I Am Emergent Village

Please welcome Kimberly Roth’s reflections on Emergent Village.  You can read more from Kimberly on her blog called Barefoot Bohemian.

Once upon a time, I didn’t have a clue what “emergence” was, much less that I should be confused over clarifying if I meant “Emergent,” “emerging” or “emergence” (please don’t ask me to try, I’m out of migraine meds.)

In the summer of 2006, I attended a Sojourners conference as a part of their young leaders program (barely made the age cut). Brian McLaren was there, and folks were pretty excited about him, so as much as I can recall that was my first real introduction into talk ofemergence/emergent/emerging church.

Since that time I have read books, participated in conversations, attended conferences, formed friendships through social media, nurtured relationships, critiqued, challenged, dreamed, raged, created – and even briefly co-pastored a church associated with the emergent conversation.

I have been inspired, confused, disgusted, hurt, healed and encouraged through participation in the emergent conversation. I am not the same person I was in 2006, and it is because of this conversation – for better and for worse.

Emergent Village is not a safe space. It is messy and confrontational and, in its intentional desire to be open to diverse perspectives, completely unpredictable. I completely understand friends who have walked away from, and even expressly condemned, Emergent Village because of the hurt and damage they have experienced through neglect of their concerns, oppression of their personhood, or presence of triggers that bring to mind past, more overt, spiritual abuse.

Emergent Village is also a place of growth. It opens up space for those primarily of an evangelical background to come together and discuss their journey from fundamentalism to where they are now or where they are going: new experimental expressions of faith community, a return to more rooted and liturgical expressions of church, atheism or post-theism, and even a reclaiming of evangelicalism itself. For many, it has been a place to walk with one another through spiritual transitions and wrestle with what that journey does and does not look like for each of us.

I have spent much of the last seven years in defense mode: defending what was said and what wasn’t said, what was done and what wasn’t done, who was included and who was excluded. I have spent the last 6 months energized by what I’ve seen happening in the emergent conversation. After yet another conference where we spent weeks discussing these same tired frustrations, I have seen renewed interest in conversations of privilege and oppression and inclusion and listening and learning. I have seen this shift taking place in places like SogoMedia and TransForm and grassroots Open Conversations. Emergents talking to emergents about what practices we need to be incorporating into our gatherings and conversations to make mutual liberation a reality. No more bullshit.

It would seem the “rose” at the “gathering center” of emergence may be a bit more of a tornado.

These last few weeks have been an interesting time to be a part of Emergent Village. There has been a lot of pushback from those outside (or on the fringes) of the emergent conversation. There has been discussion within the conversation on how to listen to those voices. There have been folks with traditionally held power (prominence/exposure) within the conversation asking us not to participate in the critique. There have been folks refusing to be silenced by continuing to call for accountability.

Most recently, a post at Emergent Village Voice Blog set off a new line of critique against the emergent conversation. First, I affirm the hurt and anger felt by many at the assumptions in this post. However, I was greatly disappointed that Tony Jones, who has been fighting his own battle of feeling unfairly criticized for his dismissive public tone, automatically responded to the post with a dismissive comment that did not further the conversation. While those offering constructive critiques of Tony’s style have been criticized, he certainly did not model an example of generative conversation. (While I know the recent Homebrewed Christianity post has received its own fair share of criticism and critique, I feel the way the conversation is being curated is a healthy example of how we can navigate difficult and controversial dialogues.)

According to the Emergent Village website:

“Above all, we became convinced that living into the Kingdom meant doing it together, as friends. Thus, we committed ourselves to lives of reconciliation and friendship, no matter our theological or historical differences… By 2001, we had formed an organization around our friendship, known as Emergent, as a means of inviting more people into the conversation.”

Given the above, I assert the following:

1. Being an attempt at reconciling conversation, despite our differences, Emergent Village is responsible for modeling a better communication model – one where we discuss ideas rather than attacking people, one where we ask clarifying questions rather than rattle off dismissive statements.

2. Being a space that welcomes theological and historical differences, Emergent Village is responsible for admitting we are not a safe space for those who have experienced various forms of oppression in their life and church experiences. We cannot be both a place for folks who are still wrestling with fundamentalist understandings of women or LGBTQ or even doubt AND a safe space for those who are walking in the freedom of their wholeness. There should be no guilt or shaming of people who leave the space because of this reality.

3. If you are part of the conversation – you bear part of the responsibility. I will not wash my hands of what is happening in one part of Emergent Village simply because I do not have a hand in it. I may rarely read the blog (and judging by comments on other posts, neither does anyone else), but I do attend gatherings, I do participate in the Facebook group, I do associate myself with the movement.

Therefore, I am saying: I Am Emergent Village. And I will hold myself accountable for critique of EV, and for moving the conversation forward. I will promote what I see as positive conversations outside of EV (from Parish Collective to discussions of multi-ethnic diversity to Queer Theology). I will continue to participate in discussions of privilege and diversity and power and humility. I will own that being in a conversation means offending both those who feel oppressed by their personhood being up for discussion, and those who feel unfairly criticized because their theology does not allow them to affirm women as autonomous beings, privilege as a systemic reality or LGBTQ persons as whole, rather than something sinful to be cured or tolerated or allowed.

I confess that I have an agenda in the conversation – because emergence implies emerging toward something – and because I believe that something is a wholistic place where every voice is valued and no one is dominated, and I believe in living into that reality even as I wait for it to come about. For me, this reality is rooted in the love of God, the teachings of Jesus, the presence of the Holy Spirit

I am Emergent Village.

I am responsible for those who have been hurt by the conversation.

I am responsible for not being honest about the conversation.

I am responsible for deflecting critique of the conversation.

I am responsible for listening.

I am responsible for learning.

I am responsible for growing

“Everything is not enough. Nothing is too much to bear. Where you been is good and gone, all you keep is the getting there. Well to live’s to fly, aw low and high – so shake the dust off of your wings and the sleep out of your eyes.” ~ Townes Van Zandt

  • MikeClawson

    Great post Kimberly. I found your second numbered point especially helpful – the one about not being able to be a safe place both for those who have experienced oppression by fundamentalists and for those who are still emerging from fundamentalism. I’d like to hope that both are possible, because both are needed, but I understand why those who have been burned and hurt in the past may not be able to simply coexist safely with those who are still denying their full humanity.

    Not quite sure what to do about that. We can’t hope to actually change the hearts and minds of oppressors unless we are patient with them through that process of change (I know I needed people to be patient with me when I was in process). But it can’t be seen as the obligation of the oppressed to be patient and understanding with their oppressors. It’s admirable when that happens (Dr. King’s work comes to mind), but it should be seen as a gracious and self-sacrificial exception, not a requirement. I wonder, then, if there is perhaps a role for “allies” like myself to be that bridge. Not having been personally oppressed in the ways others have, and having undergone my own journey from fundamentalism to liberationist Christianity in the recent past, I can afford to be a more patient guide to others who are still emerging from their own position as oppressors.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, Mike.

