Tag Archives: Kathy Escobar

A Beautiful Mess

This post is part of the October Synchroblog “Down We Go”.  This month’s theme explores the idea of Jesus calling us to go down into the low and messy places of life–intersecting with the lepers, the lonely, the outcasts, the marginalized – to live a life of humility, love, and interdependence.

There is a lot of talk these days about Christians getting their hands dirty – about how followers of Christ need to be willing to get down into the mess of life.  This kind of talk scares off some people as they begin to try and imagine what that means and what it would require.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t require that people take the drastic measures they usually imagine.

If you want to join in the mess of life just become a part of a community.

Yes, you heard me right.

I know a lot of people think that being involved in a community is one of the easier things that a follower of Christ has to do.

But the reality is that community is hard – community is messy.

Community is messy because people are messy.

Different opinions, different perspectives of right and wrong, different understandings of scripture, different ideas about how to do things, different backgrounds, different histories, different strengths and weaknesses, different personalities, different desires, different passions, different talents, different interests … I could go on but you get the idea.

All of our differences are what makes community so hard and messy.

But it is among the messiness and the challenges and the difficulties that we learn how to be like Christ.

The way to learn how to become like Jesus is to love. The only way we can learn how to love is to practice it in close relationship, and have our lives rub up against each other, including doing so with people who are different from us. Loving people just like us is not that difficult. Loving people who never change, who bug the hell out of us, who aren’t kind or thankful, who don’t pass on grace even though they’ve received heaps of it—that requires much more work. In other words, love is best practiced in the spaces that require it. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus challenges us to—to live into the spaces that only come through a path of descent?”    Kathy Escobar from “Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus”

Someone might wonder why in the world anyone would ever want to be a part of something so horrible as community.

Maybe it is because the sharing of life – the accomplishments, the milestones, the aha moments, the discoveries, the ideas, the experiences are all so much more meaningful and exhilarating and worthwhile when they are shared within a community.  The failures, the difficulties, the losses, the set-backs, the disappointments, the losses, the injustices, the wrongs of life are all so much more bearable when endured within a community.

The thing about community is that it is like washing down a bitter pill with a very sweet and delectable nectar … even though community is hard and messy, it is a beautiful mess.

For more on this idea pick up Kathy Escobar’s book “Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus” and check out the other posts for this month’s synchroblog by following the links listed here:

Three Things Tuesday – Emergents Retreating?, Christian Women Oppressed and the PCUSA 219th GA

#1 – Has What Emerged Retreated?


I ran across an interesting series that Kester Brewin wrote about participants of the Emergent Movement in the UK returning to the institutional church and organizations.  He addresses this topic to some degree in his book  Other: Loving Self, God and Neighbour in a World of Fractures (which I have now ordered and am looking forward to reading).  The series (and the comments) covered a lot of interesting topics including how spiritual maturation takes place (part 2), how institutions can become damaging and what can be done to counteract that (part 3), some  info about Vaux (a community of artists and city-lovers who sought to explore the Christian faith through the media that came naturally to their hands) and Temporary Autonomous Zones (part 4).  Jonny Baker and Andrew Jones both post responses to the series.  Of course the authors are all from Europe which is some years ahead of the US regarding emerging/emergent Christianity, but there are still many similarities.  What do you think?  Is a retreat taking place?  Is it maturation?  Has the institutional church changed?

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#2 – Happy Christian Women…Really??? and Drinking The Company Kool-Aid

Pam Hogeweide and Kathy Escobar have written posts in response to a recent Barna survey of Christian women requested by Jim Henderson of Off The Map for his latest writing project about how the modern American church treats women.  I believe that this is a very important issue and am disappointed that no woman is authoring the book with Jim on this project (Pam addresses this in her post) but do appreciate that Jim is at least asking women (here) to let him know if their experience matches the survey results from Barna (mine don’t and I let him know).  Check it out and let your voice be heard.

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#3 – Good News and Bad News

The good news is that the PCUSA General Assembly voted in favor of lifting the ban of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy.  The bad news is that they voted to not even hear or discuss the issue of same sex marriage and so it is tabled for two more years.

Soul Force held a demonstration at the proceedings and some were arrested because they refused to leave.  There seemed to be some differing opinions (check out Shuck and Jive post and comments) about Soul Force being there but I appreciated them being there to represent the voice of the oppressed and excluded.

Three Things Tuesday

Brian McLaren has a new book out….A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming The Faith and it is creating quite a buzz around the blogosphere.

In this book, Brian examines ten questions facing today’s church.  The questions are:

  • The Narrative Question: What Is the Overarching Storyline of the Bible?
  • The Authority Question: How Should the Bible Be Understood?
  • The God Question: Is God Violent?
  • The Jesus Question: Who is Jesus and Why is He Important?
  • The Gospel Question: What Is the Gospel?
  • The Church Question: What Do We Do About the Church?
  • The Sex Question: Can We Find a Way to Address Sexuality Without Fighting About It?
  • The Future Question: Can We Find a Better Way of View the Future?
  • The Pluralism Question: How Should Followers of Jesus Relate to People of Other Religions?
  • The What Do We Do Now Question: How Can We Translate Our Quest into Action?

From where I sit these are great questions and from what I have read so far I like Brian’s book.  That doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with everything he says but I like it. What I like most about Brian’s books is they typically lead me to think seriously about what I believe, why I believe it, how my beliefs lines up with scripture and the teachings of Jesus, how what I believe about one thing conflicts with other beliefs I have, and most importantly, it leads me to examine how my beliefs are being lived out in my own life.

Like I said, this book, which was just released about a week ago, is already getting a lot of attention.  Below are some links you may want to follow:

Check out Brian’s New Channel on THEOOZE.TV where each week will feature a 5 minute episode where Brian will focus on one of the 10 questions posed in his book. The resource can be used by individuals or study/reading groups as a promotion or thought-provoking primer for the next week’s study. Or, it can be a great lead-off for for group discussion of the book, chapter-by-chapter. There’s even a chance for your study group to win a live Skype with Brian.

A couple of good posts by Mike Morrell at Zoecarnate here and here.

And another good post by Chris Marshall at Ordinary Community here.

And finally a response from Brian McLaren to some criticism here.  I am always amazed at how gracious, kind, humble and generous McLaren is.

It’s been a week since Google rolled out Google Buzz, a new service for sharing status updates, links and media with your friends.   It seems to be a combination of facebook and twitter, and Google seems to be tweaking it on a daily basis right now.  It certainly seems to be taking off at full speed but it’s hard to see it replacing either Facebook or Twitter.  What do you think about it?

Kathy Escobar, the author of the blog “the carnival in my head” has a post up titled “why i’m a postevangelical missional emerging ancient-future social-justice progressive conservative 12-stepping bible-enjoying christian-mutt” The post reminds us that although labels serve a purpose they are usually inadequate when it comes to describing individuals because we are too complex for a couple of words to define what we are all about.  It’s a timely post with the online bickering that has been going on among some in the emergent conversation that are grappling with how to love one another in spite of their passionate disagreements.  Relationships between people and groups can get pretty messy at times – hopefully this is just one of those rough patches that will eventually lead to many, or at least some, growing in love and humility.