Issue 017: Visioneering  Shadows trail across the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The morning sun, rising on the far side of the Potomac, is now wide awake. Reaching for the trees—and beneath them the runners along the Mount Vernon Trail—the gold light warms the air.   Heading north, and then west, I take the parkway to its end, and then keep going until I reach Great Falls Park. It’s no secret that I return here often. I don’t say this simply to celebrate my habit of running here—but rather to reaffirm that seeking the kingdom of God is tied to our human experience of time and place.   Running—at least for me—often provides clarity about  how to live  in our time and place while we seek the kingdom of God. The simple pursuit of finishing a set of miles reveals to me how simple our calling to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves can be, despite all of our unresolved questions. It reveals the vision that is worth its journey of endurance.   And so, as we revamp Liberatus and compile a print journal on wholeness in politics, in this Visioneering journal series—outlined during that sixteen-mile run at Great Falls Park—we will explore:    The problem in politics, the solution, and our creative challenge;     Why being part of Liberatus matters and where we are heading;     The theme of Volume One and how it relates to healing for political communication;     How we can create a new category for political engagement;     Our partner organizations;     Our audience, and why we are not necessarily trying to create a movement;     And finally, giving, leadership roles that need to be filled, and how you can pledge now to back the upcoming Kickstarter campaign and make our work to give peace a voice in Washington sustainable.      If creating a beautiful print journal to explore wholeness in politics—both for political professionals and the grassroots—resonates with you artistically, professionally, and spiritually, then your participation is welcome and will make this project successful.  While I think it’s necessary to hold our plans with open hands, I am more excited for the possibilities in front of us than I have been since our founding, and the vision is so compelling to me that I think it is worth the professional and financial risks it requires.   To conclude this series preview, I am writing this seventeenth journal issue specifically for the roughly fifteen writers, board members, and volunteer leaders who are currently involved in building the organization in some capacity. I am writing to the 50 donors who have made Liberatus a reality since 2015. I am writing to the more than 100 of you who have followed Liberatus since 2015, and finally I am writing to those of you who may be discovering the vision of wholeness for the first time and are eager to join us as we explore how the peace of Christ can remake politics from the ground up.      -Caleb Paxton, Liberatus Founder            Liberatus is a community journal about wholeness in politics, because all of us are tired of dysfunction. Citizens who join us are advocates for how the peace of Christ can remake politics from the ground up.    Sign up below to receive every journal entry from Issue 017: Visioneering delivered to your inbox.    Journal Entry #111      
 
   
     
      
        
     
     
       
        
        
          
             
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                 Intentionally Dysfunctional  
            

             
             
            
               

	
	 
	 May 8, 2019 
	











 
              
               

	








	 
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                   American politics is too often intentionally dysfunctional. The solution Liberatus offers is to remake politics from the ground up by giving professionals on the inside a creative home to explore wholeness. 
                 
              

              

              
                 
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Issue 017: Visioneering As we compile a print journal on wholeness in politics, in this Visioneering journal series we will explore the problem in politics, the solution, and our creative challenge; how we can create a new category for political engagement; and how you can give peace a voice in Washington.

