Posts Tagged ‘Progressive Christianity’


Those who are in the journey of something new emerging within the death of Christendom. That is the Christianity that has been more about power and control, than the gospel teachings of Jesus, lost a unique wisdom teacher today. It is not unique, that this thought process would emerge out of Anglicanism (or as his tradition would be dubeed, Episcopalian) that seeks to inquire, bringing together the dialogue partners of faith, reason, scripture and tradition together. Especially one, that traversed many ways a secular world wrestled with, and celebrated the diversity of the Imageo Dei (while churchdom lagged behind in some circles).

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "BISHOP JOHN SHELBY SPONG June 16, 1931 Spetember 12, 2021 Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those ofus who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed."

Bishop Spong (his books listed here), journey began with a passionate love of scripture. The stories of the Holy Mystery with their creation (and vice versa), it was the story re-told in his memoir of being gifted a KJV bible that I could resonate with in my own faith journey a few years ago. But it was not my first encounter with the Bishop. I was barely into my time back into churchdom as an adult, stumbling through discovering how to teach Sunday School, being supported by mentors in the church to join the Alberta Mentors Foundation for Youth, that I begam my confirmation journey while a studnet at Mount Royal College. Part of this journey was discussing one of his recent books, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, an intriguing introduction to explore what it meant to be a member of church, to understand a declaration of faith.

What did it mean?

For those who have served with me in ministry (and the various contexts I define being in ministry within my life), it truly was giving permission to be curious. To explore the why behind beliefs, values, supposed morals, visions, missions and mandates. To be able to look behind what groups (sacred or secular) saw as their “sacered cows” or the uniquitous, well that is just how we’ve alwasy done it, and allow the still small voice to inspire… inspire to understanding. Inspire to serve and see the blessing of other as a wonderful creation with full and inherent worth.

Many of this was alreay in place in my life,

but this exploration opened up what many view as static to be alive.

For those who have followed my life story, read Soul Ripples, and the reflective posts that followed, know that the ide of the three phases (I would term books) of life that Bishop Spong shared aided in shaping my health recovery. It was a hard and grateful time of cure, but grieiving of loss of the path I had been on. This simple idea is what came through to begin to unpack that my life is a trilogy, and simply book one had ended, on a cliff hanger, like an old movie serial…

As Bishop Spong’s third book closes, he joins the grand tea party (which he may or may not appreciate the metaphor), my second book is moving from prologue into chapters….

And I simply wonder, where the Spirit will guide next?

Thank you, Bishop, for being apart of the theological dialogue of my life, with my experience, other scholars and practicitoners, coming together to be wrestled with in finding my own Via Media, of belonging for all within what is being birthed anew as institutional church out of empire, out of political and financial power is dying…

What resurrects, is shaped by us as the body of Christ.

To follow more of the thought leaders visit Progressing Spirit

Perhaps, it is time, to find the time to shape a new book…


Image result for rachel held evans booksIn progressive circles one expects to hear of hospitalizations or passing. Most of the writers/speakers/theologians that are our Patriarchs and Matriarchs are within the last 1/3 of life, and close to the ending edge. What is not expected is for a young vibrant voice, Matriarch, mother and wife to be lost.

Yesterday news came that 37 year old, Rachel Held Evans had passed away.

There is no words. One cannot comprehend this life cycle. Within her branch of Christianity she was a progressive voice, bringing light to things many did not know or think of. She was a mother to young children, and a wife. She was a whole person. Her voice will be missed, and I can only imagine the impact on her family and loved ones.

May her last book title “Inspired”, be a bit of a prophetic cry for those within her circles to take up their own voice and be heard. Continue writing the Gospel of Jesus for today. Enter into where she shone the light and continue digging and sharing.

 


Progressive spirituality/Christianities within their current context I find tedious.  There is no scholarship building upon what has come before, rather it is a re-treading of old battles already fought. Why is this? I blame the regressive state of Western Culture. The loss of the ability to critically think, coupled with the conglomeration of media and the commodification of the human experience has led us down a rabbit hole. There is also the drowning with knowledge overload, and opinion as fact that has removed the ability to discourse, and discover wisdom.

