Waiting. It seems this time of year is filled with it. We wait in longer than normal lines at stores, at stoplights, gas pumps, and movie theatres. Some wait to hear about jobs, other about tests (both academic and medical). We anxiously await seeing friends and family over the holidays. Children and adults wait, patiently and some impatiently for their presents.
But we are also entering Advent; the first season of the liturgical year. A season designed specifically for waiting and anticipation. We wait for the comings of God. Yes…plural “comings.” We are certainly well acquainted with celebrating the historical birth of Jesus. And rightly so, but the biblical readings of Advent, point us beyond the historical story, toward the future return of our Savior as well. As the first week’s reading from Luke 21 reminds us, “the day of redemption is drawing near.” Our longing and waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ needs also be the hope filled celebration of a promised particular future. In the meantime of anxiousness and waiting, we pray, “Come Lord Jesus.”
Once, shortly after seminary, when my wife and I had moved to an Episcopal church community, a former classmate asked me if I was still an "evangelical." I reluctantly answered "Yes." but wanted to clarify that answer with, "but not by your definition." Intoned in his question was a judgement about who was and was not evangelical. Often, I feel that from the conservative Baptist position, anyone outside of the local church and denomination are questioned because they dont play the party line on these doctrinal positions.
It becomes interesting to me when this gets mixed with politics.
Those of you who know me, know that I am not the most political person...I have deep convictions guided by my theological commitments. But often, my theological commitments do not line up with the traditional evangelical definitions of politics or...evangelicalism.
I just read this article by Jim Wallis who describes a shifting of the definition of who and what makes up evangelicals and their commitments, both theological and political. He says, ""Nov. 6 was an even deeper disaster for the religious right’s leaders, because they will no longer be able to control or easily co-opt the meaning of the term 'evangelical'...The biggest mistake the religious right made was to make the word 'evangelical' a political term. Evangelical is a theological commitment, not a political one."
This is music to my ears in one respect...and dread in my heart. Let me explain further...
Wallis continues, "It’s about the centrality of Christ and the authority of the Bible. It’s following Jesus and our obedience to the Scriptures that leads us to defend the poor, protect the most vulnerable, welcome the stranger, seek racial reconciliation and justice, be good stewards of the environment and peacemakers in a world of war.
This election signaled an important change in American public life and a transformation in the meaning of the word “evangelical.”
This transformation resonates so deeply within me...it, in one sense, brings me back from beyond the pail...the periphery of the right's delineation of evangelicalism. This new and emerging sort of definition is one that I will claim. One that I feel represents a majority of my Christian friends. One that we are not embarrassed by. And for that...I am thankful. Perhaps times and old definitions are changing.
But there is dread...these definitions will not easily change. They will not be loosed without a fight...and that one will continue to be an internal fight that not only will push many, both inside and outside the church, further away. While a more inclusive definition of evangelical is to be lauded, the process of getting there, I fear, will leave many behind in an uncomfortable wake of growing resistance, apathy, and
One of the joys of this fall has been getting to know the faculty at Minot State where I have a one year Visiting Instructor position. Due to the housing crunch in Minot, Micah Bloom and his family opened their home to me. Their hospitality has been overwhelming. I have enjoyed getting to know Micah, seeing his work with students, and seeing his own art projects. Micah is trained as a painter, but has recently taken on a very interesting video project rooted in Minot and its recent flood.
Micah is a bike commuter and on one of his trips encountered these books strewn about by the flood...they were deposited along the road way, through the trees, in the tree branches, along the train tracks etc.. It was something that caught his artistic vision, but also was near to his heart. Micah speaks about books as if they are a sort of sacred object...to be treated with care. Thus for him to come upon hundreds of books decaying in the dirt, sun, and snow for nearly a year and half sparked something within him. Codex is the resultant project. He enlisted the help of several MSU students and set about recording and documenting the books for a larger video and installation project. Well, I've said a lot about it...take a few minutes...listen to Micah, watch the trailers, and if you can help out with funding, even a few bucks, puts him closer to completing this vision. Take a look at it here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1984027192/codex
This morning I woke up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I now sit on my couch in Grand Forks, ND. It is a strange contrast of cultures and views. I love both...I love visiting NYC. I love coming home too.
It was a great trip...good food, the Met, Guggenheim, and lots of walking. But the highlight of course was my own opening at Space 38-39. Given Sandy's destruction on the island the week before, we had no idea what to expect. But I was happy with the turnout and some great questions and conversations about the work.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to show at IAM's gallery and certainly to Meaghan and the staff there for the publicity and work that goes into putting it all together.