Sloppy Joe, Slop, Sloppy Joe*

I have been stuck.

In constructing fractal faith formation, I had some initial gelled concepts that came from my grad school work in 2017 and a little bit of more public facing writing, but then I hit a moment where the “so what?” crept in. So what if I personally have found meaning in this lens, this description of age old concepts. Nothing new here, move along….

Having been steeped in the tea of production and marketability above all other virtues that is academic culture, I had to come to peace with the fact that nothing I am thinking is new. I don’t have a final product to offer. All I have is thoughts and questions. All I want to “do” with these thoughts is be in conversation with other seekers and see where that conversation takes us.

The world wants a product – a book, a paper, a curriculum, a tangible distillation, a box of chocolates tied up in with a bow. All I have to offer is a sloppy joe.

The academic establishment declares that ideas can be claimed by a person, that ideas have an expert, that once an idea is published, other people better back the fuck off and find their own tree to piss on.

Last summer I read the great book Emergent Strategy:¬†Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown. I love this book, go buy it and read it. Here is a book that celebrates process, and relationships, and complex adaptive organizational systems, and following the wisdom of nature, and , and…. all the stuff that matters! Reading it oxygenated my spirit- knowing that other folks are celebrating and applying countercultural ways of doing work together and finding meaning together. Each chapter was like, “Yes!”

Now here’s the thing I have not wanted to admit- my insecurities went into hyperdrive when I finished this book.

Emergent Strategy applies to community organizing the concepts I had been trying to express toward fractal faith formation – and of course these concepts are/can be/should be applied to all areas of endeavor. But if Emergent Strategy the book was already written, what could I offer with fractal faith formation that would add to the conversation? The demons of perfection and individualism (who live in my head) declared my work derivative and unnecessary.

It took a while but I finally remembered what my friend CB says,

“Those voices in your head are lying liars who lie.”

One of the core concepts of fractal faith (and Emergent Strategy) is that we are in relationship – relationship with nature, with each other, with the All. The academic establishment (insert capitalism or any of the other dominant systems of power), wants us to be in competition, that’s how it’s reinforced and perpetuated. BUT when we honor each other by co-creating, adding our voices, being in conversation together, we are contributing to the advancement of the good, we are dismantling the dominant systems in power.

SO until the primacy of relationship is my default, it will take effort and remembering to set the old ways aside. Again. Until looking in the mirror returns a view of generations of ancestors and future kin always present with me, it will take effort to remember myself into a present We. Again. Until we break down the artifices of dominance that built this society, it will take effort to be an accomplice to justice.

 

This new year I wish for people at tables sharing good food and hashing out messy ideas. Each of us knowing our presence and contributions are necessary. While we are always part of a system bigger than just ourselves, that system requires our engagement to fulfill its purpose, to build heaven on earth.

 

 

 


*The environment of my formation will always inhabit my writing. So if you sang this title in your head à la Adam Sandler, I nod to you, fellow Gen X-er.

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