Tuesday, April 29, 2008

up/rooted.west April Recap

We had a thought provoking wrap-up discussion to Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change Tour and book last night at the Gino's East in downtown Wheaton. We started by asking if everything must change, how will that be accomplished? Where do we start? What can we do, specifically, practically? And is it just hopeless to think that our small efforts are really going to make much difference ultimately in the face of such a broken, suicidal system?

We share a number of specific steps that several of us have taken, from buying more ethically, to eating organic or vegetarian as much as possible, to reducing consumption. We talked about getting veggie oil conversions on cars, and speculated about whether someone in the west suburbs could set up an operation to make it easier for people to do the conversions and get access to used veggie oil. We talked about the difficulty of even knowing what options are out there for living more ethically and making a difference, and about the need to start collecting information and websites to make them more accessible. Our up/rooted.south group has had the idea of collecting information about all the local social justice/missional projects around the Chicago area that people can plug into, and our up/rooted.west group talked about possibly doing something similar with ethical buying websites & stores - just collecting a database of resources.

We also veered a little bit into the theoretical/theological as we wondered how to balance hope in the kingdom as a present reality versus a recognition that we cannot bring the kingdom about through our own efforts and ingenuity. Jen Pare suggested that we needed an "active pessimism", i.e. a pessimism about our ability to bring about ultimate justice or compassion through government or activism or whatever, but at the same time a dedication to serve and be active anyway. In other words, we need to do our part and be faithful to living out the message of the kingdom, even if when it all seems utterly fruitless.

We also talked about upcoming plans for up/rooted over the summer, and it was suggested that perhaps we'd like to take several "field trips" to visit missional projects around the area. In other words, to go and observe and even participate in whatever ministries of compassion and justice that we are familiar with. If you have any ideas or suggestions bring them or up/rooted.west (or email them to us at uprooted.chicago@gmail.com) during the next couple of months, and perhaps we can plan something for July and/or August.

For June we decided to have another communal cook-out where we can share more of our stories and reconnect on those personal levels. However, before that for our May gathering we want to discuss the topic of racial diversity in the emerging church. Our up/rooted.city coordinator, Rebecca, recently posted on this topic at her blog following the SCUPE conference, and the theme was then also picked up over at the Emergent Village weblog. I'd definitely recommend reading these posts in preparation for the gathering.

I'm also a bit uncomfortable about just having a bunch of white suburbanites sitting around talking about race, so I want to especially encourage those of your in our up/rooted network who are minorities to please make it a point to join us this time if you're at all able. We need your voices and your experience. Or, if you're not a minority, but you know of someone who is and who would understand and resonate with the emerging church church conversation, please invite them to join us as well.

We will meet Tuesday, May 20 @ 7pm at the Gino's East in downtown Wheaton again. Hope you can join us for this important conversation.

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Debbie Blue, Russell Rathbun and Linda Buturian

Hello emerging folks. Doesn't it feel good to identify with that word in this season of emergence? Buds from barren sticks, you know?

Last week, we had a phenomenal gathering of 17 folks, 3 speakers and 4 people that knew the speakers. Our speakers were Debbie Blue, Russell Rathbun and Linda Buturian, all members of the House of Mercy up in St. Paul, all folks that have books available at Cathedral Hill Press.

Russell started out the conversation by describing their church, which they formed when they got out of seminary because they wanted a church where they would actually want to attend and that their friends, who were artists and stuff, would also want to attend. Russell, who looked like he would fit in quite well in Wicker Park with his black cowboy shirt with embroidered banjos and funky glasses, pointed out that their church had been around for 12 years, which is ancient for an emergent church.

I liked watching the energy of the two pastors: Russell and Debbie. Both were a little twitchy and awkward. Obviously, they wanted to be there and had such beautiful, honest and vulnerable things to say. But, part of that honesty and vulnerability involved allowing themselves to be the self-proclaimed introverts that they are, even in front of a group of strangers. As someone who has been trained to pull out my most charismatic identity when addressing groups of people, I admire their courage to simply be themselves.

Debbie read first from her book, From Stone to Living Word, and I was impressed by the clarity and originality that she wrote about Biblical interpretation as idolatry and then about love. It's so easy to say the same old Hallmark-card-for-the-rest-of-us things about love and I felt like Debbie really avoided that. She even wrote that it felt corny to even talk about love, "like I'm young and I don't know anything." She also said that love wasn't "consistently positive regard" because "who could live with anyone and feel that?" I bought a copy of the book even though I haven't read a book that wasn't for class since last August.

