A Journey for Healthy Engagement of Culture w/ Mark Scandrette

What does Christianity look like as we engage culture today? Can our theology and ideology change along the way and help us better interact with people and the culture around us?

Mark Scandrette of ReImagine Ministries of California’s Bay Area gives us insight into his journey. He’s an author of several books including “THE NINEFOLD PATH LEARNING LAB AND NOTEBOOK” (with Danielle Welch) and has a unique view of the world to share. (TRANSCRIPT BELOW)

Transcript of Conversation with Mark Scandrette (transcribed by AI so not 100% accurate.)

[00:00:00]Mark Scandrette: [00:00:00] [00:00:00] it’s probably one of the things that comes up most often. when I travel and speak really all over the world is. when someone has a, particular political passion, or, wants to scapegoat a certain group, it really often comes back to fear. You want to take my guns or the Muslims are coming for me. And I see this as a real opportunity for, deeper discipleship and spiritual formation that our faith calls us not to be afraid, but, to, there’s no fear in love,
[00:00:33] NPE Open: [00:00:33] we’re talking religion and politics on the nonpartisan ever angelical podcast, but I could stand in the middle of fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay. Challenging the mindset of the partisan evangelical church and asking the question is God really a conservative, Republican, and does God require his followers to be? What
[00:00:55] knuckleheads?
[00:00:56] Mush-for-brains, evangelical [00:01:00] leaders are trying to overthrow Trump. It’s a
[00:01:03] special kind of dump in calling yourself
[00:01:05] a Christian
[00:01:06] podcasting worldwide on the NPE network as NPE podcast.com. This is the nonpartisan ever angelical podcast, but we’re not electing
[00:01:16] a pastor in chief. We’re electing.
[00:01:21] With the nonpartisan evangelical himself. Paul Swearengin.
[00:01:29] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:01:29] Nah. Yeah. Happy whatever day. This is where recording it on. I’ve been in the house so long. I don’t know, one day from another. And maybe you’re feeling the same these days. I feel like maybe I’m getting a little bit of cabin fever and Paul Swearengin here on the nonpartisan evangelical, glad you’re with us on the podcast and going to have fun talking with Mark skin dread today, who is an author and teacher from the Bay area out here in California.
[00:01:54] Mark Scandrette: [00:01:54] Yeah, this is the longest I’ve been home in a long time and I’m. And I, it [00:02:00] doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere anytime soon, either.
[00:02:04] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:02:04] Well, Mark is, like I said, is an author and a teacher. He’s a, he written a book called practicing the way of Jesus and some other things that we’ll get into. But Mark and I met. as the vote, common good tour came through. And those of you who listened to the podcast, we’ve talked with Doug Padgett, who’s the leader of that.
[00:02:22] And they’re going, they were going around the country on a bus before all this happened, to talk to people about voting Christian values and maybe Corinthians 13 and those types of things. But, so how did you get involved with vote? Common. Good. And, being a good ever angelical Christian as you’ve been much of your life.
[00:02:41] How did you go around asking people. Well, let me think about voting, a little bit differently than the going mindset of the evangelical church.
[00:02:48] Mark Scandrette: [00:02:48] Well, I’m an old friend of Doug Paget’s and a lot of the other folks who are involved in vote, common good. And, Doug said, let’s travel the country and talk to people about, faith and [00:03:00] politics.
[00:03:00] And so, in two fall of 2018, I joined the tour and I think we got to about 19 cities, 20 cities together for my part of the tour. And got to meet and talk with thousands of people about that question of where did, where does faith and politics come together
[00:03:20] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:03:20] and where does it come together? I, I think, you know, for a lot of, a lot of us growing up in maybe the more white evangelical church voting your values has meant or voting your faith has meant voting Republican or
[00:03:32] Mark Scandrette: [00:03:32] conservative.
[00:03:33] And,
[00:03:34] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:03:34] but how do you see that faith and our civic engagement ought to intersect?
[00:03:39] Consciousness of the Kingdom of GodMark Scandrette: [00:03:39] Yeah. I, I think that the, the teachings of Jesus should really inform how we show up in public. And, so the sermon on the Mount I would say is, is kind of a key text that would inform how we, how we show up in the world.
[00:03:57] And it really invites us [00:04:00] into, a new consciousness. You know, I I’d like to call it the consciousness of the kingdom of God. Where instead of operating out of our, maybe our base human motivations, which to me would be like fear, we’re anxiety, us and them thinking that, we’re being called, into a deeper reality that Jesus called the kingdom of God that would reshape our insides.
[00:04:30] And allow us to show up less defensively and more generously. in public and civic life
[00:04:37] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:04:37] as well. Yeah. Fear is a big part of it. Isn’t it?
[00:04:42]Fear of OthersMark Scandrette: [00:04:42] it’s probably one of the things that comes up most often. when I travel and speak really all over the world is. when someone has a, particular political passion, or, wants to scapegoat a certain group, it really often comes back to fear.
[00:05:00] [00:05:00] You want to take my guns or the Muslims are coming for me. And I see this as a real opportunity for, deeper discipleship and spiritual formation that our faith calls us not to be afraid, but, to, there’s no fear in love,
[00:05:15] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:05:15] so you’ve pastored, you’ve pastored in the Bay area for about 12 years.
