You may be wondering, “Okay, just who is the bloke behind this blog? And what’s with all the ‘rodent’ this and ‘rodent’ that?”

Good questions. I’m delighted you asked!

The Name
I’ll deal with the easy question first. My full name is Richard Alan Tatum. Look at the initials: RAT.

No, my parents didn’t have a cruel sense of humor. God does — my name is just a happy coincidence! (At least, according to dear Mom and Dad.) As to why the “Rodent?” When I was a teenager I wanted to be different (like all my friends) so I contrived a scribbled “logo” or a “tag” for my signature so that I would be set apart and instantly recognized — since I hadn’t found acclaim or distinction any other way. (That’s also why I taught myself how to juggle: to get noticed and impress the chicks. But that never worked, and that’s a whole different blog entry!)

Me.The Website
Anyhow, over the years, the scribble stuck. So, when it came time to set up a website I wanted a way to differentiate the names of stuff I worked on from all the rest of the cruft out there online. I first used my initials in things like the Word macro I created to display typeface samples. I called it “TypeRat,” and it still lives under that name. But when I went to create a website, it dawned on me that “rat” wasn’t very euphonious and carried negative connotations besides. So, I summarily decided on “rodent.”

After all, you can love an adorable furry little rodent, but nobody wants a rat for a friend.

After TypeRodent came ChurchRodent, my mini-glossary of church history (still one of the biggest traffic generators on this website). Then came WordRodent, a sometimes out-of-date word lookup tool hosted here. And the name really stuck at that point. (Or, rather, I was trapped.) When it was time to name my blog, I tried all kinds of really clever things — snarky names; names revealing my brilliant, scintillating, dizzying intellect; obscure names; biblical-sounding names; and plain ones. Alas, good names were as scarce as brains that night.

So, I went to my fall-back position and punted. Ergo: BlogRodent.

(One nice little benefit from this idiosyncrasy is exactly that: it’s unique. I’ve never run across anything else that routinely adds “rodent” as a suffix to create new terms. So, whenever I ego-surf Google or other search engines, looking for sites that link to me, I’m invariably rewarded with relevant search results, not endless page after page of other dudes sharing my birth name.)

Now, let’s talk about me.

The Beginning
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I was infused with the spirit of the “Land of Mañana.” Clocks, schedules, and time pieces don’t get along with me: I’m very event– and person-oriented. Whatever’s happening now, whatever I’m doing now, whoever I’m with now captures my full attention — to the detriment of my appointments and task list. It’s a constant struggle for me.

I came to Christ several times as a boy attending Temple Baptist church in Albuquerque, but it finally “stuck” when my mother and I recommitted to Christ in Lubbock, Texas, while my parents were working out marital problems. After my father came to Christ, they reunited, and we went to church as a family back home in New Mexico. Then, after my mom experienced a miraculous healing, my parents decided to investigate this whole Pentecostal business, and took me to an Assemblies of God church in Albuquerque (the now nonexistent Highland Assembly of God) and I freaked out.

Pentecostals. Man, who ever knew these guys existed? Hands in the air? Weird languages? Altar calls?

The Journey
Fast forward a few years and you’ll find me attending Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, taking advantage of some of the Bible Quiz scholarship money I’d earned, and living off of Uncle Sam’s largesse and low-interest loans the rest of the time (when I wasn’t sleep-walking through full- or part-time jobs anyhow). Discovering that I was adopted as a child (nobody thought to tell me about it!), I lapsed into a dangerous, dark, terrifying depression during my final year in college: that cloud hung over me in varying degrees for several years. I still count that season as one of the two most trying times of my life — such that pray I never endure again. I left for Springfield, Missouri, in the chaos of that storm, and after living off of temp jobs and plasma donations for a few months I began working at the Assemblies of God national headquarters, getting good counsel along the way from Dr. Berl Best at Central Bible College and finishing my last few hours of course-work via correspondence. I graduated in 1991 with a BA in Bible, a minor in Cross Cultural Communication, and an emphasis in Greek and Biblical Studies.

