This just in from Food Democracy Now!…
an opti-mystic friend of Jesus in a post-conventional world
This just in from Food Democracy Now!…
Frank Viola pointed to Leonard Sweet’s Napkin Scribbles podcast awhile back, where Sweet explains why he won’t join Red Letter Christians or The Beatitudes Society. Frank asks what we think of Len’s reasons, which you can (and should, for the purposes of this post) listen to here. This is what I think.
I appreciate what Sweet’s saying here about the sometimes-seeming arbitrariness of exalting one portion of Scripture over & above others – for instance, many Reformed Christians seem to exalt the Old Testament to the exclusion of the New Testament altogether! But the flip-side of this observation is that we all do it – whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have our “canon within the canon” to which we afford pride of place. Sweet himself does this when he, after noting that “Red Letters” are themselves an outdated metaphor, then launches into how Paul seemed to care very little about the historical teachings of Jesus. I happen to agree with this assertion, but so what?
Using the “all Scripture is God-breathed” lens that he introduces as his hermeneutic, why should we care what Paul did or did not emphasize if we ought to be…I dunno what Sweet might call us…Whole-Canon Christians? The very existence of the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels would make the teachings of Jesus important, regardless of whatever is or isn’t found in Paul. (And of course, conversely, it would make Paul’s perspectives and understandings important, regardless of what is or isn’t in the Gospels) In short: I like his avoiding the ditch that could characterize some contemporary social justice emphasizing Christians, but I’m not yet convinced that he wouldn’t steer us into the opposite ditch of reading the Epistles to the exclusion of the Gospels – the ditch that the worst excesses of Protestantism has been steering us in for 400 years.
Why do we vacillate from ditch to ditch? Let me offer a possible reason, speaking as a very young Gen-Xer (born in the last years that it’s acceptable to be an X-er, but I’m rather out of place as a Millennial) who has deep sympathies with the theologies that make my friends Sweet and Viola nervous: The reason why groups like The Beatitudes Society seem to be more focused on following Jesus rather than believing in Jesus is because we, generationally, have significant doubts about the kind of world has been left in the wake of “believing in Jesus.” Even if Jesus’ teaching is simply a re-assertion and universalizing of core Judaic values (or indeed, an ethical core at the center of all the great world religions), these are values that we feel the world is out of touch with, and desperately needs. If the Church had followed the Sermon on the Mount instead of canon law reflecting Christendom-Empire values, would we see the massive devaluation of human, animal, and ecological life that runs rampant today?
For many in my generation, an over-emphasis of the metaphysics of Paul’s Epistles seems to have created a world where ‘spiritual’ salvation is divorced from practical change, where the state of one’s soul seems to have little bearing on the way we treat one another. Nowadays we distrust metaphysics in general – too much talk of God (even in church!) makes us nervous. A dear friend of mine recently asked me wistfully, “Couldn’t we love another another, serve one another, sing, eat together, even pray and meditate, without God? ‘God’ seems to have caused so much pain, and so many problems, in our lives.”
Focusing on the beatitudes, justice and morality of Jesus might indeed be lowest-common-denominator stuff compared to the semiotic actions, signs and wonders, symbol-laden death, vindicating resurrection, astonishing ascension, and (allegedly) transforming indwelling of Jesus the Christ, but for many bewildered Christians of the Red Letter ilk, starting over from square one with the Son of Man seems not only the sanest course of action, but the only viable alternative we have, facing conceptual-metaphysical burnout. Just give us something to do, please, and don’t tell us we have to believe anything.
And yet, having swam in such waters for the past 3-5 years, I have to confess that this perspective is bankrupt, damaging, and most certainly not sustainable. I do not say this as a judgmental outsider, but a sympathetic insider. I love me some deconstruction, some Caputo, Kearney, and Rollins; if given a desert island Bonhoeffer choice, I’ll take Letters and Papers from Prison with it’s death-row-conceived Religion-less Christianity over the bright-eyed idealism of The Cost of Discipleship any day. Give me divine mystery, holy opacity, the via negativa and apophatic mysticism. Revelation conceals as much as it reveals, and I think such a perspective is a healthy corrective of overly-positivist, modernist articulations of Christianity, where there’s a 1:1 correlation to what we imagine to be true and What Exists.
Still – a human life and human faith cannot be nourished in the long term from wholly deconstructive faith paired with righteous activism. We’ll become burned-out husks, without an epistemological web of meaning to rest in. Further, the culture at large, while suspicious of metanarratives, craves a larger meaning-making story to situate ourselves in. It can’t be a contemporvant version of What’s Come Before, but needs to be a deeply-rooted yet wide-open faith, with the human and divine Christ at the center. And I stand by what I said in June – Sweet and Viola’s work is a crucial, needed, and important Evangelical contribution to the re-enchantment and re-faithing that must happen in the next 10 years if Christianity is to be transfigured.
