Seven Readings in Revelation (A Liberation Bible Study)

Images from the Book of Revelation

I have had the opportunity from time to time to write for Barclay Press. They have recently updated their website and created author pages, making some previously unavailable writings available online. Therefore, I wanted to share the link to the .pdf of my upcoming series of reflections on the book of Revelation published in the Fruit of the Vine, which are now available online.

In these reflections, I attempt to follow a more liberatory reading of the book of Revelation. Rather than reading it as a book about the end of the world, I suggest, following plenty of good scholarship, that this book really gives us a small glimpse into how the small, fledgling “minority” church, attempted to survive the oppressive imperial Roman regime. These reflections are based on a series of sermons I did on the subject in the spring of 2013 – those articles can be found here. Themes I cover in these reflections rooted in Revelation are nonviolence, justice for the poor and the beloved community. I hope you will enjoy it.

You can read the Revelation bible studies online here.

The Possibilities and Challenges of Building a Participatory Church

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I love the word participation. It’s stem means “taking part” or to “partner.” The Quaker meeting of which I am the ‘released minister,’ Camas Friends, strives to be a participatory church. A partnering church. A church that welcomes the contributions, leadership, insights, resources, personalities and concerns of those who are in the meeting.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we live in a participatory culture. And the church would do well to learn from it. What was once reflective of the one-directional movement of consumer culture, there is much more interplay between producer and consumer today. Continue reading The Possibilities and Challenges of Building a Participatory Church

When The Church Becomes a Department Store

You can drive around most neighborhoods here in the suburbs and find at least some vacant buildings. Some of them are small, and if not historic, they at least have a history.  While others are just enormous squares, nondescript, no personality or history at all. “throwaway” buildings might be a way to think about it. On our drive to take our oldest daughter to school, we drive past an old Car Dealership that is either defunct or has moved to a more “developed” part of town. In Either case these three or four separate parking lots, and multiple-unit buildings have sat empty as long as we’ve lived here and show no signs of being bought. The weeds and grass have begun their revolt, and I hope they succeed. Surrounding these vacant lots are open fields. Every time I drive by I am sad that these lots are taking up with could otherwise be open fields with trees and animals living there.

But this happens all the time. Some new franchise opens in an already over-saturated market, tries to out advertise, out sell, and out yell, with new products or looks, but underneath, we all know it’s the same story being sold just repacked with a different logo. And soon enough, everything closes down and those once wild fields of life and now empty fields of tar. Continue reading When The Church Becomes a Department Store

Connecting with Poverty in Our Community

A week or so ago the Oregonian published an article about poverty in our neck of the woods. The article profiles the “subtle shifts” of poverty taking place in Clark County, the county of which our meeting is a part. The city of Vancouver has worked to push poverty out towards the east parts of the county (Camas and Washougal) which makes demographics look better for the city, but in turn people end up moving out where there are less services available. What is even more interesting is that we learned that the city of Camas actually sweeps people back into Vancouver for the same reasons. This back and forth is not only hard on the people it affects but it keeps anyone from owning up to the problem or seeking solutions. This is why we were told last year by the police in Camas that there are no homeless in our town. This thinking underlies the ideology: “If we don’t see a problem, there must not be one.”

However, for those who have eyes to see, there is something going on. What we’re seeing in Camas/Washougal is an influx of poor who have no place else to go and when the get here there is little support for them. The Oregonian article is a nice write-up not only about poverty, but actually talks a little about how our Quaker meeting here in Camas is approaching the issue. As I told our congregation the Sunday after this came out: “It’s nice to get some good press every once  in a while. After all this is the kind of thing Churches should be in the news for.” Continue reading Connecting with Poverty in Our Community

Creating Communities of "Artists"

This morning I noticed a torn piece of paper with something I’d written on it from awhile back:

  • How do we form a community that creates artists rather than just critics?
  • Justice should always come first, justice is innovative.

I am not sure what I was reading when I wrote these two thoughts down, but I know they are not original to me. But today I found these two statements helpful in reflection as our meeting is currently struggling to decide what to do with a house we own but is in need of a lot of care. We are a smaller church without a ton of resources but we have a deep desire to do what is right not only for us but also for the broader community of Camas and Washougal. Continue reading Creating Communities of "Artists"

Modest Proposal .pdf Version Available

Because I’ve been posting about Brent Bill’s recent series of posts about the revitalization of Friends I wanted to alert all of you to the fact that he’s edited all the blog posts down into a .pdf. I was excited to learn he was going to organize them in this way and plan to have copies of these printed out and look forward to reading through them with the elders of our Quaker meeting.

You can view it and download it here.