Ken Silva was a longtime internet nemesis of mine, and probably the most singleminded opponent of the emerging church movement on the internet. But it wasn’t just me and emergent at which he took aim. Ken was against everyone — Rick Warren, the Catholic Church, John Piper, John MacArthur, liberals, Brian McLaren, women pastors, gays, etc. Ken was among those who first referred to my friend as Pastrix Nadia Bolz-Weber. He treated all of us with savagery and brutality.
In 2007, as I was recovering from knee surgery, I tracked Ken down and called him. We actually had a nice chat. He told me that he’d been a musician, touring up and down the West Coast, fueled by drugs and alcohol, when he converted to Christianity. And his conversion was a radical one. He ended up in New Hampshire, where he had worked as a DJ and a football coach before becoming pastor of a small Baptist church. Really small. In The Last Post I’ll Ever Write About Ken Silva, I unearthed a few more facts about Ken.
I called him one more time, and he kept right on writing about me, “apostate” being his favorite appellation for me. I passed his phone number along to Doug Pagitt, and Doug called Ken several times. According to Doug, his calls with Ken were similar — on the phone, he found Ken to be a nice guy, if a bit misguided. They kept up correspondence over a time, Doug often calling out Ken on Twitter, then calling him on the phone.
The internet makes for strange bedfellows. It also allows people who are otherwise decent, generous people to post vicious, venomous untruths. Ken’s writings about me were savage — as some others have been. But when we got on the phone, we were no longer memes and trolls to one another. We humanized each other when we talked about family, jobs, and even theology.
Ken Silva and I may not have been friends, and he didn’t even consider me his brother in Christ. But at least we’d spoken when he died. At least we’d shared a little bit of humanity with each other.
I pray that in death, Ken finds more peace than he seemed to find in life.