Philly finale

July 28th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

What a finale – in the City of Love!  Hundreds of friends gathered at Broad Street Ministries (one of the beacons of hope downtown).  We had a dinner for several hundred folks and our friend Aimee Wilson and Tambor played some angelic tunes.  Then we did the whole fiasco one last time, with a half-time show from our friend Derek Webb.  He’s got some great songs like King and a Kingdom:

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it’s to a king & a kingdom
(vs. 2)
there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him. 
 
We had lots of friends, mentors, board members, and homeless friends present.  We are so thankful for the cloud of witnesses standing with us in this whole project, those whose ideas we have build upon, and those who will take ours and build upon them.  We pray that much fruit will continue to come of this little campaign.  May we continue to carry the blessing of Abraham and Sarah… Long live the Lamb.  

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Philadelphia stop coming this saturday

July 24th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Hey anybody/everybody. If you are in our bioregion, we’d love to invite you out to Broad Street Ministries this Saturday–just a few blocks south of City Hall and across the street from the Kimmell Center. All sorts of fun–including the music of Aimee Wilson–will begin at 5pm. The big event will begin at 7pm. And, unlike our other stops, the evening will be enriched and extended by some music and worship afterwards. See you (and all your friends) there.
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Richmond

July 24th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

We’re on the home stretch now – our last stop before Philly.  We were hosted by an old Baptist congregation.  The decision to host was one that created much discussion among elders and leaders in the community.  They told us stirred an important and fruitful dialogue, and they were proud to say they learned to “disagree well” around the issues raised by our tour.  Some of the folks in the congregation who voted against hosting the JFP tour even came to the event and helped break a sweat to pull it off – a great testimony of mutual submission and community.  It’s always fun to see Catholics and Baptists and activists like Food Not Bombs working together, an eclectic mix.  We were housed by the lovely folks of Gabriel House Catholic Worker a new hospitality house in Richmond (another “Protestant Catholic Worker” as they decided not to reinvent the wheel but most of them come from evangelical roots).  Shane got some hang time with a good friend Bill Frankl-Streit of Little Flower. After the event, a young man came up, deeply moved and said he was one of the folks who had been “healed of the myth of redemptive violence” (the false notion that violence can bring peace).  Inked up and pierced, he confessed that he had a violent past and had done a lot of things he is not proud of, including one terrible act from which he is still under judicial constraint (for attempted murder).  He continued, “But it wasn’t the law that saved me, it was the Gospel of grace.”  One more extremist for grace saved from the violence of this old world. 

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Raleigh

July 24th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

A triune coalition of Mennonite Churches organized this evening with the help (and venue) of First Baptist Church. A great pack of folks came out. It took the crowd a while to get warmed up. But our friend said, “the Mennonites will just sit and listen quietly, but then they’ll leave the event and start a thick and effective initiative over the next twenty years.” It was very ecumenically satisfying to see the local Catholic Worker folks partnering up with the Anabaptists. Shane and Chris took some time to talk with two religious reporters–one from “The Mennonite” magazine and one from nearby Catholic Worker who syndicates to various Catholic presses. (maybe we’ll get his details later.)

Afterwards we had a wonderful troop of people to talk with. One came up and said something along these lines, “I’m one of those people…you know, stationed over at Ft. Bragg. And I’ve been thinking about this all very much, deeply considered a different path.” We talked more and prayed for him. We hope to hear more of his story as it unfolds, and as he seeks to follow Jesus and his costly call to love one’s enemies.

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Orlando!

July 22nd, 2008 by Chris & Shane

A couple thousand folks piled into Discovery Church just outside Orlando. 
 
We were able to give a shout-out to the Florida based Coalition of Immokalee Workers [www.ciw-online.org/], a movement of migrant workers just around the corner who pick tomatoes and other veggies for companies like Taco Bell, Burger King, and Subway (years ago many of us marched from their farms to the growers association in Orlando with the words of James on our lips “The cries of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord Almighty)”.  These brothers and sisters are some of our heroes and have won major victories in recent years as they work for justice and living wages.
 
Our highlights from Orlando were the interactions after the presentation.  There was a lot of dreaming and scheming and plotting goodness.  One young girl (no more than 10) shared her struggle with whether or not to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.  Shane told her he prays the Lord’s prayer any time folks are saying the Pledge to the flag (and only follows the flag when it follows Jesus).  She smiled, seemed to like that answer.
 
A sixteen year old kid doting a big VANS t-shirt told us he had just gotten his first job working for the VANS shoe company and had become concerned about where and how the shoes are made.  How incredible is it that 16-year old Christians are asking questions like that! (we wish that we, at sixteen, had been more concerned with who made our shoes than which color looked best on us)).  We encouraged our new VANS friend to take the opportunity to really do some research and raise those questions with humility and holy boldness, and to applaud the good things and expose the ugly things his research unveils.  He seemed excited to dive into that adventure as he re-defines his subversive purpose there.
 
