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Radical Welcome

The blog, Fr. Jake Stops the World, which I like to read, has a new entry on "radical welcome." Fr. Jake writes:

As the chart on page 3 of this document makes clear, "radical welcome" goes beyond being an "inviting", or even "inclusive" Church. For instance, compare the message of those three approaches:

The message of the Inviting Church - " Come, join our community and share our cultural values and heritage.”

The message of the Inclusive Church - “Help us to be diverse.”

The message of the Radically Welcoming Church - “Bring your culture, your voice, your whole self—we want to engage in truly mutual relationship.”

Do you see the difference? Instead of a transaction, in which we assume The Other wants something we have, a radical welcome is an invitation to enter into a mutual relationship.

Is there some risk involved? Of course. And lots of fear. One of the greatest fears of the Church in general, and many of our members specifically, is the fear of change. And if we welcome in The Other, the outcasts, those who are somehow "different," things are definately going to change. And maybe we won't like it.

Okay, so I made a comment on his blog, which I include below:

What distinguishes what I hear as “radical welcome” from, say, the current ethos of Unitarian Universalism but with liturgy? As I looked for a faith tradition to become involved in, I chose Anglicanism (TEC) because I saw in it a means of faith that hadn’t given up on the time-honored Tradition – that which has lasted through trend and whim over the centuries – and at the same time was not caught up in “traditionalism.” There was a declaration in the BCP that “this is what we believe,” but an allowance for questioning and doubt that wasn’t tied to hyper-individualism and rebellion.

I know that at times “converts” can be the most resilient concerning change – “Look what I’ve found; now you want to change it all.” Granted, there is resistance to change always, but sometimes when resistance presents itself against “change for change’s sake,” the resistance is not a bad thing. Think God there was resistance to tearing down Grand Central Station in NYC against the “modernizers” that already tore down Penn-Station.

Jarosloav Pelikan stated, “The only alternative to Tradition is bad tradition.”

There seems to me a compulsion among the “Baby-Boomer” generation (and yes this is a generalization) for continual change. In my dealing with the younger generations, they are frankly sick of it. Of course change is constant in their own lives, but what they seem to be seeking in a world-of-nothing-but-change is a constant – something they can hold on to and be sure of. That’s why, I think, traditional forms of church architecture, language, liturgy, hymnology, and the like are so attractive to younger people – often to the chagrin of their elders.

Jesus was most certainly radical in his inclusion and welcome of the people his culture demeaned and rejected, but it was always to be included in and welcomed into this one thing – as he defined it, the Kingdom of God. The rich-young-ruler, when he finally could not sell all that he had as Jesus demanded as a condition for following him, was not then given the option by Jesus to “just come along anyway.” The rich-young-ruler walked off, un-included. Jesus unbiasedly invited him into this forming Church, but not in order for the rich-young-ruler to help him decided what the forming Church was to become. There was an eternal constant that Jesus upheld and to which he required conformity that resulted in the capitulation of individual notions of things. I welcome anyone, even those the present culture ridicules and condemns, but I welcome them into something that is beyond me and beyond us.

So, if “radical welcome” is considered true and not just the desired imposition of yet another ideology, what am I to think as I keep hearing from young people that this generation of leadership is completely unresponsive, will not listen, will not consider what they as “the future of the Church” are truly seeking? An NYU student makes a comment that, “We really do like Rite I!” The rector shakes his head, dumbfounded that this could actually be possible, and says, “I keep hearing this, but I don’t understand it and just can’t believe it.” If the younger generations seek that which is ancient, tried and true, not trendy, and if they don’t have issues surrounding ancient stuff, “inclusive language,” male imagery, etc., etc., will your generation allow that? My experience thus far is that you will not – and I’m not what one would call a “reactionary conservative.” I’ve worked in academe for a long time now and in this Episcopal Church and to my chagrin I have found the most un-inclusive people to be those who yell “inclusion” the most. This is just my experience, for what it is worth. There’s got to be a better way.

NOTE: Since this Web space is primarily a place for me to dump thoughts and to keep track of things, I'm not being particular about grammar and spelling. I realize this will effect how some people will respond to me and to my thoughts. Feel free to point out mistakes! If this drives you nuts, sorry.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 16, 2008 1:37 PM.

The previous post in this blog was The Anglican Covenant.

The next post in this blog is "Radical Identity".

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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