[00:05:19] You were telling me, so obviously you you’ve studied the Bible. I would assume it all of that. And
[00:05:26] Mark Scandrette: [00:05:26] I mean,
[00:05:27] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:05:27] do you. Do you, I guess I just don’t see this Republican Jesus. And I know we were talking about most, most people wouldn’t say, well, I think God’s a Republican, but yet we feel as Christians, it compels us to be Republican and conservative sometimes, but I’m not sure where people get that in the Bible.
[00:05:46] It doesn’t seem to me like it’s in there necessarily.
[00:05:49] Mark Scandrette: [00:05:49] Well, I think that, a couple of things, one is, I was not aware of my political proclivities as a young person. [00:06:00] I went to churches where I think we all, we would, we would have all said we were a nonpartisan, but we all voted. conservative, Republican.
[00:06:09] And, and if you didn’t, you didn’t talk about it because you would have been excluded and shunned from your, this precious community. That you’re a part of. I think maybe a second thread that, accounts for this is that, I maybe we’ve had the idea that. On a personal level. We want to exercise the character of Christ, which means we should love our enemy, turn the other cheek.
[00:06:37]bless those who curse us and, care for the care for the poor, but that maybe, we’ve sort of said, that’s how we should be individually, but politics is something else. Politics is dirty. And it’s, it’s more, we almost have more of a, let’s say, evolutionary, you know, [00:07:00] survival of the fittest instinct when it comes to that.
[00:07:04]and maybe, maybe something I would relate to that as well as if you look at the history of Christian faith globally, when. we, we, we tended to follow the ethics of Christ until we get power. And then we throw out, then we throw out everything that Jesus said in the sermon on the Mount.
[00:07:27]Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:07:27] It’s very true. And I’m like, you I’ve had that journey too, of growing up. sort of conservative, evangelical. And I actually was thinking about this over the past where you can, I was thinking what was the start of my journey to have that transformed in me a little bit, and I’ve actually traced some of it back to.
[00:07:46] Sort of the eschatology last days, rapture thinking that I grew up with, in that, so what happened in that is my expectation was the world was going to get increasingly bad [00:08:00] and increasingly dark. And as that happened, then Jesus was going to come and take all the good people out. And so. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, but then you kind of start looking for signs of that.
[00:08:12] And even maybe you start rooting for it a little bit because who wouldn’t root for the day when Jesus comes and takes me out. And I get to tell everybody I told you so, you know, and, and, and so when that eschatology started getting jostled a little bit and my belief system in that, I think it started changing my.
[00:08:30] Belief that there was sort of this good side and this evil side that, that the evil side was going to take over for a while until Jesus came and got us. So I don’t know if you’ve seen that journey in other people or what that journey has looked like for you.
[00:08:42] Mark Scandrette: [00:08:42] Yeah. I’d say for me I grew up in a piotistic Christian tradition. my parents are very dear. Followers of Jesus. their faith was very personal to them. I’d say most my parents and most of their friends were what I would call a political [00:09:00] like, there’s one time a year where you’re political and it’s the day you vote. And otherwise you’re disinterested and it does feel dirty.
[00:09:08] And, let’s just focus on loving people and, You know, not really engaged in civic life, because it’s complex and we’re, we are simple people who wanted what a simple, clear, good way of, of life and in the communities that I grew up in. There was a lot of sincerity, but I think often a fear of the other.
[00:09:34] So we didn’t know people or relate closely with people who saw the world differently or who had different experiences than us. And so it was very easy to, to misrepresent someone from a different political background, someone from a different race, someone from a different socioeconomic situation. And we could say things about them.
[00:09:59]w [00:10:00] w would just be confirmed, you know, well, you know, if those poor people just stop spending their money on cigarettes, or if people would just choose to do this, they wouldn’t have the problems that they have and, you know, things like that. And. Probably one of my big shifts was, because, because I was, I w I really was very sincere in wanting to be an ardent follower of Jesus.
[00:10:25]I noticed Jesus having deferential care for the poor, and I thought, if I want to follow Jesus, then I need to be. In relationship with people who are in suffering and struggle. And, I quit college after a couple of years convinced my girlfriend. Who’s now been my wife for 28 years to, also quit university.
[00:10:44] And we moved to inner city, Minneapolis to work at an inner city mission, like a rescue, a rescue mission. And that’s when the unraveling began for me, because I thought that I’m, I’m finally in [00:11:00] relationship in caring community with people that I would have put on the other side, in terms of race and class, and sometimes in turn, in terms of their political, proclivities as well.
[00:11:11] And so my category started getting messed with a little bit, and I thought these, the, the. The S the systems are, are working for me because I’m, I’m white and I’m straight. And I’m, I’m, you know, upper, upper middle class and the systems aren’t set up as well to benefit people who are minorities and who are poor.
[00:11:40] And, so that, that was kind of the beginning of my awakening. Some of those things.
[00:11:45] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:11:45] Yeah. Wow. That’s, it’s a fascinating journey. And I think sometimes, and I think you’re right. I think even though the people that I’m talking to and asking them to challenge their mindsets through this podcast are saying [00:12:00] they’re good people.
[00:12:00] I think they have a heart for God. They’re trying to live out Jesus as best as they can see them, but you’re right. We start living. Out the Jesus we see in our circle and our bubble rather than the Jesus we see in the Bible sometimes.
[00:12:13] Mark Scandrette: [00:12:13] And there was one, there was one exception to political engagement in the communities that I grew up in.
[00:12:20] And, that was around abortion. And, I was shaped in my early discipleship by somebody by the name of Francis Schaffer. He was my guy when I was a teenager and I loved his books on apologetics and sort of a philosophical approach to the gospel. And, but I think he also had a, he tended to have a, a romantic view of the old America.