We talked with some of the leaders of the mega-church hosting us and the gears were moving.  With fresh fire in their eyes they thought of all the potential they could have as a congregation.  Perhaps thinking of our new VANS friend, Chris told them to start small, perhaps with one thing they could do well and focus on – “like, what if you decided to make shoes.”  One of them said they had been thinking of exactly that and hosting meetings with funders just that week – creating some jobs in a missional kingdom business.   And there is certainly a need out there for Christians who want to support missional businesses that embody kingdom values.  This is the story of our own friends at Dotted Line shirts http://www.dottedlineshirts.com/.  They make the JFP t-shirts for the tour – each is made fair-trade, with eco-friendly inks, providing local jobs in Camden-Philly area. 
 
One of the main reasons for the tour has been to spark local revolutions of people who are changing their neighborhoods and world – and not just waiting for politicians to change the world for them.  These are the stories we love and share along the way — like the Christian Healthcare Ministries www.chministries.org/ (which started as 400 folks and now is 20,000 Christians sharing medical bills of over 12 million a year) or the Relational Tithe www.relationaltithe.com (where we share our 100% of our tithes with the needs of the poor in our neighborhoods and villages).  A congregation like Discovery Church (or the dozens we met on the tour) are catching a fire that really could transform the way we think of insurance, politics, tithing, missions – as we seek to be a Church that embodies the Good News in wholistic ways.  What a gift to see mega-congregations begin the journey by using fair-trade coffee and then growing into considering job-creation to make things people really need while providing jobs for folks who really need them.  But it doesn’t start with big visions, but with small things done with great love – like a 16 year old who wants to know the invisible faces behind his VANS. 
 
 A lot of folks have asked what we are reading as we travel.  Chris has finished Rene Girard (the Rene Girard Reader) Crossan’s God and Empire, and Howard-Brook and Gwyther’s Unveiling Empire (a study of Revelation), and Shane just finished the new Mother Teresa book Come Be My Light.  Now Chris is on to Thich Nhat Hahn’s Peace is Every Step and chewing through some of Nietzche’s challenges. Shane’s going to rock some fiction, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

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Atlanta

July 21st, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Hotlanta!

What a full stop! It can’t get more packed and sweaty than this one! Folks were stacked up in the isles, out the door, and even behind the projector screen. But we enjoyed it greatly.

One of the lead organizers, Leroy Barber, is a great saint and mentor to many of us (he also officiated the marriage of Cassie and Chris up in Camden). Leroy is the head of Mission Year, a great organization to which we frequently refer young folks. Leroy somehow manages to act as the president of Mission Year while also pastoring the church that we were at and being a husband and father to his lovely kids. Also representin’ this evening was FCS, a great community development organization in Atlanta (co-founded by Bob Lupton et al), closely associated with CCDA. Being down in the heart of the south, where much of the spirit of the Civil Rights movement still resides, it was deeply satisfying to have a more racially diverse crowd all singing together some of our songs. We got more “amens” and crowd participation here than at even our wildest stops yet. Koinonia Farms came out with a great crew (co-founded by Clarence Jordan, MIllard Ford, and many other greats) –man we love them! Same with Open Door Community–these people are so sweet! They all came out in force. And thanks to the Atlanta Emergent Cohort for organizing and Red Mouth for rocking the half-time party!

We had our potluck time down at the local restaurant named “Sweet Potato.” They recently opened and they’re not exactly rolling in dough just yet. That’s the difficulty of new businesses–so we highly encourage anybody in the area or passing through to pay them a visit and enjoy their excellent southern cooking.

We met dozens of folks here who encouraged us with their stories. Here, and at every stop, we have countless people telling us that they have really taken our message to heart, started changing their lives, and are seeing the world and Reign of God in deeper ways. But while many of these folks have taken our message as an encouragement along the way, building off of their current thoughts and convictions, there is among these folks a most surprising and concentrated core who will emphatically share, “I have simply never thought about these things in this way.” Wow. Paul told us to be continually renewing our minds by reflection on the Word. Let’s all keep doing that.

It seems there is a congregation down in Arizona that has taken our message and gone in their own direction with it. Check out these two articles: 1 is their website called “a new platform” and 2 is some media coverage on it. They are advocating for the Church to become the change they hope for in the world, working extensively on alleviating the ills of sex trafficking and AIDS–not just waiting on governments and legislation to act. We are fine with them ganking our phrase “Jesus for President” (after all, its not really ours) and claim, “advocating change since 33AD.” All right!

