An Open Letter to Fuller Theological Seminary

Dear Fuller Seminary,

I am grieved to read the recent LA Times article which describes the expulsion of a Fuller student because of their same sex marriage.  As an alumni I’ve consistently looked back at my time at Fuller with gratitude and appreciation for the ways I was shaped,  the opportunities that have been opened, and the many deep relationships that were formed.  Fuller was a place of theological diversity, rich academic learning, and sincere commitment to the ways of Jesus.  At Fuller I learned to deepen my relationship to the Bible and appreciate the range of theological perspectives within the global church- always balancing sound exegesis with a hermenuitic of God’s love in context.  Since my graduation I have only grown in my appreciation for my time at Fuller as I currently find myself deep in the work of local pastoral ministry in Oakland, California.

So why am I writing to you?

Because I can’t not.

If there was anything Fuller taught me it’s that the work of theology, study, ministry, and faith is not always black and white.  Over the centuries Christians have debated various issues and changed their “position” many times.  Even within Fuller’s own history this narrative is played out.  When Fuller was first founded in 1947 women were not allowed to receive theological degrees, something that I might add has a stronger biblical precedent than LGBT+ exclusion.  By 1968 (almost 20 years later!?) Fuller thankfully changed its position and opened up all its degree programs to women.   I wonder how Fuller can have a nuanced and inclusive approach to women in ministry, or divorce for that matter, but not LGBT+ inclusion?  This is tragic and to the determent of not only LGBT+ folks, but to the broader church, as we are cutting off a part of our body.

I believe the rigidity in which Fuller is currently responding to non-traditional (from a culturally American perspective) forms of relationship goes against everything Fuller stands for AND is deeply harmful to the witness of the church to the world.  Furthermore, I know first hand that there are many LGBT+ people who’ve attended Fuller and I believe there are numerous faculty and staff that believe inclusion is a more loving, ethical, and theologically sound approach.

One of the details within the LA times article that grieved me the most was that it was Dr. Marianne Meye Thompson who sent the letter of expulsion.  How sadly ironic.  I have tremendous respect for Dr. Thompson as both a professor and as a female leader in space that has not always been open to women.   I’ll always remember sitting with other students on the steps of the to the Old City Jerusalem as she shared about the history and reality of Jesus’ subversive time on earth.  Multiple times on our trip Dr Thompson corrected bad history and shared about the various nuances and diverse interpretations that we were encountering all around us through tour guides and biased sources.

It’s with these experiences in my heart that I’m writing to you.  I’m not sure as to why Fuller can’t see, that at the very least, diversity of perspective is needed on this issue.  Though I myself strongly believe in the “affirming” position, I understand that not everyone is there.  But why take such an extreme and harmful position?

Maybe there are wealthy donors who don’t understand the experience of our LGBT+ brothers and sisters and who will pull their financial support from Fuller if it becomes more inclusive.  Maybe some of the board or the faculty haven’t done the work or heard the stories of how exclusion has harmed so many and how inclusion reflects God’s love so beautifully.  If that’s the case, please, please, please reconsider.  For many people these policies are life and death issues.  At our church, an affirming and deeply Christ-centered community, I’ve seen over and over the healing, redemptive, and just work of God as we welcome all to the table, and as we elevate the ways of love above exegetical rigidity.

To faculty and staff who might be playing it safe in the “tension” while Fuller expels and excludes people, please step out on their behalf.

To students and alumni, it’s our time to speak out and share the ways God is creating a global church where all are welcome as guests and participants.

I’ve always spoken very highly of Fuller and pointed many friends your way.  I believe our world needs Fuller more than ever, but only if Fuller can continue to step into the diversity of thought and faith as it has in the past.  Hopefully it won’t take a painful lawsuit to bring about inclusive change.

