Friday, January 24, 2014

the CANA Initiative

Over the past few months I have been grateful to be a part of a developing 'network of networks' called the CANA Initiative. CANA can be seen as a collective of faith-engaged organizations, individuals, institutions, and networks who are rooted in a generous Christian spirit, seeking to embody a new Christian ethos through: 
networking and 

I believe the time is right for people to come together to learn from each other, and to partner so that we each may: 
Serve more & Love more
each in our particular ways, in our particular location


Our faith was born in the converging of diverse thoughts and ways of being. 
God creates out of mixed up chaos. 
Our creation only survives in its diversity. 
Our Gospel stories present diverse perspectives on the life, death, and resurrection of one person- which leads to diverse ways of seeking to live and follow in the ways of
grace & life & justice.


It is from this basic understanding and perspective that I reflect on our current realities. Too often we fall into silos of people who think and live 'like we do'. Those of us who venture out to the edges- who stand with one foot in the denominational institutions or congregations that we love and care about, and one foot out exploring and learning from those outside those institutions- can feel isolated and alone.

I see CANA as creating space for those on the edges who may push systems or challenge assumptions to come together as we seek to live into the Gospel more fully. To dream and act. CANA will create space for generative action that deepens the work we are already doing, that enhances, strengthens, and leverages the message of love we are seeking to live.

I hope CANA will be a space for genuine diversity and mutuality between groups or individuals who may not have worked together in the past, but who share a common hope to live the ways of justice more fully. 

As a network of networks, CANA provides
a connective tissue that makes us each stronger, 
that allows space for individual thriving, 
and collective 

Further thoughts on CANA from friends & colleagues:
Bryan Berghoef's take at Pubtheologian

Christian Piatt interview with Brian McLaren, Stephanie Spellers & Doug Pagitt

Anthony Smith's take at Postmodern Negro

Interview with Phillip Clayton

To get Involved:
Become a CANA initiator and join the conversation.

Watch for and take part in the work of convening and acting around 5 specific initiatives:

  • Vital Spirituality
  • Transformative Leadership
  • College Age connections
  • Developing language for a generous Christian ethos
  • Fostering the 'Common Good'
Send me a line personally and I'd love to chat about it more...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Come and See

John 1:35-42
Come and See

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ 39He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed*). 42He brought Simon* to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter*).

John has just come and proclaimed that Jesus is the messiah- the one they have been waiting for…  Last week we read that Jesus has just been baptized, and this week people are beginning to take notice. 
Curious about this mysterious person John is pointing to- this person who is spoken of as special in someway— these curious men- potential disciples looking for just the right teacher- approach Jesus and ask— Where are you staying? 
They want to know more than if he’s at the ‘Motel 8’ or the ‘Comfort Inn’— they wonder who is this? Who does he follow? What does he teach? 
Jesus responds- but of course this is Jesus- 
so he does not provide a straight forward answer- “at the the little house on the corner by the meat market and the basket weaver- on the second floor “— no- it is never that clear— 
Jesus responds with an invitation…
Come and See. Come and See- and you will know where I am staying- who I follow, what I teach- Come and see and you will know who I am, and who you are called to be.
Come and See. 
This is what Kyle said to me when he suggested we see a movie while on vacation……You know- we don’t get to too many movies being the parents of three kids- but it was vacation, and grandparents were happy to allow us a night off for a date night. 
So- the town was small, and the options were limited- but thank goodness our first choice movie was one of the three playing at the little theater…
Our first choice was.. would you believe it—Anchor Man 2. I have to be honest- as stupid as the first Anchor Man was- I was actually excited to see this movie- because as my family knows- perhaps it is the seriousness of so much of my work- but I am totally obsessed with comedy lately- especially smart comedy that often serves as a trojan horse to social critique or underlying messages of truth. I think sometimes comedy can hold up a mirror that allows us to see life in ways that we could not see otherwise.
Now I’m guessing that that definition of a ‘trojan horse to a message of truth’ wouldn’t leave you thinking- ah.. Anchor Man 2.  But the movie did not disappoint. While I’m fairly certain they left no idea on the cutting room floor- and it really was a crazy movie… They brought a message of truth in our world that we need to hear. 
A central premise of the movie is the invention of the 24 hour news channel. In full absurdity the movie chronicles a self-centered, Will Ferrell as Ron Burgandy. It’s the 1980’s as he tries to reclaim his flailing career as a news reporter in the new news medium- the 24 hour news channel… People ask- what can you possibly talk about for 24 hours…?
Ron stumbles along to discover that the key to success- to skyrocketing ratings and fame- is to make up news… He starts by covering a police chase for hours- speculating on who might be in the car. He makes up stories behind stories to sensationalize everyday events so that people can’t take their eyes off of the TV. He discovers that people easily buy into stories that fan the flames of division and fear. We become completely sucked in to these lies that divide us up into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Hatred and division grows as do the profits for the people and companies creating these divisions.
Now- as I said- the movie was over the top and stupid— but this comedic critique of our 24 hour news culture resonated and reflected a dominant frame which we have come to accept as normal….
We are a part of a culture that feeds on our lowest selves. The pieces of us that love to be superior- to have the right answers- to condemn the other, to call names and pit little wars based on superficial realities and political ideologies. The heartbreaking reality is that too often we have bought into the lies that divide us up and pit one neighbor against another. 
As I’m sure you know- tomorrow is Martin Luther King day. In the world Martin Luther King lived in- in 1950’s and 60’s America- The lies that divide were based on race. We were told- and many bought in- that one race was superior than all others. That a person’s character was less important than their skin color. These lies that divide caused lynchings, and segregation, and bred generations of hatred in people hearts. 
Martin Luther King came in the midst of that world.. In the midst of our world- to speak a higher truth.
He boldly spoke of a different reality- he debunked the lies of our divisions by pointing out, and living into, our human connectedness. King spoke to our common humanity- and named the reality that oppressing one means oppressing all. We cannot be free until our neighbor is free.
King said…  “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Now King did not just make these things up.

