Creative Process of A Living Alternative
Recently I was talking about stuff on WikiGodPod, a podcast out of the Greater Toronto Area (I live close to the GTA in Kitchener) centred around our stories and how that shapes how we understand God. I’m not somebody who speaks well without preparation, so the potential questions were sent in advance and I spent a few hours the night before and morning of planning. I figure since I already spent those hours writing notes, I may as well clean them up a bit and publish them here.
What was the process in the book A Living Alternative?
One of the authors in MennoNerds, Allen – or A.O. as he usually goes by – first brought up the idea of the book to two or three of us who tend to provide some of the organizational structure around MennoNerds. He had cofounded a small publishing company that had only done one other book so far. He pitched the general idea of an Anabaptist anthology to his partner, and she said yes. From then on, we followed a typical Anabaptist approach of consensus in a private Facebook group. We used that to settle on the broad topic of what Anabaptism can offer to the post-Christendom world, to debate the title, to vote on cover options created by Eddie, and so on.
For my chapter, I ended up writing a summary of a lot of things that had been stewing in my head for the previous couple of years, maybe even all the way back to that harmful group I was a part of in university when I started to see how much judgementalism ran counter to the way of Jesus. In some ways it was also a continuation of my graduate research paper which drew parallels between the early Anabaptists and the emerging church movement. Everywhere I looked, I seemed to come back to the church’s obsession with being right.
The first section, which was more historical, was largely inspired by work I did my master’s research. The second section, which was more of a systematic theological/ethical, was largely inspired by Greg Boyd’s book Repenting of Religion which might be my all-time most influential read. That helped me draw the connections between this impulse and the original sin. That really provided a lot of the theological centre for this chapter about our playing God, judging others with our obsession of being right. The third section drew largely on Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ as well as John Franke’s The Character of Theology, tackling more of the practical how we do better.