Sincerely,

Chris Scott, MDiv
Oak Life Church / Pastor

Ohlone

Before the gold rush and silicon booms

Before the bridges and spires

Before the panthers and angels

Before the hippies and hyphy

Before the vineyards and slow food

Before the jazz bars and punk clubs

Before the missionaries and gentrifiers

There was a people and culture

A history of connection to creation

Dance houses, tule boats, and shell mounds

A Costanoan cosmos of sacred souls

Ohlone

http://www.muwekma.org

You are what you eat

A table holding God in grain

In a room of broken stories

Wounded by the supposed sacred

Some questioning, allergic, intolerant

But still sorrowfully hungry

Longing for the love underneath it all

Grape juice made holy nectar

Dripping spirits, blood of Christ

Making broken bread soggy

Our brokenness finding home in the divine

Wearing down our defenses

Sanctifying our souls

Nourishing our systems

Fueling our resistance

As we learn to be loved

It’s a new way

Love in food

Love embodied

God consumed

God tasted

You are what you eat

Love of enemy

Agape deaths

Grace on grace on grace

Mercy made flesh

We are what we eat

Or at least becoming what we eat

A proclamation of opposites

Upside downs and reversals

Shit to glory

Death to fresh babies wails

Horror to heaven

Grief to gift

Abomination to masterpiece

This bread and this cup

Are more

More than grain and grape

They are a sign that we are not alone

That God is love

That Love will win

Every time we eat

With each sip we drink

Love wins

For reference: A FB conversation I don’t want to repeat with some one who sees things differently and keeps popping up

Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 11.20.34 AM.png

So a while back I posted a link with some commentary on my Facebook wall.  The link was an article describing how President Trump told a group of congresswomen to go back to where they came from.  I felt pretty strongly about this language and shared my thoughts.  What followed in the comments caught me off guard because I was subsequently attacked not because of my initial comment, but because of my theological stance on issues of marriage and sexuality as a Pastor, something seemingly unrelated.

Typically I don’t engage too much in these conversations online because I don’t have the time and don’t feel like they get very far.  This time around I took the bait and soon found out that many people were following the discussion, so I felt obligated to respond thoughtfully.  As the conversation progressed it became clear that we were not going to come to any sort of resolution, so after a while I explained that I was done.  While I may have at times been sassy, I also felt that I was mostly respectful.  At the end of it I was just sad that this person couldn’t see how hurtful their views and tactics were.

So that’s where I thought it ended.  Social feeds are pretty amnesic and algorithms move on to the next thing with great expediency.

Except this person then found our church’s instagram and posted another reactive comment on a picture in which we were offering apologies, free water, and love at Oakland Pride.  Among the attacks, this person called me a hateful false teacher.

For a moment I thought I should respond again, but then I realized that it wouldn’t make a difference.  Responding would only take my time and energy away from my work, my community, and my family.

But here is the thing, I feel like this person, or others like them, will likely pop up from time to time. In my opinion it’s pretty cowardly to send attacks like these from the convenience of your device without any relational context for the consequences or without any understanding for why we see things so differently (especially when I challenged this person to a public debate that could be made a fundraiser).

So what I’ve decided to do is post on my blog the initial conversation with this person as a reference point for whenever comments like these are made on social media.  Instead of responding each time, I’ll just link this.  I’m always happy to meet with people in person to share why I believe what I believe, but my experience is that life-and-death conversations like these are pretty much impossible to have online.

So without further ado, here is the initial conversation.  I’ve left off comments made by other people with the exception of two that play a part in the broader discussion, just FYI.  Also I’m just calling the individual who I’m talking about ‘person’:

Chris Scott (initial post): Clearly the President feels threatened by women who hold power, call out his morally vacant administration, and don’t look like the folks he grew up with in privilege. Narcissism is reactive and predictable, and underneath it all, a coping mechanism for a wounded and insecure soul. Praying for this man’s heart to be healed in a way that he’ll be able to love his neighbor as himself.  (Article link here)

Also, keep kicking butt ladies.

*Update: I’ll be deleting new comments to this thread as of 7/20. For an explanation on why read the comments.


Person: Unless I’m missing something, this seems quite out of context considering the entire tweet from Trump was about these women helping their home countries resolve their problems as an example to the US, not a blanket “go back to the country you came from”.

Chris Scott: I appreciate your question and openness to missing something. Yes, the words the President chose to use communicated clearly racist meaning. Even the most biased and charitable take on those tweets acknowledges this. Sometimes our ideological rigidity prevents us from understanding how things come across to others. In this case these tweets were racist, immature, ignorant, and yet another example of a broken human being lashing out instead of developing character, humility, or concern for facts.

Person: Thanks for sharing your opinion Chris.

(this is where I should probably have left it, but was feeling a bit salty that day;) )
—-

Chris Scott: you’re welcome, words are important, especially in areas like the one you work in. Hopefully you’re not dismissing the severity and reality of the president’s divisiveness as just my “opinion”. These are deeply experienced facts for many.
—-

Person: Speaking of opinions, calling the presidents administration “morally vacant” is an interesting judgement coming from a pastor who marries gay men. In my opinion, “moral vacancy” is ignoring the word of God when it’s culturally convenient; a truth congruent whether you are a pastor or the president.
—-

Chris Scott: well that’s a shallow and defensive deflection from the actual topic. Shifting from the discussion towards a personal attack on me is an easy way to avoid facing the points being made. Online, such reactions are tantamount to concessions. So I’ll take it as such.

I’d be happy to link up and share how my theology has been shaped by the Spirit/study/experience/tradition, how I’ve only grown more deeply in love and dependent on the Bible, how a same sex wedding I officiated was the most redemptive,sacred, holy, and Christian wedding I’ve ever done, and how rigid views of things like marriage are not only incongruent with scripture, but also the source of higher suicide rates and alienation from sacred community for countless people. *oh and how my stance on such issues cost me financially and socially. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Person: Chris I disagree with your assessment of my “deflection”. You specifically called the presidents administration “morally vacant” and I was drawing a direct connection to your own “moral vacancy”.
I’m concerned for you and your inability to pull specs of sawdust from any eyes while the log in your own has left you completely blind.

Jesus had harsh words for the church in Thyatira, “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You tolerate sexual immorality in a way that not only offends God, but leads others to believe they honor him in doing so. Calling a sexual, covenantal union between two men “Holy and Christian” is nothing less than blasphemous.

Chris you need to repent and remove the log from your eye to see clearly enough to teach the Bible accurately. Ear tickling the culture with lies and leading them into immorality not only communicates with satanic syllables, it results in harsh judgement.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
‭‭James‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

These conversations aren’t fun and the reason I’m addressing this publicly is because you are leading others astray. This is bigger than you Chris. You have influence and you’re allowing the culture to influence you. As a Christ follower we need to change the culture to reflect the Kingdom, not make the Kingdom look like the sinful culture Jesus came to save it from.

For anyone who cares to know what God’s word actually says on this topic:

https://www.openbible.info/topics/homosexuality
—–

Person 2: https://www.openbible.info/topics/tattoos (Person has tattoos)
—-

Chris: Again, no actual response to my critique of President Trumps racist and xenophobic rhetoric. No response to the posts of others or the facts presented. Instead I get a self-righteous comment filled with assumptions and personal attacks on an issue unrelated. That’s called deflection my friend.

I’m a bit struck by your usage of Jesus’ speck/log teaching here since you’re the one calling me “morally vacant, a blasphemer, ear tickling culture with lies, using satanic syllables, leading people astray, etc”. I’m reminded of the old idiom, “the pot calling the kettle black”.

I sincerely hope and pray you can overcome your approach to religion and come to know the God of the cross who’s arms are open with grace towards all. Seriously it’s pretty great.

You’re always welcome at Oak Life Church, a Christ centered community filled with all the people you probably think don’t get in.

When it comes to what the Bible says about marriage, I’d be happy to discuss in a public forum. Maybe we can schedule a debate and make it a fundraiser 😉

Just so you know, I really think facebook is a mostly terrible mechanism for discussions like these. I tend not to engage in them, not because I’m afraid to be public with my theology or views, but because they 1) are ineffective, 2) almost never any amount of reconciliation or deeper understanding between sides, and 3) take way too much time (I should be hanging with my family). I know, I’m the one who posted originally….

To be honest Person 3, the way you hold yourself online pains me. You come across as incredibly judgmental and self-righteous. We don’t really know each other, but the couple times I’ve talked to you in person, you’ve been friendly and respectful. That’s not what I see on the zuckerberg universe. I know you probably think I’m a heretic and you clearly don’t respect my opinion, but you should do some self inventory on your presence on facebook. Maybe post the question, “Friends, how do I come across on facebook?” Just an idea.

I’m a big believer in embodied (incarnational) relationships. I think that’s what it’s all about. Facebook is disembodied. It pulls us towards darkness, judgment, tribalism, and is like crack for our egos. From my perspective, it’s one of the examples of what Paul was referencing when he wrote about “powers and principalities of darkness”.

I’m fully guilty of engaging in this system in ways that might not be the most reconciliatory, so I’m speaking here as a co-struggler. If I’m honest, I probably wouldn’t have responded to you the way I did in FB if we were in person. In person, I think our conversation would be very different (at least it would be on my end).

All that to be said, I think I’m done with this one. Hope you have a good night and that your heart will be softened.
—-
Person: if you’re willing to attribute “holiness”, an attribute of God’s purity, perfection, and righteousness to sin that he condemns (calling a gay marriage the holiest thing you have ever seen), you don’t know God, are deceived, deluded, and clearly confused. Debating delusional people is a fruitless waste of time. I pray the Holy Spirit convicts your heart of sin and leads you to repentance. Calling people to repent was something Jesus did regularly btw, I won’t apologize for following my savior. You also called this marriage, “redemptive”. The most redemptive thing we can do as pastors is help people see their need for Jesus, encourage them to repent and help them discover the redemptive reconciliation found in Christ alone. There is grace for you Chris, but it requires repentance.
I hope you can humble yourself enough to receive it.
Until then, enjoy your family and may God have mercy.

——

Person 3: Person, I understand that you’re feeling upset. I also sometimes feel fear and anger when someone is skeptical about specific ideas I have about how God works. However, I would like to tell you a little bit more about your friend Chris. I was raised atheist. He converted me to Christianity. I’m now a born-again evangelical. When you say, “The most redemptive thing we can do as pastors is help people see their need for Jesus, encourage them to repent and help them discover the redemptive reconciliation found in Christ alone,” I would like to testify that this is exactly the role Chris Scott has played in my life. What you think pastors should be focusing on, is something he is definitely doing. The two of you are on the same team: why are you biting at each other? Person 3, would you come have coffee with Chris and I sometime? I don’t think I can understand why you believe the things you believe by reading a Facebook thread. And understanding people is important to me.
—-

Person: Person 3, I praise God that you gave your life to Christ. That’s amazing!
Nothing better than experiencing Gods love and grace for ourselves.

My concern still stands.

For the record, I have met with Chris in person, for lunch in Oakland at a Thai restaurant. I think he’s a nice guy. We actually met to discuss this exact issue. I heard his testimony and his reason for supporting what God’s word condemns. We left cordially.

However, Jesus most frequently called out the hypocrisy of religious leaders. It wasn’t the tax collectors and prostitutes, although Jesus did call them to repent, leave their life of sin to follow him, it was the teachers of religion that Jesus rebuked. They taught things that kept people from the truth. This is why I’ve decided to post. The hypocrisy of calling out the “moral vacancy” of others while being morally vacant is the definition of hypocrisy. Jesus didn’t stand for this and neither will I.
I’m not the guy with a billboard at Pride. I have many gay friends, family members, and coworkers. Before coming to Christ, I worked at a gay bar in Guerneville. I love the gay community, but I love them enough to share God’s word with them in a way that helps them know the God that died to save them, to help them repent and receive the forgiveness and grace that leads to a transformed, sanctified life.

Good works cant cover bad doctrine.

The fear of man is a snare.

Again, praise God for your salvation! But beware of false teachers.
—-

Chris Scott: Hey Person, just so you know I did in fact take time to reflect and consider your invitation towards repentance. After prayer, some conversation, and reflection on scripture I do feel that there are some areas of repentance worth sharing. In my original post I made speculative comments on our presidents underlying personal motivations (threatened by female leadership of color). Since I can’t fully know that, I’ll concede that it wasn’t the most loving comment. It was based out of my shock at his racist rhetoric.

I do in fact stand behind my comment that the presidency is morally vacant. Without getting into too many details on his moral vacancy (racist rhetoric, name calling, economic policies that preclude the poor and vulnerable, rampant self promotion, blatant pandering to white evangelicals, a deep history of womanizing which he hasn’t ever publicly addressed, vilifying races and religious traditions for political gain, and more), I feel comfortable with my original assessment. That said, like you and me, this is a broken man in need of grace. But when it comes to how much a presidents actions can affect the lives of many, I reserve the right to get angry from time to time and call it out.

I do not sense God leading me to repent with regards to my position on marriage and sexuality, which again was not the original subject of this thread and I’m not sure why you insisted on returning to… To make a moral equivalency between Mr Trump and myself (you saying I’m morally vacant) for a theological disagreement seems like a stretch. Do you feel the same way about Catholics who revere Mary? I guess it goes in the list of other personal attacks lobbed at me in this discussion: “morally vacant, a blasphemer, ear tickling culture with lies, using satanic syllables, leading people astray, not knowing God, deceived, deluded, and clearly confused, not humble enough to receive grace, a hypocrite, and a false teacher.”

I can only speculate why you were/are so reactive and defensive, but like I mentioned earlier, I hope you do some self reflection around the most Christ-like way to engage folks online. It appears to me ( I could be wrong here) but that you both enjoy that kind of approach to discussion and feel it is an expression of your faith to defend your views and attack others. I don’t think you’re as effective as you might feel, in fact you might be pushing people away. Just my opinion here, as a pastor. In my experience befriending people instead of telling them where we think they are wrong is a much better pastoral approach.

I stand behind my comments about marriage: “how my theology has been shaped by the Spirit/study/experience/tradition, how I’ve only grown more deeply in love and dependent on the Bible, how a same sex wedding I officiated was the most redemptive,sacred, holy, and Christian wedding I’ve ever done, and how rigid views of things like marriage are not only incongruent with scripture, but also the source of higher suicide rates and alienation from sacred community for countless people. *oh and how my stance on such issues cost me financially and socially.”

I know you think I’m delusional for these perspectives, but I’m not. Just because you don’t agree, doesn’t make me delusional. God has led me to these convictions and I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit into your theology. Thankfully God is bigger than our theology. On this point I have two things to say.

First, I hope you can broaden your exegetical lens. A few times you referenced “Gods word” as if it is an absolutely clear and literal voice all of the time. This is selling the Bible short and missing out on its richness, beauty, complication, invitations, and what it says about itself (that Jesus is the Word of God – John 1). For example, most people are somewhat picky-choosy when it comes to their literal interpretation as seen in places like 1 Timothy 2:11-15 which basically says that women shouldn’t speak and that they are saved through childbearing. Now I’m not sure where you stand on the women in ministry issue, but I would guess that you probably don’t think that women must have kids to be right with God. Most people start to develop a hermeneutic that honors the text and holds contextual issues in tension with what the rest of the Bible says. This is literally one of hundreds of instances where the text is more ambiguous than a western-literal interpretation allows. This includes the 7ish “clobber passages” that are often used to exclude gay folks. At the very least they are also ambiguous, at the very most (where I land) they do not apply to our modern understanding of love, sexuality, consent, etc. I’ll link an article below. I bring this up to invite you to broaden your appreciation for the Bible instead of limiting it. A great starter into this discussion is “The Bible Tells Me So” by Peter Enns.

Secondly, I hope you can come to see the broader scriptural trajectory as one that moves humanity towards inclusion. There was a time when letting uncircumcised gentiles into the community was perceived as heretical, but through the leading of the holy spirit, God broke down the boundaries. You can check Acts 10 for that. God spoke to Peter to go against his own tradition for the sake of inclusion. I believe the same trajectory is still being birthed in us today- one towards inclusion. My experience attests to this conviction as I’ve watched LGBT+ folks find healing, hope, home, and salvation when given the space to be loved and join the body of Christ. It’s been one of the most surprising gifts of my life to pastor some of these folks. They teach me about Jesus in ways you can’t even imagine.

Ultimately I’m saddened by our conversation here, which I’m sure is partly my fault. Why am I saddened? For a couple reasons. First, I’m saddened by the way my friends who are in the LGBT+ will take your comments and the way you see God. You have no idea how hard many have worked to undo religious trauma and abuse. The stories as so numerous and painful. You might not think your views are hurting people, but they are. Thankfully God loves them more than you or I can possibly know. Second, I’m saddened because I’m harboring some judgment towards you. I’m worried that the next time I see you, I’ll remember the things you said to me online. You might feel the same way about me, and if I caused some of that, I’m sorry. Facebook is a bad proxy for actual relationships. It’s way to easy to see people as their political perspective, faith opinion, etc.

Ok, I’m getting close to finishing what else I wanted to say….

You’re always welcome to come see for yourself and worship alongside some gay Christians, hear the stories, see their faith – as long as you come humble and receptive to learning and expanding your view of Gods heart.

And if you’d like to meet up with Person 3 or myself, I’d be happy to have a real life conversation. And if you’d ever like to schedule a public debate with a delusional pastor about marriage/the Bible/sex, I’m your guy. We really could make it a fundraiser, just saying…

From here on out I’m going to be deleting further comments. Why?
1) I don’t have time to respond (I know I started this the origianl discussion- I’m sorry). But if you’d like to continue, I’d suggest taking us up on the offer to meet or the debate.
2) It’s my page and I get to have the last word 🙂
3) I’m sensitive to how your language and rigid theology comes across to my community. They’ve heard it all before and it’s easy to come by.
4) To give you space to process and reflect before reacting or defending.

