Church of the Emancipation
Church of the Emancipation: A Quiet Revolution of the Heart
One of these days, I will pass away from this physical plane. Before that day comes, I want to make sure to leave something worthwhile behind. Yes, I have written a book that will outlive me, but if I can find the people to bring an idea like the one described below to life, I will leave very satisfied. With three generous people, we could begin. One with a small space where I can live, cook, sleep, work, and study without renting or owning; one in need of a 3 bedroom, 1 & 1/2 bath house; and one with a home and a mortgage they can barely afford. Would you be willing to enter into a conversation about this idea?
As you are about to read, however, I may not be quite charming enough to pull it off. I humbly offer this page simply as my attempt to pass along to our children and grandchildren an idea handed down to all of us.
Also, since I realize so many people are trapped, too busy, and too stressed to think about, much less act upon, deep ideas, I offer my regrets for the length of this page. I have attempted to keep it as concise as possible for the scope of the idea described. To read the entire page will take about eight minutes; which when compared to a tic-toc video, a tweet, or a meme is quite a long time, but compared to a life well-lived, is relatively short. Some might even call it ‘economical.’ My prayer is that you find yourself thinking about this idea many more minutes than eight. Thank you for taking the time.
Naming the Need:
Disbelieving that human beings are intrinsically lazy and neglectful nor motivated best by greed or fear;
Perceiving “rational self-interest” as a myopic contradiction in terms;
Recognizing that widespread fear, anger, and despair are not normal, healthy states for human beings
and indicate an imbalance in our ways of life;
Recognizing that the economic model we have inherited and adopted, based on perceived scarcity and
unlimited growth, is clearly not feasible for Life and Love to flourish on this planet;
Believing the commercial sector has defeated our need for a just distribution of work and resources;
and white American Christian clergy and congregations have disappointed our need for leadership
towards a more just and humane way of life;
Recognizing a great yearning among many of the inhabitants of this earth for new ways of being in
relationship with each other and our planet;
Believing if people are going to choose a new way, such a way must first be offered;
Believing that it is better to voluntarily choose in one’s own time rather than to be forced in the time of a government’s legislation or an unmitigated social collapse;
Believing that collective generosity for equal distribution will outcompete competitive profiteering for individuvalistic accumlation;
Believing that if given an alternative option, good people will choose a more sane, just, benevolent, and healthy manner of living life together,
We propose to create just such an alternative, a competitive choice: a “church” based on the ancient
wisdom and economic models of the great spiritual teachers from many traditions, past & present,
including Moses, the prophets, and Jesus of Nazareth.
Sharing the Vision:
To secure homes to be placed in a perpetual trust so they can never be bought or sold, only gifted and
exchanged, for the fees associated with the transaction;
To reside in those homes, free to stay or leave on our own time, and caring for the space in maintenance and repairs, with no cost for rent or mortgages;
To use the resulting surplus income to eliminate the mortgage debts of loved ones in hopes they too
would place their homes in the trust;
To prioritize first the needs of our children, disabled dependents, and elders over and above any
employer or shareholder. Second come the needs of our neighbors, customers, spouses, and selves.
To offer our work to our customers and community freely, so no one is excluded from having their
needs met, and allowing those customers as neighbors to make informed decisions on the appropriate
rate of reimbursement based on published break-even costs and collective income.
To first distribute the revenue to meet the expenses of each person who works with the church so no
one lacks in their needs;
Then to distribute surplus revenues to free our loved ones and neighbors from mortgage debt; either to
one person at a time to be quickly freed, or to multiple people in unison, for a slower, more widely
To welcome all who wish to work with us, to turn no one away, and to concentrate our efforts and
energy in five broad necessities for healthy living: feeding, teaching, healing, protecting, and restoring;
To steadily reduce our expenses and energy consumption, and take good care of our people and spaces, to spare the planet, ourselves, and our neighbors from the destructive patterns of over-consumption;
As a result of minimizing expenses, we aim to lower our incomes, especially of those above the
median, and thus the accumulation of wealth, to allow our neighbors easier access for the meeting of
In times when revenues fall shy of expenses, we divide them equally among all who contributed in
their work, so no person is perceived to have worth greater or lesser than another;
Contemplating the Methods:
Recognizing that such a system cannot survive without commitments and responsibilities, benefits and consequences, we propose the following:
People agree to gather every week or two for contemplation and dialogue about integrating spiritual
and economic practices into their lives that lead to a more just and healthy world. Other gatherings will be held to manage the operations of the church, to play together, to share meals, and to assist each other in the tasks of caring for our families, gardens, and homes.
