Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Peace Blogger Interview #4: Aric Clark

clark-aric.JPGWelcome to the next in our series of interviews with the members of Christian Peace Bloggers, blog ring. Today, we interview Aric Clark, whose blogging nom de plume is “The Miner,” who is a Presbyterian seminary student and who blogs at Mined Splatterings. Welcome to the Peace Blogger interview, Aric, even if the picture you sent looks MUCH younger than the one on your blog profile! 🙂

MLW-W: How would you describe yourself? 

Aric: Husband. Father. Adventurer. Student. Preacher. In that order… 

MLW-W: Interesting. I am finding the self-descriptions in these interviews to be very fascinating. Since you place “husband,” and “father” first in your list of roles, tell us about your family. 

Aric: I am wed to the incredible Stacia Ann, father of Avery, and soon to be father of another child (June15th). We are hopeless romantics and travelers with a passion for exotic food, archaeological digs and, um, Hot Wheels.

MLW-W: Congrats on a great family and your and Stacia Ann’s upcoming birth! Er, do you want to explain about the passion for Hot Wheels? Or archeology? Have you been on any digs? 

Aric: Well, the Hot Wheels are my son, Avery’s passion–so I get to play with them a lot by default. It’s really a great lesson in reordering priorities.  As for the archeology, I haven’t worked on any digs, but I’ve just had a fascination with it since childhood.  If I wasn’t going into the ministry, archeaology would be my other option. I devour National Geographic, and, if given the opportunity, I visit every dig or site I come within a hundred miles of–and I have far more fun than most people at museums.

MLW-W: Okay. Well, friends and family of Aric, think about giving him a gift subscription to Biblical Archeology Review  for his birthday or Christmas, right? Well, you’ve partly answered these next questions, already, but, what do you do for a living?  When not working or blogging, what do you like to do?

 Aric: I am full-time student in the M.Div. program at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, CA.  However,  I work plenty of part-time jobs to make ends meet. The most recent ones have been waiting tables, painting houses and a paid internship. I am a very social person, so much of my free time is just spent in conversation. I also love movies and the theater. I host a weekly game-night where we cycle through different pen and paper RPG’s. I write fiction. I read, a lot, both fiction and theology.  

MLW-W:  Tell us something about your faith. How long have you been a Christian?

 

Aric: There are two answers to this. On the one hand, I was baptized as an infant and raised in a Presbyterian household. On the other hand, I wasn’t very engaged in church or active discipleship until about three years ago after returning from some pretty dramatic experiences overseas. My call to ministry and commencement of active discipleship were pretty much simultaneous.

MLW-W:  Of what local congregation/parish are you a member?  

Aric: I am active in two congregations. My home church, which is supporting me through seminary, is Federated Church of Placerville (a Presbyterian/Methodist congregation), CA which is in the Sierra Nevada foothills on the way to Lake Tahoe. Nearer to seminary, and where I have been attending regularly lately, I am involved in First Presbyterian of Richmond, CA which is near Oakland.

MLW-W:  Were you raised in this particular tradition? Have you ever been part of a different Christian denomination or tradition? 

Aric: I was raised Presbyterian, but my family attended worship only rarely – as such I managed to avoid being indoctrinated, but I also missed a lot of formation. Although, I’ve never been actively a part of another denomination or tradition I have experience of many traditions. I have lived with Buddhist monks in Taiwan. I spent a month in an Orthodox Monastery in Greece. I have frequently attended worship at Roman Catholic and Anglican churches when overseas.

MLW-W: Say something more about these experiences in Taiwan and Greece, please. 

Aric: During my undergraduate education I participated in a program called Comparative Religions and Cultures (which you can read more about here). As part of that program I spent time learning Chan meditation, doing dharma talks, sleeping, eating and observing life at the four major Buddhist “mountains” in Taiwan. We Christians have a lot to learn about nonviolence and compassion from Buddhists.

MLW-W: I agree and know several others who would, as well.  

Aric: While in Greece I did a similar thing at an Orthodox Monastery, which was unquestionably the most spiritual experience of my life. I adored the daily rhythm of the divine office, communal meals, observation of silence, vigils. That would be my third option for a vocation if ministry or archeology didn’t pan out (and I was unmarried).