It seems obvious that – given the very real ecological and humanitarian crises (as well as opportunities) that face us, things we need to act on immediately if we are to survive as a species and a culture – we all need each other. It doesn’t do to dismiss Red Letter Christians only to over-correct in a “Paul Only” Protestant throwback. We need a recovery of the mystical, the positional, and the activist dimensions of faith; we need a gospel that is Good News for the cosmos; we need Sweet and McLaren (and Boff, for that matter, not to mention the scores of unsung women theologians and leaders who truly make up half the sky); we need the same kind of risk-taking taken with early, transgressive works like Quantum Spirituality, and drawing on voices like Brian Swimme, Tim King, Ken Wilber, Cynthia Bourgeault, Michael Dowd, the late Thomas Berry, and Bruce Sanguin. We might not agree with everything these folks are saying and doing, but they’re out there, interaction with the questions and crises that people are facing today, as well as addressing the perennial questions of humanity’s search for meaning. Since when is 100% agreement the prerequisite for operating in grace? At what point did we begin thinking that any of our factions could compass an infinite God? Is the idea of a generous orthodoxy so hopelessly early 2000s? As Tim King says, we all need to come together at the intersection of mystery and humility.
All hands on deck, ladies and gentlemen. Spaceship Earth is in for some rough turbulence in the decades ahead – materially, spiritually, kosmically. We need a coordinated effort, not a spitting contest between so-called orthodox, so-called heretics, and everything in between. We’ll need the wisdom of crowds, the nerve of leaders, and the collaboration of every domain of knowledge – as well as its transcendence. Are you with me?
This just crossed my desk from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots advocacy group promoting slow, local, regional, and sustainable food for everyone. Please read and take action.
Urgent: Big Ag is trying to kill food safety reform in the Senate today – Give farmers and our children a fighting chance.
This past week the action in the U.S. Senate has been fast and furious. In the past 48 hours more than 7,000 Food Democracy Now! members have made phone calls to their Senators asking them to include provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act that protected family-scale farm operations from excessive regulations. You’re incredible.
Remarkably, as a result of your phone calls the Senate reached a deal on the Tester-Hagan Amendment yesterday morning. Now Big Ag has decided to throw a tantrum. Late yesterday afternoon a coalition of 20 produce groups sent a “letter” to Senate leadership urging the defeat of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Big Ag is claiming that these important farmer protection provisions are part of an “ideological war” and are doing everything they can behind the scenes to kill this important legislation.
But we can’t let them. There’s too much at stake. Every year more than 5,000 people die as a result of foodborne diseases and more than 76 million fall ill according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If you care about food safety and family farmers we’re asking you to make one more call to your Senators to make sure they understand how important passing this bill is to their constituents. We can’t let Big Ag lobbyists put petty politics over lives or farmer’s livelihoods.
Click below to tell your Senator to pass the Food Safety bill, tell them consumers and family farmer’s deserve to be protected, not Big Ag lobbyists!
Late Thursday evening the Senate voted 57 to 27 to move forward on the food safety bill, incredibly, some 16 Senators skipped this important vote. No wonder they call it a lame duck session! As you well know, to get this bill to pass a full vote, we’ll need 60 votes, so every vote counts. Make sure these Senator are there for the next important vote!
Democratic Senators that missed the vote included:
Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) – both lame ducks.
John Kerry (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Jim Webb (D-VA) — no excuses.
Since the bill is being supported down fiercely partisan lines, we wanted to make sure that Food Democracy Now! members knew which Democratic Senators did not make this vote. If they had showed up, the vote would have been 63 to 27 — enough to get it to a full floor vote and passed into law.
If you live in their state make sure you call them again and tell them how important this bill is to protect children and family farmers.
Call All Republicans! They are Scheming with Big to kill food safety reform.
On the Republican side of the aisle, support for the bill is weak, with only 4 Republican Senators voting for to proceed. As with everything in DC in these past few years, partisans would rather throw up roadblocks than do the people’s business.
It’s time to remind them who they work for. If you have a Republican Senator in your state, call them now.
In an odd show of weakness, 4 of the Republican sponsors of the bill either voted against cloture last night or skipped the vote.
Republican S.510 Sponsor who went AWOL on Food Safety Cloture Vote:
Judd Gregg (R-NH) lame duck Senator retiring – if you live in NH make sure that you call him and tell him to VOTE FOR the food safety bill and support consumer safety and family farmers.
