All posts tagged “Methodist

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Repaso: Sierra Leone in photos; Jake Belder on forgotten places; Living Room Songs; Q&A from The Justice Conference; UMC repents; Twitter does it again

1. Sierra Leone ten years after the war
Earlier this week I submitted a writing project focused on Fambul Tok, a home-grown peace and reconciliation initiative taking place around bonfires across Sierra Leone. It’s worth knowing about. As I finished my writing, former Liberian president Charles Taylor was convicted of war crimes in Sierra Leone, a full decade after the war ended. And The Big Picture posted this photo essay with a look at what the country looks like in 2012.

2. Jake Belder on forgotten places
Jake Belder, an assistant minister in Hull, England (and by Twitter appearances, an all-around good guy) has a great feature essay in Comment:

One of the delights of living in England is venturing off the main roads into the little villages that dot the countryside. At the heart of many of these picturesque villages is a small church that has stood for hundreds of years, a reminder the role churches used to play in holding these communities together. Whenever I get the chance, I wander into these churches. I love the musty smell of the old stonework, the silence, and the sense of being in a place altogether different from the world outside. And when I sit in one of the old pews, I think about those who have sat in them over the last five hundred years. Who shepherded them as they lived their lives in this place? How were they equipped to live faithfully in this context?

3. Living Room Songs by Ólafur Arnalds
Joy Williams of The Civil Wars tweeted this last weekend: “Having my heart broken & mended again by Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds’ Living Room Songs EP.” I think you’ll agree, as I do, that these songs are hauntingly beautiful, not unlike the music of fellow Icelandic band Sigur Rós.

4. Q&A videos from The Justice Conference
For those who weren’t able to attend The Justice Conference in Portland in February (and for those who were there too, I suppose), videos from a bunch of Q&A sessions have been posted at Lots of great stuff.

5. UMC apologizes to Native Americans
Thanks to Brittany Bennett for sharing the link to this video from the United Methodist Church’s General Conference, where the denomination initiated an act of repentance to begin the process of healing relationships with Native Americans. It’s encouraging to see a group of Christians taking this so seriously.

6. Yet another reason to love Twitter
Katie and I have a really good reason to love Twitter; ask us about it sometime. Another reason to love Twitter is when you’re a cancer survivor who loves baseball and you get to play catch with a pitcher from your team just because you replied to this within two minutes.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters via The Big Picture]

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Body parts

Like many people these days, I’m a bit of a mutt, spiritually speaking. My parents grew up Lutheran, and I was baptized in a Lutheran church in southern California early on. While living in Guatemala City we attended an interdenominational church with a pastor who was Presbyterian. During brief stints in Los Angeles and Dallas we were part of the Evangelical Covenant Church. As a teenager, after our family moved to a largely Mennonite area, I was confirmed Methodist. In college I joined an independent evangelical megachurch where I was, in a manner of speaking, ana-baptized.

Among my favorite spiritual writers are Presbyterians, Catholics, Quakers, Anglicans, Mennonites, Baptists, evangelicals, and of course, fellow mutts. It’s all very complicated, I know.

Here in San Rafael, like much of rural Latin America, there are basically two categories as far as religion goes: evangelical and Catholic. Not much room for mutts is what I’m saying.

Maybe you’ve found a category that fits you like a glove, or maybe you were born into one and have never had reason to question it. But increasingly, we Christians aren’t sure where we fit. Have you noticed that even churches belonging to specific denominations are leaving those details off their building signs and website banners? We’re not sure which labels to align ourselves with, or even whether labels are good for anything in the first place.

For all these reasons I found Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster to be very encouraging. The book is about what Foster describes as the six traditions, or streams, of Christianity through history:

The Contemplative Tradition (the prayer-filled life)
The Holiness Tradition (the virtuous life)
The Charismatic Tradition (the Spirit-empowered life)
The Social Justice Tradition (the compassionate life)
The Evangelical Tradition (the word-centered life)
The Incarnational Tradition (the sacramental life)

Foster’s burden is to show that these six streams, at their best, strengthen each other. They’re not to be pitted against each other, but instead just emphasize different parts of the Christian life and faith that we should all, in some measure, embrace. But rather than viewing each stream as a valid and interrelated expression, doesn’t it seem that we Christians have all too often huddled around those who see things the way we do, doing whatever necessary to avoid and/or de-legitimize everyone else?

While reading through the New Testament not too long ago, I was struck by just how insistent Paul, Peter, John and others were about the utter importance of unity within the Church. Evangelicals may do a good job of preaching what the Bible teaches, but without social justice folks in the mix, the teaching runs the risk of remaining abstract. Similarly, social justice Christians are all about taking action, but without contemplatives by their side, they’re probably going to burn out.

In the end, I think the Bible is clear in teaching that God has created us and continues to mold us each differently, and that the reason he does this is because together we are the body of Christ — not a homogeneous bunch of feet or hands or heads or small intestines.

Basically, I guess what I’m saying is this: if I’m a lung and I continue to spend all my time with lungs and together we pick fights with those good-for-nothing hearts and kidneys and spinal cords and tonsils and ligaments and kneecaps, I shouldn’t be surprised if the body is sick. On the other hand, when I’m able to recognize that by their very existence hearts and kidneys and spinal cords and tonsils and ligaments and kneecaps and every other unique and irreplaceable part together enable lungs to do what only lungs can do, we might all be a lot better off. And when the parts of the body are working in harmony, there’s no telling what might happen.