When I began looking for an Anabaptist congregation, I was immediately drawn to the San Antonio Mennonite Church here in the Alamo City. Truth be told, I probably would have stayed within our house-church if it weren’t for the fact that many of our families were moving. But as necessity compelled me to search for a tribe, the Anabaptist emphasis on Jesus discipleship, servant minded non-violence, and its history of persecution welcomed me. I’m glad we found a home in the MCUSA.
Having grown up as the son of an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention, I was frightfully aware of the denominational politics our family encountered having served under two SBC Presidents. But Anabaptism offered more than that, with less, or so it seemed.
Theda Good’s recent ordination seems to have served as a sort of catalyst in the ever growing divide between the young and old, urban and rural MCUSA membership. But from my location, these reactionary reverberations seem to find their epicenter on the conservative side of the aisle while the almost certainly inevitable LGBTQ ordination seems to originate on the progressive side. Regrettably, I feign to even use the binary language associated with progressive versus conservative politics, but it seems that such language indicates that we have already bought in to the us vs. them mentality that dominates our American culture.
What about the Third Way?
I’m perplexed as to why we’re having this conversation in the first place. Looking at arguments from “both sides,” I keep asking myself, “where is Jesus in this?” I see Jesus in the calls for humility and servanthood. I see Jesus in the cautionary language encouraging dialogue instead of schism. But I don’t see Jesus in the Soddom and Gommorah rhetoric, and neither do I see it in the practice of ordination.
January 3, 2014
activism, Anabaptism, Bigotry, Church, Class, culture, Current Events, empire, Exclusion, Faith, Gender, Leadership, LGBTQ, Mennonite Church USA, neo-Anabaptism, Privilege, Race, Schism, Sexism, Social justice, The Bible, Tolerance, Tradition
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There is a growing movement of pastors, church planters, and churches around the globe who have become convinced that the center of the Gospel is a Jesus-looking God who calls his people to partner with him to advance a Jesus-looking kingdom. Â They sense that God is pouring out “new kingdom wine” that is bursting apart the tired old wineskins of Christendom. They sense we are at the cusp of a rising kingdom revolution that is going to radically alter what people identity as “the Christian faith” and “the Church.” Â The majority of these leaders are both encouraged and discouraged. They are encouraged by the Jesus-looking kingdom revolution they see rising up, Â but discouraged by the lack of networking and partnership amongst others who share their convictions. –Greg Boyd and Mark Moore
Several weeks ago, Greg Boyd and Mark Moore hosted a network exploration meeting for Neo Anabaptist types in the hours leading up to the conference on “Faith, Doubt and the Idol of Certainty.” The conference, hosted by Woodland Hills Church, was slated to coincide with the recent release of Boyd’s latest book, Benefit of the Doubt. (which I hear is highly worth reading)
But it was the Neo Anabaptist “network exploration meeting” that became the basis of buzz amongst online Anabaptist circles as of late.
There certainly seems to be a need for cohesion among the emerging Neo Anabaptist churches and pastors across the country–something that goes beyond denominationalism, but can work in tandem with existing avenues (such as denominations) that many of us already have relationships with. Many think we have an opportunity to create a missional organization or association that empowers “the boots on the ground,” so to speak–a platform for Post Christendom theology and praxis.
Perhaps it is time to start bringing together minds and bodies in order to create a space for open resources, networking, and mutual affirmation. Still, the conversation thus far has given me pause, and so I want to highlight a few pitfalls to I think we should avoid as well as present a few proposals that cast some vision for the Post Christendom Reformation.
1) We need to acknowledge our privilege:
What I am not seeing so far is a space that creates agency for women, minorities, the marginalized as well as those who aren’t “big” theological personalities in the current Neo Anabaptist discussion. Let’s be honest: while I applaud Mark Moore and Greg Boyd for taking the initiative to invite Neo Anabaptist types intoÂ dialogue as an aside to this conference, I fail to see how hosting a “network exploration meeting” opens the space for the diversity the movement is already composed of, when the only ones who could attend such a meeting must have either
a) been conference town locals, or
b) have the time and means to fly to the Twin Cities and attend Greg’s conference. (more…)
October 9, 2013
Anabaptism, antiracism, Bigotry, Change, Church, Class, Community, disabilities, Education, Emerging Church, empire, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, Global Church
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Today continues with the series, “I once was raised… but now I’ve found…” where some of my favorite authors, bloggers, scholars, and theologians explain the transitions they have encountered along their own faith journey. As the series continues, you’ll find me interviewing the guest bloggers below, as they answer questions I’ve posed about their experiences.
