Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sustainability, scheduling, and future plans

I went to a Green Festival in San Francisco today. It felt a bit like a giant reunion of food co-op types, only it was incredibly crowded and generally uncomfortable. I had a strange experience.

It was weird for me, because these people used to be my tribe. I was all about organic food and sustainable community. I still believe that way. But, I’m not into the spirituality that often goes with it. I’m not a Goddess-Christian-Buddhist-Pagan anymore. I absolutely believe in interfaith connections, and support them with all my soul. I don’t (and never did) go around with “4:20” patches on my hat. I won’t wear a T-shirt reading, “I believe in God / I just call God Nature.” Eleven years in an interfaith community, and those friendships I still hold onto, gave me an openness that I pray will always be part of me. At the same time, I myself am thoroughly Christian. It felt like there was no space at this festival for people like me.

I need to explore my, and our, options around this. I now have a yoga-practicing, equality-preaching, environmentally-concerned bishop. There is support for sustainability in this diocese. (As there is in the wider church; that’s what the Millennium Development Goals are all about.) When I want faith-driven political action, I start with and go from there. If I want spiritual affirmation of the world I want to live in, without its being tied to any faith, I go to Yes magazine. The only organization I can think of that is dedicated to Christian environmental action is Earth Ministry, a local/regional project based in Seattle. I know there are more; we watched An Inconvenient Truth in the refectory last month. All of these groups need to know about each other. There should be no outsiders at an environmental festival, ever. I wonder what I can do to encourage connections?

I might have a little time to think about that, because I just dropped one of my classes. I’m only going 3/4 time for the rest of this year. I wasn’t keeping up in Modern Church History, even with encouragement to do so. I think I just needed a mental health break. I went full-time last year, and I really struggled to balance giving enough of myself both to academics and to personal growth. Honestly, I think I just need to be happy and not stressed, for awhile. I’m loving Homiletics and Ethics, and Hebrew is the easiest class I have. I’m incredibly happy with my involvement at church, and in our after-school program on Wednesday afternoons. I love the community, and that's mutual. I just want to enjoy all of this and not die, for now anyway.

I talked with my advisor, and my new plan is to do an internship the year after next, rather than to break up my academics. I don’t know yet whether I’ll want to go to school full-time next year, or keep at the current pace. If I go full-time, then I can be academically done after next year. If I continue at a 3/4 pace, I’ll have either one more semester, or a year of half-time work to do. I also want to take classes from the Social Welfare school at Cal, so this all could work out really well. CDSP accepts electives taken at UC Berkeley, if we can integrate our studies there with our vocations. I’d just have to write papers connecting the two. That’s actually fun.

I’ll have to take the Modern Church History—Constructive Theology sequence next year, instead of now. I’m truly okay with that. The work load is really heavy, and I think I’d almost have to take only 3 classes at a time to do them well. I’m excited for next semester; I’m taking Postmodern Christian Education with Sue Singer, whom I know slightly and like very much; an exegesis course on Hebrews, taught by Bill Countryman (very good, and retiring); and a reading course with John Kater on the works of William Stringfellow. (A reading course, for any other Evergreeners reading this, is our version of an individual contract. You and the faculty decide what you’re going to do.) I knew John as a person before this year; he’s a good friend of the Apostle in Exile, and I’m on his regular list of cat-sitters. He’s an incredible teacher, and so obviously loves it. He’s heading off to Asia next year, so I’m learning from him while I can.

In fact, I ought to get some reading done now. I’ve taken quite a bit of this weekend off.


Mimi said...

Parked firmly in the Christian camp, I do know exactly what you mean - I am as lefty as you get, just not pagan at all.

Anonymous said...

There are PLENTY of christians at the Green Festival, I know a number of them. I think the problem is that you are looking for a booth with a label. Instead what you will find at the Green Festival is a lot of people who are living the TEACHINGS of Jesus. If you look at what's in the bible, it is about creating a community that cares for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. And he talks about compassionate stewardship of resources. There are many good hearted, kind, people at the Green Festival. Some call themselves Christian, some agnostic, secular, or pagan. But many of them are coming from a Christ-like place of concern for the poor and investment in a compassionate culture.

Peace and Love,

Kirstin said...


I'm not looking for a "booth with a label;" I'm looking for a sense that my faith is acceptable to the Green Festival community. I did not find that here.

It isn't useful to diagnose me; all you know of that issue is one paragraph that I've written. If you look around my blog, you will see that I am familiar with the Bible, and with the teachings of Jesus. I understand the difference between labeling oneself "Christian" and living into Christ's example. Much of what I saw and heard here alienated me, and I know there are voices which were not present. That is my issue.

If you want to have a conversation with me about this, or to introduce me to some of the people that you know, I would like that. You are welcome to e-mail me through my profile.

juniper68 said...

K - This is such great food (pun intended - ha!) for thought and soul. I went to an uber-liberal school, and found some of the most leftist folks, people who I agreed with in principle, also the hardest to get "in" with.

I will be thinking more about this. And also pondering "Hebrew is the easiest class I have..." Sheesh! How is THAT possible?

Hugs your way -

LutheranChik said...

Another crunchy, former pagany person weighing in here. I understand what you mean about missing a sense of community within the circles of my more predominantly non-Christian circles of friends/influence/interest. I know what you mean about not feeling like there's a comfortable place for me...I often feel as if I have to guard what I say, or vet it in politically correct terminology for that particular group...maybe that's a part of "being all things to all people."