Look at #HarryPotter, (with help from Diana Butler Bass) and Christ & Culture

I have an ongoing theory about where religion is going….

It happily matches Diana Butler Bass’s, though is from a differing perspective

In undergrad I got a BA in Hist and Engl and (almost) a minor in Philosophy…but really, I was studying fairy tales & fantasy. I did my thesis on that.

Then in seminary, I would sneak off and read fantasy and try to study Lewis and L’engle on the side, of course taking Osmer’s Fantasy class (I got to help with the reading list that year) YAY!

So….I’ve noticed how fantasy is not only the sort of fiction our souls need, as the inklings theorized, but also that its mirroring of spirituality is amazing.

Here is the thesis in a nutshell: Fairy Tales did not exist before Christ, before that there was no forgiving God, no happily ever after. (Cupid and Psyche is simultaneously the last myth, the first fairy tale)

There the idea of Human Progress and Mythic Recess. Science was on the move, Oz has to be hidden, Narnia can’t be find, the Elves are leaving in Tolkien.

Science is taking over there is no room for magic/religion

We are now, in 2015, witnessing the Harry Potter generation coming into adulthood. If I am at the beginning of the millennial time (I was born in 83), then my sister (born in 93) and graduating from undergrad this year, I think will be the end of it, and the beginning of the new generation. How can it not? The economics have changed, religion has changed, rights have changed….read Diana Butler Bass’s book Christianity after Religion for more.

This Harry Potter generation read about Muggles and Wizardfolk. Side by side, intertwined. The magic is hard to find, but once you discover it, it parallels and is (and as it turns out has been) integrated into “regular” life. Urban fantasy, by the likes Charlaine Harris &

I feel this is a signal to where religion/faith is going in the future. How does our spirituality fit into our lives?

More (w)holistically to be sure, more diverse, more interspersed with those who are not typically religious.

People like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Neil Gaiman, Madeline L’engle, Robin Mckinley all of whom speak to the truth of fantasy….

I know it is but a mirror, but the fact that fantasy was founded as a conversation about Christ and Culture, and looking to the big questions

Where does humanity start? How is the great battle between good and evil going? What is the individual’s call within that battle?

(Geek moment. I consider Science Fiction to be about adding technology onto humans to augment and change it. Fantasy to be about what happens when magic is thrown into the normal world. Both are about the state of humanity, what makes someone a person?)

I think that as the Harry Potter Generation, those who literally grew up with the books, signal where interest in spirituality might be going next, and that their might be a revival…..and I find that fascinating……

Still mulling about that wonderful Dystopic Fantasy…I think Diana Bass Butler’s theory about the bridge of change….is helpful ….even more helpful for me is to move beyond the flat narrative and looking more carefully at the narrative of those who have to bear the burden of those changes, people of color, the poor, the LBGQT, etc.

#nextchurch reflection

Nextchurch was probably the best place to hear (and tell) about the passage of Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Queer/Trans marriage i.e. the marriage of all people, being legal. It was amazing. We heard Brian Ellison preach about grace ind diversity in the morning and More Light Presbyterian hosted (what ended up to be) as huge reception-that-turned-into-a-celebration that night.

Good Ideas I picked up included

the Bird: Shawna Bowman took the prayer chains that we had made, opened them, read them, prayed over them, and then recreated them into the bird that flies about us. Ok, this is a step beyond the prayers on a slips-to-make-a-thing…which is awesome

Sketching-through-Worship with John Hendrix: Where he discusses sketching not to be perfect but to literally practice the story and see it from a different perspective. Discussing how freeing and meditative it can be to keep the hands busy well soaking in a story

Root and Branches- Church plants as business plans…what I really heard hear was that each step was planned, leadership is slow, shared (by 3-co-pastors) and given time to foster and grow. These pieces are hopeful for any kind of organic ministry

Tapestry Ministries: Call and Partner, start small

Diana Butler Bass: We are Re-Awakening, and a big part of that will be a radical change in social justice

Too white; This was echoed everywhere, we are the majority, the “Vatican of Rome” is the PCUSA in the USA, and yet we are WAY way too homogenous

Look for unity: What do we have in common, build on those New Year’s traditions? Everyone likes music? A passion for the community. What language is your congregation fluent in–and how can you expand it

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sunny all the time at Nextchurch (in case you check my twitter feed), the conference/movement is getting to be more popular and experienced some growing pains…but it is still the best conference I have gone to anywhere, anytime.