      I absolutely agree about the process of change. I think this is where the honesty comes in. The honesty that says – we are affirming, but we do not expect people to stick around and defend their personhood to even the most subtle oppression. I think EV has to be honest about being a bridge-building conversation – and I don’t think that means we have to straddle the fence. I think it’s important to say that as a group we are affirming – and we’re here to walk you through how we got to where we are. And we give those who are “over” that part of the conversation the absolute grace to be a part of conversations that are more wholistic for them – whatever the issue may be (from sexuality to skepticism). (Forgive me for using that word – issue. Y’all know what I mean.)

      I think we can keep the conversation going, welcome those who want to share their stories, and fully release with grace and affirmation those who do not. I think there’s a very necessary need for that place of transition. But I think it has to be grounded in honesty.

  • Andrew William Smith

    Great post! Emergence Christianity like any other subculture has its good & bad sides, but it’s still a community at its core, where we heal each other & hope for a better world. The hopefulness of this post is dynamic & percolates with the same energy I’ve experienced at fact to face emergence events, especially the Wild Goose.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, Andrew. Sorry it took so long for your comment to show up!

      I enjoyed getting to meet you in Memphis. Are there any communication practices that you can think of off-hand that you encountered at that gathering or at WGF that made you feel invited into conversation and comfortable interacting?

  • mrgrin

    ‘Eye of the hurricane’ would also be apt. This is not just our future, but many futures to come afterward. This is gathering a following that will grow in time. Despite the small set backs and disappointment in emerging as the ideal place for lgtbq and minorities(part of which, I qualify and was set on my own heels by some of the commentary spoken).

    I would also extend that this cant apply to any form of christian rigidity and not just evangelicalism.

    However; within such a community thrives love and understanding for its members already on the fringes of a society. And that is truly what awaits any who engage in the community of emergence Christianity; love, understanding, and development.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you for your response.

      In online environments, where we are not in a physical space with one another, do you see any specific practices that could help us better demonstrate love and understanding toward one another?

      • mrgrin

        yes, in all honestly…you must start with the assumption of acceptance and understanding when beginning a new statement. Not looking to elevate or divide yourself from the others in the conversation. Much like improv comedy only works well when all partners accept and flow from each others actions and statements, so too must the Emergent Christianity online learn to accept its many facets and see where we can still learn and communicate with one another.

        • Kimberly Roth

          I love the imagery of improv. So much of that balance is to not be so focused on what you’re going to do/say next that you miss what is developing in the scene. If we don’t listen and stay mindful of the flow, the entire sketch breaks down.

          I’m going to be dwelling on this now – thank you.

          • Jerry Lynch

            The word “discernment” carries for me the import of being both unbiased and unprejudiced, having a purity of vision that could be called immaculate perception. There is no personal filter through which it must pass, thus bereft of the need to maintain, strengthen, and enhance one’s image and interest. It is of such undiluted clarity as to be utterly transparent. And therein is the problem: we need to muddy it ever so slightly to form a necessary image we can relate to. Perfect clarity of truth reveals nothing. We have no contrast or coloring. But the mud of our own understanding affords an approximation that we tend to naturally enshrine.

            That we believe there is something of truth to see, know, grasp, or understand keeps us in darkness. Truth is quicker than that. Anything including “I” or “mine” are weights to the soul; it cannot keep apace. There is no conversation about truth. Any conversation is beating around the bush. What bush? The burning bush: fully consumed, a burnt offering, has no refelction. It is not so much that truth is ineffable to describe as it is impossible to contemplate. Perhaps this helps: Integrity is beyond intent.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

    I am all for Eric having a space here at the EV Blog to express his ideas. I am also all for my ability to leave a short comment saying how disappointing it was. I feel no need to engage a debate with him on a topic on which I have already written thousands of words.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you for your response.

      Do you see ways in which this space could be better used to create the sort of conversation Emergent Village is designed for? Ways that we could engage one another in community, to help each other “emerge” toward a place where people feel both heard and understood?

  • http://www.malakhgabriel.net/ Gabe

    Hi, Kimberly.

    I think an honest admission that (the) Emergen(t/ce) (Village/Conversation/Christianity) cannot be all things to all people is a great place to start. To say “We can do this thing, but not that” is honest and helpful. Your point two is phrased perfectly.

    But doing so also means being one more Christian space that says to queer people “We are not for you.”

    Yes, absolutely, there needs to be room for people healing from fundamentalism, people who have to unlearn what they’ve learned and learn how to love, to use your examples, queer people and women. But can that be done in such a public venue as this? I don’t think it’s fair to do so. When you do, then you’re giving even more public voice to that form of Christianity that says “Who you are is disordered. How you love is sinful.” It doesn’t matter if it’s followed up with “but we love you anyway.”

    For Emergent Village to be “a place for folks who are still wrestling with fundamentalist understandings” is for it to be a place that says “it’s okay to be anti-gay, so long as you’re struggling with it.” And that’s not okay.

    Emergent Village (or emergence Christianity, or however it’s branded this week) contributes to the oppression of queer people when it publishes things like it did Friday. The organization itself has a platform from which to speak. Is “We’re okay with giving voice to oppressive speech, as long as people are working on it” going to be helpful to anyone?

    Yes, people coming out of fundamentalism need room to unlearn, to learn, to grow. Like you, I could have written Eric’s piece myself at one point in my life. But people who need to work through their oppressive theologies need to do it in a way that’s not contributing to the loud, public Christian voices that condemn queer people and women. Work it out with friends. Work it out with your pastors. Read books. Don’t do it in a place where you’re spouting hateful rhetoric out into the world, where people (whose safety you are not currently prioritizing) are made that much less safer by your words.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, Gabe. I hear that critique and have been hearing it for several years now. I appreciate you and others who have boldly spoken that into this space – you certainly have every right to avoid it like the plague.

      I hope that my words do not come across as an apologetic for that post. That certainly was not my intention, yet I acknowledge it could easily come across that way.

      My hope for this conversation is that some of us could step up and take responsibility for better curating the dialogue and topics, and that’s what I was leaning toward in this post. I think EV’s history has taught us that emergence can not simply be a free-for-all: we’ve had to do too much back tracking and defending. At the same time, there is a way for us to put in place some structure without creating a dominating environment.

      There’s no reason we can’t create and insist upon an anti-oppression environment as a community, and frame our discussions around that, while still being focused on walking with people through their transitions. The struggles of folks to shed their fundamentalist beliefs and practices should not be the discussion starters, if you will, but the discussions should be framed in a way that says: this is where we are, this is how we got here, this is our story. And that asks: where are you, what questions do you still have, what is your story?