While in Springfield, I managed to squeeze in a few courses at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, earning about half of my planned Master’s degree in Theological Studies (22 hours). Unfortunately, serving in a more-than-full-time job as the first A/G webmaster, serving as a part-time volunteer Chi Alpha campus pastor (Logos, at Drury College), studying in graduate school, and dating the lovely lady who would later become my bride, I burned out. Something had to give. So, I left campus ministry after three years of service, failed to re-register at AGTS, and focussed on work and relationships. I still miss Drs. Hernando, Aker, McGee, and the rest of the gang.

I do hope to finish my degree — some day.

The Latest
Two years after marrying Jennifer, I was offered a position at Christianity Today International as a project manager for the as-yet unlaunched PreachingToday.com. So, Jennifer and I moved to the Chicagoland suburbs to begin the next phase of our lives where we live, work, and behold the awesomeness of children to this day. God has been hugely generous and gracious to us, helping us succeed where we didn’t think we could. He has brought us through some very difficult times together, brought both of us healing and maturity, provided enough income for Jennifer to be a stay-at-home mom for our two beautiful children, and we have a wonderful church home at Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois, where I am occasionally and nervously asked to help lead an adult Christian education course now and then. Once in a while I get asked to fill in a pulpit by generous and trusting (if naive) pastors, and I leap at the opportunity. I haven’t been sued yet. That’s a good sign, I guess.

The Job
I still work for Christianity Today, and am currently serving as the online media managing editor in the Resources department. (I am resposible for CTCourses.com). It’s a wonderful, great place to work, and I thank God for every day I get to clock-in and do what I love doing: the work of the Kingdom. I have godly, gracious colleagues and coworkers who challenge me and encourage me. I belong to a beautiful family, and I am bettered by my wife, who loves me despite my enduring flaws.

The RodentSphere
I am regularly active in two or three email discussion groups: AOGDialog, Assembly-of-God, and AOG@associate.com. Google me (on blogs, the Web, or in Usenet news) and you’ll find out even more about my views and positions.

The Reason
I finally started this blog because I realized I was writing volumes about what I believed and thought in these email fora, but I wasn’t capturing anything where it could help anybody long-term. Plus, I just wanted to be more intentional about my writing and sharpen my thinking some more. I hope this weblog is a good contribution and is helpful to you, because it already has been for me. I’m often wrong and I need the iron-sharpening that good dialog brings about — I hope those of you who comment take me to the woodshed now and then to set me straight.

Just be gentle, please.


Sunday, November 13, 2005
Romeoville, IL

[tags]BlogRodent, about-me, profile, site-profile, godblogger, godblog, religion, christianity, evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic, pentecostal-blog, pentecostal-blogger, contact-me[/tags]

16 thoughts on “About

  1. Jim

    I fell into Pentecost (old-time holiness) March 27th, 1972. No real prior links with religiosity. Wore dogtags for 10 years in the Navy stamped: “religion: none”. Started blogging a little over 4 years ago after walking away from a 25 year experience teaching Sunday School. While I endorse the move away from so much legality in my ranks, I do not like where tele-evangelism has taken it. Have already forgotten where I came across your site, but have read you regularly for several months now. You’re the first “AG” I’ve run into out here. A few “emerging church” Canadians, a couple of Episcopaleans, a Catholic or two make up my sidebar for the mostpart. This avenue gives room to make me think from both sides. Your site has been a welcome addition. Peace, my friend………

  2. Travis Johnson

    Great stuff, Rich. I knew you lived in the Chicago suburbs. I didn’t realize Romeoville was the locale. Kelly and I used to live in Lakewood Falls @ 2020 Wedgewood Circle. Small world.

  3. Rich Post author

    Thank you, Jim, Travis, and Steve, for your encouraging and kind comments. I do this for you!

