Eliacin Rosario-Cruz

Abrazando Esperanzas

Month: July 2008 (page 2 of 3)

Pickled electrified Christians

I’ve seen my good share of vinegar pickled Christians around. 

Could this be the beginning of Picklemergent?

This is bad, but I’ve seen worse.


(HT Boing Boing)

5 questions about torture to William Cavanaugh

(HT – Catholicanarchy)

RedOracle: Postmodern hospitality

My friend Jess have a very insighful and challenging post about what hospitality means. She does it in the context for the Mennonite Church, but it is certainly a concept we should all explore and live.

RedOracle: Postmodern hospitality

This leads me to think about hospitality…how are we, as individual followers of Christ and together as a community of believers, hospitable to others? Recently, I attended a “consultation” on interchurch relations put together by MC USA. The purpose was to get together to discuss how we, as Mennonites, can be and have been hospitable to other Anabaptist brothers and sisters. To be honest this meeting was annoying to me because we were, as one brave sole stated, seeking to make a simple thing complicated. Why do we need to get a room full of leaders together to talk about something that seemingly should flow out of us quite naturally? And yet, I am glad that MC USA sees the extending of hospitality as a priority.

So what exactly is hospitality? What does it look like? Is it merely about giving to an other or is it also about receiving? After spending a month traveling in Spain and Morocco my ideas of hospitality and my role in it have changed…

Read more…

Notes from Submergent Next Steps Gathering

Warning – Very long post ahead

After months of planning and many online conversations, 10 rabble rousers got together this past weekend in Philadelphia to dream, dialogue and conspire about the next steps Submergent should take. Many others were invited, but couldn’t make it to the gathering – so no, it was not a secret meeting of super friends.

For me the trip started last Thursday leaving Sea-Tac airport at 10:30 AM and arriving in Philly at 11:30 PM, after a layover in Salt Lake City for 3 1/2 hours. Jessica Walters, whom I met at The New Conspirators conference last February, picked me up at the airport. On my way to our place of conspiracy, I met Hinke Loewen-Rudgers from Winnipeg MB, whom had just arrived earlier that night.

After settling in the urban retreat house were we gathered, Mark Van Steenwyk (whom had been in Philly since earlier in the week for a Mennonite Inter-Church Diologue conference) and I stayed until 3:30 AM, catching up on life, laughing, plotting and drinking Yuenglings.

On Friday, afternoon some of us – Lora, Jessica, Hinke, Mark and I – walked around Manuchuk looking for a real reaso to celebrate the 4th of July, Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Later that day, Jason Evans, Joel Shenk, Steve Kriss, Joe Hackman, Brian Miller, John (whom I sadly keep forgetting his last name, but whom I truly enjoyed meeting) joined the dreaming session.

Here is a brief list of points and vibes of the discussion in our first conversation on Friday night. Many thanks to Steve for taking such good notes of the vibes of the meeting.

