Posts Tagged ‘Liberation Theology’


Ah the set list for today’s reflections as we enter the time of Faith. yes, I know for some Advent weeks, Faith is overlooked and in our push to collapse everything to Sundays, it is replaced by Love, which is the gift that should be celebrated at the Christ-Mass (typically at the chime of Midnight at Christmas Eve/Christmas Day). So today, Faith and an exciting time in the Chateau that once was known as the Rainbow Chapel.

A John Lennon Refletion in Song:

Happy Christmas (War is Over) Listen here.

Imagine listen here.

For music has been used since the beginning of spirit-religious gatherings, much like art to share the story, the old old story of Love made incarnate. This is the foundation of faith, time in contemplation, time in creativity, and time in action. In our current world, it can be said that memes speak the same language to some teaching lessons, as was spotted this season:

What is faith?

How does the Holy Mystery speak to you?

For it is in those deep quiet moments of hearing the call, and answering that we challenge and change our world.

This is what brings us into this Advent season during as we await the world changing, structure shattering moment of new birth. Each of us can have a moment such as this… For me, it is in the midst of an epilogue of a formation preparation. The outcome of a time of healing, and reconciling. Now preparing, with my loved ones what to expect or to do next. What is on the horizon? For one so firmly formed in the social gospel-liberation theology roots of transfiguration?

It was in this formation process, discovering myself through living the Franciscan Charism, I would find myself as a Lay Minister of Praise in the Roman Catholic Church, praying a rosary after a night shift in an emergency shelter, barely awake, waiting for the mid-week Mass to begin. I was never sure if it was lack of sleep, too much coffee, or Spirit, but I would hear a voice that sounded like my Granddad-who had passed away many years earlier- (not an odd occurrence for advice in my head at that point and time in my life), simply saying, “build my church”. At the rise of the church plant movements this is what I thought as I dove in building ministries and quite miraculously productive throughout my life with parallel careers/callings on going under the giant umbrella of “making my own corner of the world a better place one act of kindness at a time”.

Until now, when we look at what is next?

For anyone who has been a friend, acquaintance, congregant, reader or student knows pieces of the story. A story that the application into the next phase asked for:

Yes, as you read the title correctly– a return to—

Seminary.

Firstly, yes I do have a life long learning compulsion, but this is also to renew skills and learnings. Pick up important aspects for ministry of the languages for not only my own writing (that book around community building I keep alluding too), but also the re-birth of this season. The re-focus, and back on track for next spring 2021.

Back to the church based ministry.

Like the voice of the Holy in that late night/early morning pre-mass prayer, or as my wife phrases it:

“Hubs is at the point of the journey if we can’t find healthy churches, then lets build it”

What has c-tine shown? That change is possible, that the old will fall away, be renewed or re-born. That it is a time to wonder and dream once more. Things such as peace, joy and hope can re-emerge within each of us and our community, simple steps (or in my case, a huge leap) of faith out of this time apart, this imposed time to reflect and contemplate what our true passion and calling is in life.

Not only what they are, but how to make them a true reality.

A loving reality.

Stepping out in faith to live the Love of the Holy.

Simply put, prepare, connect, be and do. That is the calling on my family, take time to prepare, learn and grow, with prayerful hope there is a part-time role to be in to apply the learnings in the work (the best model for me to learn), and then see where we are meant to be at the end of this…

Prologue of Book 2 of our life trilogy.

P.S. (From CP Kids & Families Facebook Page) Let’s step into a new reality of love, and shatter the old norms eh?

Zed-iberation

Posted: October 16, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , ,

Enter into the written word. A writing prophet (albeit a minor one) once more. The words that come into the four chapters of Zephaniah were always intended to be read by those that could read, and heard by everyone (as those that could read were expected to read the psalms and oracles aloud). There are many ways to read the prophet, the main though is as one of liberation. As we now the prophets we speakers of justice, and Zephaniah keeps going on what causes destruction in a society.

