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!
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!)
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 Then came WordRodent, a sometimes out-of-date word lookup tool hosted here.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.
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I was infused with the spirit of the “Land of MaÃ±ana.” 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
[tags]BlogRodent, about-me, profile, site-profile, godblogger, godblog, religion, christianity, evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic, pentecostal-blog, pentecostal-blogger, contact-me[/tags]