What is Nextchurch?
Its a movement to push the boundaries of default Presbyterianism (writing things down, 5 year plans, studies, little risk taking, minimal testifying, oh and the homogenous nature of our denom)

What I love is how it pushes these boundaries.

What I love about Nextchurch is that it creates a successful reframe for me. In a time where the struggle in church is real. But as Diana Butler Bass noted

What I walked away with was the reframe of my work as God’s work. For me, that is not just a mountaintop experience, instead it is a reaching into my life and being able to see and apply God’s Kingdom reality

So I’m going to talk about what I love about Nextchurch and what I want (and mostly its MORE of what we are already doing)

More talk about where the church is going, more awakening ideas/experiences

More teeny, tiny (but important) ministries/churches

More Longer Breaks (which I know is hard to do)

More Conversations with Spiritual But Not Religious/Nones, More partnering with them

More serious discussion of debt and how we can practice forgiveness of debts

More Failure Lab:

Good ideas

More Ignites

More Open/Diverse/Other kinds of Worship More quiet/contemplative spaces More plugs More Caffeine (tea esp.) More Stories

More ART! Loved last year where there was art everywhere to work on
Nextchurch is growing in leaps and bounds, I hope I am able to help in whatever way I can as we look forward to our time in Atlanta

Pulling a Kanye @revmanmd #Nextchurch2015 #interupting @Dianabutlerbass

Holy Interruptions Batman….here are some more perspectives on my interruptions (it did seem like a heavenly moment, I was perfectly positioned from the balcony)

Good NEWS and extroverting

Nextchurch2015

We are listening to the immeasurable Diana Butler Bass who is greatly illustrating her theories on church and culture, when the news breaks on twitter a little before 7:30 (she started at 7).

Its a amazing, its wonderful.

I text the news to my parents.

I can’t believe it.

Twitter is going crazy.

The real question is Can we interrupt Diana Butler Bass?

7:28 pm @miheekimkort suggests “@revJohnRussell at 7:30 lets stand up and scream”

I tweet @bookkats “Feel the pcusa urge to stand up and proclaim the good news even tho its rude to interrupt awesome DBB” at about the same time

I wait for 7:30, sure someone will do it…

THREE agonizing Holy Spirit Bubbling minutes later (7:31) I realize no one has….

Then she talked about the fourth awakening, and its true realization (as in any realization) is when social justice comes into play, so I’m like “Ok, and now she’s talking social justice. Holy Spirit help my extrovert.”

I am totally bursting with the news. This is good news! This is my job to tell good news, and I have REALLY GOOD NEWS, and texting my parents isn’t going to do it!

@jledmiston says Can someone ask Q@dianabutlerbass for a brief space to acknowledg the PCUSA’s big news?

We were awaiting authority, in Nextchurch, which I love to define as the organic and hands on ideas of what is next for the church …irony….

So I’m like, maybe a quiet way is better (I guess I’m getting better at practicing some restraint) I Tweet “Stand up and hold up your phone maybe?”

This is the time, I realize, Diana Butler Bass is talking about the no going back change, the revival at the point ofsocial justice: what a moment to tell the news!

Meanwhile I hear rustle, rustle, rustle, everyone is looking at their phones

@mollyfid nails it on the head “Y’all, I”m about to Burst! UNfreeze yourselves presbys! Surely DBB will pause for a cheer”

Then I realize…I’m in the balcony, I’m in the first row. This is totally not awkward (I mean heck I’d love to do it from the most awkward and silliest position ever)….I’m the extrovert.

Oh my God….its me…I’m the one who is called into this place at this time to do this….its me, and I’m going to LOVE it

I stand up and (rather timidly) raise my hand. “Excuse me Diana….Sorry to interrupt, but we are just bursting here. We just passed 14F, all people can marry”

And I see it……from the balcony, everyone stands up and hugs and cheers in an almost disordered fashion….