A constitution will be drafted by the founding members and revised and re-ratified by all future
participants in cycles of no less than every seven years.
The constitution will require and forbid only the essentials believed to be necessary for this “church”
we call “Life and Love” to flourish. All other acts not specified are thus permitted for the greatest range
of freedom of its members, to accommodate the flexibility for a diversity of persons, and to enhance
the spirit of innovation necessary for such experiments to evolve and endure.
Recognizing that cooperation requires agreements, and that our agreements are specified as rules, and
together we abide by them for a purpose greater than the individual, the mundane rules of week-to week service are decided by consensus in small groups of 24-36 persons (including children). Groups
of participants are kept small intentionally so participants are not merely faces, names, or numbers, but intimate souls known by their neighbors. These small groups meet, report information, share ideas, monitor, and evaluate compliance for the best outcomes for the experiment as a whole.
If a rule is violated once, within some period of time as decided by the group, it will go unaddressed,
treated as an accident, to be self-corrected. In the second instance in short succession, the person will
be counseled by the group on the purpose of the rule, the good reasons for abiding by it, and to lend
any support needed to make corrections. If a pattern of violation is established, then the rule itself will
first be evaluated to see if it needs to be amended to address changing needs in the community. If the
rule stands, graduated sanctions will be determined by the entire group, including those not following
the rule, based on the severity of the violation. Sanctions are to be limited to the least severe
consequence possible to achieve adherence to the rule. Restoration to wholeness and a pattern of right-relationship is desired more than punishments of fear, shame, loss, pain, or exclusion.
Identifying the Participants:
In as much as a church is, at its most fundamental level, a group of people committed to a set of ideas,
and sharing in the experience of living them out, let us slow down and linger on who will, and who will
probably not, be participants in this church.
The people who provide the initial spark are those elders who never had children, or who have become estranged from them, who wish to bequeath their home to an effort to create a more just and viable economy for us all. Because this group is small and self-limiting, we will grow slowly and easily; adjusting to small mistakes and learning from the process. (I also pledge to place my home in the trust. If 29 other people, let's call them abolitionists, would join me, every year at least one new home, and its occupant, could be freed.)
Let us now imagine the rest of us divided into four groups, or four quarters, like this:
Picture the lines of demarcation as fuzzy since there is as much diversity within the groups as there is
similarities between them. The numbers and proportions of individuals within each quarter is,
ONE quarter experience life with few to no limits. Everything is affordable; or will be if given enough
time or a little effort.
A comfortable retirement is assumed. The only questions are at what age and for how long.
They travel where and when they wish and they look forward to the day when they can travel even
more. Vacations are a given. Vacation homes are optional.
Their children will all go to college and most of the costs will have been saved ahead of time. Any
deficit will be easily paid from income they will surely earn in the near future.
They would like to tithe ten percent to charity, but generally fall far short with few consequences. The
amount given is just enough to maintain the status quo. In the end, the 99% kept, as well as the 0.1%-1.0% given, are more useful for their self-image than the well-being of others.
The inefficiency of the economic system we have inherited and adopted works perfectly fine for them.
Though they are likely to be the most helped spiritually by participating with this church, they will not
consider joining; at least not for quite a long time to come. The individual financial sacrifices would be
far too great. And as we all know, “sacrifice” has become, to some, an unmentionable word.
If they think about this experiment at all, they will find it ‘quaint; if only it could succeed.’ Others recognize that if it were widely adopted, it would thoroughly undermine the economic system which has benefited them so well for so long. This may be the only thing they cannot afford.
