My older son is a shaman. Note that I am not pleased by this. I’d rather that he be, oh, a human rights lawyer or an organic farmer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to choose.
He didn’t become a shaman all by himself. He was offered free training all around the world. He learned about herbs and witchcraft in Portland, Oregon. He got training in yoga and meditation in Crestone, Colorado and Fairfield, Iowa. Eventually he went to Columbia and Peru, where he received even more education, learning how to use hallucinaginic plants to access the spirit world.
All of this was completely free. As far as I know, he never paid a cent to learn any of this stuff. These days, he teaches other people how to meditate and do magick.
The people who taught him knew how to make disciples. He told me about people who had built extremely low-cost meditation centers using their own hands and community to complete the work. He described extraordinarily welcoming communities. At this point, he makes very little income, yet manages to continue to travel the world due to the hospitality of those he encounters.
I do not see most Christians making the effort to teach others the way of Jesus that I saw these other folks expend to teach my son these other things.
Do we use our hands and energy to build churches where all are welcome? Not so much in America. No, we take out mortgages and fund-raise money right out of the hands of the poor so that we can purchase better sound equipment.
Do we freely raise up leaders who will themselves go and make disciples of Jesus? Nope, not usually. Our Christian leaders — the ones we tend to respect the most — go to expensive seminaries, going into debt and ransoming their ability to heed the call of Christ to minister to the poor, to give as has freely be given.
I thought that perhaps I was being a bit cynical, that there were indeed seminaries that offered free or at least extremely affordable tuition. I typed “free seminary” into Google and got a paid result from Liberty University — an establishment that is not only not free of charge, but that charges more for an online education than many bricks and mortar universities. To have come up in the paid search results, they needed to have purchased those keywords — “free seminary.” They lied.
I saw one website that offered online information for free, but otherwise, nada. That’s okay, because leaders should be raised up out of the local church or by the Holy Spirit, or so I believe.
Is not charging to learn the word of God a bit like (or a lot like) doing business in the temple?
My anger at our culture knows no bounds today. Christian schools? Why do they charge tuition? If these folks truly believe that the unsaved are bound for hell, why are teachers not donating their time, living in concrete block houses with well-water and candles to devote their lives to educating our children and making disciples?
No, instead, we have enclaves of Christians who segregate themselves from the larger world. Who must have a certain amount of money to be in the club.
I am enraged.
Is this what Jesus wanted? Really??
I admire the heck out of people who go to live in third world conditions to care for AIDS patients, educate children and spread the gospel. Why don’t we do that here? What is it about living in the United States that blinds us to what is important?
I know that we have food banks, homeless shelters and other programs. But we need more than that. We need a massive shift where we refuse to allow any child in our community to grow up without experiencing the love of Jesus, for example.
So what am I doing? I am at a bit of a loss, to tell you the truth. This is a feeling that makes me feel uncomfortably hypocritical. I am looking for a group of people to do what author and Christ-follower Bob Goff calls “Bible Doing” as opposed to “Bible Study,” or what Goff uncharitably calls “stalking Jesus.”
I’m hoping that the support of like-minded people will help us all to break free of the tiny paradigm in which we view our lives and possibilities. It will be on Monday nights at 6:30 in my living room, if you’re interested.