Neo Monastic Bloggerama list

March 31, 2007

Chris at Transfiguration Community has started a neo monastic list meme.  Copy the list and add some to it…make sure you go to Chris’ blog and let him know of your additions.

Coming to the Quiet
Bryan Sherwood
Alan Creech
Christianity Today The New Monasticism
Houston Catholic The New Lay Monasticism!
The New Lay Monasticism
Fides Quaerens Intellectum, Credo Ut Intellegam
Elm Grove Community
Jerusalem Communities
The Grandchamps Community
Brothers and Sisters of Saint John.
Beatitudes Community
Until Translucent
Vineyard Central
the simple way
Abbey Way
the ashram (Communality)
Greensboro Abbey
Reba Place
Community of Celebration
Community of Jesus
Steve Taylor
Brothers and Sisters of Charity
Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey
International Lay Cistercians

Here are my additions:

Missio Dei (forgive my self promotion)
Monkfish Abbey

Mistakes in Narrating the Gospel

March 30, 2007

Scot McKnight has some wonderfully practical thoughts on how to articulate the Gospel meaningfully in our world:

1. Avoid beginning with the story of the Fall; begin with humans as Eikons in Genesis 1 before we get to the “cracked Eikons” of Genesis 3.

2. Avoid skipping from Genesis 3 to Romans 3: the story of covenant, Israel, and Law are inherent to the story of God.

3. Avoid thinking all problems are solved on Good Friday: we need the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to resolve the problem of the “cracked Eikon.”

4. Avoid defining sin as merely guilt for offending law; sin is rebellion against God manifested in four directions — against God, self, others, and the external world.

5. Avoid thinking convincing of guilt comes before casting the kingdom vision of Jesus.

6. Avoid rooting the gospel in a God of anger and wrath instead of rooting the gospel in the perichoretic Trinitarian God who seeks to draw us into that dance.

7. Avoid resolving the problem in one direction — with God — instead of resolving the problem in all four directions.

The only thing I’d add is that we must avoid talking about the Gospel in primarily the past tense.  We must share the Gospel as eschatological (the future inbreaking of perfect shalom) hope, as well as to embody and narrate all the radical ways in which Christ is present in our midst.  After all, the Good News is the Kingdom reality–which is Christ’s presence and reign as King.  And that reality is an in-breaking eschatological reality.

the Anarchist Love Train

March 28, 2007

For a while, we’ve been scheming about converting a van into a sort of mobile soup-kitchen.  We’ll call it the “Anarchist Love Train.”  The idea is to go out twice a week for a few hours at a time, feeding folks in the metro Twin Cities.  If we hit the same places each week at roughly the same time, we’re hoping that people will anticipate our arrival and eat some of our food.  Call it a missional soup kitchen.

We need to find a big enough van (preferably of the sort that one can stand up in), and a way to power cooling/heating elements.  A propane stove would work with proper ventilation, but I don’t know how to wire it for a fridge…I’m assuming we’d need to do something heavier-duty than connecting it to the battery.

Missio Dei could probably cover the cost of insurance, and I have no doubt we could cover the food costs…but the cost of the van and equipment, and the engineering to convert the vehicle into a mobile soup kitchen will require some outside help. 

Do any of you have an old van that runs that they’d be willing to sell for cheap?

Do any of you have the know-how required to make the van into a kitchen?

Church and State pt 6: initial explorations of practical implications

March 28, 2007

Christian Anarchism is an ETHICAL/POLITICAL position. In other words, Christian Anarchism is a way of life–a way of living and moving in the world–a way of relating to the State–a way of being the Church in our World. Saying we have allegiance to Jesus over (and against) the State and that we follow in his radical politic requires action. It requires that we name the plague and take steps to respond to it in a Kingdom way.Often, this may align with the goals of the State. I don’t reject the possiblity of using the governmental system–but we must do so as though it were not our own. We are truly foreigners in a strange land. We must act accordingly. We must hold these things in tension:

  1. We must love the nation in which we live, as we are called to love our enemy (Romans 12-13).
  2. We must resist the principalities and powers as they are made manifest in the nation in which we live (Ephesians 6).
  3. We must forsake violence and rebellion in our resistance (Matthew 5, Romans 13), instead seeking to live at peace as much as it is up to us.
  4. Our driving ethic should NOT be one of resistance. Instead, we should strive to live in the Kingdom of God. Insodoing, we must resist the State as it offers a competing (often destructive) story and ethic.


Does this mean we shouldn’t vote?

