On a crisp fall day in Eugene OR, a troubled but happy couple and their not-so-troubled and happy-enough teen-age daughter packed minimal camping gear and took a city bus to Delta campground near the McKenzie River. The campground is in a grove of old-growth trees, predominantly Douglas fir and western red cedar, that are centuries old. They provided a calm retreat for the three wanderers who hiked around a lot, sat around together a lot, and while the daughter painted a lot, the couple mulled things over a lot.

In this enchant(ed)ing setting, on September 9, 2001, the couple put in writing what they had been chewing on for years. They took the bus back to Eugene Sept. 11, and while that date has taken on a remarkable history of its own it did not change what the couple had composed two days prior. With minor editing it became their Liturgy of Penance and Dedication:

Our lives in this society have been characterized by an irreverence for life that we have manifested in violence, greed and selfishness, thereby contributing to the destruction of the balance of life on earth, interpersonal isolation, economic injustice, disregard for the future, and contempt for the wisdom of the past.

For this we are truly sorry, and we ask forgiveness.

Today we acknowledge our calling to live a new way based on Christian faith as we understand it. This understanding includes a reverence for creation; that “God so loved the world”—all of creation, not just people—that as a human being he lived and died for it, and so should we.

With God’s help, we promise

To live in peace.

Understanding that war is an inevitable outcome of the violence and destruction required to meet the demands of this society and that peace is not just the absence of violence but the presence of love, we will

Find and use habits of work, transportation, housing, food production and consumption, language, education, and recreation that respect God’s creation and encourage human creativity.

Oppose acts of war in any form, for any reason.

Offer sustenance and solace to those in need.

With God’s help, we promise

To live in voluntary poverty.

Understanding the selfishness and greed that resulted from our participation in the lifestyle of this society and having decided not to participate any longer, we will

Have only the food and shelter that allow us to live with a basic level of dignity and self respect.

Remember that some individuals have special needs unique to their calling.

Give away anything acquired in excess of this.

With God’s help, we promise

To live in community.

Understanding in Christ’s words, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them,” the truth that people together in love create a greater power for good, we will

Minimize our individual destruction of the earth.

Share our resources.

Provide mutual support.

Work together in a common faith for a common purpose.

We thank God for guiding us to this understanding. We have learned that acting for the good of all is good for us as individuals, and while rearing our children we learned that all of our actions model our reality, our faith and what we hope for.

We did not set out to learn these lessons; we were not always receptive to them; and today as we promise to live in their light, we cannot know how that life will look nor what we may be asked to do. We trust God’s continuing guidance and ask our family and friends for their love and support.

—Kris and Doug Finn

The liturgy today

As a co-founder and the primary key carrier for Quixote’s Garage I am often asked how I came to this work. Assuming you read the lead story, now you know.

It still surprises me that I helped to write something so beautiful. Call it Christian, spiritual, ridiculous, quixotic, whatever. All are correct because the liturgy is real, and as such it can cause discomfort, anxiety and fear, and joy, hope and excitement.

Much has changed in 14 years; much has stayed the same. While how we behave in this culture has become even more destructive in so many ways, there are signs of waking up.

Pope Francis shows great spirit in pointing out both. I am encouraged to read of his anger and apocalyptic nay saying about our greed and financial faith. I am also encouraged by his compassion for the earth and the poor among us. In The New York Times July 12, he said, “You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and the underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands.”

So does Jon Stewart, a great comedian and satirist of all things. On Aug. 5, winding down 16 years as host of The Daily Show, he gleefully reran clips where adversaries said he “eviscerated” and “destroyed” people and events. Then he showed current clips of what should have been reduced to rubble. Seeing it all alive and well, he wailed, “Things are demonstrably worse now than when I started! Is this my fault?”

Stewart and Francis are sounding alarms. Are you awake?

—Kris Finn