Holy Mischief // SCM Canada

I was privileged this week to be offered a position on the Board of the Student Christian Movement in Canada as the Communications and Resource Board Member (lovingly known as the Director of Propaganda). I have accepted the position with a bit of surprise, knowing this organization has a wonderful legacy of meaningful work and prestigious members. Though, it may not seem so at first, the motley crew of students/young adults and “senior friends” has been a noticeable force in the Canadian and international civic spheres.

Since its founding, SCM Canada has taken stands on pressing social issues of its time, including support for the ordination of women, opposing internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II; anti-war activities since the 1960s; and facing controversy for its solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified Christians. Members were involved in the Canadian social gospel movement which mobilized for a more just social order in Canada, including accessible health care, education and social services. (SCM History)

SCM is also a part of the WSCF–World Student Christian Federation, an international body of movements. We join with them in hopes of seeing a vision of peace and justice realized worldwide, for all persons.25616_363422358349_1222264_n

As a place of discussion, prayer, and action, SCM has offered young adults a collective of diversely inspired and passionate Christian to join in holy mischief, and the pursuit of peace and justice. Never before had I met passionate individuals who so whole-heartily believed in the Beatitudes.

Having had the opportunity to meet SCMers from around Ontario at the recent Cahoots Festival I was inspired by their passion and vision. SCM held a visioning meeting during the Festival where long-time participants and newcomers all joined together to write down the dreams and desires they hope to actualize, together, over the coming year. The process was cathartic as people expressed frustrations, longings, hopes, and we bonded over the collective past and present of the organization. As a very new member of SCM Ottawa, I felt incredibly welcomed into this motley community mischief-makers and invited into their diverse and meaningful work. Now I have an opportunity to join that work nationally and support those small but industrious SCM groups across Canada rallying behind the Social Gospel.

I look forward to what the coming year will bring, supporting SCM groups from BC, Manitoba, Ontario and so many more. And, to see more individuals find their voice in our greater human narrative, just as those who came before us:

  • The Greensboro Four (U.S. Civil Rights movement)
  • J.S. Woodsworth (labour leader & social gospel minister)
  • Muriel Duckworth (founder, Voice of Women for Peace)
  • Lois Wilson (former head, World Council of Churches; 1st woman moderator, United Church of Canada)
  • James Endicott (co-founder of SCM Canada and United Church of Canada)
  • Kwame Nkruma (pan-African unity leader)
  • Desmond Tutu (anti-apartheid archbishop)
  • Nancy Ruth (Canadian senator)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (dissident pastor martyred by Nazis)
  • Steve Biko (anti-apartheid martyr)
  • Brother Roger (Taize founder)
  • Jurgen Moltmann (theologian)
  • Vince Goring (Canadian Commonwealth Federation/NDP)
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Gathering in resistance and passion // Cahoots! Fest 2014

Cahoots! a Festival on Faith, Justice and DIY

1524054_742891009094450_6386388902422417689_oI recently returned from an incredible time at Cahoots! a wonderful inter-generational ecumenical event hosted by the Student Christian Movement and The Beans Sprout Collective. The four-day event was filled with music, discussion, incredible vegan food, and 155 enthusiastic participants.

Hosted at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp near Sauble Beach, the atmosphere was refreshing despite the exhausting jam-packed schedule.

As church or faith related conferences/events go I was pleasantly surprised by the spirit of conversation and exploration. This atmosphere made workshops such as “Radical Theology
” with Ken Dryfhout, “Jesus vs. The Establishment” 
with Torkil Hvidsten, and “

Where Do We Go From Here?
 Dialoguing Across Difference” 
with Brad Culver, all incredible opportunities for connection. I found myself intrigued by the ideas presented, the experiences shared and the wide variety of Christian, and other faith, traditions present.

As well, I was encouraged by the immense support participants expressed for one another as ideas, struggles, frustrations and passions were shared. As I shared in our closing debrief, I appreciated the opportunity to find other co-conspirators in Holy mischief–to be inspired by the stories of their work and invited into new opportunities to pursue the Kingdom of God on earth. It was wonderful to see the daily and larger scale work that was witnessed to, in so many diverse areas of social justice.