      Issue 016: RE-CREATION   Re-Creation.  When we take part in  recreation , how can we focus that time on pursuits that help us  re-create  in politics? At a deeper level, what activities help us experience the life of Jesus more fully? How does his life move us towards wholeness, towards the relief of being set free from political dysfunction?  These were the questions we posed to our community of writers for our sixteenth journal series.  While this issue has been several months in the making, this fall we’re going back to the basic nature of life, of freedom, of following Jesus.  Our cover photos for each piece—taken at Great Falls National Park, where our board convened for our August meeting—were inspired by the basic elements: water, fire, air, earth, stone.  What struck me as I sought to capture each of these elements in the park is the difficulty of it. A depiction of life stripped to its bare essence is a photographic challenge because the moment each of these elements coexists life grows abundantly. Last June, as I hiked through the park with my camera, it was nearly impossible to capture stones without moss, leaves without sunlight, or tree trunks without insects. Even a shot of the sun, taken by carelessly pointing my lens into the sky, captured birds of prey circling above.  Over the years, I’ve found—as have humans for millennia—that experiences like these in nature can help us recapture a sense of satisfaction, purpose, and gratefulness in life. For me, nature has become a place to fight from as I pray for that which we hope but cannot see—a place where faith is bolstered by the beautiful, visible natural world.  Perhaps learning to go back to the basics every day is what matters the most in our journey to freedom, no matter how meaningful our callings seem. While I was working with our writers to create this series, I was struck by these words John Eldredge wrote in  Beautiful Outlaw :   Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence and life within you. (p. 207).    So here’s to that deeper journey. Here’s to understanding our unique talents and using them to make much of God, as Jeff Vorberger reminds us in our week one interview. Here’s to letting the “artistry of the ages” that Pete Obermueller speaks of in week two teach us that there is a story greater than our self-absorbed strolls among columns of stone. Here’s to learning to pray that the Father’s will be done—and letting stillness in that will consume us, as our Executive Assistant and Communications Director remind us in weeks three and six.  And here’s to growing more aware of God's love for us, no matter the circumstances we face, as Congressman Jeff Duncan articulates in week four. This summer, he walked away from a congressional baseball practice moments before hell broke out—unknowingly talking to the would-be assassin of his colleagues as he returned to the Capitol. In our interview, he shares that an experience as harrowing as this can lead us into deeper gratefulness for God's provision.  Here’s to taking the deeper spiritual journey of re-creation to which each of us is called.      -Caleb Paxton, Liberatus Founder             Liberatus is a community journal about bringing truth and beauty to American politics from the inside, because people who work in politics are tired of dysfunction. Writers who join us creatively explore healing for work culture, communication, and personal well-being. To catch each journal entry in our seven-week series on Re-Creation, sign up using the form on this page to have each of them delivered to your inbox.    Journal Entry #103      

 

   

     

       
       
        
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Issue 016: Re-Creation When we take part in recreation, how can we focus that time on pursuits that help us re-create in politics? At a deeper level, what activities help us experience the life of Jesus more fully? How does his life move us towards wholeness, towards the relief of being set free from political dysfunction? These were the questions we posed to our community of writers for our sixteenth journal series.

      Issue 015: A New Era  A New Era. Now it begins. But hope is cold, as cold as stone, as cold as night.  When the turbulent January air sings it sounds like ice.  Cold scatters crowds but instead we gather.  We are frozen but we’re searching for power.  The stage is packed but the script is empty. The curtain rises but it’s the audience acting.  A new era begins but we’re building ruins.  Greek columns can’t hold the weight of right now.  Healing is now, beneath these snow-chilled stones.  What can we say to the rising sun?  The Republic is a gift but we don’t want to keep it.  Ideas descend on the Capitol.  They walk together but not in unity.  Ideas fight wars but the victors are losing, scattering America like the wind of a storm.  When it storms, it pours, and all the city statues cry.  Some days the best path forward is a faster reverse.  Healing is now, beneath these sun-washed stones.   A billion suns rise for you    Kings become fools for you    Kingdoms to ruins for you    Come like dawn    Like grace    Like sunlight    Bring this world to life*    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. **    *Lyrics: “ Vapor ” by Gungor    **Text:  I Peter 5:10-11     Liberatus is a weekly journal about bringing Truth and Beauty to American politics, written by people on the inside. You can join us for a seven-week series titled A New Era as we explore what American politics would look like if healing were to occur by  applying  to write,  subscribing  by email, or  contributing  monthly. You can read part one below.      

 

   

     

       
       
        
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                   A new era of American politics begins on Friday, and today we start a new series exploring what that era would look like if political healing were to occur. Healing is a continual process, and we have to choose it every day. Here’s a picture of what I believe that looks like, and a recommended reading list of the thinkers and their works that have influenced my own journey. 
                 
              

              

              
                 
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	 Jan 18, 2017

Issue 015: A New Era Now it begins. But hope is cold, as cold as stone, as cold as night. We are frozen but we’re searching for power. The stage is packed but the script is empty. The curtain rises but it’s the audience acting. A new era begins but we’re building ruins. Greek columns can’t hold the weight of right now. Healing is now, beneath these snow-chilled stones. 

