THE CONVERSATION STARTED ON 4/20/2019 AT COACHELLA EASTER WEEKEND -

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x What Do You Think About Cannabis?

When I was a kid, Easter never had anything to do with a bunny, or eggs, or ugly, pastel color-palettes.

In our house, Easter was a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. On that Sunday, we’d get dressed up for church. Later, we’d replace our normal Sunday-afternoon routine at the Sizzler salad bar with a delicious, home-cooked meal.

As a kid, I didn’t care much for church. When I was in high-school, I took a job selling baseball cards at weekend conventions, largely for the sake of getting out of Sunday morning services. Nevertheless, by the time I graduated with my diploma, I felt called to pursue a bachelor’s degree in church ministry. I took a job as a youth pastor straight out of the gate.

I am, officially, an ordained minister available for weddings and funerals. I have spoken at over one-thousand churches across the country throughout my years in ministry, and I know that Easter is the Super Bowl of christendom. Some churches even rent out stadiums to fit all the people attending their celebration services. I remember taking my kids to Anaheim Stadium one year for Easter – not to see a baseball game, but to see Rick Warren preach after the Jonas Brothers sang their songs.

Two weeks ago, Coachella announced that they were adding Kanye West to their second-week lineup. Not for a headlining spot, but for a 9 AM Sunday morning service.


What?!

How do you even get out of bed for that after Tame Impala plays their Saturday-night set? How many people will wake up for it? Main stage? Side stage? Where do you house the service? Personally, I love that Kanye – and not his celebrity pastors – is leading the charge with his music this year. What will it be like? Will ninety-thousand people go to an Easter-morning church service at Coachella?

The following day, I was driving my son, Nolan, to an audition in Los Angeles. The weed billboards alongside the highway are many and growing (no pun intended). Cannabis is, simply, the new normal…

I started to think about the billboards people pass on their way to Coachella. Nolan wondered whether there might be any left for my idea…

There weren’t. Everything was sold out…


On land.

Then I remembered the sky.

In 2002, I made an announcement by flying a banner overhead. Seventeen years later, we’ve got skywriting. When we called about availability, the woman on the phone said that all time slots were sold out…

Minus one.

An afternoon slot on April 20th.

Wait a minute… this year’s Easter falls on a 4/20 weekend?

I looked at Nolan and thought, “Wow, that’s fifteen days from now… what do we need to make it happen? What still needs to happen? Is this the right time to introduce this conversation to the world that I have known for so long…?”

I called five people, including my wife, and the response was four-to-one in favor of booking the spot. It seemed pretty convincing compared to the past eleven months of dreaming, exploring and building some of these ideas out with friends and agencies.

I didn’t write new content. I didn’t add pages or start freaking out about how I don’t have enough information on the website. I simply removed the password-protected barrier and made it live.

For the sake of context, I bought the web domain eight months ago thinking that I would build out a content-driven website and gather a team of experts who could write, host podcasts and begin a new conversation among fellow Christians surrounding this taboo substance that is quickly gaining legal traction throughout the United States.

I enjoy a good splash. I like using what is loud to lead to better conversations behind the noise.

In that way, I love the name Christian Cannabis…

But I’ll be honest: it’s a love/hate relationship.

On the flipside, just the word “Christian” – when paired with anything other than a person (and even then, sometimes) – is usually awful. We’ve got an unfortunate knack for poor ripoffs. I guess I’ve got my work cut out for me if I’m going to prove that this is something other than the b-movie version of things that I hate as much as the next guy.

Cannabis is, decidedly, not “Christian.” Just like all other not-human things.

But this name is simple and straightforward – as would I like to be. So, here you have it.

I am setting out to create a conversation that targets Christians, so why not call it like it is? For many of us who would use that word to describe ourselves, this will be a new conversation. Or, at the very least, a new public conversation…

I think, though, that many Christian cannabis users will come out of the woodwork.

Others, justifiably so, will say, “Nope, not for me.”

I’m open to all of it.

I’m excited for all of it.

I know that some will hate me for it, and I know that others will thank God that someone finally said something.

I know that there will be both constructive and destructive criticism.

Whoever you are, and whatever you think, I’d love to open up a public dialogue.

This is a conversation. May all of us feel free to talk. May we also have the humility to incline our ears to listen.

