Pope Francis in America

In September, the news industry lavished attention on Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Now, autumn has settled in and news outlets have returned to the usual suspects: politics, sports, and turning a profit for the holidays. EP endorser Barry Harvey reflects:

A few weeks ago I received an email asking if I would like to contribute a brief reflection on the Ekklesia Project website on the significance of Pope Francis’s recent visit to North America. I was particularly intrigued by one of the questions in the email that served as a prompt: “In what ways did he fall short or fail?” I would say not only did he indeed fall short, but that the way he failed was a good thing too. Well, maybe not a good thing, but not surprising either.

There is little doubt that people of all faiths and of none intuitively sensed that in this one man there was an intrusion of the extraordinary into the workaday routine that enthralls most of us most of the time, an incursion of something enigmatic and electrifying that in some way or another has a bearing on their daily lives. I heard one young person say that for many seeing Francis was like seeing Jesus. This is an astute observation, perhaps more than she intended, in part because the Pope does have that character about him, but also because it invites us to turn to the gospels, to the encounters that women and men had with Jesus, to help us interpret reactions to the papal visit, and especially to answer the question of whether and to what extent he fell short or failed during his visit. Read more

Sanctification and Time

“The ethos of the sabbath goes much deeper than an individual commitment to prioritize worship. It includes all of those sacred practices, both affirmations and prohibitions, that have been kept alive in Judaism and are being fitfully recovered by Christians.” Benjamin J. Dueholm

Ekklesia Project endorsers and friends may be interested in the Christian Century article quoted above which addresses the decline of rest in our society: The War Against Rest.

EP has explored this topic in a variety of ways.

Phil Kenneson discussed the church and rest in a talk (among other practices) at the EP Slow Church gathering and in his pamphlet, both titled “Practicing Ecclesial Patience” which you can listen to here or read here.

In addition, Norman Wirzba examined the topic as part of EP’s Christian Practices of Everyday Life Series, in his book Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight.

And of course, Sabbath rest plays a part in the discussions that continue from our EP gathering on Slow Church in 2012 and in the Slow Church blog and book.

(image used under Creative Commons license from flickr user Seabamirum)

Airbnb, Hospitality, and the Gift Economy

Chi-Ming Chien, EP board member and blogger, examines the tension between the economy we live in and the economy which God calls us to participate in:

“It’s ironic that, as we participate in the sharing economy, more and more of our lives get ceded over to the domain of the transactional. Where previously we might have a couch or spare room for a guest to crash in, now we rent it out. Where previously we might have offered an unused desk space in our office for a friend needing a place to work, now we list it and charge by the hour or by the day. Where previously (in antiquity, it seems…) we might have given someone a lift if we were headed their direction, now we charge for a Lyft. Interestingly enough in Lyft’s case, what started off as a suggested donation has moved toward fixed charges as the service has matured.

The core issue, as I see it, is that despite our best efforts, we continually get bent toward relationships characterized by transaction or exchange– what Jacques Ellul, the French sociologist and theologian, calls the Law of Money.”

Read the rest here:

A What or a Who?

EP’s Brent Laytham reflects on promises made by prominent acolytes of technology:

There’s an eschatology of sorts in the hubbub — indeed, in the hubris — that attends so-called technological revolutions. Apocalyptic always makes epochs determined by “before” and “after,” whether it’s the apocalyptic imagination undergirding the New Testament (e.g., “but in these last days…”; Heb 1:2, NRSV) or the one animating digital utopians like Edward Castronova (Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality [Palgrave, 2007]). The core question is whether that which dramatically changes everything is a “what” or a “who.” For Christians, even those entranced by the bewitchments of technological change, the answer must finally be who — for we know that grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ (John 1:17), not the latest technological revolution, no matter how remarkable.

Read the rest here.