Tag Archives: village parenting

Who knows but that God made Circle of Hope for such a Trump time as this?

Maybe we have some Esther in us. When plots against the Jews were uncovered in the Persian capital, one of the king’s favorite wives, Esther, was well-placed to do something about it. But there were great risks to face! She was one of the Jews being slandered; she was just one of many wives; she was not sure whether she would not be killed if she appeared unbidden before the king. But her uncle laid out the situation to her again: Terrible things were about to happen and she was in danger, as well as her people. He said, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” So she told everyone to fast and pray and said, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (see Esther 4).

I will go to Trump and if I perish I perish

Now we will need to “Go to the Trump.” Maybe that has always been inevitable. My twenties began with the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency and ended with the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s We sat on our porch and talked very seriously about how we needed to be ready for the police state to rule us. We told each other we needed to be an alternative community to sustain ourselves in the coming time of troubles, as well as to hold out the light of Christ. There was plenty of trouble, but not the collapse of civilization we expected. And ever since, I have witnessed inspired people fighting hard for the poor, for rights, and for goodness when the government was doing things wrong. There are still a lot of inspired people doing the same thing. But there is also the fruit of this stream of power-mad, self-interested, pure-capitalists that resulted in Donald Trump.

In a perverse way, the president-elect is very good for the radical Christian “business,” since he causes the right kind of disgust and desperation with the world. The Bible writers think those feelings of conviction and repentance should be normative for anyone who has met Jesus. But generally, they are not normative for Christians in the United States. Yet here we are. Just like Esther was dragged out of her perfumed harem and into the necessity of the looming disaster, so are we are dragged out of our denial, or stupor, or relative comfort, or wherever and into the necessity of facing a fearsome future. “Who knows but that God made Circle of Hope for such a time as this?”

If you look at the goals we set last June after a few months of good thinking, they seem rather prophetic to me. We must have been ready then for what is now.


We said “This year we we are going to”

Help thirsty people meet Jesus:

This is the big thing. When they finally admit the government is a big shoving match between the elites, when 25% of the eligible voters elect the president who did not even get the majority of the votes people deigned to cast (if they were not felons or suppressed) then maybe, just maybe, people will realize they need the Savior they have. Our alternativity is the living proof people need that there is another way.

Strengthen our mutuality:

We really do not know what will happen to every despised minority (like radical Christians, too!). What if we have a war, a police state, a financial meltdown, a climate meltdown? We need to take care of each other.

Create jobs and strengthen our finances:

This is also an ambitious response to needing to take care of ourselves when the societal climate won’t. I am not expecting the financial bonanza Trump promises to reach us, do you? We need to find our own way and not be so dependent on the unstable and immoral government.

Open our eyes to the power of technology:

Didn’t the manipulation of the media just result in a predatory slanderer being elected? Didn’t Hillary’s dependence on her data sink her? Didn’t we all buy in for two years? Isn’t the leader of the Breitbart slander machine head of the transition? We need to start thinking more clearly.

Long term, we said we needed to address four big problems that are looming, We don’t know what is going to happen in the world, of course, but we are also not without hope or wisdom.

The Northeast megalopolis is losing contact with Jesus

We are here for a time like this. We were purposefully planted in the middle of the megalopolis to be the light in the darkness.

The “one percent” is effectively enslaving many people

We are here for a time like this. We need a compassionate, creative response to capitalism, especially now, since a man who can sell an empty brand name is president. Our mutuality web is not just for us, it is also for the people who are going to fall off the edge of the disasters first: the undocumented, the gentrified poor, the mentally ill, the broken families, veterans, felons, and anyone who is not considered lawful and orderly.

Large forces are threatening our children

We are here for a time like this. The internet is full of psychological land mines. The schools are run for profit. The scourge of data and legalism is everywhere. We need village parenting more than ever.

Advances in technology are undermining incarnation and blurring the image of God

We are here for a time like this. It always seems like an abstract thing to point out; we are having a hard time getting our minds around it —  but we must not underestimate what technology is doing. It is not only destroying the climate, it is undermining what it means to be human. It is creating a new humanity faster than we are helping Jesus to do. Yes, there are people who are fighting against every bad expression of our escalating powers, but each day increases the data cloud taking various shapes we have never encountered before. We need to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, unleash our best prophets and stay deeply connected to our place, our community and our Lord.

