the RAVEN FOUNDATION

Welcome to the Raven Community

No matter who you are or where you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here. We invite you to come with your faith and your doubts, your anxieties, wounds and hopes, and know that through it all you are loved. 

Our Mission

We seek to host a welcoming community for those whose experience with organized religion has left them wounded, troubled, disillusioned or in exile. We hope that we can provide a place of rest and renewal where seekers can experience God’s unconditional love and total nonviolence as a healing presence in their lives. 

Our Vision

We believe that the renewal of Christian life is coming from outside the church as much as from within. We have no doubt that God is acting through those who are being silenced or exiled by those who claim to be speaking for God. As we listen to each other, we will discover together what God is calling us to become.

Our Approach

Through the mimetic insights of René Girard, our ability to recognize the ways we have justified violence in God’s name is strengthened. We recognize that the journey to more loving, peaceful communities begins with confessing the ways in which we have scapegoated and wounded one another. 

Why the Raven?

If our mission is to share the truth of God’s love and nonviolence, why name ourselves after a bird with a nasty reputation? The raven has been known as a harbinger of death and disaster from ancient Greece to Native American cultures, from Edgar Allen Poe to horror movies, so why the raven?

Because when we learn the truth about the raven we begin to be able to tell a more truthful story about ourselves. Without truth-telling, justice and peace will remain forever out of reach.

The Truth About Ravens

It is true the raven is a carrion bird that feeds on the carcasses of dead animals, which isn’t exactly cute and cuddly behavior. But it is not true that because the raven flocks toward death his appearance means death is heading our way.

What’s the truth about ravens? Naturalists tell us that rather than having some sort of twisted relationship with death, they are playful and very intelligent birds. They make their own toys and have been observed sliding down snowbanks or flying loop-de-loops, apparently just for fun. Nothing to be afraid of here! 

It’s no big deal that even though the truth about ravens is readily accessible, we look away from the truth in order to enjoy being scared by horror movies or on Halloween. It doesn’t matter much that a flock of ravens is still known as a “murder” or an “unkindness”. 

The Truth About Ourselves

But it does matter if we can’t learn to think differently about the false things we have been taught about ourselves, about God, and about the ravens of this world. Ravens are scapegoats and anytime we exclude others out of hate or fear, we make authentically peaceful community impossible. 

In the bible we read that God sent many prophets to condemn scapegoating violence and to proclaim God’s all-encompassing love. One prophet named Elijah so angered a violent king that his life was in danger. So God told Elijah to hide in a deserted riverbed till it was safe to come out. “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there,” God told the prophet. And “the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening.” 

We embrace our name because even though ravens may inspire fear or suffer false accusations, God knows the truth. God knows that ravens are like everyone else, a mix of good intentions and broken promises. No one’s perfect and everyone falls short of their best selves, but God doesn’t wait for us to be perfect – God calls us to love and serve God by serving one another. So in a spirit of hope and humility, we invite you to join us in the riverbed for a time of healing and renewal for yourself and the entire human community.

Our Values

Our values are rooted in the nonviolent, gratuitous love of God as revealed in the Judeo-Christian scriptures and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ death as a victim of scapegoating violence calls us to listen to the voices of our scapegoats and in them to see the face of God.

Pause

The first step away from violence and scapegoating is often a step back from the tit-for-tat cycle of conflict. In conflict we can be reactive and lose sight of our best selves. When conflict escalates, the God who is Love is crowded out by anger and hate. Pausing makes spiritual space for the Spirit to enter in and open up possibilities for creative alternatives to emerge.

Love

As we learn the truth about human violence, we must never lose sight of the most important truth of all: that God loves both victims and perpetrators, both sinners and saints. At different times in our lives – sometimes at different times of the day! – we can find ourselves playing shifting roles. But whether we are our best selves or our worst, there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from the love of God. It is this love that makes it possible to learn the truth about ourselves and to share that truth in a hospitable way with others.

Learn

The pause is a time for learning the truth about violence. Guided by the mimetic insights of René Girard, we learn to recognize the ways we have justified violence in God’s name. We begin to read the bible as Jesus taught us to read – to see more and more clearly that if you are seeking God, the best place to find God is among victims. In the complete revelation that is the cross of Christ, we learn what God looks like – an unjustly murdered victim of state sponsored violence.

Create

Equipped with self-awareness, healed and nourished by the miracle of God’s love, we find ourselves empowered to disrupt the cycle of violence, first within our own hearts and relationships, and then in society as a whole. Calming fears, quieting the frenzy of conflict, and extending God’s love to all of Creation makes possible a new Creation in which authentic peace and universal justice become available to all people.