When my Christian faith first began to radicalize, I became very interested in the Franciscan tradition. The advocacy for radical discipleship, peace, and social and environmental justice that is associated with the ministry of Francis of Assisi naturally appealed to me. At first, I did as many do, and associated the Franciscan tradition with Roman Catholicism, but as I studied more, I found that the Franciscan movement is actually surprisingly diverse.
Back when Francis first started out, there were already a few different sects that identified with his movement, and some were so radical that they were even expelled as heretics. To be honest, I am surprised that Francis was not expelled as a heretic, like so many similar figures were. Even today, there are multiple Franciscan orders in the Roman Catholic Church, and there are numerous Anglican, Lutheran, Old Catholic, and ecumenical Franciscan orders. When I first started investigating the Franciscan tradition, and considered joining it, it was the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans that appealed to me. I actually planned on joining this order. I had spoken with one of their members about it, and even had the application ready to send in, but other events in my life caused me to put that on hold. I started to study other radical traditions, such as the Anabaptists, instead.
May 20, 2013
Anabaptism, Church, Contemplation, Discipleship, Emerging Church, New Monasticism, Roman Catholic, Theology
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I was not raised in the Christian religion. Like many from the First World, I was raised in a Christian culture, but I was not raised in the church or with a knowledge of the Christian religion. I spent most of my childhood as an agnostic with some Buddhist flavor, and when I was exposed to the Bible, it was through a children’s storybook. As a result, I associated the Bible with fairy tales. This would eventually come to change as I felt the desire to actually study religion. Part of it due to my brother’s influence.
My brother was like me. He was not raised in Christianity, but later converted to it as a teenager. He originally came to Christ through the Pentecostals, then he became an Evangelical. It was when he was attending an Evangelical Free church that I first came to truly appreciate Christianity again. It was also during this time that I got my first Bible, which was the New Living Translation. I did not believe in Christianity during this time, but it was something interesting to study and do on the weekends.
One thing that I learned from Evangelical Protestantism was that everything is personal and private. We are supposed to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We are supposed to personally convert to Christianity, and salvation was all about personal redemption from sin and death. Even the Bible was to be read and interpreted privately. Even in economics, Evangelicals tend to stress capitalism and enterprise over community and charity. Then, I began to study Catholic theology, and I started to use a New American Bible.
May 3, 2013
Anabaptism, Church, Community, Emerging Church, Interpretation, Roman Catholic, The Bible, Theology, Tradition
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As I attempt to focus on the death of Jesus today, on Good Friday, I find it difficult. I’d rather check Facebook, read a magazine or stare out the window. Tonight there’s a church service that I’ll go to, but for now the ugly reality of death and violence feels far away.
What happens if I look more closely at that aversion: that sense of yuckiness? Recently, Rachel Halder of Our Stories Untold, shared with me a story that got me thinking about this in a different way. Rachel is a survivor of sexual abuse who has become an speaker and organizer around the issue of sexualized violence within the Mennonite Church in the U.S. She shared this story about an experience working with women in a Mennonite related project:
I brought up the fact that we needed to collect stories of women who have been abused. Again, as they always are, people were very hesitant about this. They were (perhaps rightfully?) worried that older women in the church would be turned off by overt language about abuse and they wouldn’t be willing to talk about any of their stories because of that "yucky" topic.
I too often find myself avoiding the topic of rape, sexualized violence or sexual abuse. These are topics that are extremely uncomfortable. I know they are important, but I’d rather let someone else talk about them. And this is where the yuckiness of the cross challenges me. In Philippians 2:7-8, we read that Jesus "emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross."
March 30, 2013
activism, Advice, Allyhood, Anabaptism, Mennonite Church USA, Rape, Roman Catholic, Sexism, Stories, Violence
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The original Anabaptists’ intention was to attend to their Lord and their God’s will in a manner that was satisfying. However, there was an accompanying goal that is seamlessly interconnected with the initial one. This objective was to reconstitute the ekklesia in the pattern of the archetypical first century apostolic assembly. To reconstitute something is “to constitute again or anew; especially…to restore to a former condition” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. According to The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology the Anabaptists “saw the church as “fallen” and therefore beyond mere reform, and called for its reconstitution along New Testament lines” (70).
