Clay Stauffer on Mainstream Media and “Selling Out”

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Quote from Preaching Politics: Proclaiming Jesus in an Age of Money, Power, and Partisanship by Clay Stauffer — available for pre-order now, don’t pay until it ships!

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Eric Law on The Gift

From chapter three, “The Gift,” in Holy Currency Exchange: 101 Stories, Songs, Actions, and Visions for Missional and Sustainable Ministries by Eric H.F. Law:

Holy_Currency_Exchange_cover_finalRE_400At the beginning of the new year, I often hear people say with a sigh of relief, “Thank God the holidays are over!” I recall seeing frantic shoppers before Christmas trying to find the right presents for people to whom they are obligated to give gifts. If gift giving is reduced to an obligation and is measured as a commodity, I can understand how it would be a relief to be done with it until the next birthday or anniversary or Christmas.

In his now-classic book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, author Lewis Hyde shares stories from different cultures around the concept of exchanging gifts. He writes

These stories present gift exchange as a companion to transformation, a sort of guardian or marker or catalyst. It is also the case that a gift may be the actual agent of change, the bearer of new life. In the simplest examples, gifts carry an identity with them, and to accept the gift amounts to incorporating the new identity.

According to Hyde, there are at least three obligations to gift economy—the obligation to give, the obligation to accept, and the obligation to reciprocate. In many of the cultural stories that Hyde examined, the reciprocation may not go directly back to the original giver but to a third party. Sometimes the gift is expected to keep flowing throughout the community and it may eventually return to the original giver in different forms. Hyde wrote, “[A] gift that cannot be given away ceases to be a gift. The spirit of a gift is kept alive by its constant donation.”

For Christians, one of the greatest gifts that we receive is Jesus. To accept this gift is to incorporate a new identity embodied by the words and actions of Jesus. Continue reading Eric Law on The Gift

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Rev. Jennifer Bailey on Daniel Holtzclaw and #StandWithBWG

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On December 10, 2015, Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted of multiple counts of rape, sexual battery, and other charges. Today, he was sentenced to 263 years in prison. Although little media attention has been given to this case, it is important to recognize the brave response of the victims, like Jannie Ligons. In an article for MoyoLiving.org, Rev. Jennifer Bailey reflects on how these events mirror the sexual exploitation of black women throughout history. Bailey shows that there have always been women like Ms. Jannie to resist the mistreatment. Her call is #StandWithBGW (Black Women and Girls).

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Sarah Griffith Lund on Her 2016 Lent Devotional

The Fellowship of Prayer 2016 Lenten devotional was written by Sarah Griffith Lund, author of the acclaimed Blessed Are The Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church. We asked Sarah a few questions about this year’s Lent devotional. Here’s what she said:

SarahGriffithLund_FOP16Tell us about the theme for the Fellowship of Prayer 2016 Lenten devotional. How did this theme of “dreams and visions” come together? What inspired you?
The theme for the Fellowship of Prayer 2016 emerged out of my conversations with readers about my book Blessed are the Crazy. In the book I talk about my own personal fears and vulnerability to mental illness because bipolar disorder runs in my family. As a Christian and a spiritual person who has a relationship with God, I have experienced dreams and visions. But because of the history of mental illness in my family, I was reluctant to talk about my dreams and visions, because I was afraid people would think I was crazy. Yet, when I study Scripture and the writings of early Christian mystics, like St. John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich, their writings are filled with visions and dreams, encounters with the living God. So this Fellowship of Prayer is dedicated to exploring the visions and dreams of the Bible, in hopes of opening up conversations about how God continues to speak to us through our own dreams and visions. This theme comes out of encouragement by my readers to break the silence in the church about dreams and visions.

