What we mean by collective liberation

enfleshed seeks to create and facilitate “spiritual nourishment for collective liberation.”

Someone recently asked what we mean by that – “collective liberation.” A good and important question. We thought we’d take the time to share our answer here.

Collective liberation is the sought outcome of what Micah Bazant says so well, that there can be “No Pride For Some of Us Without Liberation For All of Us.” It is what we hope for, strive for, aim towards with our lives and spirits and resources.

It’s the eschatology for a theology that claims all life is entangled, inseparable, permeable, eternally woven together. It rejects individualism. Celebrates collaboration. And acknowledges the difficulty of the fact that we need each other.

It is more than inclusion, tolerance, or representation. It’s an altogether different paradigm.

It’s a claim that salvation resides in the places where queer and trans liberation, Black and Brown and Indigenous and POC liberation, Palestinian liberation, economic liberation, liberation of the earth and all life forms, feminism, womanism, disability justice, abolition, and harm reduction all coalesce. It is global. It is explicitly anti-Christian supremacy, though some come by pathways of Christianity. Its wisdom is born from the edges, the fringes, the liminal spaces. It is always evolving and/or returning and/or emerging thought in relationship to new encounters. It is always incomplete.

And this salvation is material. It is political. It is bodily. It is not abstract nor strictly a practice of belief – though it is spiritual, too.

It sings. It dances. It weeps. It has good sex. It redistributes resources, tends wounds, tells truths, and hinges on the power of God that lives and moves in and through us. And this salvation is good news, too, for those who oppress and bear legacies of domination and power – it is the way of freedom from all that wrings out our souls and leaves us dehumanized in the process of dehumanizing others. It requires repentance and repair – serious and lasting.

Collective liberation is a labor of love-justice. An outcome of transformation. It does not come by way of institutions, it will not be handed down from thrones of power, and it does not repeat patterns of domination. It is ground-up business. It is relational. It is tender and poetic and fierce. It can be somber and full of grief. But it also requires attention to pleasure and joy and desire and delight.

To bring it about – to birth this future of God, this kindom enfleshed – asks different things of different people and creatures. There is no universal path. Depending on relationships to various systems and legacies of power as well as unique stories and contexts of our lives, different actions and beliefs must be practiced as freedom. White people have different pathways than BIPOC people. Queer people have different pathways than straight people. The land, the water, the creatures – they have their own way of reaching toward freedom. Though collective liberation is ultimately good for all life, its birth will come with costs. Its birth depends on individual paying attention – to what must be done differently in each life. Its pathways are not individualistic but they are individualized. Particular. Specific. Based on relationships to what must be let go of, reached for, given up, handed over, taken up, fought for, fought against, celebrated, mourned, and more.

Its truths can be ugly. And they are sometimes painful. And though they are soft, they are not invested in being nice. They speak truth to power. They break silences. They reject unity that compromises anyone’s humanity or well-being. They disrupt false equivalences and they queer claims of absolutism.

Collective liberation is haunted by violence and atrocities past and present. It remembers. It unveils. It claims the goodness that can be and become but does not hide from the gruesome capabilities of humanity – especially as power seduces and whiteness corrupts.

To learn and unlearn, to connect and create, to labor and to love in ways that will enable this salvation – this collective liberation where everyone thrives with access to resources, with agency and no fear of violence, with the right to rest and play and create free from exploitation, – requires spiritually laboring today.

And this laboring requires spiritual nourishment. Bread for the journey. Nutrients of faith that feed aliveness within and between and around. A way to savor spiritually the regular in-breaking of this kindom we strive for. We cannot afford to rush too quickly past glimpses, senses, feelings, encounters, tastes of it.

This is a long-game situation. It is slow work – generations of work – though it does sometimes erupt with its urgency.

enfleshed seeks to provide just one piece of what’s necessary for showing up and staying on paths to collective liberation. A place to feast spiritually that the work may continue. An invitation to dig deeper, to tend beauty, and to build – one ordinary practice at a time – new patterns for life together.

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