choices or the right for all people to engage in a marriage contract, not all believe it’s the responsibility of the state to govern these decisions. In Seattle I’ve seen congregations supporting the GLBT community with rainbow flags including Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran churches. Not all Christians support the state infringing on privacy and human rights.

However, we know there are a vocal and well-moneyed group of people who claim Christianity, and push their agenda by political contributions to the masses, with the outcomes like in Texas, where women’s access to preventative care, including birth control, has been greatly restricted because of restrictions on safe abortion.

In my searching, I have to say that the religious affiliation of the Bundrants is not easily discerned. Charles Bundrant gives multiple thanks to the Lord for his success in an Evansville, Indiana magazine. The Sacred Heart, used on the sign, is typically used by Catholics, but I usually see the Sacred Heart and Catholic paraphernalia with people who have strong ties to immigrant communities (exception: hipsters.) If they are Catholic, that tells us little because Catholics can range greatly from nuns who believe social justice was more important than “denouncing artificial birth control, abortion and homosexual conduct” to not just political action restricting privacy and individual rights, but access to comprehensive health care.

Charles Bundrant was listed as Director and Vice President of the Safe Harbor Church and Community Centerin Akutan, AK. The ministry of that church is through Arctic Barnabas Ministries, but no denomination listed. Indications are that it’s an Evangelical organization.

I look forward to finding out more. The Bundrants probably have enough capital to keep this place floating for awhile (records also indicate they own, or have owned, large amounts of land in Hawaii in addition to Trident.) I’m curious if their niche will have the response they’re looking for. Come to think of it, the Q Cafe is still going, but they’re non-profit, and the one time I went in, was not in the business of selling religion though religiously affiliated. (Their website actually states the cafe is a non-religious extension of their church.) What do you think? Will a coffee and Bible store thrive in Ballard? Where will the money go? Will this be a progressive or regressive institution? I’m considering breaking out of my little blog to actually email the info@ to see if I can get a little more information. Admittedly, this was a lot of work so far, so I’m taking a break. 🙂

Do what thou Love shall be the Will of the Law

me running
Las Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon 2010
I just came back from my third run in three days. This is unusual for me of late, and comes from my new found energy since I upped my protein intake. Today’s run was a little more, though, since the news of the Boston Marathon bombing hit my consciousness, and the sun shine beckoned me outdoors.

A wonderful thing happened on my run which hasn’t happened since I was training for a half marathon in 2010: I lost myself in the run. I reached that moment where I stopped paying attention to how far or how fast I was going, I was just running, and my brain was busy working things out. Things like “Do what thou Love shall be the Will of the Law.” Granted, there are some of you who know what this refers to, but for the rest of you, you can look up “Do what thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

I’m not sure exactly what my bastardization means to anyone but myself, but it came from the other day when I watched Kumare, a documentary about a false prophet, and Jeff Who Lives at Home, a film that, oddly enough, seems to be an “answer movie” to M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Kumare is a man’s quest to understand faith, studied the phenomena, and asked if just anyone could be a prophet, including himself. He creates an alter-ego prophet, sets up an ashram and religious practice, finds devotees and then unveils himself. Though Vikram (aka Kumare) maintains that he was not *actually* a religious leader, I found myself wanting to argue with him that he was, and also, a legitimate spiritual teacher. Jeff Who Lives at Home, features the tension between the two brothers, one who is terribly unlikable with a crumbling life, and another, stoner “loser” brother (Jeff) who sees the world through the lens of fate. Jeff wants to believe, and through the movie, made me believe (though frankly, only within the confines of the film.)[1]

The easiest explanation I have for what I believe in is that I am an atheist. Like Vikram Ghandi, the director and creator of Kumare, I was drawn to religious study hoping that it would help me understand and perhaps solidify my religious leanings. By age thirteen, I had a spiritual calling for ministry, one that despite my religious non-affiliation, I still have and see my vocational choices as being complimentary. My study of religion (both academically and through social circles) led me to abandon orthodoxy in favor of what I have always essentially believed: there is no magic. The caveat being that each person is a creator and divine, and creates the god of their belief and the magic according to their system. There are no gods, and there are all the gods. I see it as strange and powerful stuff, but only real to those who see and believe.

That being said, I think that religion and religious practice are necessary and part of the intrinsic fabric of many humans. I’m not about to take that away, especially if they respect my unwillingness to share in their devotion. During times of tragedy, people often feel helpless, especially when far away, and offer thoughts, prayers, lit candles and other rituals, most of which are materially useless, but enriching (I’m told) for believers.

My magic was that I went on a run, and fell into that brief euphoria that running can give a person. I engaged with an ecstatic moment, noted each runner as I passed them by, wondering if they were in a similar devotion today, thinking on the people of Boston, the runners, the observers, the city. Running, like many other body-punishing activities, lends to an ecstatic experience that is otherworldly. The Boston Marathon is a gathering of ecstatics some “True” others “False,”[2] but all sharing in a grueling experience that many will never take part in.

Though it did nothing, I ran. I thought of Boston. And perhaps like I accuse Kumare of being more of a prophet than he realizes, I show how much like Jeff I want to believe that putting myself out there with ecstatic intention means something more than sore quads in the morning.

[1]This “renewal of faith” within the confines of the film was done far better in Jeff Who Lives at Home than in Life of Pi. Life of Pi had beautiful special effects, but was in the end a spiritually hungry white person’s quest for meaning with the help of magical brown-person.

[2]All practices have their True Believers, those who will claim for whatever reason that no TRUE runner would do x, y, z. And those True Believers will disagree with what’s True. At 200 lbs, jogging a slow 2.5 mile, am I a true runner? At 155 lbs, and running 13.1 in 2:15:21, was I a true runner?