[00:12:48]of a time when most people were church attenders and things like that. And there was a negativity there and sort of a scapegoating of secularism was what was to blame [00:13:00] for any problems that we have. And, As a result of reading his book that he wrote with C Everett, Koop, I and my friends would protest in front of abortion clinics.
[00:13:10] And, we were really doing what we wanted to do. We really cared. We really wanted to see good come to the world. and I, I appreciate that sincerity. And there’s an, there’s a preciousness to innocence and naivete. but I think we’re also called to love, love God with our mind and, not just.
[00:13:32]engage in platitudes and to, take our engagements , civic life a bit more seriously. but I wrote all my papers and, in college, in my political science classes, on the gift of the conservative right and I really felt our call to reengage in politics and take back the country again.
[00:13:54] And that made sense to me. I was the precinct chairman of the Republican party in my [00:14:00] district when I was 21 years old, went to the, regional meetings and, things like that, dipping my toe in, in the political sphere because I cared. and because I believed in personal responsibility that, I have agency and that if each of us, do what we can, the world would be a better place.
[00:14:21] And so,
[00:14:23] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:14:23] yeah. Yeah. Well, I, and by the way, I still personally believe in personal responsibility. Yeah. Yeah. But I’ve learned that there are some people that aren’t working from the same framework as me and some people that don’t have the same opportunities as me and my kids. And so I’m learning to understand that one of the things somebody told me once that I like is we’re asking people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
[00:14:49] And they’re saying to us, I don’t even have boots, much less bootstraps to pull up. And so we’ve got to make sure they’ve got some bootstraps to pull up before we can demand. They pull them up.
[00:14:58] Mark Scandrette: [00:14:58] Yeah. Yup. [00:15:00] Well, and I think as I got older, I started to examine a bit more, some of the foundational assumptions of the, of my worldview and.
[00:15:16] Began to see when I, when I delve deeply into particularly the gospels going are my assumptions and my worldview in agreement with the character and vision of the kingdom that Jesus had. And it felt like there was a few key places of disconnect for me. that it doesn’t seem like Jesus was scapegoating, certain groups of people for, for the problems that we have.
[00:15:45] You know, their systems are broken, but we’re the system and we, we take, we have responsibility. So, scapegoating should probably not be a part of my posture to the world. We already mentioned this, but fear. [00:16:00] Shouldn’t be a part of my life. if I’m a follower of God in the way of Jesus. And so if I, if I move beyond that, how does that shift my worldview and my view of others?
[00:16:12]compassion rather than judgment is core to the gospel. So how much of how I’ve seen the world is shaped by contempt for certain people judgment. And blaming versus a sympathetic look and saying, every person I see is my brother or sister, we’re all in this together. How do we pursue God’s best for our lives?
[00:16:36] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:16:36] Yeah. Gosh, I think that’s so good. And, and I, I think you’re, you said earlier, you know, we like it simple and, you know, just, and simple as give me the rules and the people that follow the rules are good. And the people that don’t. Aren’t and I think, I think you’re right. I think what Jesus came to show us is actually, God, God likes to get into the mess with us and the mess of life.
[00:16:59] And [00:17:00] so sorry, my microphone there, but so we tend to want to go either to the right side or the left side and say this side’s all right, or that side’s all right. So neither side is really jumping to be in the mess of life is messy. And actually the, the excitement of the journey is kind of walking through that
[00:17:16] Mark Scandrette: [00:17:16] mess together.
[00:17:18] Well, and something, I came of age during the, what’s now looked back on as the emerging church movement. And so there was a lot of us who grew up conservative evangelical who had a major shift or deconstruction and, It reshaped our faith life and our politics. But what I noticed happening in myself and to a lot of my friends is that we simply, we were still living in a, in a binary way of seeing the world.
[00:17:49] So the bad guys are now the good guys. The good guys are now the bad guys. We’re still scapegoating. We’re still blaming our problems on other people. We’re still paranoid and afraid. [00:18:00] We’ve just moved around the chess pieces a little bit, and it feels like the gospel’s calling us to a higher level of consciousness where we don’t scapegoat and operate out of fear and us versus them anymore.
[00:18:15] Hmm. And, that’s a, that’s a, that’s a revolutionary leap to, to move into that new kind of consciousness.
[00:18:22] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:18:22] So how do I, how does that manifest itself in your politics then as you’re, as you’re engaging in politics?
[00:18:28] Mark Scandrette: [00:18:28] Well, I think maybe the first thing is I’ve had to acknowledge that.
[00:18:35] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:18:35] Mo well,
[00:18:36] Mark Scandrette: [00:18:36] as, as someone who has entertained both conservative and more progressive ideas, when I, when I don’t have skin in the game, it’s, it costs me nothing to have a certain opinion about how government should work.
[00:18:53] And, probably that’s probably more at the root of this than anything is that we’ve been, That [00:19:00] across the spectrum. We’ve been spectators rather than participants. And so, we, we make friends with people who agree with us and we look and look at others and blame blame them for why the systems are screwed up.
[00:19:17] But I think what takes a lot more courage and what the gospel invites us into is to say, I need to get involved. Civically more like on a more basic level than even than politics. Just, who’s the council person, that’s part of the precinct of my neighborhood. what. What are the decisions that impact my neighbors, you know, and gain, like w like some competency, and vocabulary for knowing how, how public life even works.