      I think the “Toward Collective Liberation” book (that we talked about in the Open Conversation) is sparking thought about a lot of creative possibilities. I’ve also been diving into bell hooks & I think her writing on community and pedagogy has a lot to teach us. And I also think you, and others, who hold a mirror up and keep us accountable – we have much to learn from you.

      But I think there needs to be a transitional space – not a space that straddles the fence, but a place that provides guidance a support through the transition – and I think EV can be that space. I don’t think EV can be that space AND pretend to be a model of affirmation and inclusion. But that doesn’t mean we can lead in that direction, that we can’t make that the goal we are helping folks transition toward, and that we can’t point people toward the spaces where we see affirmation and wholeness.

      Does this make sense? Do you have suggestions or additional questions/critiques?

      • http://www.malakhgabriel.net/ Gabe

        I hope that my words do not come across as an apologetic for that post. That certainly was not my intention, yet I acknowledge it could easily come across that way.

        Not at all. Speaking in response to something isn’t the same as giving that event your blessing. I appreciate your way of responding and I’m happy to see it getting a broader audience.

        There’s no reason we can’t create and insist upon an anti-oppression environment as a community, and frame our discussions around that, while still being focused on walking with people through their transitions.

        Yes! Absolutely! Unfortunately, I don’t have a clue how to get there. Such an insistence would, I think, make this space/organization much more useful and helpful.

        What you’re saying does make sense, and I’d love to see more movement in this direction. I’d love to see what Christena Cleveland laid out in her “Listening Well” series become a standard for guiding these interactions.

        • Kimberly Roth

          Yes! I think folks on my facebook & twitter got tired of seeing me share the “Listening Well” posts. ; )

          I definately think that series would be helpful in providing some guidance as to how we communicate & making sure it’s not a monologue.

  • Jules

    Kim- I love you and I mean this with great respect, Emergent and all its forms is dying. And I praise the creator for it. Egos are in the way of it. They have shoved out any relevant voices, especially in the queer area. Queermergent was not supported nor given any real credit. Tony in all his bluster came to my blog at the time and left his one line dismiss. Since leaving the conversation which I have been a apart of since 1998, I have prayed for its crash. For once, it is not an under current failing, but now a more public one. It has since lost its roots and narcissism is at its all time high. Also, as being apart of Queer Theology, Shay and Brian would shutter at being linked to emergent. One of my first request if I participated that it would not in any way be tainted with emergent. Once emergent gets its claws on it, Queer Theology will no longer be safe for those of us in the LGBTQ who have been used and abused by it.

    I only hope, as the wheels continue to fall off this thing that the people come back to what the conversation always was, folks admitting there is a change, making a change, and doing something about it. To stop worrying about what power and entitlement they think they get from it.

    I know, you know personally, why this is I very deep thing for me. Emergent needs to die, not for the common people, but for leaders like Tony and others. Until then, nothing will ever be scene because the leaders have done far too much damage to redeem it.

    • Kimberly Roth

      I love you, I hear you, and I am honored that you would enter this bit of cyberspace – I know that is no small deal.

      It’s because I have listened to so many stories of hurt and frustration from so many people over the years, that I am dead set on making sure we take these past few weeks, and these past few months seriously. They are not isolated flair ups – they are symptomatic of much deeper issues.

      It’s because I’m a bullheaded eternal optimist that I’m still using my voice (fingers? words?) – for better or worse. If EV completely crumbles and disappears, I’m ok with that. I’ll just recycle my composting post from when we closed Eikon – I’ve totally got this closing down a community thing down to an art. ; )

      But, honestly, here’s how I see it. I’ve been watching these conversations for the past few weeks, and I’ve seen a bunch of folks deflecting responsibility for and/or association with Emergent Village/Emergence/whatever. So, if it’s me reading the signs (yes, I’ve been watching too much Silver Linings Playbook), this place has been abandoned. That makes it fair game. Possession is 9/10 of the law or something, right? So I’m staking my claim. Mutiny! Let’s take the conversation and give it back to the community. I kind of think that’s what’s been going on already around here, except that the community hasn’t fully stepped up to reclaim the conversation.

      So, that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what I’m trying to call others to. If folks want a healthy, vibrant conversation – I’ll do what I can. If not, I’ll let it fall by the wayside. But I’m certainly not going to hide and pretend I don’t have a stake in this conversation. Hell, I wouldn’t know you if it weren’t for this conversation. And I have too many significant relationships with folks that were born out of and around EV to not give it one last try for resurrection. (Yes – I will totally let you say “told you so” to my face if it all ends horribly…)

      • Jules

        Going to dive in here…..

        “It’s because I have listened to so many stories of hurt and frustration from so many people over the years, that I am dead set on making sure we take these past few weeks, and these past few months seriously. They are not isolated flair ups – they are symptomatic of much deeper issues.”

        Yes, exactly. As you know, this has been an issue for a long time. It was a factor that finally just broke me. I am like one person on twitter said, it took a very bad blog post and a very “real” tongue/cheek tweeter account to get people to listen, while so many of us got blasted and very hurt long before it. Like I said in my first post, this was all put under the rug and not it is very public. I fear to post here, because of what one leader has labeled me. (being very real, raw, and honest) I do not think my voice here will give much weight because of it, which makes my stomach twist.

        “It’s because I’m a bullheaded eternal optimist that I’m still using my voice (fingers? words?) – for better or worse. If EV completely crumbles and disappears, I’m ok with that. I’ll just recycle my composting post from when we closed Eikon – I’ve totally got this closing down a community thing down to an art. ; )

        HA!!!! I hear you. I was that for along time when I came back in. Then it got personal and my personal life became a bullet with which leaders used. Which, btw, they were wrong about and to this day are lying about. I hope for you that it does not become that. I have already gone into momma bear mode with those who, like you, are challenging. I just know what happened to me and I know lessons from those who shot bullets at me have not learned their lesson. It sucks and I wish no one to go through what I did.

        “That makes it fair game. Possession is 9/10 of the law or something, right? So I’m staking my claim. Mutiny! Let’s take the conversation and give it back to the community. I kind of think that’s what’s been going on already around here, except that the community hasn’t fully stepped up to reclaim the conversation.”

        No, the community has not. What I have seen is that most have realized that any change has to be outside of anything labeled “emergent.” Why? Because there are folks who will bash you, tear you down, and dismiss you. That is a real fear. There are also those who do not want to challenge the “said leaders.” I have no personal thing any more to say, MUTINY!!! Tear them off their high horse and take this thing back. I was saying it years ago, as you know. So, if there were anyone I would pass the torch to, is you. ;) :P Only because we have a lot of the same personality traits and I would cheer you on. I would also keep a safe shelter for you.