It is a sad state on my journey as I look upon those writers that have shaped them, death, illness and retirement has stripped away those that have crafted cornerstones we should be building upon. The voice of progress, universal love and inclusion, liberation and social gospel is shrinking. Thinkers such as Marcus Borg, Desmond Tutu, Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, Agnes MacPhail, Pierre Trudeau, Padre Pio, Leonardo Boff, meta-physicians; Dalai Lama, Pope Francis I, transcendentalists, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, Multiple saints & mystics, Mother Teresa, Nikos Kazantzakis, Stuart A. Schlegel, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Martin Luther King Jr., Tommy Douglas, J.S. Woodsworth and the list goes on and on. The voices of and for the marginalized have been relegated back to the beginning of a cycle still debating that which human rights and suffragettes should have dealt with.

Yet “Progressive Spirituality” much like “Conservative Theology” got subsumed by “Prosperity Gospels” and “Salvation/Sanctification” (look at a Joel Osteen for the epitome of the lost track of universal love for the progressives). This is why during my time of medical sabbatical I was excited to find out post-stroke Bishop Spong had written a new book, but saddened as I read his preamble to it that this was definitively his last. It is his call for reformation, for the work already done and grow upon it.

He touches on the different times the Christ experience has been mislaid. The Fourth century experience we had codified as “Christendom” which would be as unrecognizable for the original community as it is to us in this day. He also touches on the Reformation, which aside from the land and power grab of the princes/royals to break the state hold of the Vatican. It was possible as well do a shattering transformation of cultural understanding as the plagues had shown that even the “Holy” lost a 1/3. The peasant class was open.

We are in a time like this. Even if traditionalists keep fighting against it. Holding to outdated understandings. Science has revealed much on creation, maybe not the why, but the how. We are in a world where we are taking control over our own destinies. Where we can accept equal marriage, we can accept medicine, accept being able to transplant organs, understand different ways of experiencing life. We can see through new eyes, yet we bring the old eyes leaving our understanding of the intrinsic piece that makes us whole left out in the old patriarchal imperial cycle. And yes, progressive thinkers who are emerging today instead of referencing what came before and building, are trudging up the same mountain again.

This is where Unbelievable (2018) rises. It is still American-centric, but Spong roots his 12 Thesis firmly in what has come before, and lays out a path forward. A new starting point for dialogue and discourse, being able to let go of what is no longer working or that which is harming.

So as we seek to understand the love triangle of My Neighbour, I leave you with excerpts for this work to see if it is something you wish to purchase for your journey, or to explore within your community:

John Shelby Spong (2018) Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today (HarperOne).

“what we must do is find the meaning to which the word “God” points.” P. 31

“Is the denial of theism the same as atheism? Is there no other alternative?” p. 38-39

“That is the universal human experience that our ancestors once called “Original Sin”. The experience was real; the interpretation was false. We are not “fallen sinners”; rather, we are incomplete human beings. Our old theology is dead. The door begins to open on a new way to tell the old, old story.” P. 89

“Every Jew would know that to refer to a grown man in Jewish society as “the son of a woman” was to suggest that his paternity was unknown. … we might infer a covert reference to her being pregnant outside of marriage, for there was no estate more lowly in in first-century Judaism that that of an expectant mother with no male protector.” P.112

Atonement theology, especially in its most bizarre “substitutionary” form, presents us with a God who is barbaric, a Jesus who is victim and it turns human beings into little more than guilt-filled creatures. P.153

Bulletins during Lent in many churches look as if they might have been purchased in a local sadomasochism shop. They feature whips and nails, and if they elicit any emotion at all, it is guilt. P.162-163.

In Jewish worship, however, the lamb was a symbol, not of a sacrifice that an angry God required, but of a human yearning to achieve the fullness of human potential. P. 165

The Easter experience in the new Testament, contrary to what we have traditionally been taught over the year, is not about bodies walking out of graves. It is far more profound than that. It is about God being seen in human life. By “God” I do not mean a supernatural, invasive God, who violates the laws of nature in order to enter time and space. I mean a transcendent dimension of life into which all can enter, an experience in which life is expanded, love is unlimited and being is enhanced. P. 188

The ascension story is both powerful and real, but it is not, and was never intended to be, literally true. P.196

Before prayer can be made real, our understanding of God, coupled with our understanding of how the world works, must be newly defined. P. 249.

I have no use for life after death as a tool or method of behaviour control. P.258

We are called by this new faith into radial connectedness. P. 270

When I contemplate the meaning of Jesus I come back again and again to his image as the ultimate boundary-breaker, in whom what it means to be human is constantly being expanded. P.278


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?