My interview with Drew proved to be too intense and too important to try and cram into one long blog post, so I’ll be posting part II in the near future. I hope you enjoy it, and learn from them as much as I have.
“I once was raised African American Evangelical, but now I’ve found Jesus through the Black Prophetic Church tradition and Anabaptism.”–Drew G.I. Hart
Tyler- Evangelical is a word thrown around a lot in the media and in Christian circles. One rarely hears the phrase “African American Evangelical”–can you share what makes African American Evangelicalism and what its like being raised in that environment?
Great question, although in reality, I think people are probably a lot more familiar with what I call ‘African American Evangelicalism’ than they realize. However, I will start with a definition before I go there. As I see it, African American Evangelicalism is the by-product of Evangelical theology and African American experience blending together. So, in this sense, African American Evangelicalism would not be an exact duplicate of most dominant cultural expressions of evangelicalism. And yet still, they are closely related. Most African Americans share a lot in common theologically with evangelicals already, which is no surprise given that Black faith at the core is significantly shaped by the reinterpretation of white southern Baptist and southern Methodist traditions, in which Africans converted to in mass in the midst of slavery. (more…)
August 24, 2013
activism, Anabaptism, antiracism, Bias, Bigotry, City, Class, culture, Exclusion
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We are Mennonites (and fellow travelers) who reject the church’s mission activities.
We believe Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural destruction. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic crusades and mission boards that proselytize, no matter how well-meaning they claim to be.
We reject the authenticity of the so-called “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:19-20). We simply don’t think Jesus said it. Most New Testament scholars doubt its authenticity as well, for a couple reasons. Firstly, any statements supposedly made by Jesus after his death must be called into question. Secondly, if Jesus told his followers to go out and convert the world, then the debate about the inclusion of Gentiles during Paul’s time makes little sense. To modern scholars, the “Great Commission” sounds more like the post-70-A.D. church talking than the historical Jesus.
July 7, 2012
Bigotry, Evangelism, Exclusion, Hate, Indigenous, Interfaith, Interpretation, Tolerance
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I was a senior in high school in September 2001. I was to have a cross-country meet that Tuesday evening, the 11th, and the boy’s soccer team at my school was to play its archrival. I remember not being surprised that we were attacked. Previous visits to Africa and Latin American revealed to me glimpses of negative psychological and environmental impact of some US American foreign military and development policy. I saw why people could be very angry. I was coming into consciousness about the injustices in our national system, and I was not particularly happy with the USA either, at that point in my life.
But being raised Mennonite taught me that no matter how mad I was, I was not to use violence as a means to address conflict. So I was frustrated that others had mobilized power in a destructive way…and I was even more sad to hear the US government and many people’s reaction. The healing and clarifying line that emerged for me throughout the next years was that of the families of many of the victims who formed a group to make it clear in the saber-rattling days afterwards: “Our Grief is Not A Cry for War.” This line told a powerful story.
One of the most significant impacts that 9/11/01 has had on my ministry is that I have been challenged to tell more stories instead of making factual, theological, or ideological points. So, I would like to take the opportunity of this post to share a story about a Muslim young man who was a victim of a post-9/11 hate crime. Don Teague, from CBS News, wrote about it (18Jul11) and I quote his article at length: (more…)
September 11, 2011
activism, Anniversary, antiracism, Bigotry, Current Events, Death Penalty, Foreign Policy, God, Guns, Hate, Journalism, Peace & Peacemaking, Terrorism
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….Dedicated to this dying Child.
A child dying in the streets of the crowded Warsaw Ghetto, where hunger and disease killed 43,000 in 1941 alone.
“This is your house and you can say whatever you want in it.”
Indeed it is your house
You can say whatever you want in it.