        “So, that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what I’m trying to call others to. If folks want a healthy, vibrant conversation – I’ll do what I can. If not, I’ll let it fall by the wayside. But I’m certainly not going to hide and pretend I don’t have a stake in this conversation. Hell, I wouldn’t know you if it weren’t for this conversation. And I have too many significant relationships with folks that were born out of and around EV to not give it one last try for resurrection. (Yes – I will totally let you say “told you so” to my face if it all ends horribly…)”

        That is what made me try and voice what I did when I came back. This very thing. Everything you just stated. It was the importance of who I love and a conversation that I loved if merely how it “saved” my life/spiritual life. I wanted so bad to bring it back to the community. As you know, I paid a cost and it sucked. It was very isolating. I don’t know if I will say I told you so in a egotistical way, but in more of a mourning, I know this way. Like I said, I would hold a shelter. :) And heck, if I am terribly wrong, please say I told you so, and show me around. ;)

        I love you Kimberly Roth.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Waking up this morning, I felt my response was more of an apologetic for what I’m hoping/dreaming.

      Here’s a question – and you can answer here or elsewhere or not at all.

      Imagine EV was just a conversation – no personalities, no infighting, no historical baggage. You’re in a place where you’re starting to read and learn from folks that are outside your religious tradition. You want someone to process with on the journey.

      What would you want the online conversation to look like?

      What do you think cohort gatherings might look like?

      How would “the village” journey together?

      • Jules

        Hey girl! Going to answer by question.

        First, though to answer the imagine part. I actually had that. Back in I first stumbled upon “the conversation” as it was called then. There was not any “real” books per se. Although there were wonderful books on postmodernism. Probably a year after Spencer Burke wrote a section in a book, that is slipping my mind the title, that The OOZE and what we were saying there got some attention. So, I am going to reference myself in my answer.

        “What would you want the online conversation to look like?”

        I would want it to look like something as I found back before there was a name for this. I remember questioning things my church was doing. I also remember wondering why we were not about true justice. Mind you, I was still very much in the closet, so the “gay issue” was not something I would touch unless it were being called “a sin.” (times do change ;) ) A friend told me about The OOZE after I confessed to them my thoughts. What I found there was this place to question, throw out an idea I wanted to try, I was able to push back, and the conversation was a co-op. There was no one voice(s) that defined it. Yes, Spencer was/is the hook that brought some people there, but he was this like how some of us think of God, there, but never and rarely heard from. It was what I wanted to find and did not. (An aside, it later did change as the title “emergent” was coined and the Emergent Village came along. That is when everything changed. Tones, thoughts, and so much more. It was not for the good.)

        “What do you think cohort gatherings might look like?”

        I think the cohort should look like what the conversation is online. However, the context would be different and would be defined by that. Oh, this is where my little Restoration Nerd comes in. LOL One thing I love about my faith history was the knowledge that we are one body, but in separate locations, mind, and body. So, one gathering can not say to another, “you cannot worship that way.” (yes, I know that is flawed, but we are dreaming here, right? ;) ) In the foundation of what the Restoration Movement was, it has a lot right and the willingness to give autonomy to each gatherings was genius. I think it would be important to throw out the books. Especially the ones that are supposedly defining or making some “new theology.” C’mon cohorts, make your own theology, challenge yourself, and the conversation as a whole with what you are talking about,but most importantly DOING!!!!

        “How would “the village” journey together?”

        Oh…..well, while we are sitting here talking and drinking our morning coffee, I think “the village” would journey together much like we have. Sharing ideas, sharing the craziest of them, and being dared “DO IT!!!!” (I remember Mark Riddle and I doing that to each other all the time.) I loved it. I think “the village” might also do well, as I have scene with SOGO, not just being about ministers, preachers, pastors, etc. Realizing there are storytellers, activist, and so many parts of the body that will not start a church. (side note: that was part of the bad change when EV showed up. it became about starting “emergent churches” and people going to special off the grid meetings with Brian McLaren (no, I don’t think it was a conspiracy thing. He was gathering young, bright, new pastors to help start Emergent Churches, and yeah, that was annoying.). So, how would “the village” journey together? Going for the wildest idea, throwing it out to the village, getting push backs, tweeks, and then GO FOR IT! Later share what happened. Another way to help the journey together is to not give ONE person the rights to define it. Let the people do so. Basically, throw out the “known leaders” (we can ALL name them, let us not be coy), stop depending on them for an idea or what have you, and be a VILLAGE. Get back to knowing that there is a body and there are many parts. I left the conversation shortly after coming out. It was not well received When I came back it was shocking what I found. It was culture shock. What was my worst nightmare and what I fought so hard against had really happened. I went to a conference and the first question by people I was just meeting was, “oh, what church are you leading?” when I answered “I’m not” I got a strange look and the conversation ended. However, there were others that did not and I was glad of that. But since when did the conversation have to be about what church I am leading, am I starting one, and if I have been to seminary? (I know the answer to “since when”, but ya know) Be the body again and remember we are all not ministers. I still haven’t figured out in my mind what that is even in the conversation. I guess that is because it is foreign to me because of how I entered and was a part of the conversation.

        I hope this answers. Please, Kim, tear into it. :) I hope, because I answered while DRINKING my coffee it made some sense and answered. :P

        • Kimberly Roth

          I love the image of the “co-op” and also the place-making and localized theology of the cohorts – probably because I’ve been reading YES! magazine too much. But really, this is the sort of stuff that gets my juices flowing (well, that – and my morning coffee). And the “church in the wild” spirit – we are all leading the body, the community – we are all ministering – and that will look as varied as there are members of the body.

          Ok – now I’m off to repost this and bug more folks to come share their dreams & visions & practices!

          • Jules

            It is what I love too. It does the same with me, it does get my juices flowing and makes my heart pump even better. :)

            Go get ‘em! ;)

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    In my experience, EV has both helped and hindered me. For starters, it gave me a new way to practice Christianity, one without denying science or seeing women as second class citizens. Plus, as I began to become aware of my pansexuality, the EV let me know they accept me. However, sometimes I see the theological conversation veer off into abstract concepts and mental masturbation. Plus, a lot of my queer peers feel like straight members of the EV are trying to speak FOR us instead of letting us have our say.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, Travis.

      Have there been any conversation practices that have been more welcoming than others – that have made you want to participate more & invite others?

      Have there been ways of dialoguing that have made you feel free & safe to ask questions, express concerns or push back on an idea you didn’t understand or were uncomfortable with?

  • Kimberly Roth

    *NOTE* It appears some comments are posting automatically and some are being sent to moderation. We are working to figure out how to release those “moderated” comments. I apologize if your comment is not showing up yet – but please know that I appreciate your response and contribution.

    • Kimberly Roth

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  • brandyglows

    Whew. Okay. First, I didn’t read all of the comments. I read some of them. But I am not super familiar with all of the turmoil and controversy that you described from the other posts, and I didn’t feel the need to dig into all of it. I do associate with the emergent movement, I am not super all up in it. Perhaps that’s why I don’t feel this burn you all are speaking of. And honestly I feel like I’m missing a LOT, so please forgive me if I say something dumb (or if I speak utopian BS, which I am inclined to do ;) .

