Dr. Elmer Thiessen just uploaded a detailed review of my book The Subversive Evangelical here. He’s friendly, but still does a critical read–both of my book and its subject, Bruxy Cavey, and his church, The Meeting House.
One window into my book is some of the photos I either took myself or took as screenshots from their publicly available videos. Just as a teaser.
Here Bruxy Cavey shows his tattoo of a Bible text that says, “Don’t tattoo yourselves.” In a nutshell, this demonstrates both Cavey’s preferred ironic approach to faith, and his theology of discontinuity between Testaments of the Bible.
“Empire” is a concept rich in meaning, many academics using the term to refer to large institutional powers that re-order the world for their own interests. Ironic place for a self-identified “subversive” church to meet.
Cavey loves zombies and horror films. Its one way to distance himself from the stereotype of uptight and sentimental right-wing evangelicalism. This is a major theme in my book: Cavey offering “evangelicalism for those not into evangelicalism.”
There is much more to say about The Meeting House and Bruxy Cavey on the Canadian religious landscape. My book suggests his church reveals a lot about a dominant Canadian culture that stigmatizes evangelicals; how some evangelicals respond reflexively and winsomely to this; and how religion–especially Christian faith–can be fun, silly, ironic, playful–and still be “serious” religion. This last point I call the “serious, strict and sombre fallacy” of religion–that joyful or playful religion is suspect by scholars as being superficial or secularized and not “real religion.”
My larger quest is to understand how leadership charisma works, and I argue that it is a joint production, a communal endeavour, not just an individual trait. It is a drama that takes a whole troupe to create and maintain. You might say it takes a village to raise a charismatic leader. Nevertheless, Cavey is still the star of the show, the central character, and so when in late 2021 it was revealed that he was accused of sexual misconduct, the entire show was in jeopardy. He was asked to resign in March 2022 after an investigation concluded he was in a sexual relationship that constituted an “abuse of his power and authority as a member of the clergy” and which amounted to sexual harassment. Others said that its best summarized as “clergy sexual abuse.”
My next book with co-author Angela Bick focuses on the deconstruction of (evangelical) faith from a Canadian perspective. Cavey is not the focus, as we give primacy to the voice of hurt and disillusioned Christians. It will be published through New Leaf Press.