When I look at my life so far, I realize that I really shouldn’t be a Christian. I grew up in a culturally Christian environment, where neither of my parents really cared about religion, and the few experiences I did have with the church growing up were not good ones. Add to that the fact that I am part of the generation called “Millennials,” which tends to be less religious than previous generations. In all respects,Â I really shouldn’t be a Christian.
What changed was that I discovered Jesus.Â I found the radical, subversive, Sermon-on-the-Mount Jesus, and I just couldn’t let him go. My mother, who dislikes religion, has found my affection for this strange character particularly frustrating. She wanted me to be a teacher, or perhaps a professor. I chose to be a pastor. She wanted me to be concerned for material goods and financial stability like she is. I have a habit of not caring much for money. I also collect different Bible translations and theology books, which also annoys her.Â My faith is foolishness to her. (more…)
December 6, 2013
Anabaptism, Blog, Discipleship, Dumb Stuff., Emerging Church, Faith, neo-Anabaptism, New Monasticism
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Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity are some of the hallmarks of the teachings of Jesus. But those concepts didn’t originate with Jesus.
He found them tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the Torah. Almost every saying in the Sermon on the Mount is a commentary on passages from the Hebrew Scriptures. The genius of Jesus was the way in which he put his own “spin” on the Scriptures, highlighting and elevating the positive aspects of God’s personality, while ignoring and rejecting the negative aspects.
The ideals of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity weren’t the unique property of the Judaic tradition, however. They could also be found earlier, and further east, in what is now India, Nepal, Bhutan. In the Fifth Century before Jesus, a man named Gotoma developed a body of teachings based on what are called “The Four Immeasurables”: (more…)
June 18, 2012
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, City, Civilization, communication, Community, Contemplation, culture, Current Events, Dumb Stuff., Education, End Times, Ethics, Evangelism, extinction, Foreign Policy, Global Church, God, Group Identity, History, Indigenous, Interfaith, International Relations, Judaism, Love, MCC, Mennonite Church USA, Nonviolence, The Bible, Tolerance, Urban Ministry
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On the great day of judgment, all of humanity was gathered in a celestial banquet hall. It was a huge space, with a massive round table in the middle. The table was so big that it accommodated what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of people, probably more. As one looked to the left or the right, there were people as far as the eye could see. Yet somehow, by some supernatural optical phenomenon, one had no trouble seeing clearly everyone seated directly across the table. In a position of prominence was the Almighty herself, who interestingly had an appearance not unlike the way God was portrayed in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” yet whose Voice was unmistakably feminine. After a while, some grumbling was to be heard, as people began to take notice of who was present. Finally, a lone voice cried out, a voice with a thick Brooklyn accent, saying, “Hey God, I’m happy to be here, of course, but I see my old neighbor Moshe sitting over there and I know that rotten sonofabitch rascal ought to be in the other place. What gives?” (more…)
May 20, 2012
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, City, Community, Dumb Stuff., End Times, Evangelism, God, Group Identity, Interfaith, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Sex, Tolerance
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We are Marginal Mennonites, and we are not ashamed.
We are marginal because no self-respecting Mennonite organization would have us. (Not that we care about no stinkin’ respect anyway.)
We reject all creeds, doctrines, dogmas and rituals, because they’re man-made and were created for the purpose of excluding people. Their primary function is to determine who’s in (those who accept the creeds) and who’s out (those who don’t). The earliest anabaptists were also non-creedal.
We are inclusive. There are no dues or fees for membership. The only requirement is the desire to identify oneself as a Marginal Mennonite. We have no protocol for exclusion.
We are universalists. We believe every person who’s ever lived gets a seat at the celestial banquet table. No questions asked! Mystic-humanist (and anabaptist) Hans Denck was quoted saying that “even demons in the end will be saved.”
We reject missionary activity. Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural extermination. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic campaigns and mission boards, no matter how innocuous or charitable they claim to be.
We like Jesus. A lot. The real Jesus, not the supernatural one. We like the one who was 100% human, who moved around in space and time. The one who enjoyed the company of women and was obsessed with the kingdom of God. The one who said “Become passersby!” (Gospel of Thomas 42), which we interpret as an anti-automobile sentiment. (more…)
November 7, 2011
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, City, culture, Dumb Stuff., End Times, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, Fun, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Interpretation, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Nonviolence, Pornography, Schism, Sex, The Bible, Tolerance, Urban Ministry, Wealth, Young Folks
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Since almost two months now I am working on a Palestinian farm surrounded by settlements – more on the project maybe in another article. Today I want to share with you an observation I have made about my relationship with the animals I am taking care of. All our animals have a very strong will for freedom and since it’s not only my job to feed and clean them, but also to lock them in their cages and repairing the fences, this will for freedom conflicts with my role.