    Having said that, I disagree with your second assertion. I believe with my whole heart it’s okay to be where you are. And with that comes the recognition that we’re not all going to be in the same place. I know that leaves us smack in the center of the tension. Because the two groups you mentioned shouldn’t be able to coexist in one space, right? Because there’s so much hurt and it’s painful and valid and hard. BUT. The thing is, I know from experience that people with opposing viewpoints can live together in harmony. I’ve seen it. And I believe in it.

    I love this post because it’s radically transparent. One of the biggest places that the Church struggles is with transparency. We are so busy trying to figure out what is right that we gloss over what is real. This kind of transparency, Kimberly, in the beauty and the mess and the hurt is the reason that I believe the emergent whatever-it-is will survive and thrive.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, Brandy. I am very glad that you shared – I absolutely don’t want anyone to feel these comments are limited to those who have been burned in some way. That’s why I also asked how folks have been healed through these conversations.

      I agree with you that opposing viewpoints can have harmonious dialogue – Lord help humanity if we can’t! ; )

      What I was getting at more with my second point was those who have been oppressed and felt dismissed because someone’s viewpoint places them in a “less-then” category (women as second class citizens, LGBTQ as sinful & unnatural, etc.). To claim we are a “safe space” we have to provide an environment where someone can enter and feel whole, not be on guard for their personhood to be questioned.

      It’s one thing to enter a space where you & I disagree on the nature of the trinity. It’s quite another to enter a space where you & I disagree on my fullness and validity as a human being.

      Does how I’m communicating that make sense?

      I aboslutely think the conversation has to have room for disagreement – otherwise we should just open a massage parlor and call it a day. But I don’t think we can represent ourself as both a safe space and a place where people can still wrestle with fundamentalist ideas about another person’s wholeness and personhood.

  • Ken Bussell

    I agree that EV is not a safe place, and as a moderate with some conservative views regarding resurrection, divinity of Christ, and other doctrines, I am content to accept that some of my thoughts when expressed in EV contexts have been and will continue to be met with dismissively sharp criticism and sarcasm. So be it.

    However, for me, LGBTQ issues rise to an even higher level. They are issues of discrimination, of civil rights, and of human dignity. Speaking specifically of Eric’s post, it seems very hollow to talk about how we should treat queers better while affirming the doctrine that is the root cause of the negative treatment.

    I do not think EV should be a “safe place” to disparage the identities of an entire class of people no matter how seemingly reasonable the tone or intentions.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, Ken.

      I hope I communicated that I absolutely think, as a community and through our public (we don’t really have “official”) communications, that we are affirming the personhood of others. In that sense, I agree EV should not be a space to disparage others.

      On the other hand, in the midst of discussions – if we are walking with folks who are still on a journey from fundamentalism to inclusion – there will be comments that will be unsafe for people, that may trigger harsh words that were spoken into their lives in the past. I think this is why conversations about HOW we communicate with one another are so important – how we assume intent, how we engage negativity, how we redirect, the words and tone we choose, etc.

      “I do not think EV should be a ‘safe place’ to disparage the identities of an entire class of people no matter how seemingly reasonable the tone or intentions.” <– yes. absolutely. thank you for this.

      To be quite honest, I have been guilty of this many times in the past when expressing my frustrations with Calvinism. I have certain folks and brands of theology in mind when I do this, and I have hurt friends and parishoners in the process. Luckily, they were patient with me and pushed back gently. I am much more mindful these days with how I write that off – and that's more of a theological issue than a personhood issue. But we all have ways we do it, and mindfulness is part of our growth.

  • MikeClawson

    One more thing I wanted to add: I love the title and main thrust of your post Kimberly – “I Am Emergent Village.” I too am and have long been an enthusiastic part of Emergent Village, and before that (like Jules) I was part of the conversation at theOoze, and before that I was reading postmodern philosophy and questioning my evangelical/Republican upbringing. Over the years I have seen a lot of criticism (both external and internal) aimed at the emergent movement, at Emergent Village more specifically, and at particular emergent leaders more specifically still. And while I’ve occasionally shared some of these criticisms myself, personally I’ve never seen my disagreements with particular individuals or groups as a reason to disassociate with the movement as a whole. All too often I have watched critics unjustly conflate all of these and thereby condemn a whole movement and all of us who are a part of it for the actions or words of a few. This tendency has confused and saddened me because, since the beginning, I took the attitude Kimberly encourages here – that the emergent movement (and Emergent Village within it) was never about some group of leaders or authors that had proprietary rights to it. The emergent movement was always about all of us contributing whatever we wanted to bring to the table, and it was my responsibility to help make it what I hoped it could be. In other words, from the beginning I owned emergent as part of my own identity rather than seeing it as denoting some other group of people who had anymore claim to it than I myself also did.

    (And to be honest, I don’t know a single person among that group of better known emergent “personalities” who would disagree with this in any way. I have never, ever heard any so-called emergent leader express any degree of personal ownership or control over the movement. They have only ever encouraged others, all of us, to take ownership of it for ourselves. This is nothing new. We have been saying this from the beginning. Even the so-called leaders have been saying it from the beginning. I think the problem comes in when some assume these leaders have more control over the movement than they actually do and then let that perception function as reality. But it doesn’t actually work that way and it never has. Don’t feel like the “leaders” are being supportive enough of your thing? Then f— em’. They’re not actually in charge of anything, so do it anyway and let them be the ones to play catch up. I have seen that happen so many times in this movement.)

    Anyhow, in the end, how can I not call myself emergent? I just am. It doesn’t matter one lick whether I do or don’t like some of the others in this movement or agree with everything they say or do. I could choose to disassociate myself with every single one of those people and yet I would still be emergent, because emergent isn’t something owned by those people. It denotes an approach to faith that is much bigger than a particular group of individuals – one that I share, and will continue to share, even if those particular structures or personalities eventually fade from view. Emergent Village could (and very likely will) eventually cease to be, but what does that have to do with anything? The emergent movement will still continue, and I will still continue to be an emergent Christian, and I will still bear the responsibility for helping to make it what it will become. I am not just Emergent Village, I am emergent, period. I cannot be otherwise.

    • Kimberly Roth

      Thank you, again, Mike. I think this is a very important perspective to bring to the discussion. If there is perceived power in the hands of a few, it is because we have handed it over. We have the responsibility not only to critique one another, but to critique ourselves too – how am I leading, how am I adding to the conversation, how am I modeling the interaction I want to see, how am I bringing my gifts to the table.

