Friday, September 30, 2005

oh dear...a vicious pincer?

we are trying to get ready for winter by insulating part of our house. costly and messy. this quote from howard kunstler makes me wonder how things will be as the cold sets in here in North America.
fair warning: if you follow the link you will discover mr kunstler is eloquent but, much of the time, hypberbolic. he's also not averse to using language that causes offense. i tend to think he is somewhere between a much-needed stone crying out and a doomsdaying madman. worth listening to, never the less.

"...In any case, I don't expect oil prices in America to lay low for long. By Christmas, gasoline pump prices will have joined home heating prices
in a vicious pincer around the neck of the non-rich classes.
The serious public conversation of our energy predicament has not begun, and when it does it will be too late. In the background of all this, an economy based on suburban sprawl and easy motoring is going to absolutely fall on its ass, and that means a much quicker end to the housing bubble than we might have expected a month ago. It might also lead to both the demise of the airline industry and the nationalization of what remains of it. It will certainly quash any remaining faith that such an economy can produce wealth, which is what the financial markets are based on, so look out below on Wall Street."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

make poverty visible

poverty, for many north americans, is a (third) world away. That changed (for the most part) when wind and water belted the city of New Orleans and much of the gulf coast. this quote says it best...

"To be poor in America was to be invisible, but not after this week, not after those images of the bedraggled masses at the Superdome, convention center and airport. No one can claim that the post-Reagan orthodoxy of low taxes and small government, which does wonders for the extremely rich, also inevitably does wonders for the extremely poor. What was that about a rising tide lifting all boats? What if you don't have a boat?" (source)

we like to keep our poor out of sight because it disturbs us to see others in need. it upsets our comfort and it stirs some holy compassion. here's an example of how it works in our city of lexington. one of my friends who is homeless went missing for a few days last week. speaking with him yesterday i discovered he had been in jail for 4 days. turns out he was having a beer with a friend in a local park in the sunshine of a late afternoon. he wasn't drunk, neither was his friend. they had one beer each. they didn't have a living room to meet in. the park is the place where they visit with one another but the police decided they had broken the 'open container' law (a law that stops some people drinking in public places - i guarantee that if my wife and i had been there with a bottle of wine we would not have spent 4 days in jail). i believe the arrest of my friend has much more to say about the offense caused by seeing people so clearly without their own home than it does about any legal infraction.

the work of biblical advocacy is making poverty visible and my hope is that we, the people of God, can help keep 'the least of these' in the sight of the nation. we will certainly need to help make poverty visible before there will be the sustained inspiration to make it history.

homelessness and the web - a curious post script:
this week alone i have had emails from a homeless friend wanting to add me to his yahoo profile information (b'day, address, hobbies, etc.). another man who we are trying to help find housing told me to "google it" when trying to recall the name of an income based apartment complex.
this link includes several "homeless bloggers". strange days.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mad Farmers from Kentucky

The following piece was in one of our local free newspapers (the nougat). David is the local farmer who has graciously taken us in and is helping us make the connection between our food and farming. The title is a tip of the hat to a beautiful poem called Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by fellow Kentuckian Mr Wendell Berry.

Guest Opinion: A Mad Farmer Rants
By David Wagoner

More than 200 years ago, the northeastern corner of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region became home to my paternal ancestors. What followed is a fairly common family history for Nicholas Countians: generations of farmers worked hard to keep a foothold on marginal land, raised big families, and subsisted in much the same way their ancestors had back in the Old World.

During the second half of the 20th Century, all of this changed for my family. The continuity was broken. As it turned out, I grew up in Lexington, not on a farm. But I came into farming, and found a little farm that was once my ancestors’ stomping grounds. It is a good home, worthy of all the attention and labor I can put into it, and it provides me with a modest living.

The greatest hope I have is to farm here sustainably, improving the land and our farming methods as we go, ultimately leaving the place better than we found it. This is often a terribly lonely task. As I toil in the field, or walk along trails on the farm, or wade in the creek, year by year, a thought repeatedly comes back to me: more people who eat to stay alive and healthy must participate in this effort to care for the land, so that it will continue to provide for us.