But while the goats ram me with their head and the horses sometimes try to run away, or even kick me, our dogs have employed a different strategy:
They always break out of their cage either during lunch or dinner to protest the lack of food I am giving them and run around barking. So, I need to interrupt my meal and catch them. Now the strange thing happens. While sometimes they’ll run away, when I catch them, they always just lie numb on the ground and stretch their feet out towards me. They don’t try to bite me, they’re just lying there. I try to convince them by telling them it is my duty to lock them up and I’m sorry I can’t give them more food, but I can only give them as much food as possible.
Next, I pet them and promise them I’ll try to get extra food though I know there isn’t any.
No reaction. (more…)
October 23, 2011
Animals, Bias, Dumb Stuff., Israel, Military, Nonviolence, Palestine, Power, Stewardship, Tactics
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“Haud Metus. Haud Fastosus.” That’s my personal motto. It means “No Fear. No Pride.”…I think. Maybe it means “No Pride. No Fear.” I can’t really remember. It’s been a while since I looked it up on an online Latin/English translator. Those things are unreliable anyway. But I believe that’s what it means, I guess that’s the important thing.
I originally made my slogan for my lucrative career in sales. It hung above my desk in that bold impact font. You can’t sell something with fear or pride. You have to be this whimpering fool begging for a sale or you’ll starve to death. But you can’t let anyone know you are whimpering fool. If you do you look like a pathetic whiner, then no one will buy anything from you. You have to be confident and ooze charisma while secretly, on the inside, you’re crying.
I got rid of pride because I don’t really care what anyone thinks about me. Unless of course my hair’s messed up or my fly is down or something is stuck in my teeth. And fear was kinda pointless because what’s really to fear besides AIDS, random gun violence, and facebook addiction? Okay, so maybe pride and fear have their places. The jury is still out. Maybe we should have some sort of governmental department of concerned citizens to debate the merits of these things along with honor, political correctness, and internet smilies :). We’ll call it the Department Of Personality Enforcement, or DOPE, for short. (more…)
March 22, 2009
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This evening I decided to lazy-research (aka googling) Anabaptist humor. It turn’s out we don’t have any. According to the first result for Anabaptist humor on Google:
[Anabaptist] interpretation of the New Testament, especially Ephesians 5:4, did not allow for jesting or joking. The Christian was expected to prune the heart and mouth of all unbecoming thoughts, words, and actions. Unseemly light-hearted behavior was often summed up in the word “levity.” In addition, the Mennonites were concerned that houses of prayer and worship not be turned into houses of entertainment and mirth through humorous allusions and stories.
This serious mien was reinforced by the long period of intense persecution in the early development of Anabaptism.
So how bad is our serious mien? (more…)
March 3, 2009
Anabaptism, Dumb Stuff.
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(A Debbie Downer post. Sorry about your luck.)
For several months I’ve been making posts that suggest (though I don’t think I’ve said it), that the idea that people are somehow different than they were before is probably a little idealist. I don’t think people are progressive (as in, moving forward or evolving either physically or emotionally/spiritually/physcologically). Perhaps the best time I’ve come out and said it would be the shit-disrupter of a post I made on Christarchy, Humanity on the Fringes of a Moshpit. Essentially, in a long winded tirade, I compare the progressive anarchist/art-school kids to the famed large browed Geico Spokesmen. Such a thing was a dare, especialy among my more liberally minded brethern. But I did it. I did it because I don’t think humanity is really all that different than it was 2,000 years ago. Or 4,000. Or 6,000. We can pretend lots of things, like those people back then were all stupid, ignorant, inbred maruaders, raping the land for everything it was worth. Besides for the inbred thing, I don’t think we are far removed. (more…)
January 26, 2009
Death, Dumb Stuff., Foreign Policy, Gender, Illegal, Immigration, International Relations, Military, Power
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It is absolutly freezing. Saturday morning brought frost on the car windows and I’m chucking trash into bag at 8 am because I got to cart 3 adults to Philly from Baltimore (The Element is trashed. I blame the kids.). Actually, these “adults” might as well be 13, their behavior will be subpar all day long. In about an hour, Dave Worthless, Brando, Stilts, and I, will be yelling at each-other and telling jokes that would make a sailor blush. This is my band. And it’s cold.
It’s about 13 degrees outside. It’s Saturday. And we have to leave at 9 am to get to Philly by noon because Obama is taking Amtrak from Philly, to Wilmington, then landing in my hometown of Baltimore. It’s usually a 90 minute trip but we expect the I-95 corridor to be packed. (more…)
January 19, 2009
Dumb Stuff., Uncategorized
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I saw Barack Obama’s blueprint for change and I thought since I’m smarter than him I should have one too. You never know when you might become the next leader of the free world, I gotta be prepared. With that said, it’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun since everything has been so grim around here lately. Maybe there is a bit of truth in all of these things, maybe not. So without further adue I present the top “hot button” issues and solve them all single-handedly. Let me know how I did.