      Issue 013: Olympic Gold  Congress could be as inspiring as the Olympic Games.  When we talk about inspiration, we’re not talking about a cheap feeling of euphoria.  Olympic Gold isn’t won only by dreaming. It’s a consuming lifestyle, in its truest form, a pure pursuit to achieve the motto: faster, higher, stronger.  An athlete races down the track, forward. The confines of her single lane are conquered by her relentless speed.  The human body, in full motion, beautifully alive—she hits her stride. Years of effort pass with every step, not disappearing into a forgotten past, but rather now fully revealed as every lurch forward becomes a declaration: this is what humanity can create even when the world isn’t watching.  The finish line, once towering high above her, now slips beneath her feet, slips away behind her.  A new world record.  Ecstatic joy.  The gathered nations of the world rejoice in awe.  Across the city, a swimmer commands his lane, the competition, even the water’s surface itself. A champion is reborn yet again, by fractions of a second.  A gymnast propels herself into the air, twisting, landing with confidence. Generations will remember her.  Unlike the gathering of political parties, you don’t have to try to be inspired watching the Olympic Games. The inspiration is simply there for the taking.  Imperfections abound in both. But in the former, they are projected onto the other side. The latter presents an opportunity: what if conquering the imperfection in myself fills me with respect and awe of my fellow competitors?  A paradox is presented: the weak become strong by embracing weakness.  There is a King who willingly possessed our weakness, our brokenness, and even our projection of imperfection onto others. He endured; he held the imperfection inside and transformed it through death and resurrection, all for the joy that was set before him.  What if, in our political-ideological struggles for survival, what we need is a deeper knowledge of eternal, abundant joy?  Is anything less even freedom?  There is a King who will return, the champion of champions, gathering the nations, healing the nations. They will live in goodness. They will live free.  Goodness can never be owned or manipulated, but it can be prized. It can be elevated; it  becomes  the prize.  “Think of friends or family members who loved Jesus and are with him now. Picture them with you, walking together in this place. All of you have powerful bodies, stronger than those of an Olympic decathlete.  You are laughing, playing, talking, and reminiscing. Now you see someone coming toward you. It’s Jesus, with a big smile on his face. You fall to your knees in worship. He pulls you up and embraces you.  “At last, you’re with the person you were made for, in the place you were made for…. There will be new places to enjoy, new things to discover. What’s that you smell? A feast? A party’s ahead. And you’re invited.” (Randy Alcorn,   We Shall See God  , pp. 11-12).  On whatever stage we live all of our days, our lives can reflect the goodness we crave. American politics could be defined by Truth and Beauty.  Congress could be as inspiring as the day we come fully alive.        Liberatus is a weekly journal on how to bring Truth and Beauty to American politics, written by people on the inside. You can follow the journal every Wednesday by subscribing. You can read part one of the series on Olympic Gold below.       

 

   

     

       
       
        
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                   The Olympics can give us a glimpse of what it means to be fully alive, especially if you see the athletes compete in person. The theme of London’s games was “inspire a generation,” and the theme of Rio 2016 is “live your passion.”  I think the way to inspire a generation is to live your passion; this week and next, we’re taking a deeper look at both Olympic themes.   
                 
              

              

              
                 
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	 Jul 27, 2016

Issue 013: Olympic Gold An athlete races down the track, forward. The confines of her single lane are conquered by her relentless speed. The human body, in full motion, beautifully alive—she hits her stride. The finish line, once towering high above her, now slips beneath her feet, slips away behind her.

Congress could be as inspiring as the Olympic Games. 