  • sermon on the mount.
  • What does Anabaptist mean? Might be a better starting place for conversation
  • Bender’s historic three things—community, peacemaking and discipleship.
  • rooted in the transcendent Christ
  • all of these things are focused around Christ—not for the sake of but because of the relationship with Christ
  • the emphasis on life rather than death, Jesus’ life is what we model, the way that Jesus brought healing and reconciliation rather than limiting to death on the cross
  • are these really the central elements for us?
  • when using Anabaptism, it’s a historic term. Persons are necessarily tied into the historic terms. Neo-anabaptism is helpful but also a nasty word.
  • How necessary is it to define as Anabaptist? Some of us might be put off by the label as another denominational group. I like where we are going, but its around defining. How important is the Anabaptist label over the values?
  • he helpful thing—radical reformation is a verb not a noun. If you are a peace-minded liberationist, to learn Anabaptism alone is off-putting.
  • Anabaptist Network in the UK model has been helpful, don’t assume denominational level connection
  • Is there a way to say we’re inspired by?
  • It’s hard to talk about the values without the story. Distinctives make sense within the story, history. There needs to be some sort of connection with the genesis of ideas. Mark—Not everyone needs to connect that way.
  • there is a way to connect that way.
  • do we agree with those common themes? Bender’s peace, community, discipleship.
  • the commonality with that is a way of reading Scripture—whether your legacy Mennonites or African or Latino—what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? In the community of disciples as they practice faith. Anabaptist has been that word. We have to preserve the distinctive, even if we are decentering. The hermeneutic is hidden but implicit in the reading of the Anabaptist Vision.
  • I think I intuit that rather than articulate it.
  • James McClendon—this is that—then is now. The lived praxis out of the framed story of Scripture. It’s a way of acting with the Scripture—a community of disciples rather than an institutional mediator. The hermeneutic and the story is historic as well as inbreaking. We’re anticipating that the kingdom is breaking in—forming communities of disciples living the way.
  • Considering base ecclesial communities. This is similar—but deviates from the Catholic-orientation when walking away from the mediator and the Christendom model.
  • What other things are we articulating but not assuming? Egalitarian community—non mediated. In some current streams—there’s a post Christendom—defining itself outside of the state.
  • For those of us who are legacy Mennonites—we know this is a way of stepping out of empire. Those of us who are drawn into the story—is a way of stepping out of empire.
  • understand that I hit empire—and am disoriented and reading the Gospel.
  • What is the mediator? Beyond institutional mediation.
  • connecting with the tribal story of being Anabaptist. Connecting beyond denomination. Incarnation—we’re not all these fragmented communities. It’s a whole story. I wouldn’t cut myself off from the whole of the Christian story. We have to own that we’re connected with 2000 years of tradition. As we dream, we need to not just react against it. Theological development doesn’t come until the last 100 years because the leaders were persecuted.
  • I follow the track of Merton’s new man—the new person—when we look at Scripture—we see a complete different way of living, not only new allegiances. I think its good to unpack those three Bender points. Peacemaking, community and discipleship goes beyond the Bender points. How do we unpack this and understand new identity and new praxis? If we stay in these three points—what will make us different from the MC USA? How do we live these?
  • The wholistic way of living these three points—we aren’t the only people who haven’t tried to live out these three points. The point of being Christ centered not just physical and spiritual.
  • Public and private as well.
  • Not just separate but engaging.
  • These three points have been lived dualistically.
  • Living into a new reality—moving toward not just countercultural.
  • What is the purpose of needing this conversation space—rather than reactionary, I’d prefer to be reflecting what God is calling you and us to be. I want to engage peace and nonviolence seriously. Being prophetic—fleshing out that angle. I think we need that initially, rather than being reactionary.
  • One of the ways we’ve been talking about it—to create a particular space, with some particular assumptions of what it might look like—to set the table, invite space, a new creative space, to invite people in. Sharing that kind of vision with the Mennonites—hopeful and helpful space. Bender points, empire and more robust Jesus language. How does that articulation change?
  • What about the name submergent?
