What an incredible 24 hours. Several people came to Seattle for the last day of the Seeds of Compassion gathering followed by an Off the Map event hosted at the Vineyard. Monday evening we hosted a spaghetti dinner at the Vineyard for several friends that came in from out of town. It is always a blast to hang out with Todd, David, Helen, Randy, Pam, Nancy and so many others. Just a shout out that Todd Hunter and David Ruis are two of the most respectable, smart guys I know. They encourage, inspire and are devoted to figuring out what this Kingdom life is about. Really, really good guys.
Yesterday was the final day of the five day event and was focused on spirituality. A group of us attended the prayer breakfast with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. We were one table away from two Nobel Peace Prize recipients. What an incredible experience. And so fun to watch the two of them interact in moments almost like children, giggling, joking, poking fun. At one point The Dalai Lama looked at Desmond Tutu for a few moments, you were getting the idea he was going to say something profound and then with a serious tone, he said something like, “I’ve noticed you have put on a few pounds” the room erupted in laughter. Just a side note here. I met so many young people yesterday that had never heard of or knew about Desmond Tutu. This is a sad commentary. We are not even twenty years out from the apartheid of South Africa and our young people don’t know the name Desmond Tutu?
The conversation between the two of them and for us sitting in the room was powerful. I appreciated the Dalai Lama’s comments, I found him humble, personable, wise…but when Desmond Tutu spoke, there was an incredible spiritual authority that you know comes from a very deep place…from his life’s journey. When it was over I wanted to go sit in silence somewhere for a few hours. Instead, we got in our cars and jetted over to the University District for the morning panel discussion. There was two interspiritual panel sessions on Spirituality and Youth Dialogue. Rob Bell and Doug Pagitt were on the panels. I only attended the first, with Rob Bell and I think about 15 others including the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, and representatives from the Jewish, Islam, Catholic, and several other traditions. It was really good, just such a large group that panelists did not get much time to develop their thought. I enjoyed listening to so many voices and have to say it was a bit disorienting to hear from so many people of different faiths organizing their lives around what we as followers of Christ would say is the Kingdom. I have a lot to process.
We then went to the Seattle Center where Jim Henderson hosted a smaller panel titled, Evangelicals and InterSpiritual Friends: Recovering the Compassionate Tradition of Jesus. Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Todd Hunter, Nancy Murphy, Andrew Himes, Sunil Sardar, Rabbi Anson Laytner abd Dr. Ingrid Mattson,the Director of Islamic Chaplaincy and Professor at the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. This was another eye opening experience. To listen to intelligent people who are living out devoted lives from different faith traditions view Christians within the framework of a mutual, respectful dialogue was amazing. Jim was on his game in this session, he asked probing questions that I would imagine caused everyone to do some thinking.
After a long day we ended up back at the Vineyard where Off the Map hosted An Evening with Rob Bell, Todd Hunter, Doug Pagitt and others…
It was more like a reception with Hor’duerves, wine, and live music. VCC knows how to throw a party! We will have the podcasts up soon.
More about that in my next post.