Ian Rankin (2016) Rather be the Devil was the latest delight of the Calgary Public Library hold shelf at their Village Square Location (and yes I have been around this community long enough that I remember the original library van when I was a kid). But why does this percolate a post even before I have cracked the cover on the newest Inspector John Rebus mystery. The roustabout musicphile of Scotland who is no longer an inspector in the last few outings.

You read that right, he was retired a few novels ago but brought back in a consulting role. Whether or not this was Rankin’s intent with a character he created back during his doctoral days or not is truly not the point of this reflection. For it is something that tickled my mind, coupled with a lasting image from a few nights ago when we popped over by the Community of Temple Fire Hall (okay it was the 7-11 for slurpees as a family, but still).

Next to the Fire Hall used to stand an Anglican Church, St. George’s, a parish that has roots going back almost 50 years in this area as well, but it did not start out as a building. It started out as a parish without walls in local Catholic School gymnasiums. How do I know that? I was the fist babe Christened on the baptismal roles in said gynnasium (even down to the pic with the priest and shamrock backboard behind the head).

Now it is simply an empty field (though the Altar Guild at my farewell gave me a banner of the Saint and Dragon as a reminder that still is displayed in my home), the building had become condemned, the amphitheater I used to host outside concerts and road hockey tourneys for the community just over a decade ago back filled in. The sign with pithy sayings to attract new comers–gone. Just the wild grass taking hold and rumours of one day it being the site of seniors housing, but so far no sign of ground breaking.

It was my last paid post in ministry, there was two other church postings to follow that were tent making for myself as I was paid to be apart of another. But it was that baptism in a school gym that shaped my spiritual DNA of the irrelevancy of labels, walls and barriers we tend to create in the world. Anglicans and Catholics working together. Then in pre-school, at an Alliance Church with the diversity that makes up NE Calgary (loved singing those kids hymns with my Sikh and Hindu neighbours), and a Presbyterian Vacation Bible School (that my own daughter still attends).

I am not going to get into my spiritual journey in Junior and Senior high school, or shaping in Indigenous, Pagan, Mystery or Eastern Traditions or digress into evangelical theological formation in Bible College and Seminary; while serving and practicing in mainline churches, or monastic formation with Anglican, Catholic and Ecumenical Franciscans. Some would say, that I have removed myself from the Progressive Christendom voice by act of, well, leaving the physical church buildings and to be honest becoming tired with the mundanity that Christianity has created for itself in its fear of becoming irrelevant.

Yet.

As I look upon this character who in retirement from his life passion is still pursuing truth and justice, and I look at the reclaiming by nature of the former site of the parish that sparked my journey.

I no longer wonder, I know.

A voice is only not relevant when it is not used.

An act of kindness is only not relevant when it is left undone.

A kingdom act is only not a kingdom act when the source is not the love that opens one soul to the Cosmic Christ, and out of that soul lives in unity with all that is.

The question is not whether or not I am Christian, Progressive, New Thought, Science of Mind, New Age (and yes the litany of the pieces that feed my spiritual piece of the medicine wheel, and by proxy my whole self can go on and on)…the question is whether or not is founded and lived out of Love?

And the name for this love for me is the Cosmic Christ, whose example is the Master Teacher, Brother Jesus, and that flowed from the Loving Creator.

So…all that remains to ask as a life is lived is simply:

What Would Love Do?

 

 


It has been a while since I have shared thoughts, musings of spiritual practices from the book study my family is a apart of with the Universal Church of the Master Alberta on the Aquarian Gospel. It is not because there have been no aha moments or things worthy of sharing, every two weeks we gather there is much discussed, learned and possibly shared, what happens unfortunately for you readers, if life gets busy and I am unable to prepare thoughts, so after this week I have intentionally taken some time to share quotes and thoughts throughout.

These readings comes from teachings of John, the Harbinger (colloquially in Christendom known as the Baptist, and elder cousin of Jesus, revealed in this work as a Nazarite, historically believed to be apart of the Essenes movement).

64: 15. And then the people asked, What must we do?
16. And John replied, Accept the ministry of helpfulness for all mankind; spend not upon your selfish selves all that you have.
17. Let him who has two coats give one to him who has no coat; give part of all the food you have to those in need.

Kindness. It is the first act of love, that even if we do not have the emotion behind it, the praxis will shape our soul to be prepared to welcome the Cosmic Christ.
18. And when the publicans came up and asked, What must we do? John answered them,
19. Be honest in your work; do not increase for selfish gain the tribute you collect; take nothing more than what your king demands.