  • I know that we don’t want to be reactionary—but I wonder where we have run into walls, where the conversation has been shut down?
  • I think that’s a fair question, not reactionary.
  • part of it was hearing your story, Mark—and then struggling so much to connect with the local community. I find myself in this place and wanting to dialogue and network. I find life in that conversation—and find something in that that’s beyond what I am supposed to know having grown up Anabaptist. Helps me to understand.
  • I think a lot of people will have a lot of question.
  • I don’t see this as structural space. Emergent was friendship, relationship. This is not to separate us from our context. This is to be leaven in the loaf not a new loaf. People have been drinking from popular evangelicalism—this is helping us to engage.
  • Is this like the concern movement? Explains the concern movement. The saw the culture was preserved
  • I think this is a little different than that? I think the difference is that we aren’t in the ranks. We have an unrooted Anbaptist community—in a world post 9-11. Reading Yoder, encountering Hauerwas—we’re trying to apply this perspective that we’ve seen. Can we learn from the denomination? The responses are quiet.
  • We have people like you, Jason and we have legacy Mennonites. They are dying. If there’s not space for connection—we totally lose. My congregation that I grew up was the site of the GC split—totally opposes what the church was supposed to be. I wish that we could find ways to connect on the ground. I wish that there was a bridge to bring everyone along.
  • These people around the world are finding a common connection. I became a Mennonite pastor to learn. It’s not a large enough container to hold the movement. While I’d like renewal, that’s not what I am interested in primarily. People keep telling me to create this outside of the space—and then invite Mennonites in. When I look into the Mennonite world, I see a lot of struggle with identity. I care about this space. I see that God is created something outside—people who don’t need to be Mennonite.
  • The institutional capacity is not within the Mennonite Church USA. We can provide a way.
  • The struggle is naming this thing. We’re not starting a movement—we’re creating space.
  • Our conference has been incredibly receptive. I share the same concern—PSMC has been hospitable even if they don’t understand. I want to hold up a mirror and reflect this back—I learned this from you. I am bumping into people all the time in San Diego. I want to find a way for these groups of people to intersect.
  • You have people like me who come into this via reading, connection—and people need a place to connect. There’s a lot that reflect Anabaptist values—the prophetic part of living, embodying the inbreaking kingdom—realizing that we need a place to connect. I want the support of others and I want to support others without having to be assimilated. I want to be here without being assimilated. I am interested in seeing the hope and learning. There will be more and more people within other denominations—a post-secular world. People are understanding radicalism that had been translated into political expression—we feel free to hold the Bible with these political perspectives. What I am hoping is to be rooted in what you as legacy Mennonites have held—without having to assimilate.
  • What you are saying is making more sense to me. Finding hope and joy are words that come to mind to me—celebrating Anabaptist distinctives that we mentioned. I am wondering what the struggle with Empire might be—the Empire could be the Mennonite Chuch.
  • This is a Gospel communal tradition—something that we’re seeking to submit to that’s not coopted by the Empire. This movement isn’t in the pocket of the denomination. Resituating Jesus and reading the Gospel afresh. It means something in an embodied way—it should produce a community that is distinctive.
  • Empire is a coercive centralizing force. There’s economic, philosophical, narrative about empire. The story of Christ is counter to empire. Jesus and the Apostles are struggling with Empire—our day is resisting empire.
  • Empire and denominations are expressions of modernity—a way of centralizing things. They can’t adapt to the changes on the ground. It’s hopeful that persons are trying to stimulate within and beyond.
  • the structures of Anabaptism are somewhat problematic. In my situation, I’ve benefited from the structure. We can deconstruct the denominational structures. I have seen and appreciate the problems that exist. They hold though within them the best places to learn the history and the successes and the problems.
  • I come from within and I refuse to give up. I work for a conference within the denomination. I see hope and want to foster that.
  • I don’t see this as an exodus movement. I think we can recognize the systemic issues. I don’t think that we can build space inside of it.
  • I am not bound by my Mennonite identity.

