Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Cymbrogi, the Didache, and Postmodern Followers of the Way

I wanted to share the following excerpt from "The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community" by Tony Jones. It loosely describes what we have been doing here in Santa Fe. I am not sure how many of us have read this book if any, but this selection stood out to me as a modern example or model for communities like ours.

I have not yet finished the book, but I highly recommend it based on what I have read so far. I recommend reading and/or watching all of Tony Jones' materials. He is very relevant to a postmodern Christianity (whatever that means).

Here are a couple reviews of Jones' book

Monday, October 3, 2011

We Awaken in Christ's Body

We awaken in Christ's body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ, He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.

I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly
whole, seamless in His Godhood).

I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? -- Then
open your heart to Him

and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ's body

where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,

and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed

and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
he awakens as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.

What in the World is Postmodernism?

Postmodernism thus is not relativism or scepticism, as its uncomprehending critics almost daily charge, but minutely close attention to detail, a sense for the complexity and multiplicity of things, for close readings, for detailed histories, for sensitivity to differences. The postmodernists think the devil is in the details, but they also have reason to hope that none of this will antagonize God. For are not the modernists rather like the Shemites, furiously at work on the tower of Babel, on the “system,” as Kierkegaard would say with biting irony, and are not the postmodernists following the lead of God, who in deconstructing the tower clearly favors a multiplicity of languages, frameworks, paradigms, perspectives, angles? From a religious point of view, does not postmodernism argue that God’s point of view is reserved for God, while the human standpoint is immersed in the multiplicity of angles? (pp. 49-50)
– John D. Caputo, Philosophy and Theology

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

YOUR KINGDOM COME; do we really want that?

For the last few weeks at my church, we have been studying "The Lord's Prayer".

Here is the first part of the prayer: (Luke 11:2) "...Our Father in heaven,Hallowed be Your name. YOUR KINGDOM COME. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven..."

A lot of times, we just skip over this part and focus on the second part of the prayer: (Luke 11:3-4) "...Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we also forgive everyone who sins against us and lead us not into temptation..."

In today's american church, sometimes I'm not so sure that we want "HIS kingdom to come". We rather like things the way they are. We've built a "god in our own image", a militaristic, materialistic god, who winks at our greed and our love of violence. This god looks nothing like the Christ of scripture who came proclaiming "the kingdom of God"

Early on in HIS ministry, Jesus declared: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the favor of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19)

Two prophets (Isaiah & Micah) wrote the following, describing what the "Kingdom of God" looks like: "...Come, let us go to the house of God. There HE will teach us HIS ways and we will walk in HIS path. HE will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between the nations. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore and everyone will live in peace..." (Micah 4:2 & Isaiah 2:2-4)

Before this, we see that military violence was not a part of God's original plan for HIS people. God wanted to be HIS people's champion; their warrior; their defender.

Look at these verses:

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still" Ex.14:14

"I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared...If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you...Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water...I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run...I will send the HORNET ahead of you.." (Exodus 23:20-28)

"The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes" Deuteronomy 1:30

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you"
2 Chronicles 20:17

"Not by power or by might, but by MY Spirit says the Lord of hosts" Zechariah. 4:6

THIS WAS GOD'S PLAN! All the military violence we read about in the Old Testament is a DIRECT RESULT of human disobedience and people trying to do things THEIR WAY.

Can we just admit that we've tried it "our way" and we've only made a mess of things? Oh that God's people would in earnest pray YOUR KINGDOM COME!

A few more passages that indicate how those of us in the kingdom should act & react:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward is that to you?'" - JESUS (Matthew 5:43-47)

"Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." - JESUS (Luke 6:35-36)

"Do not repay evil for evil...live at peace with everyone,. Do not take revenge...on the contrary, if you enemy is hungry, feed him! If he is thirsty, give him something to drink...do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" - Paul the Apostle (Romans 12:17-21)

“If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” - JOHN THE BAPTIST (Luke 3:11)

In the book "Acts of the Apostles", Luke paints a beautiful picture of how the believers in the first century acted out this "kingdom living':

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts" (Acts 2:44-46)

"No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had...so that there were no needy persons among them, for from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need." (Acts 4:32-35)

GOD'S KINGDOM IS BASED ON LOVE! HIS love for us, Our Love for HIM, Our love for people.

In the words of Shane Claiborne, "Once we really understand how to love our neighbor as our self, capitalism as we know it won't be possible and marxism won't be necessary"

I don't think we (america) have EVER truly allowed God to be our champion, our warrior, because we would rather trust in our military might. We don't really BELIEVE that God can be our DEFENDER.

What if....we decided to bless our enemies AND let God be our champion?

Do you believe that tyrants like Hitler or Osama BIn Laden are too big and mighty for God to overcome?

The New Reformation! I’m a Christian. But I probably shouldn’t be.