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,[a]
    those who say in their hearts,
‚ÄėThe¬†Lord¬†will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’

-Zephaniah 1:12 (English Standard Version)

What has brought destruction on once great Israel for this prophet writing at the time of the end of the last “holy king”? Is it the right or the left? Though those entrenchment will eventually tear the nation apart…No, rather it is complacency, apathy, that making choices does not matter because nothing will ever change for the good, and that the only thing that brings well-being is independence and mass accumulation of personal wealth.¬† Starting to sound familiar? Maybe hitting a bit to close to home around who we have become, and not who we were or who we dream of? The people had lost the ability to dream, to strive for great leadership and vision, they had settled, and in settling had become disengaged.

As such, the majority, those that did not control the wealth, were suffering, as the house burned…the wealthy fiddled if you will.

Yet,

12 But I will leave in your midst
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
13     those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
    and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
    a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and none shall make them afraid.‚ÄĚ

-Zephaniah 3:12-13 (ESV)

The poor are the chosen. They are the ones that will make society what it is meant to be. The remnant. Those that are interdependent, and can cast vision, and seek true leadership.

Shake off the apathy.

Shake off the complacency.

Shake off the love of money.

Embrace neighbour.

Embrace self.

Embrace… Love.

The false will be destroyed, and the Kingdom will arise anew.


With each new passing or announcement of retirement from the progressive theological movements I share with my wife, we ask, who will take up the torch?  And no, Rob Bell is not the answer or the Emergent Church movement. Yes, they are doing good things in pushing boundaries in their traditions, but compared to where Labour Church, Social Gospel, Creation Spirituality, Progressive Christianity, Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, Queer Theology, Truth and Reconciliation resonances, Human Rights, Social Justice, New Thought, Metaphysics, Jesus Seminar, Philosophy, history, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, science and ecumenical dialogues (to name but a few) have brought us, they are reinventing the foundation stones, instead of adding new floors to the towers already standing tall and strong.

I have been trying lately due to some health challenges of the holistic being to reclaim the towers, and not have to reinvent the foundation stones (I am stubborn that way). After the first night of decent rest in months it hit me, that part of continuing to build the towers is to go to your own spiritual roots.  Within myself, and my family those roots are the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament. I will be the first to admit, the Hebrew Bible can at first blush appear to contain stories of hate, genocide, blood lust and horror. They are foundation myths and legends of their time speaking to the people then and what they had gone through. The challenge for us is not to take a 21st century lens back to the historical story, but rather bring the story into a 21st century lens.

Huh?

A 21st century lens pushes these stories to obscurity, or that which should not be spoken about.

Yet bringing the story into a 21st century lens allows us to see what we have missed and continued to repeat due to our literal, fundamentalist or non-reading of the text.

This is one of the things that struck me as I sipped on my fourth cup of morning coffee. It pertains to the horrid collection of laws found in the Third book of the Torah (or Pentateuch for those Greek types), Leviticus.

Really these are laws about how to keep yourself alive, don’t spark wars with your neighbours and by bringing the story into the 21st century lens that abuse shall not happen without consequence (as seen with the hard passages around abuse of women in Leviticus 19:29:

c“Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity.

(English Standard Version)

            For me speaks directly to the abolishment of the Sex Trade. All of us are either children of someone’s daughter, or have a daughter, and forcing anyone to do what they choose not to do, or to make profit from the dehumanization of another is reprehensible evil.

This method also brings a different reading into those infamous few of Leviticus 18:22-23:

22 hYou shall notlie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 i And you shall not lie with anyanimal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to ananimal to lie with it: it is jperversion.

(English Standard Version)

 

These texts have nothing today with the LGBTTQ2+ community. They are a direct redaction into what is legendarily believed to be the writings of Moses post exile from Babylon. In Babylon, the free and slave were forced into sexual predatory worship within the temple. It was led by the Clerics and to show worship after providing the usual animals and money forced participation for absolution was found in sexual penetration through varied orifices of animals, and/or human beings by the worshipper or with the Cleric (yes historical anthropological context can be disturbing).

But wait…removing the literal sentiment, what type of warning does this sound like for the people?

That your worth as you are created matters.

Do not let one in authority force you to that which you do not want to do.

When one in power forces you under the auspices of atonement, absolution, because God said, because you will make first line, I will ensure you get an A, you will get the role only if you….

Hidden in a text we have argued over a literal understanding of, we have missed a millenniums long warning of metaphor and allegory going:

Children,

You were abused in captivity, and were not allowed to flourish healthily into the true you. Do not repeat this pattern of abuse. Be the ones that shatter the cycle, know that you are loved, equal, and belong together in loving communities, loving relationships with whomever you choose.

