The Church of the Non-Bozos

When I was in seminary, my friends and I had this ongoing inside joke. We were going to start our own denomination called the Church of the Non-Bozos. No Bozos would be allowed (the concept of a “Bozo,” of course being a reference to the famous clown, but as a derogatory term meaning an idiot or a goofball). So anytime we thought someone was being unreasonable, irrational, or in any way disagreeable, we would remark that this person would not be allowed to join the Church of the Non-Bozos.

Of course, the irony here should be obvious. Young overconfident theologians-to-be, on fire for the gospel but full of their own assumed self-righteousness, declaring who is not allowed in the perfect church – the church defined precisely by who is not allowed. (My students might well note the connection that I never made: we were trying to be Donatists, and we didn’t even know it.)

Well, I’ve admitted on several occasions that I’m a hypocrite. That cat’s well out of the bag. You might say there have been many times in my life when I’ve been a Bozo. But in this week’s blog I’ve decided to introduce you to some people who are definitely not Bozos. I’d like you to meet a few of my friends, and if there really were a Church of the Non-Bozos, these people would be its saints.

Glenn MurrayMeet Glenn Murray.

Glenn is founder and CEO of 220 Communications, a media and public relations group that specializes in promoting non-profit and charitable organizations. Glenn regularly organizes really classy fundraising events for charities in the Chicago area.  He is also a great patron of the arts, and I guess what really impresses me about Glenn is the way he is able to create win-win situations without a shred of self-centeredness. In fact, Glenn is the reason I decided to do this week’s blog about other people, because it occurred to me that it’s so easy to be self-serving, and here’s a guy who really tries to help others at all times. The main reason I fought the idea of doing a blog for so long was because I thought it would just be all about me (and maybe it is), but here’s a guy who doesn’t make it all about him. And, he’s just a really great guy. Glenn is one of my best friends. Find him on facebook, and check out his fundraising events.

Paul JarzembowskiMeet Paul Jarzembowski.

Paul is the director of Young Adult Ministries for the Diocese of Joliet. No one knows more about ministry to young adults than this man. But he’s also a movie buff and a Doctor Who fan, so you know he’s a great guy, and you can see why we get along so well. Paul is a gifted church leader and his love for people comes through in everything he does. I teach Church history because I love Church history. Paul teaches people because he loves people. At least that’s the impression one gets from him. Paul does a blog called Spiritual Popcorn, about finding faith in films – I recommend you check it out. He’s also on facebook.

Suzanne RossMeet Suzanne Ross.

Suzanne, along with her husband Keith, is founder of The Raven Foundation. I was fortunate to participate in their conference last November called, Making Peace with Revelation. The Raven Foundation is dedicated to peace, inter-religious dialogue, and lots of other stuff the world needs more of. Suzanne is one of those very genuine people who want to do all they can to make the world a better place. It’s an honor to know her and Keith, as well as some of the other folks associated with The Raven Foundation, including Tripp Hudgins and Adam Ericksen. Both Suzanne and Adam have blogs that can be linked through the Raven Foundation website.

Andrew & Terri LykeMeet Andrew & Terri Lyke.

I don’t know Andrew and Terri as well as I know the others here, but I wanted to include them because they are my marriage gurus. I’ve written some things on the subject of marriage, but when it comes to an ability to inspire couples and teach them how to make marriage strong and lasting, I don’t know anyone better than the Lykes. Andrew and Terri are marriage/marriage ministry consultants, and Andrew is the director of the Office for Black Catholics of the archdiocese of Chicago.

Rich VetranoMeet Rich Vetrano.

Rich and I have been best friends since the seventh grade. That’s a long time, and I’ve never once seen him be a jerk. (He has seen me be a jerk a few times, but has apparently decided to remain my friend in spite of it.) As we were growing up, Rich and his family were a great example of faith and devotion to God. And of course we also had the Italian connection. Now Rich is my definition of a family man. He and his wife Karin are some of the best parents I’ve ever seen. Rich is also that rare combination of artist and business man, as founding partner of Core Creative, an advertising/PR agency in Milwaukee. There’s a better picture of him on the Core Creative website, but because they are so fancy-schmansy, with their flash and their HTML, I couldn’t grab the picture from the website. This is Rich’s profile pic from LinkedIn, but at least it shows one of his passions: fly fishing. It’s not my thing, but hey if you want to stand knee deep in water all day… In fact, Rich and I don’t always agree (especially when it comes to politics), but none of that matters because after all these years, we’re just family. Call it a common law bromance.

Rick PapandreaMeet Rick Papandrea.

This is my kid brother. He’s a real loser, and I’m totally ashamed of him. He had to finish three years of college before they invited him to skip the fourth year and go right into medical school. He only got two fellowships in orthopaedic surgery. Now he’s the guy with the reputation of being able to do the really hard cases. Seriously, Rick is one of those doctors who’s motivated by a true compassion for people, and a desire to see them healed and whole. In this way, he follows the example of Jesus better than most people I know. He also got the Father Knows Best/Ward Cleaver gene from our dad. He’s a great father to his kids, and the best brother anyone could ask for. In spite of his status in the Church of the Non-Bozos, I still call him Bozo. But that’s DOCTOR Bozo to you.

I hope you liked meeting some of the less hypocritical people in my life. Peace!

Jim Papandrea


About Jim Papandrea

Jim Papandrea is an author, educator, and singer/songwriter. Visit his website at:
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One Response to The Church of the Non-Bozos

  1. Let’s also remember Jim Papandrea as a consummate non-Bozo, who teaches, writes, networks, and promotes discipleship to Jesus by living it in his family, profession and with friends. Now, if only I knew where to find a picture of him. (Jim is on Facebook!)

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