Russell read from his book, Post-Rapture Radio, a novel that at one point describes a hipster pastor in a mocking tone and I want to give Russell the benefit of the doubt that he read that with utter awareness of the irony. The excerpt he read was beautifully written and my church's resident atheist loved the whole book when he read it.

Finally, Linda read from her book that had only been released the week before. She lives in an "intentional cul-de-sac" with Debbie's family and a couple of others and her book, World Gone Beautiful, is a collection of memoirs from that experience. Her reading resonated with me the most because I think her neuroses are probably the most like mine. At one point she described feeling like "the world is a model airplane that I must assemble in the dark" while she lay awake being unable to fall asleep. I think this might have been one of the first times she's read from this work publicly since she kept laughing to remember the events that was reading about. That connection of the words to the actual events rather than connecting the words to a particular way to tell a story effectively was utterly charming. The words themselves were also terribly vulnerable and lovely. I bought a copy of her book also.

They wrapped up their presentation by talking a little bit more about their church and how they find relevance in traditional worship by singing old hymns with irony and discussing how they find success because their people are "allowed, encouraged and required to poke fun at the structures" of the church. They answered great questions and hung around for a long time to talk with folks after we formally closed.

Next month's meeting will be on Monday, May 19 at 7:00 at Wicker Park Grace (click on the link in the sidebar for directions). We're going to focus our discussion on the talks that Brian McLaren gave here in the area but everyone is welcome to join us, even those that didn't attend.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor?

One of the delights of the Everything Must Change tour was meeting so many people who have been on the up/rooted mailing list, but haven't been able to make it to the city meetings. They invariably revealed themselves when they saw my nametag and said, "Oh, you're the one who writes so much about tea!"

I'm touched that my informal and somewhat whimsical writing style is enjoyed by so many people. I've developed it over the years on my blog, Wild Rumpus, which I started when "an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for [Princess]Max and [s]he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are," otherwise known as Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington state.

It's more of a narrative blog than most blogs run by Emergent cohort facilitators, so probably only 1 out of every 8 posts is about any particularly emerging topic. The others are about quilting and living in the city and looking for community.

However, yesterday, I posted about racial reconciliation and the emerging movement. I think it's crucial that we make the membrane that surrounds the movement more permeable to non-white folks. But this is not necessarily true for all the leaders in the movement and has some major obstacles to realization. I'd welcome a conversation of people from all modes of thought over on my blog. If you have a minute, will you make the trip and leave a comment?


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Upcoming up/rooted meetings

We have a lot of exciting things coming up in the wake of the Everything Must Change Tour, not least of which is the formation of a new Wheaton College student cohort, and the re-formation of our up/rooted.south group. We're also hoping to shortly put together an Evanston branch and a new Southeastern Wisconsin cohort if you happen to be in that neck of the woods. (If you are interested in being a part of this, send an email to Justin Worley at Emerging.SeWi@gmail.com.)

Here are the gatherings that are coming up for this next month:

up/rooted.south will be meeting this Thursday, April 10 @ 7pm at Grace Fellowship Church in Mokena for a follow-up discussion on the ideas presented at the conference this weekend.

up/rooted.city will be hosting a special evening with authors/emerging pastors Russell Rathbun and Debbie Blue next Wednesday, April 16 @ 7pm at Wicker Park Grace .

up/rooted.west is meeting at the Gino's East in downtown Wheaton and will be brainstorming how to put the ideas of Everything Must Change into practical action on the last Monday of this month, April 28 @ 7pm.

up/rooted.north currently meets every week on Thursdays @ 7:30pm at the Barnes and Noble in Lincolnshire.

Rebuilding Eden is a special cohort just for college students that meets at the Wheaton College dining hall (Todd Beamer Student Center) every Saturday @ 12:30pm, and is currently discussing the Everything Must Change book.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Everything Must Change Tour Round-up

As you all know, this past weekend was the Everything Must Change Tour in Chicago. Here are some articles and reviews on other blogs that you should check out if you're interested:

First an article written just before the conference in Oak Park's Wednesday Journal that I was interviewed for.

As usual Helen has a great play-by-play review of the conference. (And she gets the credit for the picture. I forgot to bring my camera.)

Also check out some of Jason's raw notes on the sessions.

Chad Farrand, leader of the Mid-Michigan cohort, has a good recap of his experience as well.

And for a totally unique, very personal take in her usual "wonderfully rambling" style, check out Rebecca's posts.

Also, regardless of whether you were there, you can contribute to this revolution and share ideas about how to bring real change over at the Everything Must Change web community.

And if you live near Seattle, Kansas City, Goshen IN, or New York City, or know someone who does, it's not too late to sign up to attend the Tour.

UPDATE: I've now posted my own review.