The original Greek word for church—ekklesia—meant “the called out ones.” How have you been living called out? The church: a covenanted band of cimarrons? Could it be that Jesus envisioned a social movement that was not a pillar of dominant society, but rather a drastic alternative to dominant society—a group of transformed people called away from a state culture of financial security, structural inequality, and military might? — Todd Wynward










Undomesticated: Wild Thoughts from the Edge of Empire:  Wilderness spirituality called Going Cimarron.    A cimarron is a slave or domesticated animal that goes free, something tame gone wild. The antonym of cimarron is reducido [‘reduced’], used by the Spanish conquistadors as both adjective and noun to characterize and classify tamed Native Americans.

To the wilderness one must go to become cimarron, unshackled by Empire. Our tradition tells us that, in wild places, we become empty enough to become God’s people. In the desert, we repent: we wake up, turn on, turn around, re-vitalize, and are remade by God.

Sin in Greek is a term from archery, meaning “to miss the mark.” Back then, I felt I was a good Christian because my goal was to stay pure in a polluted world. Thirty years later, realizing how shackled I am to Empire-based thinking, I struggle all the time to be a follower of the Way. I find myself missing the mark every day. All too often I seek first my personal kingdom, rather than the kingdom of love and justice Jesus envisioned. I say I want to love my enemy, but I go blithely about my daily business as my nation bombs other nations. I yearn to follow what my Rabbi taught in the sermon on the mount, but I still find myself worrying about tomorrow. Tomorrow, and lots of other things: financial security, health care, college for my son, what people think of me.

Yes, I’m a cimarron child of God, tested in wilderness, someone who has been called out and who lives very differently than dominant society. And I’m also an addict to Empire, compulsively drawn to personal greed, ego gratification, and a haunting callousness to the suffering of other people and the planet. Too often I’m pursuing shiny gadgets instead of sharing food.

I need serious help to be the God-filled person I want to be. I can’t do it alone. I need to be part of a transformative ekklesia—a body of called-out ones, a covenanted band of cimarrons who support one another to embody a parallel society of the Jesus Way even in the shadow of Empire’s might.


In wild un-colonized space, we can find our true selves as children of God, and as cimarron people—no longer so shackled by Empire—we can cultivate kingdom communities that stand in stark contrast to dominant culture. But what might these communities and lifestyles look like?

What kind of creative life choices are bold Jesus followers making in modern America today?

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