Doug Pagitt’s A Christianity Worth Believing (Live Occurrence)

When I was in fifth grade, I got kicked out of Sunday School class. It was a simple telling of the story of Noah’s ark. The flannel graph had a huge boat on it, several animals popping out of it. A smiling Noah under a now beaming sun; a tranquil boat ride scene, the ark drifting on calm waters. My teacher took issue with me adding floating bodies to the surface of the water.

The second time I was asked to be quiet at the church I was attending, it was because the church was having a debate on the issue of baptism. Not whether folks should be baptized, but whether they should be dipped one time or three (the conservatives, the three dippers, were defending the truth against those lackadaisical, anything goes liberal one dippers). I pointed out that while we were having this debate, I was hurting, I had questions, my life was spinning out of control; there were poor not being served and loved that were our neighbors to the west but because they didn’t look like the majority of the church and made them uncomfortable (coincidently, they looked a lot like me), the church didn’t reach out to them.

Apparently I derive from the same tribe of Doug Pagitt’s contrarians.

Full of questions, doubt, and conflict, we wonder if there’s room for us at church as it has largely lost its role as a safe place to ask questions. In a world more worried about production and attendance (“giving units”) and sermons and bottom lines, there’s little room for the eclectic, the square pegs for the round holes reserved for pew potatoes anxious to hear the latest bit of ear tickling, as we’re written off as trouble makers or drama bringers.

So we’re left struggling to make sense of Christianity in our cultural context, in our time. Looking for narrative not formula, as narrative transcends systematics; with theology being the adapter unit between the narrative and our time/culture, making sense of the story, not being the point of the story.

We need to participate in some narrative therapy.

Hearing the Good News that we are beautiful and wonder and made in the image of God. People of worth. That we’re not quite whole, our feelings, spirit, will, and mind not working in concert as they should, with sin disintegrating what’s normal and desired, unraveling our lives and goodness.

Jesus went to those caught up in sin, because sin was its own punishment. He offered a way of life to free us from sin and bring healing and wholeness. Reminding us that we are more than our misdeeds and struggles, we’re still healing and still becoming. But we can live up to who we are, our true humanity, the image of God. He says that the kingdom of God is at hand and we need to join in with what God is already doing as he restores His creation. And he brings the Good News that life will win over death, that God is active in our present reality. That we don’t know how everything will play out, but we live in a state of hope.

Thanks for the reminder, Doug.

Hanging Out at the Earth House

Looks like I’ll be spending a few days down at the Lockerbie Central UMC/Earth House this week. First, Doug Pagitt will be returning to Indianapolis this Monday as a part of his A Christianity Worth Believing book tour.

Description: Part revival/book reading/hootenanny/communal gathering, Doug Pagitt and Erik Johnson are spreading the Hope-filled, Open-armed, Alive and Well faith in homes, churches, bars, coffee shops and public meeting spaces around the country.

Live Occurrences are part one-man show (even though there are two of them), part revival, part book reading, part hootenanny, and part communal gathering. The 2-hour Live Occurrences include readings from the book, music – original and covers, video, spoken-word poetry, impassioned invitations to be part of the common good. Live Occurrences are specially formulated for the Left-out, Left-behind and Let-down, and will be suitable for one and all regardless of background.

(For those on my local friends list, come down a little early, say 4:00 p.m.-ish, to help set up and hang out.)

Monday, July 20, 2009
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Lockerbie Central UMC/ Earth House
237 N. East St
Indianapolis, IN

Do the Right Thing Turns 20!

I tweeted about this a month or so back and the fellas down at Lockerbie Central UMC/Earth House decided that it was momentus enough an occasion to rate its own special screening. Not only did President Barack and Michelle Obama see this movie on their first date, but the movie played an important role in my personal and spiritual journey.

Description: It’s the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can … Do the Right Thing.

Directed by visionary filmmaker Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing is one of the most thought-provoking and groundbreaking films of the last 20 years. The controversial story centers around one scorching inner-city day, when racial tensions reach the boiling point in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood.

It’ll be a good week. Come Join Us!

Revival is at Hand Tonight!

It’s been a busy week. Besides the wedding thing, I also attended the The Church Basement Roadshow: A Rollin’ Gospel Revival at Lockerbie Central.

Dragging some members of Team Broaddus along, I got a chance to hang out (and by “hang out” I mean they made Lauren and I dress up) with Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, and Mark A. Scandrette who have been touring the country in a friend’s RV to talk about their latest books. To do so in an original way, they put together a 90 minute show where they connect themselves to alter egos who existed in 1908.

A hundred years ago was another time of great innovation and change, a time of ideas and questions. Technology was changing rapidly with advances in transportation and communication. Science was moving far faster than we could figure out its ramifications. Sixty per cent of the wealth in the country was controlled by two per cent of the population.

And people were trying to figure out how the historic Christian faith met the contemporary society.

Dressing up as old-time revivalists, they presented a simple message. There are moments when we feel our souls wake up, that starts us on a path to … something. We react to a realization that God is active in the world and we are out of sync with His agenda. We long for a real encounter with God, a relational connection, yet we’re often force-fed a “one size fits all” brand of faith. So we’re left to wonder what to do with our faith questions and thoughts about God if they don’t fit into the mold so often presented to us.

Part beat poetry, part tent revival, part story-telling circle, the crowd—used to manipulative, overwrought sales pitch type presentations—got into the irony of the revival meeting. So maybe using campy elements were a good way to touch folks too jaded for their own good.

I loved the selling of the “Balm of Gilead” snake oil, though I was the victim of an amateur anointing. (On the positive side, there were these junior high school kids who asked if the balm really worked. I told them “yeah, it cured me of my whiteness.”) Plus I got to rock my new Alex Ross designed Obama T-shirt.

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