Paul in Acts–A Self-Professed Thug for Jesus?

This month, for our Bible Bash entertainment and considerations, Don takes us on a trip through the Christian book of Acts. Don’s chosen task: to reflect on the complicated person we know as Paul, based on his behavior throughout these chapters describing the early formation of Christianity. 

In this journey, Don points us to a Paul who may have experienced a call to conversion, yet nonetheless continues to act (pun intended) as if he is still working for the emperor. We are left to question, is the possible adage “once an imperial thug, always a thug” true … or is Paul simply a good example of a regular, deeply flawed, privileged fellow who has perhaps noble dreams for spreading the gospel? 

His question prompts at least one other underlying consideration: how do we “read” people – and then respond to them – who claim to seek growth, yet seem so unable to achieve it? Or who claim God speaks to them then act in disturbing ways that call that claim into question? 

The Other Text

Liam offers a Sufi parable from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s book, Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer.

“There is a story about Juna’id, the ninth-century Sufi master. He has twenty students who each wants to be his successor, and they are arguing among themselves and pressing him for a decision. He is getting older, so finally he says to them, “You go out and each bring a live bird, and I’ll tell you what to do.” So they each come back with a live bird, and he says, “Now go find a place where no one can see you, kill the bird, and come back.” They all go off, and nineteen of them come back with dead birds, but the bird of the twentieth is still alive. So Juna’id makes an angry face. “Why didn’t you kill the bird!” 

The disciple says, “Master, I couldn’t find a place where no One can see me.”’


In Trans-Forming Proclamation, Liam Hooper tenderly explores gender and the Bible. This book actually defies genre. With rich patches of poetry, memoir, and devotional, Liam weaves together inspiring literary insights with grounded, original, and informed scholarship. Trans-Forming proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence is new wine in a new wine skin. It is Inventive, artful, and liberating. Available on Amazon and published by Otherwise Engaged.  

About US
In each episode of Bible Bash Podcast, , Liam Michael Hooper, a white trans Bible scholar and Don Durham, a white, cis, heterosexual farmer, minister, and podcaster take turns presenting the text. They then discuss. In addition, each episode they present another text, a non-Biblical text of note–religious or secular–that may or may not correspond to the Bible text. 

Bible Bash Podcast is a collaborative project created by Liam Hooper, Don Durham, and Peterson Toscano.  

Our theme song is Playbill by The Jellyrox. It is available on iTunes, Spotify, or through Rock Candy Recordings. You also heard First Moon by Cerulean Skies. The show is edited by Peterson Toscano

To share your questions, comments, requests for passages to be discussed, or suggestions for guests who can talk about texts, email Liam & Don: 

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Liam @LiMHooper

Don @RealDonDurham

Peterson @p2son

Bible Bash Podcast is part of the Rock Candy Network 

Bible Bash logo was designed by Diana Coe at Crone Communications

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