Introducing Preacher of the Month

Recently I asked a prominent female preacher who is another female preacher that I should be listening to. This preacher looked at me and said, "I cannot tell you a single female preacher in a large pulpit." I was struck at her assumption that the only people worth listening to were those with a large pulpit/platform.

After sharing my shock with a trusted friend about this experience, my friend (also clergy) said, "Jason you say that you want to advocate for the voices that are not in large pulpits. What are you specifically doing to advocate for those preachers to help get their voice heard?" She allowed me to steal her idea and put it on this blog - "Preacher of the Month". 

Each preacher is asked to respond to the same set of questions so you can quickly get a sense of who they are and where/how to learn more about their efforts in ministry. And because I do not appreciate it when someone suggests something to me without telling me why they find it compelling, I also will put a note at the bottom of each profile of why I think you should know about that particular preacher.

It is my hope and prayer that you might find a new voice that is compelling for you to guide you in your faith formation.


The Dress is Not Blue/Black or Gold/White

If the U.S. is not captivated by llamas running loose we are busy arguing about the color of this dress. 

My wife and I are a house divided. I am on team Blue/Black, she is on team Gold/White. Apparently to some people this dress looks totally different to others. Tempers were flaming all over the internet. People making arguments about what color this dress is and in the end, we all are wrong. This dress is not blue and black or gold and white. 

This dress is blue and black and gold and white. 

In fact this whole social explosion is a wonderful illustration of how our minds in the U.S. "work". We divide things into categories and once they are in those categories it is very difficult to break out of those categories. For instance try telling some people that God is She or that God really does love our enemies or that we all participate in evil. Or that this dress is blue and black. 

The spiritual life is a lot of things but at its core it is about unlearning how to break things into categories and see the unifying whole in the world. Every book written by Father Richard Rohr hits this point home - The spiritual life is about leaving dual thinking behind and embracing "non-dual" thinking. 

If we can see that some people experience this picture as a blue/black dress and others see this picture as a white/gold dress and can validate both experiences as true, if we can see the the other as our neighbor, see we have a part in all forms of evil, see we are all threads in a single garment of destiny then we are taking steps toward non-dual thinking. 

However, if we spend energy trying to prove what color the dress really is in order to make ourselves feel like we are "more right" than another, if we only see ourselves as sinner or saint, if we only see our neighbor as friend or foe, if we only see that God loves us and not our enemy, if we persist to live as dualistic thinkers we might as well put the dress over our eyes. 

At least then everyone else will see that we are blinded.

Authenticity is the too Difficult, Give Me Plastic

Authenticity is a buzzword these days. Not that it is a bad value, but it is interesting that there is so much talk about something yet we all cannot seem to acquire it. In economic terms, there is a market for authenticity yet we cannot seem to meet the market demands. It makes one wonder if the decline of Church participation correlates with the rise of the "authentic" craving?

Many of my millennial peers are in pursuit of authentic experiences. Where previous generations may have collected stamps or baseball cards or porcelain frogs, many in my generation collect authentic experiences. We sit around and listen to one another's stories of travel. We brag about who has eaten the most authentic food types. We talk about what is "real" and what is "plastic". We compare notes on what new technology is rising in order to help us stay connected and (even better) give another platform for us to share our authentic experiences. 

Despite our expressed desires, we millennials are not good at authenticity in ourselves. We are just like any other generation that has come before us, we are more interested in finding our tribe (those who walk, talk, live and more like us) than finding authentic community. When our search for authenticity leads us to people that are just like us, we can be certain we are in a fabricated world full of mirrors pointed at ourselves. 

True authenticity requires that we engage with the world and not just our tribe. Because only when we engage with others that are not like us do we being to discover who our true "authentic" selves are. As Joan Chittister said in Wisdom Distilled From the Daily

"It is in community where we find out who we really are. It is life with another that shows my impatience and life with another that demonstrates my possessiveness and life with another that gives notice to my nagging devotion to the self. Life with someone else, in other words, doesn’t show me nearly as much about his or her shortcomings as it does about my own."

And so, if we really desire authenticity the first step is not to find those who are like us, but those who may not be like us. Authenticity does not begin with another, it begins within. Could it be that the desire for authenticity is not because we don't know if the other people or groups in our world are "plastic" or "real", but that we don't know if we are.