    Seriously, it’s humbling to realize that in the few short months I’ve been blogging here, the equivalent of an average sized A/G church visit my blog daily, and 30+ have undertaken to add me to their blog subscriptions. Sure, that’s peanuts compared to the Great Ones out there, but when you start out, it’s all imaginary. “What if they come?” Well, you’re coming, and it scares the water out of me and thrills me at the same time. Good things in the Real World have already happened because of this blog (my friend got a freelancing gig at CTI!).

    I am humbled.


    (PS: Wish you were still here, Travis. My wife and I could come hang out once in a while. I guess I’ll have to TP their yard and leave a note saying it was long overdue for that upstart previous tenant!)

  4. Rich Post author

    The COG has it going on! Your top executive preached at one of our biennial General Councils that I attended, and I enjoyed his message. I remember it was timely, and pointed, but sadly I cannot remember the topic. (This was ten years ago, I think.) I was impressed though. –Rich

  5. travisjohnson

    That’s funny. I participate on a forum full of COG ministers and members who pine to operate more like the AG.

    I can’t really tell the difference between an AG or COG church service.

  6. Rich Post author

    I’ve never attended a COG service yet but I assume from all that I’ve heard and know that I would feel right at home there. I suspect the same would be true with a FourSquare church. I grew up Baptist, so I’d feel at home in most Baptist churches, too. I had never been to an Anglican church before, but I certainly felt at home when I recently visited one, as I blogged about previously here–even though the liturgical elements were unfamiliar.

    The older I get the more certain I become about my beliefs and where I draw the line, and the less certain I become about how important many of my beliefs are when it comes to fellowshipping with the Body of Christ.

    In essentials: unity.


  7. Mitch Land

    Dear Richard,

    I googled Eichenwald’s name because of the story he posted regarding the child porn victim and his eventual rescue. You may be interested to learn that Eichenwald is one of our featured speakers at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest. Check out our website at http://mayborninstitute.unt.edu Indeed, Gay Talese, the author of The Kingdom and the Power is our featured speaker on Saturday night July 15. The conference runs from July 14-15 at the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, Texas. Thought you’d like to know. I’m the director of the Mayborn Institute. I’m also a former Christian missionary to Africa. I attend Gateway Church in South Lake. God bless you!

  8. Rich Post author

    Thanks for the heads-up, Mitch. Wow, this sounds like a fascinating and engaging conference, one I’d really enjoy attending, I’m sure. Unfortunately, I doubt I’d qualify (I have no credentials as a journalist short of being a managing editor for a online course site), but the speaker round up looks very strong. It’d be a blast.

    I hope you get good attendance at your conference. Good blog writing needs more literary nonfiction approaches. I’d like to implement that more, here, in fact, but my skills are weak and literary nonfiction is tough to write (though I find it the most natural way to write a story, and I find it far more engaging to read). Hopefully, I’ll get better.

    If you see Kurt Eichenwald, tell him he’s a hero to an anonymous, low-traffic, Godblogger! Kurt absolutely did the right thing with Justin Berry. I only wish Justin wasn’t thrust so openly into the media spotlight. He needs more time.



  9. Jeannette Glasscock


    I’ve just read your bio and I’m truly impressed with what our Father is doing in your life. :o) I also read your Blog, “Fatal Sincerity.” Spot on! I’m gonna read the others you sent too! I’m a compulsive reader of good stuff. And you’ve helped to bring joy ino my life!

    Jnet :o)

  10. Uncle Raisin

    Uncle Raisin Discusses A WQFL (Rockford, IL AOG owned) Problem

    UncleRaisin.com is a website that specializes in bringing stories to communities about local leadership that breaches the public trust they have been given. In this story at uncleraisin.com you’ll read about WQFL’s association with the local abortion business. Read about it, and don’t forget the blog. Thank you.

    Uncle Raisin, Editor

  11. Pingback: Six Degrees From Dave - Recruitment Blog Networking for Passive Candidates - Dave Mendoza

  12. Pingback: Lessons in Leadership: Great list of Charismatic/Pentecostal blogs

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