The Advent Conspiracy
(Christmas Was Meant to Change the World)
to the People!" I commented under my breath. We were walking to the
train station from Millennium Park in Chicago and ran into anti-war
demonstrators who were passing out flyers and shouting over a
loudspeaker, "End the War in Iraq!"
"Did you say 'Power to
the People'?" the person I was walking with inquired. I explained that
I'm writing a novel set in Chicago in 1968, and that "Power to the
People" was a frequent cry during the Vietnam War protests of that
decade. As we continued to hurry toward Ogilvie Station, he asked
another question. "Is there anything you believe in enough that you
would go to the streets for it?" Hard to answer that question when
you're crossing busy city streets.
My problem with protest
movements is that they often turn as loud and noisy and hateful and
militant as the evils they are protesting. I do not want to become a
mirror image of the things I despise.
However, I am not
above being party to subversive movements--particularly when their end
goal is to make the world the way God intended it to be!
instance, we just discovered a website that proclaims itself "The
Advent Conspiracy" and explains that it is "an international movement
restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus through
compassion, not consumption." Their motto is "Worship More, Spend Less, Give More, Love All." Now that's a conspiracy I can support.
friend's question "What would you go to the streets for?" might be
answered by saying that, although I haven't marched with the
protesters, I have given myself to the subversive act of practicing
Christian hospitality. At the end of October, our dining room table was
set for guests. As one group left, and we washed dishes and cleaned up,
we simply put the dishes, the silverware and the stemware back on the
table for the next group. I found this saved me all kinds of time. Last
night, after one of the many large groups left the house, David and I
rolled into bed exhausted. He said quietly, "Karen, maybe you shouldn't
invite any more people to our house for a while." Admittedly, my
enthusiasm can overwhelm my pragmatism.
I know that a home
must have locks on its doors as well as hinges, but I feel as though
I'm being pushed to subvert the loneliness and alienation and
separation I see all around me by bringing the very Presence of Christ
to the table and asking people to gather and share in His tangible love.
see, I passionately believe that hospitality shows the face of God to
the world. Without its practice, the world cannot see what He is like.
last month we gathered friends who practice scriptural hospitality to
brainstorm with us how we can restore this powerful tool to the local
church. We heard stories of once-a-month neighborhood open houses. We
heard the story of the family who took in a homeless woman and her
week-old baby. We heard stories of a coffee house set up in a private
residence for the young suburban adults who don't have anywhere to
"Ho-ho!" some of you may be thinking. "Hospitality
is not a subversive act." You don't think that the practice of
hospitality is really subversive?
When people close doors and build fortress communities,
Christ opens them. When the world excludes foreignness,
Christ welcomes the stranger. When governments erect walls
and close borders, Christ makes ways in the desert.
Christine D. Pohl writes in her excellent book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition,
"In a number of ancient civilizations, hospitality was viewed as a
pillar on which all morality rested; it encompassed 'the good.'"
Christ, Himself a displaced person, taught in Luke 14:12-13, "When you
give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return,
and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the
maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they
cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
you still think that hospitality is not a subversive act, that the
coming of Christ is not a conspiracy to create a world in which no
humans harm other humans?
We like to think if Christ came
into our world, knocked at our door, sat beside us on an airplane,
stopped (a stranger, after all, in many guises) to talk to us on the
street, that we would welcome Him, begin to chat, receive Him into our
homes, invite Him to stay in our guest room. What fools we mortals be!
We don't invite our neighbors, accept the foreign-born with open arms,
include that difficult family member, or welcome our own church family
into our homes. Do we really think we would welcome the Stranger Christ?
simple truth is this: If we do not welcome them, we do not welcome Him.
We are still saying, after all these long years, "NO ROOM IN MY INN!"
Come join us as Hungry Souls
launches a hospitality conspiracy to show the face of God to our world.
We need your ideas. We need your prayers. We need your financial
support. Our goal is to establish an Internet outreach that challenges
and enables Christians to hang a sign on Christian homes all over the
country (and the world) that proclaims boldly enough for all to read,
"COME BACK INN."
What subversive invitations are you extending this holiday season?
Three-Day Retreat of Silence
St. Mary's Monastery, Rock Island, Illinois; February 11 - 14, 2008.
have reserved room for twelve women. If you would like to reserve one
of those places, $50 will do that. (Make your check out to Hungry Souls
and mail it to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60189.) The total fee for 3 nights
and meals is $250. We need to have full payment by January 30, 2008.
can caravan together from various places in the Chicago area. If some
of you would like to fly in to Chicago, we will be happy to make
airport runs, pick you up and house you in our homes (if you have to
This is a-not-to-be-missed opportunity.
We observe three daily offices (services of prayer) with the community
that lives here and has given their lives to the work of prayer and
praise. Last year's group lobbied for a five-day retreat of silence!
For more information, contact me at
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
July 7 - 12, 2008
cost for six plays, 5 nights housing in delightful B&Bs, chats with
the actors, picnic along the Avon, lunch with the Mainses, delightful
mind-challenging conversations each morning over breakfast is $1100 per
person per shared room (it is $300 extra for a single room). A $500
deposit will reserve your place. We must have all reservations by May
2008 and full payments by June 1, 2008.
Respond to David Mains (
) as soon as you know your plans; that will help us greatly. We have 4
B&Bs reserved and almost filled and will have to reserve another if
our count goes higher. Bravo for the Bard!
Writer's Mentoring Program
I am eager to mentor would-be writers (or newish writers) how to be true in themselves and in their creative work.
So, if there are those on the Soulish Food
list who really, really want to learn how to write well, I have several
HUGE projects I can't put together without help. If you will come
alongside me and assist with these projects, my promise is:
• To teach you how to write in the best way possible, by writing.
• To familiarize you with the production process from idea to finished product.
• To walk you through the research end of writing.
• To introduce you to creative team collaboration--how to learn to trust the editors.
• To teach you how to be "true" in your thinking and in your output.
• To help you discover whether you have the abilities to be a project manager.
• To show you the ropes of writing queries, submitting a manuscript, finding an agent (or not), etc., etc.
I will need a commitment of ONE YEAR from January
2008 to January 2009, along with the ability to attend a once-a-month
team training meeting. There will be no fee for this, and you will be
working for me, assisting me with my projects. However, I promise that
if I feel you have potential as a professional writer and you want to
walk further in this arduous "80% process," (see Soulish Food 6-38:
"See Places That No Longer Exist") I will be happy to mentor as far as
I am able. Contact me at
. Eight people from all over have already responded. We will work with e-mails and conference calls.
The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted each week on the Hungry Souls
Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the weekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
"Is there anything you believe in enough that you would go to the streets for it?"
Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
By Christine D. Pohl
hospitality was central to Christian identity and practice in earlier
centuries, our generation knows little about its life-giving character.
Making Room revisits the Christian foundations of welcoming
strangers and explores the necessity, difficulty, and blessing of
hospitality today. Christine Pohl traces the eclipse of this
significant Christian practice, showing the initial centrality of
hospitality and the importance of recovering it for contemporary life.
Combining rich biblical and historical research with extensive exposure
to modern service communities--The Catholic Worker, L'Abri, L'Arche,
and others--this book shows how understanding the key features of
hospitality can better equip us to faithfully carry out the practical
call of the gospel.
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