In our wealthy nation, less than two in a hundred people are farmers. Most are overworked and underpaid. In the name of providing cheap food, conventional farmers are charged with the horrendous tasks of tearing apart the land, chemicalizing it, polluting the water that washes over it and carries away the topsoil. The great majority of Americans never lift a finger to plant a seed or pick a fruit or gather an egg or stick a pig. But what is much worse, an insidious threat to our survival, is that more and more people are willing to give not even a moment’s thought to the origins of their food, and the requirements—nowadays destructive almost without exception—of creating it. In today’s agriculture, especially in the U.S., economies of scale are working against nature’s economy. The stakes get ever higher, farms get bigger, multinational agribusiness corporations consume one another. Conscientious consumers beware: food brands that bear the label “USDA Organic” are not immune to this trend towards unsustainable agribusiness.

What can we do to change this trend? Seek out land to get to know, and grow something on it—in your own yard, in a community garden, on a farm. Volunteer. Work. Use your weekends, use vacation time. Buy locally, eat seasonally, yes, but go further than that. Get to know your source more intimately. Realize that most farmers who are working towards farming in nature’s image—sustainably, organically—are earning so little pay for their efforts that they themselves are virtually volunteering on their own land in the name of good stewardship and good food. Many have bypassed lucrative careers in town to spend lifetimes working the land for little in return beyond knowing that their small piece of the wondrous blue-green earth is staying productive and healthy. They could easily fail without your support. Many already have. There have been days when I have felt ready to give up, and a couple of hours’ help on the farm from a customer has lifted my spirits and renewed my will to go on.

Action may seem to be optional now. But the writing is large on the wall that it will take more than two people in a hundred to work the land, to know the land, in order for us all to be fed. More of us must step back from the hyper-stimulation and over-mediation of what now passes for normal life.

We presently have the great luxury of easing back toward a sustainable, local and land-based economy. In decades to come, the urgency of this transition, likely forced by a scarcity of petroleum and clean water, will make for a less comfortable, if not calamitous, transition to a more sane way of life.

This is not a mess for future generations to clean up. This is ours. The time is now. Let’s get in touch with our inner Mad Farmer and get to real work.

Teach-in about Mountain Top Removal

"Lost Mountains: A Look at Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Kentucky"
a three-day "teach-in" with films, music, readings, panel and group discussions
Wednesday September 28th to Friday September 30th
University of Kentucky campus, Lexington. See schedule below
Wednesday September 28th
All Day - films & discussion of films - UK Student Center
The films include "Mucked," a history of surface mining in the East; Appalshop's "To Save the Land and People"; and a recent film about mountaintop removal titled "Razing Appalachia."*

4:00 p.m. Panel discussion, "Mountaintop Removal from Different Perspectives"
Room 230 of the Student Center.
Panel members:* Teri Blanton, former chair of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) and UK Rockefeller Scholar* Joe Childers, Lexington lawyer and former counsel to KFTC; * Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council; * John Morgan, of Morgan Worldwide Engineering; and * Erik Reece, of the UK Department of English and the Environmental Studies program.

Thursday September 29th
Two sessions presented by Judith Hensley of Wallins Elementary Schoolin Harlan County, will tell how a student project helped block mining ofthe mountain.
First Session:- 12:30 p.m. Room 158 Taylor Education Building
Second Session:- 2:45 p.m. Room 230 Student Center*

4:00 p.m. Readings on the story of Black Mountain. "Voices to the Hills" - Student Center Theater Readers will include: Anne Shelby, Erik Reece, Randall Roorda, Kayla Whitaker, Nick Smith, Anne Bornschein, Erik Tuttle and Gurney Norman

Friday September 30th
12:00 Noon: A combination panel-performance of "Lost Mountains, Found Voices" by musicians Rich Kirby, Deborah Thompson and Randy Wilson.
John Jacob Niles Center for American Music in the Lucille Little Fine Arts Library.

Appalachian Studies Program
Appalachian Center
Appalachian & Minority Science
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Majors
Creative Writing Program
Department of Education Studies
Policy Evaluation
Department of History
Kentucky Women Writer's Conference
Gaines Center for the Humanities
John Jacob Niles Center
The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is providing additional support.