BUT (and this one is important) you must choose the path of new and love, not the path of known hurt and abuse.

I implore you as you lick the wounds of leaving slavery and abuse, PLEASE, speak the truth, then CHOOSE to move forward as a healthy community by throwing off the monsters and casting them out.

Choose L-I-F-E.

Choose L-O-V-E.

Amazing what happens when you contemplate deeply into the Holy Mystery and attempt to answer the WTF as to why this passage exists.

So as community in the Christianities, are we going to answer the Levitical warning and:

           Choose L-I-F-E?

           Choose L-O-V-E?


A non-Western-centric view of the spread of Christianity shows the tree branching out from the roots in the Middle East (Judaism), into a trunk that is Orthodox, to branches of many different flavours (i.e. Coptic, Mormon, Jehovah Witness to name but a few), from the Roman Catholic branch breaks out Protestantism, and then subdivides from there (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and on we go, then those break down more into the more esoteric-metaphysics movements such as New Thought, Christian Science to the spiritual-aesthetic ala Unitarian-Universalist).

As well off R.C.’s comes the religious life.

That is the beginning of the tree of Christendom. Yet there is two prevalent branches that happened in the Western World that is a thrown into the mix as overarching branches, especially in the microcosm that is North America, and more specifically the Untied States of America and Canada, that has back benched some shaping of national identity: Prosperity and Social gospels.

Now these may look at first blush as new movements starting late 19th-early 20th century.  BUT they are not, they actually can be found in the very root system of the tree. A cursory contextual-anthropological reading of the Hebrew Bible books of Judges-Prophets shows both systems at play.

  • Prosperity Gospel- Those who are in tune with God, and are blessed will thrive and grow in riches.
  • Social Gospel- A community centered movement to care for all of God‚Äôs children (widow, orphans, aliens, etc.) in a just world.

What would usually happen is that the blessed nation would get off track in the social gospel end, embracing the prosperity above all, thus creating the cycle of deserving/undeserving of blessing, and a judge or prophet would interject to get them back on track. The wisdom books tried to show the cycles of life detached from this ideal of prosperity being blessed, with the best example being the use of the Satan character to challenge the devout Job to show that bad things happen to good people, and it is what happens in the midst and how the community responds that matters. Are we a Job or his friends that scatter?

It is this dichotomy that can be seen within the religious movements that have shaped social policy in both Canada and the USA.  The official writing of the social gospel came from a writer in New York named Rauschenbush.  In later 20th century in America the movement would latch onto the idea of Red Letter Christians, in Latin America it would become Liberation Theology, still other dubbed theology of the margins would also crop up that would fall into the broad category of Social Gospel.

The Religious Right though would take the strong road of prosperity, and one just needs to look at how the social system of the U.S.A. has been developed, and barriers created to see that outcome. Especially in the battle for something as simple as universal health care, and acceptance of refugees. It underlies the drive of the meta-story of America of coming in to independently achieve the American dream.

In Canada, the Social Gospel really took root in church basements sprouting out labour movements, suffragists, and tied strongly into socialism which brought about politically Progressive Party, Labour Party, eventually convalescing into the CCF federally whose ideas so shook the status quo that it forced the two major parties to shift their focus onto just society, and yes labour rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights and universal health care.  It underlies the Canadian story of working together in a mosaic to create a home for the world.  Highlighted by such stalwarts as J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, William Aberhart, Pierre Trudeau, the Famous Five and many others who should be named openly…and I would say continues with many most notably, Elizabeth May.

An aside of experience, is during the rise of the social gospel movement, the movement created a ‚ÄúChristian Flag‚ÄĚ to rally behind in protests showing the lie the oppressive forces of the day chasing prosperity no matter the human cost stating it was ‚ÄúChristian‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúordained by God‚ÄĚ. The movement shook the establishment and walked with all to craft a different story.

Years ago in Arizona I was witness to a very fundamentalist church saying a pledge to the Christian flag. It was driven as a pledge with the underlying beliefs that they were to out breed the other religions. It was said as a pledge to support shooting the illegals crossing the boarder as the Gospel of Christ proclaimed. The rallying cry was used for exclusion to ensure their own prosperity would continue. I almost did not get out alive pointing out the history of this artifact and what it was meant for, the fact I was an ‚Äúill-informed‚ÄĚ Canadian in their mind is probably what saved my life.