You went on
The International Jew
how they and the Freemasons
are secretly plotting
on how they
can take over the world
how Hilter must’ve
for a good reason…
because no one kills six million
people for no reason. (more…)
February 28, 2011
Bigotry, Hate, Poetry
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Ever feel like you’re somewhere where you shouldn’t be?
Yesterday I was running on the Coal & Coke Trail outside Mount Pleasant when I found myself in the midst of hunting season in Western PA. Orange-clad hunters with rifles patrolled the woods on either side of the trail.
This isn’t abnormal this time of year…after all, the PA hunting season is short and the interest, strong (i.e. supply and demand sends hunters and the hunting-inclined out in droves), and I’ve certainly seen hunters out and about during my daily runs.
But I felt particularly vulnerable this time around.
Yeah, I was wearing bright red and running in a b-line down a wide jogging trail, and I realize that hunters for the most part are very careful with their rifles. Most of the hunters I saw even acknowledged me with a hand wave or a tip of the cap.
December 13, 2010
Bigotry, Gaza, Illegal, Immigration, Iraq, Israel, LGBTQ, Palestine, Peace & Peacemaking, Urban Ministry
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I live in Phoenix, the front line in the war against the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to be free.Â I would imagine everything here looks pretty awful from the outside, seemingly without a silver lining, but I’ve been seeing something different, something beautiful happening here.
In the midst of our police raids, our masses of children orphaned by deportation, women giving birth in shackles, and our racist legislation, something wonderful is happing in the heart of the church.Â People from all sides of the religious spectrum are coming together in a way I haven’t ever seen before to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).
And it’s beautiful.
Â A friend of mine and I went to a meeting of clergy recently, gathering to discuss what we as a church can do.Â We met in the chapel of a United Church of Christ congregation downtown and had everyone from pastors and priests with their collars to rabbis with their yarmulkes, Muslim women in their hijabs and a few Anabaptists with babies in slings across their chests.Â Throw in a few Buddhist monks, devout Hindus, Unitarian Universalists, Baptists, and everyone in between and you’ve got a good idea of what the average immigration reform demonstration looks like here.
It’s a rainbow of beliefs putting our differences aside and uniting in the belief of a God without borders, without nationality, and who cares more about someone’s well being then their legal status.Â I have in my mind an image of God looking down on us and repeating the phrase “It is good.” as he didÂ in theÂ creation story in Genesis.
The hardest thing about SB1070 and similar hate based legislation is that politically, in a lot of ways, they makes sense.Â But I believe that we are called to do something radically different when we decide to follow Jesus.Â Jesus’ teaching didn’t make sense.Â Loving your enemy, praying for those who persecute you, turning the other cheek, these things don’t make sense at all… and that’s part of what makes it so fantastic.
Believing in Jesus is believing that doing what doesn’t make sense can be the best thing, and that sometimes doing what doesn’t make sense is what makes a better world possible.Â I believe in that world and I want so badly to be a part of it.
July 28, 2010
antiracism, Bigotry, Church, Current Events, Illegal, Immigration, Politics, Race
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I just got back from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Â Our church took a group of 10 high schoolers on a week and a half long service trip. Â Our primary work was on the Samuelito Daycare building, a project of the Mennonite Churches in Bolivia. Â Our church here in Harper, Ks has had a relationship with the Bolivian Mennonites for going on 20 years. Â For a fairly typical rural Mennonite church, it’s a partnership that is pretty special and really quite amazing.
One thing to know about our group is that the majority of the kids that we took aren’t particularly involved in church. Â Also, most of them haven’t really been out of the state or even our county, let alone to another country. Â That to say that this trip was the first profound experience of the working of God on a global scale for most of our kids. Â As with most service trips, yes we did do some amount of good work on the building project. Â However, we certainly received more than we gave and were changed in some profound ways.
As part of our reporting back to the congregation, I offered the sermon below. Â Hopefully it’s a helpful reflection. Â It’s specific to this trip and to Bolivia, but I think it really should to many cross-cultural situations.
Oh, yeah and it’s cross posted here.
