This the first of a two-part conversation with Shawn Sanford Beck, Christian Animist and Green priest. In the second half we’ll turn to those latter self-designations, exploring what they might mean for us. In this, the first half, Shawn shares some of his life story that led up to his current commitments.
After his self-introduction (1:55-3:10) we hear of the religious elements in his prairie upbringing in rural Canada (3:20-10:50), including his proximity to animals and woods, his interest in martial arts and easter religion, a conflict between his inner Christian and inner pagan, and a tension between liberal and born-again Christianity. This includes some comments on his New Age Paganism and his “coming out of the broom closet.” He then (19:20-22:40) speaks of his ordination within different traditions in the Christian church, a movement centred around LGBTQ inclusion (see the “Song of Faith” of the United Church of Canada).
We then turn (22:50-30:20) to his current life patterns and vocation, beginning with life on a community farming project, off the water and power “grid,” where alternative spirituality could be explored and experimented with, inside the community and with neighbours (including indigenous neighbors). It is in a delicate and complicated relationship with these First Nation neighbours that he’s developed some creation-based spiritual practices. (30:20-34:45). We wrestle together with how to engage in the development of creation spirituality and spiritual practices without “appropriating” someone else’s culture, on the one hand, or too easily focusing on private spirituality and thinking, rather than the social and political issues involved in settler colonial patterns of life and their impact on indigenous cultures. (34:45-41:30).
We conclude with Shawn’s connection to and engagement with our Jesus-shalom values and vision. (41:30-end).
The Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck is the Recruitment Officer for St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon. He has worked in pastoral ministry, social justice chaplaincy, and theological education, and written and reflected extensively on ecological and interfaith spirituality (his blog is at https://ecosophian.wordpress.com/). He has been featured on Tapestry https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/not-doing-religion-by-the-book-1.4547318 and in the United Church’s magazine Broadview https://broadview.org/shawn-sanford-beck/. He can be reached at email@example.com. His book, Christian Animism, is available from Christian Alternative Books (JHP) or your favourite online distributor.
Photo: Christopher Sanford Beck