Another thing that struck me was how participants interacted with one another; there was a kindness and consideration I don’t usual experience. Not to say that I am not surrounded by a community of loving and caring individuals, but that we do live in a culture that is anti-consent and anti-vulnerability. It seemed so easy to feel comfortable in an environment that was careful, as we navigated sensitive topics and experiences, to be sensitive to those around. Validating experiences, expressing support during times of sharing, asking for consent before touching, and respecting emotional and physical boundaries. These are simple things we have been socialized to ignore, but they can do much to create a safe space for its participants.

All in all, it was an incredible experience. I, admittedly, can barely wait for next year’s festival. A chance, perhaps, to share what I’ve done with the tools and inspiration I’ve walked away with this year.

Photo Gallery

(Photo credit to the Cahoots! media team.)

Book Review // Scott Evans’ “Beautiful Attitudes”

Lately, I’ve found myself delving into the trifecta of Scott Evans’ writing; if you haven’t heard of him he is a scruffy writer/speaker from Ireland. A bit of a wandering prophet (not necessarily a compliment, thinking of the eccentric prophets of ye Olde Testament), he has produced three books all worth a read: Beautiful AttitudesCloser Still, and Failing from the Front.

Scott and I had the chance to meet on two separate occasions, included the most tedious game of Settlers of Catan I have ever played. That aside, I found him to be a genuine person with pragmatic compassion, someone who could speak both quiet and obnoxious truth into your life–my favourite kind of person. These encounters drove me to begin reading his three books, all of which I will be reviewing over the next month. Alas, in no particular order I shall begin.

Beautiful Attitudes: Living Out the Christian Manifesto by Scott Evans

IMAG0075I have read a number of devotional books in my time, most of which I find a balance somewhere between Hallmark-ian and so outlandishly mystical they speak little to my person. Beautiful Attitudes started as a series of blog posts, which lends itself to short chapters easily picked-up on a bus ride or waiting at the doctor’s office. Each vignette is a dissertation on a verse from Matthew 5:3-12, otherwise known as the Beatitudes.

An overdone piece of scriptures, some might say, but Scott does an excellent job of providing his reader with a different lens to explore the ideas of this Social Gospel. He writes about Jesus, the revolutionary, and the counter-cultural blessings he is declaring for the marginalized, the oppressed, the broken and the poor. It is easy, two millennium later, to forget about the radical implications of the Sermon on the Mount, and especially these specific verses, but Scott does a great job of showing us this new “manifesto”.

The Sermon on the Mount is a manifesto for the disillusioned and disenfranchised. They gather as people who have experienced the Kingdom of God and this sermon is an invitation for them to become participants, to be builders and citizens in a new Kingdom, one that is not of this world. An otherworldly way of living. (Pg. 3)

In the age of Millenials (young adults born 1980’s-2000’s), there is such a desire to delve into the implications of the Gospel and social justice, ethics, and spiritual growth. Scott does a great job of exploring these ideas and really fostering an invitation to explore one’s faith in this light–.

When someone is first interested in learning about Christianity and Christ (hopefully more so the latter) I often struggle with suggestions for books. Friends will often ask for suggestions of gifts to give others, something not too heavy or long. This book is an excellent introduction. Scott refrains from pretentiousness when it comes to Biblical knowledge, and explains stories and parables in all of his writing with the skill of a great storyteller. I would not hesitate to lend this book to others as a glimpse at the essence of Christ’s ministry, using broken people as blessings, working through suffering to establish a new kind of kingdom.

I should add, if you are looking for a traditionally sanitized piece of writing to give teens, don’t buy this book. In fact, if you want a book that speaks of total redemption, overcoming temptation and living a life of purity, don’t buy any of Scott’s books. He has chosen to share, vulnerability, his own story, struggles included, which speak more to the progressive transformative power of Christ than of battles won. It is a meaningful story but it is also very honest, and if that kind of honesty offends you then it would be best to simply not pick it up.

But, for those who want a different perspective on an overdone idea, it is a great book, especially for young adults looking to explore their faith in a broken world as a broken person.

And, lastly, here is the scale:

General-Readability: ★★★★☆
Overall Message: ★★★☆☆
Challenging Ideas: ★★★★☆
Memorability: ★★★☆☆