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Don’t mess with Texas; Dallas stop

July 19th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

“Welcome to the buckle of the bible belt.”  That was our introduction to Dallas.  The venue was actually in Southlake, conveniently nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, in a large old-school Methodist sanctuary gone mega-church.  Another great team on the ground did fabulous organizing work, everything from gathering grease for the bus to hooking us up with homemade goodies upon arrival (we’re getting spoiled… we even got to jump in a pool before the show!).

It was an energetic crowd with about a thousand folks from all over Texas, even a few that flew in for the presentation.  We were a little disappointed no one came on horseback, but we did have some Texas bicyclers! (By the way, we just saw a great story about some kids who decided to cut down on gas and started riding their horses to school, and went through all the appropriate channels to get hitches and feeding troughs installed — how’s that for ordinary radicals!).  We got to meet up with the lovely folks from Commonground in Shreveport, LA… beautiful people, and too many others to name.  
We got a little surprise visit from our friends Doug Pagitt, Mark Scandrette, and Tony Jones who are on their own little national revival tour, called the Church Basement Roadshow http://www.churchbasementroadshow.com/.  Check ‘em out!  Good times. 
We made some new friends – a doctor, administrator, and chaplain doing home-visits and truly practicing the “small things with great love” of Mother Teresa – visiting folks in their homes and helping to create a brilliant network of alternative healthcare options for the thousands of sisters and brothers who lack proper medical care here in TX.  Incidently, the female chaplain was a Reformed Catholic priest… it’s not everyday you meet a female priest (though we would like to!).  Another new friend, Todd Lollar is a hero… making a spectacle of his physical limitations (wheelchairbound), Todd started up a beautiful work among the homeless, and is a sassy preacherman – I even got to talk to his mom who works in Oklahoma City with victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, namely Bud Welch who lost his daughter but became one of the most outspoken voices of grace, befriending McVeigh’s family and arguing against Timothy’s execution (Shane writes about him in The Irresistible Revolution).

We also had several folks connected to the military in the Dallas audience, and many of them came and talked with us.  Over and over, we hear military families say “Thank you” for giving voice to many of the things they feel deeply but have not felt free to express.  One mother came up with tears streaming down her cheeks, and said she agreed with the things we are saying but has two kids in the military and isn’t sure what to do.  Indeed, the responsibility we have as peacemakers is tremendous – as we try to help carry the heavy burdens that so many military families live with every day. 

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Southlake photo

July 18th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Sam Lamb took some great pics here too. Here’s one.
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Media stuff

July 17th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Al Jazeera English spent a day with us a while back before the tour and included us in a larger documentary they are doing on US politics. It is two parts: Here’s one, and here’s two. For all those folks who forward wacky emails about Osama rhyming with Obama and all that, it may be hard for them to believe that the Al Jazeera folks who interviewed us were not militant Muslims, but a Buddhist and an agnostic. Stereotypes certainly do keep many of us from giving things a chance. In fact, Al Jazeera covers a lot of news that other organizations seem a bit unlikely to cover; as their correspondent told us, they are particularly concerned for the voicing of the voices of the poor and oppressed.

It is hard to shake the tendency for news media to portray us merely as part of the political drama leading up to November. In our talks we explicitly denounce the urges to join in the tug of war for political power. Nevertheless, Al Jazeera included a good quote from Chris: “you cannot invoke the God of Jesus for the doing of violence.” He was subtly drawing from Wendell Barry who wrote,

In times of war, our leaders always speak of their prayers. They wish us to know that they say prayers because they wish us to believe that they are deeply worried and that they take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they believe or hope that prayer will help. But within the circumstances of war, prayer becomes a word as befuddled in meaning as liberate or order or victory or peace. These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. A Christian supplicant, therefore, who has resolved to kill those whom he is enjoined to love, to bless, to do good to, to pray for, and to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven is not conceivably in a situation in which he can be at peace with himself. Anyone who has tried to apply this doctrine to a merely personal enmity will be aware of the enormous anguish that it could cause a national leader in wartime. No wonder that national leaders have ignored it for nearly two thousand years.

Also, I don’t think we posted Mark Zimmerman’s interview with us over in Pittsburgh.

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Lubbock

July 17th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Another wonderful stop! It was surprising to see hundreds of people pack out a little church in the middle of west Texas. Our host committee, Porchlight Coffeehouse, pulled off everything with top-notch ease and organization. Anybody hanging around Lubbock–give those folks a visit. Earlier this week they organized a team of grease hunters who all got together to learn about the ins and outs of waste veggie oil. Everybody there poured out genuine hospitality and kindness. Its downright spectacular to be able to everyday meet new folks from the Church whose faces shine with grace. Folks from this local church recently started singing some rough songs to be singing in Texas–like Derek Webb’s song, “I repent,” where he sings: I repent of my pursuit of america’s dream…of parading my liberty…of confusing peace and idolatry…”

We met a professor down here who has been using Jesus for President for his undergrad course on Christianity. (We’ve heard similar word from two ethics professors from Villanova.) Another pastor who made it out told us he’ll be leading a study on the book at his church; he’s a buddy with Hauerwas and was an acquaintance with John Yoder.

