When I was abroad in Jerusalem this summer, a friend I met there asked me, “So, Mike, what’s your background?” Religiously speaking, that is. I guess most people have a short answer to that. ”Baptist.” ”Catholic.” ”I wasn’t raised in the church.” Or whatever. What came out of my mouth kind of surprised me:
Well, my mom’s side is Catholic, so some of my earliest memories are of mass, with the chanting and bells and all of that, but when I was five we had Baptist neighbors move in, and they took me to five-day camp, where I asked Jesus into my heart, so to speak, but then my mom took me to a Lutheran church for a while, and then one of my aunt’s friends invited us to this Quaker-evangelical start-up place that wanted to be a megachurch someday, so I did that through most of middle school and high school, and I went to Quaker camp every summer, and then after that church died I went to a Lutheran university for a year, then transferred to a Methodist school where I got a B.A. in theology, and for the past year I’ve been going to an Episcopalian church, but when I get back I’m thinking about going to this Presbyterian church near my house . . .
So, theologically speaking, I’m kind of a vagrant. I am homeless. The only place that’s really familiar to me is evangelicalism, but I’m not even sure what that means anymore, and honestly that place is such a mess that I’m not sure I ever want to go back. Like the home I grew up in, it feels too small now. So for a while there, I was yet another twenty-something refugee from a shallow evangelicalism, wandering aimlessly among the mainliners in search of a place to call home.
I quickly got tired of doing this.
Clarity came when I realized, during a trip to Jerusalem I took this summer, that being a Christian is not about being at home, but about being on the way. We are not vagrants, but pilgrims.
This blog springs out of that conviction. Casa Nova (it means “the new house”) is a hospice in Jerusalem where I stayed this summer: it’s a place where pilgrims and strangers can stop travelling for a moment, hear about others’ journeys, and share their own. This is the virtual equivalent: a halfway house for pilgrim theologians—a place along the way to stop, think, and talk with your fellow travelers. Where have we been? Where are we now? And where should we go next?
As the host, my hope is not to drive the discussion, but to spark it and draw as many thoughtful voices into the conversation as possible. If you have a word about God to share, I hope you will feel welcome to do so here (for more details, see the House Rules on the menu above).
Welcome to Casa Nova. You’re welcome to stay as long as you like.