I am not at Poets, Prophets, and Preachers (PPP) so I thought I would have a lot to say about it. My friend Matt Rawlings actually offered me a free ticket to the “conference”^ but I was unable to attend for several reasons (in no certain order):
>> I am on an interview committee here at MVNU that is meeting with a Resident Director candidate on Monday morning. >> I have a very busy academic year with more time off in the summer and wanted to set aside more time with my family. >> We are hoping to adopt and possibly purchase a home so I’m crunching down on the spending. Gas, hotel, and food would have been a few dollars.
From the middle of Ohio I have been keeping up with PPP. I’ve been reading all the tweets tagged with the #ppp09 hashtag and checking out a few blogs. I’ve noticed so far that at the first gathering, those commenting publicly all support that which is being discussed at PPP. Nothing that I have read has challenged the intitial teaching by Rob Bell entitled, The Original Guerilla Theatre. The positive perspectives may be fueled by the expectation of those attending. Many hours before the first session many were tweeting about anticipating their arrival in Grand Rapids. Others noted their excitement as they sat in the theater waiting to hear from Rob, who has obviously created a dedicated community of people who value his teaching.
In the Original Guerilla Theatre, Rob discussed the lost primal art form of the religious discourse. Those in attendance all tweeted the same few lines that apparently remained lodged in numerous cerebral cortexes. None of those lines seemed to be earth-shattering to me but centered on the theme that those giving sermons need to be more daring. It is not necessary for a spoken message to be safe and even resolved. Rather, those with ears to hear should be asking questions and talking more with each other in order to continue wrestling with the content. I would suggest additionally that those attending church gatherings seeking answers should alter their perspective. Knowing that the journey of following Jesus is a process of wonder and discovery, couldn’t it be more valuable to expect to leave with more questions? It is only our systems of modernization that make us think otherwise.
^I’m not sure that PPP is actually a conference. Well… I guess technically it is but probably not the typical churchy conference where the Youth Specialties tent is giving away free workbooks entitled something like, “How To Keep Teens Hooked: Staying Relevant for GenY.” JUST FOR THE RECORD: I just made up that title it may be the worst title for a book ever. I’m not sure which word is the worst, “How to,” “Teens,” “Hooked,” “Relevant,” or “GenY.”
Due to my campus life involvements at MVNU and requirements for my current M.A.M.L. course, Community, Context, and Transition , I was unable to attend the Emergent Village gathering in D.C. (EVDC09) this last weekend. I was hoping to stay somewhat informed about the conversations and happenings through updates on Twitter tagged #evdc09 . Emergent Village tweeted, "Search #evdc09 on Twitter for updates from the ‘future of Emergent’ gathering this weekend in D.C. … There will be some but not a lot …" and "@makeesha " said, "tell us what you want emergent village to be – we convene this weekend in DC. email, dm or reply tweet #evdc09"
There were not enough tweets during the gathering to post any responses but I did reply tweet about what Emergent Village should be:
"@traviskeller : oh yeah. hey #evdc09 … EV needs to be defined by… LOVE. i’m sure we don’t know what all that means except that the self must be executed"
I received a couple of direct replies from @makeesha and @soupiset that noted that the self was, indeed, executed. I’ll be looking forward to blog posts about that. Some notable words I’ve heard/read that really stick out on Twitter in response to EVDC09 now that it has ended are artifact, gratitude, clarity, hope, resolve, consensus, energized, drained, stories, beautiful, processing, honesty, inclusivity, and outcome.
Additionally and more centrally I’ve heard/read statements about being "home." Home. Home. Home. Prior to the gathering tweets mentioned the acts of packing, traveling, and attending. Following the gathering everyone updating seemed relieved and/or excited to be "home." If Emergent Village is really a generative friendship should the gathering have felt more like home? If I am at my physical residence with friends, family or myself, I feel at home. If I am at the house of a friend, I feel at home. When I arrive home from a Sunday morning gathering of Christians I have feelings of tiredness and exhaustion. I didn’t feel like I was at home. Why is that? Am I not connected with the 100-1,500 other people? Is it even possible to connect with that many people? Should Emergent Village cease to seek national and global "friendship" and rather function in the same manner as Twitter and Facebook, as an online tool for resourcing, networking, and collaborating? Or… am I wrong? Do church gatherings feel like home? Did EVDC09 feel like home? Is an online relationship really a relationship at all? What is the value of our networking for our local and proximal communities? Do I have any place to speak a thought into an Emergent gathering?