A friend from Oaklahoma City, Samantha Lamb, joined us for Lubbock and will also for Dallas. She produces some of the most beautiful photography we’ve seen. Above are some shots she took last night.

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Albuquerque

July 17th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

MMMMmmmmm. The Land of Enchantment. And enchanted it was. We had a blast driving through the desert, playing on some dunes, watching Scott try to tackle a cactus. Some of us were very disappointed that we didn’t get to ride down into the Grand Canyon on donkeys (like Jesus into Passover… not because we are democrats)… but there’s just not enough time for all the fun to be had, so we had to skip the big hole. The desert has been an important place for Christians throughout Church history, so it was brilliant to feel the Spirit at work out here.
The New Mexico stop was our first bi-lingual one, full translation into Spanish and we were excited to hear all the energy from our latino brothers and sisters down here on the border. We had a journalist for the big independent paper for Albuquerque who was excited about the whole JFP deal and is doing an article for his (primarily non-christian audience), right alongside all the sex ads (his words, not ours), for which we are honored. One of the magnificent parts of this event (in addition to 2 great intermission artists – JC Represent and Alyssa Yarber band) were the folks who hosted us. Over a dozen families live in a cooperative housing complex together – Casa Shalom. Several of the folks at Casa Shalom are middle-aged families who sold their homes and assets to help create this beautiful community. They do beautiful hospitality, teach each other Spanish and English, share meals and worship, and raise their kids together.

In the event that this blog is just wetting your appetite, and you are hungry for more… here’s a blog from our film crew friends on the road with us…
The film crew for Ordinary Radicals…
www.theordinaryradicals.com/blog

We were also glad to begin some healthy conversation with some of our critics (one of whom was at the event). We hope to make our critics our friends, be good listeners, and be known as people who disagree well, and treat those who see things differently with the same grace we hope to feel from them.

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Ventura/LA

July 15th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Ventura was a great stop for us. We were at Ventura Vinyard Church who proved to be a fantastic committee. Par for the course, the house was packed with folks eager to dive into the story begun in Abraham and Sarah. And we had some great conversations with people afterwards. Some of the folks there are buds with a great theologian, Ched Myers, who we’ve cited in our work. We take some time in our book to consider the Christian’s hospitality toward immigrants. Being around southern California–and from Albuquerque now–makes for much more visibility of and sensitivity to that concern. Aren’t we all aliens and strangers in a foreign land? At every turn we have an opportunity to show God’s grace and hospitality.
We have had ample time on the bus to look out into the desert and remember that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything therein.” That may be possibly one of the most politically offensive proclamations of the Bible, next to monotheism. For God’s ownership of all the earth relativizes and trumps all human borders and assertions, as calling Christ “Lord” implicitly means that Caesar is not.

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Fresno!

July 13th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Yesterday, Grace Cathedral…   and now for something completely different — Cornerstone Community Center smack down in inner city Fresno.  The walls of the community center were decorated with grafitti and hubcaps, definitely a different feel from the cathedral last night (both had their charm).  Many of the folks in Fresno were connected to groups working on college campuses (one of the sponsors was Intervarsity Christian Fellowship), and it is so encouraging to see folks like IVF and YWAM (Youth With a Mission) showing up in full force as we plot goodness and re-imagine what it means to be the Church today.  We were hosted by our friends at the Pink House in Fresno (where about 30 folks are now living!), along with several middle-age families that have relocated to the inner city there in Fresno to become missional neighbors.  It’s fun to see folks young and old breaking the cultural inertia of upward mobility and moving to abandoned places of the empire to practice resurrection there.  One friend we reconnected with used to work at a high-paying corporate job and left it all to use his gifts in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the US (running a clinic for some of the 47 million folks who have inadequate medical care)… he said, “I’ve finally found what I was made for.  I’ve been working my whole life to get to the ghetto.  I feel so alive.”

One of the gifts of the tour is that it is a good excuse for folks to come together and conspire and dream – and remind each other that we are not crazy, or at least not alone.  That’s what this project has been all about – working together to become midwives of the Kingdom… for the world is pregnant with something beautiful.

Chris wrote a great piece on “The Irrelevancy of Relevancy (and Vice Versa)” for the Fermi Project. (We realized we trespassed by posting it here yesterday–oops–because Fermi is a paid subscription magazine. So feel free to visit that site and download the essay.)
And Shane just posted a few thoughts on the election and where we’re at on endorsing a candidate – find that on the God’s Politics blog.

