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    • Christian Piatt
      Keymaster
      Post count: 3
      #11422 |

      I still have some time to explore the lesser-known discipline of Christian anarchism,, which ain’t as wild as you may think. Far from being violent or destructive, it’s mainly focused on living out the Sermon on the Mount (Jesus’ biggest single block of teaching in the Gospels) and confronting systems of power, oppression and injustice in creative, nonviolent ways. Much gratitude, too, for Mark Van Steenwyk, author of “That Holy Anarchist,” for mentoring me through this first month of the year-long experience.

      So far, I’ve been focusing on taking more public transportation and spending some intentional time with people who live outside, for two reasons. First, I need to get past the fear and stigma so many of us have of those perspective and experience may be dramatically different than ours. Also, along with living outside often comes issues of mental illness and/or addiction, both of which we’d tend simply not to want to deal with.

      I’m also planning a Christian Anarchist worship service in the Park Blocks of Portland with Adam Phillips, pastor of Christ Church: Portland. He and his community know something about the reality of marginalization and paying dearly for one’s convictions, as it’s been all over the news lately how they lost $90,000 in funding for their new church start and were pushed out of their denomination, all for openly, publicly advocating for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people into both our church families and society as a whole.

      Finally, it’s not entirely clear what this will look like, and it may well bleed over into March before it happens, but I’m going to organize a demonstration of nonviolent resistance against something like a local company or government agency for inequitable practices. If you have ideas on how and where we should do this, please hit me up! I can’t do all of this alone.

      Next up in March is “Jesus the Ascetic” with mentor Reba Riley, author of “Post Traumatic Church Syndrome.” For that month, I’ll be practicing a liquids-only fast (yes, trying for a full month), giving away half of my personal possessions (I’ve reassured my wife and kids that their stuff is safe) and exploring some other intentional contemplative spiritual practices.

      Anyone but me thinking by now that I could have picked two easier months to start this project with?

      So tell me what you think. Are you doing any of these practices too? Got some of your own? Tell us about them, and let’s figure out this Jesus Walk together.

      Peace,
      Christian Piatt

    • Roger
      Participant
      Post count: 1
      #11449 |

      I’ve been on a similar journey for several years now, culminating in my wife and I purchasing a house in one of the roughest neighborhoods in our city and forming/running a community action ministry out of the location. We call it Micah House, inspired by Micah 6:8 “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” I have been active in prison/jail ministry for the past 13 years and this is one of our major emphases. We hold a re-entry support group weekly, and a weekly County Jail outreach. Other than this, we have had no pre-conceived agenda. We did a major winter coat outreach in November, distributing 400+ coats, blankets, gloves etc. and served over 200 chili meals. The main thing that it seems we are doing though is forming deep relationships with neighbors, assisting in a myriad of ways from providing fuel, groceries and transportation to, in some cases, overnight housing. We have a caretaker living in the house who was released from prison after 8 years, a year ago and who has become an integral partner in the ministry as well as a close friend. You speak in your post about living out the Sermon On The Mount, I too strive for this daily. Below is my paraphrase of Dave Andrews reading of the sermon, if you haven’t seen it before, you might find it interesting. I just signed up to ‘the ‘project’ today and am still feeling my way around, not sure how it works yet, but will keep checking back to see what’s going on.
      P.S. Speaking of social injustice, one of my pet peeves [read: makes steam come out of my ears] is the extensive use of Temporary Employment Agencies for almost all hiring done in our area [Northwest Ohio.] They are nothing more than a way for factories to obtain a work force while never having to hire permanent employees or provide benefits. I’m still trying to determine the best course of action to take to strike back at this practice.
      Dave Andrews take on The Sermon On The Mount:
      ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Those who are with the poor ‘in spirit,’ i.e. [“I’m with you in spirit.”] Those in solidarity with the poor; not obsessed with wealth, success etc.
      ‘Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.’ Those who empathetically feel the pain of others, who mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep, and grieve over the injustice they experience in their lives
      ‘Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.’ Meekness here does not mean weakness. The greek word translated as meek conveys the concept of ‘controlled strength,’ Example: a trained stallion. Strength tempered by self restraint, angry over injustice but not aggressive.
      ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.’ The Greek word here translated as righteousness is, in most instances, translated as justice. This is refering to those who invest their energy into creatively and constructively pursuing justice. This is NOT a call to personal piety [although there are many instances of that in other scriptures] but a call to seek justice.
      ‘Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.’ Many people who are supposedly seeking justice are completely merciless (example: Russian revolution, modern day terror groups etc. [contrast black panthers w/Martin Luther King.]) Jesus’s revolution is a non-violent revolution, a gentle revolution, in which we treat those with whom we disagree with the same mercy we ourselves want. A struggle for justice fueled by grace.
      Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God. Doing God’s work with integrity. Not using the plight of the sick, poor, or disenfranchised for personal gain or fame. Struggling for change and justice even when no one is watching and the TV cameras are turned off.
      Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. There are many who ‘in the name of God’ use violence to accomplish their purposes. Blessed are they who, in the midst of violence, work non-violently to resolve conflicts.
      Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Again, substitute justice for righteoness and it’s pretty self-explanatory.

    • Kathryn Vai
      Participant
      Post count: 2
      #11453 |

      ‘Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.’ Meekness here does not mean weakness. The Greek word translated as meek conveys the concept of ‘controlled strength,’ Example: a trained stallion. Strength tempered by self restraint, angry over injustice but not aggressive.

      Wow. I had never heard this before and it inspires me! Thank you for posting this!

      I can’t say I’ve ever done anything Big. All my actions are small, actions taken when the opportunity arises and with whatever resources I have at the moment. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not doing something more, but then I realize that if everyone acted on the small opportunities, then the world could certainly be changed. I guess I have the St. Therese of the Little Flower thing going.
      I smile at strangers.
      I once placed my hand on the back of a woman sobbing silently on the train. Everyone was trying to ignore her; it was so sad.
      If I have money and a homeless person asks for food, I buy them a meal….or give them the meal I have in my hands.
      I knit hats for the homeless.
      I offer genuine complements to strangers.
      I pray for others through my hot flashes in the middle of the night, because what else is there to do in the middle of the night? lol
      I try to be patient and forgiving when I am being “mansplained”, because my boss is a generation older and this IS the best he can do.
      I try to be present with people and give them my full attention.
      I try to shut my head up and actually listen when I pray.
      And so forth.

      None of what I do is large, but it’s what I can do in the moment. And it’s easy stuff. None of this feels like it’s important, and I do want to step up my game. Looking forward to ideas and inspiration from the group.

    • Dana
      Participant
      Post count: 3
      #11474 |

      Roger, my husband and I have done a similar thing. About 4 1/2 years ago we bought a house from HUD, that my husband lovingly refers to as an abuse victim. We spent the first 9 months just making the place livable and getting to know our neighborhood. Now we run a drop-in after school center in the neighborhood church, have a bike ministry, and work with suburban churches in work projects for the church and neighborhood. I have also become involved in a immigration advocacy group (our neighborhood is about 3/4 immigrants). For all of our years working in ministry, this is the place where we feel as if we belong, where we fit.
      Kathryn, what you are doing is so much! I have a friend who is a full time community organizer. One day when we were discussing my role in our immigration work, I was kind of whining about the fact that I could not do more because of a chronic health issue. What she said to me will forever stick with me. She told me was that if everyone would just do what they could then everything would get done. Also, what you are doing is so people-focused and that is so often lost when we think of all the things we should be doing for Jesus.

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