Roger Olson goes into greater detail regarding this objective in The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform when he explains that the Anabaptists were more protestant than Protestants in the sense that the Anabaptists:
“protested what they saw as halfway measures taken by Luther and the other magisterial Reformers in purifying the church of Roman Catholic elements. Their ideal was to restore the New Testament church as a persecuted remnant as it was in the Roman Empire before Constantine. To them, the magisterial Reformers were all stuck in Constantinianism and Augustinianism. These were the two main diseases of medieval Christianity that the radical Reformers wished to eradicate from their own independent and autonomous congregations, if not from Christianity itself” (415).
The Protestant Reformers desired to reform the Church, according to the above-mentioned dictionary to reform means “to put or change into an improved form or condition”. It also means, “to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses” and finally “to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action”.
March 24, 2013
Anabaptism, Change, Church, Group Identity, Roman Catholic, Schism
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“Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” tells the story of the struggle for women to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Through interviews and historical vignettes, it portrays the tragedy of deeply gifted women, called by the spirit, but rejected by their own leaders.
In watching the movie, it was tempting at times to distance myself from the Roman Catholic Church. After all, I’m Anabaptist, and we don’t believe in the church hierarchy or that priests are a necessary bridge to reach God. But I realized that the story of the men in this documentary is my story as a Christian man.
The most moving scene in the film is the ordination of women as priests by a woman bishop. The scene brought unexpected tears to my eyes. My mother experienced deep pain from the Mennonite church where I grew up. Her call to leadership as Sunday school superintendent led to some members leaving the church, and she felt abandoned by male leaders. The story of these women joyfully entering the priesthood is my mother’s story and it is my story.
July 15, 2012
activism, Roman Catholic, Sexism
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As a note: This is also posted at The Wandering Road
So I’ve recently run across the Catholic Rosary. While I’m drawn to it’s structure and it’s ability to help people pray, as a good Anabaptist, I take issue with some of it’s theology. So here is my initial thoughts and proposal for an Anabaptist Rosary.
First- An orientation to the actual Rosary.
How to pray the Rosary
1. Make the Sign of the Cross and say the “Apostles Creed.”
2. Say the “Our Father.”
3. Say three “Hail Marys.”
4. Say the “Glory be to the Father.”
5. Announce the First Mystery; then say
the “Our Father.”
6. Say ten “Hail Marys,” while meditating on the Mystery.
7. Say the “Glory be to the Father.”
8. Announce the Second Mystery: then say the “Our Father.” Repeat 6 and 7 and continue with the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Mysteries in the same manner.
9. Say the ‘Hail, Holy Queen’ on the medal after the five decades are completed.
As a general rule, depending on the season, the Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday; the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday; the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday; and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday. (more…)
January 21, 2010
Anabaptism, Art, Church, Community, Contemplation, Discipleship, Faith, Global Church, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Interpretation, Mennonite Church USA, philosophy, Pope, Prayer, Roman Catholic, Spiritual Life, The Bible, Theology, Tradition
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New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009
2509 Harvard Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38112
This year’s anarchism and Christianity conference, hosted by Jesus Radicals, will look squarely at the economic and ecological crisis facing the globe, and point to signs of hope for creativity, for alternative living, for radical sharing, for faithfulness, for a new way of being. We are living in a karios moment that will either break us or compel us to finally strive for a new, sane way of life. The question we face at this pivotal time is not if our empires will fall apart, but when they will fall–and how will we face it? We hope you will join the conversation. (more…)
June 25, 2009
activism, Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, children, Church, City, Civilization, Clothing, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, Corporations, culture, Current Events, Discipleship, Economics, Education, Emerging Church, End Times, Environment, Ethics, Evangelism, Faith, Family, Food, Foreign Policy, Fun, Gender, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Healthcare, History, Immigration, Indigenous, Interfaith, International Relations, Leadership, liberation theology, Love, Loyalty, Mental health, Music, New Monasticism, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Polarization, Police, poverty, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Roman Catholic, Science, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, submergent, Technology, Television, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Travel, Urban Ministry, war, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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Is Christian unity in the public square an important goal to work toward? Here at seminary there are many people thinking about denominationalism as a theological issue/concern. I went to a conference to think about some of these issues. It was called Envision 08 (www.ev08.org) I helped out with a workshop on Sexuality and Faith. There were many young evangelical Christians who are freeing themselves from the grip of right wing politics there. The conversation was familiar to an Anabaptist like me, but it was like watching people hear the Good News for the first time. Everyone was so excited that faith meant more than rigid rules, hierarchy, and supporting the U.S.A.
