I wanted to let you know that the Akron/Canton Emergent cohort will be getting together in two weeks- July 31st, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. This time we’ll be meeting at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Akron. The address is 1250 W Exchange St, Akron, OH 44313-7695. A new friend to the cohort, Gregg, has graciously arranged to make this space available; so we’re going to try it out and see how it goes. We’ll even have childcare available for those with kids. Let’s gather at 6:30 for a meal (please bring a dish to share) and then childcare will start at 7:00 p.m. You can enter the building through the doors adjacent to the wheelchair ramp on the back side of the building. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’re coming and if you can bring anything to contribute to the meal so that we can make sure we have enough food, etc. As for our topic, we’ll probably finish debriefing a bit from our viewing of The Ordinary Radicals last time (we had a great turnout and awesome discussion of a very challenging film, and it was great to host you all at my place; thanks for coming out) and then move on to a new topic (to be announced shortly). I really hope to see you all there!
As we enjoy a meal together and try out a new location for the cohort, I thought it might be good to wrap up any thoughts since last time, when many of us watched The Ordinary Radicals, and then move on to a new topic. We might watch the Nooma video “Sunday” if folks are interested. For those who don’t know, Nooma is a series of short videos produced by Rob Bell that challenge people to re-think Christianity. I think this particular one could tie in nicely to a discussion centered around creatively “practicing resurrection.” This is a particularly pressing matter for me, as I know that God cares not a whit about how good of a “Christian” I am, if being a Christian is about “going to church” on Sunday, maybe participating in a small group, not using bad language, and voting the right way- but otherwise living a life that looks a whole lot like every other middle class white USAmerican’s. In other words, I really don’t think that Jesus had to die for that. If my life with Jesus doesn’t radically change everything, if it doesn’t matter much to me or those around me, then really, what’s the point? There’s so much meaningless debate among would-be Christians about if Scripture should be taken “literally” (a problematic discussion on many levels), and if so, which parts (we all do a whole lot of interpreting, don’t we?). What troubles me is that I almost never hear anyone debating whether or not to take passages like Luke 14:12-14 literally:
12Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
I know of course that well-meaning would-be Christians may well disagree about how to interpret many of the teachings in the Bible, but I am deeply convicted that, as I read in a book I just finished (A People’s History of Christianity), “justice is not a metaphor.” In other words, I contend that surely the passage above and others like it should be taken literally. That is, if Christians really loved our neighbor as ourselves and regard all things as God’s- not ours- then we wouldn’t need welfare or universal health care (which, unfortunately due to the failure of the Church to BE the Church, we now most certainly do, in my opinion).
So, I believe and feel called to live a very different kind of life, but how? Our entire society is structured to keep me and my family isolated from the economically poor (which, in turn, impoverishes me and mine in so many other ways) and is very effective in keeping us plugged into practices and institutions that support and perpetuate this Godless way of life. Going against the flow, living in a truly different way, is hard and requires much creativity and can only be attempted, let alone accomplished, together. My hope then is that we might have a big brainstorming session about how to creatively live differently. I hope we can challenge and support one another around ways to opt out of the American dream and opt into God’s dream for the world and his coming kingdom. Does this sound like something you want to talk about?