Thursday, June 28, 2007

Road trip hell and Christian anarchy conference

When I heard about the South Pacific Christian Anarchist gathering I immediately wanted to go. Two primary reasons: the first, I am a Christian anarchist and I wanted to hang out with some others. the second, it was being held in Brisbane, hosted by the Waiters Union and Dave Andrews would be there, meaning I could spend some time with one of the people most inspirational to me, and my view of community and leadership. But there was also a desire for me to bring a number of people from my faith community. I thought it would be great for them to meet some others that are trying to do some of the things we are doing, and to hear some of the ideas that inspire the way we are trying to do community and church. But I also thought a long hard road trip might be just the thing to help us grow together as a community. Many hours trapped in a car with each other, on an adventure, might just be a great bonding experience. Or it might just destroy our community!

Things started off pretty well, we left close to on time. We made good time. There were some issues of flatulence that needed to be addressed, but things were going reasonably well. We were getting to know each other even better, and I was happy. The toilet stops were kept short, the lunch break was reasonable. There were a few hold ups with the weather, but we arrived in Sydney at a decent hour. But then we ran into some problems. I think they should change their name to, I was however not too upset, just went with the flow and called our host for some help getting to their house. Peter and Gillian are wonderful people, with very generous hearts. As if offering their home to house 10 people wasn't enough Peter drove to where we were and had us follow him home. Then served us a wonderful dinner, and made sure we were all sorted for the night.

The next morning we all woke up long before dawn and were on the road by 5:30 am. And this is where the problems started. We got completely lost leaving Sydney. Typical issues really, streets changing names every other suburb, streets ending for no apparent reason, forks in the road and the most frustrating of all, there are no street signs. Sure there are occasionally a tiny little unlit sign hidden back away from the street, but coming from SoCal where every intersection has a huge lit up sign telling you what street you are crossing, well they might as well not even be there. Now, I have anger issues, and I started to say words that were not polite, I yelled at my wife for no apparent reason, and basically started to insure that no one in my church would ever love me again. Now lest I seem the typical man, I will add that I will always stop for help or directions (infact I yelled at my wife for not stopping so I could get directions), so we stopped. I ran up to some men working on the street and asked for directions to the fwy to get to Brisbane, and these wonderful hospitable Sydney men gave me directions. Which were wrong. So we got lost again. And I asked someone else, who was wearing a bright flouro yellow vest so you know he can be trusted and he gave us proper directions, but then told us to turn left when we should have turned right. While taking the necessary u turns the other car almost got smashed by a rubbish truck. I was at this points so far from Jesus, the way of non violence, and any suggestion of civility, that I should have been excommunicated on the spot. But the good news is, I now knew what to teach for the next few weeks...


There were so many road work sections where the speed limit dropped to 60 so we could carefully drive by witches hats and barriers that served only to show that at some time in the near future or past, there might be people actually doing something in the basic vicinity, but were obviously not there now. So we were falling way behind schedule. Now, before you get all cute and suggest that anarchists should not worry about speed limits, I will just point out that we are Christian anarchists, which means we prayed about whether we should break the laws or not. :) Unfortunately the overwhelming majority decided God wanted us to keep to the speed limits, with one dissenting opinion. :)

So understanding that we were now at the risk of missing dinner, which we were all by this point longing for, and suffering from the horrible disappointment regarding the giant banana (was not really that giant at all) we were not in the best head space for yet another version of fun. And yes my dear friends I cracked the shits again. Two turns that were obviously very important were not listed on the page, and after much driving around, two stops for directions, one mutiny, and three permanently damaged bladders we found ourselves on a right path. And we arrived at the conference. We knew it was the right place because of the blue van with the words "CHRISTIANS AGAINST ALL TERRORISM" painted on the back.

We cheered, broke into laughter, singing, and tears of joy immediately followed by a race to the toilets. We entered the hall where thankfully dinner was still being served, and fell into our seats with joy, and perhaps a bit of pent up bitterness towards me. The forgiveness sermons will have to be very very good I am thinking.