WELCOME IN


Yesterday, I spent the day at Coachella watching some of my favorite bands play music.

Tomorrow, I celebrate Easter Sunday at a 9AM “church service” led by Kanye West.

What is life, again?

Kanye called it a “Very Christian Spiritual Experience.” There isn’t any preaching, and it was certainly different than what you might’ve seen on TBN this Sunday, but honestly? It is refreshing and new. Definitely will be the most unique Easter experience I’ve ever had.

People will show up for it. Thousands and thousands of people I bet.

Well, I did something on this 4/20 Easter Weekend, too.


It was a stunt.

It was a splash.

It was a disruption.

It was an experiment.

Most of all, it was the start of a conversation.

A new one.

Call me crazy, but that little green cross pointed my eyes toward the real Cross, and I finally saw it.

My life has drastically changed since that day.

We can joke about it. Sure, some things move slower for me now, but that’s not say I’m asleep on the couch with pizza crumbs all over my stomach.

What I mean by “slowing down” is that the to-do list no longer dominates my entire life. What I mean by “slowing down” is that I am no longer absent from the very people I’m sitting in a room with.

What I mean by “slowing down” is that I have become a better husband, father, friend, and boss.

What it means to you? I am not sure yet.

I’m not sure what this becomes. The last thing I did – which also launched at a festival – is still going strong after eighteen-plus years.

There are other things I want to do. I am forty-three years young. Sure, turning forty felt like life was half-over, but I still believe the best is yet to come. I hear that often, but I don’t know many people who really believe it. I do. I am living and walking in that belief.

In an upcoming episode of Craig Brain, I write about Quarterbacks and Coaches, Brady and Belichick. In it, I announce my departure from the field… but this isn’t the reason.


I am not moving from the Pastor Of Porn to the Pastor Of Pot.

The episode will come when it comes, but for the time being, lets just say that I have felt called to start moving in a new direction ever since 2013, when I experienced a profound encounter with the Lord that began to set my life on a new trajectory.

Normally, I move extremely fast. It’s been six years since that day – an eternity in my world – so I guess you can say I’ve taken my time with this one.

I’m not retiring. Neither is Brady, apparently, but unlike him, I’m moving more toward trading the field for the sidelines.

I have other sports to play, and other teams to coach.

Some endeavors are non-profits and others are regular-ole businesses. Some ideas are safe and others are risky. Just because this one launched first doesn’t mean there aren’t more to come. New projects and initiatives take time.

I’ve poured a lot of myself into this project, and many others have done the same for me. When it comes to “Christian Cannabis,” the time, thought, energy, prayer and long, deep conversations with friends, pastors, mentors and many others are too many to count.

I remember the first, honest conversation I ever had about marijuana with my friend, Krissee. I felt like I was hiding in the closet, whispering to her from behind a pile of clothes.

People love to weigh in on those who come out of their closets (whatever their hidden “secret” might be). Bring out your scales, I guess. Here we go…


My closet is different than yours.

I don’t expect you to wear, understand, appreciate or connect with every piece of clothing in my closet. In fact – if you know me well – you know my closet makes no sense to anyone but me. My clothes are bold, outrageous and loud. Also, I own a lot of sweats.

I used to hide cannabis mints in my closet. Now that my whole family (and the rest of the world) knows, the lockbox next to my shoes is full, but nothing is hidden.

The other thing the people who know me well understand is that I love hacks and shortcuts. My understanding of cannabis has been neither. This has taken me a long time. I’m finally ready to talk about it, and I’m inviting you to do the same.

What if Christians were to begin understanding how something like cannabis could be used in beneficial ways to support their lives?

What if we were to entertain the idea that legality is not the equivalent of licentiousness, and neither must we demonize and condemn every single thing that we don’t quite understand?

What if – rather than trading our feelings for platitudes and “should-bes” – we were to begin to better understand them?

What if cannabis proved to enhance mental clarity, diminish anxiety, and lend itself toward physical healing and integrative wellness?

What if cannabis proved to dissolve the self constantly getting in the way, enabling one to better prioritize others and the qualities and relationships that make for a full and vibrant life?

That has been, in part, my experience… all from a plant.

Which brings us back to the present.

Introducing:

I welcome it.

Craig Gross