What I've been up to: Consuming Fire '09

Once upon a time, I reviewed a book on this blog, and posted the link to the post on Twitter. A Twitter user @ErBks retweeted the link, and I discovered the Indianapolis church Englewood Christian Church and their conference Through the Consuming Fire. My friend Sara wanted to go to the conference as well, so we decided to give it a try!

Friday night, Josh and another friend joined Sara and I for dinner at Chipotle then off to hear author and speaker Shane Claiborne speak to a sanctuary full of listeners. Some highlights from the talk that I twittered via my Peek, because the conference wasn't particularly laptop-friendly (unlike my last conference):

"Maybe God's dream doesn't look like Wall Street's dream. Maybe God has something different in mind"
"If clutching money gives it power, letting it go, giving it away takes away its power"
"We have no right to have more than we need when others have nothing"
"We live simply because the gifts of God are so good, we want everyone to be able to experience them"
Shane is inspiring because he lives out what he preaches. He insists that we must live simply and share what we have, because God cares for the poor as much as the rich, and that money and possessions offer false hope. In response, he has radically altered his life and challenges us to do the same. Last November, I posted a prayer of his, and  I read his book The Irresistible Revolution and was impressed with his story and his heart- but hearing someone speak seems to bring who they say they are and what they write together in a more tangible way. Anyway, the night of learning and worship was great.

Saturday, there were too many workshops to choose from - I wish I could have sat in all of them! I only was able to visit three, and each was very different from the others, all equally fascinating.

The first was put on by Will Samson and Scott Hutcheson about local food systems. Will talked about the motivation for eating locally and Scott gave a more academic presentation about how to set up community food networks so that food producers, merchants, and consumers can be connected. After the presentation, I  felt motivated to somehow get involved in this food network- right now, I grow enough for myself, but is there a way I could expand and bring others into the local-food movement?

The second session I visited was small, titled "The Business of Debt." The topic of the session was the predatory lending practices aimed at low income and minority populations, but not too much new information was shared. The lady who led the session was fascinating- a lawyer who works for an organization in Washington DC that advocates for fair lending practices. She talked about some solutions to the problem- all community driven. The "local" and "grassroots" aspect of financial products isn't something I ever considered, and I had plenty to think about afterwards.

For the third session, I was headed to a workshop about the CSA and garden that the church we were meeting  runs. I poked my head into what I thought was the correct room, and started talking to those people sitting around the table. A couple minutes into the session, I realized I had totally walked into a different workshop than the one I meant to, and there was no way out.

The session was about Christian Peacemaker Teams. In a short time, I discovered we were in the presence of a globetrotter- an international activist for peace. Hearing story after story of radical peacemaking in dangerous war zones made me question the "necessary evil" of conflict and war in the world. Hearing about this group's work astounded  me. These are brave, committed men and women, and I hope to keep up on the organization in the future. I am glad I "accidentally" wandered in!

After the discussion in this workshop was finished, the group I meant to be a part of- the gardening workshop- walked through our classroom to the roof entry on the other side of the room, for a tour of the beehives on the roof. How cool is that?!

In the end, I left the conference astounded by the sheer number of people working for peace and justice in Indianapolis in the name of Jesus. I met so many amazing people, and, in comparison, felt very small. These people are standing between loan sharks and the poor, feeding homeless youth, making their own clothes, raising chickens in their backyard, living in ghettos, working to combat AIDS and all sorts of creative protests against consumerism- and what am I doing? I'm planning on getting a flat screen TV on Black Friday for my suburban house.

I left with lots to think about.

See all the pictures from the event (mostly of bees...)
Consuming Fire conference


Anonymous said...

Sounds inspiring. Thank you for sharing the conference with me.

Kathie said...

Wow - sounds amazing!


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