Click the following title to read the article by Shane Claiborne, "Why I Got Arrested on Good Friday. "
When I hung out a little with and observed Shane this summer at the Envision Conference at Princeton I found out that he likes to have fun. I remember distinctly when all sorts of intellectual-ish and rather serious-personalitied ecclesial leaders were lounging around a campus green space eating lunch together. I was sitting with a graduate assistant from Yale listening to him share about his Iranian reconciliation ministry and process a session on religious pluralism with Samir Selmanovic . I looked over his shoulder and there stood Shane dancing around with bowling pins and juggling with a friend. It was beautiful! I envision him laughing all the way to the police station all-the-while remaining internally crushed and authentically in touch with the suffering of Jesus.
I found out that I made a grand television appearance last week. During the week of the election of the first African-American president of the United States I appeared on BookTV on C-SPAN2 . When I went to the Envision Conference this summer at Princeton my learning track was entitled "Beyond Consumption" and was led my Ronald Sider. We took a break from our dialogue on consumption in order for BookTV to record a lecture on Sider’s book, "The Scandal of Evangelical Politics." The lecture is worth watching and you can see the first portion of it below (check me out furiously typing my thoughts). I am in the video more at the end of the lecture during the question and answer time and you can check out the full length video at www.booktv.org . I didn’t ask a question on camera due to the impersonal nature of the filming but I asked Ron the first question when the cameras shut down. That question is posted below the video. Immediately following our session, Sider left for Chicago to meet personally with Barack Obama to discuss "religious issues."
There can exist a certain form of idolatry toward certain candidates or partisan ideologies.
How would you suggest that one goes about influencing public policy with the danger of appearing as if one is placing trust in a certain candidate or party as the ultimate hope and solution for a community or promoting the government as the responsible body rather than the church?
© Clint Fisher. Aenon Fire.
Notes from my Moleskine at the .08 Envision Conference:
Princeton University. NJ.
History of Evangelicals with Randy Balmer
Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University
Green v. Connely
June 30 1971: More influential than Roe v. Wade
Anyone discriminating against minorities is not a 501(c)3 active organization
1971 Southern Baptist Convention
Passed Resolution calling for legal abortion and members favored Roe v. Wade
Enter: Polarization of/by Religious Right
Evangelicals of the "right" were trying to defend and protect their own subculture
IRS went after Bob Jones University due to racial discrimination/other discrim.
Religious right appointed Ronald Reagan as their czar in 1980
.80 – Divorce was an operating issue so for Reagan the issues were shifted by the right from divorce to abortion and homosexuality
is very clear about divorce but not abortion or homosexuality
Use of Scripture citation to support segregation and discrimination :: 20 years prior
"Intelligent Design" is one of the surest proofs for evolution
President Bush appointed a judge that turned down creation theory for text books
The canons of rational enlightenment do not determine life
To denegrate Genesis to the sciences is to flee God
Most cynical document signed by Dobson/Colston/etc. that empowers corporate to make decisions best for corporations
Equal to those who deny the Holocaust are those who adhere that the founding fathers wanted to separate church and state
Roger Williams: Puritan in Massechusetts "Garden of Church Protected"
The church shouldn’t look to the government for sanctions
Truitt: Issues affirmation as a baptist that lines must not be blurred b/t church and state
Prayer in schools always exists
Faith doesn’t need approval from science or government
is not interested in being an arbitor of religion
Recover the SCANDAL OF THE GOSPEL
:: Get quote from "Thy Kingdom Come"
THE PRECEDING TEXT COPIED AND/OR ADAPTED FROM MY TYPED OR MOLESKINE RECORDED NOTES ON THE ENVISION CONFERENCE MAY OR MAY NOT BE MY OWN THOUGHTS AND MAY OR MAY NOT INCLUDE DIRECT CITATIONS OF ORATORS/FACILITATORS. THE ORATORS/FACILITATORS SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY BE CREDITED OR HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR SPECIFIC WORDS OR PHRASES THOUGH SOME WORDS ARE THEIR OWN.
