Thursday, June 30, 2005

an answer to a question

last night in men's group we asked each other how we are. i opted out by saying i couldn't tell. i am currently reading a novel in which the main character is living with a guerlilla group in spain when the communists were trying to overthrow the fascist government. in this particular part he is in a discussion with a half-gypsy woman in the group. she was explaining to him how she can intuit certain things not explicit to sensory experience. he disagrees with her, explaining things in physiological language. she replies, "thou art a miracle of deafness. it is not that thou art stupid. thou art simply deaf. one who is deaf cannot hear music. neither can he hear the radio. so he might say, having never heard them, that such things do not exist." and then, "do not doubt what thou simply cannot hear or see. thou canst not hear what a dog hears. nor canst thou smell what a dog smells. But already thou hast experinced a little of what can happen to a man."

i don't think i can directly correlate my experience to the man's. i am not struggling with the exact things. but yet, in some way, i feel as though i am losing my hearing and neither my sight nor my smell are improving to compensate.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

a seedy mob

another link...
this is a fantastic reflection from marcus curnow (urban seed, melbourne, australia). it amazed me that many of the things their community talked about on sunday connected with our conversation on sunday...and all these miles away! must have something to do with meta-koinonia.

aside from it being a powerful reflection on being the people of God, it is a brilliant example of contextualized witness and identity. mark, marcus, and the rest of the team are gently shaping a new church to think about themselves locally engaged in a global movement of God's blessing. This is an encouragement to me and a challenge to be more creative about the ways we work out these things in Lexington.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sunday evening service

A group of us sat around the tables Sunday evening in the fellowship hall, awaiting the lasagnas still steaming in the corner as the gathering was opened with prayer. A church potluck? Not exactly. Lisa and I had been invited to the Gay/Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) Awards Banquent, and so we were seated at the tables of the Unitarian Universalist Church on Clay's Mill Road. The GLSO, as the name implies, is an association of organizations involved in service to the gay community, including AVOL, Movable Feast, Pride of the Bluegrass, and GSA.

(There's more)

Lisa and I were there as guests of Movable Feast, which delivers free meals nightly in the greater Lexington area to those living with HIV/AIDS and Bluegrass Hospice patients. Having volunteered with them for the past four years, including a summer of working full-time in the kitchen, Lisa was unknowingly designated their "volunteer of the year" for the banquet.

During the course of the ceremony, Terry, the director of Moveable Feast, stood up front and described Lisa's dedication and service and invited her up to be recognized. She received her award with a hug... and came back again to sit next to me at the table, as probably the only straight couple in the crowd.

I, for one, was thankful to be carried on her coattails to this Kingdom event.

monkey bread

please take the time to check out this post from lisa.
a beautiful reflection on our sunday morning gathering and the ways we commune ...
it is a continued joy (and education) to follow the perceptions and experiences of a new person in our community.

dirty filthy love

saw this great movie over the weekend. it is a "darkly funny" british film - mostly dark, a little bit funny. brilliantly scripted and directed. we all felt a bit worn out after seeing it...good stories well told tend to have a physical (visceral?) effect. the main characters suffer from OCD and related disorders that pull back the curtain on some highly amplified thought lives. at one point the heroin of the story is explaining the 'disease' of OCD to a fellow sufferer. she says most people filter out the random worries of each tiny action/condition (lights on or off, hands clean or dirty, sitting down, showering, shaving, getting out of bed, etc.) yet, for OCD sufferers, this white noise is overwhelming and prompts highly unusual behaviors.

one of the most memorable scenes for me was when our heroin leads her comrades (support group) into a farm yard to kneel in the mud and push the wet, filthy soil and manure through their fingers for 5 minutes. it was excruciating to watch these people overcome such fear and repulsion yet it was also one of the highest moments of love as they encouraged one another and reminded each other what they are recovering from.

this manure-moment struck me as a nice metaphor for our fellowship and other gatherings. we're all in recovery from obsession over things that are unlikely to really matter in the long run (by 'long run' i mean our lives here-and-now as much as i mean in the by-and-by). we are caught up in the white noise of our consumer culture. we are recovering consumer addicts (or perhaps we are 'too clever' to be mall rats...we are more addicted to minimalist living, downward mobility, being radical - whatever that means - and generally more interested in a grunge/granola lifestyle than the mission of God). we all know what can most easily distract us from loving God and neighbor.....anyway, when we gather, we stick our hands in the manure of our lives and share the despair over the apparent distance between the dreams of God and our 'real' world. and then we might dare to read some scripture and discover there are mustard seeds of hope germinating and throwing up small, green shoots of protest and celebration, fasting and feasting. reminds me of another of my favorite movie lines... at the end of I (heart) Huckabees the despondent would-be-poet claims that, "there is no magic without the manure."
(or somethig like that)

so i would suggest you see the movie and perhaps see yourself in the movie - and i am glad we have a dirty filthy loving community.

a note about the dvd cover looks like something it's not. The woman pictured is actually washing his hair and lovingly bringing him back from a low place of depression and self-neglect/abuse. and on that note...fair warning: the movie is, at times, a bit rude.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

in the news...

