The Ministry of Radicalism
The Christianity and Anarchism Conference is coming up January 18th-19th. Though I know a few Anarcho-Christians locally, (and possibly even am one myself) there is a lot I don't know about the people who hold this philosophy. I was looking around at the websites of some of the groups nationwide who are connected with the movement, to try and get a feel for what it means in practical terms. How does a Christian Anarchist live, other than reading the bible and wearing circle-A patches? What are the concrete implications of this belief system?
After all, what one does usually says far more about their beliefs than what they call themselves...
Locally, Bread and Roses was born in the movement of Anarcho-Christianity. The original members put a down payment on a house, not knowing where the payments would come from, and started a radical ministry. The ministry was about sharing soup and offering beds in their own house to the homeless. It was also about everyone in this commmunity addressing our problems- decisions were made at local community potlucks monthly, open to anyone. Though it has departed from its roots both in the Christian and Anarchist traditions as it has become a more conventional social service agency, much of the character structure of Bread and Roses still reflects its roots.
My favorite site is that of the Christian co-op house/community in Philly, the Simple Way. (The picture above is from their basement prayer space. The scrape of paper tacked to the wall are prayer requests.) Their website contains information about cottage industry, needs of the local people in the neighborhood, political actions in Philly, and more. Particularly compelling is their information on why and how to obtain abandoned houses.
They also produced this:
- A number of people have asked us to come up with some simple, practical ideas around social justice. With the help of our friends at Geez Magazine, we’ve come up with the following… add your idea to the mix and let’s brew up some holy mischief.
- Go out to eat with someone who is homeless, or invite them to your home or cafeteria to eat with you.
- Leave a random tip in the college bathrooms for the folks who clean them.
- Find out who makes the clothes for the athletic department and if those companies reflect the values of Christ.
- Learn to sew and begin making your own clothes.
- Start tithing 10% of all income directly to the poor (relationaltithe.com).
- Connect with a group of farmworkers who grow food for your cafeteria or favorite restaurant (such as Taco Bells Immokalee workers ciw-online.org).
- Give your winter coat away to someone who is colder than you are.
- Ask to see the budget of your school. What do the workers get paid compared to the administrators? Make sure folks know -- if you are proud of this, affirm the folks who make those decisions... If not, begin a conversation with both workers and administrators of how this could be better.
- Ask where the campus gets its energy. Is it renewable? If not begin a plan for moving toward renewable energy (talk to folks at Eastern University about how they have done it by an optional ecological tax that is tacked onto tuition -- it's only a few dollars per student).
- Write one CEO a month -- affirm or critique the ethics of their company (you may need to do a little research).
- Write only paper letters for a month (go computer free)
- Try sitting in silence for 15 minutes a day.
- Kill your TV -- or go TV free for a year.
- Go down a line of parked cars and pay for the meters that are about to expire... Leave a little anonymous note of niceness.
- Beat a war machine into a plow, without hurting anyone of course (Isaiah 2:4) -- NOTE: you might want to plan on a little sabbatical after this one, a little reading and writing retreat -- in jail.
- Write to one social justice organizer or leader each month, just to encourage them in their work.
- Experiment with a post-oil era by going fuel free for a week -- ride a bike everywhere, carpool, walk or hitchhike.
- Gut your TV and turn it into a pot for a plant.
- Try reading only female writers for a year (since many of our problems seem to be stemming from men).
- Go to a retirement home and ask to visit a few old folks who don't get any visitors.
- Spend some time with someone who cleans the campus, get to know each other, share your stories.
- Invite one of the college cafeteria staff to your home for dinner or go to their home.
- Try jack-hammering the church parking lot to make space for potato plants.
- Track to its source one item you eat regularly
- Give your car away to a stranger
- Convert a diesel car to run off veggie oil.
- Try flushing your toilets off dirty sink water (for a little guide, check here).
- Buy only used (thrift) clothes for a year.
- Cover up all brand names, or at least the ones that do not reflect the upside down economics of God's Kingdom.