The Idea behind Rethink Conspiracy

Kyle Roberson is the founder of and the director of online discipleship at White's Chapel UMC in Southlake, Texas. Every week, Kyle publishes an online newspaper which you can subscribe and read by clicking the red bar on the box to the right. Below, Kyle writes about what it means to Rethink Conspiracy. 
conspire: verb, to act or work together toward the same result or goal.
Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code, once said, "Everyone loves a conspiracy." I happen to agree with Brown on this observation regarding conspiracy, but I would submit a follow-up question, "Does everyone know what a conspiracy is?"  A conspiracy, by my definition is a living, breathing organism made up of many members operating outside of public attention for a purpose. The three most predominant qualities of a conspiracy are that it is close, quiet, and quick.  
The root of the word conspiracy is conspire, whose root is the latin conspirare, literally to breathe together (con: with, spirare: to breathe [as in respiratory or respirate]). To breathe together, to be in that close of proximity with another, brings to mind an organism made up of members in unity with one another so closely they breathe in and out together. Breath, very life itself, shared amongst members to keep the organism (community, organization, etc.) alive.
A conspiracy acts in secrecy, outside the attention of the public, its' plans secret from the general population until it is ready to act out. Secrets can be a valuable resource. When things are done in secret by an organization or community, often no one member can claim sole responsibility.
This secrecy, coupled with the tight-knit nature means a conspiracy can act quickly and efficiently with very little attention placed upon itself while individual members can continue to function without disruption to their own daily life, schedule, or responsibilities.
Conspiracies, however, traditionally have been associated with the purpose of disruption or disobedience, sometimes violent in nature. What if we organized a conspiracy around the purpose of taking care of our neighbors by working secretly to better our local, national, and global communities? Could we redeem "conspiracy" to become some highly mobilized and effective group of people acting for good out of love of neighbor? Could we embrace the secret nature of conspiracy as a therapeutic means of putting aside our pride and need for fame to explore humility? Could we do more than individual random acts of kindness? Could we combine our collective power to do more good together than we could on our own?
Whatever your reason: Altruism, conviction, faith, desire to "pay it forward", would you join this conspiracy? 

Zero-sum, all-you-can-eat and Christianity

Some people feel that there is a scarcity in the world. News of few jobs, few natural resources and diminishing opportunities affirm this sense that the world is running out of “stuff.” Other people feel that there is an abundance in the world. The ease to spend beyond one’s means, enjoy all-you-can eat-buffets and the endless supply of information on the internet affirm this sense of abundance -- that we can have our cake and eat it too.

Christians are called by Jesus to embrace a third view of the world: there is enough. When Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily bread, he teaches us not to worry we will run out of food or conversely be irresponsible with over-indulgence. Jesus teaches us to trust that, through God, we will have enough. Having the view of “enough” is a position of faith in God.

These three different worldviews affect the way we live in the world.  A worldview of scarcity can lead us to despair and hopelessness.  A worldview of abundance can lead us to rely on our own abilities in order to “store up” a surplus and take more than our share of resources.  The Christian view of enough calls us to trust that the God who has provided for people in all times and places will provide for us today.  We do not despair and we are not irresponsible.  Instead, we hold fast to our God of daily bread.

A little help. Seriously, I am lost.

Julian of Norwich once wrote "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well".

Paul of Tarsus once said "In God we live and move and have our being."

Maya Angelou once noted "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

These lines have been with me for weeks now and there is a "mash-up" insight in there somewhere, but I have yet to glean it.

Any thoughts? Do these speak to you at all?

Christianity and beliefs

Rather than replying to the previous comments on the previous post, I just took the time to write a follow up entry.

This part is a bit of a refresher.
For as many generations, Christianity functioned as a religion in which you first believed, then you learned to behave and then you became a Christian (belonged). This three-fold sequence of believing, behaving and belonging is still how much of Christianity functions today. You can find a number of church websites with a link to explain what they believe so you know right away what that "entire" community believes. If you are kosher with the beliefs then you learn to behave in the community. You learn when to worship and when to be in small group you learn what imaged to use for God and what ways to behave among one another. Finally, when you have all that in order you are counted as one who belonged to the community.

Recently the conversation has turned to invert this process. That is to create Christian community is to first create places where people belong, then as a member of the community they we learn to behave together then we get to the stuff about beliefs. This comes from Diana Butler Bass who said that if she were to join a knitting in order to learn to knit, the first thing she would do is walk into that group and belong. The group does not ask her about her thoughts on knitting philosophy, but they teach her how to knit. Finally, after time has passed, she will develop her own thoughts, which have been informed by the community, on what she holds has her beliefs on knitting.

Not only am I advocating that we need to invert the sequence of believe-behave-belong but it has been my experience that when that sequence is inverted that by the time we get to the third phase of "believing", the specifics beliefs/dogma/orthodoxy matter very little. I have friends that I would go through hell and back with because we are that close but when it comes to beliefs we could not be farther apart on a number of issues. I would be willing to be most people have someone in their lives who they belong to but have disagree about beliefs but continue to remain friends. Because the relationship is greater than anything.

If Christianity is a religion that is about relationships, then relationships are what we work at getting "right". Unlike almost every other outlet in our world, Christianity is a movement that says it is more important that we belong to one another as children of God than what we believe. It is vital to the God's vision for the world that we are in relationship with one another, because a person is more important that a set of beliefs.

Richard Rohr's book Falling Upward I think is helpful here. Rohr argues there are two stages in life and:

"when you are young, you define yourself by differentiating yourself; now you look for the things we all share in common. You find happiness in alikeness, which has become much more obvious to you now; and you do not need to dwell on the differences between people or exaggerate the problems."

Rohr goes on to say:

"In the second half of life, we do not have strong and final opinions about everything, every event, or most people, as much as we allow things and people to delight us, sadden us, and truly influence us. We no longer need to change or adjust other people to be happy ourselves. Ironically, we are more than ever before in a position to change people—but we do not need to—and that makes all the difference."

When we discover that Christianity is less about beliefs and more about relationship then we are moving into the second stage of life Rohr writes about. If pressed to express my "beliefs" it would be this: The Biblical witness and the message of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit is clear - God changes the world by establishing relationships built around shared trust rather than shared beliefs. This is the Way of Christ.