Republican S.510 Sponsors who voted NO on Cloture Vote:
Richard Burr (R-NC) , Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Remember, these are Senators who actually sponsored the bill, i.e. supported it until now, when the Tester amendment was added, the amendment that you called for, and then they started caving to industry pressure.
If you live in their state let them know you care about food safety, local foos and family farmers! Click below.
Special Treat Performance on Food Safety
And last, but not least, Food Democracy Now! wanted to let you know about Senator Tom Coburn M.D. (R-OK), the single biggest obstacle preventing the food safety bill from passing.
Yesterday on the Senate floor, Senator Coburn gave an unbelievable performance, rambling and misstating basic facts about foodborne illnesses in the U.S.
Not only is Coburn ignorant about food safety, but in his fierce partisan desire to kill this important bill — which will protect us from serious food safety outbreaks — he proves he doesn’t care about America’s 300 million citizens who urgently need this bill.
Instead, Coburn would rather stall progress for family farmers by demanding that the U.S. ban all earmark spending through 2013. As a result of Coburn’s unreasonable demands, what food experts Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have called “the most important food safety bill in a generation”, it languishes on a pyre of self-righteous political grandstanding.
If you live in Oklahoma, please tell Senator Coburn to stop playing chicken with your children’s food.
Let Senator Coburn know that AMERICA needs food safety reform now. America’s citizens and our farmers deserve protection.
Word on the street in DC is that Senator Coburn tried to broker a deal with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on the food safety bill and take away important provisions like “mandatory reporting”.
Tell Senator Harkin to steal Coburn’s cookies and stand strong! Pass the food safety bill as is. No more compromise, no more wasted time.
Don’t let Big Ag and one angry man’s crusade stand in the way of this important legislation — Act Today — this could be our last best chance to achieve important food safety reforms.
Make a call today — don’t let America’s children wait to grow up before this opportunity comes up again.
As always, thanks for participating in food democracy,
– Dave, Lisa and The Food Democracy Now! Team
“Um, no, I’m fine – no need to throw up. Why do you ask?”
“No, not ralfing, Rolfing!”
“Like the Muppet?”
Jared was buzzed, but he was not inarticulate. He proceeded to describe Rolfing, a hands-on method of muscular and skelatal change that frees restrictions in the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, freeing up your body to to be footloose and fancy-free. Then I remembered: A friend of mine back in Georgia who suffered for years from the rare disease Dystonia had gained some benefit from Rolfing. Of course, that friend described Rolfing as “flaying the muscles from your body.” Didn’t sound too pleasant at the time.
Now Jared is the kind of guy you love to hate – athletic, like -2% bodyfat, a real go-getter. Why on earth was he of all people getting this Rolfing? Well, it was helping his posture, for one thing. And improving his biking and martial arts practice. I don’t have biking or martial arts skills to improve – sadly – but as a desk-jockey, I can always improve on my posture (though my posture is leagues better than many in my – ahem – position, thanks to Dr. Joe at North Raleigh Chiropractic). This was brought home to me in September when my friend Brandon snapped off an otherwise-amazing pic of me giving an announcement from the stage of Big Tent Christianity – I look like some kinda hunchback! (Brandon, why don’t you come down from the hills of West Virginia for a redo once I have my extreme makeover? You make even toads look good with your signature photography style – I can’t wait ’till I more nearly resemble a prince!)
“So who’s your Rolfer?” I ask Jared, trying to make it sound like it was all my idea.
So I give Jason a call – I figured I could use some help with these lingering posture issues, and – who knows – maybe getting more comfortable inside my own skin will get me one step closer to not being nuts?
Session One: The Experience
While people often come to bodywork for relief from pain, Rolfing takes a longer view than simple pain relief and works to reorganize the body. While massage on a specific spot usually creates temporary relief from that pain, the alignment issues creating that pain will often cause the problem to crop up again within a few weeks. By realigning the entire body over 10 sessions, Rolfing creates long-term health as a more permanent solution to pains or disfunctions.
For a fairly typical complaint such as neck or lower back pain there are often extentuating circumstances. Shoulder rounded forward from hours at a keyboard [that’s me!] take the shoulders away from the support of the hips, various shoe issues keep you from effectively using your whole foot when standing or walking, the head is held out in front of the body rather than balanced on top of the spine, and often more than just one issue contributes to the pain. The back pain, while important to relieve, is often a symptom of a larger systemic problem which must be dealt with to achieve a long-lasting pain solution.
Dr. Ida Rolf designed the ten-series as a blueprint for covering the entire body in a way that the body can support the change with minimal relapse. Each session builds on and finishes up the work of the prior session and builds support for the body to integrate the next session.
