Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jim Wallis in Iowa City Sept. 13

Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," will give a free, public lecture 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 in the Main Lounge of the University of Iowa's Iowa Memorial Union, at the corner of Jefferson and Madison streets. The title of Wallis' talk is "Biblical Faith and Political Values: A New Vision for America."

Here's a synopsis: "Jim Wallis senses a profound hunger in America for a politics that appeals to our deepest hopes and values, that unites rather than divides. As an evangelical Christian, he shows how a full biblical faith can contribute to resolving the great moral and political issues of our times: poverty, peace, security, abortion, care of the earth, immigration and the rest."

Something the Eastern Iowa Emergent Cohort may want to attend, individually or as a group. It'd be fun to meet for coffee and dessert after and discuss the lecture.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Our next meeting

The next meeting of the Eastern Iowa Emergent Cohort will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the House of Aromas coffee house at 119 2nd St. in Coralville. Click here for a map and gallery of photos showing the location. If anyone has any "agenda items" -- proposed topics for discussion, etc. -- feel free to post them as a comment.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You're invited to a Party!

I was listening to this Jesuit prayer podcast this morning. There was this cool african music that when translated was talking about the Kingdom of God and no more suffering or pain. Then the scripture text read was a parable Jesus told as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. A King has a son that is getting married and none of the people the King invites, RSVP to the party.

Then, I remembered this video I saw recently where Brian Williams on NBC is interviewing Bono from U2 (you will need iTunes to download it and use the link). Bono is in Africa, and I will never forget what he says, "One thing we know for sure, God is with the poor."

So then I think to myself, "what if the Kingdom is God is with the poor?" What if I'm invited to the wedding party, and the party is in taking care of, being with the poor? How many times have I turned down the invitation? This hit me like a ton of bricks. Next month we will meet again, details forthcoming, and talk more about what on earth is emerging in the Kingdom of God. Until then, I will be watching for signs of it in a little bit different way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A hopeful way forward

Great meeting Monday night! I'm looking forward to meeting again next month, hopefully with a few more "emergers" and a bit more diversity.

Meanwhile, having read a bit further into "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope," and following up on our agreement to keep this blog fresh, I wanted to cite a few passages that -- upon rereading tonight -- strike me as particularly relevant in light of our conversation. For brevity, I'll just focus on one recurring theme in the book: the deep desire among people of faith for a safe place where they can discuss their dreams and hopes -- as well as fears and nightmares -- about church as it's practiced in mainstream denominations in 21st century America.

From Thomas Malcom Olson's chapter, "Jailhouse Faith:"

Every person needs one safe place where he or she is able to stop pretending, a place of ruthless honesty and unconditional love where no one is allowed to fly underneath the radar.
Later, in Tim Conder's "The Existing Church/Emerging Church Matrix:"

...so much of our theological dialogue is in the potentially punitive, high-consequence categories of inclusion and exclusion. ... Encouraging theological dialogue in safe places would reveal the magnitude of theological and lifestyle diversity in our fellowships. Questions, doubts and concerns would be transformed from painful secrets to catalysts for community spiritual formation.
And later still, in Adam Walker Cleaveland's chapter "Presbymergent:"

We strive to seek alternative visions and third ways beyond the polarities that have so dramatically seeped into our culture and our faith. This involves a true openness to the Spirit and a desire to avoid squelching anything that might be from and of the spirit. This openness leads to safe places where friendship thrives, where people can come and be involved in the process of deconstructing ideas and practices, all the while remaining open to the movement and new wave of the Spirit that can bring about renewal and reformation with the church today.
Funny, isn't it, that the one place Christians would think of as safe -- as sanctuary -- would be the church. And yet, so many drawn to the Emergent conversation say the church is the last place where they'd feel comfortable expressing a new, vibrant, bare-knuckled vision for living out their walk with Christ. Samir Selmanovic, in his chapter "The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness," sums up the challenge before us -- and the church universal -- best, I think:
Christianity cannot regain credibilty or recaptivate human imagination until it learns to exist for the sake of something greater than itself.
I'm eager to see how our group will reignite our personal and collective faith and how we might, in turn, find ways to commit our lives more fully to Jesus.