A Way of Love, Not a Way of Sin Remediation

A re-post from Mark Van Steenwyk, executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination (originally posted to social media on September 23, 2019). MVS

Sin isn’t a homogeneous substance that exists in human hearts. It isn’t a phantomous thing that can only be combated with prayer and good intentions.

The Bible doesn’t make the case that all of humanity is bad to the core and that sin is about individual human choices and that the only way to fight sin is to win people to Jesus. That story has been placed upon Scripture and, at the same time, fits so nicely within the framework of individualism and religious conservatism. Which is why it persists in the USA. Continue reading

Jesus and the Way of the Cros

CPTBy Mark Van Steenwyk, the executive director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination in Minneapolis. This is from his weekly blog (June 24, 2019). To sign up to get these in your email inbox, click here (top of the page). Also, their two-year program in Prophetic Spirituality launches in September!

Jesus’ compassion led to the cross. In an unjust world, love confronts injustice. In an oppressive world, love challenges oppression. Because of this, love leads to the Cross.

When he broke bread with sinners and fellowshipped with outcasts, he drew the ire of religious gatekeepers. When, in the temple, he raised a ruckus over the exploitation of the poor, he upset the religious elite. And his words of dangerous liberation sealed his fate. He was betrayed and summarily executed by the state. And he decomposed in the grave for three days. Continue reading

Thoughts on an Imperial God

CPIBy Mark Van Steenwyk of the Center for Prophetic Imagination (Minneapolis, MN)

This piece was originally posted on Patheos.

Ours is a civilized god. He is distant, floating high above the world, refusing to be dirtied by it. He is the Supreme Hierarch, the Ruler of All. The Great Architect, looking down over all of creation and ordering it according to his Divine Blueprint. Of all of the things he’s created, he likes human beings the best. Sometimes he communicates to some of these humans, revealing to them part of his Divine Blueprint. Our primary relationship with this god is one of obedience; we are to do his will so that things can work according to the Blueprint. Continue reading

Where We Put Down Our Roots

By Mark Van SteenwykMVS

*This is the 11th installation of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

What is Radical Discipleship? This used to be a fairly simple question to me. Now? Not so much.

Fifteen years ago, with the confidence of a late 20’s white seminarian, I “planted” a church whose only real mission was to take Jesus seriously. Soon, that new church experiment mutated into a full on intentional community, a sort of hybrid between a catholic worker house and a hippy Mennonite Church. We called ourselves the Mennonite Worker. Continue reading

Re-Baptized Through Liberation

MVSA social media re-post from Mark Van Steenwyk, executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination (November 20, 2017):

Any anabaptist theology that isn’t re-baptized through liberation theology reinforces oppression.

Anabaptism, on its own, only makes sense as a religion of the oppressed. Just like the Gospels are unintelligible to the middle and owner classes apart from the experiences of the oppressed.

In other words: Any calls for pacifism, meekness, and simplicity that come insistently from the powerful are attempts to keep the oppressed docile and poor.

Nonviolence must be a tool of the oppressed in their struggle, with the aid and support of repentant allies. Otherwise, in the hands of the powerful it becomes an ideology of oppression.

To be clear: I’m a pacifist. But pacifism and nonviolence must be in service to liberation or they become a force for oppression. If you’re a pacifist that isn’t working alongside (and following the lead of) those who struggle for liberation, then your nonviolence is just the velvet pouch sheathing the hammer of oppression

Radical Recommendations for Gift-Giving

BWK (1)

Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and his recent releases

Because Christmas has become so central to the American economy and American consumption is so central to global capitalism, this festival of ‘Holy Days’ has become a central expression and embodiment of American imperial domination, an imperial religion. 
Richard Horsley, Religion and Empire (2003)

Truly, this Season signals a major tension for North American radical disciples.  We resist and reclaim.  Whether it is our love language our not, we give.  But some forms of giving are far more redemptive than others.

It is in this Spirit that we offer gift ideas from more out-of-the-way, up-and-coming, long-suffering and open-hearted thinkers and artists.  Links to their work are provided here and will eventually be added to our now-pemanent “STORE” tab up top.  We hope this list is an Advent-instigator: please add your recommendations to the comments below or email us so we can add them to the store!!!

From the Poor People’s Campaign, coming to a watershed near you in 2018:

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A beautiful 2016 publication from Philly-based pastor-parent-activist about using the difficult and challenging parts of life as a way to deepen your spiritual path and become more authentic.
The Soul-Making Room by Dee Dee Risher
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There are two new releases from this Detroit-based pastor-activist who has been hauling the sanctuary on to the streets since the early 70’s.
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From the dry creek-beds of Southern California comes this deep collection of young practitioners experimenting with place-based radicalism…
And a older-yet-timely offering…
….and yet another teaming up with a SoCal-based pastor.
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Truly, it is a time of exile for those of us on the left.  Let’s set the clock back to the early Bush years with this re-examination of the Exodus from a Vancouver-based pastor-activist.
And More from Dykstra:
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From two U.S.-based Filipinas displaying a celebration of the beauty, richness, and diversity of indigenous ways.
Back from the Crocodile’s Belly by Lily Mendoza and Leny Mendoza Strobel
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This one takes Jesus out of the over-spiritualized heart and over-futurized heaven and places him right where he was in the Gospels: the street!
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From the foot of Tiger Mountain in Washington State comes a vital perspective on early church history (aka, “the roots of why Christians want to make America great again.”).
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And lest we think gift-giving is only for adults, the executive director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination in Minneapolis tells this St. Francis-inspired tale for our young ones.
A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyk
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This year, Charlottesville exposed us all to some of the most vicious forms of American white supremacy.  But far less known, C’Ville is home to some radical experimentation, including sweet sounds from a young singer-songwriter.  Perfect for people defined by death-and-resurrection.
Claire Hitchins, These Bodies
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And this!  From a Minneapolis-based artist and PhD candidate releasing her first album, a powerfully rich blend bursting with beauty, grief, creativity and prophetic wisdom.
Katherine Parent, The Wait for Green
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Probably the most unique musical contribution of the movement is from Philly-based Holy Fool Arts, a voice of and for the wilderness that combines poetry, theatrical masks, ancient rhythms, traditional and modern dance forms, with a heavy side of the blues.
Beast, Groan
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And for those who prefer dance as their desired form of resistance: this Detroit-based DJ dubs in Rev. Barber to raise the roof off the White House.
Peter Croce, Revival
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For much of our own graphic inspiration RadicalDiscipleship.net heads north to Duluth to be captivated by beauty and truth on paper.
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Lastly, a recommendation from author-activist Wes Howard-Brook fair-trade, organic chocolate from Mama Ganache.  From WHB:

They are THE BEST! As we all know, corporate chocolate production is  both a human and environmental horror show. The folks at MG use their profits to support farmers in West Africa in many ways, as explained on their website. I’ve been ordering from them for years!

 

The Tension of Two Postures

CvilleFrom the conclusion of The Mennonite blog post “Nonviolence Against White Supremacy After Charlottesville” by Tim Nafziger and Mark Van Steenwyk: 

We are both Christian pacifists committed to creative responses to white supremacy that step outside the myth of redemptive violence.

Pacifists are at their best when they commit to strong solidarity and are willing to lay their lives on the line for the ones they love. It can be a pure expression of compassion–suffering with the oppressed in such a way as to magnify the full humanity of the oppressed while, at the same time, showing love for the oppressor as well. Continue reading