Bill Parker bparker175 at cox.net
Sun May 24 11:00:25 EDT 2009

To the People of the Order,


What I am really excited about is a development with one of the Universities in town, Oklahoma City University, a Methodist affiliated University. They have decided that what it means to be educated from that University is that every student must be aware of the necessity of taking responsibility for the earth's environment, sustainable development, the ecological realities they must address, and a lifetime commitment to addressing the systemic contradictions in sustainability worldwide. 


That is bold by itself but the Dean wants to house the OE/EI/ICA archives for the purposes of research into the details of being an order, seeing what a group of people did coming from all walks of life, culture, and national origins to respond to the realities of the 20th Century. There is particular interest in why and how people like us decided to give all they had for the sake of what they decided was the appropriate response in their time. When I reflect on that from a personal viewpoint, I am overwhelmed myself by these decisions. For example, if I take the money Suzanne made and turned over to the Order (average $24,000 per year) and the money I did not make because I worked "in" (average $48,000 per year), the total financial contribution to the EI/ICA was over $1,000,000 during the years we were in the Order. You multiply that by the total number of people in the Order, your imagination gets a clear image of the radical nature of our corporate life. This is not a minor consideration and it is a profoundly significant contribution from the People of the Order to the programmatic institutions of EI/ICA.  I told him that getting the archives probably won't happen but perhaps a secured back-up second copy in a different city from the original archives might be possible. This is what the "Living Archives" is all about.


He was very positive and I thought it would be a discussion we would have for quite a while before anything happened, if anything would ever happen. But, he said they wanted to build a green village on the basis of the reconstruction of Greensburg, KS, you know the town that got totally destroyed by a tornado not too long ago. This green village would be for faculty, scholars, and staff living in as an intentional community. There would be an urban retreat center in the heart of the village that would reflect the world's religion their practices and symbols. Then there would be a building established just for the Archives with conferencing and training capabilities. The Archives would be in a climate and humidity controlled environment designed for the best preservation practices. He said these were in the works. In a later meeting, he said the University has signed off on this and appropriated the money for it. He expects it all to be built in two years with a 2 story residential building for the participants and scholars of the urban retreat center and the program coming out of the Living Archives to be finished in 5 years. But, he says we don't have to wait 2 years before we start.


He especially liked the concept of a Living Archive. I described it as a method for anyone to conduct research into our Archives whereby, rather than trying to read and figure out the meaning of the 4X4X4 lecture format with illustrations, we would actually do the course with pedagogues who were skilled in teaching it as it was taught in the 20th Century. This would not require weeks or months of re-interpretation as some have done on RSI to get it into the 21st Century. Neither does it require the invention of a new program. The stated purpose of the Living Archives is to illustrate what that particular group of people created to respond to that 20th Century environment. Then we would build a 21st Century movement by conducting workshops after the course to articulate what their experience of the course means to them for the 21st Century. This interest in the People of the Order and what they did is why I am focused on the Archives. It's not the ICA, nor EI, though they will benefit from it significantly, that is of interest but the legacy of that group of people who birthed those programmatic institutions, and what their spiritual and human journey was, and is.


I have seen no other opportunity like this. JWM's archives are at Wesley Seminary because of Bishop

Jim's archives going there. But this gives a whole new meaning for JWM's archives, his Living Archives, his Living Legacy.


As we deliberate on the future of these archives, let the ICA Board, the Archives Meeting and the rest of us consider this possibility.

Take care of yourselves, for there is a very good reason for you to do so.   Bill Parker
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