Missional Conversations with … Anthony Smith

Missional Conversations with … Anthony Smith February 7, 2012

I’m excited to be able to share my recent interview with Anthony Smith (a.k.a. Postmodern Negro). February is, after all, African American History Month, and, I must confess, Anthony was my first real African American friend, who has taught me much of what I now know about black history and my own white privilege. I’m deeply indebted to him for that!

Anthony has been a great friend for the past seven years, and I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with him in several projects since that time. We did a podcast together (along with Rod Garvin) called “Practicing Pentecost” for the Wired Parish Network. We’ve shared leadership in the Charlotte Emergent Cohort group, and we’ve both been on the Leadership Team for TransFORM Network since its inception in 2009.

Directly following last month’s #missionalchat (see more below), Anthony sat down with me for a Skype videochat interview. It was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 16), and Anthony spoke about his own personal family connection to Dr. King, as well as Dr. King’s larger legacy and influence on Anthony’s own missional activity through Mission House in Salisbury, North Carolina. Here’s that interview:

Last month, Anthony was my guest on #missionalchat on Twitter, which I’m doing on the third Monday of each month.* Here are some of the tweet-length highlights from Anthony Smith during our #missionalchat:

“[Dr.] King talked about being maladjusted to injustice, especially in a world where we are often instinctually attuned to it. Being missional is about becoming maladjusted to the brokeness in creation. …

“Justice and missional go hand-in-hand for me. Of course, justice is not the goal for me. Justice points to something greater. Seeking and embodying justice is the same as being missional. The goal or telos, of course, is human flourishing. …

“In the garden, humans are flourishing. In our world, humans make desolate places. Missional folks turn deserts in to gardens. To be missional is to be collaborators with God in bringing about flourishing in my neighborhood, on my block. …

“Anything that teaches me how to get into the marrow of my community for goodness I pretty much consider missional. Right now I’m reading Jonah Lehrer and Ken Robinson. Of course, this all started from reading the Gospel of Mark last year. The Gospels will take you to crazy places. Mark’s Gospel is teaching me about missionality and the necessity of repentance within current social political arrangements. …

“I’ve been thinking about how missional communities can be spiritual midwives for a post-industrial global world. I know many missional folks use exile, but in my context exodus is still an apt image. To be in exile assumes you have already left Egypt and are now in Babylon. But many are still in Egypt. Leaving Egypt is a difficult thing.”

*Tune into #missionalchat on Twitter on Monday, February 20 for a discussion with Chris Smith (@ERBks) about his new e-book The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation As A Hopeful Practice of Church Communities (from Patheos Press).

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  • Joy Schroeder

    I love you guys…and have learned so much from both of you! I hope one day Emerging Desert and your various cohorts and spiritual communities can try some cross country…cross cultural experiments and collaborate together in the kingdom for all kinds of goodness.

  • Thanks, Joy! We love you too. How does Denver in September sound? Close enough for you? or no?

  • Love you too Joy. I know this is late but I just saw this comment. Pray all is well with you all in the Desert!