communionism

communionism

What if the “do this” part of Jesus’ communion command was about something much more difficult than just being grateful that someone else had to die to bring the world together, around a table, to remember that all of life is sacred, not just the parts that are overseen by people speaking solemnly about bread in funny robes? 

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Consider yourself commissioned: a few thoughts on the CBF General Assembly

Consider yourself commissioned: a few thoughts on the CBF General Assembly

If we persist in handing the reins of our organization to institutional managers who remain befuddled at the world’s increasing disinterest in the managerial tasks they were taught to organize, oversee, and rally volunteers to, we will continue to endlessly argue about identity politics and designated budgetary line items, as well as anxiously competing with one another for the remaining shreds of power and ecclesial prestige at the top end of our sinking ship until the whole thing slides under the water. 

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depression has me (and you, too).

depression has me (and you, too).

Depression is the light on our dashboard warning us that our soul is leaking coolant, and that if we don’t pull over and call for help things will only get worse from here on out. Maybe to a point where we can’t fix what’s wrong.

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The Kids Aren't Alright (but they could be)

The Kids Aren't Alright (but they could be)

Millennials simply embody the symptomology of a “hyperventilating” religious-industrial complex predicated on the belief that the Judeo-Christian God blesses the faithful with monetary (and existential) security forever and ever, amen.

“Faithless Millennials” are the American church’s future and its present.

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living, breathing bottle rockets.

living, breathing bottle rockets.

When I see people sign up for careers in the “helping professions,” as they are (sometimes pejoratively) known, I want to host not only a graduation ceremony in their honor, but an ordination service as well. Because when people choose to practice solidarity with the least, and the weakest, and the hungriest, and the youngest, and the oldest, and the sickest, knowing that they’re putting their own futures and health and children at risk in the doing, they should be reminded that their very presence calls into question an entire religious system built on the idea that God is the Free Market.

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bodies in motion.

bodies in motion.

If you thought you could be “just a pastor” without probing the mysteries of what it means to be alive, to have a pulse, to dance whenever T.Swift gets played at the reception, to split up, to give birth, to die, and to be able to add to the conversation about why any of this matters at all to people just trying to pay down their student loans, I know both a good book and a decent therapist who can disabuse you of that idea rather quickly.

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The Poor Don't Have Podcasts.

The Poor Don't Have Podcasts.

Listening to wealthy people wax poetic about a God who walked the Earth in poverty won’t ever be the future of Christianity, it will only be its past again and again and again, until isn’t even that anymore.

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the saving power of never getting what you always wanted.

the saving power of never getting what you always wanted.

Easter reminds us that Christianity is a miserable failure, it leaks, and swears when it drops a flashlight on its foot when the power suddenly goes out, it makes weird faces in family photos, and gets uncomfortably honest about its break-ups after too much wine at your cousin’s wedding reception. It sometimes seems like it’s barely hanging on, but it never gives up, even when it has every reason to, even when it stops breathing for three days. 

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how (not) to save your church.

how (not) to save your church.

Institutional anxiety is why churches never ask any new questions, or come up with never-tried-before ideas, or listen to new people, or young people, or poor people, or marginalized people, because, in a state of crisis and reactivity, an institution can only go backwards into the annals of shared memory to produce a response to the current stressor (and when the historical records never made space for black folk, women folk or LGBTQ folk it’s not hard to see why including them now doesn’t make sense to them).

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non-anxious pastoring in a world of scarcity.

non-anxious pastoring in a world of scarcity.

At no other point in our lives than when we're empathically staring down a hurricane force meltdown by something we inexplicably love on a cellular level can we know more about what it means when the scriptures remind us that God is our Parent and our Partner and our Priest and our Prophet and our Spirit and our Soul and our Strength and our Savior and our Friend and the one thing that refuses to give up on us, even when we've soiled ourselves yet again. 

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how (not) to be a pastor: a confession of sorts.

how (not) to be a pastor: a confession of sorts.

The failure of a church, at least according to the belief system baked into our American religiosity, is the personal failure of a pastor. As I’ve seen more and more of my friends (or myself) occupationally self-immolate in the face of institutional malaise, I’ve been wondering if the problem for most of us clergy folk is rooted in something a bit more elemental than a lack of training in millennial worship preferences and successfully interacting with people on your church Facebook page. 

What if we’ve completely misunderstood empathy?

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rumspringa.

rumspringa.

Christianity's weirdness, is found not in the talking snakes or flames from heaven, but in the way it invites ordinary religious folks to redemptively treat the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, the tax collector, the hawks of war, the enslaved, the oppressed, and that demon possessed uncle you have in finance...on the other side of whatever usual religious practice their context dictated them to undertake. 

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happy holy-days.

happy holy-days.

At some point, I found that I have become the kind of person who says “happy holidays," not because I’ve traded in my Christian spirituality for that NPR tote-bag they hand out to everyone willing to self-identify as “agnostic and looking" during freshman orientation at your super liberal undergrad, but because “Merry Christmas” no longer means an interruption to violence parading as the only way to peace, it now actually means the very perpetuance of violence and partisan rhetoric parading as the only way to peace. 

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on sound, fury, and #schiaNO: how Knoxville and Tennessee football burned to the ground in an afternoon

on sound, fury, and #schiaNO: how Knoxville and Tennessee football burned to the ground in an afternoon

Regardless of the fanbase’s motivations for self-immolating at the news of Greg Schiano being named as the next Tennessee football coach, they did. And, for maybe the first time in college football history, a cabal of aloof, wealthy white people who run things for the rest of us plebeians paying 100 dollars for the pleasure of sitting inside wet plastic bags during a monsoon while our team loses by 3 touchdowns, relented

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almost advent: or how to give what you never got.

almost advent: or how to give what you never got.

When your life is about mitigating someone else’s pain you didn’t cause, it scars the universe by robbing all of us of the gift of who you are and what you’re here to do. If we’re going to make it as a civilization, we need all of you, not just the moldy leftovers. Which may also be why, counterintuitively, the only answer worth giving in the face of repetitive violence, cynicism, and pain isn’t superhuman strength, or resolve, or even a particularly astute psychotherapist, it’s the birth of a baby. 

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sometimes God's name is Brent.

sometimes God's name is Brent.

God's name, God's essence, God’s concrete realness is found not in the burying of our pain and baggage in the name of good religious marketing, but in their unearthing and enfleshing and sacrificial bearing for the liberation of others.

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the pain is authentic: or why mid 2000s christian hardcore music is for lovers.

the pain is authentic: or why mid 2000s christian hardcore music is for lovers.

For too long, too many of us have spent our lives in relationships, systems, jobs, churches, families, and institutions that have convinced us that who they are, and what they believe, and what they do is worthy of our death. That salvation is somehow inextricably bound up in their maintenance and influence and ongoing power, and if we want to “make it” (whatever that might mean for your world), we best swallow our pride, and our spirit, and those weird parts of us that stick up no matter the amount of hair gel we use. 

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