Political leaders of the time. The Roman Empire was known deeply for its corruption, and a need to put the people first for they are called to service. To be a good publican is not about renouncing the Empire they serve, it is about serving justly, and again, back to the first praxis of faith and formatting one’s being: kindness, acting as one would want to be acted upon. Being honest, and working hard, not doing more that is demanded. For these civil servants would create wealth and power for themselves by adding on more tax, and brutally controlling the populations by whatever means necessary (and no, at no time is this saying that the Roman Empire was a nice Empire, they were like any occupying and colonial force of nature working an agenda of assimilation and extermination).


  1. And when the soldiers came and asked, What must we do? The harbinger replied,
    21.Do violence to none; exact no wrongful thing, and be contented with the wages you receive.

Think of being taken away from your family, brutalized mentally, emotionally, spiritually and sexually. This is the experience that awaited soldiers of the Roman Empire, and like many abused when given an opportunity to exert force over another they would ensure the same pain was passed on. Think of the historic times back then when even the conquered women were only seen as property to be used. Therefore, there is still a historic theory alive that Mary’s conception was due to Roman rape, and that the story of the Christ, is God’s redemption out of evil.

So yes, this was a throwing down of the gauntlet to an oppressor to once again go back to the beginning element. Kindness.

67: 12. But what a medley catch! a catch of crabs, and lobsters, sharks and creeping things, with now and then a fish of better kind.

Brother Jesus speaking about how good a fisher of men his cousin John was. But not just pointing out that the catch was what humanity deemed as clean, but rather, all those who moved in love were part of the same net. Labels, uncleanliness, saved/unsaved, whatever we can use to divide is irrelevant.

These are divides we still attempt to create in our world, and we are missing the point of what the Cosmic Christ’s love is about. The Kingdom is not other, or separate, it begins in each and everyone of us who choose compassion, live kindness, embrace and live out of divine love. This shatters the walls and barriers our labels create, and allow hope to reign in our world. The question is, are we ready to cast the nets, and let love embrace all? Or still create the false dichotomy’s that destroy?

68: 10. I am not sent to sit upon a throne to rule as Cæsar rules; and you may tell the ruler of the Jews that I am not a claimant for his throne.
11. Men call me Christ, and God has recognised the name; but Christ is not a man. The Christ is universal love, and Love is king.
12. This Jesus is but man who has been fitted by temptations overcome, by trials multiform, to be the temple through which Christ can manifest to men.

  1. Then hear, you men of Israel, hear! Look not upon the flesh; it is not king. Look to the Christ within, who shall be formed in every one of you, as he is formed in me.

Will you answer the call?

 


It’s funny. If you are an Albertan you know we have this tendency to elect governments that overstay their effectiveness, but are populous and then vanish. One of these was the Social Credit Party.

Outside of family discussions, the full introduction to SoCred Ideology was actually at a family reunion where my Great Uncle Ed well into his 90’s actually tried to sell me a party membership at the humble age of 16 years old.

Yet what would inspire such loyalty in a constantly changing political landscape. Some say it was Ernest Manning (no one remembers the 3rd SoCred premier who lost to that guy Peter Lougheed)…yet Manning was the apprentice, and actually moved the SoCred’s to the right.

No, where the movement was inspired and rose to power overturning the United Farmers rule. It goes to a small charismatic baptist preacher (what was with those baptists in the Dirty Thirties? The Great Depression church basement spawned many a preacher trying to change the world, note another gent named Tommy Douglas from Saskatchewan)…this preacher, who also founded the Prophetic Bible Institute, and a radio hour, leveraged tea/coffee times in peoples living rooms to explain a progressive-social ideology to change the world.  His nick name was Bible Bill, and William Aberhart took his young upstart SoCreds into governance as the third party to govern Alberta.

Now under Manning the progressive was forgotten, yet under Aberhart they were so progressive, Aberhart and Douglas came to agreement to stay out of one another’s provinces to allow CCF/SoCred governments to flourish without splitting the vote.

Quite a history lesson on how the progressive voice for change, inclusion and love can make our country better. What sparked this political digression?

On one of my whims of fancy to share the province’s history with my kids, thought hey Westbourne Baptist still exists and has a seniors manor attached and pre-school, should take in a service with the family…only to go on their website and find after 104 years they have moved into a new journey, and from what the internet has shared it looks as if it stalled out after dissolution.