What did you learn through the writing of the Fellowship of Prayer 2016 Lenten devotional? What was your experience like during this project?
I was sincerely shocked by how saturated the Bible is with dreams and visions. I had never looked at the Scriptures through this particular lens before, and I was overwhelmed by the powerful stories of God breaking through ordinary time and visiting people in their dreams. I learned more about the nature of God’s communication, discovering that God historically and continually connects to us through dreams and visions. I learned to trust my own dreams and visions more, and found encouragement in the Scriptures for my own faith journey. Writing this devotional was a real gift to my spirit, deeply immersing me in Scripture, drawing me closer to the heart of God.

What do you hope readers of Fellowship of Prayer 2016 will gain from spending the 40 days of Lent walking through it?
I hope that readers will learn from the witness of Scripture about the ways that God seeks to be revealed to us. I believe that God continues to seek us out in our dreams and visions. Spending the 40 days of Lent walking through Biblical dreams and visions, readers will be encouraged to open themselves up to the Spirit of God … with the hope of transforming us with dreams and visions of new life.

Lent begins Ash Wednesday, February 10. The last day to order copies of Fellowship of Prayer 2016 for your personal use or for your church — in order to ensure delivery by/before Ash Wednesday — is Monday, February 1!

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Remind and Renew 2016: Leah Gunning Francis

Closing Phillips Theological Seminary’s Remind and Renew was Leah Gunning Francis, author of Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community. Currently on the faculty at Eden Theological Seminary, Francis brings her intimate perspective on the protests in Ferguson, Mo., sparked by the shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014 and the subsequent protests and legal (in)actions in the case. She was on the frontlines in the protests and interviewed dozens of other leaders to collect their perspectives on what worked, what didn’t, and what others can do to react to the next Ferguson – because, as she often says, “There is a Ferguson near you.”

  • “[Clergy] were not there to be the leaders … but rather to enter this space the young activists had already claimed and to go stand beside, stand with, to listen, to learn, to offer all kinds of support.”
  • Given the racism originally built into the Constitution: “Every time you hear the phrase ‘constitutional rights’… you should shudder.”
  • “The call for the church to wake up and stay awake – or as the hashtag says, “#staywoke –still resounds loudly today.”
  • It’s not enough to merely think racism exists; we have to heighten our awareness of the way it exists and lives and thrives.
  • “[Racism is] alive anytime you hear the word thug. It’s alive anytime you hear somebody say of an 18-year-old ‘he’s just a criminal.’”
  • “We’ve got to change the narrative. It’s killing us – never mind the emotional and spiritual damage it’s doing – it’s killing us.”
  • On who needs to be at the table when discussion dismantling racism: “The only time I’ve ever seen a black mother on television [talking about racism and justice] is after her child has been killed.”
  • “We’re going to have to listen to the voices that have been left out and marginalized. We’re going to have to be willing to believe the stories, the narratives, of the people who have been most deeply affected.”
  • Framing our perception of racism in the five senses: “We have to be willing to taste the bitter dregs of discomfort. [Protest] is not going to taste good in your mouth.”
  • “The truth is, there are untold numbers of people living and breathing and alert today who not only have very vivid memories of those kinds of acts and worse – but [those] who also instigated them and orchestrated them. We’ve got to own that and confront that.”
  • “I wish you could hear the stories of every black man in this country because I haven’t met one yet who does not have some very explicit life altering story [of institutional racism].”

On this Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 2016, following yet another violent year that included the horrifying Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre and Bree Newsome scaling a flagpole to tear down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state capitol, with both the realization that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is here to stay and that thinly veiled racism is part of the national political scene, I hope we discover new ways we (individually and collectively) can tear down racism, how we can reach out to those on the margins and to the oppressed, and how we can fulfill the visions of Dr. King, Jesus, and the other peacemakers who inspire us to make the world a better place — and then I hope we will move beyond talking about it and actually do it. It’s up to us.

