Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Gathering This Week...

Hey all,

Just wanted to communicate that there will be no Emerging Desert gathering tomorrow. We're taking a break as a good portion of the cohort is at the Emerging Church Conference at the Center for Action & Contemplation in New Mexico this weekend.

We'll pick up where we left off next weekend on March 29th. Cheers!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recap 3.15.09

We began our trek up the mountains of discussion that are the crux of what we're reading in Shane Claiborne's book - Jesus for President. Ironically, in this section, Shane admits that Jesus actually would be a bad president, because Jesus "...aspired to something different from state power." (86)

Using Adam's thought-provoking questions as a start, we tried to make sense of what "Jubilee" would look like today. Questions lead inevitably to questions, eh?
  1. Was God invoking the first pillars of socialism?
  2. How closely could we follow the laws within Jubilee, given our current context?
  3. Would it be mostly about debt cancellation?
  4. How would it even be possible for us to explore while we remain firmly planted in capitalism?
I'm not sure where our conversation turned to tithing, but I'm glad it did. At some point, when we discuss the sharing of resources, I think it fitting to look directly into our wallets. Though God originally enacted tithing as a way to finance his taking over the world with big expensive buildings, we've now begun messing things up by trying to make it about the sharing of resources. (sorry, a bit below the belt - delete it you say? hmmm....can't seem to find the button...oh well).

Where were we? Oh yes...Jubilee leads to socialism, and now all the lazy people get to eat. Okay seriously, somebody stop me.

We moved to the discussion on how "freely" we should give, not knowing all the time whether our money is going to be used for good or for ill. Everybody seemed to have differing perspectives on this, mainly according to the context of any given situation. There are certainly stories on both side of this coin, and I think there always will be. It is good to discuss though, because it keeps us moving, changing, and thinking, rather than giving in stagnation.

We talked a little about how on a small scale we've tried to live in a more giving way, and that hopefully this can start to lead us down a path to be a unique culture within our western culture. I'd really like to discuss this further - how these questions could not just lead to more questions, but to some sort of continued action. This is where the rubber meets the road, and frankly where the emerging church has it's biggest struggle and has enjoyed rightful criticism. Shall we discuss until our throats are sore? Don't get me wrong, the discussion has been invigorating thus far to my life. And of course there is not an answer that will fulfill every question and every person. I guess I'm just wanting to apply some of these things. The discussions in fact have inspired me...What comes to mind immediately is this - what about every third or fourth time we meet, we still show up at the Schroeder's, maybe gab for a bit, but then go and DO. Comment away...

To end the night, Ron suggested we invade Canada to prepare for ourselves some nice beach front property that global warming will soon be providing. Really not cool Ron, I think there may be Canadians in our midst.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Getting Down to Business!

*Photo Credit - The Blackbird on Flickr

Okay, tomorrow we're going to be spending our time digging into more of the details that have been raised in Claiborne & Haw's, Jesus for President. Economics, politics, patriotism, creative non-violence, cultural interaction... you know, the usual stuff you talk about within spiritual community;-)

Our reading of the book currently has us through page 102. Here are some questions to get our thoughts going...

- What are some examples of political imagination in our current context and culture?
"God put in place other beautiful initiatives to awaken the Israelites' political imagination and ensure that they didn't default to old ways of living" (56).

- How do we/should we view the "Sabbath laws" today?
"The Sabbath laws were put in place not just so people could go to worship services on Sunday (or Saturday) mornings but to make sure that the Hebrew people didn't revert to the exploitative economy of the empire from which they were saved" (57).

- Should we/can we entertain the idea of Jubilee economics [debt cancellation] in our present culture? If so, how?
"Just like the Hebrew people were supposed to refrain from working every seventh day so that their land, animals, & servants could rest (a marked contrast to their overworked life in Egypt), every seventh year, the Hebrew people had a celebration called the Jubilee..., during which they would take the whole year off from work. During this one-year break, all the food that continued to grow in their fields was free for the taking for families who were struggling to get by (Exod. 23:10). And any debt that folks had incurred during the past six years was erased" (59).

- How does (can?) national patriotism coexist with our pursuit of Jesus' way?
"Jesus was urging his followers to be the unique, peculiar, and set-apart people that began with Abraham. He didn't pray for the world in order to make governments more religious; he called Israel to be the light of the world - to abandon the way of the world and cultivate an alternative society in the shell of the old, not merely to be a better version of the kingdom of this world" (71).

- What can the "Third Way" (creative non-violence) look like for us today?
"Jesus' listeners would have understood the Romans to be the weeds sown among the wheat. How to rid the world of their evil? But Jesus redirected this and insisted that #1 You cannot easily distinguish the weeds from the wheat. (It's not so easy to say, 'We are all good and they are all evil.' Sometimes only God can distinguish.) #2 Destroying evil might destroy good" (97).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recap 3.08.09

Another recap comin' atcha. Late, yes, but still comin' atcha.

We started our discussion this week by having everybody share those previous experiences that led them to where they are now, and what they're hopeful for looking down the road. Many of us discussed previous church experiences with the word "conservative" or "fundamental", and other fun, happy, weighty words. Regarding hope, many of us have hope for our group, or what it represents. Hope that what we've let go can and will be replaced with something more beautiful.

Adam brought up Shane's discussion on the word "repent" in Jesus for President. That word can carry many different meanings and emotions, but Shane suggests that originally it was used as "change your mind". So we discussed the idea of going down a path, saying sorry (repenting), and then doing it again.

To round this out, Ron suggested that we watch "The Gods Aren't Angry" by Rob Bell. Here is a small clip,but it seems the full version is only available on dvd at, yeah, you guessed it, Ron, did you have another resource for this? Anybody else?

So that was what I got in brief. We're going to keep trucking on our discussion of the book next week, particularly as it deals with the year of jubilee, apparent Old Testament socialism, and crop circles. ...What?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Joy Reviews "Everything Must Change"...

Hey all,

Just wanted to highlight Joy's recent review of Brian McLaren's book, Everything Must Change, over at Life In Abundance International's blog.

Well done, Joy!