For the past two years, I have headed down to Albuquerque, NM for a conference hosted by Richard Rohr. Speakers there have included Phyllis Tickle, Brian Mclaren, and Shane Claiborne. This has always fallen conveniently on my Spring Break.
This year however, Richard spoke at a conference in Scottsdale, AZ which had almost the same speaking lineup so there was not one in Albuquerque. This conference, which occurred in February, conflicted with my work schedule. My just burgeoning annual solo-cation was being snuffed out in its infancy.
I was happy to find out that Marcus Borg was speaking at a little church up in Missoula, MT. Since it is only an 8 hour drive from SLC, I loaded up the car and headed out. Driving by myself, listening to the news, audiobooks, or music, is a treat.
I held off on reserving a hotel since I was not totally confident that my car would make the journey without incident. I am glad I did, because a coupon book at the rest area provided me with a hotel that was literally across the street from the church, and was cheaper than anything I had seen online.
Dr. Borg spoke Friday night and was excellent as always. He spoke of how the church is changing in the 21st century. Chief among his points was that, in the past, church was conventional. It was assumed that everyone within the community went to a church. Today, church is becoming intentional. Anyone going to church now tend to do so because they desire to, it is no longer the assumption of the community that one attends church. A testament to that truism is that the majority of people at the conference were over 60. I was one of the "young" folks.
Marcus spoke for two sessions on Saturday. In them he compared the Jesus of history, to the Jesus of popular Christianity. He contrasted present day Christian focus on belief, with the historic view of Christianity being that of a transformed life. An emphasis on Belief allows Christianity to bind ourselves with Western Empire, something the counter-cultural aspect of transformational Christianity could never align with. A ninety-two year old man, who had pastored the church decades before, would occasionally lean over to me and say, "I was preachin this stuff back in the 70s! Nobody listened then either!"
Sunday morning, Marcus Borg taught the Christian Education class before church. There was only a small group of us. Sitting in the basement of a classic Methodist church, drinking coffee, and listening to Marcus Borg teach is my idea of the perfect Sunday morning.
By 11:00 am I was on the road, headed back to Salt Lake City. I felt like all of my life batteries had been re-charged.
All of his talks were filmed and posted on Vimeo. Here are the links:
Two Visions of Christianity Today
Jesus in the 1st and 21st Centuries: Telling His Story Today
Jesus in the 1st and 21st Centuries: Holy Week, Easter, and the New Testament
Open Hearts and Thin Places