So another piece of history has lived its life cycle, and the question still remains, where will these types of individuals rise up within the spiritual realm to speak into the soul of a country? Province? City? for the simple gift of equality, justice, compassion, peace, and joy. All that comes out of the root of Love.


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?


RELAUNCH IS OFFICIALLY HERE

JUNE 4 (MONDAY) @ 5:30 P.M.

POTLUCK, CONVERSATION, BIBLE STUDY


Evangelistar von Speyer, um 1220 Manuscript in...

Evangelistar von Speyer, um 1220 Manuscript in the Badische Landesbibliothek, Karlsruhe, Germany Cod. Bruchsal 1, Bl. 1v Shows Christ in vesica shape surrounded by the "animal" symbols of the four evangelists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

This is a deep question that set of quite the 3 way then 2 way conversation/dialogue on Twitter. Why am I writing about a twitter chat? Simple, the case study that emerged in this convo was around Sex Work, which yes is a current hot button issue of “justice” within the church.

Yet it comes to a much larger issue. For we in Christendom find it easy to acknowledge the “button justice issues” whether it be peace work; just war theory; sex trafficking; slave trade; LGBTTQ Rights (or human rights in general); ending misogyny; inclusion/exculsion of X-Y-Z community; who gets into heaven; feeding the poor; ending homelessness; providing shelter; community involvement; mentorship; tutoring; ESL; sanctuary; sponsoring families; short term missions; long term missions; abortion; petitions; and the litany of our justice issues go on and on.

And yes, I am writing as a member of Christendom currently working in one of the “hot buttong justice” issues of the day in Calgary, AB and that is ending homelessness.  Yet I also reflect on deeper understanding of issues. So do I agree with all the questions and answers bandied about, who knows… I know each and every issue is deeper and more complex than a black and white answer; or statistics on a page (stats can be skewed or used to tell any story we wish to tell with them depending on what we declare within the bounds of the statistics, and what are the outliers of the statistics).

But it comes down to the concept of what is justice? A quote I tossed out is from the defrocked Dominican Priest, Matthew Fox, who is highly involved in the progressive Christian movement known as creation spirituality, and it goes simply, “We need to tear down Jacob’s Ladder, and as a world embrace the dancing of Sarah’s Circle”. This quote lends itself to the story in Genesis where Jacob sees the angels (aliens to some) climbing up and down the ladder, it is an image that the Protestant world has used as a metaphor for rampant individualism; caucasoid patriarchy and oppressive practices for if one truly wants to get ahead they need to work hard and climb that ladder.  The metaphor of Sarah’s Circle comes from the practice in matriarch of laughter and dancing to get to know one another, and to work together in the household.  This idea is to bring all into the communit of inclusion.

Now we humans like to complicate things and Christendom is no different, as I have noted in other writings the term Christianities is much more palpable, but we are attempting to figure out how to renew our world and bring Heaven here, as Jesus of Nazareth commanded us to do in the Gospel of Mark.

Yet the idea of true justice goes beyond being Emergent, Missional, Charismatic, Evangelical, Convergent, Post-Modern, Modern, Catholic, Monastic, Post Christian, Progressive Christian or any other funk label or denomination we in the Body of Christ can come up with to be a plug and play program ideology to solve our woes.

What true justice is?

It is quite simple, and there are over 2 billion of us to lead the way. It is seeing each and every human being as the Sixth Day of Genesis (Genesis 1) states: Made in the image of our Creator, She called us beloved, blessed and Very Good. We are not commodities, we are not rungs on a ladder, we are beloved children of a loving Creator that is in everything, and everything is in her.

Justice is the realization of this creation, marked with our lifespan choices, when God let us leave his care, and enter the world it was not because we were evil or despots, it was simply because we were ready to explore like many late stage adolescents/early adults. This is the truth in Genesis 3 as I read it, for God still provided love and care by clothing us (offering protection), walking with us (as any loving parent when kids leave home), and turning the world over to us to care for and craft paradise in.

So what is justice? Truly living into and out of the love of God…seeing one another as the blessed image bearers…seeing ourselves as the beloved image bearer…

Creating a world where all are included, all 7+ billion of us are seen this way, and a world system is created where each of us can live out not only our agency, but our passion/dreams that is our calling to create make our own community better.

Pollyanic? Maybe, or is it simply moving beyond the cynicism and commodification currently found in our caucasoid heteropatriarchal societies?