Issue 07

Contemplative
Activism

6 ARTISTS   |   9 WRITERS   |   11 VOICES

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Editorial Note

In the church I grew up in, there was only one way to follow Jesus: pray, read your Bible, and attend church. Nothing else mattered on the road to heaven.

When, as a college student, I learned about God’s heart for justice, I discovered another way to follow Jesus. This was also narrowly defined: love your neighbors and resist oppression. Transform the world and bring about the kingdom. Again, nothing else mattered in my quest to be a “good” Christian.

But the heart of God, as recorded in Scripture and as lived out in the life of Jesus, has room for nuance, complexity, and balance. Jesus healed and he rested. He turned tables and he played with children. He taught sermons and he attended parties. These were not two distinct sides of the incarnated God; they were one integrated whole. Prayer led to faithful service led to rest led to healing led to celebration, and so on.

As people made in the image of God, we are also meant to be integrated beings who embody the both/and of contemplative activism. We commune with God through prayer, Scripture, worship, and meditation; we also engage with the world as people grounded in our identity and as active restorers of shalom. We are fully present to the needs of the world, while also being fully connected to spiritual restorative work that is in process but not yet realized. We love our neighbors, our enemies, and ourselves; we speak truth to power and we listen empathetically; we agitate for change and we joyfully celebrate the good and beautiful around us. Only through this integrated approach can we faithfully and humbly sustain the call to be ambassadors of God’s love, grace, and justice.

The typical way of the world is to pick one path and stick to it. But that often leads to pride and narrow-mindedness. The way of contemplative activism calls us to a deeper, fuller, richer human experience, in which the sacred and the material, the being and the doing, the other and the self, intermingle and balance and nurture us to become humans who are fully alive with love, joy, conviction, and purpose.

Choosing the way of contemplative activism is not simple or easy. But for peacemakers intent on furthering shalom, it is the most meaningful, powerful, and God-honoring way of transformation–for ourselves, for others, and for the world.

I hope you’ll join us in learning from the collective wisdom of the contributors to this StoryArc, as expressed through essays, stories, visual art, and poetry. We invite you to also try the contemplative practices included in each path point. May God give us patience and courage, love and selflessness, as we pursue his kingdom today.

In Pax,

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StoryArc Contributors

Artists

Drew Jackson

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Drew Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry, God Speaks Through Wombs and Touch the Earth, poetic and theological engagements with the Gospel of Luke. Drew is a co-founder of Pax and serves as the chair of Pax's board of directors. He is currently on staff with the Center for Action and Contemplation. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Genay, and their twin daughters, Zora and Suhaila.

Josue Carballo-Huertas

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Josue Carballo Huertas is a husband, a designer, and a cat dad. Originally from Costa Rica, he moved to the United States in 2015.

Julius Shumpert

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Julius Shumpert is a graphic designer and a painter. His work can be seen on Instagram (@saintjuliusart). His work primarily reinterprets symbols and motifs of his Christian faith to speak to larger issues found in society and spiritual formation.

Mondo Scott

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Mondo Scott is a co-founder of PAX and served as its creative director for five years. His other creative side hustles include design, photography and mentoring urban youth in the digital arts at AMP Los Angeles, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He also serves on the pastoral team at Ecclesia Hollywood in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Salena and daughter Selah.

Phung Banh

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Phung Banh is a Chinese-Vietnamese art director, designer, and illustrator based in Dallas, Texas. Passionate about creating immersive storytelling and narrative through visual design, her work seeks to highlight women, facilitates space to promote different world cultures, and brings awareness to various social issues. See more of Phung's work at phungbanh.com.

Writers

Cara Meredith

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Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker, and Episcopal priest-in-training. She holds a masters of theology from Fuller Seminary and is author of The Color of Life, a spiritual memoir about her journey as a White woman into issues of race. When she’s not playing with her words, you can find her tinkering around in the garden or cheering on one of her sons’ little league baseball games. She lives with her family in Oakland, California.