Over the next few days i will post more about the conference, and some of the great things we experienced there, but I will just say now that this was not in any way a gathering of angry, wacko lefties, but rather a wonderful group of people honestly trying to see what following Jesus means in their lives. We met two of the Pine Gap four, we met Ciaren O'Reilly, we met Dave Andrews and his family, and the most wonderful people from communities in Australia and New Zealand. There were many stories shared, and much inspiration gathered.

And I was reasonably well behaved all the way home.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The state youth games SYG

Well I had the honour of speaking at the State Youth Games this year. This gathering of 2,500 young people plus staff and chaperons, happens every year. In the evening they gather for some fun and some spiritual type stuff, but in the day they are locked in intense sporting competition.

The first night we did a letterman style evening, we had some music, some crowd interaction, a top ten list, and some interviews. They interviewed me about some of the crazy stuff I have done, the bullfighting, and the cage fighting. They showed some video clips, and then I did a demonstration with digger at the end of which he challenged me to a wrestling match. I of course smashed him with ease, but in the process hurt his little toe, please pray for him. Over all it was a fun night, and it allowed me to skip the getting to know me part of my message the next evening.

On Sunday night, they did more of the same, but after a few worship songs I got up to give a message. I read from Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the judgement of the sheep and the goats, I told a few stories about how I attempted to live this out in my own life. I challenged everyone to take a piece of newspaper (they had been given before the service) and wad it up, and then place it in their shoe. This would be an irritating reminder that they must go into their world, their neighborhoods, their schools, and be part of the kingdom of God, seeing Jesus in all people, but especially the unwanted, and unloved.

Afterwards I had many wonderful conversations with young people, and even a few oldies. We discussed just what this would mean for them, and how they could put it into practice.

I missed the closing ceremonies, as I was helping my friends from Urban Seed pack up the Sacred Space.

Thanks to all who came, and put on this incredible event, lots of work goes into these things, and I appreciate it all. Thanks to UNOH, who worked with me to develop the commitment response, and who have organized a myspace page for those that want to interact called go_stand and were there both nights to talk to people.

Anyone who wants to talk to me about what I said, or better yet, what you are going to do about it can email me at johnj at


Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Mainstreaming of Punk and Christianity


Exploring the
punk and

This will be a multimedia history of two revolutionary movements, and their domestication.

...with Jarrod McKenna

Wed June 13th 7pm at:

the Den
116 Little Burke St.
Chinatown Melbourne

Jarrod McKenna is a member of
Peace Tree Community he is an award
winning activist and non violence
trainer, and picks his nose when no one is looking. He is not cool enough to be a punk, but loves the culture.

Entrance fee is the commitment to give up something that hurts the environment for one week.

Jarrod is a wonderful guy, someone who legitimately loves people, and lives on the radical edge. I am looking forward to this night, and hope you will join us as well. If you need more info, please feel free to email me at johnj at


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The centrality of Jesus in scripture

Am reading a book by Athol Gil called the fringes of freedom, and this paragraph explained my personal beliefs better than I ever could:

In theological terms this raises the question of the canon within the canon- if the bible is the measuring stick, or canon, by which we may examine various contemporary theologies, what is the measuring stick y which we may examine the various theologies within the bible itself? As readers of this collection of studies will readily recognize, I have sought to use the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as the measuring stick for the rest of scripture. This is the theological centre of the bible as I read it, and from this centre I seek to draw a line backwards through the Psalms and the prophets to the revelation of God in the liberation of the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt. From the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus I seek to draw a line forwards through the writings of Paul, the gospels, I Peter and the book of Revelation. Jesus of Nazareth remains at the centre of theological reflection.

I have long argued that as followers of Jesus, it is Jesus that is our starting point, and from our understanding of who Jesus is, we are able to interpret the rest of scripture. He is our lens, and informs our view of scripture. We are not to take scripture and make Jesus fit into it, but rather the other way around. We can not do otherwise, it is Christ we follow.

I am really enjoying this book and will most likely be back with a few more insights.