      Issue 012: The Great Outdoors  When we step away from our work, we discover insights that make us better at whatever we do. As Jonathan Fields writes in his book   Uncertainty  , sometimes it is undoing that plants the seeds for the greatest doing (p. 165).  You know it’s true if you’ve ever pursued work creatively. You know it’s true if you work on Capitol Hill or in a city, and you’ve taken a trip away for several days. Suddenly, you find a wide open road; or the view of the National Mall slips away under the wing of your plane, the day-to-day stress slipping out of your mind too.  You touch down somewhere west of the Mississippi, perhaps, leave the airport, and the landscape and western air make you want to melt into the earth. You’d give the land and sky a big hug but there’s no way your arms could reach, it’s so wide open there.  You can tell a lot about a local culture by the vibe of its airport. In San Diego, everyone is suntanned and at ease. You can’t fly through Denver without suddenly having an obsession with climbing mountains and eating  bison jerky . In Orlando, it’s all Mickey Mouse ears and families from the Midwest, including grandparents.  But when you land at Reagan National, it’s all business. Everyone is very important, very well dressed, and very much in a hurry.  Maybe what our city needs—to discover a deeper knowledge of freedom—is a little more wind on our faces, a little sunburn, a scent from a memory that should never be forgotten. Maybe our senses are telling us something. Maybe we need to jump into an ice-cold lake, stay up late around a beach-side campfire with friends, or let the desert sun sap the sweat right out of us, leaving us parched. Maybe coming to our senses in politics is literally as simple as   coming to our senses  . Maybe we just need to feel again.  What if, while we explore, we take notes of all we've learned? And what if there's more truth for political culture hidden in the beautiful wide open spaces than we've ever imagined?    You can read part one of the series on the great outdoors below.       

 

   

     

       
       
        
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                   When we say nature restores us, we actually mean it. To kickoff both the summer and our new series on  The Great Outdoors , today we’re publishing photos from seven locations you can explore all summer long throughout the DC area. Here’s to having class outside. Here’s to the wide world in which we were created to live. And here’s to our Creator, and the undeniable goodness that surrounds us every day. 
                 
              

              

              
                 
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	 Jun 8, 2016

Issue 012: The Great Outdoors Maybe what our city needs—to discover a deeper knowledge of freedom—is a little more wind on our faces, a little sunburn, a scent from a memory that should never be forgotten. Maybe coming to our senses in politics is literally as simple as coming to our senses. What if, while we explore, we take notes of all we’ve learned? 

      Issue 011: Energy  What if the energy of abundant life can fill our work for all of our days? And what if its rhythm becomes the natural flow of any human endeavor?  Creating beauty calls us to live true to the rhythms of human energy. How do we capture it, use it, restore it—and create, again and again? Out of the ashes of political dysfunction beauty can rise—but what sustains it? How can understanding energy better—in the workplace, in endurance sport, and in the constant human desire to explore and create—radically reshape political culture for us today? We’re examining each of these topics over seven weeks in Issue 011:  Energy .  For our photo theme, we look to the ocean, to water. A wave crashes over us, pulling us under, pulling us in. There’s a story to write that’s bigger than us. Nature declares it to be true.  Wallace J. Nichols, the author of   Blue Mind:  The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do  recounts a trip he took with a group of young Native Americans to the Gulf of California to go snorkeling. Many of them had never been to the ocean before.  After a while I asked one young man how it was going. “I can’t see anything,” he said. Turns out he’d been keeping his eyes closed underwater. I told him that he could safely open his eyes even though his head was beneath the surface. He put his face under and started to look around. Suddenly, he popped up, pulled off his mask, and started shouting about all the fish. He was laughing and crying at the same time as he shouted, “My planet is beautiful!” Then he slid his mask back over his eyes, put his head back into the water, and didn’t speak again for an hour. (pp. 19-20).  As our knowledge of the giver of abundant life’s energy grows, we find our identity secured, our perspective reborn, and our longings fulfilled.  Our desires find rest, and at rest we live and breathe free. Out of a place of rest, our creative pursuits continue—we find energy.   You can read part one of the series on energy below.      

 

   

     

       
       
        
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                   The truth is that life on Capitol Hill is draining. You put in your three to four years in your early twenties until you physically can no longer stand it, and then you leave to lobby. It’s a vicious cycle that is not only hurting the employees but is honestly hurting our nation. How do we reshape Capitol Hill work culture in a way that creates sustainable energy instead of continuous burnout? 
                 
