On New Year’s Day I got to spend a few hours in the car with a longtime friend, with whom I’d been out of contact for several years. I missed my train in Modesto so she decided to just drive me back home because I had a lot to do before departing on my book tour the next morning. We hadn’t really talked since I started reconnecting with Christianity and finding it to be a great source of inspiration and optimism that has rejuvenated and focused my work with cooperatives. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all.
I’ve had this kind of interaction many times now: There’s a certain uneasiness that comes with the realization that “uh oh, he’s into Jesus now.” One time, I saw real fear in the eyes of my best friend when she finally recognized that this Christian business wasn’t just an academic or strategic interest. She thought I’d drunk the Kool-aid, and that I was “one of them” now.
This all came back yesterday, driving with another old friend who hadn’t even gotten to watch the transition. She is a midwife in the foothills, and is regularly confronted by a type of Christianity that has become a dark caricature of itself, that has a taste for using government to push morality, and likes that taste. She regularly has to disappoint clients who really want her to be a Christian midwife so they can have a fully Jesus-approved home birth. She wants to help them find a way to get one of their own trained in midwifery, so she won’t have to deal with them as much anymore. She’s afraid and discouraged and pessimistic, and I had to work at it to convince her that the world would be worse off if Christians actually did just disappear.
We’ve strayed a long way from “enjoying the goodwill of all the people.” (Acts 2:47)
Toward the end of the talk, as we were starting to hit the stalled suburban developments that mark the edge of Sacramento, I could see that she finally relaxed. But it took a lot of work to get to that point, explaining that a change is underway and that the conservative rural Christians that fill her life are not the whole picture.
I think she is still skeptical, and that’s where you come in. I found myself wishing that she could meet you, and see Flood in action. This wish was not from any sort of hope that she would be “saved” by the experience, either directly or indirectly; it was driven by a simple desire for more of my nonreligious progressive friends to see what is happening here, in a humble old recycled building tucked away in the first generation of suburban sprawl, off the main road on the wrong side of the tracks.
Flood is something that is straight out of my dreams. We are building a really interesting and beautiful community, in which my oddball ideas don’t seem so odd. We aren’t perfect, but we are making a serious go at something that is unfamiliar, uncertain, and deeply challenging. I really believe that examples like ours are a key part of breaking down the fear that is rampant in society.
I love that, and I love you all for being a part of it. Thank you, and God bless you all.