[00:19:51]and. anyone who goes on that journey finds out it’s very messy and it’s very complicated. And there aren’t simple solutions to the [00:20:00] struggles that we face there’s limits to how much money is available and to, you know, all of those sorts of things. And if something’s going to change, it requires concerted effort by hundreds and thousands of people.
[00:20:16] Just to, just to change something locally, you know, and how many, how many of us are willing to put the time in, to invest in public life? Yeah, but that’s, that’s what’s needed
[00:20:31] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:20:31] well, and I think even. Government gets otherized in that government is some big evil thing out there when actually the government is the collective will of the people.
[00:20:40] And, and if you get enough people to agree with you in that and start a movement, you can change the government. And so I think we, we have to even. D otherize the government and say, no, it’s actually our representatives. And yes, they’re not always as responsive as we would like for them to be, but, but let’s not make a bad [00:21:00] correction to that.
[00:21:00] Let’s actually get engaged.
[00:21:02] Mark Scandrette: [00:21:02] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I like to ask myself the question, if I’m concerned about how my city works or how our country works, or, concerned about a particular social issue. how, what am I, what is the spirit inviting me to do to participate? I need to get more educated on the topic.
[00:21:25] I need to understand how, how decisions are made. And that’s a real crash course in, you know, stepping up to public life. And, it’s going to be re it requires a commitment of time and a humility to be a learner, rather than someone who presents himself as an expert.
[00:21:47] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:21:47] Always a bit of our, of our family journey and, both, both grew up in pastor’s homes and conservative evangelical homes.
[00:21:56] And part of it was just seeing [00:22:00] in particularly in the old Testament, that, that there’s just this common theme of. Seek the welfare of your city, Jeremiah 29 seven seek the welfare of your city for in its welfare. You’ll find your welfare seek the Shalom is what that word actually is. And over and over again, you see that like if, and even Jesus was.
[00:22:20] Saying Whoa to the cities, you know, what would a Capernum? Well, you know, that doesn’t mean everybody in Copernum was going to have a bad day on judgment day, but the, but the mindset of that city needed to be, be changed toward justice and Shalom for the people. And then when we look at Isaiah 62 and Isaiah 68, and it has this definition of what a city of Shalom looks like, where there’s good healthcare and people live a long life and they have great education and their kids are going to have an inheritance and.
[00:22:47] Yeah, we started just being struck in our spirit that had God cares about good city planning and good streets and good neighborhoods and not just abortion or gay [00:23:00] marriage. And so those are the things that really transformed kind of how we look at civic engagement.
[00:23:05] Mark Scandrette: [00:23:05] Yeah, and that’s, that’s huge. That’s a huge shift to go.
[00:23:08] Wow. I remember when this happened for me, I, I was, I was influenced quite a bit by, somebody by the name of Dallas Willard who wrote, a hallmark book called the divine conspiracy. And, in it, he, he talked about the reality of the kingdom of God and that when Jesus said the kingdom of God is at hand, he’s talking about the Shalom.
[00:23:31] The, the vision of peace and wholeness. That was what I would like to call the Genesis vision of the creator. And so, the kind of salvation that, that, the gospel invites us into, this is a total transformation of people and S and systems so that the world works as God desires. According to God’s good dream for all of creation and humanity.
[00:23:58] And that means as [00:24:00] followers of God, in the way of Jesus, we’re being invited to care about everything our creator cares about. And you see how this played out in the Hebrew Bible. Particularly, I know that it’s, these aren’t portions that they’re particularly fun or interesting for us to read, but all those, you know, the cleanliness slaws and the, the, you know, where, where to put the toilets and, what happens if somebody has acne or mildew, you know, here or there, you know, in their, in their, in their house, the, the.
[00:24:33] The priests had something to say about pimples and mildew and where to put bathrooms. And it’s because all of these things are important to human flourishing. And, and so, and so our creator cares about every actor, spectrum of our embodied being. And if as followers of have gone, the way of Jesus were invited to, to care passionately about [00:25:00] every aspect of, of, of our existence.
[00:25:03] I think one of the things that, influences that awareness, at least for me, it’s been, If you live in a neighborhood in a community where. You have excellent schools, good home values. Most people are homeowners and are winners and are thriving in life. You can assume we don’t have to really think about these things.
[00:25:27] But if you relocate to pockets of your city or, neighborhoods that lack good education, public safety, job opportunities, you immediately become aware of how much we need these things. And aware of the struggle it is to see, to see these good dreams for the creator establish.
[00:25:52] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:25:52] Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing.
[00:25:54] And one of the things we learned in Fresno is there’s an incredible concentration of poverty. Like our, [00:26:00] our impoverished neighborhoods are really grouped together and. To find out that, a young person growing up in a particular zip code in Fresno versus the zip code that my kids are growing up in my kids by just that advantage of living in nine three seven one one, which is my zip code.
[00:26:20] They have a life expectation of 20 years, longer, 20 years, more than somebody of the same age in this other zip code or these zip codes. I just think God’s heart is just torn apart by that. And so my heart ought to be torn apart by that and say, what can I do about it? And, you know, just praying or just saying, Hey, if we could just pass a few laws or tell those people to get better, you know, that’s not going to do it.
[00:26:49] And there are systemic issues and system issues of why that exists. And we have to, we have to go after that systemic change. Yeah. [00:27:00] As well as just having a homeless feed or a poor poverty feed every once in a while. And so that’s where government comes in, that you’ve got to change the government and the mindset of a whole city to change those factors.
