Why I Do the Front Porch

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.

4 Responses to Why I Do the Front Porch

  1. J-Rod says:

    Well put!

  2. Alex Johnson says:

    People really ask why you do it?

    When I heard you’d started Front Porch it struck me as an obvious (in retrospect) thing to do. I was (and am) proud of your out of the box thinking on this. You carry Christ’s message to those that would not otherwise hear it and demonstrate that those over 50 are still creative. Keep it up!

    Thanks,

    Alex

  3. BRAVO Steve – Jesus started a movement (Way) not a denominational church. He simply asked for us to love or at the least respect the each person. Biological and Theologically each person is unique. From a Christian perspective each person is a cre(a)ture of God and as such deserves respect. So from my perspective you are doing what you as a priest is called to do in listening respectfully to the other in your format of The Front Porch. Press on…

  4. Jaime Rios says:

    I couldn’t agree more. When the traditions and “sacred cows” of the various faiths can just be thrown away, and the core of each is examined, it would become obvious that we all teach the same basic tenets, be good to one and other, treat others like your self, don’t kill, steal, ect,nots only the observances that divide us. Why? Why can you have your way, mad I’ll see mine. We could both talk about how we can gain from each other and still have our own identity. Politics is the same way, we all want the same thing, but we keep letting the lecherous trolls of fame and wealth take over. If we quit caring which team came up with the ideas, and just started working together, we’d have gotten our country back on track already.

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