Archive for July, 2008

THIS FRIDAY! “The Church Basement Roadshow: A Rollin” Gospel Revival” is coming to town

Featuring Emergent Church leaders Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and Mark Scandrette
When: Friday, August 1 at 7:00pm
Where: Marble Collegiate Church, 5th Ave between 29th and 30th

Bowie is going and would love to see you there!

FACEBOOK Event – sign up and invite your friends!

Church Basement Roadshow

Minneapolis, Minnesota, 15 May, 2008 — A biodiesel-fueled RV loaded with three of the most outspoken emergent church leaders and authors will crisscross the country this summer in “” The tour featuring Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and Mark Scandrette will hit thirty-two cities across the U.S., with a message that combines old time revival flair with a 21st century gospel. They”ll preach, sing and sell healing balm in church basements from San Diego to New York.

Jones, author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier; Pagitt, author of A Christianity Worth Believing; and Scandrette, author of Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus, are part of the emergent movement, a decade-old phenomenon of pastors, missionaries, artists, theologians, authors and “regular people” who are rethinking church and Christianity for a globalized world. Controversial for their “nothing is too sacred to be questioned” doctrine, Jones, Pagitt, and Scandrette have acquired many fans and critics based on their writings.

“This summer will

be a defining time,” says Pagitt, “As we take our invitation of hope and good news to people around the country. We”re preaching a fresh way of life and faith – one that is in rhythm with the life of God.”

Taking a page out of the Billy Sunday playbook, the authors will spread the emergent message of a generous, hope-filled Christian faith in the style and cadence of the tent revival preachers of a hundred years ago. They plan to have fun with it, wearing frock suits and selling “healing balm,” but the goal is, as in the revivals of yore, to preach the good news.

“This will be unlike any book tour people have seen,” said Jones. “We”ll be barnstorming the country, shaking the rafters with our ancient-future message of hope.”

“People will laugh and sing,” Scandrette added, “But they”ll also be challenged to join the Jesus Revolution.”

[text above from an Emergent Village newsletter, Emergent/C]

The Empire

Hey, Transmissioners -

This Wednesday, July 16, 7pm, we”ll be gathering at Bowie and George”s new apartment for a ritual focused on what it means

to be both a Christian and a citizen of an empire, looking at our current context through the lens of historical relationships between Empires and the Church. Featuring fancy sandwiches and deviled eggs by Isaac, Bible history by John, church history by Bowie, and a ritual by all of us, this one will be both educational and transformative. Hope you can make it!

We hear a lot

of about the separation of Church and State. In the Biblical age of viagr a pfizer Israelite monarchy, there was no such distinction, and yet there”s a constant tension between church and field – between the Temple and the Wilderness. Naturally, the histories in the Hebrew Scripture were written from the Temple-State point-of-view, and yet the prophets and the Gospels offer another side of the story.

The first thing we see in the original Gospel, according to Mark…

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance…And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to [be] baptized by him in the river Jordan…Now John was clothed with camel”s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:4-6)

I recently heard a very good sermon about how CLEAN John always looks in artwork. And yet here we”ve got him, wearing the hair of the smelliest animal that lives, eating bugs, and his beard and hair and smeared with honey. It”s really something of a miracle in the story ‚Äì people are going out to SEE this guy! And to hear him shout insults at them. Townspeople, and from the big city-dwellers, are coming out to the wilderness – YES, we”ll repent, just PLEASE get your filthy self into that water!

And then Jesus shows up…

And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. (Mark 1:11-12)

So now JESUS runs off into the wilderness. For forty days, he gets baked by the sun, hassled by the Satan ‚Äì who knows? Maybe he found John”s stash of bugs and honey. We might read this now and think, “Oh, I guess that”s when Jesus sat back and watched Lawrence of Arabia…the extended version…” but to first century Judean audiences, people brought up on the tales and traditions of the Hebrew Scriptures, hearing the word “Wilderness” was like doing a Google-search for…I don”t know, “car,” or “house” ‚Äì this was an iconic word that brought up ALL KINDS of cultural memories. To give a sense of it, the word “Wilderness” appears 27 times in Exodus, 48 times in the book of Numbers ‚Äì these were a people whose cultural identity was forged in the wilderness. Even the word Hebrew, coming from “Habiru,” meaning “outsider,” suggests a people from the fringes on society.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jesus Mash-Up

1) Where the Hell is Jesus?

A video response to: Where the Hell is Matt?

2) Jesus” by the Velvet Underground

With footage from the Passion Movie

collected by Bowie Snodgrass

I asked a variety of people where empathy shows up in their interactions with people and how they deepen their sense of empathy? Some said empathizing is a deliberate choice and critical challenge. Others talked about “quieting the noise of the world” to listen and be present to Christ in the Other. The quotes below show us many ways we enter into each other’s stories.