“Who knows but that God made Circle of Hope for such a time as this?”

I am not even sure what time it is, yet. But we are certainly awakened to the horrible possibilities that have been simmering for decades. Our situation is not new to God’s people, perhaps it just seems new to us. But we have been preparing ourselves and being prepared for a long time to be our own faithful response to this very circumstance that seems so surprising and difficult. May we have Esther’s courage in the face of it.

Parenting as a community

Some people saw “parenting” in the title of my post and never got further than the title. They are not a parent at all, or not a parent of young children, so they are skipping this post because it is “not about me.” At some level, that’s OK, since we don’t have to be universally responsible for everything. But children are not just a subject, they are not merely an activity, they are members of the body of Christ.

Children are not of age to make a covenant, so they are not those kind of members of the body. But they are members by virtue, generally, of being present with their parents. As a result, they are the special charges we are all given to nurture into faith until they can make an adult decision to walk with Jesus with us. If you ignore them, or you don’t think they are watching you ignore them, you will not only miss your opportunity and shirk your responsibility to care, you may actually prove to be a detriment to their development. (Did you listen to Into the Woods last year?)

We are parenting as a community. One way or another, we will all be parenting when children are around in the church. This is how it should be. We are the family of God, after all. The church is either a great environment where everyone, children included, can be connected to God and form a secure attachment — or not. We want to be a church who…

  • encourages everyone to care for our weakest people: the children,
  • helps parents with their difficult and crucial ministry to their children,
  • helps parenting households in an individualized society to develop practical ways to share their burdens
  • opens doors for including new parents in the systems we come up with to share the load.

How are we doing with village parenting?

At recent meetings of Circle of Hope, we openly talked about how we are doing with nurturing this environment. For the most part, we thought we were doing pretty well. But we were criticized for letting children be invisible, and for letting parents get stuck in being isolated, as is often the society’s habit — since we are supposed to be self sufficient individuals, and, by extension, self-sufficient families.

Adults tend to go through our meetings looking for connections that please them and opportunities that satisfy a main question they ask of every circumstance: what’s in it for me? Advertisers have been appealing to this self-interest so relentlessly since they were born, that it is hard not to see it as a natural reaction. So they often look  over the heads of the children (which is easy to do, right?) assuming there is nothing down there for them. They miss that children not only have things to offer as people, if you listen to them like they are listening to you. What’s even better, caring for children develops the love of God in us. Caring for the vulnerable and enlightening the lost are the main activities that expand our hearts to receive more of the Holy Spirit and become our true selves. It never makes sense to overlook a child.

A few years ago we began talking about “village parenting.” Mainly we were talking about the parents getting together and living as the community they are in regard to their children. Parenting can be so hard for most of us that we need our extended birth family and our extending family in Christ to come alongside. Many people don’t have a birth family who is available, (or who they want to be involved and making they mess they made the first time), so their family in Christ is very important. Many children do not have a functioning family or a family in Christ, so we are a great place for them to learn to attach to people and to God when we invite them in. “Village parenting” is an important skill for everyone to learn. It takes a village to raise a child in Christ.

Hillary Clinton made the point about villages and children in her famous book. She got her image from an African proverb but we got our point from Acts 4:32-35. We rewrote that passage for parents and have been working on doing it ever since. This would be ideal:

All the parents were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that their personal resources for parenting were the only resources they had, but they shared with each other. With great power the parents continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in their families, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy parents or children among them. For from time to time those who had resources of time, materials, organizing and imagination shared them. The little they had individually became more in God’s hands, so that all the needs were attended to.

Even if you are not a parent, you’d want to get in on that, wouldn’t you?

God is our Father. Jesus is our brother. Last night Peter was telling us at BW that the Spirit is consistently delivering pure spiritual milk to us newborn babies who long for it. Following Jesus is all about family. A lot of people who may be insecurely attached to their own parents and who may not have a secure attachment to God as a result, like to make following Jesus into something they can control or do in their typically avoidant way. But Jesus redirects our outlook from our preoccupations and points back to the children, even the troubled child still unfinished in us or the newborn babe anxiously longing for spiritual milk. We need to be like a child ourselves, a loving, longing child of our loving, longing parent. When we are parenting as a community, all of us, not just the people with children, we are in step with God, who has made us with great instincts for love, which are often unleashed by those needy little people among us.