[00:27:12] Mark Scandrette: [00:27:12] Yeah. One of the practices that has helped me quite a bit is to get curious about people whose life experiences have been different than mine. So good. Yeah. And to have a, not a conversation where you’re defending, defending your way of seeing things, but just going, tell me about you and how how’s life been for you.
[00:27:36] And what’s your, what’s been your experience with law enforcement and government and things like that. And, I live, I live in a neighborhood called the mission district. And what you shared about your kids, in, in your neighborhood versus other neighborhoods? my kids in my neighborhood, have, people just in our neighborhood based on race and class, [00:28:00] we have very different opportunities and outcomes.
[00:28:03]You know, my kids are not going to be profiled or targeted by the police. They could be doing the exact same behavior as a person, as a young person of color and get a very different, very different outcome. Based on that I’ve had the same thing happen, like, that I’m treated very differently because I’m a straight white male versus my neighbors who are Latin American or African American I can and things like that.
[00:28:28] And, it’s. Our society is set up so that we rarely make those cross those boundaries. But when we do, I know it increases my level of understanding and compassionate and, and the reasons why some, some things need to, some, some system things need to change. We had a young man on our block. in 2015 we heard gunshots and he was, and, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. [00:29:00]
[00:29:00]I usually wait five minutes and want to hear the sirens. I run out the door and see how I can be helpful, but that night we didn’t hear any sirens. And, I thought, well, it must have been someone, you know, shooting a gun for celebration, or maybe it was maybe as fireworks. But the next morning and the paper, it was reported that my neighbor was shot and killed by SFPD by two undercover officers.
[00:29:25] And I went around the block and started talking with neighbors and I said, what happened? And they said, these two guys who didn’t, who didn’t look like cops tackled this young man on the block. And when he. Pull the knife out to defend himself. They pulled their guns, he dropped the knife and turned to run and they shot him in the back.
[00:29:47] And, that was eyewitnesses saying this. And I said, well, have you talked to anybody about it? And he said, we’re not going to tell. We’re not going to let anybody know what we saw because we’ve had relatives who testified and they disappeared. [00:30:00] And the police went door to door collected people’s cell phones and cameras and told them to stay inside.
[00:30:06] The body was whisked off before the coroner could do his proper investigation. And that was a. Crash course for our family to go. There’s some systemic issues here. And I know that law enforcement has a very difficult job to do, and I’m not trying to scapegoat, here, or disrespect the hard one service of, of, of officers or departments.
[00:30:29] But, there’s some protocols in place. That were built in that allowed for an aggressive engagement that costs my neighbor, his life. He happened to be, an undocumented immigrant and, I didn’t grow up knowing what the U S government’s engagement was in places like El Salvador and Guatemala. That we destabilize those governments and, sided with the rich over the poor and that many people, who, live in mind neighborhood [00:31:00] because they’d worked collaborated with the U S government.
[00:31:03] And after those times are over, it was no longer safe for them to be there. So, on many different levels, there are the. There’s this complexity to this, that I, that I I’ve benefited from some of these systemic issues and I’m, and we’re all experiencing the difficulties of them too. And so how do we, I don’t think it’s a matter of blaming, but how do we sit, sit in the struggle and just have the courage to lament.
[00:31:33] And, that’s been a big theme for me the last, few years. The second beatitude says blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. I think we have a discomfort with that. We like to be, we like to celebrate the good things, hide the things that are painful, you know, and it’s. It’s hard, especially for a dominant culture person like me to own the fact that some of my [00:32:00] ancestors had African slaves.
[00:32:02]I grew up on land that was taken, that was by force and through violence in a genocide against indigenous people. Lakota and, Chippewa Ojibwe people in the Midwest. And, that, that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to say I do. If those resources hadn’t been taken from somebody else, and that’s not the, that’s just, that’s just acknowledgement.
[00:32:29]but, but, I spent many years being defensive of these things. Well, yeah, it wasn’t me who chose those things that was other people and maybe I’m related to them by blood. But I think the gospel calls us to sit with it and anyone who’s mourning and grief. Grieve with them and also grieve for the mistakes that we’ve made intentional or unintentional that have aversely affected people locally or globally.
[00:32:54]and that that’s, that’s the appropriate posture for us as followers of God in the way of [00:33:00] Jesus and that it may be, we could see much deeper healing of the divides. if we had the courage to mourn with those who mourn and
[00:33:13] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:33:13] wow, that’s Mark Scandrett, from, his website is dot com. Is that right?
[00:33:19] Dot com?
[00:33:20] Mark Scandrette: [00:33:20] Yep. Yeah.
[00:33:20] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:33:20] And spell that. SCA, N D R E T T E.
[00:33:24] Mark Scandrette: [00:33:24] Yep. Got it. All right,
[00:33:25] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:33:25] Mark. scandrett.com and, you know, I, I. Know, when we think about, the, the what’s happening at the border and the separation of the children from their families. you know, I get that the border issue is difficult and I’m not going to go for a simple answer there, but I also live.
[00:33:43] A block from where we put Japanese American citizens in prison for being looking Japanese. And so I think it’s really important to hang on to that history. And I like the putting in the terms of mourn so that we just say that can [00:34:00] never happen again. We can never let our fear, let us get there again, because that was a horrible thing that we did, or McCarthyism was a terrible thing.