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Giving up on day numbers: San Fransisco

July 12th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

San Francisco… The City of Saint Francis.  It was Shane’s birthday (33!), so we had some good grub and good times.  It was also the Feast Day of Saint Benedict, the holiday that Christians around the world celebrate the life of Benedict, another cultural refugee who went to the desert in pursuit of God.

We sure wish our host committee could have found a better space for the event…what a dump!…all they could come up with was Grace Cathedral (hahaha).  Grace Cathedral is a landmark in San Francisco, the largest Episcopal Cathedral in the United States, with a rich history or working for peace and justice and the Kingdom of God.  We shared a pulpit that Dr. King spoke from in 1965, and Desmond Tutu spoke from earlier this year.  Magnificent. Glorious stained glass and wood work everywhere.

Over 1000 folks packed out the cathedral on a Friday night in San Fran to dream God’s dream.  The folks responsible for the artistic design of Jesus for President joined us today — Ryan and Holly Sharp [sharpseven.com], along with our brotha Paul Soupiset whose ink and watercolor images are sprinkled throughout the book [paulsoupiset.com].  Ryan and Holly played the Half-time show wearing their musicial hat as The Cobalt Season [thecobaltseason.com].

It was an eclectic mix of mainliners from liturgical backgrounds, Catholics, and evangelical protestants.  We even had some wild charismatics in the house– one of the sponsoring organizations was the Pentecostal  Charismatic Peace Fellowship – another brilliant sign that this movement is crossing all streams of faith traditions and weaving together a Church that embodies the Good News, that is closer to the poor, further from the drums of nationalism and war, and reminds the world of Jesus. We pray, as Jesus did, that we would continue to become one as God is one.

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Downtime in San Fransisco

July 10th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Hey there. We’re just enjoying the bay area for some downtime and fixing the bus before our gig tomorrow. The film crew documenting stuff along the way found some nice pics of our attentive audiences.

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Day Something, Denver

July 10th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

This was an amazing stop. The Tracy Howe/Restoration Project folks played at the half time show, making for an even more jovial event. (They combined forces into a Voltron that was known as the “Tapioca Pearls”. Trace Bundy, a guitar virtuoso, joined in the mix.)

The hosting church and committee were energetic and lovely. And it certainly showed in their spreading of the word; over 800 people (it seems) filled out an old 1800s church in Denver’s downtown.

Afterwards, Chris, Scott and Jay took off for San Fran on a two day journey through the mountains and desert (Shane stayed back for a speaking thing at Estes Park as Cassie stayed back to hang with her mom). The bus-ers picked up four hitchhikers along the way which made for exchanging stories and enjoyable company. Let’s all give a hats off to the bus which is a stinkin’ beast for driving that whole distance in one piece!

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Day 12, Cornerstone Festival

July 5th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Twas truly a gift to be at the 25th anniversary of the Cornerstone Festival, hosted by our friends at Jesus People USA.  It was one a mighty fine line-up of presenters – folks like William Cavanough, Mimi Haddad,, Jonathan Case, Miroslav Volf, Jim Fitz and the Christian Peacemaker Teams (oh, and some fine bands too).  We especially enjoyed the company of our new friends Karen Sloan and Anthony Smith.  Anthony had all kinds of insights to share about how our little campaign speaks into (and draws from) the historic black church.  In fact, his session was on what it means to be “A Blues People” and what the blues and negro spirituals teach us about lament and hope.  Anthony said our presentation was “all about the Blues” – probably one of the greatest compliments we’ve had, especially as we work to communicate the radical politics of Christ across all barriers of race and class.

We followed up the Psalters one-hour show with Jesus for President.  It was fun to be in a big-top circus tent, sort of reminiscent of the old time revivals.  We had to sacrifice the powerpoint, but we made up for it with a great intermission show with all sorts of friends, including our brother Aaron Weiss from mewithoutyou.  And it was the fourth of July so we had a little surprise at the end.  Near the end of the presentation we emphasize how we, as a Church, have a new calendar with new holidays, not just the festivals of the Caesars – our social body was born, not on July 4, but on Pentecost.  Our heroes are not just kings and presidents and war heroes… but they are the heroes of the Church – the martyrs, the saints, all those women and men who have embodied love, grace, and the goodness of God in this world.  Chris explained the word “vote” comes from the same root as the words “devotion” or “votive”.  Many folks light votive candles to remember the little lives that have lit up the world with grace.  So as we remembered the heroes and sheroes of the Church, we lit up about 600 sparklers – a peculiar little way to celebrate the fourth of July.  After the smoke cleared, we were met with the usual cloud of folks wanting to talk (which we genuinely love and find very fruitful)… and through all the faces, we noticed our friend Jesse near the back with tears running down his face.  Jesse is the young man whose story we tell in the book and in the tour-show – a young man who felt God didn’t want him to carry a gun, and he left the army to follow Jesus.  With tears streaming, he thanked us for sharing his story.  And we thanked him for allowing us to share it – a beautiful reminder to the hundreds other soldiers who feel the same collision that they are not alone.  It is folks like Jesse that have helped create our alternatives to military resource – Centurion’s Purse– one of our little experiments of political imagination – as we try to build an Army of Conscientious Objectors and Peacemakers.