Our community has played a key role in a couple of newsworthy events in recent days.

Check out these local reports on:

the Mountain Justice Rally


the World Refugee Day Celebration

thanks to everyone who made these events possible.

Monday, June 13, 2005

let the little children...

Last Sunday afternoon at Veteran's Park, surrounded by witnesses and a table full of food, our faith community vowed to raise a handfull of children in ways that will bless this world and honor God. Maria showed the children how to anoint each other. They did so reverently, and then got busy playing.

As the oil was applied, a joyful shout came from a crowd of parents watching a little league game. This reminded me of another afternoon when Jodie and I came to this park to watch kids play ball. We hardly had time to appreciate the miniature uniforms and the kids' game faces before parents all around us were shouting at their kids. Reminders included:
  • "Keep your eye on the ball";
  • "Be ready for a grounder";
  • "You don't have to be right on the bag, honey".
Many of these shouts had a degree of urgency.

Then a ball was hit soundly and a lot of action ensued, with a corresponding increase in parental shouting. This concluded with a play at home plate, where the runner was tagged and called out. Half of the parents' voices raised in pitch and volume. Whatever this teenage umpire was being paid, it was not enough. I was soon embarrassed for these parents. I repressed an urge to cut a hole in the fence in left field and set these kids free from this.

We were not able to stay after this. Jodie and walked away from the scene and talked about how the tendencies we observed are likely in us too, waiting for the arrival of a child who will esteem our opinions more than we probably deserve. With what would we replace these tendencies? How could we honor our kids instead?

To hear Sherry read that children come through us, not to us, and that they are not our belongings, was a beautiful corrective. This points toward another way to love our children. We are watching the parents around us honor their children by protecting them, denying them some things, letting them play, letting them make choices. Here is another way in which we continue to be blessed and healed as we watch and pray with this body.

World Refugee Day

June 20th is World Refugee Day.
This year the theme is courage: the courage it takes to overcome staggering adversity and to survive resettlement.
we celebrate the profound gift of courage and how much we can learn from these dislocated people who make their homes in a strange land.

If you are in lexington please come and celebrate and remember with us at Phoenix Park (downtown, next to the Central Library).
It is a brown bag event and there will be
children's activities
and great music courtesy of the Big Maracas.
There is also a small photo display on the second floor of the downtown branch of the public library.
T-Shirts (with the map and text above) will be available for purchase...

if you live in other places, check out the UNHCR page or your local Refugee settlement agency for celebrations near you.

we relish the chance to care for the stranger in our midst because it is an essential part of the good news of the kingdom coming.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

just because i wanted to tell...

I have a little story to share and I'm sure it has a point (probably not very unique), but telling the point isn't my point -- I just want to tell about it because it made me happy. Yesterday I was out for a bike ride and I was going up and down the streets around Duncan Park, sort of daydreaming. And I went by this little house on that street that comes out by the church there (Greater Soul Deliverance?) and there was this old African American man sitting on the porch by himself reading. He was probably in his late '60s. And there was the chain link fence, and trash lying about and me on my green bike and he in his metal folding chair and the hot sun glaring down and it was really quiet and no one else was around. And I was just whizzing by him -- or actually, sort of meandering, if you can meander on a bike -- and just as I passed him I caught a glimpse of what he was reading: The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. It was an old scrubby paperback version, like the type book you would get at thrift store maybe, which is exactly where I got my copy. So I hesitated a moment and then wheeled around and came back to him and pulled my bike up to his fence. He was pretty engrossed so I hesitantly sort of called out (twice actually): "Hey. ... Hey! [embarrassed smile] Hi. Are you reading The Chosen?" He looked up, blinked at me, confused, and nodded. I said, "By Potok?" (It occurred to me there might be many books with that title.) He nodded silently again.

Then I grinned pretty big because I really loved that book too. And I told him how much I liked it, he sat up and smiled, and we both chatted about how good it is. He said, "Yeah, I'm almost done here. In the last chapter now." And then I told him there's a sequel and we talked a bit about that as well. I felt good and he was sort of smiling too, maybe both of us aware of how incongruous the moment was. But then I didn't have anything else to say so I sort of ventured, "Umm, well, okay... goodbye!" And he waved and I rode off.

But it just gave me a little burst of happiness. He and I probably couldn't have been more different; yet there we were sharing our mutual enjoyment of a novel about two Hasidic Jewish teenage boys growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s.

Well, that's all.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

moving mountains (continued)

there is an important week coming up.
for those of us interested in the universe of justice issues needing attention in Kentucky, mountain top removal is a critical matter that demands attention. Communality is hosting the event (below) on June 15th and the High St House (112 W. High St) will be a base of operations for the weeklong leg of the Lexington campaign. here's a brief statement about mountain justice summer...