Shaunna Scott
(859) 257-6882

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

4th graders save a mountain!

Saving Black Mountain:
How an elementary school project helped stop mountain top removal
Thursday September 29th at 12:30 and 2:45
On Thursday, September 29, Judith Hensley, a science teacher at Wallins Elementary School in Harlan County, will be speaking on campus as part of a three day teach-in on mountain top removal. She will speak about how she worked with her 4th grade science class on environmental projects that eventually led to the students successfully testifying in Frankfort to save Black Mountain from mountain top removal. Her talk is being sponsored by the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation, the Department of History, the Appalachian Studies Program, and the COE Dean's office. She will be speaking at 12:30 in the COE auditorium and then at 2:45 in room 230 of the New Student Center.

for more information contact:
Michele Duda
Educational Services Assistant
University of Kentucky
College of Education
Office of the Dean
(859) 257-2813

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rick Warren repents

I have read a good number of articles in various publications about Rick Warren and I must say, despite his style being quite the opposite of mine, i have kind of warmed to him in recent days.(pause.......gasp.....did he just say that!)
i thought "the purpose driven church" was horrible but "the purpose driven life" seemed to be getting somewhere ("you are made for mission").

So, this morning i am reading a copy of The New Yorker (Sept. 12, 2005) and came across an article by Malcolm Gladwell called "Letter from Saddleback - The Cellular Church. How Rick Waren's congregation grew (pp.60-67).

It was an interesting and very positive discourse on the nature of cell groups, American Christianity, and the role of the American church in social welfare initiatives - with a background narrative of how Pastor Rick went from wide-eyed-seminary-student to wide-eyed-Hawaiian shirt-wearin'-every-man(womanandchild)-mega-mega-mega-church-type-chap.

In the closing 6 paragraphs, the article gets especially interesting. Gladwell reports that the unbelievable success of "the purpose driven life" caused Rick to do some "soul-searching."
Rick continues...
"God led me to Psalm 72, which is Solomon's prayer for more influence. it sounds pretty selfish. Solomon is already the wisest and wealthiest man in the world. He's the king of Israel at the apex of its glory. And in that psalm he says, 'God, I want you to make me more powerful and influential.' It looks selfish until he says, 'So that the King may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, speak up for the immigrant, the foreigner, be a friend to those in prison.' Out of that Psalm, God said to me that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That changed my life. I had to Repent. I said, I'm sorry, widows and orphans have not been on my radar.....I started reading through scripture. I said, How did i miss the two thousand verses on the poor into he Bible? So i said, I will use whatever affluence and influence that you give me to help those who are marginalized."

Isn't that great! I'm interested that his conversion happened after "the purpose driven life" was written. can't wait for the next book and i hope it also sells over 50 million copies. Anyway, the article finishes out documenting how Rick is working this out personally and through his 'ministry'.
go pastor rick!

[I couldn't find the article online anywhere but if you are local and would like a copy, please email me. ]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

here comes the sun (and wind)

the second annual Bluegrass Energy Expo is on this weekend in the Lexington Convention Center. this is the cutting edge of a practical, positive response to the doom and gloom of our impending energy crisis. see the website for more details.

(from the website )
...An abundance of clean, renewable energy is essential to Kentucky's future prosperity and efforts to ensure that prosperity must begin now, but the transformation to clean, renewable energy is only feasible by greatly improving our energy efficiency.

...We have the knowledge and technology to accomplish this NOW!
...Many of these ideas and technologies pay for themselves quickly and outperform some of the best financial investments available, with virtually no risk.
...The transformation to clean, renewable energy will boost Kentucky's economy, help clean up Kentucky's environment, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil

Monday, September 19, 2005

Running about like headless chickens

And... (drumroll, please...) the results of our Urbanly Challenged adventure! It left us both desperately sore after walking/jogging/missing-the-bus for three hours, and our brains hurt after multiplying Emmy nominations by former Diamondbacks players batting averages. But in the end we came to the grand conclusion of the race to discover that no, what's-her-name's father was indeed alive at the end of Scream.... blast the old Lamba Chi Alpha. Well, if we had to beat our feet sore over this whole area, the least you can do is explore the map to discover where we went.
(There's more...)