      The post of Sarah Bessey’s that Slacktivist refers to as the inspiration for the “bonfire” list was very powerful for me when I first read it: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/12/11/the-bonfire-1001-christian-women-bloggers-you-should-know/

  • Rebecca Bec Cranford-Smith

    I have always
    struggled against legalism, often waving my middle finger in its face hoping to
    get a reaction. From the earliest recollection of olive oil scent, I can hear
    the message that I was not good enough for church people. Sweaty evangelists in
    cheap polyester suits, swaying in tempo with the organist, screaming of hell
    fire and telling the story of the teen who did not accept Christ at the
    hypothetical revival but died later in a car crash. The abusive tone of the
    tight-bunned brunette and her holy decree to cease laughing or running in the
    Sunday school hallway haunts my childhood memories of church. The legalism and
    ultra-conservative ignorance that spoke of personal piety in one breath and
    spoke of racism, sexism, and classism in the next. I grew disheartened and discontent with
    Christianity. I flirted with many other forms of spirituality in college. I
    could never escape the Jesus story. I loved it.

    I deeply despised the southern-fried “Bapticostalism”
    that I had been force to absorb as a child.
    My parents divorced. The worse hurt came when my father told the
    faithful and the family I was a lesbian. I found him later that week crawling
    on the floor speaking gibberish clutching an empty bottle of sleeping pills all
    because of his failed marriage. He often abused the usage of “thus sayeth the
    Lord.” My father operated in the gifts of the spirit as a talented minister,
    but he also operated in the some alcoholism to cover up his condemnation and
    pain from an abusive childhood. My father was a highly anointed man in
    Pentecostal circles. He would sing and people would be healed. He loved God.
    Yet, he had no revelation of God’s grace and coupled with his manic-depression
    he easily would swing into bouts of beer-binging. I recall him telling me I had
    brought witchcraft into our home, I had caused their divorce, and my lesbianism
    would send me to hell. I turned my back on that type of Christianity and any
    God associated with it. I left the
    church for 7 years, until I overdosed and died.

    I had some sort of
    mystic encounter with a crucified Christ, while my mind or psyche or spirit,
    felt fear and isolation in a dark place. I remember hearing accusing voices
    coming for me, and feeling abandoned by everything- even God. I cried out to
    Christ, and offered my life in exchange for a second change. Maybe it was just
    the MDMA and cocaine, maybe it was real. Either way, I was hooked on Jesus and
    service after that encounter in 2002.

    After my near
    death experience and postmortem Jesus sighting, I decided to follow Christ. I
    wanted a rational and sensible religion, but I wanted everything he had for me.
    I did not want anything messy or a form that would make me be or feel crazy. I
    was worried about being carted off to one of the mental institutions. I recall
    telling God early after my 2002 experience that I would be Lutheran or
    Presbyterian or Catholic, but I told him I would never be Pentecostal. Then I
    spoke in tongues several weeks later. I was a serious skeptic of all churches.
    I was a heresy hunter, and very afraid of cult activity. After my first year at Southeastern
    University, I had a little bit of knowledge and I wanted everyone to not see my
    drug-addict past, instead to view me as the new minister of God.

    I went about everything in the wrong way. I
    was very combative to what I assume were cults or factions of the true faith. I
    let bitterness pump through my heart and I went head strong against my father
    who was in the “Word of Faith” facet of Pentecostalism. After all he
    started to believe in Universalism around 2006 when other Bishops came out and
    said they believed that Christ would save the whole earth. I vehemently
    attacked my father, using my new 5000 dollar words and everything I could
    muster from my minimal theological education. I also attacked anyone I
    perceived as being legalistic and judgmental. Yes, I was the fundamentalist who
    wanted to argue. I did not want any
    weird or paranormal experiences with God.
    But soon my heart melted and I desired intimacy and union with God. In Bible College, I began to read books by
    Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, N.T. Wright, and Erwin McManus. It didn’t sound like
    the trailer-under-the-pines style rhetoric that spilled over the pulpits of my
    past. I was leery of the emergent movement. But I was very much interested in
    every perspective that Christianity had to offer. I begin to attend church services that were
    outside of my traditional Baptist or Pentecostal background and found a deep
    love for the liturgy. I would ask God to
    heal my past and my family. Slowly he restored my relationship with my father.
    Slowly he helped me work past my sexual addiction. Slowly he removed hurt from
    my heart. So I graduated to head home to start something for God.

    I
    stepped across the finished concrete and new building. The mega church excited
    me! All my old friends waited for my return. Our favorite testimony had
    arrived; the punk girl who came off drugs and who left her atheist boyfriend to
    follow “GAWD!” Except this time, the
    punk girl, came back with a B.S. in theology and had every intention of using
    it at the mega church! I bounced across
    conversations, shaking hands, and giving hugs. I was so eager to see the
    “mothers and fathers” of the faith I had left and tell them the many things I
    had learned while getting my bachelor’s degree in theology.

    I
    was eager to serve, yet my “Pentecostal call” haunted me with delusions of big
    stage ministry and flashy outfits and theatrical effects. I assumed that my
    years of scrubbing toilets, moving chairs, and setting up tables would benefit
    me, and I would now be teaching. Until the question came out “Do you believe
    everything the DENOMINATION teaches in its 16 fundamental truths?”

    How to answer that question? I sat under the
    finest professors. I worked at great churches. I was always treated like an
    “outreach pastor” or “street minister” or “recovery pastor” at my college
    because of the tattoos, or the fact I was blunt, maybe because I cussed a
    little. But I had studied scripture and there were things I no longer knew or
    felt convicted about. Honestly, I was sure many great men of faith did not
    speak in tongues and I was even more assured that there was no “rapture.”

    So,
    my next emotional wrestling lay in how to answer the committee’s question with
    integrity. I did. I assumed there would be no big hassle. Pastor Polished-boots
    click-clacked down the hallway and grabbed me, shaking in his buckle jeans, and
    ninety five dollar shirt. His blue eyes almost cried as he said, “How can you
    just throw scripture out like this!” I tried to make sense of the interaction,
    and told him what I had learned. He would have none of it. He said I was
    “divisive.” I shared my pain with no one, save my three favorite professors. I
    wrote an apology letter to the mega church, and asked that the application be
    removed. I applied and said “NO, I have no disagreements with our beliefs.”

    I
    was told by friends and colleagues not to die on mole hills when it came to
    theological issues. I had a lot of pride in me, but I died to self and let
    Pastor Polished-boots and Pastor Distinguished know I was not going to tell
    everyone at Church the rapture wasn’t coming. The next 8 months were horrible.
    Depression lingered over me like fallout from a nuclear war. I thought I was
    doing little for God by teaching my Spanish bible study. After all, my plan had
    been rejected to start a Spanish Church at my home church. Some sentiment came
    down that we “should teach them English” while Sister Bitterbottom told me I
    would never be a leader because of my sin-issues. Yes, I had sin issues. I was
    honest about them. I asked every
    Christian I knew to pray with me over my addiction to sex. I had walked through
    some dark days, and came out rather victorious, but they always remembered my
    sin- and held it against me. Sister Bitterbottom always made it a point to put
    me down. Perhaps she was just jealous that my sin was so passionate and causing
    me to fight, while she was completely unaware of her sin. I prayed really hard
    that God would let me forgive her and love her. Sister Bitterbottom just needed
    love like the rest of us.

