An Interview with Philip Maurer

Philip and I sat down in a local cafe. The background noise is occasionally a little much but do listen it. Imagine your self sitting in the cafe with us, overhearing the conversation of the people at the table next to you, a surprisingly deep one. We’ve got espresso machines going and milk steaming, plates clinking and occasional music piping through. This is a joyful conversation about faith delivered through traditional forms moving for ever expanding expression. 

There is reference to "Haydenville" in the conversation. That's where Philip and I met. It's a UCC church in Haydenville that he recently joined (after 4 years of discerning!) and I have recently started attending. 

God is love. period. That’s the message Philip took from his upbringing in a Lutheran church. Over and over again and in different forms, it said god loves you. God loves everyone. To take that to its greatest expansion is a motivating impulse for Philip but also, at the same time, a gentleness. this is not to force anything on anyone but more like whispering a secret, like the recovery movement, an underground knowing: “I want my Christianity to be like that too: evident without being named necessarily.” 

Mixed in the conversation are these gems:

  • the great hinterland where religious people aren’t willing to go but spiritual but not religious people are; 
  • baptism's potency that brings tears to the face without explanation and means we are part of this thing, this thing called god's love without regard for what you believe or don't. That you are claimed and that cannot be taken back, erased, negated.
  • “Spirituality does not mean separating myself out from the world” 
  • the value of liturgy to hold people who believe very different things; 
  • problematic over use of “belief” as a category of religious belonging; 
  • work as calling or not, or whether and how to use the language. 
  • Feminist, womanist, mujerista theology 
  • the body as definitely a part of spirituality
  • letting unimportant things fall away  
  • the long and slow work of discerning ones calling.
  • “When people would ask what do you want to be with your grow up, those kinds of things. I was like I want to be happy and kind.” 
  • mourning the impulse of christians and people general to separate. 
Lindsey Peterson