Back in Seattle.
I had a really terrific time conspirint with fellow friends of Submergent in Indiana. We make good connections with established and emerging anabaptists as well as some anabaptist influenced folks. I was glad to connect not only with practitioners, but also with academics and theologians in the Anabaptist and Christian radical tradition.
I might not be able to express it well because of the second language barrier, but I am thrilled for what is happening with Submergent. We are making all sorts of connections with people who are discovering and practicing the way of peace and non-violence in a very contra-empire way. There are very strong global relationships been formed with people who are living and ready to engage in radical discipleship in a way that is transformative and that present an alternative story to the story global market and commodified christianity present.
Day 1 in Goshen, Indiana
After a long 3 legged flight (Seattle-Los Angeles/ Los Angeles-Chicago/ Chicago-South Bend, IN), I was picked up at the airport by Mark Van Steenwyk, Amy and baby Jonah. After some unintended detours we arrived to the home that during the weekend became the center for Submergent conspiracies against the empire.
Day 2 in Goshen, IN
After a good night of sleep (I even slept in, that is a strange commodity if you have little kids) we (Mark, his family and I) head out to lunch with other of the conspirators. We stopped a local diner, The Lux. An item on the menu was a called the Legal Alien – some sort of mexican inspired restaurant. The hispanic population in the Elkhard/Goshen area is 19.3 %. Still I hardly saw any hispanic in the different places I visited, including the conference. It seems to me to a be a very segregated area.
In the afternoon we meet with Brian McLaren to exchange ideas about Submergent. Brian have been speaking for years to many anabaptist/mennonite leaders about the need for new church plants that are not tied to the denominational structure, in order to give the freedom to this new churches to express creativity as well as peace and non-violence activism. While Submergent is not looking to become just a venue to bring new life to the Mennonite Denomination, we hope to serve as catalysts for different expressions for the praxis of peace and non-violence, that might be new expressions of church, activism, communities, etc…
Later in the evening we participated of the conference and went out for drinks.
Day 3 in Goshen, IN
The day started early for Mark and I. We went to a conversation among local church planters, church/ministry workers with Brian. Some church planters shared their sense of isolation, others asked for resources and others were even wondering why plant new churches. Recently I’ve been pondering on that last question or concern, why plant new churches that would just follow the same pattern either of the traditional church or the “new traditional” emerging churches without providing an alternative story to the market global empire and commodified christianity. While there are many conversations about postmodernism, new expression of church, in my experience so much of the talk stop right there, in the talking. It’s much easier to deconstruct than present real alternatives. This is why I’m so enthusiastic about the Submergent network, because of the strong hope for action and praxis oriented collaborations.
Right after that morning meeting, I had the opportunity to talk a bit with Dr. John Roth. Dr. Roth is a professor of History in Goshen College, an author and someone highly respected in the USA Mennonite world. We engage in a conversation about liturgical practices among anabaptists. He shared with me his interest in some mennonites communities which are rediscovering ancient contemplative and liturgical practices. These are communities who are centering their work toward peace and non-violence out of the rhythms of sacramental and liturgical living. We both agreed that these practices create a different rhythms to live by. Once again, providing alternatives to the habits that we have acquired from the global market empire.
That day Brian covered the part that I enjoyed the most of the whole conference. Just right before lunch, he presented what in the book is the Reframing Jesus part. Taking from Dominic Crossan and others he reframed the personof Jesus and the words from the Gospels against the context of Roman Empire. This reframing is very familiar for those of the anabaptist persuation. One would say it was very Yodean. The person and the message of Jesus provided/provides an alternative, a new strory, a flip-script to the Roman/Global Empire. Jesus message was a political one. The alligiance for Jesus followers and those who ask for God Kingdom to come, is not to the nation/global state but to the new society of God.
Later that night a few of the conspirators, we went out for drinks and hot wings (I can believe people order wings with bones, when they have the option to order them boneless, oh well) and talk more about the next steps for Submergent.