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An Adaption of The Divine Magician, by Peter Rollins, for Collective’s Pledge Drive
Peter Rollins’ book The Divine Magician develops a metaphor for the Christian life as a magic act. He outlined this idea when he visited us in February, 2015 in a talk titled “The Vanishing Act of God.”
The full sunday evening presentation can be found HERE.
This idea is based on the book and movie titled The Prestige, where illusions are described as having three basic movements known as:
Peter described and applied these stages to the Eucharist, our Open Table.
Thinking about Collective’s 2017 Pledge Drive, we see a similar pattern, and perhaps a new way of imagining the idea of financially supporting Collective.
Beginning with the aptly titled “Pledge” Drive, we pledge our commitment to support Collective financially, asking the community to hold forward the sacred object of your money. Let’s not kid ourselves about the sacredness of money in our culture; we have even branded it with “In God We Trust.” Money is valued at best, abused and deified at its most twisted and destructive. Money (or the lack of it) can give us a sense of wholeness and confidence, brokenness (more than simply being broke) and insecurity, as well as creating a dangerous metric of “blessing.” Consider the prosperity preachers who accumulate their wealth, not from God’s blessings, but the gifts of those they coerce with the slick promises of health, wealth, certainty and satisfaction.
The point is, money has been elevated to sacred status. Especially during the pledge drive, we consider this sacred object. As we hold forth our pledge, the portion of our income we commit to support Collective, we’d do well to weigh the trade offs: the promise, purchasing power, and pleasure we might otherwise enjoy, should we choose to keep it and put it to work as ours.
Because we work hard for money (and often work harder protecting it), when we’re faced with the prospect of losing it, spending it on a less than equal return, investing in less than a sure thing, or giving it away, all sorts of emotions are released. We might feel all of them, from fear to guilt, self-righteousness to entitlement, and sometimes even shame.
“The Turn” is where your money disappears! It is no longer yours, swallowed up by a budget that seems to grow each year, as Collective becomes more who we are. Now what? You no longer have some money you had, and there has been no transaction, no commerce has occurred. This highlights all the more that this practice is a turn without a guaranteed return, a disappearance, an unconditional giving away - a turn without a conditional return. There is none apparent.
The best part is also aptly titled, “The Prestige,” when the object reappears but looking different than at the beginning. For Collective, the object of our cash (more realistically, for most of us, it was numbers in a bank account, app, or giving portal), reappears as the safe place where we gather, reappears in the creativity of Sunday Services, delicious Trilogy coffee and the mugs that hold it, leadership that liberates, or as professional and safe Childcare, Collective Kids, Collective Cares, Lunch & Learn, Community Groups, Pints & Parables, Social Media, Technology and the online community with whom it connects us, special events, special guests, community development, Wine to Water, Sunday Soul Brunch, and…
Maybe the best way to name this is to ask, how has the money given to support Collective reappeared to you? Not as money, but as Collective? I would guess that more significant than any of the important things listed above, the budget line items and opportunities that require resources, very likely the way Collective has appeared to you most, is in the people, the community, the support and conversations, the friendship and belonging. Our sincere hope is that we continue to pledge our resources, and that as they continue to “disappear” into budgets and expenses, that they will always reappear most meaningfully in the people and connections that stand forth from the ways money gets spent, as the community itself, the thing we’re here to make, and to be, and to support together.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.