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Break!

July 2nd, 2008 by Chris & Shane

We’re taking a few days off at Chris’ home in Crystal Lake, IL before we go to Cornerstone. Rest. Very nice. The Psalters are going ahead of us to Cornerstone–playin some music and all that.

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We’ve run into more friends on the road who share our sadness in missing Lucy. For all those friends we hope you’ll enjoy a little more love and memories below:

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Day 8, Canada, eh!

July 1st, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Crossing that border was fun! The border patrol had a good time with us. A fully armed and sunglass-shaded officer came onto the bus and said, “what’s going on here?” We proceeded to explain our shady business with this dirty-record organization called church. He then asked, “have any of you been arrested for anything?” We all went silent, squinted our mental eyes, and stared at each other: “Uh…what do you mean by ‘arrested’?” we all seemed to be thinking. We realized he was asking that question to a suspicious crew. Shane said with far too much careful judiciousness, “I do not have a criminal record”–it sounded like he was saying, “I have good lawyers.” “Judging from that careful statement, our awkward silence, and gauging stares at each other, the officer reasserted, “if any of you have been arrested you need to tell me or you will be considered lying to a federal officer and put in jail.” Ok, so the issue was settled. Cassie started with her leadership skills: “I’ve been arrested.” Scott: “I’ve been arrested.” Chris: “Yea, I”ve been arrested too.“ Shane: ”Yea, me too.“ Dang: we’re a mess! We tried to reassure him that they were good arrests! Civil disobedience! Jay, the most suspiciously criminal looking among us is ostensibly the only one to have kept his nose clean.

The officer proceeded to search the bus. He noted how we’re running off veggie oil–seemed happy. He giggled at our buttons–Amish for Homeland Security, etc. “I’m glad you’re against the war in Iraq because its all about oil,” he said. He brought us into the customs building and handed our passports over to another officer, saying, “uh, these guys are advocating Jesus for President.”

Not far from the border was Niagra Falls! We hit that up!

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We packed out an old Anglican church building in downtown Toronto – our one-and-only Jesus for Prime Minister stop.  Hundreds of dollars were raised by the organizers and distributed to three great “local revolutions” there in Toronto.  It was fun to contextualize a few of our thoughts to a non-US audience.  Incidently, our presentation stood on the eve of Canada Day so it was a great time to step back and contemplate our central identity as the transnational Body of Christ.  And it was fascinating to see one of the stained-glass windows there in the Anglican cathedral doting a British flag with a soldier… right next to Jesus hanging on his cross.   It was great to connect with our friends at the Toronto Catholic Worker, Empire Remixed, and spend some time with one of our favorite activist theologians, Brian Walsh.  And… great music —  the half-time show was a talented and well-respected Canadian songwriter.  We even scored some Canadian grease to get us back over the border.

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Day 7, Hartford (or as Shane says “Cannycut”)

June 29th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

(Woops, we forgot to post this one)
It’s almost too much fun.  Every town we go in is like a big reunion, with all sorts of communities converging to dream about the Kingship of Jesus.  But every city is also a gathering of new friends and political misfits – there’s no cookie-cutter mold, and not much preaching to the choir.  One fellow had served much of his life in the military, and came forward with tears in his eyes to thank us for putting words to things he felt deeply in his soul.  This was our only New England stop so folks were from lots of different states, and from right across the street.  Hartford was unique because it was hosted by an inner city school, and it was fantastic to see kids from the school and nearby neighbors in attendance.  We were hosted by the dynamic duo at the Catholic worker and Hartford City Mission (and the Vine), so we had Catholics and protestant evangelicals were dreaming and scheming together – good times… and our Canadian friends “Barn Owl” rocked out the intermission show (and gave us a taste of Canada to get us ready for tomorrow).

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Day 6, NYC

June 29th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

5th Avenue New York City!!! Today we kicked up to New York City and JFP hit Manhattan on Saturday night in the belly of it all.  We were hosted by a brilliant group of folks including New York Faith and Justice, Restore, Radical Living community, One House, All Angels Episcopal, and a bunch of other communities here.  Many of these communities are linking up on our new website that is trying to connect the dots of all of these grassroots missional faith communities (communityofcommunities.us).  During the intermission show, it was great to have the Stovepipes (who play the song on our website here) and Jonathan Wilson a poet (who wrote a special little ditty called “Jesus for President”).

