Monday, November 25

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Happy Thanksgiving week, everybody. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for here on the Front Porch. We’re very thankful that Actually Unplugged, starring a falcon-like “Truck Month,” was so successful. We’re glad that everyone made it out for such an amazing concert by such a unique and mysterious band.

In my family, Thanksgiving is the Front Porchiest time of the year. We all come together from various sides of the geographic, political, and cultural spectrum, and sit around several tables to talk, laugh, and eat (sometimes to the point of being wheelbarrowed away from the table). We can talk about these differences in a way that we frequently can’t for the rest of the year. This open, safe, and trusting dialogue is, to me, what the Front Porch is all about. It’s what I’m most thankful for.

Monday, November 18

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boulevard_du_templeHowdy, Front Porchers. We hope yall are ready for Thursday’s Actually Unplugged with, erm, Truck Month, one of Austin’s premier smoke-and-mirrors musical outfits. We’re also partnering All Saints’ for the Bailey Lecture series this weekend. The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, an acclaimed thinker and writer, will be speaking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday about his newest book, The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.

It’s also the two hundred and twenty-sixth birthday of Louis Daguerre, who took the first picture of a human. His 1838 photograph “Boulevard du Temple” shows a shadowy man in the background having his shoes shined. Since Daguerre’s camera required about ten minutes to capture an image, this dirty-shoed person is the only one standing still for long enough to appear in the frame.

This is what the Front Porch’s mission is: to slow down the world long enough to see another human being; to really look at and see, however vaguely, those things which surround us every day and that we still miss because we and everything else are moving so fast. Take some time today to check out some of your own old photos in celebration of old Louis Daguerre, and see what’s there, either in the picture itself or in those memories it brings you.

Why I Do the Front Porch

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hieronymus_bosch_hal-hefner_gates_heavy-metal-6Some people ask me why I, Stephen Kinney, do the Front Porch and why, as an Episcopalian minister, I’m not serving in the church the way I used to do. They ask, what has changed?

A lot has changed! The path of Jesus inspires as never before, but it has also taken me into the Land of Unlikeness where, as the poet W.H. Auden famously put it, “You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.”

I think I’m still serving the church actually, for the church ideally images the kingdom of God, i.e., practicing the art of loving and living well together in difference. In practice, the church has to negotiate many constraints put upon it, including its tradition, symbols, language, and cultural ties. While these can be good things, they can also prevent the church from being as agile, nimble, and open as it needs to be in our fast-changing, multi-cultural, and oft-divided world. In such a world, the church can’t always ensure that the voice of the other is honored, appreciated, and given a place at the table. The church needs more agile partners!

In a nutshell, I do the Front Porch because I really believe that people of all stripes, shapes, and sizes deserve love and acceptance. This may sound pretty basic, but when we realize how many people there are who cannot or will not accept the perspective of the other, then what the Front Porch strives to do turns out to be more radical than at first glance.

In a political world where opposing sides acquire power by scapegoating a stereotyped other (in which neither side can admit that the perspective of the other has something important and worthwhile to hear and learn from), we need the Front Porch. I get up each morning and work so hard on the Front Porch because I want people to know they matter. The Front Porch exists to communicate that every human being’s perspective matters. Every perspective matters.

I’m not saying that I always like what others think, believe, or do—especially not when it leads to fear of the other or violence against the stranger. I’m just saying that what others think or believe matters to me and is no less important because it’s different. Every person who walks onto the Front Porch has something to teach, and we all suffer if we don’t get the chance to hear it.