Report from Progressive Christian Brunch
The moral of the first Progressive Christian Brunch is this: do it. Have more. Eat Eggs Benedict and bagels and donuts in the company of your fellow progressive Christians across America. Good things will happen.
The first ever Progressive Christian Brunch was held at Polly’s Café in Waswhington DC, a basement-level semi-dive where pipe smoke rises and Washingtonians huddle around small French café tables. CrossLeft leadership team members Rev. Sekou of Harlem and Rev. Mark Farr of London were engrossed in conversation about gay ministry in the choirs of the black Pentacostalist church. I was talking to Mark’s stunningly blonde wife Laura, a landscape architect, about her ambitions to build a low-energy house and raise an organic garden.
Scott Wells arrived with hubby, John, a journalist at the Washington Post. Scott’s a prominent Unitarian Universalist blogger – under the handle Boyinthebands (check out our clergybloggers page for the latest headlines from Scott and others). He and Chris Walton (blogger handle: philocrates) of UU World were some of the first clergy to start blogging and talking to other clergy about their blogs. So Boston and the UU’s are sort of the Jerusalem of the Progressive Christian Blogger movement. Philocrates would go on to organize bloggers into the blogrolling link list known as the Progressive Christian Blogger Network, which CrossLeft would use as a kernel to assemble its aggregate of streaming clergy headlines.
Scott and Sekou got into a furious argument about the future of activism. On one side, Scott, standing up for a new generation of political lobbyists and media hacking, argued that the media was jaded to marches and protests a la 1960. On the other side, Sekou talked about the difference between civil disobedience and all other forms of protest. He talked about what a stark impression being jail makes upon those who go there willingly.
Several margaritas in, the Unitarians and the Pentacostalists hadn’t agreed. Our denominational and individual differences sparkled like a thousand grains of sand. We couldn’t agree on how and what kind of protest was best and most effective; we couldn’t agree on which issues should be politicized and which should be kmerely a mission of individuals in their own families. But we had bright, and serious conversations. And we shared strategies.
Moreover, in sharing our networks and our strategies, we built the possibility of lasting relationships. That, my friend, and not some manifesto from the brunch, is what will last.
Scott had volunteered to talk to other bloggers about spreading the word, and wanted to ask his friends to put up the Strreaming Christianity newsstream within their opwn sites. John wanted to talk to journalists about our media-training friends at the Faith and Religion Resource Center. Mark and I were brainstorming about coalitions to bring into a Progressive Christian think tank. The Rev. Frances Hall Kieschnick of the Beatitudes Society was going to be talking to the Unity Walk and the bloggers about how to set up her kids on college campuses with larger networks so that they didn’t feel so isolated.
Clergy are bright. They all have advanced degrees, they’ve lived in foreign countries and the inner city. They take politics and theology seriously, and each of them has thought out the issues of political protest, social change, and coalition-building.
Progressive Christian lay people are also bright. They’ve also thought through these things, often in isolation, and they come to us with different areas of expertise – managerial, social, political – even as landscape gardeners who think about how energy-efficient and more social cities could be built.
If there’s a moral lesson from Progressive Christian Brunch, it’s pretty simple: do it. Figure out how to find the others in your area, using CrossLeft, MeetUp, the Blogosphere, the social networks of your local clergy, or the ideas of your mother; find these people, and eat brunch with them. Only good can come of it.