    The
    depression continued. My outlets were unavailable to me. I stayed in the
    prophets. I read ever Rob Bell book I could. Greg Boyd, N.T.Wright, and
    anything that had a scholarly slash hip vibe to it. The depression clouded me.
    I doubted almost everything my tradition handed to me. I went away to seminary.
    I was excited to escape. The divine discontent let go of me when I settled into
    town.

    I began to really deconstruct my faith and tradition in seminary. You
    learned who the safe professors were and who the fundamentalists who spoke in
    tongues were. I really unpacked a lot in my three years in Springfield. I wrote
    more and more about my views, my obsession with the prophets, and my mistrust
    of the American Church. A man found me online and invited me to be a part of
    the emerging conversation. After I had preached for the first time at my
    seminary, I had another peer stalk me in the library. I saw his eyeball between
    the books starring me down as if he was starving and I was a turkey-leg. He
    whispered my name. The event seemed like some secret meeting where he was going
    to take me down stairs into a room where a magic potion would start my journey
    to discover my identity as a hero in a fiction book. I had heard about the
    emergent movement, and was really refreshed by what so many were saying there.
    I found myself to the left of many political issues or either a-political,
    almost anarchist. I hated all the nationalism that sprouted up in my
    denomination- these services in which the worship was for America, not Christ.
    I hated all the anti-gay rhetoric, and how every earthquake was a “judgment
    from God.” I hated the vast stupidity in
    the pulpit, that got away every Sunday preaching the same old crap- but yet I
    loved every one of those preachers. I hated topical preaching. I hated
    legalism. I really disliked how people in my denomination thought so many
    others were hell-bound. They feared Catholics and called them idolaters. I
    would tell stories about the awesome Catholics I knew. But I was of little
    effect; after all I was the sinning girl who made any church look credible.

    “If you can love a girl in green combat boots, Jesus must be there!” Jesus
    was there. God is always there. God is even working in churches with great
    theology or no theology, where heretics teach or where reformed theologians
    speak! I did love the church, I was so mad with her, though! I loved feeding
    the hungry; I loved hanging out with the foreigner. I really was encouraged by
    those in shut-ins, disabled, elderly, homeless, queer, hookers, punks, those
    who were outside the box and spoke of God with such “intimate knowledge.” I
    questioned scripture. I visited a Buddhist temple and found the spirit of God
    resting there. No one could help me unpack that. I went into a Mosque and
    watched a woman fully in love with God worshipping. I made friends with a rabbi
    who has a mystical step and a knowing eye who talked about the Kingdom of God.
    I was told by my professors, that there was only one way to God, and these men
    and women must be possessed with demons. I felt completely unsafe. I was
    becoming a heretic. I called trusted friends and begged that they prayed for my
    sinning heart. I beat myself at the altar and examined my heart daily. Was I
    just a rebel? The emerging conversation allowed me to speak without being
    called a trouble-maker.

    I have found a place to listen and
    learn in emergent vilage. I did not agree with every idea that came from those conversations, but
    my heart was warmed by a people who believed in God, love, community, and the
    way of Christ. Some amazing humble men of God kindly and lovingly told
    me they could not support me any longer for my beliefs/ or questions
    surrounding those beliefs and
    convictions. I was hoping to be ordained with the assemblies of God,
    but that flew out the window when i suggested an interfaith conversation, ministering to postmoderns, and welcoming lesbians to church. I love my home church, and my old pastor. We
    know each other. He’s a godly dude.

    Over the past five years, I have
    been extremely humbled as I have courted the emergent movement at night, while
    maintaining a semi-conservative relationship during the day. I do not see this
    as being unfaithful, but more along the lines of Nicodemus sneaking out to see
    Jesus. This movement of radical grace intrigued me. It sounded like the God who
    grabbed me from the clutches of death that I experienced when I was dying. I heard Tony Jones speak at an academic meeting for pentecostals. I liked what he had to say. I had heard McClaren before- and Brian is the real deal. I suddenly started pairing up with people in Outlaw preachers, emergent village, transform, wildgoose and sogo media.

    I could no longer tolerate this mentality of
    earning your godliness that I saw perpetuated in many churches. I would double
    over and cry through sermons that seemed to misinterpret scripture in exchange
    with twentieth century understandings of “churchianity.”

    Unfortunately I had not allowed
    God to speak to some of the hurt places in my life. I was hurt.
    Hurt that the Christians in Douglas County Georgia had treated me poorly
    after hearing I was a lesbian from my father (and I was not gay, perhaps a
    cross dresser.) I was hurt that every Christian judged me from the time I was
    14 until well, forever. I was hurt that I was molested in a church and no one
    gave a damn about me or the dozen other children who felt guilty as a result of
    one man’s actions. I was mad that many Christians in my tradition were so
    closed minded, waved American flags- spit on other people, were bigoted, nationalists,
    misogynists, ignorant, capitalists, and republicans. I was mad that Christians
    would bow down to the Bible as a god. I was mad that no one was caring for the
    homeless, the day laborer, the LGBT, the punk, the depressed, and the
    marginalized in my community. I was mad at every little holier-than-thou woman
    in my home church who would rub my confessions in my face every time I saw
    them. I was mad at pastors who preached that avalanches, hurricanes, and
    economic failures resulted from homosexual activity. I was just mad. I attacked
    out of that. There was no love, no praying for my enemies, and no hoping to see
    anyone else as a person made in God’s image. I felt like I was a prophet and I
    had to attack the religious system and tell it, it was wrong.

    I dated this guy who was hurt three times more
    than me. He too was a heresy hunter. He wanted everyone to listen to his
    preaching because he had it right. I saw my disgusting selfish pride in him. He
    taught me more about me than I cared to learn. I broke up with him. I wanted to
    break up with this part of me. So I began to pray dangerous prayers like
    “rid me of myself”, “make me like Jesus”, “humble
    me”, “tear down my pride”, and “break me so you can use me.”

    God worked in my heart to remove
    offense. One by one, I walked in forgiveness towards people. I also would
    encounter others from other backgrounds that helped me heal. I felt so hurt by
    one lady, every time I saw her I wanted to punch her in the face. God healed that. I forgave her. I got over
    offense. She even would speak accusation at me still to this day, and does
    every time she has the chance, but all I see is a hurting woman who loves God
    but can’t get beyond that hurt. Piety drapes her viciousness and hides daggers.
    Her daggers conceal hurt.