Nearly every evening we meet up with friends whose scholarship, books, and lives we have deeply admired – tonight we met up with Lisa Sharon Harper, Jay Bakker from Revolution Church, and religious satirist Becky Garrison.  And everywhere we go we meet up with ordinary radicals (what a blast to have a documentary film crew gathering their stories for their film – www.theordinaryradicals.com).  Here’s one story from the road – a guy that attended our presentation shared that shortly after he became a Christian he went to the gameshow “The Price is Right” and they had him “Come-on-down”… so he did.  And he won huge, that whole showcase showdown thing.  And as a follower of the Jesus who said “sell what you have and give it to the poor”, he began to pray about what that meant for him.  Before long he ended up in Africa, traveling to villages and giving away all his winnings.  Not sure about how Bob Barker feels about that, but it had to make Jesus smile.

Momentum just keeps building, seems like the environment is ripe for a new conversation about politics in post-religious-right America.  CNN has been following us. See what cha think: funny to see us on there http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/29/evangelical.campaign/. We’ve had journalists from all over trying to tell the story.  Here’s a little piece from the Hartford newspaper that paved the way for us tomorrow. http://www.courant.com/features/lifestyle/hc-susan0622.artjun22,0,2747075.column

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Day 5, Wash DC

June 28th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Calvary Baptist Church was fantastic. Many of these sanctuaries we’ve been visiting have been gorgeous with loads of stained glass, hearkening to a period when much discipline and honor was devoted to the church’s gathering spaces. Stanley Hauerwas has said that if you want to find places that emphasize strong discipline and skill its a bummer that we don’t really think of the church and its centers of training–rather we look to either medical schools or military training camps. After all, we are convinced that bad medicine is dangerous and will get people killed. We’ve been growing in convinction, however, that bad theology gets people killed as well. The stakes in our world are high, as so we must reflect closely, patiently, and diligently on the truth. May God help us all.

And we pray for God’s blessing of Calvary’s work. It was a pleasure to meet their pastor, Amy, who seems to be shepherding with a robust blessedness. And thanks to Brian McLaren and Harp 46 who stopped in to accompany our intermission time.

We’re writing from Harlem! Let’s hope tonight goes off well! Manhattan is a doosie for big buses!

Our friends doing some footage and documentary work put this fun little time lapse together of DC http://www.theordinaryradicals.com/blog/archives/151 Shane and Chris look really weird in it.

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Day 4, Pittsburg

June 28th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

A wonderful stop! We, again, met an amazing pack of people who were organizing and attending the event. The Open Door at the Union Project is a great collaboration. They have the best pottery studio we’ve ever seen in their basement which produces tons of great ceramics and even stained glass. A huge thunderstorm passed overhead as we gave our presentation, cooling down another packed and hot sanctuary. Jon Felton and his Soulmobile stopped in as a part of their larger tour to play for the intermission. And their horns certainly elevated part of our time with great joy! Thanks!

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Day 3, Cincinnati

June 25th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

The day began with rain and clouds, a nice break from the heat and the gloominess felt appropriate for the mourning of our dog, Lucy. It was hard to leave her in Indianapolis but the good people from Lockerbie will take good care of her place in the garden. As we added below, they laid flowers down and recited the Franciscan prayer for the blessing of animals.

We then headed out to soulful Cincinnati.  We managed to get lost only once (we’re getting better!) and made it in time to the Rohs St. Cafe at the University Christian Church (245 W. McMillan). If ever you find yourself in Cinci make sure you visit this cafe - the atmosphere is airy yet comforting and the coffee drinks are very yummy. We want to make sure this cafe thrives so do your part!

A fantastic night. The energy was high, our sharing time is getting deeper in the groove, and like last night, folks were packed in tight. Combined, the audience and everybody probably lost 100 pounds in water weight. It was steamin! But we loved it.
Rohs St. Cafe is bringing their work to another level. They not only do fair trade but they do much direct trade coffee. They go down to various central american countries to develop friendships with farmers and from those connections make for trades in goods. They also took us all out to some of the best ice cream we can imagine having on the tour; Troy, the UCC pastor, set that out as a challenge to all the tour stops: let’s see who can bust out the best ice cream experience! :) It sure was good and they were gracious enough to serve all 13 or so of us 10 minutes before closing. We stayed in a beautiful old house for the night with wonderful hosts and in the morning Caroline made us the most scrumptious breakfast ever.
Pittsburg: we’re comin at you starting at 7am!

We think it’s fair to say Cincinnati was a success!