On that night, Jason, Mark and I stayed up until 2:30 AM sharing about our communities ( Missio Dei, The Hawthorne House and the Mustard Seed House). Our communities have different chrisms, practices and gifts, but we are bound together by desire to live intentionally as an alternative to the individualistic and life negating options that Spirit of the age and Consumerica offer.

On Saturday we picked up the conversation where we left off with 2 conversation sessions:

  • We should find communities that are struggling and connect them.
  • Liked the question of holding up a mirror, speaking prophetically to a broader body.
  • I am playing around with ideas that aren’t well-formulated, that aren’t that new and are scattered. There’s a marketplace of spirituality—and people go where they want. Is there a way to phrase things more than values—these are the things that we are—who we are supposed to be—maybe with that we can understand how Jesus projects that unto us.
  • There’s an important sense of humility in what you are saying. There’s something about understanding that we sometimes might get it wrong. There’s a lot of crap that we put into Jesus—starting with us—understanding who we are—we find who we are in Christ as the fully human one. I get tired of Anabaptists saying that we’re the only ones who take Jesus seriously—it projects our ideas onto Jesus. Who are we supposed to be—some humility and confession first. We have to recognize that we are flawed, greedy, maybe its just rhetoric
  • Recognizing a call to a path
  • Missional order, a way of living that involves and creates a space, its more than principles and heritage, beyond the denomination
  • Reading something about being praxis-oriented rather than principled—it’s not a discussion group, I like the praxis-oriented group but the word order makes me.
  • I like the idea of praxis because it makes more room at the table. When its ideas, that can be excluding.
  • one of my hopes is that it would be more than an online community and an actual community—a place to ask questions, when you feel like a crazy person in your suburban Mennonite church, finding local and real communities, challenges
  • I’d like to hear more about a community of praxis, practices that are central, what does that look like? I feel like I have seen a lot of these kinds of things—a community that is hinged only by website, community births mission—not mission births community
  • What will we engage on the ground? What are those things that we might encourage people to engage with?
  • I don’t know if this is what you are thinking—but lately I’ve been collecting stories about conflict—helping people to tell their stories. It’s a small thing—but it’s one of the things that I think is needed.
  • Are you thinking of being a resource center—it’s something I’d like to work in and move towards.
  • hospitality and a space.
  • we will welcome you—we will help you move on if that’s what you want.
  • If we can name the stories about what is God already doing. What kinds of communities—that’s the organizing communities, its an organic plumbing. I’ve wondered if this space might be a place that plants churches—a garden where plants can occur.
  • I am looking for something that is on a larger scale—people who are reading those books or have come to understand the community—they feel drawn to us and want to build relationships. I think part of what my dream might be is how we might function as a group that might support and be accountable—communities of practice and communities of a way of living. Part of what I bring here is what I don’t have yet—you see all of these communities drawing people who are in this for the long haul—being able to dream the gospel—not just something that started when I began a community. Resources and connection and relationships. We’d have to deal with the issues of how do we continue relationships. Social media only facilitates real relationships that have been already established. I remember that I wanted to live in community—of not being alone—Living in the Bruderhof. When I talk with people—we don’t want to do this on our own—we want to do this with others.
  • How do we do that? How is that facilitated?
  • This is the problem. The Anabaptist Network in the UK is an island not a continent.
  • Once and awhile, we use the word regional. But that aspect of regional relationship—how would that work?
  • I think we’re talking about two sets of communities. We have communities ourselves—and creating community with others that are isolated.
  • I am part of the community is isolated. If all of you were killed off, I’d be isolated again.
  • How do we seek out those who are isolated? To find those orphaned or abandoned? A place where communities can connect.
  • Is it important to define the values? Is it vague?
  • We don’t want the 12 marks that define the new monastics. We don’t know what we might want.
  • Once the definition is in place—not necessarily clear practice. Shared understanding of the world we live in . . .
  • It’s good to have some things named. I am not looking for the 95 points, just the vibes of how we’re going to go about these things. How might we embody these things, then?
  • We are about the same thing—we don’t know what that might be. There’s a thing happening. God is drawing us together—there’s a charism. We can sense it but there’s more than that shared Anabaptism or knowing post-colonialism.
  • Lived out communities—how do I take what I know about communities into the world? How do we do we find ways to create refreshed communities? Creating a cyclical encounter—soteriology—more than a point on a line, daily discipling, cyclical re-encounter with Christ—is that a way to bring us together?
  • We were hesitant to define and nail things down. We don’t want to be exclusive. Eventually you define who you are—who is in and who is out. I am wondering if it might be appropriate for us to create space—and find details of what that might look like—how do we continue to connect and how does that align with values—considering practical realities with finances and geography. I feel like we could find a way to move forward. Find the way to move ahead—and then to define it.
