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Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Be all that you can be! So said the U.S. Army and so says Gus Lloyd.

If you’re a fan of SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel, you’re no doubt familiar with the upbeat brand of Christianity espoused by Gus via his long-running morning drive-time Seize the Day program.  Now, Gus is out with a new book featuring advice on how readers can seize their own days through the practice what he terms Magnetic Christianity (also the book’s title).

The book is subtitled Using Your God-Given Gifts to Build the Kingdom “God-given” is apparently a term of some controversy these days, at least in some circles.

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But I digress.

I recently spoke with Gus whose show, full-disclosure, I produced some years ago.  It had been a few years since we chatted. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

JWK:  What inspired you to write the book?

GUS LLOYD: Two things really. Number One, we’re living in a time when so many people are no longer practicing any kind of faith and it seems more and more like the Christian faith is under attack. But, I think really that there’s more of a sense that a lot of people are just kind of becoming blasé and stopping the practice of the Christian faith. I see, especially America now, really as kind of a great big mission territory…

…And the other thing is that, with the decline in people practicing the faith, I think there needs to be a corresponding rise in the number of Christians (who) – and the way that  Christians — evangelize.  Because, with all those people foaling away from the faith, there need to be more and more Christians that are becoming bolder in their faith, to be able to go out and speak coherently and invite people into a relationship with God.  So, that’s really kinda why I wrote the book.

JWK: Do you think the culture at large inhibits people from doing that?

GL: I do…That’s really what the book is all about. The book is really sort of a helper – kind of a primer – on how we can live out the faith  and then to go out an invite people to come back to church and to come back to a relationship with God.

JWK: How has your own life led you to discover the principles of Magnetic Christianity for yourself?

GL: I had a conversion experience many, many years ago. So, I’ve been doing this Christianity thing – highly imperfectly – for a long time now.  I think I’ve always just sort of had a real heart for evangelism and helping people to understand the truth of the Christian faith and just kind of inviting people into a relationship with God.  So, really, my whole life, I think, has been sort of a preparation for writing this book.

JWK: You have 11 principles — or characteristics — of Magnetic Christianity, including Positivity, Enthusiasm, Friendliness, Confidence, Humility, Honesty, Kindness, Compassion, Approachability, Generosity and Encouragement.  Are any of those attributes more important than the others?

GL: I wouldn’t say that any of them are more important than the others. I would say that each of us – everybody – has all of these attributes to a different degree.

For instance, in my case, I would say that I’m pretty strong in things like Positivity, Enthusiasm and Encouragement. But there are some of the other ones like Compassion, Honesty (and) Approachability that I could use some work on. So,  I wouldn’t say that any of them are more important than the other but we do – everybody – does have each of these to varying degrees.

JWK: Can you build up the attributes or should people just learn to play to their strengths?

GL: No, no, absolutely (you can built them up)!  In fact, I think that’s what the book is really all about. It’s about these attributes that God has already given to us and how to (use them) better in our lives…and the other thing is how to build up the attributes that maybe we could use some help with.

JWK: What’s the main lesson you hope people take from this book?

GL: I guess really the kind of take away from the book – from the author’s perspective – would be this: that when people put the book down they’ll get a greater understanding of how God is working in their lives by meditating and reflecting on these eleven attributes and how God can use them in an even greater way to help build up the Kingdom of God.

JWK:  Do you think your book could be helpful to people who aren’t Catholic — or even Christian?

GL:  Absolutely! Absolutely! Even though I’m a Catholic, I titled it Magnetic Christianity because I believe it’s a book for all Christians.

And I’m really glad you brought that up – what about even non-Christians or people who may be kind of like marginally Christian or kind of dabbling into Christianity and the Christian faith?   It’s really, I think, kind of a book for everybody.

When I was 14 years old, my dad gave me a book that really helped to change my life. It was called The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and that was kind of a beginning of a journey for me into what a lot of people kind of call self-help thinking, positive mental attitude-thinking and that’s one of the premises of the book.  I take those principles of positive thinking, positive mental attitude and health and I put them into a Biblical Christian context. So, it really is a book for everybody — of how to live a better life.

JWK:  How long did it take you write the book?

GL: It’s really been like 52 years – a whole lifetime of preparation for this.

I actually started this project ten or twelve years ago by doing a series of talks. (This book is partly based) on the notes that I created for those talks…So, it’s really been a long and interesting process.

And then from the time that I really put pen to paper (and) started congealing all this stuff together, it was about nine months or so.

JWK: Was it difficult to balance your show, your public speaking and your voice-over work?

GL:  It really was. And, in fact, I did a bunch of the work when I went off on a week-long silent retreat…That’s when I didn’t have any TV, internet or anything like that and I really just buckled down and  and prayed a lot. That’s when I really did a lot of the hard work.  So, it has been kind of a balancing act.

JWK:  Has (New York) Cardinal Dolan read the book?

GL: He has.  I was on his radio show to about it a couple of months ago. That was a real privilege for me.

JWK: So, what’s ahead for you?

GL: I’m doing the radio show. I (recently) did my first Magnetic Christianity Retreat Weekend and it as just fantastic. It was really successful.

I got a couple of other books up here in my head. I don’t even know if I should say it but I’m kind of started to get the wheels turning on maybe a work of fiction.

Note: Gus went on to tell me his idea for the plot — but, if I told you about it, I’d have to kill you. Or maybe he’d kill me. In any event, the plot sounded genuinely intriguing– with a concept hook that immediately pulls you in and makes you want to know more.

So, Gus, I “Encourage” you (Bing! That’s one attribute there!) to keep it under your hat and write it. Who knows? Next time we catch up, I might be asking you if the movie did justice to your manuscript.

BTW, I offered a brief review of Gus’ current book in a recent edition of this blog. You can read it here.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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