BEAUTY AND DAILY LIFE: A CONVERSATION ABOUT RESISTANCE AND REVOLUTION in AMERICA
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 5pm PT (8pm ET)
Common Good Commons is a space to ask the hard questions about spirituality, religion, and politics. You’ll hear thinkers who are exploring what it means to be a Christian in America and engage in new conversations about faith that works for the common good.
Commons is thrilled to bring you Frank Schaeffer! Frank is a best-selling author of more than a dozen books, a speaker, a painter, and most importantly a father. His new book Letter to Lucy (his granddaughter) will be published this year. In his work, Frank discusses growing up a fundamentalist evangelical, entering the political landscape as a crafter of the Religious Right, and then having massive shifts in his faith and political ideals.
As one reviewer put it, while grounded and tender “Frank seems to have been born irreverent,” so expect a vibrant conversation about the challenges of our current religious and political landscape, and much inspiration for your spiritual practice, community building, and meaningful practice of resistance.
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Feeling cramped in spirituality, theology, and structures of fear-based Christianity?
Maybe you’re dreaming of the freedom that you remember Jesus once inviting you to? Or maybe you’ve already crossed a threshold into more congruent and grounded Christian faith? Or perhaps you find yourself in the new open space of possibility, feeling afresh the warm, energizing wind of the Holy Spirit?
You are not alone.
There are bands of followers of Christ everywhere. When Jesus said “Go!” at the end of his reported ministry, he meant that becoming a Christian is not a finish line but a the first step of a long journey of spiritual, theological, and organizational transformation.
Come, let’s get to know one another, start a fire to warm our aching bodies and weary souls, and break some bread together. This is a new beginning and we are afraid no more.
At the moment, we are deeply distressed with the values that are being infused into American society by our current president, his administration, and the entire system that made his ascension possible.
We want to converse with, learn from, and work with people from any tribe or community, Christian or not, to empower Christian influencers and affect Christian political behavior for the common good, which we see as a core principle of our faith.
Our sense of urgency is expressed in these words from Wendell Berry:
"It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work."
Wendell Berry, poet of the commons
What this adventure will look like, we don’t know. Yet.
Jesus said that truth shall set us free. We’d love to have you join us on this adventure in a way that is meaningful to you.
We are committed to small wins and continual learning. We will make the path by walking, and we will depend on the ideas and support of each one of us. We also want to serve and collaborate with those who have been on this journey already and thus have much to teach us.
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HERE ARE SOME OF THE EXPERIENCES AND REALIZATIONS WE HAVE.
DO YOU RESONATE?
- We are done with sulking and eating large amounts of ice cream. Instead of avoiding the news, we are engaging to be a part of making the news. Real news.
- We believe that grace is brave. We are afraid no more. This is a full-immersion baptism and we cannot go back.
- The time for sitting in an armchair and talking is over for us now. We are up and migrating to where God is taking us next, moving, inexorably, the way our ancestors did since the beginning.
- We now know that we want a new kind of Christian faith, one that is open, grounded, and yes, worldly: just the way Jesus taught it and lived it.
- We know that there are many others who know how revolutions work and how real change takes place. We want to learn. God has instigated revolutions for his Kingdom (Kingdom is the 1st century word for commonwealth). We want to be next in line.
- Many of us have been complacent for a long time, relegating responsibility for the health of our national community to someone else, to the political class. Now we are done with staring at our smartphones in amazement and horror. We want to live fully and thus more responsibly.
- Politics is too small a tool to adequately respond to the present challenges we face as a society. We want to function and act on the level that includes politics but also transcends it.
- The Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke about often is not made up of Christians. It is made up of humans. We are not interested in defending, advancing, or serving Christianity. We are interested in learning from Christ how to live and love, both ourselves and others, unconditionally.
- We are done with relinquishing the Bible to its abusive users. The Bible has its own authority and is the nourishing ground of our faith. We are going to go farther and deeper into it.
STUFF TO BE DECLARED UP FRONT
- We see Christ as a historical and/or divine force whose life and teachings inspire and transform our lives.
- We have a sense of urgency because we believe we are now in a historical flexion point for American Christianity and are committed to make a unique, decisive, and sustainable contribution to the American community.
- While our diverse responses to Jesus’ love drive us to differ widely in our beliefs and practices, it unites us in our sense of responsibility to practice and extend that love in our personal, public, and political lives.
- We are in a lifelong process of learning how to love like Christ loved. Ourselves, others, and the world. We are curious about what we can learn from other faiths, traditions, and philosophies. When it comes to learning, we ask “What would Jesus learn today?” And “What would he really teach?
- We reject any special privilege, position, or influence accorded Christianity by the American nation in its principles, laws, or practice. We measure the value of our religion by the value it brings to the whole world.
- We see Christianity as one of the religions. It is and can be both a force for good and a force for evil. Like every other belief system, community, or institution, it has agency to bless or harm.
AMERICAN CHRISTIAN - FORMAL BUT IMPORTANT
Common Good Christians intends to create space for community, conversation, and action rooted in the way Jesus saw the world. We seek to amplify a voice that is constantly present in the safety of our kitchens, neighborhoods and, sometimes, places of worship, but all too rarely in the public square.
We will no longer be subsumed into an “American Christian” stereotype built by the Right, or be marginalized, due to our faith, by the Left. We will use our voices, wield our votes, grieve our losses, and celebrate our victories, as we together work towards the sort of community and commonwealth that Jesus invited us to imagine and embody.
By being attentive and outspoken versions of ourselves in our local communities and by carefully integrating our work with existing organizations and platforms, we intend to help reshape the political vision of the Christian Faith and help redefine what it means to be an American Christian.
OUR EXTRA-BIBLICAL INSPIRATION THESE DAYS
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. … Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christian theologian and activist
We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.
~ W.H. Auden, poet of politics, morals, love, and religion
Argue not concerning God … Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul.
~ Walt Whitman, the American poet
It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work.
~ Wendell Berry, poet of the commons
Do not try to call them … to where you are, as beautiful as that place may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before.
~ Vincent J. Donovan, Roman Catholic missionary
Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don't think so. ...be ignited, or be gone.
~ Mary Oliver, the best poet, like, ever
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