The Rt. Rev. Jeffery Lee
Bishop of Chicago, Consecrated February 2, 2008

The word empathy can easily become an effective way to cover up my own anxiety in the face of someone else”s suffering ‚Äì ‚ÄúI feel your pain.‚Äù The truth is the only pain I can really feel is my own. What I can do is to choose not to run away from your pain. I can choose to accompany you in it. I can demonstrate to you that I will not leave you and that together we might find a way through pain and suffering to new life. Empathy isn”t a feeling; it”s a decision.

Mel Ahlborn
President of the Board of The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA)
Principle of MB Ahlborn Illumination, an artist studio opened 1989, San Francisco, CA

Empathy is a natural part of my creative process. It’s like an unseen rhythm, the tide that balances and shifts as I move through each day. If you could peel away the outer layers of my life as a working artist, you would see a lot of intention to listen to and join with the people that I work with, care for and serve. Empathy is walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, not as a glossy metaphor but as a warm companionship that leads to meeting and greeting Christ in each person I encounter. And like any spiritual discipline, empathy is a practice that grows, bears fruit, and casts its seeds into the wind.

Sister Diana Dorothea
Community of the Transfiguration, Cincinnati, OH

The difference between “professional” empathy – “I feel your pain” – and God’s graced empathy is willingness. My need for empathy is greatest when I want it least – facing another’s anger or hurtful behavior. If I can shoot a prayer between defenses asking for grace to understand in love, usually over the next few days or weeks, memories of my own similar behavior surface, with new insights, allowing true sharing of the other’s pain.

The Rev. Amy McCreath
Episcopal Campus Minister at MIT, Cambridge, MA

The students with whom I work, who are scientists and engineers, are very articulate about material matters and technical problems. But they often feel intimidated by discussion of the ineffable mysteries of faith. They grow quiet when asked to articulate their spiritual questions. As it turns out, I feel the same way about science and engineering as they do about matters spiritual: I”m intrigued, but intimidated. Drawn in, but inarticulate.

Once we named this dual reality, we were all able to relax and patiently start to learn the other”s language. Empathy has allowed me to be a better chaplain to them. It has challenged me to develop new ways of communicating my faith and God”s invitation to them. And while I”ll never *really* understand genomic biology or psychopharmacology, I know enough now to affirm my students as they live into their vocations in areas like these.

The Rev. Cn. Mary Moreno-Richardson
Canon for Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of San Diego, CA

Part of my

ministry focuses on the needs of Latina youth in the Guadalupe Art Program, as well as the pastoral crisis faced by detained undocumented youth and the victims of human trafficking. These children are on an incredible journey from brokenness to reclaiming their true identity – knowing they are created in the image of the Divine. My sense of empathy is deepened by serving these injured souls and witnessing the healing power of the transforming Holy Spirit.

Javier Rivera-Gerena
Engineer, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Pianist at San Judas Tadeo, Aibonito, Puerto Rico

`Lord, when saw we Thee hungering and fed Thee, or thirsty and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger and took Thee in, or naked and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee?” And the King shall answer and say unto them, `Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”

To demonstrate empathy is to perform the best approximation of the love of Jesus anyone can achieve. But to do so requires from us to detach from ourselves and act with honesty and commitment. Jesus actually wearied our shoes His whole life and committed to our cause to the end. But happens that there is too much noise everywhere. A deafening, entertaining, mesmerizing and almost omnipresent noise alienating our hearts from the rest of the world and obstructing us from noticing all the opportunities God insistently is giving us every day for showing the evidence of His love with our empathy. Empathy can show-up in our immediate environment in the most simple and modest things. Sharing our knowledge with our co-workers and helping them improve and do a better job is good example to begin with. Let us pay attention and be alert to notice and identify these opportunities, quieting the noise of the world with our prayers.

The Rev. Ian Mobsby
Missioner to Moot, A“Fresh Expressions” Community, in London, UK

Much of my work life as an Ordained Missioner in Central London concerns expressing unconditional love and understanding, as I attempt to live out what Christ calls us all to live in the New Command to love God and love our neighbor, which in reality is about trying to catch up with what God is already doing. London is not a very loving place, there is a harshness to the city, so living this way is difficult. But – there are moments when empathy breaks in – such as the good will between people that occurs in difficult times such as the London Tube Bombings several years ago, or when talking to the Homeless seller of the Big Issue by the local supermarket, the look on children’s faces at Holy Communion in the local school assembly, the look on people’s faces when you show kindness such as giving up your seat on the train or bus for an older person, encouraging those to keep going who suffer with depression and anxiety. It is in these little things, that real empathy is shared. So my ministry is about expressing empathy as God seeks to reconcile all back into restored relationship with the Godhead.