Darcy Wiley

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Darcy Wiley is a writer and spiritual director who cultivates empathy, imagination, and a profound experience of God in the world. Through thoughtful listening, she companions readers and directees toward emotional, spiritual, and cultural flourishing. As co-writer of The Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You, Darcy worked with the founder of the 10/40 Window Movement to share stories of renewal and reconciliation in communities all over the globe. Her second co-writing project, Hearing in Technicolor: Mindset Shifts within a Multicultural Congregation, tells the cultural transformation story of a church in the Atlanta area. Darcy loves traveling, hiking, and making music with her drummer husband and three kids. Visit her at DarcyWiley.com.

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

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Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is the editorial director of PAX, an award-winning writer, and a communications consultant. She has served in the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors for more than fifteen years, including stints in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Kenya. Dorcas is the author of three books, the most recent being Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul: How to Change the World in Quiet Ways. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two hapa sons.

Jonathon Murrillo

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Jonathon Murrillo has developed a deep commitment to social transformation through meaningful work from his experiences in community development, organizational development, and spiritual formation. Jonathon is passionate about guiding leaders, culture creators, and change makers into moments of epiphany and meaningful action. He does this through his work as a coach, consultant, speaker, and content creator, and as the director of strategy & content for Ignite Institute. Jonathon holds an MDiv from Azusa Pacific Seminary.

Ken Shigematsu

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Ken Shigematsu is the senior pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC, one of the largest and most diverse city-center churches in Canada. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal awarded to Canadians in recognition for their outstanding contribution to the country. Before entering pastoral ministry, he worked for the Sony Corporation in Tokyo. Ken is the author of the award-winning bestsellers God in My Everything and Survival Guide for the Soul. Ken lives in Vancouver with his wife, Sakiko, and their son, Joey.

Nilwona Nowlin

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​​Nilwona Nowlin is a redemptive artist who uses her creative abilities to bring about God’s shalom in individuals and communities. When not hopping on Sankofa buses, she serves on the ministerial team at Kingdom Covenant Church Chicago, as a chaplain at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, as a CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) board member, and–most importantly–as a daughter, sister, and aunty. Nilwona has an MDiv and a certificate in justice ministry from North Park Theological Seminary and a masters in nonprofit administration from North Park University.

Voices

Cole Arthur Riley

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Cole Arthur Riley is a writer and liturgist who serves as the Content and Spiritual Formation Manager for a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell University called Chesterton House. She is the creator and writer of Black Liturgies, a project seeking to integrate the truths of Black dignity, lament, justice, and liberation into written prayer. She is currently working on a book with Penguin Random House to be released in 2022.

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

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Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is the editorial director of PAX, an award-winning writer, and a communications consultant. She has served in the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors for more than fifteen years, including stints in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Kenya. Dorcas is the author of three books, the most recent being Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul: How to Change the World in Quiet Ways. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two hapa sons.

Drew Jackson

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Drew Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry, God Speaks Through Wombs and Touch the Earth, poetic and theological engagements with the Gospel of Luke. Drew is a co-founder of Pax and serves as the chair of Pax's board of directors. He is currently on staff with the Center for Action and Contemplation. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Genay, and their twin daughters, Zora and Suhaila.

Nikole Lim

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Nikole Lim is a speaker, educator, and consultant on leveraging dignity through the restorative art of storytelling. Author of Liberation is Here, Nikole shifts paradigms on how stories are told by platforming voices of the oppressed—sharing stories of beauty arising out of seemingly broken situations. Her heart beats for young women whose voices are silenced by oppression and desires to see every person realize the transformative power of their own story. In 2010, Nikole founded Freely in Hope, an organization that equips survivors and advocates to lead in ending the cycle of sexual violence in Kenya and Zambia. Nikole has been deeply transformed by the powerful, tenacious, and awe-inspiring examples of survivors. Their audacious dreams have informed her philosophy for a survivor-led approach to community transformation.

Osheta Moore

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Osheta Moore, PAX’s spiritual director, is a Black, Southern, everyday peacemaker. She serves as community life pastor at Roots Moravian Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Osheta is the author of Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Broken World, and Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace, on anti-racism peacemaking.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

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Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and a theologian from Ireland. He presents Poetry Unbound from On Being Studios. A book of the same name is forthcoming from WW Norton in October 2022. He lives in Belfast.

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