October 12, 2009
Shane Claiborne Swiped My Credit Card
I'm still processing a seminal event I attended this weekend, Jopa Productions' Christianity 21 conference in idyllic Edina, Minnesota. I'm sure people are blogging this week about the event, but you can also get a sense of the conference by reading the Twitter feed, which is organized under the hashtag #C21. The event was noteworthy for any number of reasons, but three stand out for me:
The conference was equal parts reunion and showcase. Both were a draw for me. I got to catch up with a number of people I don't often get the opportunity to see, including Mark Van Steenwyk, who blogs at The Jesus Manifesto, and who gave me a recipe for pumpkin spice syrup for homemade lattes. Laci Scott reminded me of my early Emergent misadventures with yoga in dress socks. Anthony Smith and I endured unapologetically dirty dishes as we noshed over a buffet breakfast. I watched Doug Pagitt negotiate better food service from a hotel that was crowded with Christian hippies and bearded collies. Spencer Burke and I talked about a conference I didn't even go to. Mark Scandrette and I joked around about narcissism and comic books. Mike Stavlund and I bonded over haiku and other writing styles. And Shane Claiborne, notorious anticapitalist (or something like that), swiped my credit card so that I could gain entry to the event. For whatever reason, that makes me laugh.
Beyond the reunion, I was introduced to some prodigious thinkers and practitioners. Nadia Bolz-Weber, who blogs as the Sarcastic Lutheran and whom I'm a nerdy fan of, facilitated a great conversation with Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence. Julie Clawson represented Likewise Books well as she discussed Everyday Justice. Alise Barrymore, a pastor-scholar from the south side of Chicago, brought the house to its feet as she talked about growing down. Jenell Paris addressed the thorny issue of how important we should consider our sexuality, with implications for how we talk about homosexuality and Christianity together. Mimi Haddad asserted the equality of women to men in the eyes of God, a sentiment that pretty much everyone in the room shared but which needed to be said, and it was said eloquently, nonetheless. Debbie Blue celebrated the incarnation with a meditation on roadkill, which sounds gross (and is no way to lead into lunch) but was brilliant. Alyce McKenzie had a running theme of returning the products of our culture--self-sufficiency and self-absorption among them--in exchange for the values of the kingdom of God. On and on and on the speakers went, with perhaps the focal point coming from Lauren Winner, who forecasted what she hopes will be the twenty-one things people think of a hundred years from now when they think of Christians.
I can't imagine that everyone agreed with everything, but it was fun, and it was substantive, and it was seminal. And I got a killer syrup recipe out of it. And be warned, Shane Claiborne: I will be watching my credit card invoice carefully, and if anything looks hinky, I'm coming for you.