Saturday, November 03, 2012

Jesus As President: A Peculiar Party, part four of our Sunday morning conversations

Jesus as President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals, Part Four Conversation: A Peculiar Party, Nov. 3, 2012

1.     Jesus is forming a new kind of people, a different kind of party (than what we think of as political parties). The church is not simply suggesting political alternatives. The church is embodying one. (can’t legislate love; can keep people breathing longer, but that doesn’t mean they are truly alive; can have all the affordable housing in the world, which is good, but still might not have homes).

2.     We live not according to what works but according to the way God is. Not expected to have everything turn out right, but as G.K. Chesterton said, called to be “completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” We are to be the spittin’ image of Jesus. As Emperor Julian said, “Those godless Christians feed our poor in addition to their own.”

3.     Church the place where we can grapple with the difficult questions and issue with grace and humility. To disagree well. To get political not on the Empire’s terms, as division, but in Christ’s terms to focus on relationships. Not if church is political but how it is political: example not whether or not pro-life, but how you honor life?

4.     Are we in exile again, a part of an Empire either occupied our culture or carried us away from it to its own center? Look to how Israel was to act: even though aliens and strangers to still make a home in the midst of the new land, to care for one another, to pray not only to the Lord but also for the place they found themselves. Be peaceful presences wherever they were. Be relevant noncomformists, not fitting in to the triumphalist militant Christianity.

5.     Be Peculiar: robbers entered a cathedral and demanded a bishop give them the riches of the church, so he went to the shelter and gathered up the poor and said here these are the riches of the church; the robbers went away empty-handed. Luke 14: when you throw a feast don’t invite your friends, invite the poor. Being peculiar means they may not last long in some jobs: activist-theologian Brian Walsh said “A Christian can hold any job. But if they act as Christians, they will simply need to be ready to be fired within a few weeks. Robotics engineer who designs machines to dismantle landmines not make them; massage therapist who could make more money giving comfort to the wealthy but lives near the poor and gives comfort to their feet. Another couple started a tap water bottle mand the proceeds go to getting access to clean water in the world without it. These are everyday miracles, examples of politics by ordinary radicals. You can’t overestimate the radical character of these decisions being the change we seek to see in the world. (what change do you seek?)

6.     Growing food, supporting farmers, teaching kids to eat healthy. Visiting prisoners, combatting the prison industry; make streets safer with presence, beautifying; helping the elders; making your own stuff, and clothes; different approach to security (if we do not store up treasures we do not fear theft); respond to thieves by keeping them in relationship, paying back with kindness; create shared ownership and lending instead of individual ownership; being nonviolent; practice forgiveness and reconciliation (which includes accountability) in face of evil. Worried about the hell people are in on earth now in their lives, and like Jesus don’t focus on hell but on God’s love; few places Jesus talks about hell is for those who don’t care for the least of these….Should we be more afraid of the inner city or the suburbs, of what happens to bodies or what happens to our soul? In gated communities we create our own locked-in hell…being willing to bend or break laws that keep us from being with the poor and homeless, feeding them in parks as communion….in Atlanta where there were no public restrooms and homeless were being arrested for peeing in public spaces, Christians organized Pee For Free With Dignity and marched to city hall to get public restrooms. They did it nonviolently. Being creative in response: Voices in Wilderness was fined $20,000 for taking medications into Iraq ahead of and during the war; they paid the fine with Iraq money that equaled that amount of US dollars in 1991 but was only worth $8 by 2005….Because the simple way had so many unrelated people living under its roof it was said to be breaking the law and was labeled a “brothel.”

7.     Alternative economics, the theology of enough. The relational tithe movement. Volunteering for the community earns tokens that can be traded in for things grown or provided by the community (a way of doing events); An event for practical living: workshops on cooking, gardening, sewing, fishing, building, etc….We need new celebrations too; anti-Black Friday, different kind of Christmas, etc.  Different kinds of ritual: jointly held communion services during Los Posadas on both sides of the US Mexico border where they can hear each other…The Litany of Resistance and Confession; see

8.     Vote everyday with your feet, with your lives. Story of those who asked those who couldn’t vote, immigrants, some felons, who they wanted them to vote for, held forums with them on candidates and issues, and then voted for them, were their voice.

9.     There are endless ways to engage politically. We just need imagination and courage.

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