Unfortunately we did have to say goodbye to our friend, Emmanuel, a journalist from Sweden. He was a great help and a kind spirit to have with us. Here he is with Lucy. She really liked him and he was very nice to her.
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Day 2, Indianapolis

June 24th, 2008 by Chris & Shane

So technically our “day” started with a post-midnight grease adventure.  Folks headed out in the early hours of the morn to get some waste veggie oil so we can kick on to Indiana.  We scored over 50 gallons… so on we go.
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Indianapolis – twas a day filled with emotion.  We were hosted by the fantastic folks of Lockerbie United Methodist.  The community there has a missional coffee house that is the only all-organic, fair-trade coffee house in Indianapolis (also serving a specialty — orange latte, wow), along with beautiful community gardens and a wholistic and empowering homeless outreach.  The tour presentation was to a packed house, with friends from Englewood and Doulos Christou Press seriously representin’ (Doulos is a community-based Christian publishing house in Indy).  It was a diverse spectrum of folks – some living on the streets, some academic folks whose scholarship we have deeply admired (Ecclesia Project folks), and even young teenie-boppers that are dreaming big dreams.  We made some new friends that shared with us that they were gay, another atheist, another very “conservative but inspired”… and they all seemed quite touched by the evening.
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On a terribly sad note, just as the presentation was kicking off, Lucy the superstar tour-dog, got scared and jolted into a run.  As she was being pursued in the concrete world here in Indy, she was struck by a car, and did not survive.  So it was a very sad day for all of us, especially Cassie and Chris.  In the midst of the chaos, it was heartening to feel everyone pulling together to help carry the weight of the loss.  Lucy now rests in the community garden of our hosts there in Indy. Chris shared about how any loss and grief draws us closer to those who suffer even more deeply than ourselves, like the families in war-torn Iraq.  But that still doesn’t make any pain easy.  We will remember Lucy with big smiles and she’ll be missed so greatly by all her friends back home, around the states, and for us on the bus—even though this clunky thing scared her a lot.  (Above is a picture of her glorious melancholy face.) The night went on (albeit with tears)… and it is a good thing that this whole tour is not dependent on our own strength or wisdom, but it is through our vulnerability, brokenness, and emptiness that God shines.  God works well with human weakness, in fact that’s at the core of the JFP message – God chooses the weak to shame the strong and the foolish to confound the wise.

A LATER UPDATE from Cincinnati: We just received these pictures from folks back at Indianapolis. At the grave we dug last night, they brought a spirit of grace and honor to the bitterness of Lucy’s passing:
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They also adapted the following prayer from St. Francis:
Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless Lucy.  … May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

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Day 1, Grand Rapids

June 23rd, 2008 by Chris & Shane

Our first stop was at the corporate headquarters of Zondervan in Grand Rapids, MI.  We led a company-wide morning devotion (Chris and Shane spoke and our Psalters, Jay and Scott, rocked out a few songs).  We were able to have some hang-time with all the folks at Zondervan who have helped create this project and get the word out about it.  At lunch Zondervan’s president shared that they will be praying for us each day on the tour.

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Tonight we had our first official presentation of the tour, hosted by Mars Hill in Michigan.  As with every stop, we had a potluck dinner with local friends and organizers beforehand and one of those there was Steven Bouma-Prediger.  Steven has been a fantastic teacher of ours (Chris studied with him in Belize) and we cited him in JFPres.  He gave us his new book (written with Brian Walsh), Beyond Homelessness … a little reading material for the road.  As for the presentation itself, without a doubt, there’s some fine tuning to be done, but from the responses of folks, it seems we’re onto something.  In the meet and greet time afterward, we met people with tears streaming down their face saying things like, “I knew there was more to Christianity … thank you.”

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Hundreds and hundreds of us gathered to proclaim our allegiance to the Lamb.  We hope God smiled down on us.  And, hey, even the powerpoint worked. There are too many stories of “ordinary radicals” out there (even from tonight), but we’ll try to highlight a few here and there.  One guy we met said he had read our book.  There’s a part where we talk about what it means to really be “pro-life.”  We give the example of Mother Teresa, who didn’t just wear an “abortion is murder” shirt around, but rather she said to mothers in tough situations, “If you don’t want your baby, you can give it to me.”  This fellow, inspired by all that has started an adoption organization … and he had also adopted two children from Haiti as his own. That’s what we’re talking about.

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PAPA Commissioning Service

June 22nd, 2008 by Chris & Shane

We had an official commissioning service at the PAPA (People Against Poverty and Apathy) Festival. PAPA Fest was a little “convergence of communities and movements” in the rolling hills of Illinois on a Mennonite farm known as Plow Creek (started about 50 years ago by Reba Place Community in Chicago-land). At the closing ceremonies, we gathered at the altar and Taehoo Lee, a pastor from Philadelphia (and board member of The Simple Way) led the great commission. The whole JFP team met on the altar, joining with other friends that will also hit the road this month on various missions of spreading hope (mewithoutyou, Aimee Wilson, Timbre, and others) and praying for the journey. It was a beautiful thing to have hundreds of our friends lay hands on us, anoint us with oil, and send us off.

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