I don’t vote. I don’t like being forced to choose the lesser of two evils. I recognize, however, that one can never successfully extricate one’s self from the governmental/economic/political system in this nation. Here I agree with my friend David, who says that we need to develop spiritual disciplines for faithful enagement within the system. We’d disagree on what this looks like (since he isn’t a Christian Anarchist). To me it includes non-voting (the ideal is to actually go to the polls and register a no-vote). Voting is the biggest intentional way in which Americans affirm the current political system. To vote is to put faith in the change that can come through American Democracy. It is ultimately about having power over others–a power that carries coercive force. Others may disagree with my assessment…and I think it is theoretically possible to be a Christian Anarchist and vote (just like it is possible to be a Christian Anarchist and buy a lottery ticket). Whether we like it or not, we’re enmeshed within the system. We must make thoughful attempts to live counter-culturally, thoughtful (and often strategic attempts) to seperate ourselves from the system, and thoughtful attempts to speak prophetically into the system. But must only do so AS Kingdom people.

What about lobbying? Protesting?

I actually think lobbying and protesting are better actions than voting. Voting seems like more of an “internal” way of bringing change, whereas lobbying and protesting (especially protesting) are more external. A good rule of thumb (in my warped mind) is “the measure to which an Irishman can engage in the American political system is the measure to which a Christian can engage in the American political system.” Since the Irish can protest and lobby, so can I. Both Christians and the Irish assume they are outsiders in the American governmental system.

As Christian, we can protest and lobby as Christians in a profoundly prophetic way without compromising our convictions. And I firmly believe that lobbying and protesting are much more compelling ways of changing society than voting. Martin Luther King Jr. is a good example of this.

Should we pay taxes?

Yes. Some have argued that we are under no obligation to pay taxes. They argue that we should never RESIST tax collectors, but we shouldn’t offer up our taxes. I don’t buy it. I think we should pay taxes out of our call to live at peace as much as we are able. I’m open to challenge on this, however. Who wouldn’t like to keep 30% of their income and give it directly to those in need?

Should we receive government benefits (health care, etc.)?

Ahhh…this is a sticky one. In my mind, the church has so failed to care for its own and given up its functions to the State to such an extent that it is cruel to expect Christians to refuse state-provided healthcare and benefits. Thankfully, there are alternatives (like Medi-Share or Health Democracy). There are some problems with these alternatives, however. I pray that the Church provides better alternatives.

More implications to come…

Lovey Dovey with Emerging

March 26, 2007

Brother Maynard has instegated a meme.  The idea is to start with his list of the most under-appreciated, unfortunately neglected emerging/missional blogs and add them to his list.  His listed started with the top five…and by the time I got a hold of the growing list (from re-dreaming the dream), it had grown to the list you see below.  The last five in the list are my addition:

  • Emerging Grace
  • Robbymac
  • Lily
  • Nathan Colquhoun
  • John Smulo
  • Todd Hiestand
  • Theopraxis
  • Chuck Warnock
  • John Lunt
  • Webb Kline
  • Mark Wilson
  • Rick Meigs
  • Brother Maynard
  • MakDaddy
  • Glenn Hager
  • Paul Mayers
  • Jamie Swann
  • Paul Walker
  • Jerry Frear
  • Phil Wyman
  • Rainer Halonen
  • Shannon
  • Matt Stone
  • Erika Haub
  • John Santic
  • Colin Lamm
  • Julie Clawson
  • Kevin Shinn
  • Alien Drums
  • Aaron Monts
  • Holly Dolezalek
  • Mark Van Steenwyk
  • Geoff Holsclaw
  • David Fitch
  • Graham Old
  • Mark Scandrette
  • Jeff Gauss

To participate, copy this list into a new post on your own blog, and add the names you have to the bottom of the list, and encourage others to do the same. It could get fairly long, but that’s part of the point — helping us all discover those undervalued blog’s profile. Include these instructions with your post. When you’ve done that, leave a comment at Brother Maynard’s blog so he can keep track of who ends up participating.

In a related note…I’ve realized that my blog is actually more popular than Technorati thinks it is.  It tells me that only 45 people link to  However, 35 people still link to my old blog site (which automatically redirects to Jesus Manifesto now.  On top of that, 9 people still link to my old old blog,  So, I actually have 89 links instead of the seeming 45.  I just thought I’d clarify so that you’d know that my blog is only MOSTLY obscure, rather than TOTALLY obscure.  :)

New Monasticism at the Twin Cities Parade of Churches

March 26, 2007

Jan Bros and I will be doing a seminar together on New Monasticism this summer at the Emergent Village sponsored Parade of Churches. Here’s the info:

New Monasticism: Emerging Explorations of Ancient Paths
In this two-session seminar, Jan Bros and Mark Van Steenwyk will share the ways in which new communities are drawing upon ancient wisdom to embody the Gospel in Postmodern America. Growing discontentment with consumer religion and church-as-usual has awakened a hunger for a lived-in-faith with deep spiritual rhythms. The first session will draw upon the Benedictine-infused experiences of Abbey Way Covenant Church in Northeast Minneapolis (Jan’s community). The second session will draw upon the Franciscan-flavored efforts of Missio Dei in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis (Mark’s community).

