Bruxy Cavey and The Meeting House: a Short Photographic Introduction

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 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 the 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. He sees Jesus as a non-violent revolutionary, and ironically takes this communist celebrity as an inspiration.

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 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.”


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