That is a small story that shows what happens in the extremes of forgetting who our neighbour is and what it means to love our neighbour and ourselves as we love our God. A very linked triangle that shows all pieces need to be in place for healthy self and society from a faith perspective.

The question in the dichotomous and dogmatic world we live in is one right or wrong? That is dependent upon one’s point of view. Yet is it worth being prosperous, if it means leaving behind many in poverty and pain where they need to decide on simple matters like food/heat or rent? Setting a broken limb of a child or homelessness?

There is shift’s happening, and yes, the prosperity mind set is taking root in the world, but should it? What is the counter? What changes if all move forward healthy and prosperous? What if, as has become a movement in our schools we move from ME to WE not just locally, but hold to our roots and truly live it?

You see, this is the underlying narratives within our nations, though not founded on ‚ÄúChristian principles‚ÄĚ as many want us to believe, the stories crafted the narratives of expectations of the people. Now we are in a time when the narratives have allowed hate in some circles to over shadow love in the pursuit of money‚Ķ

So, what choice will you make for yourself, your family, your community?

If you state you are of faith, what will you choose, prosperity or social gospel?

Individualism or community good?

To end, it is a question asked by Rev. James Shaver Woodsworth, when he was the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission that was the open doors for the immigrants and refugees to populate the prairies. It shaped his view, his founding of the labour church, his stance against the money-making war machine, and eventually to surrendering his vocation. It is a simple question for you to answer:

Who is my Neighbour?


It appears as a mundane question, but it is not a broad scope question, but rather to a narrow cultural attache I ask it. It is directed at the Western Christian Empire, that is learning humility through such humblings as the end of colonialism; multi-culturalism; human rights spread out well equally among humans if you will. To name but a few, but there is still the hangar ons, and at least in mass media there is the appearance that the “Religious Right”- those fundamentalist ideologues are easier at replenishing their vocal ranks than the progressive Christian-Historical Jesus-Liberation Theology-Social Gospel-Creation Spirituality-Wisdom school types.

Most notably I could be a prime case example as to why, simply after years of fighting, simply deciding screw this, and moving into a more universalist setting for spiritual growth. Yet, like those who speak of losing their spirituality as inherent to their culture, their is something about us muckety-mucks who harken back to the United Kingdom for our ancestry that has something tied into Christendom.

But as John Dominic Crossan wrote in his 2014 work¬†How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian we are not biblians, rather our name implies a tie to the humble labourer born in scandal and under threat of death, who for his non-violent resistance would be put to death (yes it was non-violent, as in the same work Crossan apptly points out if there was a threat of violence from Jesus’ crew they all would have been crucified).

Their is something about this master teacher that simply resonates in the soul. A Cosmic Christ that connects us all through the Holy Breath (cosmic dust) that gave us all life. Yet with knowing that it is love that we live in and out of, their is a deeper resonance to bring this lens to the stories that are apart of our journey. Those we told around campfires before the expansion of the labourer’s story, and those that are told after, but in the midst is a love of the story of the simple Jewish labourer that radically loved, and shook the empire to its core. So scared the powers that be they attempted to silence it by murdering him. Yet those that no one saw as people, the women, discovered through love the truth, that what made Brother Jesus such a lover of all, existed within us all, and stepping into and out of the tomb the darkness held no power over them to proclaim that love of self, Creator and others, all interconnected.

Or as another progressive voice, who recently suffered a stroke, Bishop John Shelby Spong has relayed that resonates, “I am a believer who knows and loves the Bible deeply. But I also recognize that parts of it have been used to undergird prejudices and to mask violence,”

Yes the story has been abused, power has been co-opted, and the book has blood on its covers. But that is not the story of Brother Jesus and the group, it is not the story of those who truly walk in the wisdom of old.

But the ability to communicate that outwards. The love, the joy, that this story bonds one too…those that know and lives this are aging, and the questions remains…whom shall continue?


2536 corrected proof

The Bard‘s Spirit is an exploration of the Social Gospel, sometimes called Liberation Theology or Theology of the Margin‘s through the work of Shakespeare.

Enjoy!