In an ideal world only men would fight in wars and only women would declare them.
People keep crossing the borders for crappy jobs. Meanwhile, we have lots of people on welfare here. I propose allowing one working Latino into the United States in exchange for one person on welfare. This way, our country will be filled with productive people who work while nothing much will change in Mexico.
The whole ‘gay’ thing:
The gays want to get married. Some people seemingly want them to be miserable. Marriage has made plenty of straight people miserable for thousands of years. Am I the only one who sees the “win-win” solution here?
January 7, 2009
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“I haven’t been entirely truthful with you…” says the young, well-dressed, middle-eastern man. The camera focuses in on the pained expressions on those he is speaking to in that shaky, fast cutaway style of those Jason Bourne flicks. Intense, dramatic music plays in the background. The editors let this cliff-hanger like suspense build for, well, seemingly forever. I guess, in reality, 10 seconds.
This is the Fox network, the network that, when drama doesn’t exist enough for the producers, they go ahead and make it up. Young married couples on an island with a bunch of hot singles. The screaming, shrieking Gordon Ramsey. The Fox network, God bless ’em, takes decent ideas for shows and makes the dramatic effect linger like a sky-diver in mid-air. Then they find talent to pump that drama up. It’s all really unnecessary. The material is good, let it be.
But here we are. “I haven’t been entirely truthful with you…” “…” “…” “…” “…” “I’m really a multi-millionaire.” SHA-BANG! And, lo-and-behold, the victims of what Fox believes to be a cruel joke could give two shits. Who would? The lying millionaire has been a part of their lives for six whole days. (more…)
December 12, 2008
activism, Church, Community, Contemplation, Corporations, Dumb Stuff., Economics, God, poverty, Privilege, Stewardship, Television
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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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*A bit of tounge-in-cheek election fun*
I walked up to the polls today to cast my vote. I was surrounded by a group people marketing for their respective politicians. An old man wearing a McCain hat, a heavy-set black woman enthusiastically waving an Obama sign. Another half dozen or so had signs with “Say yes to question 2” or “Vote No on question 4”.
The Obama lady cheerily greeted me, quickly handing me some Obama brochures. “Have you decided who you are going to vote for, yet?” she asked.
I’m kinda private about this stuff but I was drunk so I responded: “Cynthia McKinney. She’s running with the Green party, you know. Her wackiness will make great Saturday night live fodder.” SNL is important to me and affects me weekly, thus being more important than any “serious” issue. (more…)
November 4, 2008
Dumb Stuff., Politics, Poll
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The church basement’s cinder block walls radiate the cold. Coffee permeates the air. Two dozen people or so sit at 8′ X 3′ wooden folding tables, set up in a circle, eating cake and drinking the aforementioned coffee. Another dozen or more sit at chairs placed around the room. My friend, we’ll call him Brian, sits at the front, the Serenity Prayer scrawled on a plaque on his right.
God, Grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
This is an A.A. meeting.
Brian is celebrating one year. He is chairing the meeting, which means he gets to tell his story, speak however long he likes, and call on any member he sees fit to call on. Before any of that can begin, though, the various “officers” read off various lists of A.A. “rules”, “codes of conduct”, and other bureaucratic regulations. You would think these to be many considering A.A. has a reported 1,867,212 members worldwide with 106,202 meetings.
To put this in perspective A.A. is about the same size as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and larger than the Assemblies of God in the USA. (more…)
November 1, 2008
Awesome Stuff, Blog, Change, Church, Contemplation, Dumb Stuff., Evangelism, Faith, Interfaith, Mental health, Power, Prayer, Spiritual Life
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It is time for the 2nd preach-off between Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Goshen College. The first one was in 2006 (organized by some YARs) and it was very successful.
For the preach-off, folks will give three-minute sermons on scriptures they’ve received 24 hours prior. People can vote with their donations, and a panel judges will give humorous feedback.
The donations benefit up and coming young adult leaders from the Global South by giving them a full scholarship to attend the Global Youth Summit (July 10-12 in AsunciÃ³n, Paraguay).
In addition to the fun of preach-off, we realize that the lives of many people in Northern Indiana have been enriched by connections with the global church. So this event will be interspersed with short testimonies from people in the area, celebrating these ties as we raise funds to support the next generation of Anabaptist leaders from around the globe.
So, YARs…we’re collecting crazy passages. If you know of one, please write the reference as a comment. Your help is appreciated…and if you’re in Northern Indiana at 6pm on Dec. 6 you are warmly invited to materialize and participate!
October 17, 2008
Anabaptism, Anniversary, Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, communication, Community, Current Events, Dumb Stuff., Economics, Ethics, Evangelism, Fair, Faith, Fun, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Interpretation, Language, Leadership, Love, Objective, philosophy, Poetry, Poll, Sports, The Bible, Theatre, Theology, Tolerance, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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