Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I don't know squat

So, I'm back to the blog after a month + hiatus. I went to a meeting of Claiming Justice over at the seminary tonight. We discussed upcoming opportunities for claiming justice in our community and in the nation. We heard from two of the Campbell scholars who are on campus right now talking about a world of religious violence. I was struck by the fact that both speakers, one from Indonesia, and one from Lebanon, said that the Muslim world had interpreted the war in Iraq as a Crusade initiated by our outspoken Christian President. I guess that doesn't surprise me, but it ought to make us think about how the world views us. I'm so tired of the attitude of, "Those people over there are so glad we've come to liberate them and show them the way of freedom and justice." What a bunch of bullshit.
As the second speaker (from Lebanon) was talking, I was reminded of how ignorant I really am when it comes to world politics, especially in the middle east. He was explaining the difference between Shiite and Suni Muslims, which, as it turns out goes back oh, 1400 years or so. Funny (translated as sad) that we think we're going to into that region of the world and fix everything by bringing them our westernized democracy. He also spoke to the damage done by christian missionaries who went to the middle east and basically stole members away from ancient Christian churches that were already present. Anyway, I really should take more time to read world history and understand how current situations have come about around the world.
I just finished reading Reimagining Spiritual Formation by Doug Paggitt. It's an interesting look at a Christian community that he pastors in Minneapolis, MN. His bases most of his stuff on Christians trying to seek the Kingdom of God in the present. I enjoyed most of his ideas, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to reject wholesale the idea that there's some information that's helpful to share with people and that can actually impact faith formation. While Paggitt acknowledges the need to build on the traditions of "the saints," he seems overly reticent to rely on too much tradition. While I understand that he wants to make church relevant to contemporary situations and contemporary people, I wonder if we might recognize that some people walking in the door feel an attachment to some traditions, and that just because something's old, doesn't mean it doesn't speak to the situations and people of today. I thought it was interesting that one of the journals he included was a man who repeatedly voiced his desire to experience some high church from time to time. Of course, this book was better for me as I was able to think about Mosaic...how Solomon's Porch was similar or disimilar to my experience in Little Five Points, ATL. It's definitely reminded me of the strong community I felt there and inspired me to go back this Sunday and try to reconnect with some of those folks and maybe get more involved in the community there. This may be one of my only opportunities to experience this emergent church stuff when financial/life risks are at a minimum. Boy, that sounds shallow, but it makes sense in my head.
Finally, as I think more about Claiming Justice, I wonder if a bunch of white, middle-upper class seminarians sitting in an excluded room of Richards Center is really what Kingdom building is all about. I wonder how many people in the room get involved beyond marches and on campus vigils. Are we really doing any good by sitting around and talking about it, especially with those who think like we do? I wonder about folks who pass up volunteer opportunities because it just doesn't fit into their schedule, or because it messes up their sleep patterns for too many days. I mean, I'm not saying that I'm much better, but it just strikes me as funny that we sit around reading books about empire and the principalities and powers while we are basically part of the empire, principalities, and powers. There's a tension there I'm struggling to resolve.