Summer at the Movies
My kids start school this week. It’s been a great summer. They’re finally old enough to enjoy a good book for a few hours or to get themselves a bowl of cereal (Ask any mom…this is LIFE CHANGING!). Like so many others, summer movies were also on our activity list during the long break. My kids are into the Marvel movies, so we had to see ALL of them… Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Thor: Ragnarok actually came out last year, but they’ve watched it OnDemand at home over and over again….enough times, that even I have started learning some of the lines. There’s a scene in Thor:Ragnarok where Odin says to Thor:
Asgard is not a place. It’s a people.
When I wasn’t shuttling my kids to a camp or movie, one of my favorite pastimes this summer was listening to podcasts and reading. Books always have been and are my safe space – even when they are pushing me into new ways of thinking or understanding. One of the first books I cracked open this summer was Brene Brown’s latest, Braving the Wilderness. And, ‘wilderness’ is certainly an apt term to describe the state of my spiritual life.
The Catholic Church.
The unholy matrimony of Trump + Evangelicals
Scandals coupled with the ongoing evangelical allegiance to The President plus the deafening silence of so many (notice, I said many – not all!) faith communities has rocked my confidence in the church….an institution that has been a lifelong pillar in my life. This summer, I couldn’t go to church on Sundays (partly because of lingering PTSD after my church did a summer at the movies series last year, which included a whole sermon on Beauty and the Beast the same weekend as Charlottesville). But, more than a particular series – it was a particular feeling that the excercise, even if it just going through the motions, had become too painful.
Filling that void and bringing much peace and insight have been a new genre of Christian authors that I’d never known till now, namely Barbara Brown Taylor and Richard Rohr – two figures from more liturgical traditions. I won’t even try to summarize the countless ways in which they’ve expanded my understanding faith. In her book, An Altar in the World, there’s a line in the chapter about the Practice of Encountering Others where she says:
The church was not a place but a people.
For generations, God balked at the idea of a temple or a king. And, yet today it seems we’ve forgotten why. Instead, we build-up modern cathedrals and celebrity pastors. All the while, we do give lip service to loving the poor and helping the oppressed, but we dare not utter a word against the systems and structures that perpetuate injustice.
Thankfully, while my faith in organized religion has been at rock-bottom, my confidence in the good work of community organizations partnering with school districts or local leaders is actually growing everyday. That’s not to say I’m not daily dismayed by national or even state politicians or corporate leaders, but I am really happy to report that impactful work is happening at the local, grassroots level. For me, in this season of spiritual wandering and wilderness, my work with Community Equity Collaborative has taken on new significance, as we are in both word and deed, helping the oppressed and feeding the poor. It is faith in action. It is Micah 6:8 lived.
Brene says this in Braving the Wilderness:
Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous it is breathtaking, a place a sought as it is feared. The wilderness can often feel unholy because we can’t control it, or what people think about our choice of whether to venture into that vastness or not. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred space you will ever stand.
I haven’t written many blog posts lately. There are no words yet for my wandering. Between the magnitude of what I am sorting in my soul and the pure insanity of what’s happening in the world – I just cannot distill it all into a post. But, there are others who can and do. There are my new BFF’s – the great thinkers of the liturgical world, like Barbara Brown Taylor and Richard Rohr, that I’d highly recommend to anyone. There are my longtime favorites, like Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey and Rachel Held Evans. And, there’s a fantastic and spirit-filled community of writers and leaders of color who are speaking so powerfully into this moment in history. Check out Austin Channing Brown or Soong-Chan Rah or Michael Eric Dyson or Bryan Stevenson or Eugene Cho or Lisa Sharon Harper.
Go read these people. Wrestle with your faith. And then….
Meet me in the margins. We are a people, much more than we are a place. And, if there is any prevailing theme to the Bible, it is that God’s heart is with the hurting and oppressed. The evidence of our faith, of who we are as God’s people is in the fruits, pure and simple. It is bringing love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to the world, especially those who need it most. This is not only the message of the gospel but the place where God is showing up most visibly in my life. And, so, I’m going to officially push the pause button on my blogging.
This might be the last post. Ever. Or not.
Who knows where the wilderness will lead you or the spirit will act?
I started this blog because I wanted to chronicle my journey to live out the Micah 6:8 command to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. I opted for a blog instead of a diary because I wanted the kind of accountability that comes from making a public promise or statement of intention. No slight intended towards those who write or blog, speak or publish via podcast – but the world has enough people talking about these issues and not enough actually DOING something about it. For the foreseeable future, I know God wants me to focus on:
a) being still, listening for His voice as I walk through the wilderness
b) walking through the doors God has opened for Community Equity Collaborative, where we work to dismantle unjust systems and promote greater opportunity and equity through community partnerships.
A Toast + A Prayer
Wine Country has been ravaged by a brutal fire season. My family decided to drive a couple of hours north for a week in Napa this summer. We love that region and wanted to support the areas that have been devastated – both by the physical destruction as well as the financial losses. I brought along a big stack of books on racism, social justice, faith….the usual! Sitting by the pool, it hit me: I have a social justice blog called, Over Coffee and Wine. I mean, seriously!!!! The irony of my *privilege pastimes* as an umbrella for *social justice conversations* hit me like a ton of bricks. God opened my eyes to the gulf between where I am and where His heart is when I lay claim to His gospel or the Micah 6:8 words. Not that God isn’t in wineries and cafes! But, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and actually step into the margins….that’s where His people are and His heart’s always been. Time to light these words on fire and live them out.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let HIM shine…let HIM shine, let HIM shine.
Here are my favorite books & Podcasts of the summer
Inspired by Rachel Held Evans, Everybody Always by Bob Goff, Grateful by Diana Butler Bass, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, Leaving Church and An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor, Finding God in the Margins by Carolyn Curtis James, I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown and The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright.