Brad, Sam, Matt and I were recently in Oklahoma premiering our dramatic motion picture When Love Walks In at the Bare Bones International Film Festival. It was cool... we won 4 awards. On the way home we took a detour to Selma, Alabama and filmed a couple new segments for Rebellion of Thought.
The first one we filmed in Live Oak Cemetary, a great location with old headstones emerging from the earth and spanish moss hanging from the trees throughout. Brad made a great correlation between the denial of absolutes within our culture and reality of absolutes so evident in the etchings on the headstones... death happens (don't that cheer you up!)
The second segment we filmed was very powerful for me, personally. We shot at the bridge which crosses the Alabama River heading out of Selma on the road toward Montgomery. As you may recall, Selma's Edmund Pettis Bridge was the sight of the 1965 march that became known as America's "Bloody Sunday."
A group of 350± (mostly blacks) were marching to try and secure the right to vote, a privelege that had been granted, but was being denied by the white-slanted voter registration tests (there were blacks with PhD's that couldn't "pass" the same tests as uneducated white folks). The marchers were met at the bridge by Sheriff's Deputies and Alabama State Troopers with billyclubs, bullwhips, and teargas.
Two days later the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led 650± marchers to the bridge to pray, then two weeks later after receiving a judicial decision which guaranteed their safety, MLK, Jr. and 3500 others started marching the 50 miles to Montgomery. They slept in fields along the way and four days later the crowd had swelled to 25,000 who marched up to the state capital. It was 5 months later that congressed approved LBJ's Voting Rights Act which secured the right for all American's to vote.
Back at the bridge the sun was beginning to set as we began filming our piece on movements. What is it going to take to begin a revolution of faith within our culture? I don't promote violence, I don't advocate civil disobedience, but I do believe there will be significant events that mark the turning points of this emerging movement. So I have to ask myself a few questions... Am I willing to march four days and 50 miles for the cause? Am I willing to face teargas, billyclubs, and bullwhips? Do I believe in it enough to put my own life at risk?
All I can say is, "bring it on..." How about you?
I grew up during the ferment of the 60s and 70s. My parents were in "The Movement," which included civil rights, anti-war and anti-poverty activities. I learned that successful movements are quite varied, with activities occurring on a wide spectrum.
The range of activities was especially evident in the anti-war movement. Activities were as innocuous as voting and letter-writing on one end, to participating in massive marches and rallies. Some young men burned their draft cards and were sentenced to federal prison. One man lay down in front of a troop train and lost his legs.
At Kent State University four anti-war demonstrators were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard.
The radical end of political resistance included the bombing of a Bank of America in Santa Cruz, California, and the bombing of the Army Mathematics Researh Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
This is simply to illustrate the wide variety of activities which can occur in a successful movement.
The Emergent Church Movement is also characteristically diverse. On one end it includes people who leave the organized church to establish house churches, and on the other it includes people loyal to their denominations who want to do church differently.
If we were to look for a Christian version of civil disobedience, we would probably see it in something as major as starting a house church, or as Biblical as celebrating communion in your own home Bible Study.
I believe the Emergent Church finds its recent roots in the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s. That's when the slogan, "I don't have religion, I have a relationship," was coined. Informal groups of "Christian hippies" met in garages and parks.
The primary institutional result of the Jesus Movement are the Calvary Chapels, which are well on their way to becoming another denomination. Note the tell-tale title of their recent book, "Calvary Chapel Distinctives."
What will this present movement of God cost us today? We approach the Bible with quite a different set of questions than did the Apostolic Fathers. Different questions and different needs will get different answers. Differences are threatening to many people.
We know that systematic tidiness is worse than useless, that the principal of non-contradiction is unbiblical, and that different versions of the same Biblical events demonstrate that the Bible is multivocal, not univocal.
There are, in my experience, two primary costs for people who are Biblical and post-modern. The first is the terrifying fall into the hands of God alone. The second is becoming a heretic to oneself, as one sees, from the Bible, the falseness of what you've been trained to do and say.
It's way easier to walk 50 miles than to feel like you've become a heretic based on what you've read in the Bible.
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