Friday, April 24, 2015


Notes from Charles LaFond, author of "Fearless Fundraising". Speaking at CCC April 24, 2015

1) Stewardship= begins with being truly PRESENT with people, like Mary & John at the cross. Tend to your own spiritual life. Stewardship =KIND, EFFECtIVE, minus NICE. 
2) Compassion for their situation- we are are living with John The Baptist in the Wilderness. Continuum CLamos/chaos/order/control...we try to impose ORDER but the better course is to seek CHAORD, a "conflation of order and chaos." Order enough to feel safe; chaotic enough to be fun.
3) Compassion or their fear. JESUS LOOKED STRAIGHT AT THE YOUNG RICH RULER AND WARMED UP TO HIM. Understand their fear of scarcity, of being judged, of being hustled. It is an honor to ask a person to become a giver, a lover, a creator. "Detoxify their limiting beliefs". Be a "curator of their hope". Practice a spirituality = "a relentless attachment to truth." Debunk NOSTALGIA= Untruth about the past; FANTASY= untruth about the present and future. 

Charles LaFond ASSUMES your congregation is earning people's trust and generosity. 'Go willingly into the wilderness." He also agrees that INVOLVEMENT precedes GIVING. This contrasts to other stewardship experts who have told  me GIVING can be a way for some people to BECOME INVOLVED. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Is it at all an original thought to say that "faith" is a kind of "suspension of disbelief"? Last week in one of the groups at Christ Church Cranbrook we were discussing the passage in 2nd Kings where Elijah is "taken up to heaven in a whirlwind." It seemed to us that the closest we come to such experiences is in dreams or at the movies. Movies and plays call for a "suspension of disbelief", a willing surrender to the embrace of an alternative world. In dreams, however, the alternative world seems more like waking reality, more immediate and convincing, at least until one awakes and resumes a waking perspective. 
"Faith" involves a posture of its own, somewhere between a movie and a dream. For postmodern folk like us, we must be prepared to set aside our analytical, "enlightenment" ways of seeing and "see" through the eyes of our spiritual ancestors. We do this willingly, consciously, just as we do when entering a movie theater. But the process does not end there, as a form of religious entertainment. Rather, when experienced in the context of worship, prayer, and reflection, it can take on a quality of "givenness" and immediacy that resembles the convincing authenticity of dreams. We do not invent the way these stories and images lay claim to our loyalties and our sense of identity. Perhaps dreams are what remains of a spiritual receptivity that our ancestors possessed but we have lost.
 Of course, some would describe this as simple "gullibility", or "naivite", and they would not be entirely wrong.  
What I suggest is that we approach the stories of our spiritual tradition with as much openness and vulnerability as we do skepticism and guardedness. We do not have to give up our doubts about firery chariots swooping down  from the sky to appreciate the potential for transfiguration that inhabits even our disenchanted world. It seems that our dreams and imaginative experiences can bring us right up to the brink of what in earlier times would have been described as "visionary." So we are like Martin Luther King, or Moses, having "been to the mountaintop, and seen the Promised Land." We know it by its effects, its blessings, its adherents, and its smell. 
Are we "seeing" what Elisha and the others saw, only shorn of the comfort of unquestioned belief? We have embraced the solidity of being fully awake to reality, but does that mean we must utterly renounce the possibilities unveiled within the dreams?