[00:34:09] And how people got accused for nothing in law was subverted because of our fear of communism. And just say, we’re. We’re going to have those things out in the open. Not because we hate America or we have white guilt, but because we want to be better in the future and remember those things. So we will never allow them to happen
[00:34:25] Mark Scandrette: [00:34:25] again.
[00:34:26] Yeah. I was with an Aboriginal community in, in South Australia, last year and the year before. And they were telling me about some of the injustices that they’re they’ve gone through, which would be similar to. Indigenous people here. And, when I, what something they said to me has really stuck with me.
[00:34:45] They said, Mark, we don’t blame people like you for what happened in the past. But now that you know the truth, you and I together have a responsibility to make a different and better future. And I, I love [00:35:00] that kind of, both acknowledgement and compassionate generosity to say we’re not blaming, but, but let’s, let’s make a better future together.
[00:35:10] And that’s, that’s beautiful. And, and I, I do think as a pattern, Sadly, we as evangelicals have had a history of building tombs to the profits after we executed them, you know, my grandfather was a professor at Wheaton college in, one of the kind of premier evangelical universities or colleges.
[00:35:33] And, back in 1968, when MLK was assassinated, they wouldn’t lower the flag. most, most people of, of my background didn’t feel like he was a good character and that this civil rights movement was anything to be, to, to celebrate or join in with. And boy, we look back now and see it very differently.
[00:35:57] You know, that this was, this was, this was, [00:36:00] primarily people of faith showing up in public in the name of Jesus Christ. And putting their lives on the line. So it makes me wonder, what are we missing today that 30 years from now we’ll go, wow. I wish we’d. I wish we’d been more current with what the spirit was trying to do in that time.
[00:36:23] And I’d li I’d like to learn to be the kind of evangelical that doesn’t, doesn’t only have 2020 vision looking back. I can see right now where the fault line of love is in our time. Wow. That’s
[00:36:40] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:36:40] that is powerful. That is powerful. I want to ruminate on that just a little bit,
[00:36:46] Mark Scandrette: [00:36:46] because I can honestly, there’s a, there’s a cost.
[00:36:50] There’s a cost to that because if you stand at that fault line of love in your time [00:37:00] as Jesus did. As you know, countless people since then have done Jesus promised, you’re going to be misunderstood by your family and closest friends and the people you worship with.
[00:37:15] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:37:15] Yeah, it makes me that I remember when Muhammad Ali died, how universally loved he was.
[00:37:22] And I know when I was a kid, the people around me didn’t love him very much and would call him Cassius clay and refuse to call him Muhammad Ali and, and all of these things. And I think that’s, that’s such a good challenge. You’re bringing. What is what is happening today that I am against that in 30 years or 25 years, whatever my grandchildren are going to say, you know, grandpa, what were you, what were you doing then?
[00:37:52] And I want to be able to say I was on the right side of history.
[00:37:55] Mark Scandrette: [00:37:55] Yeah.
[00:37:56] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:37:56] Yeah. That’s great. And, and
[00:37:58] Mark Scandrette: [00:37:58] read
[00:38:00] [00:38:00] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:38:00] a letter from Birmingham jail. the, be that new year’s day 20. 18 and read Martin Luther King jr. Saying I’m most disappointed in the moderates. I thought they would come and help us, but the white moderates want us to wait or whatever else.
[00:38:17] And it just, I I’m. So I’m exactly just turning in my head. What you’re saying is, am I a moderate that’s afraid to speak up right now or do I need to get a little radical and stand up for, with people?
[00:38:30] Mark Scandrette: [00:38:30] And I think there’s better ways of standing up, like, we have to, we have to, to, you know, like, like the Hebrew Bible calls us to speak, speak for those who have no voice defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow.
[00:38:45] And. There’s a way to do that. That is, respectful and honoring and isn’t blaming or scapegoating. And we have to rise above the kind of, polarities and us versus them mentality that [00:39:00] is stoked by the media. You know, nothing sells advertising like controversy. Yeah. And, and I think that in a lot of my, cross Potter political conversations, I feel like I’m having I’m, I’m a, I’m a stand in for the scapegoat that someone has heard about on Fox news.
[00:39:25] Like, I’m not really, we’re not engaging as two people. We’re we’re, it’s, it’s abstracted. And so one of the things that’s really helped me is to say, and rather than getting my information third hand, I want to be, I want to be in relationship with people who are connected to these issues of struggle.
[00:39:48] So rather than being paranoid or afraid of my Islamic brothers and sisters, I’m going to visit a mosque. I’m going to make friends. I’m going to go to an [00:40:00] Edith tar celebration and, find out, find out the stories of these people that people like me have learned to fear. That’s the other, you know, I, during, when black lives matter was just beginning, R F I did, I did maybe a dad move.
[00:40:17] And a dismissive move. My daughter brought it up at the dinner table and I said, I’m not going to post anything about this. Cause I see everybody posting and, it doesn’t cost anybody, anything to post their opinions on Facebook. And my daughter said, dad, you, as a follower of Jesus, you’re obligated to press in on this.
[00:40:38] And, and to ha and to speak up, if someone, if someone’s powerless, I said, okay, but I’m not going to do it like ever, like, like I see other people doing it. I said, let’s get up from the table now and go to the subway station and at least listen to what our brothers and sisters of color are feeling right now.
[00:40:55] So that I don’t have a story. That’s third hand, I have a firsthand [00:41:00] story and it, I think that firsthand story is a really powerful way of getting beyond the. typical divides. If we can testify to, I was talking with my neighbor who is undocumented. I was talking with this, I was talking, I was talking with this person who voted for Donald Trump and right.
