Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

It's hard to believe, but Advent begins the day after tomorrow. In preparation for one of the most complex and (in many ways) misunderstood seasons of the Church calendar year, I thought I'd do what many others in the blogosphere are doing: share the Advent Conspiracy Promo Video.

By way of context, it helps to know that Advent Conspiracy describes itself as "an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption." Here's what they say on their website's homepage:

The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.

So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.

And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.

Worship Fully

Spend Less

Give More

Love All

Now for the video:

For more, check out the Advent Conspiracy website.


Anonymous said...

Ahh..the Episcopal Church. Always looking for more money. Stewardship this, stewardship that. And what do they spend it on? Expensive bishops who have nothing better to do than play politics. They call it "mission". But "mission" is not giving to the poor. No. "mission" is paying the expensive salaries of a bloated hierarchy of bishops, lawyers, stewardship consultants to keep more fund flowing, accountants and administrators. All growing fat leeching the proceeds of the good name of God.

How much as a percentage of the average pledge actually goes towards feeding the poor?

How does the salary and benefits of the average bishop compare with the wage of the average parishoner?

Its a big scam, just like those tv evangelists always begging for more money, just done in a different way. Please we need your money for mission. And then lots of nice presentations about the miniscule sums expended on poverty and disaster relief. "look how good we are". But no, thats not where your money is really going. Yes, some does, but its a tiny, tiny portion. Much more of it goes on all the salaries of all the leeches in the chain.

When will we see a church that practises what it preaches?

Its the church itself that has made a commodity of of compassion!

Michael said...

I think Mr. or Ms. Anonymous that your assessment is slightly skewed, but you make some valid observations. Perhaps, in the Episcopal Church, as in other hierarchical Churches a great deal of attention and dollars are spent on the maintenance of staff and buildings. I would contend that like the government surely budgets could be better balanced and more attention paid to expenditures, but the overall aim of the Church is to do good works and I don’t think that we can say the Episcopal Church fails to do that. The Advent Conspiracy video didn’t advocate that you give your bishop a check, rather it advocated you and your Church fund water purification towers in the developing world. NGO’s don’t skim from the top, sure staff needs to get paid and flights need to get booked… but I haven’t seen any non-profit NGO workers or Episcopal / Anglican Missionaries driving BMWs. I once thought like you. I remember when I was just 18 I went to the Vatican during a school trip to Rome and I came back disillusioned and bitter. 17 years later I have seen a lot more of the world and the Church and have come to the conclusion that there are a lot more people out there doing God’s work for barely a livable wage, than there are getting wealthy out of the coffers.

Bryan Owen said...

Seeing hypocrisy in the Church - or at least the failure to live up to our own ideals - is hardly a new thing, of course. There's evidence of such realism within the pages of the New Testament itself. Which reminds me of a passage from N. T. Wright's Simply Christian in which Wright comments upon the apostle Paul's rather astonishing claim that Christians constitute the Temple of the living God:

"[According to Paul] those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God's new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet. ...

"First, the obvious retort. 'It doesn't look like that to me!' Most of us, thinking even of those Christians to whom we look up as examples, find it difficult to imagine that those people are walking Temples, places where heaven and earth meet. Most of us have even more difficulty thinking of ourselves in that way. We certainly find it hard, looking at all the tragic nonsense that has marred the history of Christianity, to see the church as a whole in this light.

"But the counter-retort is equally obvious to anyone who knows the writings of St. Paul. He could see the failings of the church, and of individual Christians, just as clearly as we can. And it's in one of the letters where those failings are most embarrassingly obvious - Paul's first letter to the Christians in Corinth - where he makes the claim. You corporately, he says to the whole church, are God's Temple, and God's Spirit dwells within you (1 Corinthians 3:16)" (p. 129).

Part of the reason why Paul reminds the Corinthians of this claim is precisely to hold them accountable to who they really are and what they are called to be and to do.

Perhaps folks like Anonymous are more like Paul than they might imagine, for they, too, play an important role in calling the Church to take stock of our failures in the light of our calling.