For me, empathy finds its origin in the Trinitarian Godhead. That the perfect love and justice expressed in the persons of Creator, Redeemer, and Companion is the source for all empathy. So for me, forms of contemplative prayer and worship are about God inviting us to join in this perfect community relationally that affirms who we are and enables us to truly love others through the love of God. So some of the ancient forms of contemplative prayer reframed into a postmodern context enable me to love in an overly busy and complex world. Additionally, for me, in the belief that the Holy Spirit is very present in our culture – I meet Christ through conversations with those on the margins, the poor, the sick, and excluded. Shockingly – I often meet God’s love through the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ in the Father in the faces and voices of the homeless and children that I meet – this enables me to truly love.

Austin T. Tuning
Jubilee Officer, Diocese of Lexington, KY

We are all member of God’s family, created in His image. Although divided by race, culture, and geography, our lives are fashioned by a life time of human experiences, leaving each of us with our perceptions of justice. It is through these experiences that, hopefully, we come to interact with one another with loving concern and compassionate understanding. The latter is what I choose to call ‘empathy’ – a sincere attempt to see and understand situations through the eyes and experiences of another person.

Recently, a grocery store clerk felt the need to tell me about the death of her sister in a house fire. At the time she had gone sleepless for quite a while imagining what it must have been like for her sister to die that way. Feeling her anguish, I suggested in a written note to her a few days later that she focus her attention on the love and joy that she and her sister shared; take time to write of those wonderful memories in a letter to her sister; and finally, be thankful that God was there with her sister as He is with each of us during every moment of our lives.

Showing we really care about the concerns of others is one of the ways we can deepen our empathy for others.

Eliyanna Kaiser
Executive Editor, $pread Magazine

$pread Magazine is a quarterly publication produced by and for those that work in the sex industry and others that support their rights. The whole idea behind the magazine is to provide a space for sex workers to express for themselves what their lives are like and what they think about their work. We do this precisely because we are so critical of empathy, and of the idea in general that others who have never done sex work are capable of imagining themselves in the situations of sex workers. Many well-meaning people try to speak for sex workers claiming to empathize with their lives and experiences. But the only people truly qualified to describe the experiences of sex workers – the good, the bad, and the outrageous – are sex workers themselves.

As an editor of $pread Magazine, my job is to work with sex workers, many of whom are first time writers, to help them tell their story or give their experience-based perspective. For some people, this sort of writing is challenging on a number of levels. I try to listen very carefully to their voice in their writing and make sure that my editing of that writer”s contribution is still authentic to their experience. Trying to achieve empathy is important in that. The all-volunteer staff of $pread Magazine has a leg-up on that because the vast majority of us are sex workers, former sex workers, and the rest of us have worked with that community closely for a long time. The path to empathy must cede self-determination to ensure that empathy is not a buzz-word that “progressives” use to claim ownership overs someone else”s experience or story. For sex workers, that is an all too common theme.

Erin Keeney
TV Reporter and Producer, New York, NY

I find that empathy and good journalism are fundamentally intertwined. As a reporter and producer, I”m essentially a storyteller. It”s my job to imagine the world through someone else”s eyes, and give a voice to someone else”s narrative. It”s impossible to tell a good story–especially someone else”s story–without trying to understand the subject”s situation, and identifying with them as a sensitive and compassionate human being.

I think that empathy is the foundation for good journalism. And while I find empathy is my strongest tool in writing a good story, I also find it provides me the biggest challenges in my work. When I”m in the field, I”m constantly trying to nullify my own presence and perspective to ensure someone”s story is told without my interference. I find that difficult sometimes, only because journalism isn”t a science. Journalism is a craft involving human beings sharing stories with human beings. I”m always trying to earn someone else”s trust, and understand someone else”s feelings and motives and what makes them tick.

I find that my empathy for others has become more authentic and more rich the more I experience in my personal life and in the field. Studying empathy in a lecture hall in journalism school did nothing for me. I learn the most when I”m embedded in someone else”s day-to-day minutia or experiencing with them an extraordinary event. Listening, and practicing listening without judgment every day on every assignment is what helps me deepen my sense of empathy.

There isn”t one person I”ve written about or interviewed that hasn”t left a mark on me and shaped my perspective on things in some way. Some have resonated with me more deeply than others, of course, but none has left me unchanged. One thing I”m continuing to learn is that what binds us together is much stronger than what separates us. Each person”s story is different, but they are all threaded together with the same themes…love, loss, joy, pain, fear.