The Declaration below, coming from “Envision: the Gospel, Politics, and the Future” at Princeton University June 8-10, 2008, began with an online dialogue of approximately 100 participants on June 2 about religion, social change, and politics. On June 8, a diverse panel of scholars discussed the results of the dialogue.
After attending the conference and hearing reports about the conversations that occurred throughout many aspects of the conference, the panel met and created the declaration. You can sign it if you want. (more…)
June 24, 2008
activism, Anabaptism, Change, Church, communication, culture, Current Events, Emerging Church, Environment, Ethics, Evangelism, Faith, Global Church, Group Identity, Healthcare, History, International Relations, Journalism, Media, New Monasticism, Politics, Roman Catholic, submergent, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Urban Ministry, Young Folks
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The NY Times featured an article about a new book containing revealing letters written by Mother Teresa (title above). The letters detail that one of the impetuses for her to leave the Lorento convent and live among Calcutta’s poor was a feeling of spiritual emptiness…a feeling she apparently struggled with for her whole life. The NYTimes says:
‘“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” wrote Flannery O’Connor, the Roman Catholic author whose stories traverse the landscape of 20th-century unbelief. “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe.”’
How do those words feel to you, YARs? Like, what do you think? I’m excited to hear. The NYTimes continues: (more…)
September 5, 2007
Biographical, Current Events, Discipleship, Faith, Journalism, Roman Catholic
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Several times in the past months on YAR, I’ve noticed people mention in passing we could re-join the Roman Catholic Church* if we don’t like the idea of dividing over differences of belief and/or practice. I haven’t heard this idea anywhere else, but maybe I’m not listening hard enough. Is this an option many YARs or other Mennonites consider to be a valid and even attractive option?
Someone mentioned common objections Anabaptists have against the RCC, namely heirarchy and gender issues. I know Catholics who quit tithing to the RCC when the priest-sex-abuse scandal broke because they don’t want their tithes to become part of a payout. Then you’ve got infant baptism, obligatory First Communion, war, lgbtq, transubstantiation and the list goes on.
What is attractive about the RCC? I think I might “get” part of it, having visited many Catholic cathedrals, monestaries and schools, and having read Cloister Walk, but other aspects of “what it might mean to be Catholic” turn me off. Each congregation will vary, of course. There’s just something freaky to me about the idea of one human non-God person (the Pope) making declarations that all living people in that church are supposed to follow. Do any Catholics still believe the Pope is error-free anymore? I’m sorry if that seems flippant or dismissive, but it’s a real question. But then, sometimes we Anabaptists live like we believe a committee is error-free, so maybe it’s no different. (more…)
July 19, 2007
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I don’t have the time to comment on this as well as I should. But I think it’s worth pointing to:
Pope’s Opening Address for Latin America and Caribbean ‘Aparecida’ Conference.
It gives me great joy to be here today with you to inaugurate the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is being held close to the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil. I would like to begin with words of thanksgiving and praise to God for the great gift of the Christian faith to the peoples of this Continent.
The problems here are fairly obvious, I think. It’s a frustrating follow-up to his comments on the excommunication of pro-choice legislators in Mexico City.
May 14, 2007
Excommunication, Indigenous, Pope, Roman Catholic
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I’m curious about something here, though it may be something for a later poll.
I am 23 and only recently “became” Mennonite. I had a spiritual rebirth as a result of my attendance at a Mennoniite church and through reading the Confession of Faith, though I was almost enticed to Catholicism because of my fascination with the Catholic Worker movement (though I have serious reservations about particular aspects of Catholic theology).
I’m one of two people in the whole place who are even in their twenties; everyone else is either a teenager, a small child, or mid-30’s on up through their 80’s (most folks being baby boomers).
How many people here grew up in a Mennonite/Brethren family? How many people here came into the Mennonite/Brethren church later in life? For either answer, how do you think this influences you view of the church and your faith, if at all?
April 14, 2007
Church, Community, Education, Group Identity, Roman Catholic, Tradition, Young Folks
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I’m Skylark, a self-described YAR who found this place totally by accident. I was looking for info on Jerry Jenkins coming to Kidron Mennonite because I’m the newspaper reporter who covers Kidron. This was the first hit in a Google search. Hi Tom. :-) I got sucked into Tom’s post about his concerns over Jerry Jenkins’ visit. One post lead to another, and I really like this place.