Thanks,
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Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Remind and Renew 2016: Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins

Friday I posted excerpts of William J. Barber II’s address to the Remind and Renew Conference. Now comes a great article from the Tulsa World covering Wednesday night’s sermon by Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)*. The lead paragraph by reporter Bill Sherman:

“Racism in America is real. It is sin. And it will be tough to eradicate. “

On both the World’s webpage and our sharing of the article on Facebook, the article has prompted comments-section trolling, showing how deeply challenging any discussion on racism is and how deeply people’s beliefs and misconceptions are rooted.

What do you think of Watkins’ comments? Try not to troll. 🙂

Thanks,
Brad-signature

 

*CBP/Chalice Press is an autonomous general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Remind and Renew 2016: Rev. Dr. William Barber and Sharon Watkins

Tulsa World was on hand Wednesday night when Sharon Watkins spoke at the Remind and Renew 2016 conference. They captured this great moment between two of our beloved authors, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Sharon Watkins. So great to see this dynamic duo!

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Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

Remind and Renew 2016: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

This week I was blessed to attend Remind and Renew, a two-day symposium hosted by Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Okla. One of the reasons I attended is that three of this year’s speakers were authors of recent Chalice Press books: William J. Barber II, Leah Gunning Francis, and Sharon Watkins. I’m always eager to see and hear our authors, especially in front of audiences topping 200 participants from coast to coast, but the unifying subject was particularly intriguing:

What is the conversation about race Christians in the U.S. should be having, and how might that conversation contribute to liberty and justice for all?

As a former journalist, I saw the first opportunity to live-tweet an event, and I’ll give credit where credit is due: It’s not easy. (Note that these are paraphrases unless quotation marks are used. I’m not as fast a typist as I used to be.) That said, I captured nuggets from Barber and Gunning Francis that describe succinctly yet poignantly where our country and our church have failed — and where there is hope for change.

Brad Lyons at Remind and Renew 2016, photo by Mindy McGarrah Sharp

Dr. Barber spoke first, reminding us of the original Reconstruction that half-heartedly attempted to rebuild society in the old Confederacy before Jim Crow undid that progress, followed by the Civil Rights Movement, whose progress has eroded through the end of the War on Poverty and trimming voting rights. Barber believes he is seeing the Third Reconstruction beginning in the Moral Monday Movement rooted in his home state of North Carolina and other states where the movement is gaining momentum. Here are the nuggets I captured from Dr. Barber’s talk at #RemindRenew:

  • The fact of the matter is, when you deal with racism and class, you are dealing with an old demon. We have not fully named the demon, so we cannot cast it out.
  • Of those deconstructing Reconstruction in the 1870s: “They said they will redeem America. They used moral messaging for immoral purposes. Sound familiar?”
  • “I believe the 14th Amendment (equal treatment under the law) is more important than the Second Amendment.”
  • Why was the War on Poverty stopped? Because it worked.
  • Visionaries transcend boundaries. “You never hear anybody say, ‘I have a dream for Democrats.'”
  • “If the church doesn’t have a political Pentecost and learn to speak in tongues, we will never get at this issue of race in America.”
  • “Helicopter [national] leadership will not sustain a local movement.”
  • “We need to use moral language to reframe the public policy of who’s in power.”
  • Let’s read in the Constitution that freedom isn’t, in fact, the Constitution’s priority — it’s securing our basic needs and safety.
  • On the Religious Right: “I’ve got a problem calling somebody right when they’re so wrong.”
  • Moral imagination has been the backbone of every prophetic movement.
  • “We need a grown-up conversation about race and class. An altar call. We need a revival. We need a Pentecost.”
  • (Sarcastically) Want a great America? Cut teachers. Hurt people because of their sexuality. Deny income to the working poor. Take labor more open to war than diplomacy. Distort the religious views of leaders for your own benefit. Make sure everybody can get a gun more easily than they can vote. “If we can’t preach against that … then something is wrong with us.”
  • At the beginning of the Moral Monday movement, about 40% of North Carolinians agreed with the movement’s ideas. Now, it’s almost 60%. The moral understanding of policy has changed.