    It was less than almost two years ago
    when things clicked. Sitting near leaders at the Wild Goose conference drinking Patheos Punch, I began
    to think about forgiveness and offense. I came home and heard a sermon by an
    amazing woman of God on the subject. Like someone bent down near the bricks and
    grass, turned the spicket: I was flushed by water that renewed my soul.
    Suddenly, I felt like I could perceive my intentions before speaking. I knew
    the motives of my own heart. God’s love had healed me, and I no longer wanted
    to hurt anyone- even those who I perceived had hurt me. It was over. I felt so
    free.

    Within a month’s time, I was in
    trouble every other week for something I had said on Facebook about loving the
    LGBT community. I had missionaries in the Assemblies of God calling my district presbyter, and spies seemed to hide behind clouds everywhere I went. I had warnings to stop being so vocal about my love for people.
    I met up with my home pastor who was also a presbyter in my
    denomination. I spoke about my convictions through tears and in humility. He
    told me in love that my convictions would prevent me from serving in ministry.
    He told me I wouldn’t be allowed to stay in my denomination. I was ok with
    that. I just wanted him to know I loved him and loved people.

    I didn’t mind the communal shame.
    I really did not even want to convince him of my beliefs. I was no longer
    worried. I really felt like God had given me an identity that could not be
    shaken, even by the loss of community or approval from those who I desperately
    wanted to see me as more than a rebel, a drug user, or a sinner. I loved my old church. I grieved for days.
    They are such godly people. But I don’t have all the answers anymore. I am not
    sure about Hell. I know there is a trash
    pit somewhere outside the city. I know Jesus referenced it a lot. I am not sure
    anymore that people who love God outside of Christendom are going to Hell.
    Actually, I never believed that to begin with.

    I have met devout God-fearers who aren’t Christians.
    I am fine to say I believe they are children of God just like I. I really do
    not know what Jesus meant when he said I am the way, the truth, and the life. I
    think he meant follow his teachings and become like him. I do not read
    scripture as speaking out against monogamous queer relationships. I do see it
    speaking out against lust, a lack of hospitality, injustice, rape, arrogance,
    gluttony and pride. I don’t believe that speaking in tongues is the first
    evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

    I really don’t know a whole
    lot else but I do know Jesus Christ, bent time and space to come to purgatory,
    hell, psychosis, the afterlife, the grave, whatever to rescue me from the death that
    covered me after I had an overdose.

    I told him my life was his. I am following
    Jesus, and his teachings. I am going to
    love Queers, Atheists, Baha’i, Muslims, Jews, transgendered, Bikers, Goths,
    Lesbians, thespians, Seminarians, Pagans, Christians, and Christ-followers as
    much as I can.

  • Jerry Lynch

    Kim, your piece was one of the biggest and scariest roller coasters I have ever been on.

    • Jerry Lynch

      How do I avoid being plopped in no-man’s land when I post?

      The word “discernment” carries for me the import of being both unbiased and unprejudiced, having a purity of vision that could be called immaculate perception. There is no personal filter through which it must pass, thus bereft of the need to maintain, strengthen, and enhance one’s image and interest. It is of such undiluted clarity as to be utterly transparent. And therein is the problem: we need to muddy it ever so slightly to form a necessary image we can relate to. Perfect clarity of truth reveals nothing. We have no contrast or coloring. But the mud of our own understanding affords an approximation that we tend to naturally enshrine.

      That we believe there is something of truth to see, know, grasp, or understand keeps us in darkness. Truth is quicker than that. Anything including “I” or “mine” are weights to the soul; it cannot keep apace. There is no conversation about truth. Any conversation is beating around the bush. What bush? The burning bush: fully consumed, a burnt offering, has no refelction. It is not so much that truth is ineffable to describe as it is impossible to contemplate. Perhaps this helps: Integrity is beyond intent.

  • Y. A. Warren

    The Path to Peace on Earth
    Why do we, as humans, fear that which we can’t understand,

    And attempt to explain all Sacred within the limitations of man?
    As a mother, I am awed by what came to life within my being,
    Outside of the area of what I was, then, capable of seeing.

    I am saddened by human science’s belief that we are in control;
    It seems to diminish the cycle that makes each generation whole.
    Humanity used to know that there was a natural cycle, from birth,
    That continued to feed the universal Sacred cycles of our universe.

    We now feel that, in allowing our earthly natures to progress,
    We are somehow allowing our best of humanity to regress.
    If we really believed in an Omnipotent Power of the Universe,
    We’d believe that, at times, our earthly gains have to reverse.

    This is not to say that previous humans have summarily failed;
    It is simply that universal peace takes time, in order to prevail.
    The glory of universal peace among people, and our harmony,
    I will probably not be blessed enough, in my life, to see.

    This does not preclude my responsibility to add my voice
    In belief that peace among the nations of humanity is a choice.
    I live my life with an open mind, and an open heart and spirit,
    Hoping where there is The Sacred Spirit’s voice, we’ll hear it.

    Wherever I believe I hear instructions on the path to peace,
    I commit to a process, that in my singing it out, I will increase.
    I know that, in my mother’s and father’s faith, women don’t speak;
    I am weary that, in this way, only their voice of God, we seek.

    Their path to peace continues to defer to their ancestral past;
    I believe this was not meant to be Divine manifestation’s last.
    When will humankind have the faith in their own families to proceed;
    Joining the path of all humanity, where peace on earth will succeed?

    Peace, like in our own families, doesn’t mean we all agree.
    It means that we respect each others’ core humanity.
    We teach, by our own example, how we wish to be treated,
    Allowing, within each community, their own justice to be meted.

    Centuries of religious ritual can only be changed from within,
    But the telling of our own stories is a place for others to begin.
    I believe that this is the true purpose of the scriptures;
    To give stories of how others grew from historical strictures.

    The Sacred Spirit is in all humans; this we must project,
    Especially toward the innocent children we’re to protect.
    Fear and jealousy are not parts of The Sacred Spirit;
    If our lives say this loud enough, the universe will hear it.

  • tedseeber

    Welcome to The Spirit of Vatican II, Protestants.

    After reading all of emergence, I’m reminded of the predictions about what Tomorrow’s Catholic will believe- which invariably turn out to be what the hippie Catholic circa 1965-1976 believed.

    All of the doctrinal confusion, none of the traditional wisdom.

    • tedseeber

      Darn, they took down the roller skating circus angels of the Solemnity of Mary from that Catholic church in Brazil, I meant to post a link here but I can’t find it on Youtube anymore. Now I need a new poster child for liturgical abuse. Somehow, half-naked pre-teen balerinas doing liturgical dance doesn’t quite cut it for me anymore.

  • http://www.michaelcarino.com/ Mike

    This Emergent Christianity is both disturbing and fascinating. I want to listen some more.


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