MLK was a pastor and a deeply spiritual man.
Martin Luther King Jr. knew a deeper truth- 
he experienced this deeper truth- 
he did not buy into the lies of division- 
because he had seen the truth in the life of Jesus. He had seen the radically inclusive love of Jesus that calls us to care for one another- to reach out to the one who has been shut out of society- to see ourselves as connected- and to live into this connection through our actions and the ways we live in community.

— -
Jesus said, ‘Come and See’. Come and See the way of life, and truth, and grace.
Jesus came in the midst of a world dominated by the Roman Empire- grounded in a hierarchal and highly oppressive reality of those who are in and those who are out-
Those who are clean and those who are ‘dirty’
Those who are sick, and those who hold ‘favor’
Those who are slave, and those who are master-
A world where 98% of the population lived in poverty- while 2% were rich and held power,
A world here religious rules furthered the injustice of exclusion and marginalization…
In the midst of this world Jesus came ‘from God’- 
‘as God’ on Earth-
To show a deeper reality.
Jesus said ‘Come and See’ where I live— Come and see this alternate way- this deeper truth. 
For when you see it, when you experience it, you are free.
Love and grace replace hatred and fear.
Jesus offers an invitation. An invitation to let go of the lies that divide us up into us and them— an invitation to be who we are- in love. To reach out to those who have been shut out, excluded and cast aside— and to each name our own worth as children of God when we are the ones named as unworthy.
Come and see life in Christ. Life as one people - each created in the image of God- each loved and given the gift of grace.
Come see what it looks like to live in a community where all are loved. Where people are seen for their character- not the color of their skin. Where we care for one another and live and serve together no matter which side of the cultural or ideological divide we fall on.
As we grow as a community seeking to ‘come and see’— to follow Christ—
May we let go of the lies that divide, and live into Christ who unites. 
May we love unconditionally- step out boldly- and keep growing and serving faithfully.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tending Two Shops

Today's poem that stirs:

Rumi's Tending Two Shops

Don't run around this world
looking for a hole to hide in.

There are wild beasts in every cave!
If you live with mice,
the cat claws will find you.

The only real rest comes
when you're alone with God.

Live in the nowhere that you came from,
even though you have an address here.

That's why you see things in two ways.
Sometimes you look at a person
and see a cynical snake.

Someone else sees a joyful lover,
and you're both right!

Everyone is half and half,
like the black and white ox.

Joseph looked ugly to his brothers,
and most handsome to his fother.

You have eyes that see from that nowhere,
and eyes that judge distances,
how high and how low.

You own two shops,
and you run back and forth.

Try to close the one that's a fearful trap,
getting always smaller. Checkmate,
this way. Checkmate that.

Keep open the shop
where you're not selling fishhooks anymore.
You are the free-swimming fish.

~ from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.