I went to the Grand Canyon with my family when I was in High School.Â As my family toured various parts of the canyon and different times of the day it felt as though I was seeing new things about every 10 minutes.Â And of course, I felt compelled to take picture of every new thing that I saw.Â When we got back home and had our pictures developed I remember looking at all of the pictures and thinking, “yep, that’s a hole in the ground.Â Yep, another hole in the ground.” Â What had been so vivid when I was experiencing it lost it’s uniqueness when I tried to put it on film. (more…)
June 14, 2010
Bias, Bigotry, Biographical, Change, communication, Community, culture, Faith, Family, Global Church, God, International Relations, Stories, Uncategorized
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I don’t know whether in the States you have noticed the debate about the Swiss people’s decision last Sunday (29th of November) to amend their constitution to forbid minarets. Here in Germany and the rest of Europe fascists and right-leaners are celebrating and want plebiscites on these issues as well(check out their posters!). Swiss politicians are shocked as no one would have anticipated such a result and are now checking if they can squirm out of it, by saying that basic liberties cannot be changed, not even by the will of the people. Analysis shows that the most votes for the ban came from the rural areas where there are almost no Muslims, and most votes against the ban came from the cities where there is a relatively high Muslim population, still not high. In all of Switzerland there are four mosques…
To me, this shows a fundamental flaw in democracy as good as it maybe: Democracy does not mean the rule of people, it means rule of the majority and if the majority should decide not to tolerate the minority -like the case with Switzerland – so be it. Ok, in order to correct this there are things like independent judges and not directly elected secretaries, but that is exactly what the SVP, the “Swiss People’s Party”, wants to change next. Democracy is not an absolute value.
But how is the Anabaptist view on this, is there one at all? In the beginning, Anabaptists didn’t gather in fancy churches, they met in houses or caves in the forest to prevent being sent to prison. The only time one would find them in the usual churches was to storm the pulpit and preach the gospel. When Anabaptists were allowed to settle in Southern Germany after the 30 years war they weren’t allowed to build church towers.
The bells in church towers have often been melted in times of war to make swords and guns, a reversion of Micah 4,1-4 so to say.
During the campaigning for the ban on minarets the initiators always claimed not to be anti-Islamic, but that they were only against radical Islamists and that Islam didn’t need minarets, therefore aÂ minaret was a political extremist statement and it’s ban would not interfere with the right to religious freedom.
Let’s look at Christianity then, I did find one story in my Bible, where people wanted to build a tower. But after God “came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building” Gen.11,5 he didn’t like it too much and confused their languages.
In the New Testament there is not a single reference of towers… So, are towers needed in Christianity? Shouldn’t the Swiss people perhaps also ban church towers?
Or maybe Swiss Mennonites and Mennonites in general should build “mennorates” in solidarity with the Swiss Muslims?
December 6, 2009
Bias, Bigotry, Current Events, Exclusion, Hate, History, Interfaith, Polemics, Politics, Tolerance, Uncategorized
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It would be unfair to label Saint Sebastian’s Independant Catholic Church a “gay church”. But it’d be unfair not to mention that, perhaps, they are very into the gay happenings in Baltimore and minister to the gay community. While I am sure that Pastor Flaherty would be disheartened to think that Saint Sebastians is only a church for the queer community, the community at large would probably reference it as “The gay church”. I find this sort of thing unfortunate.
I wound up here by means of an Emergent Village book group that meets in Baltimore. I met Assisting Priest Joan Stiles, a bleached blonde short-haired middle aged woman, while discussing Claiborne’s book Jesus for President. The group discussed much and varied in theological belief tremendously. Disagreement’s abounded. Surprisingly, no one argued. I learned about Joan, her Catholic past, her current priesthood and thought, surely, if there was anyone I would disagree with it was female priest at a pro-gay church. But Joan, like much of the world, was full of surprises. I found myself captivated with her outlook on our faith, her impression of God, her passion for Biblical authority.
A few months later the Reverend Flaherty, the Priest at Joan’s church, even came to the emergent church meetup group. A tall man, who dwarfs me, with long fingers, he strikes me as the sort of person who is easy to get along with. Perhaps that same young idealism that runs in all young people’s blood still runs in his. I found him quiet, questioning, firm in his convictions yet willing to hear others out. It’s hard to not like him. (more…)
November 30, 2008
Anabaptism, Bigotry, City, Dumb Stuff., Emerging Church, LGBTQ, Polarization, Race, Tolerance
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Tuesday was quite the night. Like Celeste, I found my way to Grant Park (coveted tickets for the official campaign event in hand) and joined the crowd of a hundred thousand gathered to scream, cry, hug, and jump our way into a new spirit of hopefulness that is solidifying around us.