It was beautiful, it was holy

my sister is trans…

I burst into tears

Diana Butler Bass asked my name and then said “The Episcopalians welcome you” 🙂

The amazing moment when God uses my no-hold-barred extroverted self who happened to sit in the front of the balcony at that moment…on the day when Brian preached about acceptance in the morning in the evening where the Presbyterian Light people were already planning their reception.

What do you call that but holy?

Holy

And then, we listened as best we can to Diana, hearing all the better her critiques because we were in a better place as church (claim the entire denom has failed, no problem : )

And then, we went and did church! The planned 80 people who went to the Presby Light reception were way…way…more….

Too many Presbyterians, after a long day, did church that night at a bar.

We have become a fuller church, how can we include people next, is Belhar Confession around the corner?

We did church, then and there with loud music and too many Presbyterians and drinks and food…

And we told each other the good news.

Amen. Alleluia

.

#easter #smallchurch #emptytomb #emptychurch #nextchurch

Church-Mostly-Empty-Pews

And then all the Christians looked at the church, the pitifully empty pews, and asked each other. Where have all the people gone?

But the real question they were asking was where is Jesus? Akin to finding the empty tomb, we can see the emptiness, the absence……and we say to one another “‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” and weep.

And then Jesus meets us on the road, in the “real world” and instructs us not to dwell by the emptiness but to go and tell people that he has arisen.

Empty Church, pshaw, it is but the beginning of the resurrection story–Go on, go out it the world and tell them, wherever they are

“I have seen the lord” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

John 20

 

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Lonely Ministry, Lonely Church #nextchurch

Lonely Ministry & Lonely Church What to do, not only do pastors feel lonely, but the churches themselves do, in under 7min….My presentation with recorded sound is above

http://nextchurch.net/ignite-videos-part-2/#.VBOLO0i3VDE 
Hit the Fullscreen to start the play and then click along using your spacebar (you can hear me clicking)

Sidenote: I should have said “my” farmers don’t use internet, they told me so…

Family Church

I went to General Assembly in 2012 as an observer…which meant, literally that I was there with absolutely no ulterior motives, I just wanted to see how things worked. My husband, my three children and my mother came with me. Luckily, my husband had friends in Pittsburgh, where it was, so he was interested in seeing them. Luckily, my mom is a Presbyterian Pastor so she was interested. Luckily my youngest was an infant so he could easily tag along with me. Luckily, I could go.

But it was a hassle, and there I was a young pastor burning with the call to do things–and I couldn’t find the young/contemporary people.

And, I want young people to go to church–maybe, perhaps, even more than my elders do. I want young people to come not just because they are the “future of the church” not because “we need them” or even “the church is dying” but because I am young, and I feel alone. I want my peers to be into what I’m into, I want friends and partners who understand what it is to be fulltime working, raising children, on all the media and a millennial…it hurts, it hurts because its tempting to take the weight of an entire generations’ conversion on my shoulders (which is stupid because I don’t convert people, Jesus does, but I’m only human, so I slip), one night I cried all over my best friend’s shoulder because it just felt so overwhelmed and sad and alone

There are a few gaps that I see that I think that are obvious to me that do not seem to be a part of the conversation in the greater church.

Churches are NOT family accessible:

I could write the laundry list of why, but lets just say…most timing is very inconvenient and children are NOT included in most of church life…they are either tucked away somewhere else or ignored.

and there is never any babysitting…there certainly wasn’t any at GA….and then they wonder why young families aren’t coming.

This is all to say that I am going to the NextChurch conference next week, and no I am not bringing my children, but there is BABYSITTING. This alone makes me know that nextchurch is on the right track.

“We WILL have childcare available for the National NEXT Gathering. Childcare will run from 8:30a-5:30p on Monday and Tuesday and 8:30a-12:30p on Wednesday. Childcare will be located at the Hilton, the conference hotel. We’re outfitting a playroom there. It will be staffed by fully vetted childcare providers through the service College Nannies. The fee for childcare is $75 per child for the whole conference. Please bring a check made out to Village Presbyterian Church, earmarked “NEXT Childcare.” If this cost is prohibitive, please be in touch with Jessica Tate (nextchurch2014@gmail.com) to discuss options.”