If you are interested in signing the declaration copied below please comment here. I will either e-mail you the link with instructions or post it here if there is enough interest.
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 below.
Envision the Future: A Declaration on the Common Good
Princeton, New Jersey
11 June 2008
We are at a critical moment in the history of the United States. The common good has been seriously compromised. Perpetual war, rampant poverty and inequality, environmental crisis, and the narrowing of the possibilities of human life and cultural flourishing imperil our future.
In this moment of crisis, we have an important opportunity to reclaim the common good; to enact a robust vision of a common life that moves away from a world where resources and responsibilities – whether economic, political, or social – are held in the hands of a few to a global community in which they are held by all and all are benefited.
Envision is a theologically and politically diverse movement of Christians committed to following in the footsteps of Jesus. Our movement includes Evangelicals, Pentecostals, mainline Protestants, Anabaptists, emerging church members, and others who profess that the call of Jesus includes struggling for peace, social, economic, and racial justice, and a flourishing creation.
For three days in June 2008, over 500 of us gathered – across our divisions – in Princeton, New Jersey to critically and creatively discern a new vision of the common good. We came together and listened to one another and learned from one another. We were enriched and transformed by our conversations as we worshipped, sang, and broke bread together.
Envision offers new voices in the public square to address the complexities that confront the United States and the world. We are racially and ethnically diverse activists, clergy, lay persons, students, and scholars who are deeply informed by a faith that compels us to participate in God’s work to eradicate poverty, create peace, and build just communities and right relationships with the earth.
In recent times, some have used Christianity to divide us from one another and demonize others. They have placed Christianity on the side of the powerful against the powerless. Envision inaugurates a new relation between our faith and our politics. In a spirit of humility and hospitality, we seek to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God and each other.
We acknowledge that we do not agree on all things. We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, but we will seek them together. In the midst of our differences we are committed to remain together at the table that God sets for us and not demonize each other, but to talk, reason, and work together for a brighter and better future.
We affirm our desire to work together and with others in a shared commitment to justice, equality, and peace. We invite all who share such a commitment and vision to sign this declaration and join the Envision movement. ———
Aside from the drafting panel of scholars, I was the 33rd person to sign the declaration just behind Tony Campolo. I commented as follows:
In a spirit of humility and hospitality, we seek to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God and each other in the way of Jesus. May it be.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Are those who decide not to accept the forgiveness and reconciliation to God offered through Jesus actually too broken to do so? Are those who refuse Jesus either incapable of valuing love, community, and relationship or in a state of dependency on something other than Jesus?
For those reading who are not followers of Jesus please do not be offended. I do not intend to label or categorize but value your comments as well.
© 2008 Clint Fisher.
- Amazed by God’s imagination
- “Caesar can have the coin, I made the fish.”
- Luke 7
- Jesus doesn’t go around saying that he is the Messiah
- He says, “Let them figure it out.”
- Perception of Christians: Anti-gay; Judgmental
- Religion of American Nationalism
- Bush: “America is the hope of mankind.”
- Obama: “America is the last and only hope and good.”
- “Calling the religion of land Christian is deceipt.”
- Jesus has survived all the terrible things done by his representatives.
- Mother Theresa embodied her politics
- The church is good at making believers but not disciples
- Met someone that was homosexual and that changed him
- Make poverty personal
- If we care about the poor do we know their names?
- The church must disagree well
- We need to not take ourselves so seriously; laugh and have fun
- Robotics Engineer: makes robotics to go to Afghanistan to disarm land mines so that children don’t have to.
- Not waiting on Congress to do what the church should be doing
- No law has ever changed a heart or reconciled a relationship
- Keep dreaming about the kingdom of God