Barber is the most charismatic, evangelical preacher I’ve had the honor of seeing. Each time, the audience has been mostly white and middle-class — age varies widely — but  he connects so keenly with the hopes and ambitions and frustrations that all seeking racial justice share. I can’t wait to hear him again.

In my next post, I’ll share what Leah Gunning Francis had to share about her experiences protesting Ferguson in the days and weeks after the killing of Michael Brown, of writing Ferguson and Faith, and what terrifies her in an era when just a few years ago we believed we might actually be moving into a post-racial world. Stay tuned …

Thanks,
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Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

What Is a “Holy Currency Exchange”? Eric Law Explains

From the Preface to Holy Currency Exchange by Eric H.F. Law:

LawEric_Web-smallOne way to get attention on the Internet is to string words together that are not commonly used in everyday language. This technique works because people can find you simply by typing these unlikely couplings of words into a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It has been about two years since the book Holy Currencies was published. I had been using the term “Holy Currencies” for about three years before that in my blog, The Sustainist, and in workshops I have given across the United States and Canada. When I Google “holy currencies” today, I discover pages and pages of references to this two-word phrase, the majority of these references directly connected to me, the Kaleidoscope Institute, and the book. I was also pleasantly surprised to read sermons, study guides, articles on missional ministries, success stories of missional programs, gracious invitations, diagrams, stewardship addresses, and stewardship packets based on the cycle of blessings model as presented in Holy Currencies.

The words “holy” and “currencies” do not usually go together, and that is precisely why I put them together—perhaps initially for shock value, which invites people to pay attention. Combining these two words also challenges our assumptions about what is holy and what is currency. The reason we don’t think these two words belong together is that most people don’t think currencies (referring to money) can be holy.

The Greek word for “holy” is ἅγιος (hagios), which means set apart for (or by) God. The word implies that the thing, person, or place that is holy is different from the world because it reflects the likeness of the nature of God. Merriam-Webster.com defines “currency” as “something that is in circulation as a medium of exchange.” Notice that the word “money” is not part of this definition. Money is just one of many media of exchange. In Holy Currencies, I proposed that a missional and sustainable ministry must have the dynamic exchanges of six currencies—Money, Time/Place, Gracious Leadership, Relationship, Truth, and Wellness. These currencies by themselves are not necessarily holy. In fact, they can be exchanged for many destructive actions that individuals and systems can do to people and our environment. For these currencies to be holy, they must resemble the likeness of the nature of God. We must utilize these currencies in ways that follow the pattern of God’s will and action. …

Eric Law: It is our choice to make our resources holy by exchanging them ... Click To Tweet

We all have resources—time, place, leadership, relationship, truth, wellness, and money. What makes these resources holy is a dynamic process of exchanging them to empower the cycle of blessings that sustains communities. This book captures real life stories of these holy currency exchanges, most of which emerged out of Christian communities. Some of these stories are not specifically Christian, but I consider them holy because they follow the divine patterns of holy currency exchange.

This book also offers innovative ideas for holy currency exchanges—some of which have never been tried. These ideas are dreams or visions of what can happen if we dare to follow the divine pattern of holy currency exchange. Some stories and ideas are local, in the sense that they address how to use resources locally. Other stories and ideas are global, addressing broader concerns, such as the wellness and truth of the environment, and of national and international communities. Along the way, I provide songs and poems to open your minds, hearts, and spirits to live into the cycle of blessings.

“Holy” and “currencies” may not go together in our minds initially. It is our choice to make our resources holy by exchanging them for things that are of God’s will. What resources are you setting aside to make holy? What stories can you tell about how you have practiced the cycle of blessings?

Download the rest of this free preview of Holy Currency Exchange

RSVP now for the livestream conversation with Eric Law, Jacqui Lewis, and YOU and your questions on Tuesday, January 26 at 1pm CT:
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Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.