Mountain Justice Summer is a campaign of concerned organizations and individuals that will put thenational spotlight on the devastation caused by mountain top removal mining. Participants are committed to outreach, education, and non-violentcivil disobedience in our drive towards environmental and social justice for the residents of theAppalachian coalfields. We will visit West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania and beyond in witness, and in action, to save the land and people from the gluttonous greed of King Coal. You are invited to spend this summer defending our mountains and our heritage. Please join us, as we put an end, forever, to mountain top removal mining!

see here for the previous related post with links to more information.
...and here's the role-call for June 12th-17th:

Mountain Justice Summer
For an End to Mountain Top Removal Mining in Kentucky!

Wednesday, June 8 – Sunday, June 12
MJS Direct Action Training Camp
near Louisa, KY
Please visit and complete a registration form to attend these workshops on forest skills and scouting, first aid, and conducting safe and effective acts of civil disobedience.

Sunday, June 12
Mountain Witness Tour
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth brings the city kids and suburbanites out to see and hear for themselves the impacts of MTR mining on Eastern Kentucky’s landscape and communities. Please contact Kevin at to attend.

Monday, June 13
KFTC Coal Haulers Survey

Overloaded coal trucks are a constant threat to the lives and safety of residents in Eastern Kentucky. Join us as we interview coal truck drivers for a fresh perspective on how King Coal attempts to divide workers and environmentalists, and collect valuable data to support ongoing KFTC lawsuits. Contact to participate.

Tuesday, June 14
Mountain Top Removal Film Festival
The Kentucky Theater, Lexington, KY
Five Films for $5! Showtime is 5:30 pm.
5:30 “Mucked - Man Made Disaster: Flash Flooding in the Coalfields”
6:35 “To Save the Land and People” 7:40 “Kilowatt Ours”
8:45 “Sludge”
10:00 “The End of Suburbia – Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the
American Dream”

Wednesday June 15 – Thursday June 16
Banner, Sign & Puppet Making Parties
Help us craft materials in peparation for the rush hour rally in Lexington. Please contact Stephanie at to donate your cloth, paints, creative ideas, and artistic abilities.

Wednesday, June 15
Clean Water Act Workshop
Lexington, KY
Members of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance present an illuminating workshop on changes to the Clean Water Act, introduced by our federal government, that streamline mine permitting, and the terrible consequences for Kentucky’s water systems. In the days following the workshop, join us at the banks of threatened waters as we test for key water quality indicators, and collect data to be submitted to the EPA. Please contact Dave at to attend and participate.

Thursday, June 16
Downtown Canvass
Lexington, KY
The Lexington Environmental Action Project’s canvass of Lexington. Tell
Kentucky Utilities: No more coal from MTR mines!
Please contact Perrin at to participate.

Friday, June 17
Rally to End Mountain Top Removal

Lexington, KY
Bring your banners and drums to Triangle Park at 4 pm. Hear speakers, songs, and learn ways to achieve a sustainable future for Kentucky, a future beyond coal! Followed by a march past the Kentucky Coal Association and Kentucky Utilities to demand an end to mountain top removal mining!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Slacker Leadership Model

speaking of leadership (flowing from the last post)
check out this great article from the ooze.

the community, the novitiate, and leadership

we're reading the 'new monasticism' book in our discipleship group.
we're up to chapter 6 - "Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate." the chapter deals primarily with ways of entering into a community of disciples. expectations (demands?), responsibilities, commitments, obligations, renouncing old ways/things, etc.

in our discussion last night the chapter also raised questions about leadership and community formation. questions that came up:
how can we have a flat structure and still move together with intentionality?
who will lead?
how do we identify leadership gifting?
what kinds of leadership are there?
who is gifted in what ways?
(personality, character, recent/past experiences, formal training, holiness, etc.)
how do we hold leaders accountable?
how do leaders hold the wider community accountable?
what leadership structure is already in place at Communality? (is it working?)
is there enough intentionality about discipleship at Communality?

(ie. are we given enough ritualistic gateways to inspire deeper commitment?)

we talked about how Communality had evolved over 6 years - starting with the pioneers, self-selected leadership, newcomers distinguishing themselves with faithful servanthood, 'visitors', tourists. we wondered what stage of development we were at as a community and wondered if different stages require different (styles/forms of) leadership. we wondered about how we can visualize our community in terms of the visitor-novitiate-leader concepts - concentric circles?, color spectrum? (light to dark), 3-D cone (ala roxburgh in the "missional church" book ). can we avoid hierarchy? should we avoid hierarchy?

anyway, no real answers to be found in this post. just questions.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

welcome to the samson family

hey samsons,
we're glad you made it and we couldn't be more excited about your joining us in community as we "seek the welfare" of this city together (Jeremiah 29). exile is a lot more manageable when we journey (and settle) together...

...and all of you who are not the samsons....check out this wonderful post from Will.

...and this blog from lisa about their settling in on west third...