Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Radical Evangelical with Strong Anglican Tendencies

There are so many layers to this story. So I’ll try to communicate them accurately . . .

Last week I had the pleasure and opportunity to attend the Kairos gathering – basically a gathering of Christians from around Canada to come together and talk about issues of Peace and Justice. As always in the justice world, there are many Anglicans, United Church people, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, etc., and very few from the Evangelical world. In fact, my presence was requested there because I attend a Mennonite church.

I have always been open about my faith and about my Evangelical perspective. There weren’t many of us – I met 3 others who would sort of fit into Evangelical-ish perspectives – this in a conference of about 400 people. Evangelicals, we have a lot of work to do in the social justice world.

I had many opportunities to speak and be heard throughout the conference, in a number of capacities. When asked what perspective I come from, I normally identify myself as a “radical Evangelical” – I find that language helpful, in that I am intentionally not allowing people to box me into a little category.

But inevitably it happens.

At the closing of the gathering, we participated in an Aboriginal hugging ceremony – this took over an hour as we were to hug everybody in the circle twice! There were still a number of people whom I didn’t meet yet at the time of the circle, so we all had our nametags on and sometimes it was more of a “good to meet you” than a “goodbye.”

A lady came to me in the circle and, while hugging, she noticed my nametag. “Bre. You’re the Fundamentalist. Should I be frightened?” She said this without a smile.

I was somewhat taken aback. I didn’t quite know what to say. “Don’t be frightened. I’m not a fundamentalist. I’m radical evangelical.”

“Which means what?” She asks. By this time we were about 4 people apart, as the hugging hasn’t stopped and now more people were being brought into our conversation. I had to think fast, as within seconds we would be out of earshot of each other.

“It means that I love Jesus. And I love diversity.”

We didn’t get to finish our conversation. But another one started with the next person I hugged. “And is Jesus ok with that?”

“Jesus loves diversity, too.” I said. And again the line moved on.

I wish I could have been more eloquent. I wish I could have been more prepared; I had assumed that my presence at the gathering, and at the Aboriginal ceremony, would have allowed people to presuppose my stance on the church and on my personal theology. But assuming is bad, so it turns out.

I wonder how many people during that gathering didn’t approach me, or didn’t speak to me because they had assumed that I was not a safe person to speak to, simply because of how I identified as an evangelical. This thought saddens my heart to a degree where I find it painful to speak about it.

I firmly believe in an evangelical faith which is inclusive and supportive of all cultures, all religions, and all ways of being and living. A faith and a church which breaks down walls instead of putting them up. A faith and a church with an open heart, which is committed and passionate about Jesus, scripture, and service from a standpoint of humility, grace, and anti-oppression. A church more concerned with Spirit than of rules of being. A church in love with the concepts of grace and mercy, of the mystical and the divine. A church which stands firm in our understanding of sin and the reality of the bodily resurrection, of culturally respectful and appropriate evangelism of biblical truths, and a church which exudes God’s love and intention for diversity in every way.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Poetry is Not a Luxury

I’ve been reading a lot of Audre Lorde lately. Her writings come up often in my courses, and my friends keep shoving wonderful books into my arms to read. She is fantastic.

Just going over a short essay she wrote back in 1977, and pondering . . .

The essay is called “Poetry is Not a Luxury.” Much of it can be summed up thusly (I love using the word “thusly.”)

“As we come more into touch with our own ancient, non-european consciousness of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with, we learn more and more to cherish our feelings, and to respect those hidden sources of our power from where true knowledge and, therefore, lasting action comes . . . I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches so necessary for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry. I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience . . . For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence . . . poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”

My mom hates poetry. I struggle with poetry in the same way I struggle with the Bible – you often have to read it a million times over and really dig into the text to get what’s happening. Takes a lot of time to go over a short little piece, and I often feel I don’t have time to ponder a certain piece over and over and over again. My loss.

And isn’t that the point, really? Lorde points out the need to get in touch with our own ancient, culturally separated selves – to not be so obsessed with the physical and to focus on the spiritual. To cherish and experience and dance. It is within these careful, slow ponderings that we discover our power, our action, our very selves.

Poetry is not a luxury. But I treat it as such, as I often callously treat time with beloved family, friends. As I treat time alone or in meditation as luxuries and not necessities. Today I feel called to a deeper understanding of life – life which is thoughtful, careful, joyful and unhurried. Full of so many important things, truly important tasks and ponderings, that I need to bring myself to a place where, when I wake up in the morning, my schedule is empty enough to be able to fit them all in.

Monday, June 01, 2009


The Spirit insists on transforming us at every level: personal, social, economic, and political. Gos is Lord of our whole life. When we think of categories like prayer and service, contemplation and action, and individual and community as opposites, we simply create false and unnecessary divisions. Nurturing the inner life and addressing social realities are both important aspects of the Christian spiritual life. One is not more "spiritual" than the other, but either by itself is less than a full embodiment of the life we are called to in Christ.
- Marjorie J. Thompson