TWO of the quarters, on the other hand, would not experience any sacrifice by joining this church. In
fact, all would find that participation makes their lives easier spiritually and physically; and, in all
likelihood, financially as well.
All people in these two quarters currently live paycheck to paycheck or month to month.
Almost all in both quarters rent their homes; and deep down they know, they probably always will.
A few in the quarter that is slightly better off than the other have threaded the needle to buy a home, but it takes all they can muster to pay their mortgage, taxes, children’s day care, and health insurance.
Most do not have access to good health care or healthy food and therefore many struggle with their
health. Car repairs or trips to the dentist and any unforeseen expenses create even more stress.
They often have no choice but to borrow money, as difficult as that is, through credit cards, auto loans,
education loans, late payments, and sometimes assistance from family or neighbors, because their
income is often not enough to afford all of the costs in this inefficient economy.
Finding a job requires numerous requests and almost as many rejections. Many have to find and work
two or three jobs at a time.
They already keep a tight budget and try to limit their expenses as much as possible.
To be honest, some people in these two quarters will be far too afraid to take a risk to try something so unconventional as this idea. The current human economy wires us up tightly for fear and distrust.
For all the rest, they are thankful and relieved something like this might finally exist. They already see its benefits, not only for them, their children and grandchildren, but for all of us. Yes, ALL.
THE last quarter is left to be described and they must be divided in half.
One half still believe in the Great American dreamscape of the pulling up of bootstraps, equal opportunity, and social mobility.
They believe that if people do all things right, everything works out in their favor.
To prove this to themselves, they point to how “the poor” have failed by their own accord; some
through dumb decisions, but mostly, they say, through a lack of effort. They are, ironically, grateful for the presence and hard work of “the poor.” Otherwise, who would pick up the trash, clean their hotel rooms, or care for their mom in the nursing home?
They have been able to purchase their home; though they are many years away from paying it off.
They can save a little for retirement, but they know, in the end, it won’t be quite enough. Hopefully, by
then, Social Security and Medicare will still be around, but in this they are not optimistic.
They may or may not have gone to college, but a few still hope their children will. How they will pay
for it is still to be determined. Others find public education a failure and college education a waste.
They hate the sacrifices they must make in caring for their children in order to keep their job, but it’s
what has to be done in this economy to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. After all, 'it’s
every man for himself' as they say.
They worry over the financials if their parents were ever to become ill for the long-term.
If they aren’t already divorced, they are often stressed over money, argue with their mate about who
spends and who earns, to the point that they often do not like each other very much anymore. So they
begin to argue about sex or presence or affection or some other such deficit in their marriage. One
partner has had occasion to consider an affair. Maybe one went through with it.
None, as of today, see any connections between our addictions to money, racism, sexism, poverty,
power, and their own stress and unhappiness. If they did, however, there is certainly little to be done
about it beyond voting for a big D Democrat next November or attending Saturday’s protest.
They also probably will not join this church right away. But maybe someday soon; after some changes
in their own lives, hearts, and minds come about, they’ll see the so-called American Dream for what it
is and that it can never actually be ‘every man for himself.’
ONLY the other half of that last quarter remains.
By now, through a process of elimination, they know who they are. They face the real test.
For them, to join this “church” would entail a noteworthy financial sacrifice and a change in mindset.
They truly dislike this economy we have inherited and adopted. They know they are privileged enough
to be somewhat successful in its methods, but they hate the unequal distribution of work, access, and
wealth which leaves them comfortable enough and so many others to suffer so; from the planet which
sustains us to all beings who live upon it. Yes, ALL, in their own way, sooner or later.
Until now, it seems, there has been no alternative. Now they have a choice, but will they have the courage, to join us? That too is to be determined.
Please, as you are ready, won’t you join a quiet revolution of the heart?
Thanks for making it all the way here! As of yet, there is no website, Board or Council, or 501(c)3
status for this “church.” We’re seeking conversations with interested parties, those with homes to
bequeath, those who wish to reside in those homes, to participate in the contemplation and
conversations, and to work together with us. If that might include you, please email or call me. Thank you.
Many blessings to you and to all those you love; on this day and all days to come.