Special thanks go to Brian, Rebekah, Bill, and Mike for helping us get around, and also thanks to those who offered help (but whom we failed to call during the chaos of the morning). BTW: Next year we're going to rock this game!

another farm trip

some of us are heading out to the farm again on saturday (sept. 24) to get our hands in the earth and learn more about where all this wonderful food comes from. this is part of our ongoing commitment to (re)discover the sacred ways of agriculture so that we might be better kingdom people. (see here here for more about this...and make sure you read Billy's comment).

if you are interested in coming contact ryan or geoff and we can let you in on the details.

(see if you can spot isaac and ryan tending to the tomato plants)

going, going........gone?

This article about church life in the United Kingdom paints a dire picture:

"Church attendance could be down to two per cent of the population by 2040 if current trends continue, a new forecast suggested this week. As a result, 18,000 churches might close."

and finishes with this:

"The organisation [Christian Research] recognised that initiatives like Fresh Expressions were beginning to have an impact, she said; but there needed to be "masses more" such initiatives in order to reverse the decline. "We do have a window of opportunity now. We need at every level throughout all the churches to be working strategically to be turning these around."

This kind of research can spark lots of nailbiting and cause people to wonder what to do to 'protect' the church. i would hope any strategies employed by the church in the UK (and eventually here in the US) will be squarely focused on promoting the common good. perhaps losing oneself (even if you are the church) is the only way to be found.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Earth is the Lord's, and all that is in it...

Our opposition to Mountain Top Removal (MTR) will find some practical outworking in the coming weeks and it seems there are increasing networks of Christians joining the struggle to end this horrible practice (see here for more background).

In a recent issue of Newsweek, a man named Allen Johnson was featured as an "Eco-Christian". here are a couple of quotes from the piece...

"Johnson hopes the stewardship of the land will be a unifying, not a dividing, issue. Believers disagree on many subjects, but, he says, 'God has called all of us seriously, and we should agree on one thing: to take care of his earth.'"


"My identity is not as an environmentalist," he says. "It's as a Christian. Because I am Christian, I should be involved with social justice, the poor, the needy. Environmentalism is one thing in my circle, but it's not my center."

See the whole article here.
Also, check out the web site for "Christians for the Mountains" - several of us are planning to make it to the upcoming conference.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Ad and Shameless Plea

I came home tonight to discover that Lisa and I are enrolled in the Urban Challenge here in Lexington this weekend (September 17th!). It's a scavenger-hunt style race around downtown Lexington, looking for historic and/or notable places based on clues.

We're shamelessly advertising that friends are invited to come down to join the race party at the Sayre School on Saturday morning, and equally shamelessly pleading for extra help on our clue-decoding team. For the party goers, there will be pizza and drinks; and for the clue team there will be our eternal gratitude for knowing where the "Latrobe House" is, or who dies at the end of the "Manchurian Candidate".

If you're interested in either the party or the team, let us know!

- Clinton & Lisa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bleu Cheesy Advertisement

It snuck up on us-- this weekend is the annual Roots and Heritage Festival. Last year several of us enjoyed the good music, food, and seeing me wear a "FREE HOT DOGS" sandwich board during the battle of the bands.

This year, Clinton and I live just a block away from all the festivities. Except for one that is, our neighbor has informed me that she is having a Fish Fry in her front yard-- not only fish, but other things as well, including WINGS!! Anyone who knows me will understand what a dream come true it is to have wings sold right next door! I would encourage anyone who can to come and enjoy the festival and stop by Sandra's at 332 Ohio St for some good food.

Here's the menu:
Fish Dinners $6
Chicken Wing Dinners $5
Beans and Rice $3 (we got a sample of this tonight and it is yummy!)
And-egg rolls, baked beans, cole slaw, desserts and drinks

You'll have a good chance of finding me in the front yard covered with wing sauce and bleu cheese dressing!

(Title courtesy of my sweet husband!)