[00:41:22] Rather than, well, I saw this thing right. On my preferred media outlet. Yeah.
[00:41:27] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:41:27] Yeah. I, I did, had on this podcast, a young woman that works with marginalized populations in our city, mainly Hispanic, undocumented and, and, those, that group of people. And one of the things she said on this podcast and she, she was a brilliant young woman and she was challenging me in a lot of ways.
[00:41:50] And, and one of the things she said that I sort of cringed and I thought, Oh man, she said for us, why ever angelical [00:42:00] people voting for Donald Trump was a big middle finger that told us we don’t matter. And I thought, Oh, that’s not fair. You know that, and that’s gonna make people turn off my podcast. But I think what is important about that is can we hear that?
[00:42:16] Can we hear people around us say, Hey, this really hurts because of this. And if we want to say, well, listen, let me explain where I’m coming from. That’s fine. But we’ve got to here. And so I think that’s where we’re kind of what you’re talking about in that proximity of being with people who come from different places to just be willing to hear what they have to say and being willing to say, okay, I hurt with you before I start to explain myself.
[00:42:43] Yeah.
[00:42:43] Mark Scandrette: [00:42:43] Yeah. A friend of mine said, I don’t want to make statements where I don’t have skin in the game. And he and his dad were having a bit of a debate about immigration policy. And he, he was able to turn the conversation when he [00:43:00] said this dad, my next door neighbor is undocumented. So this isn’t theoretical, but I’m telling you that if ice.
[00:43:11] Comes to our block. I will be standing in the doorway, protecting my neighbor, and I am committed to this action and it sort of blew past all of the platitudes and they were, they began to have a different conversation when it got to the practicalities. And instantly, I think it’s helpful to note, some of us.
[00:43:39] Live better than our politics or ideas. You know, there’s a lot of wonderful evangelical folks that care for the poor are our friends across and worship with people across, race and class. And they have ideas [00:44:00] that would lead them to a less compassionate. Action. But there, the spirit of God in them calls them to live better than they invites them to live better than their ideas.
[00:44:12] And then there’s some of us that I would include myself in this. I live below my ideas, you know, I think, I think, I think I have the right ideas. I think I have smart ideas and I don’t love to the level. Of my, my ideas. And I think the goal would be to close the gap for all of us, where we, we think carefully, critically, and compassionately and wrestle with the nuances.
[00:44:42] And we also act in the character of Christ and the love of God. In our lives and not have those two things separated, you know? So you can have a, you can have a politically woke person who still scapegoats, [00:45:00] blames other people and is bitterly angry and treats their neighbor with contempt. That’s that’s but has great ideas about public policy.
[00:45:11] That’s that stopped the wholeness that the gospel invites us into either.
[00:45:15] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:45:15] I guess, isn’t that what Jesus was talking about when he said you’ve heard it say don’t murder and I say, don’t call your brother a fool. So you can, you can be right on some of those things and still, still wrong on a bunch of them.
[00:45:29] So very that’s my, what is that? Making that noise? Sorry, that’s mine. My iPad. We’ve got too much technology around us. Now I did want to hit on you. So you’ve written, some themes and some training and done some things around Matthew five and the beatitudes, which I, I agree is central to some of, some of this discussion right now.
[00:45:51] Tell me a little bit about that and the nine themes that you pulled out from the BI.
[00:45:54] Mark Scandrette: [00:45:54] Yeah. So I got invited to an international project a few years ago called nine [00:46:00] beats. And it’s a. Group of artists, activists, pastors, and theologians just said maybe the beatitudes have something compelling to invite us into in the 21st century.
[00:46:15] And so we started getting, a diverse group of leaders together to do a deep dive into the beatitudes and the sermon on the Mount and out of that, where we were able to pilot a resource, we called the nine fold path. And the idea is that with the beatitudes, Jesus is naming some of the traps that we fall into in our minds that are less than the kingdom of God.
[00:46:40] I call them first instincts. So our first instinct is to be anxious rather than trusting it’s to us, run from pain and responsibility. Rather than morning what’s broken. Our first instinct is story to the competition [00:47:00] towards the sense of, fatalism towards judgment and retribution and, towards us versus them thinking, towards dishonesty and, And, posturing, towards, towards a retributive view of justice and eye for eye and tooth for tooth.
[00:47:21] And it, each of these points that is our normal natural consciousness. Jesus through the sermon on the Mount is inviting us into the, what I would call the psychology of the kingdom of God, the consciousness of the kingdom of God. And. It calls us to a nine different conversions that instead of being anxious, I learned to trust God and live interdependently.
[00:47:50]instead of running from pain, I face pain and take responsibility instead of, being competitive. I see everyone as [00:48:00] having equal dignity and worth. And we’re all in this together. Instead of saying the problems are overwhelming. Let’s just wait for Jesus to come again. I say, no, we’re the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
[00:48:12] We’re to participate in the good that God wants to see happen in this world. And even if Jesus is coming back soon, we don’t know when and our grandkids and future generations need a need, a planet that they can breathe on. That’s sustainable. So let’s, let’s keep working on that
[00:48:32] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:48:32] good stuff. And, and Jesus was not a pansy by not fighting with the zealots overthrow the government.
[00:48:38] He actually was extremely powerful to, to stay humble and not do the things that he could have done.
