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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Farewell to Jeremiah Weeping

In April of 2010 I began this blog, Jeremiah Weeping. My wife wasn’t crazy about the name; it sounded too depressing. But I kept coming back to the passage in Jeremiah 20:8-9, which says:

Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

And that is what I have loved about Jeremiah Weeping, it has been my passion that I have tried to write out of and share. But the thing about passion is that it is messy. People don’t always like it. I have been accused of being unfair to evangelicals while at the same time being unfair to liberals. Some have been frustrated that I was too unbending, that I should change my tone so more people could hear me. Some have been frustrated that I have sounded too evangelical and my faith in God is too simple. And some have been frustrated that I worked for the institutional church while some say I was far too critical of institutional Christianity.

The truth is that all of these criticisms have some truth to them.

The truth is also, I apologize for nothing I’ve written.

What I most resonated with the prophet Jeremiah on was not his tone or his cheery disposition (are you kidding?), but rather, his authenticity. He was true. He was real. He wasn’t much of a party to be around, but he was genuine. The world is a beautiful place and there is so much to thank God for. At the very same time, the world is a shithouse and there is so much to get pissed off about. I don’t believe God opts for one or the other and so neither should we. We are called to love people, to celebrate their dignity and to walk with them faithfully and joyfully (yes, that means laughing). And we are also called to hold people accountable when they do horrendous things to one another, whether overtly or through acts of omission or ignorance.

I am always mystified that when people engage in racism, or deny poor people access to necessary services, or are blatantly homophobic (while covering it up with words like “keeping covenant”) and some of us call them out on it and then someone says, “I might agree with you but I don’t like your tone.” The fact that some people are more concerned with tone than with the actual injustice that has been committed honestly makes me want to puke. If you don’t like the tone try reading even just a couple of the Minor Prophets. Those guys aren’t exactly seeker-friendly. In fact, neither was Jesus a lot of the time. Let’s keep our eye on the ball folks and stop treating church and the message of the gospel as self-help therapy.

The goal I started Jeremiah Weeping with wasn’t to make people happy or to piss them off (the latter was just an added benefit). It was – and is – to mobilize people to action. I still resonate with my first blog post and there was one paragraph that stood out when I reread it this weekend.

I hope this can be a place to challenge values perpetuated by the Church that have become so accepted by Christians, but yet, which are often biblically suspect. I hope this can be a place where we see both the larger picture of structural injustice as well as the more personal picture of how such injustices affect real people. I hope, more than anything that we can move together - wherever you may be - towards holy action that changes the world and brings glory to God.

I still want this. Bad. When I began Jeremiah Weeping I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go with it, but I felt something deeply within my bones that I could not hold in any longer. I do not liken myself to Jeremiah, but the weariness of restraining myself was something I couldn’t continue. I had a great job at the time I started blogging, but for a lot of reasons – principally, the institution does not welcome unrestrained passion – I was not free to express what I strongly and deeply believed at that time. Well, my blog outlasted my job and so the filter is finally off! That is only a good thing because this work – holy action that changes the world – is far more important to me than my previous work for a dying institution. No institutional position can fully convey my heart’s deepest desires for my family, for the church, and for God’s creation.

So, I am now turning the page. I have loved writing here and I feel sad to leave this space behind. I am honestly so amazed that so many people have chosen to walk this road with me. Whether it has been through criticism or encouragement (and there has been far more encouragement), your responses on here, social media, or individually have meant the world to me. Thank you so much.

On September 1 I am starting a new and exciting chapter with a group of friends and colleagues in the continued struggle for solidarity and justice. The Fig Tree Revolution begins Thursday.

The hopes and dreams I shared in the posts on Jeremiah Weeping are not only still alive, I feel like they might have a possibility of coming to fruition with Fig Tree. Fig Tree Revolution will continue the blog (with more writers!), but we will also feature leaders who are doing amazing ministries throughout the country among people the rest of society has often forgotten. Fig Tree Revolution will also mobilize people to take action on issues like welcoming Syrian refugees, ending gun violence, ending mass incarceration, calling out those who persecute religious minorities, and holding those who commit human rights abuses accountable no matter who they are or where they reside. Fig Tree Revolution will not just generate ideas, we will seek to raise up new leaders and bring about concrete change. We will be an online collaborative with real world presence.

Today I say farewell to Jeremiah Weeping. I have loved this space so much.

Thursday, the revolution begins and I hope you will join us.

Shalom to you

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