  • Considering practice rather than ideas.
  • that is helpful—grappling with beliefs, but our desires aren’t that different
  • I think that we all agree that there is an inbreaking of the kingdom of God and a realization—all of us agree that the Mennonite Church, the Baptist Church—doesn’t represent the expression of the kingdom. If that was true there’d be a lot of things that would be different. How do we go about dreaming of the kingdom and live the dream of the kingdom practically? I know the diaspora or legacy Mennonites—how do we live the kingdom? If those things are called Anabaptist—what is the vibe of the kingdom? That will help make process. What would that mean for us? How do we break the molds to be living and trying to talk in Australia or Tijuana or talking with my kids?
  • I like the idea of working toward a vision rather than common belief—then we have to find common truth—then we have to be the experts on that rather than the truth. Maybe we can agree on where we’d like to head. Maybe the Anabaptist version of the Vatican.
  • Is there a way of talking about being a people—we are people committed, inspired by the foundation of interpreting
  • is Empire central?
  • I see the two kingdom perspective as not just against Empire. Is that the starting point—is it related to that?
  • Luther suggested 2 kingdoms. Empire is polarizing. Without that though you don’t recognize—in light of the world of violence—we embody this reality. It acknowledges, we are prophetic and we know that those words will make people uncomfortable. The church always understands itself as an exodus community.
  • maybe what we want to talk about is allegiance—rather than what we are against.
  • This spiritual poverty piece is always that thing that we’re dealing with. For groups, there are always these goals—hard discernment in the empire, how do we deal with our own empire-ingrained crap? How do we deal with our own racist thoughts and our own sexism, our own authoritarianism and our own. I like the word subversive—dealing with my own sin and how the powers—I need to live with others and live accountably. It’s easy to project the evil of empire—there’s got to be a sort of spiritual humility—spiritual resources and connections around people who’ve done healing and transformation.
  • Trying to make sure that we’re honest about life—and how these things that we value have even affected us.
  • The practices that we are talking about are to engage our city—our community. The concern would be if praxis becomes defined only as exterior—ethics without the spiritual transformation—how we do we guard against that. Christ has been embodied—we’re not creating it—we’re submitting to the community and mystery. Balancing the woundedness in our communities—how do we find what empowers us to minister and live within the empire, to minister among the margins? It’s got to be an encounter with the Risen Christ—more than the that—something that we can’t rationally categorize. I think Holland’s work is a good corrective—the other things that I heard last night—this space is not an attempt to deconstruct denominations or institutions that may or may not have been significantly influenced by the paths of empire. But to recognize that the treasures—not just reacting but moving toward something hopeful—not over and against a stagnant expression—because we don’t have all the answers.
  • communities that have drawn others to themselves find ways to deal with more wholistic—becoming more comfortable with the Spirit
  • Engaging it without assimilation
  • More comfort with the sociological identity and not the living spiritual formative way
  • I am always intrigued and interested in the strong concept, believing as exile with the Rastafarian perspective—being a different people from the Bible—living in the world, with a strong understanding that they aren’t going to be assimilated—being in a place but having another identity, finding core practices that root them as exiled, something the church
  • yet in exile God told them to plant gardens, they were communities of hospitality in Babylon—working toward a common good
  • I like the vision of planting gardens in Babylon. These zucchini are defiant of empire.
  • I like to share the sense of places and stories.
  • I feel like what I am hearing is that the 2 kingdom theology is not what we’re saying.
  • It’s not something that I can explain. If I talk about empire and alternative allegiances.
  • What I hope I am hearing is that this isn’t the way that I want to go ahead. And no one ever lives in one kingdom—but it cultivates that we’re in the world and not wanting to engage it.
  • Can we spin out the story piece? Isn’t part of our present context the distortion that the church has embraced not Babylon but Jerusalem? How do we name that—invite that story in a way that the church is called to wrestle with that tension.
  • When the Jeremiah Wright story came out—the US story for white churches say this is the promised land—and for African Americans this is still Egypt.
  • Maybe we could think of Babylon not as the US alone but as empire-exported values in the midst of globalization. And they aren’t recognized as US values, but capitalistic values. They are overarching systems—more than one nation—but a global system of support.
  • Role of the spirit, Quakers talk about discerning the role of Spirit and I wonder how we might unpack and reassemble, one of the empires that we face is corporate—fighting consumerism and how simplicity might counteract empire
  • When I think about simplicity I think of it as part of shalom making and shalom seeking—often
  • Simplicity resonates with me but I realize that I am always a consumer, Jared McKenna talks about being a recovering consumer
  • It’s the desire—what are we moving toward rather than where are we
