I started blogging in 2002 with a blog called “Mission:Think.” I wrote a lot about church stuff…what was wrong with the church in North America and what I thought could make it better. I had no clue what I was talking about. I was a bit too smart for my own good–speculating on things I hardly understood, drawing upon experiences that were relatively thin. As much as I can criticize my younger self, I’m also impressed with the willingness I had to follow the truth wherever it leaded.
Back in those days I was fairly libertarian. I had voted for George W. Bush two years earlier, but was begining to grapple with the teachings of Jesus with an honesty that surprises me to this day. That journey led me down the path of Christian Radicalism.
But change doesn’t happen overnight–at least not for me. When my wife and I started Missio Dei in 2003, I was considering joining the Acts 29 Network. Yes, those guys. And I do mean guys. In the end, Missio Dei was affiliated with the Baptist General Conference–about as evangelical of a denomination as you’ll find.
Sometime about a year into starting Missio Dei, things fell apart. We started at a hip urban church, not an intentional community. By most accounts, we were doing fine. There was about 40 folks coming to stuff and I had raised some money to cover my salary. I was doing ok as an urban church planter. But I hated almost every minute of it. It felt fake somehow. And so, a year into things, we shut it down…and started over.
Around that time, I was feeling increasingly pulled into radical terrain. Within the period of about a year, I had shifted from solidly evangelical to progressive evangelical to I-don’t-know-what-to-think. I was drawn to St. Francis. I was inspired by the fragments of history I had read about the Anabaptists. I admired Dorothy Day. But I felt alone. I hadn’t connected with the pockets of Christian radicalism around my area or around the country. I had no connection with Catholic Workers or the newly-emerging New Monastics. I didn’t know any Mennonites besides the traditional sort. Re-shaping Missio Dei into an intentional community that focused on hospitality was a huge risk. It was a blind leap. We made all sorts of mistakes.
Around that time, I re-launched my blog as JesusManifesto.com. It was my place to explore the increasingly radical contours of my faith. I was growing in my critique of capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, militarism–all the nasty “isms” linked to the USAmerican way of life. Slowly, I started connecting to more people around the country who were challenging the same sorts of things.
At some point, I decided to turn JesusManifesto.com into a webzine with a rotating group of contributors. Quickly, visitors to the site piled up. All the while, I continued to radicalize along with my community. A few years ago, we added a podcast–the Iconocast. It was greatly successful. The downside, however, was that I no longer had a blog of my own. After blogging for 6 years, I had become an editor who sometimes wrote articles. This trajectory deepened in 2010 when JesusManifesto.com was absorbed into JesusRadicals.com.
I’ve been grateful to be an editor/organizer of JesusRadicals.com. I now have friends all over North America experimenting with the same sorts of things I am. My community is a part of the Mennonite Church USA and networked with the Catholic Worker movement. I am no longer alone.
But now I find myself wanting to have a place where I can simply write.
Welcome to Vanarchy.
P.S. You’ll notice there is a tab above for “upcoming events.” I’m going to be travelling in relation to my recent book That Holy Anarchist as well as my forthcoming The unKingdom of God (which should be out in late summer 2013).