MLW-W: How did you get into blogging?   What do you like about it?  Are there problems you see with blogging?

Aric: Friends dragged me into it. I love that it’s a public conversation. I adore getting comments on my blog – especially when they disagree with me. The main problem with blogging is that it takes up a fair amount of time that could arguably be better spent elsewhere. It is a bit narcissistic, isn’t it?

MLW-W: How do you relate your faith to issues of peacemaking? What sources of strength have you found? 

Aric: To me these are one and the same. The enterprise of the Church is carrying out Jesus ministry – the goal of which is to bring God’s Shalom to the whole of creation. For me it is not possible to be Christian without also being a peacemaker.

MLW-W: Do you have (a) military experience? (b) experience in nonviolent struggle? (c) experience in conflict resolution/transformation practices?  Describe your experiences with any or all of these. 

Aric: My father was in the army when I was very little, but that is my only connection to the military. I have always been active in local peace protests, at least as a warm body in the crowd – not usually as an organizer, though I’ve recently been thrust into the role of social-justice minister at a congregation where I am interning so I expect I’ll be doing more of this.

MLW-W: Do you consider yourself a pacifist? If so, say something about how you see nonviolence (or nonresistance) and its connections to the gospel.  Were you raised a Christian pacifist or did you convert to this view and, if the latter, tell us something of how that came about? 

Aric: Yes. I was not raised a pacifist, but I am a Californian and my family has always been very liberal and generally anti-war (despite my father’s time in the military), so it is obvious from which vector I came into the church. However, as I read the gospel there is at almost every point a strong condemnation of the use of coercive power of any kind. I honestly think the burden is on the JWT and others to show how they possibly think violence is acceptable, because the scripture seems rather strongly opposed.

MLW-W:  What led you to join Christian Peace Bloggers?  Since joining have you blogged any posts on peacemaking?  Have they gotten any feedback from readers? 

Aric: Largely I decided to join this ring as an encouragement to myself to step up my engagement on this issue. I am, and have always been very passionate about peacemaking, but it has not always played the central role in my active life that it deserves. I have posted several times about the build-up in the media of the case for war against Iran. I am still livid that our nation was so easily misled about
Iraq.

MLW-W. Do you read any of the other blogs in the blog-ring? Which ones do you like and why?  Have you alerted any readers to your blog about these blogs (or specific posts on them) which you like? 

Aric: Obviously, I read Levellers. I got to you through some of your fantastic comments in Kim Fabricius’ diatribes over at Faith and Theology. I’m also a follower of Fire and the Rose. I don’t always agree with David[Congdon], but his writing is definitely thought provoking. I just recently found the Jesus Manifesto through this ring and I plan on digging into it quite a bit.

MLW-W: Thanks for those kind words about my blog. I found Mined Spatterings  from your comments at Faith and Theology, too. Ben Myers has the best theology blog on the web, in my view. And I share your high view of D.W. Congdon’s Fire and the Rose. I like his Barthian theology and the way he connects that to social justice and peace views very directly. Outside of blogging, do you participate in any other peace-related activities or organizations? If so, tell us about them. 

Aric: I’ve been involved in World Peace Prayer Ceremonies all around the globe. I helped plan the event in Scotland three years ago which the Dalai Lama came for. I’m involved in Wesley Clark’s movement to stop a war with Iran.

MLW-W: Good movements and much work.  Have you ever been a part of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship or the Fellowship of Reconciliation? 

Aric: No.

 

MLW-W: Well, you are very busy already, but I think that you’d find the PPF right up your alley.

MLW-W: Does your local congregation take peace issues seriously? Give us some example, if “yes.” If “no,” what could you do to raise awareness about this in your local congregation? 

Aric: My home church has been very active in the past in funding aid workers to go into war-torn regions and provide relief or to help refugees. There is always much more we could be doing in this regard, though I think it is more important for the local church to teach their members how to live nonviolently and to give a consistent message in the local arena rather than to try and campaign nationally and have little impact.

MLW-W: What about your denomination?  Are peace issues a part of those non-local/denominational connections? 

