When Philly Jesus makes real Jesus confusing

Maybe you haven’t heard of Philly Jesus (PJ). Mike Grant found the LORD as he describes as the stone that found me when I was at the bottom. From musical theatre to hip hop, dude has been into public performance for a while and into being a born again Christian lately. Stories differ on how/why this white boy put on the “Jesus jersey” but a following of 11k on Instagram and 3.7k on Twitter and pieces by the BBC point towards people paying attention to his antics.

This morning, he retweeted this Philly.com article that got me thinking more about how not cute I think PJ’s schtick has become. I thought a goofy white dude at Black Lives Matter protests or playing hockey at City Hall was endearing. Just imagining Jesus showing up in Philly is kind of cool. I also think Black Jesus is funny – especially parts with King BachI quickly went from “eh, that’s kind of interesting” to “SMH” for two big reasons. He began a $70k Gofundme campaign so he can buy a fancy car and go on tour to other cities. No doubt connected to likely funders, he went from mooching off of SCOTUS decision celebrations to deleting all his gay friendly posts describing his new rather rugged position against homosexuality (see that Philly.com article).

I think I’m learning:

People have to do a lot of work to take real Jesus seriously. PJ’s antics seemed to have swung people from “Heyo – Jesus is kind of cool” to “Oh, yeah. Christians are judgmental and they want money for fancy cars.” To spend time listening in prayer, studying the Gospel, or devoting your life to the Way of Christ is totally awesome. Did it just become harder to access in Philadelphia?

People will give money to something because it’s funny, because they think it’s cool, but are often challenged to share their heart and wallet with what’s most important to them. I’m grateful to be among so many dedicated partners in Circle of Hope who generously make love happen. I do not take it for granted.

If you want to be a Christian, you represent others with your opinions. If you try to be a public person or persona who claims to be a Christian, you probably represent more people than gave you permission to. Your political profile pics or memes that you share are more than personal expression. Feel the good that goes with being part of the Body and be as generous as you can as the nation processes change.

I talk to people whose only perceptions of Christians are Jimmy Swaggart, George Bush, the Pope, and/or some celebrity like Shia LaBeouf. Drawing closer to the heart of God through being formed into a people with a common purpose might sound more confusing than someone condemning immorality and asking for money to build their special building nowadays. Let’s keep demonstrating what it’s like to find our true selves in Christ. Let’s keep sharing the love that fills us. Let’s keep walking in the way that brings healing, justice, and peace in the land with our Creator who very much wants to keep the Redemption Project going.

 

 

A society of beggars: Navigating the seas of Brilliant Friends & Crowdfunding Fatigue

I’m a bit of a booster when it comes to my friends’ projects. While I certainly love creativity, most good ideas I hear about never turn into a reality. Sometimes it’s because some people are better dreamers than practitioners. I think most often, it’s because we don’t think we actually make a difference.

Not a small number of my friends shared the pixelated photos yesterday of a group of white people walking down the street. They were likely the group who assaulted two guys in Center City last Thursday after making anti-gay remarks, landing them robbed and in the hospital.  How could sharing these photos actually help? On Twitter, someone must have recognized the dude in the salmon/blue shirt while searching Facebook check-ins near the scene. No arrests have been made as of now, but it appears this case may have been solved by Twitter users. It’s amazing!

I hope that seeing how sharing stories or other seemingly small contributions like this make a huge difference for people involved. Caring & sharing go hand-in-hand with social media – especially with investing & crowd sourcing. Here are a few suggestions for how to navigate the seas of having brilliant friends while possibly feeling the fatigue of people asking.

Ask the questions “why are so many people begging?” I’ve heard my share of “back in the day” stories when if someone had a business idea they went to the bank and got a loan. Since 2008’s financial debacle, that’s not likely to happen – especially if your business doesn’t exist yet. Our financial rulers prefer to ramp up more big box franchises, non-tenure adjunct instructor, part time employee, consolidation of wealth strategies. Those of us without rich families of origin, benevolent wealthy friends, or friends capable of investing are left begging. How should we respond to begging when we’re turning into a society of lesser beggars?

People are asking us for money or signing up for something everywhere we go. Buying underwear at Target is to be asked if you want a Target credit card. Going to a show is to be asked to buy merch so the band members can afford to have a family. Watching a Youtube video is to sit through an advertisement and being asked to “like,” “share,” and of course “subscribe.”

Pay attention to your heart while examining what your friends are sharing. Do you have a few minutes to consider their idea or do you tune it out when you feel like you’re being asked for something? Have you been desensitized to a friendly ask by all the begging? Is God trying to soften your heart at times for meaningful attempts at breaking through

You might have the problem of there being too many good ideas for you to support. You can’t give money to all of them. You might not want to turn your Twitter/Facebook feed into a constant stream of advertising because it could violate your personal branding, image, or purpose for having them.

Consider what you give away unconsciously. Most of my friends fantasize about war tax resisting without looking at the resources we have while the war machine gladly enjoys our acquiescence. We’re hit with bogus fees on everything from ATM withdraws to processing fees to fuzzy administrative charges from utility companies.

It’s been a rough summer for my friends trying to crowd source some start up funds. Gary Ducket Pickles got about $4k of a $30k goal on Kickstarter. Crime & Punishment Brewery got about $13k of their $24k goal on Indiegogo. Are these ideas bad or are we fatigued?

This week my friend Alyssa is trying to fund her thesis show about PTSD and women in the military. My friend Nic is gething pre-orders for his upcoming book about Kensington Homesteading a block from my house. Scotty is about to go to to Iraqi Kurdistan with Christian Peacemaker Teams. My friend Blew, after a crazy landlord conflict had to close my favorite direct trade organic coffee house that happened to be a block from my home. She is attempting to courageously open a new one, right across the street from the old one. She’s got like 4 days and about $7k to raise or else she gets nothing from her Kickstarter campaign for Franny Lou’s Porch.

Consider what you give away consciously. You swim in a sea of imagination where people are less reliant on inherited wealth or debt to predatory lenders. Does your conscious sharing/spending match your values? Martha and I had to adjust our budget a few years ago to make room for gifting to projects we believe in or friends that need a blessing – on top of our normal common fund sharing with Circle of Hope. It is freeing for us and feels good to help good dreams become reality. We want more generative projects and businesses, even if it means less “freedom” to spend money on other whims and habits.

I don’t think God expects everyone to be huge boosters of all these campaigns. I hope that you can find some prayerful place between your the instincts you might have to shut down in what could feel like pressure or blindly say yes to everything. God will guide you towards Godly values and help discern how to keep putting them into practice. I think we have a chance to do so many beautiful things together, and our neighbors need more beauty.