CANA Initiative Recap


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov 21) — Had a great week this week joining other instigators at the CANA Initiative gathering, which happened here in Washington, DC.

It was a few days of brainstorming over what might come out of a network of networks bringing a range of people together who are ready to dream about, live into and experience a new kind of faith. A collaboration of collaborators—each seeking to make this world a better place—driven by the dreams of the prophets and Jesus and filled with a longing for the kingdom of God.

As Philip Clayton put it, sometimes you have to kick up the dust to see where the wind is blowing.  Much dust was kicked up, including vital challenges from Anthony Smith and others on the need to expand the diversity present in the conversation from the outset (see his initial response here).

RELATED: Brief Report: CANA Initiators Gathering

What in the world is CANA? Glad you asked. Here’s a synopsis that was created to capture some of the ethos:

CANA is a collective of Christian leaders, organizations and networks across the United States who collaborate to embody and act on a courageous, liberating and compassionate faith.

What do we love and what do we hope?

–        To follow the movement of the Spirit by seeking reconciliation with God, our neighbors, and the earth; by making a fierce and constant commitment to God’s justice; and by nourishing generous Christian communities that unapologetically proclaim and seek God’s kingdom in their shared life and in the world.

–        To connect around a liberating moral vision for America and do more together than we could ever dream alone.

–        To participate in God’s reign of love breaking in everywhere and in everyone.

What will we do?

Broadly, we will engage in constructive, collective action. Specifically, we will …

–        CONNECT groups and institutions that share common loves and common hopes, gathering a network of networks that embody a positive, progressive, courageous, and compassionate Christian ethos.

–        ADVOCATE for this new ethos by engaging in passionate, constructive and civil conversation with the wider public and within broader religious, civic and educational structures.

–        NOURISH those who embody this ethos by creating diverse communities of encouragement and accountability; networked structures that are sustainable and expandable; and a sustainable financial base.

–        ACT by identifying shared priorities and issues, collaborating across denominations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and organizational specializations for the sake of the common good.

A few more thoughts from the CANA website:
The CANA Initiative participants share a sense of exploration, creativity, challenge and opportunity in this pivotal and dynamic moment. Because we are rooted in a generous Christian heritage, we are eager to collaborate with people of other faiths, and those seeking the common good. Our networks of dialogue and action thus extend beyond Christian communities to persons of all faiths, as well as to communities that are not themselves faith-based. We welcome allies and allegiances wherever we find common cause.

The CANA Initiative seeks to translate critical thinking about the past and present into creative collective action for the future, and to do so in a spirit that is positive, irenic, sympathetic, and generous. We welcome people from a wide spectrum of theological, political, and ethnic traditions. We encourage a wide range of ecclesial structures. The CANA Initiative sees this diversity as a sign of health and vitality.

Along the way, we were blessed with much poetry from friend Gary Paterson from the United Church of Canada, including this gem from Boris Novak, Croatian poet:

by Boris Novak (tr. Dintinjana)

Between two words
choose the quieter one.

Between word and silence
choose listening.

Between two books
choose the dustier one.

Between the earth and the sky
choose a bird.

Between two animals
choose the one who needs you more.

Between two children
choose both.

Between the lesser and the bigger evil
choose neither.

Between hope and despair
choose hope:
it will be harder to bear.

The events began Tuesday evening with dinner in the home of the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Gary Hall. He and his wife were delightful hosts as we began to reconnect with familiar faces and quickly met some new ones. Since it was happening in our town, we invited a few house guests to stay with us, coming from places like LA, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte and elsewhere. Left over wine and desserts were brought to our house Wednesday night as a vibrant after-party kept the good conversations going. It was a rich few days of thinking, collaborating, networking, discovering, and dreaming. Looking forward to seeing where things lead!

Were you at CANA this week? Would love you to include a line or two of your experience—hopes, dreams, cautions—below.

UPDATE: Here’s one from my partner in crime, Christy:
That moment on your life path when you come to a deep level of knowing —knowing you are not alone, but are walking with many others to a similar rhythm that somehow transcends categories, understanding and language. And you want to pause. And listen. And grow into the pulse of it.

So grateful for a few days of stumbling around and processing with all the inspiring initiators of the CANA Initiative!


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