At the denomination level the PC[USA] is right now very torn and focused on internal strife rather than witnessing to the world, which is tragic. There have been a few letters to congress and the president issued by General Assembly opposing the Iraq War, opposing our present stance with Israel and encouraging action in the Sudan. However, there has been very little outside this.

MLW-W: Well, that’s more than many U.S. denominations.  You have already said something about global travel, do you want to say more? 

Aric: Yes. I have lived extensive time abroad. In the context of ethnographic study I have lived and worked in Brasil, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the UK.

MLW-W: Explain “ethnographic study,” please. 

Aric: What I mean by that is I was involved in educational programs that used ethnographic methods (participant observation, semiotic anthropology, daily journaling…). Basically, I went places, got involved in projects or communities and analyzed my experiences with social-critical tools.

MLW-W: How well do you stay abreast of global events and have your experiences abroad shaped how you view such events? 

Aric: I make a consistent effort to stay informed though I have grown quite cynical about most news outlets as providing accurate coverage. I always lament how many critical issues are ignored in our country in favor of detailed coverage of celebrity gossip.

My experiences have unquestionably impacted, nay completely reinvented, my view of world events. It is impossible for me, now to simply accept someone else’s blanket judgment about another culture or region no matter how much expertise that individual has. I’ve been through too many “eye-opening” moments regarding other cultures to hold too strongly to any one point of view as though it
were absolute truth. I am, therefore, always trying to read the news as though I were Persian or Korean or Arabian.

MLW-W: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? 

Hmm…I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts?

MLW-W: Thank-you, Monty Python. Thanks for joining us, Aric, and continued blessings on your seminary work, church life, and especially blessings for Stacia Ann’s  healthy pregnancy and birth in June.

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March 27, 2007 - Posted by | blog-ring, discipleship, peace, sexism

6 Comments

  1. You both are quite kind! I enjoy reading both of your blogs, and I’m very glad to count you both as readers.

    Aric, you said: “I am, therefore, always trying to read the news as though I were Persian or Korean or Arabian.”

    This is really commendable, and I wish more shared your desire to empathize with others. The dearth of reliable news sources is one of the pressing issues of our time, and it overwhelms me whenever I think about how massive a problem this is. A guy at my church said to me, “David, I just couldn’t live without Fox News!” I was appalled, but by no means surprised.

    Comment by dwcongdon | March 28, 2007

  2. Thanks for doing these interviews Michael. I usually hate reading anything about myself, but it’s also cool to appear on someone else’s blog.

    Comment by Aric Clark | March 29, 2007

  3. Please notice that I have now devoted a page on my blog to links for reliable alternative news sources. I have made this a recurring theme of these interviews because I believe respecting integrity of information, seeking out truth, even when it is uncomfortable and challenges one’s own beliefs, is central to both Christian discipleship and peacemaking. I think a part of this is captured in the Quaker slogan of “speak truth to power,” and in the deeply evangelical vocation to bear witness. In my view, media reform (and cultivating friends across cultures) is essential to peacemaking. Put another way, propaganda is the tool of injustice and violence.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 29, 2007

  4. “At the denomination level the PC[USA] is right now very torn and focused on internal strife rather than witnessing to the world, which is tragic.”

    I’m afraid something similar is going on in my tradition (Episcopal), and I suspect that the Presbyterians and Episcopalians aren’t alone in this. I sometimes wonder if we don’t let ourselves become obsessed with these sorts of things because they’re convenient diversions that rescue us from dealing with real issues (such as violence and injustice). I don’t know that we do this on a conscious, articulate level. But I can’t help but wonder.

    Anyway, Aric, thanks for your witness. Godspeed!

    Comment by Kerry | March 29, 2007

  5. […] to the latest Peace Blogger interview. To see previous entries in this series, click 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & […]

    Pingback by Peace Blogger Interview #8: Pam Garrud « Levellers | June 23, 2007

  6. […] of the Christian Peace Blogger interviews. [Previous installments can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8.]While 04 July 1776 should be remembered as the day that many of the British […]

    Pingback by Peace Blogger Interview #9: Daniel Schweissing « Levellers | July 4, 2007


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