It makes sense to me. I went in for my first session, which focused on my ribs, shoulders, and abdominal muscles. So how did it go? Well first off, it didn’t feel like flaying the muscle from my bones. Jason works very slowly and methodically, and so while there might be a sustained intensity for 10 seconds, or 30, there was never any sharp, harsh motion that could cause injury. I knew I was in the hands of a professional.
And..? And it was quite helpful. He noticed that while my breathing was more abdominal than most, that the goal for optimal breathing is not (contra to Yoga instructors everywhere) “deep belly breathing” alone – good breathing should be like a bit of a seesaw between chest and belly, inflating in tandem like a two-part hot air balloon. After my initial session, I am definitely (my wife and others will love this) more full of hot air.
Who knows how this will all turn out. But so far, so good. I’ll keep filling you in as I experience each step of the Ten Series. If you care to try it with me, find a Rolfer near you.
Spain, Morocco, a displaced people and the UN are mixing it up tragically in an unfolding travesty that’s recieving scarce media attention due to journalist expulsions*…this just crossed my desk from an aid worker who’s on the ground. Please read…pray…forward this on…and consider how we might take action:
*Update: This human rights abuse does seem to be getting at least some media attention.
Hello . . . You are receiving this email because you have expressed an
interest in the Saharawi people. I am in the camps right now, where we
have a large team on the ground.
We are in the midst of a never-before experience here. Please read the
following message and consider passing it on to anyone who
might be able to help…either through prayer or in a practical way.
Thank you! Janet
URGENT….URGENT….URGENT…..URGENT…..URGENT….Nov. 10, 2010
This is an urgent plea on behalf of the Saharawi people. At this moment
in time, the situation has become explosive. We, American citizens are in
the Saharawi refugee camps, watching a nightmare unfold before our very eyes.
In the Homeland of Western Sahara:
demonstration “camp” outside their former capital city of Layoune,
journalists and news media last week, cutting the homeland off from any
unarmed protest “camp” and began a crackdown; in the early morning hours
they began burning tents, beating women and children, spraying the
Saharawi with tear gas and hot water, and then turned to the use of live
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
announced to the population that they are being asked to show restraint
and continue to hold to peaceful actions, as they have done since 1991.
held between Morocco and the Saharawi were encouraged to continue by the
Saharawi President, even though his people were under Morocco’s attack.
The Saharawi negotiations representatives returned to the table, but
finding a continued, entrenched stand by Morocco, negotiations ended.
In the refugee camps of the Saharawi, Sahara Desert of Algeria:
people in the refugee camps who are receiving phone calls from their
family members in the homeland, hearing the terror in their voices as
they describe the brutality they are experiencing at the hands of
Moroccan troops, pleading for help. Men and women are being beaten,
youth are being physically taken from their homes, bodies are decaying
in the street because the Saharawi cannot get out to bury them. There
are a growing number of toddlers found wandering around, unable to
express what has happened to them, and their parents’ whereabouts are
Today, 150 Saharawi are missing, 11 dead, and over 700 injured.
the Saharawi in the camps to their own breaking point of patience for
any justice. They cannot bear doing nothing, knowing their families
are living in horror. The governments’ plea for further patience may
not be able to restrain the anger that has built inside this peaceful
people since they were forced from their homes in 1975.
As Believers in the God Who Sees and the God of Justice and Mercy, we
are asking you to urgently take action to bring this story to the
awareness of the United States.
Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
Here is an update Janet wrote just before leaving Saturday night on what we know about the Saharawi
Events are escalating in the Saharawi refugee camps. Each day there have been more and more reports coming into families in the camps via cell phone communication from the occupied homeland families. Some of that information is as follow:
In the refugee camps:
So today Wes Roberts, a man who acts as a mentor-type in my life, gave all of his legions of mentees some homework:
Watch and listen to these six [Harvard Business Review Future of Leadership] videos (none more than 15 minutes long…so take a breath…). Two of them have multiple voices (like the first one…), so I will want your thoughts about each person speaking concerning what they are saying/suggesting…whether alone on the video as the one interviewed or in a short series. Send to me via an email the 2-3 most important statements you heard that will help to inform your own developing leadership. What struck you about their topic as a whole? And what challenged you in your current and/or future roles as a leader?
I hate to waste perfectly good homework, so I’m going to blog these. : ) In this first one, The Role of Tomorrow’s Leaders, many things were said – some contradictory. Watch it for yourself:
Here are some one-liners that stuck out to me:
Leaders of the future…
I have nothing profound to add to this on a lazy, hazy, returning-to-Raleigh Saturday (except that KedgeForward can help your company make the above deep-culture transitions and more!)…what are your thoughts?