An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

Zach Dawes Jr is the managing editor for news and opinion at Good Faith Media. He was the managing editor at EthicsDaily.com from January 2013 to June 2020 and was on staff in two local Baptist churches prior to joining EthicsDaily.

  1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?

It’s hard for me to narrow it down, but broadly I’d say that the passages in the Bible where faith is put into practice, where intellectual affirmation of ideas is deemed pointless without tangible application and action have most influenced how I understand and seek to practice my faith.

  1. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?

Many people I know personally have shaped my thinking in terms of faith and practice, but I’m going to stick with authors here:

Walter Rauschenbusch: Encountering his writings as I was finishing seminary gave new energy to my faith, connecting the dots and putting into words disparate ideas and feelings I’d been wrestling with related to how the church should be engaged in the social order. In reading A Theology for the Social Gospel, I remember thinking, “This guy gets it; he knows what Christian faith should be about and should look like when faithfully embodied.”

Reinhold Niebuhr: I read Niebuhr for the first time soon after starting my role at EthicsDaily.com. Having had my idealistic vision of what I hoped local church ministry would be dimmed by a difficult pastoral experience, Niebuhr’s realism was helpful in reframing how I viewed the community of Christian faith. I feel like reading Niebuhr in conjunction with Rauschenbusch provides for interesting intersections and contrasts, with each balancing the other.

Rene Girard (and people like James Allison, S. Mark Heim and J. Denny Weaver who have built on or adapted the core thoughts of Girard): Girard’s Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World gave me a new way of thinking about the crucifixion of Jesus, challenging many preconceptions that had been ingrained in me since childhood. It was another moment of feeling that my thinking was being both deconstructed and given a more expansive horizon from which to see a central part of Christian faith. It felt like receiving new life through a framework for organizing varied thoughts, questions and ideas I’d been wrestling with for several years.

  1. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.

Book: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.

Movie: Any of the Mission: Impossible films.

TV show: Mythbusters.

  1. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?

Racial justice and LGBTQI+ inclusion are two expressions of social justice in which people of faith should be, but too often are not, leading the way in advocating for inclusion and equality.

  1. What are a few of your hobbies?

I enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, doing basic home repairs / projects, reading and playing guitar.

  1. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?

There are many moments that are more life-changing (proposal, marriage, childbirth, etc.) or memorable (family gatherings, vacations, etc.), but one memory that came quickly to mind is a camping trip my family went on to a state park in central Texas.

After dinner one evening, our son, who turned 5 in April, announced he wanted to go on another hike. He then proceeded to lead my wife and me around the trail, completely confident in his ability to get us “there and back again.”

It stands out as one of those every day, commonplace but deeply satisfying moments with my family.

  1. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?

The older I get (nearer to 40 than 30 these days), and the longer I work for organizations like EthicsDaily.com and Good Faith Media (going on 8 years combined), the more I realize how much there is still to learn about what justice really means and looks like, and what is required of those of us who want to do our part, however small it might seem, to help move the social order closer toward equality, inclusion and welcome for all. Put succinctly, you could say that my “more to tell” is, “There’s more to learn.”

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