As my first post here on the Grace Collective, I would like to share the article that started me looking at this particular way of thinking about and being a Christian. I cringe when I say the word Christian or even consider myself as one. I guess I am more comfortable with the phrase Follower of Jesus, and in particular his teachings.

I am posting the article in its entirety because it is such a pivotal piece for me, and it lead to my meeting the group that makes up this blog and community here in Santa Fe. I am no stranger to these ideas which can be seen in a different blog (καθολικός) that I have been keeping for a couple years. The fact that I have returned to consider Jesus and his radical teachings, once again, due to a post from a Buddhist blog is quite telling. There is a strange movement afoot!

Thank you for your interest,


I’m a Christian. But I probably shouldn’t be.

by Roger Wolsey

via: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/07/the-new-reformation/

And if you’re a young adult in America, you probably shouldn’t be either. The odds are increasingly against it. Few friends who went to high school or college with me, and even fewer of my more recent friends and acquaintances, identify themselves as being Christian. Many of my peers who were raised in the church have shifted away from Christianity toward other religions — or increasingly, to no religion.

A few years ago, the Barna Research Group conducted a study of young people asking them what they think of when they hear the word “Christian.” The top three answers were, “anti-gay,” “exclusive,” and “judgmental.”

If that’s what Christianity were all about, I wouldn’t want any part of it either.

Happily, it isn’t. Over the past 20 years, there has been a growing movement to reclaim Christianity from those who’ve distorted it into something that Jesus and his earliest followers wouldn’t easily recognize — conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism. The movement has emerged on two fronts, roughly simultaneously. One wing comes from the mainline Protestant and Catholic Churches that, due to the shift from modern era mindsets into postmodern ones, have shifted from liberal theology to “progressive” Christianity. The other wing comes from young people within the Evangelical communities who are questioning and redefining their tradition and is known as “emergent” Christianity. Combined, these movements are a new Reformation.

Scholar Dr. Phyllis Tickle asserts that every 500 years, Christianity has experienced such renewal movements. We’re due for another one — and it’s happening now. Emergent Christian pastor and author Doug Pagitt suggests that human society is now entering the “Inventive Age” and this correlates with reformation in the religious realms.

I’m a part of this reformation. As a proponent of progressive Christianity I’ve come to question some of the things that have been written about it. The description of progressive Christianity on the website Religioustolerance.org conveys several misnomers. It begins by stating, “progressive Christianity represents the most liberal wing of Christianity, just as fundamentalist Christianity is the most conservative.” I challenge that statement in two ways. Progressive Christianity is influenced by a postmodern mindset and liberal Christianity is a product of the modern era. Progressive Christianity is a post-liberal phenomenon.

Moreover, people are increasingly not seeking to be convinced by logical or rhetorical evidence in order to come to Christ. They sense that faith isn’t something that one comes to through debate, data, or arguments. Instead, they realize that faith comes by noticing the lives of people who have faith and then living into it themselves. Today’s generation embraces a more nuanced, experiential, paradoxical, mystical, and relational approach to faith and spirituality. We like it relevant, down-to-earth, and real. This is the same approach that the early Christians experienced and understood. What’s referred to as “progressive Christianity” isn’t really new. It’s a reformation of the Church to its earlier, pre-modernist and pre-Constantinian roots. Rather than focusing on exclusion, judging, and damning, progressive Christians reclaim our original values of inclusion, grace, acceptance, justice, and unconditional love. In reality, it is progressive Christianity that is conservative — conserving what made Christianity such a beautiful gift to the world in the first place.

Progressive and emergent Christianities are trees that have been growing parallel to each other — largely without much awareness or inter-action. It may be fair to say that progressive Christians are more unanimously pro-LGBTQI while emergents are of mixed minds on those matters. However, we’re now in a “mash-up” culture where the lines are increasingly being blurred and emergent Christian writer Brian McLaren appears to now be identifying as a progressive Christian. The recent Wild Goose Festival held in North Carolina was a national gathering bringing together leaders and participants from both traditions.

Unlike the dated description from ReligiousTolerance.org (“they are not particularly vocal about their beliefs”) progressive Christians are increasingly loud and vocal.

We are reforming Christianity for the 21st Century.

Monday, September 5, 2011


The Grace Collective blog grew out of the Emergent Santa Fe facebook Community Page. A small group of us has formed around sharing our experiences of the Emergent movement's ideas on following the Way of Jesus ("Where two or more are gathered . . ."). We're people in the Santa Fe area who find value in having a dialogue around emergent movement writers and concepts. We're excited about exploring what it means and what it looks like to be a follower of Christ in the 21st Century. Our intention is to create a safe place to ask questions and converse about faith, spirituality, social justice, the environment, and fair trade, among other things.

If you are not yet familiar with the Emergent phenomena, keep checking back to see our experience as we document it in this blog.

In other words, "Come and See!" And if you like the ideas and experiences that we share here, contact us either through this blog or our facebook page. That way you can join us in person and share with us.