Ok, that’s all I got. My son is napping so I think I have a minute before he wakes. Wishing you and your fam the best, oh and congrats on the soon to be!

The word homosexuality in the Bible:
https://www.forgeonline.org/…/3/8/what-about-romans-124-27

 

What church work feels like

There are  people who are tired of eating mush every day. They are weary and have been rejected and desperately in need of sweetness and flavor and good news.

So you learn how to make cookies where there were none.

And a bunch of people love it and say, I never knew these flavors existed! I’m alive! 

But then some other people say,

I’m hurt, why did you make cookies, you should have made chicken! Cookies are wrong, you’ve neglected all of us.

So you make chicken and some people say, about time! Thank you!

But other people say, how dare you! I can’t believe you didn’t consider us bird lovers! Here you go again always being the source of pain and division.

So you make some salad and some folks are glad and happy. One even sends you your first ever email thanking you for spending so much time getting paid poorly and not having any benefits and for taking the time to make food for people who had none.

But then a blog gets written, and it’s all about the fact that the salad wasn’t fully organic. 

You respond by saying actually, it was organic and we said that last week during announcements. 

It didn’t seem to matter, as a campaign gets started with the hashtag #keepchurchorganic. Lots of people who’ve never had your salad or who were there when you woke up early to pick the lettuce and clean it before anyone showed up start posting about how you’ve hurt them. Some people are hurt and tell you you’re wrong and can’t believe you’ve never made chicken or cookies. 

So you go to your co-pastor and vent about how much it sucks that people get the story wrong, assume the worst about you, project their pain and brokenness onto you, have expectations of you that you can’t meet, consistently let you down and flake on things they said they would do, tell you that you’re the problem, tell you how to do your job, make things up about you, expect lots from the your work but don’t want to pay for it and when you do mention that food costs money they accuse you of being greedy and corrupt, take your words and twist them, use you, cant seem to see the good in your work, take advantage of your time and heart, expect you  to have food ready at all hours of the day and night, expect you to answer for every person who made food ever, don’t respect your family or personal lives, and make you a caricature to air their all grievances onto.

And your copastor says with divine and supernatural compassion and sincere eyes, yeah those people are so broken and in pain some one should make them a cookie

And you go and make the most holy and sacred and delicious cookies you’ve ever made.

As you share them with your friends, and you too taste the chocolate chip good news and the words “take and eat, this is my body broken for you” seem to come up from within and without your soul. You remember the times you complained about steak, grilled cheese, and sea food- how those foods were all wrong.

You take another bite of the gooey goodness and a melted chocolate chip runs down into your beard.

And then you sing together some songs that your co pastor leads. And you cry, out of gratitude for getting to know so many wonderful people who let you into their pain that is also your pain. 

And You rejoice with praise and exclaim, That’s one God-dammed delicious cookie!

The Melody

The human song is a kaleidoscope of harmonies

Blinding bright

Fallen and triumphant

And only resonant in the choral room where no one is left out

A response to open eyes and to creation’s cry

Love and its adoration is all there is in the end

And so we build and destroy

Give birth and take life

And only the poets can even come close

To telling lies that point to the truth

Because there are no words

No symbolic utterances

That can capture the dimension from which our harmonies emerge

The source behind the longing

The ripple from before eternity

The hanging note humming within all

Love and its adoration from beginning to end

What was it?

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 11.02.53 AM

Was it the taps of fermented barely in the lobby?
Or the artsy-theater aesthetic
Maybe it was the apologetic and all-inclusive welcome video
Set to scenes of the town and magnetic melodies of mercy

Was it the organic and inspired narrative?
An identity of roots deep and branches wide
Perch, shade, and grace for the hurting and rejected
A holy family of heretics, queers, addicts, and even clergy

Was it the deconstructed and unorthodox poly-doxy?
Relationally centered on a strange old story of divine embodiment
Or maybe it was the randomly perfect group of people gathered
Eclectic, messy, and sacredly sincere

Maybe it was the willingness to follow the questions?
To challenge the norm and live in the tension
Learning to find home in the unfamiliar wilderness
Finding that the Something Beyond was there all along

Was it the fragrance of justice and generosity?
Monthly gifts to the good-seeking from outside our tribe and within
Or maybe the salvaged tires from a forgotten creek
A water table made slightly more Eden than Gehenna

What exactly was it that made this place so blessed?
Which one of these accidental saints can take credit?
Who orchestrated this symphony of souls
Out of tune in the most harmonious and heavenly of ways?