Six months ago, I selected Thursday September 5 as the launch of my expanded Meetinghouse initiative—expanded into the video medium. I am convinced video is the media of the future, and not even the future: one billion videos on YouTube are downloaded each day already! And I have watched my share of them: comedy sketches, music videos, sports highlights, and video blogs.
So, I decided to move my podcast strategy from audio into video, and this week you will find the first one: a conversation with Fr. Casey Cole OFM. He is a Franciscan friar, the director of campus ministry for Roman Catholics at the University of Georgia in Athens, the author of the book, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God, and the host of his own video blog: “Breaking In the Habit”. You can be one of more than 45,000 subscribers. Or go to his web site at breakinginthehabit.com.
Casey is 30 years old, is a very good writer, and is even better as a conversationalist and speaker. The man less than half my age has become my inspiration as I launch my own video ministry hosted on YouTube.
In my review of his book, found elsewhere on this web site, I write about reading my first Roman Catholic book, The Seven Storey Mountain. It was written by the famous monk Thomas Merton and published in 1968. I read it while a college student and it shook my pious world. I was already a ministerial student, but I had been formed in a conservative religious culture with a strong bias against Roman Catholics.
Opposition to Roman Catholics was one of the few things that bound together the Baptists and Churches of Christ in west Kentucky!!
Then I read Merton, and there I discovered a spirituality centered in Christ and focused on service to the people of the world. There I encountered a devotion to Jesus very similar to what had been endorsed in my own Baptist church. There my eyes and my mind were opened to the broader world of being Christian, of being human. It was a turning point in my spiritual journey.
Some people will have the same experience reading Casey Cole. But the place where Fr. Cole’s writing triggered fresh things in my mind was his description of the impact of the Franciscan movement 800 years ago. European culture then was hierarchical, feudal, very Catholic, and very corrupt. There was little learning and much superstition.
Francis the wealthy young man felt called to surrender all the privileges of his life and do what he could to renew Christian life and society. He took the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and called others to do the same. The response was overwhelming. Together with other orders—such as the Dominicans and the Jesuits—the Christian community of the middle ages began the revival that would continue through the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Counter Reformation.
Fr. Cole identified four elements that contribute to that success: the role of prayer in the life of the Franciscans, the equality among its members, the nature of their common life together, and their focus on reconciliation.
This made we wonder: would a similar strategy in our day have a comparable impact on Christian and world culture?
What I mean is this: suppose there was an order of Christians that was open to men and women, married and not, and all traditions—Evangelical, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, and Roman Catholic. Suppose it was an order we could join without giving up our church membership. Suppose it was an order that stretched around the world with an invitation to anyone. Suppose it was an order focused on prayer, service, simplicity, and reconciliation.
Would you join?
A few years ago, while staying with Dominicans in St. Louis, I asked, “Can I become a Dominican without becoming a Catholic?” They paused, then said no. I got the impression it was the first time they had fielded that question.
I thought about that question, as I read this book by the young evangelist, preacher, and blogger Casey Cole, and as I watch the hurricane I call Sir Dorian come slowly up the east coast after doing its worst on the islands of the Bahamas.
This week, as I have prepared to launch this video initiative, I have fastened plywood to windows, flipped outdoor tables and chairs, taped shut the trash totes, and brought inside anything that might be at the mercy of the wind. There are gallons of water in the closet and plenty of food in the panty. Four flashlights sit on the counter and two candles.
Who knew, six months ago, what would be blowing the wind when I determined that Thursday September 5 would be the day of my video launch. But not even the worst hurricane in recent Atlantic history could keep me from my schedule.
I hope you appreciate this week in the meetinghouse!
Oh, and I might report that last week—my column about unsubscribing from the meetinghouse—was the second most read piece of the year and nine people responded by unsubscribing!! That also is what is blowing in the wind.
copyright 2019 Dwight A. Moody