‘Bush Walking and Time Travel’

If you don't know the poetry of Cameron Semmens, this example will show you why you'll want to learn more about him and his work, here: http://www.webcameron.com/

'Bush Walking and Time Travel'

Today
I take my hunchbacked heart
for a walk
in cathedrals of trees.

And each step
off-road, off-grid, on dirt,
returns me
to an earlier me –
to a memory of milk teeth smiles
and always look up.

And with each step,
on this day
(I wish it always felt like this),
my thoughts
become more like dragonflies;
and my muscles
more like winter bees;
and slowly
the skin of my civilised self
hardens and sheds
– a cicada shell;
and suddenly,
from the outside,
I can see the useless husk it was –
so fragile and constrictive.

And as I keep walking
further into the forest
all my         straight lines
begin to warp and twist like wattle branches;
and all my         black-and-whites
are softened into shades of green;
and all my         human grandness
shrivels and cowers
beneath a towering grove
of mountain ashes.

Fecund,
meandering,
I grow into my youth
like a tree
re-entering the seed.

I am simpled;
trimmed back
to a beautiful
potential.

I know,
in many ways,
this cannot last;
but
I also know
this moment is growing roots;
this moment is digging in deep;
this moment is going to
sprout words
and flower into poetry –
I can see
the lines, like leaves,
already forming:

Today
I take my hunchbacked heart
for a walk
in cathedrals of trees...

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Dear White Evangelical Christians …

You don't have to follow the path being laid for you by Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Pat Robertson, and others like them.

There is another way to be Evangelical, a better way.

While I've tried to model and teach about that better way, many Evangelicals think I've gone too far for them to accept or learn from. I understand that, and don't hold that against them. The 17 year-old me probably couldn't have accepted the 62 year old me either!

That's why I am always glad to point Evangelicals to fellow Evangelicals they can easily accept and respect ... who offer a better way forward.

Consider my friend Mark Siljander. Mark was at the vanguard of the Religious Right in the 1980's. He was a member of Congress and was Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations.

But he went through a spiritual deconstruction and reconstruction process while he was in the centers of power - as an Evangelical. His life story reads like an adventure novel, including time spent in prison. You can learn more in less than 4 minutes, right here:
https://trac5.org/awakening/

I hope you'll give this a view - and pass it on to other sincere Evangelicals that you know.

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Q & R: Progressive Pentecostalism?

Here's the Q:

I am a United Methodist minister serving 2 small churches in the great plains. In 2011 I read “A New Kind of Christianity” and found new hope and purpose for my ministry! I heard you speak to the United Methodist clergy of the Great Plains Conference in Topeka in 2013.
Recently I was reading “The Age of the Spirit” by Phyllis Tickle. I found the material fascinating and exciting. In particular, I found it fascinating that Phyllis Tickle sees Pentecostalism as one branch of Emergence Christianity. I was also struck by her reflection on the problem of authority in E. C. Once we move beyond sola scripture, I believe that authority for E. C. could be found in collective discernment of the Holy Spirit instructions and guidance. This would mean that we would need to be open to charismatic renewal and to cultivate the gifts of the Spirit including prophesy and discernment of tongues. However, in general, my impression is that Pentecostal Christians tend to be biblical literalists and conservative on social issues (not exactly E. C.)
Do you see any examples of “progressive” Pentecostalism?

Here's the R:

Great question. Two quick thoughts in reply.

  1. Yes! There is an exciting "progressive Pentecostalism" taking shape. Pay attention to young leaders like Carlos Rodriguez and Jonathan Martin. Also pay attention to Latin American leaders affiliated with the Micah Challenge. I've met what I would call progressive Pentecostals in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America.
  2. Remember that just because traditional Pentecostals define "discernment of spirits" or "prophecy" in a certain way doesn't mean they got the definition right. I think part of what progressive Pentecostalism will include will be a fresh understanding of many of those gifts.

If you haven't read Harvey Cox's book on this subject, I think you'd find it helpful: The Future of Faith. Harvey's work, Phyllis's, and mine all have a lot in common.

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Q &R: School of Love?

Here's the Q:
Hello, Brian (or whomever is handling this message)!
Eight years ago Question #6 in your book A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that Are Transforming the Faith thoroughly hooked my interest.  Ever since, I’ve worked on and read materials related to a church functioning as a ‘school of love’.  Then, recently, your newest book, The Great Spiritual Migration, was referenced in a Richard Rohr daily meditation; I promptly got a copy from our local library, finished reading it yesterday, and expect my copy from Amazon to arrive tomorrow.  In this book you provide a very comprehensive response to the question about ‘a church functioning as a school of love’.  I regret that it’s taken me more than a year to cross paths with the book.
With that as background, please respond to these two questions:
Question #1: Are you aware of and in touch with congregations in the USofA who (either inspired by your book, or on their own initiative) have such a ‘spiritual migration’ underway?  And if so, how many such congregations are there?
Question #2: Has any type of ‘information exchange’ among such congregations been established for sharing stories of success and/or failure, best- practices, etc.
BTW – I am a long-time member of a 40-year-old congregation in northwest Austin, Texas, which bears the name Triumphant Love.  My hope is that we’re a natural for participating in the type of migration you have so beautifully described.
Here's the R:
What great questions!
1. There are many, but not enough. More on this below. I keep finding more - across denominations, movements, etc. The problem is they are siloed in denominations and don't know each other yet. Which leads to #2 -
2. Convergence/Center for Progressive Renewal is an amazing pair of organizations seeking to fill this gap. I'm on their board and am working with them to develop the Convergence Leadership Project, the Convergence Music Project, and other initiatives.
Progress is slower than we'd like because so many congregations are "stuck" in denominational silos. My belief is that we need to build a multi-denominational movement of these forward-leaning congregations. Stay tuned!

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