A little about me: I’m 23, female, Mennonite, pacifist, and vegetarian. Over the summer I followed the progress of Bike Movement (Denver Steiner and I go to the same church), and of course I covered it when BikeMovement came to Kidron Mennonite in August. It seems like almost anything that happens event-wise in Kidron is at that church. :-P Not that there are many other options for venues. That put me in contact with an area Christian young adult group. I’ve been a part of the group since. I’ve totally gotten on board with Denver’s push at church to create safe spaces where young adults and others can ask “unsafe” questions and explore issues we would otherwise ignore in favor of more sanitized church activities. My mentor and I have gotten to know each other a lot better lately, and we’ve known each other since I was 13, so that’s pretty cool. (more…)
March 3, 2007
Biographical, Gender, Journalism, Media, Power, Roman Catholic, Sexism, Young Folks
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I’m not much of a football fan–I went to a Mennonite high school, so I never really learned enough to fully appreciate the sport, and my Super Bowl tradition consists of rooting for whoever everyone tells me is the underdog and making sure I’m around when the commercials are on. I am, however, slightly fascinated by the role that professional sports (and athletes) play in our culture. It’s a civil religion I’ve participated in on rare occasion; mostly I just observe from the sidelines.
Robert Lipsyte, writing in The Nation, makes several correlations between Christianity and football, including sainthood and the variety of ways in which it is experienced:
Given the chance, I’d watch the Super Bowl with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who knows about Baal and ball. Twenty years ago, in Lynchburg, Virginia, at a Liberty University Flames game, Dr. Falwell told me: “Jesus was no sissy. He was tough, he was a he-man. If he played football, you’d be slow getting up after he tackled you.”
He had me at “sissy.” The rest was revelation. The muscularity of Dr. Falwell’s evangelical Christianity was a perfect fit with football, another win-or-lose game. For Americans, war hasn’t produced a real winner for more than 60 years. That’s why we need football. But let’s get back to Dr. Falwell. “My respect for Catholicism and Mormonism goes straight up watching Notre Dame and Brigham Young play,” he told me. He hoped that, someday, Notre Dame and Liberty, his evangelical college, would meet for the national championship, thus informing the nation that “the Christians are here, we’re not meek and we’re not going to fall down in front of you. We’re here to stay.”
While we wait for his Holy Bowl to show us how to kick the other cheek, we do have the gospels, saints, and rituals of the Super Bowl, arguably the holiest day of the American calendar. Nothing in sports draws us together as surely–not elections, the Academy Awards, disasters, terrorist acts, or celebrity deaths. The Super Bowl is a melting pot hot enough for atheists, Sodomites, and Teletubbies to become one with the Saved, if only for a single Sunday. But that’s a start.
You can find the rest of the article here. Enjoy the game.
February 4, 2007
Consumerism, Roman Catholic, Sports
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Dorothy Day started the Catholic Worker Movement, which is most known for the Houses of Hospitality (www.catholicworker.org/) She ran with Eugene Debs, Lucy Parsons, the Haymarket martyrs and other IWW’s (Industrial Workers of the World). She witnessed the framing and killing of dear friends during the frenzy of the red scare. As an atheist, she also got burned out fast. Her conversion came as a result of 30 days of solitary confinement for a hunger strike, leading her, eventually to the Catholic Church.
She came to embody a radicalism that was sustained and founded on orthodoxy and love for the Church, one that inspires and gives me hope today. It was precisely her love for the church that fueled her desire to change the Church. And when I come to places where I am burned and frustrated with the Institution, with decisions like the one made recently in the Lancaster Conference to deny women ordination–decisions that deny imago Dei, that deny humanity to God’s children, I turn to the authentic voices of people like Day. And I am able to rejoice once more in this life, I am able to hope once more, and I am called once again not to leave, but to remain–I am reminded that my love for the Church only intensifies the pain of exclusion and injustice carried out in the scandals of the church. The Church is indeed that which brings “Christ to humanity…enabling us to put on Christ and to achieve more nearly in the world a sense of peace and unity.” (more…)
January 31, 2007
History, Politics, Roman Catholic, Theology
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