  • Is intentional community the only alternative or are there other ways to get off the grid? How can we be communities of resistance when we drive toward individual careers and homes? Does this link us with the Spirit and power of discernment that’s not separate from embodied living in contrast to the Spirit of the age?
  • that wording is helpful for me—but the spirit of the age and the Holy Spirit connects with me.
  • Is intentional community only those who live together or is intentional investing in one another’s lives? One of the models that we think about is like the Celtic monastery. The people who were part of the village were part of the monastery. I want to go back to the simplicity conversation. How might we able to live as the lilies in the field—voluntary simplicity mocks those who don’t have the choice to be poor. It happens in multicultural churches. The new wave of people is a call away from privilege.
  • The word sustainability is maybe more helpful for me.
  • I wonder if there’s a way of reflecting equitable—a space where people are equally welcome and accepted.
  • Simplicity is important to me.
  • Sustainability is more communitarian than me.
  • Being aware of power and naming that—coming to terms with that. When living in Mozambique, I wore a make poverty history bracelet—people lived on very little. Those who are living in poverty want to have enough.
  • Realizing simplicity by eating rice and beans on top of everything else that was being offered.
  • Most homeless guys that I know don’t eat out of the dumpster. When we give away Naked juice—we know its good.
  • Being creative—living against or being creative with the Empire. We have negative conversations that never get to a creative alternative.
  • Naming power and we’re blind to the complexity—how do we abducate ourselves. If you think that there are no alternatives—the Empire has won. It totally defines you.
  • This ties back to being discerning—if you can’t offer creative response without discerning well together.
  • Realizing power, drawn back to the Gospel—the woe on you portions of the Scripture—the miracle of listening and talking at Pentecost. Some honest and listening conversation. Seeking to understand the Gospel—the poor struggle with the issues of greed as much as the rich—just don’t have the power. The oppressed have the same struggle but they have less in the midst of it. How do we understand power.
  • LISTENING and Discerning—in the spirit of Pentecost.
  • Walter Wink’s resisting domination
  • Avoiding the dualism—Berkhof’s Christ and the Powers, reading Colossians—the powers are fallen but God ordained, there’s an embeddedness within
  • Perkins in the redistribution of wealth—can’t remove ourselves from consumption and empire—to be for the welfare of the city—how do we bring about hope and healing from those who benefit from this system
  • The word simplicity—we equate it with the poor and lack of—what am I freeing myself for or toward. It’s a paradigm shift. There’s got to be a celebratory way.
  • Listening, discerning and celebrating?
  • It would be good to talk about how do we live in a way that is more affirming.
  • My sense is that—I am hoping that we’ll move toward a more concrete vision. I keep feeling a push—we’re inching closer to something. How can we jump off the cliff into something.
  • I think we get what it is—how can we get hold of the beauty of the vibe that we are sharing.
  • To create—mission begets community, vision begets community. I hope we can name that so that we can name it and move from there.
  • How do we include the eternal—do we have enough humility to acknowledge the God who is in all—something that is before—mystery—Pentecost.
  • God’s imagination—tied to being
  • God’s dream
  • The spirit, counterdance mystery—something that you learn and is complex—there’s a kind of creativity—of dance
  • the dance of the divine
  • Joining the movement, the dance, joining the table
  • Embracing the mystery
  • I like the dance, the gardening—not defined but shaped
  • t’s a storytelling model—its creating a story
  • in the best of possible worlds, it would be interesting to create this narrative—then we could create the backdrop of what submergent is—what submergent does in response
  • Our whole underlying orientation is a narrative theology rather than abstract
  • The story continues to be our story.
  • More than being in Hebrew—as aspect of being a story—not to sound trendy—the story we find ourselves part of—it’s our story
  • we know the narrative was embodied in negative ways.
  • How do we invite and make room for others? What is unique and different about that conversation? How do we include other narratives and stories—a dancing with other perspectives of non-legacy Mennonites? Otherwise it becomes Balkanized.
  • God’s hospitality, both stories. Creating space for ourselves and others.
  • Setting the future
  • Gently re-visioned Anabaptism
  • Agree need for creative space
  • Place for exiles and refugees

After so much thinking, talking and thinking we finish the day with good food and beer at Kildare’s and a movie later in the night.

On Sunday several of us went to speak at various Mennonite Churches in the morning. In the evening we visited Circle of Hope.

My take on all these? Well, as you can see there is plenty to process, pray and talk about, but I am hopeful. The notes only give the vibe of the weekend, but the most important thing as always was the relational aspect and the sense of trust among the different people and communities represented. If Submergent is going to keep moving forward as a network of communities and individuals informed by an Anabaptist vision, are living into the Kingdom of God in a postmodern, post-colonial, post-Christian world, it has to be authentic in building relations beyond pragmatic and utilitarian purposes. We need to embrace the subversive message of Jesus not only as an ethical path but as a spiritual one as well. That authentic vibe was always present in the gathering. So we are up to a very, very good start.

Os Gemeos – Street Artists from Brasil

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