The Parade of Churches promises to be an innovative and exciting event; it is like a gigantic immersion experience in the emerging church and contextual ecclesiology. The Twin Cities has a disproportionate amount of emerging churches. Five communities will host five different days of the conference. Each day will end with a worship gathering at those five churches. Others of us will be leading seminars and hosting confessional cohorts.

This is both a national event for emerging folks, but also a local onramp for Twin Cities churchfolk. Register today!

Project Chompa

March 22, 2007

As summer approaches in the United States, winter approaches in Peru. Every year, children in the mountainous region of Pasco, Peru fight against the cold as they make their way to school. We’d like to help these children stay warm through the winter. In Peru, children wear thick, warm woolen sweaters called chompas to stay warm.

In about a month, Missio Dei members Josh and Carmen Ellens (along with their baby Mateo) are going to visit Carmen’s parents in Lima, Peru (Carmen is Peruvian). While they’re there, they will visit her father’s home region, Pasco. Josh and Carmen would like to buy as many chompas as possible while they’re in Peru and then bring them to Pasco to give to school children. A good quality chompa costs $5 in Lima.

We’re asking for you help. We’d like to buy as many chompas as possible for these children. We’re asking for everyone we know to give at least $5. But give as much as you can.

Please visit the Project Chompa Page at Missio Dei’s website to give. And as a favor to me, it would help if you spread the word through your blogs/websites.

On Dumpster Diving

March 22, 2007

I think every Christian should consume something out of a dumpster at one point in their life. Even better–I think every Christian should be caught for consuming something out of a dumpster at one point in their life.

The other day, Josh and I were liberating some bread from a dumpster. The manager or owner of the place saw us and started scolding us…telling us that “if we’re hungry there is a food shelf at ‘that church over there.’” I’m not upset at the guy for yelling at us. Bakeries and grocery stores and other food-related businesses may be liable if someone eats something from their dumpsters and they get sick. What I was most surprised by was the profound shame I felt upon realizing that this man thought that I was homeless and hungry. For a few seconds I felt embarassed and ashamed (not out of guilt for liberating dumpster bread, but on account of being accused of homelessness and hunger).

I’m sure some of you think it is stupid and/or silly for me to have been retrieving bread from a dumpster. After all, I can simply buy bread from a store. And I may be able to have food given to us by the bakery (day old bread donations). But we decided to dumpster dive for bread as a holy experiment. We wanted to get this perfectly good bread and eat it because there was nothing wrong with it…and because we wanted to reduce waste. In a way it was a symbolic at of simple, humble defiance.

In the future, we will be asking folks for bread (day old donations), but there are some things that we’ll probably continue to liberate from dumpsters (like Naked Juice). The other day, Josh acquired almost 150 bottles of the stuff that had just expired, or was just about to expire. In a land of extreme waste, we liberated the juice and have been distributing it. The nutrition in that juice would be better used feeding the poorly-nourished and underfed instead of feeding dumpsters.

Book of Prayer Bummer

March 20, 2007

IVP passed upon my proposal for a neo monastic book of prayer.  They said:

I’m able to get back to you on your proposal.  It is nicely done and has many appealing elements. And we obviously have publishing interest in the new monastic movement as evidenced by some of our recent books.

As we discussed it here, we were aware that we’ve done very little, however, of the sort of thing you propose. The closest thing to it is something we’ve got coming out this spring called the Ancient Christian Devotional.  It spins off of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture.  In any case, we felt that this area was a bit too new for us and that we should proceed cautiously.  So we have decided to pass on the opportunity to publish this book with you.

Thanks so much for coming to us with the idea. We do appreciate it.

I’m going to pitch the book of prayer to other publishers now.  Any recommendations?

On Church Budgets

March 20, 2007

On Sunday, Missio Dei continued its reboot process by talking about church finances. One of the things that we decided was to never have more than 49% of our church finances go towards staff and facilities. This isn’t to say that it is evil to spend most of your resources on such things. However, we have drawn a line in order to reinforce our convictions as well as to challenge the common church practice of spending most church resources on a few “holy” people and an unter-utilized “holy” building. Instead, most of our resources will go towards hospitality: foodstuffs, help for people in transition, training and education, etc.

I think that this will be harder than we think…to really do church budgeting in a way that subverts the norm.  Any good ideas about the sorts of things we can include in our budget?

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