              

              

              
                 
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	 Apr 20, 2016

Issue 011: Energy What if the energy of abundant life can fill our work for all of our days? And what if its rhythm becomes the natural flow of any human endeavor? Creating beauty calls us to live true to the rhythms of human energy. How do we capture it, use it, restore it—and create, again and again? 

      ISSUE 010: BEAUTY FROM ASHES  Beauty rises from the ashes. Can it be possible?  At the end of a desert journey, after what we think we know has been undone, when our political categories are shattered, and the dream of saving America has run its futile course, we are empty. We are empty like a vast desert landscape at the end of winter.  As the season of cold darkness ends, there’s no denying our change in perspective now. The old habits of motivating out of fear and manipulating with moral anger leave the country desolate. They leave us—the political activists—desolate too.  But the desert snow that once blinded our journey melts, and with it our fear and anger and moral outrage can all melt away too.  The first breath of spring clears the air, and beyond anything we could have imagined, the ice, now melted,  gives life to a desert bloom . A valley of death becomes a valley of life.  The story we are telling is upended by beauty.  There may be some who resist the idea of beauty in politics, calling it naïve, foolish, even morally wrong. The truth is we’ve all had a part in the horror of political dysfunction. The incredible news that cannot be contained is we all get to write the story of restoration.  But we aren’t writing this story alone. All of creation is declaring the kindness and strong beauty of the author, crying out for his return.  The old story will smolder and scatter with the dust. Spring returns. We sink deeper into freedom. Beauty rises from the ashes.    You can read part one of the series on beauty from ashes below.       

 

   

     

       
       
        
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                   “For 467 days during 1948 and 1949, the City of Berlin was kept alive by an Airbridge of Allied Aircraft bringing food and other essentials from the West.”  If beauty will truly rise from the ashes of dysfunctional, fearful, and angry politics, we’re going to need inspiration from great stories and even greater generations. 
                 
              

              

              
                 
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	 Mar 2, 2016

Issue 010: Beauty From Ashes Beauty rises from the ashes. Can it be possible? At the end of a desert journey, when our political categories are shattered and the dream of saving America has run its futile course, we are empty. The truth is we’ve all had a part in the horror of political dysfunction. The incredible news that cannot be contained is we all get to write the story of restoration. 

      Issue 009: A Desert Journey   A Desert Journey.  Why is it that dreams of a rich, full life so often bring us desolation instead? For followers of Jesus, the idea has added significance: he spent forty days in the wilderness before telling us about restoration and the promise of freely given abundant life. In America, Martin Luther King, Jr. embarked on his own desert journey to undo decades of racial tension—animosity even—in a nation founded on the created equality of all people, while dreams of freedom reborn still struggle to survive the journey from rhetoric to reality.  Today as the excitement of the holidays drifts away, winter sets in. Summer becomes a memory too distant to satisfy, and at best we seek out whatever adventure we can find in snowboarding, or snow running. All the while the ache for spring’s return grows stronger.  But in the cold and the quiet, in the longing, in the stillness and desolation, a new hope begins to stir. Stripped to the bare essence of existence, we find as we wander through the desert that old and worn ideas connect to form new ideas, a fresh perspective. The uncanny paradox is that in a place seemingly empty of life, out of the ashes life begins anew. We journey through the desert not to die, but to be reborn.   You can read part one of the series on a desert journey below.       

 

   

     

       
       
        
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                   We need to see that burnout isn’t actually burnout. What I mean is, it happens for a reason; it’s a symptom of much deeper and larger issues. The short of it is that—as I have seen firsthand over the past decade—the unity of Truth and Beauty in political culture is so rare that we need to begin building a new framework to rethink how we engage from the inside.  
                 
              

              

              
                 
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	 Jan 13, 2016

Issue 009: A Desert Journey A new hope begins to stir. Stipped to the bare essence of existence, we find as we wander through the desert that old and worn ideas connect to form new ideas, a fresh perspective. The uncanny paradox is that in a place seemingly empty of life, out of the ashes life begins anew. We journey through the desert not to die, but to be reborn.