Bruxy Cavey and The Meeting House: a Short Photographic Introduction

Since this was posted years ago, dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct by pastoral staff have been registered at The Meeting House, including the criminal charge of sexual assault with Cavey as the perpetrator, now handled by the Ontario court system in 2022 and into 2023. This radically changes the context of a post like this, and you ought to read my more up-to-date posts, including the plethora of articles written in the mainstream Canadian news and especially Christian Courier.

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.

Of the 18 or so remote sites where The Meeting House rents space, all but one were movie theatres. Theatres are the home of drama, mystery, celebrity, and where new worlds are brought into being by light. This demonstrates how church—all churches, but this one in particular—can be a show. This is part of my “dramaturgical analysis” in my book.

“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.

This is the Oakville Production Site, also known as “The Mother Ship” and headquarters, where the main office resides. Its an old warehouse converted into a movie theatre-like space. It fills to varying degrees three times every Sunday morning.

Irony: Cavey quotes from James K. A. Smith! Cavey’s whole schtick is based on a idiosyncratic dichotomy between “religion” and Jesus. Smith’s whole oeuvre is dedicated to showing how ritual, formation, and practise are what shapes the heart to love God’s kingdom in Jesus. Smith is an orienting figure for me, so it was strange to see Cavey make reference to Smith.

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.”

Cavey with his faux Che Guevera shirt. The crown of thorns suggest Jesus rather than Guevara. Cavey sees Jesus as a non-violent revolutionary, and ironically takes this communist celebrity as an inspiration and icon.

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.

3 thoughts on “Bruxy Cavey and The Meeting House: a Short Photographic Introduction

    1. Mark:

      News on his charges are all over the internet, but there is no news on Cavey himself, and no interviews with him. I believe his lawyer is telling him to stay silent and work through the courts first.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s