According to emerging author and ex-Religious Right politico Frank Schaeffer, a surprising number of Christians are asking themselves: "how is it possible that I believe in God one day and then feel like there's no God the next? Am I an Atheist or a Christian? Or Both?" What do you think? A lot of people actually live this tension daily, including Frank as he struggles with tragedy and love in his life, and he concludes it's actually a spiritually generative and authentic space in which to dwell. We are excited host Frank as he shares his fascinating personal story and reads from his new book (Why I'm an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Create Beauty, Give Love, and Find Peace, click here to order) during our August Common Meal and Eucharist Gathering. Special music will be shared by singer/songwriter/art activist Tracy Howe Wispelwey.
Join us for our Monthly Common Meal as we gather for a meal and then explore the themes of faith & doubt, beauty & tragedy in the 21st Century through Frank’s talk, original spoken word poetry, art, and hymns.
More about the book's argument: Caught between the beauty of his grandchildren and grief over a friend's death, Frank Schaeffer finds himself simultaneously believing and not believing in God-an atheist who prays. Schaeffer wrestles with faith and disbelief, sharing his innermost thoughts with a lyricism that only great writers of literary nonfiction achieve. Schaeffer writes as an imperfect son, husband and grandfather whose love for his family, art and life trumps the ugly theologies of an angry God and the atheist vision of a cold, meaningless universe. Schaeffer writes that only when we abandon our hunt for certainty do we become free to create beauty, give love and find peace.
If you would like to contribute something—a reading, a painting, a poem, etc.—to the discussion, or a food item for the meal, put that in your RSVP comment section.
(For dinner, parking, building and food details check out the information below.)
Join us as we explore the nature of faith and Christian community in the 21st Century!
Glenn, Jen, Lisa, Larry and the whole gang
More about Frank Schaeffer: Frank Schaeffer is an author as well as frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, and NPR as he provides commentary on both politics and religion. He's the son of deceased evangelical philosopher Francis Schaeffer (L’Abri community in Switzerland), a self-taught documentary producer, and one of the initial organizing leaders of the religious right in the late 1970s (along with his father, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell) which helped create an enduring alliance between white social conservatives and economic conservatives. His 1970s documentaries not only publicized his father’s philosophical and historical teachings to a wider US audience, but they also mobilized fundamentalist and evangelical Christians to vote for social conservative positions in the polls. After his disillusionment with (and break from) the religious right in the late 1980s, he found his voice as an acclaimed novelist and nonfiction memoirist of his famous parents, his U.S. Marine son, and his fundamentalist Christian childhood. He eventually joined the Eastern Orthodox church. His memoir Crazy for God: How I grew up as One of the Elect, Helped form the Religious Right, and Lived to Take it All (or Almost All) of It Back (2010). He appears regularly on talk shows on radio and cable programs.
More about our singer/song leader Tracy Howe Wispelwey: Tracy Wispelwey is a songwriter and artist who most recently produced "Songs For 1,000 Days: Artists Advocating for the Food Security of Vulnerable Women and Children," a compilation that Bread For the World commissioned for their ongoing work to end hunger in the US and abroad. Bread is also a leading Christian humanitarian group.
Tracy and her husband also run a small nonprofit, Restoration Village Arts to facilitate international artistic collaboration, justice-and-theology conversations, and creative advocacy projects.
More about our Monthly Gatherings: Since May of 2013, our monthly Common Meal and Eucharist Gatherings have been part of our attempt to put emerging ideas into practice as a Christian community, not just talk about interesting ideas at an abstract level with no practical component or real-life significance (as many have complained about). Our contemplative prayer gatherings and justice groups are other initiatives that grow out of our desire to put our ideals into practice. Stay-tuned as we keep discussing some new justice and service initiatives, a study of Shane Claiborne’s materials on intentional communities, and a community blog about our reflections!
Schedule for the Evening: For those who want to participate in the common meal, we'll start that at 7PM. For those who just want to come to the gathering, we'll start the singing and talk at 7:30PM. If you are late, you can still pick up some dinner near the entrance door of the room and join us in the discussion. We are very casual about that sort of thing. People are free to leave early too, just sit near the back door and slip out when you need to. No problem.
Participation: People are always free to just come and enjoy the spontaneous conversation and singing, but it you want to contribute something we want you to know that you are free to share anything on the theme. If you have any suggestions about poems, prayers from the Book of Common Prayer and other prayer books, scriptures, paintings, stories, songs, etc. let me know.
Food or Donations: Our food theme this month is "American Picnic"…so anything along the lines of fried chicken, the "fixings" like cole slaw, green salads, and fruit pies would be welcome. Also, interesting sodas, juices, and seltzers are welcome. We'll provide some pulled pork and hamburger buns.
If you can bring something, please put that in your RSVP line by the Thursday before the event (I’ll send out a reminder then too). If you don’t have time to bring or buy something, consider just dropping in a donation of $10 for our paper supplies, custodian fee, and wine.
Location: We’ll send detailed directions for you a couple of days before the meeting (because Dupont Circle has lots of quirky streets and buildings) and some cell phone numbers if you can’t find an open door. Going forward, we're hoping to have our gathering in the "community/fireplace room" space of the Church of the Pilgrims. Since last March we’ve been partnering with local churches to offer more easily opportunities for our group. If you are having problems finding the location on mapquest: mapquest Bier Baron Tavern [masked]nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037) which is just across the street on 22nd Street NW.
Directions from Metro: Church of the Pilgrims is about 2 blocks west of the Q Street Exit (that's the north one) of the Dupont Circle Metro Station. Once you hit 22nd street, go south a few steps to the parking lot and enter the back door through the preschool playground. We’ll have some signs up for you.
About Parking: Church of the Pilgrims has a parking lot entrance on 22nd Street twenty feet away from the corner of Q St. and 22nd St (where the big "Church of the Pilgrims" sign sits). The parking lot is surrounded by bushes so it's not always easy the entrance at first (see photo to left). There's about 10 parking spots open usually. Also, you can park on 23rd street if you stay on Q and go past 22nd (it’s a one-way street so mapquest this option).
About the 2 entrance Doors: The first time people come there can be confusion about which door to enter. There are two possibilities. First, there's a back door off the parking lot (see photo to the right).
That's the best door to enter. Second, there's a front door that next to the big sanc
tuary doors and which one can use to get to the church office usually. If both are closed by accident, try th
e cell phones we’ll send along in our logistics update a couple of days before the event