[00:48:46] Mark Scandrette: [00:48:46] So we created, a, a process of taking on practice. This is to say, what is the light? What is the consciousness that Jesus is inviting us into? What shifts do we [00:49:00] need to make in our minds and hearts and relationships and what are the practices that might help us to do that?
[00:49:07] And, the genius of it is. It not just being ideas, but we’ve, we’ve gathered groups all over the country and all over the world to say, let’s do this work together. Let’s figure out how to be peacemakers. Let’s figure out how to treat everyone with equal dignity and worth. Let’s stop judging and look at one another with compassion and to, really learn to live in those life-giving ways.
[00:49:31] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:49:31] Wow, that’s good. So I do this podcast and what I do in part, because I think there are some people who are just as in bondage to this idea of conservative partisan politics. And I want them to be free of that. So what a kind of, what’s the first step that you encourage people to take this, to, to see that, that principle of, of the beatitudes in Matthew five and, and being free of, of some of those old [00:50:00] mindsets.
[00:50:00] Mark Scandrette: [00:50:00] I think as I think a simple thing to do would be read the sermon on the Mount and say, How do I, like, I think, I think it really helps to start with myself to say if the gospel calls me to be nonjudgmental, to be active in making the world a better place to, to let go of resentments, to, you know, all the, all those things.
[00:50:29] Where’s the gap in my life. And to be honest about those gaps, I get angry. I want to retaliate, I do talk often talk in terms of us and them. I feel anxious. I hoard my resources. I feel defensive about what’s mine and. To recognize, like not feel shame about those things. You know, I don’t think shame or should, are good motivators, but to go, wow.
[00:50:59] I, [00:51:00] it sucks to think this way. It sucks to be judgmental. It sucks to live in resentment. It sucks to be scapegoating. it’s it’s, it doesn’t feel good inside. And the gospel calls me to a better way.
[00:51:17] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:51:17] I like it. I like it. And so you have, a couple of books here practicing the way of Jesus. And, and it’s is that the nine fold path?
[00:51:26] Is that you’re talking about there?
[00:51:28] Mark Scandrette: [00:51:28] Yeah, there’s a website called nine fold path.org. There’s a bunch of videos on there and then links to where to get these resources. And Mark
[00:51:38] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:51:38] scandrett.com is the website for our author teacher guests today. So Mark’s been fun having this conversation with you.
[00:51:45] Mark Scandrette: [00:51:45] I gotta say one of my practices, last week was to, To pray for people who I’ve had contempt for.
[00:51:53] And so I had, so I had a, I cry every morning during my quiet time. I had [00:52:00] a, pray for my enemies document that I
[00:52:05] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:52:05] don’t want to list them off right now. Do you?
[00:52:07] Mark Scandrette: [00:52:07] Well, I’m not going to tell you all of them, but. But I w I can show you, I can. I’ll just, I’ll just read you what I wrote. I, I have our current, our current president was on my list of people that I’ve tended to have contempt towards.
[00:52:24] And so every morning I would get up and I, I have a picture of him and his son. He’s kissing his son on the forehead. And, I would pray every morning, Lord. for Donald May he find peace, embrace goodness, and love and experience. What is most real and true. And there was a couple other public figures that I had on there.
[00:52:48] Not that they’re my personal enemies, but, that there are people who are hurting their, their perspectives and their decisions are hurting people that are [00:53:00] dear to me. and so who are, you know, sort of like who who’s ever an enemy of? My brother is my sorta my enemy. And I was like, well, and then I’m called to love my enemy and, and pray blessings on them.
[00:53:12] And so I noticed this practice each morning, subtly shifting my heart, you know, that, that I’m, I’m called to resonate with God’s heart. For the current president and administration, to, to not operate in contempt or res resentment or wanting to see evil done done to them. I want the spirit of God to be at work in them, just like I long for the spirit to be work in my heart and, helping me to show up on the planet in the most redemptive way as possible.
[00:53:45] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:53:45] Well, that’s a good challenge. That’s awesome. Well, Hey Mark. Pleasure to have a chance to talk to you. I really appreciate you giving us the time and, and having this deep discussion and challenging one.
[00:53:55] Mark Scandrette: [00:53:55] Yeah, really great to be with you, Paul. I really appreciate what you’re doing [00:54:00] and the heart that you do it with.
[00:54:01] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:54:01] Wow. I hope we can have you back and talk some more as we go.
[00:54:04] Mark Scandrette: [00:54:04] Yeah. Awesome.
[00:54:05] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:54:05] All right. Enjoy your time at home.
[00:54:07] Mark Scandrette: [00:54:07] Alright. Alright. I can, can I, I like to pray. Can I, can I get an offer a prayer for us?
[00:54:13] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:54:13] Love it. Love it. Yeah. Go for it.
[00:54:16] Mark Scandrette: [00:54:16] Lord. Today, may we live with open hands mourn what’s broken serve one another with self-respect use our power for good.
[00:54:28] Look with compassion. Walk in. Honesty. Reach past differences. Suffer for love and live fearlessly following your way. Oh, for radical love. Amen.
[00:54:45] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:54:45] I love it. That was kind of your preacher and poets mix there. I like that.
[00:54:49] Mark Scandrette: [00:54:49] Yeah. Yeah.
[00:54:53] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:54:53] All right, Mark. We’ll talk to you again soon.
[00:54:54] Mark Scandrette: [00:54:54] Alright. Great to be with you.
[00:54:56] Paul Swearengin, Host: [00:54:56] Bye bye.
[00:54:58] All right, man.

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