Besides Obama’s victory, there was another vote that meant a lot to me on Tuesday, and left a lingering bittersweetness to the otherwise perfect night: Proposition 8 amended the California constitution to define legal marriage as exclusive to opposite-sex couples, overturning the decision of the Supreme Court and ending the right of California same-sex couples to the legal protections of marriage for the near future.
Initial reaction: rage. I found someone who expressed this very very well:
Ultimately, though, rage against injustice must energize something else, something life-affirming.
November 11, 2008
Bigotry, Community, Current Events, Exclusion, Gender, Group Identity, LGBTQ, liberation theology, Politics, Spiritual Life, Tolerance
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I just received a post from a man in Pennsylvania who is responding to an essay on “Dehumanization of the Homeless” on the Mennonite Poverty Forum. (This post is edited some, so if you want to read the full post in its context, please go to: http://groups.google.com/group/mennonite-poverty-forum/browse_thread/thread/b4a61d17a32cbe4a)
How would you respond to this? What does this say about Mennonites in general?
Here in my area the Mennonites control my county in all legal aspects and purposely made an ordinance so the poor can no longer eat out of garbage bins at the backs of stores so the food that is edible but past date is left to rot while people go hungry.
Mennonites will never join or become part of your group At least the Mennonites from Lancaster County, PA They are part OF the problem you speak of and work their best to extract every ounce of flesh from the homeless and those who have next to nothing I know I have eaten with the homeless as I am near homeless myself due to physical illness and have seen the inhumanity and how the mennonites and amish treat those in need.
The only people in my area that do a THING for the homeless are the Catholics and that is mostly lip service and a free bowl of cereal but at least that is something!
In my area there is a saying: If you need a helping hand DONT ask an Amish person or a Mennonite and I know (more…)
October 1, 2008
Bias, Bigotry, City, Love, poverty, Privilege, Tolerance
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crossposted from As of Yet Untitled.
Yesterday in my daily BBC feed I came across six horrifying stories from Egyptian women who experience regular sexual harassment. The psychic effect on women comes through in heart breaking clarity:
I get harassed 100 times a day. I tried everything to stop it but it doesn’t stop. I wear loose clothes, I don’t wear make up, I spend more than an hour in front of the mirror everyday thinking of ways to hide my body.
The stories also point to a wide spread acceptance of harassment among men in Egyptian society:
Another time I was walking home and this guy unzipped his trousers in a car next to me. I screamed, but he shouted back very aggressively, saying ‘Who do you think you are? Why would I even look at you?’ People in the street gathered around us and to my surprise they were not sympathetic with me. They supported him. They all defended the guy because they do the same thing.
Most of the women share their own attempts at coping or resistance strategies, few of which seem to have any affect. (more…)
September 4, 2008
activism, Bigotry, Current Events, Politics, Privilege, Sexism, Tradition
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Like an episode of C.O.P.S. the names here have been changed to protect the innocent.
Hamilton is in N.E. Baltimore, which is in Maryland, which is in the Eastern United States located in North America. I’ve lived here for two years. I never thought I’d be an urbanite but it’s come to suit me just fine. I like the ice cream trucks, the mixed culture, a plethora of restaurants, the ease of commuting all over the city and burbs in minutes.
I wouldn’t say Hamilton is “The Hood”. It’s one zip code south of the county, the next town south is one of the better places to live in Baltimore, Lauraville, which insulates us. But like all urban areas there are very little guarantees. Some nights it’s quiet, other nights I can hear teenagers swearing loudly at 2am and there’s usually empty beer containers on my lawn in the morning. It’s easy to see that our relative peace hangs by a thread, whether it be the bloods graffiti or the drunks stumbling through our backyards at 11 pm, our quiet community is quietly at war.
But this isn’t a post about Hamilton. Or about urban warfare. Or about gangs. It’s about kids and watching them grow up in a weird ecclectic neighborhood. (more…)
July 27, 2008
Bigotry, children, City, Community, Contemplation, culture, Dumb Stuff., Education, Race, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry
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