Wednesday, October 26, 2005

the mystery of prayer in times of war...

yesterday sometime we passed the sobering mark of 2,000 dead American soldiers. This from a NY Times article today:

But as the nation pays grim tribute today to the 2,000 service members killed in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, their collective stories describe the painful stresses and recurring strains that an extended conflict, with all its demands for multiple tours, is placing on families, towns and the military itself as they struggle to console the living while burying the dead...The milestone of 2,000 dead was marked yesterday by a moment of silence in the Senate, and President Bush said that "the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission."

the war continues in Iraq and i'm really not sure what to believe about how things are over there. sometimes i imagine that the only thing i can do is pray...but then i read this piece from Mark Twain and i wonder if i'm being careful enough about how i petition the Almighty when it comes to armed conflict...

It was a time of great and exalting excitement.
The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way...

read the rest of the war prayer by Mark Twain.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

courage 2

a day to remember this heroic person. to give thanks for her unbelievable courage and grace...a true agent of the Kingdom coming. here's a small excerpt from the NY Times obit.

Rosa Parks, a black seamstress whose refusal to relinquish her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., almost 50 years ago grew into a mythic event that helped touch off the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's, died yesterday at her home in Detroit. She was 92 years old.

For her act of defiance, Mrs. Parks was arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws and fined $10, plus $4 in court fees. In response, blacks in Montgomery boycotted the buses for nearly 13 months while mounting a successful Supreme Court challenge to the Jim Crow law that enforced their second-class status on the public bus system.

The events that began on that bus in the winter of 1955 captivated the nation and transformed a 26-year-old preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. into a major civil rights leader. It was Dr. King, the new pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, who was drafted to head the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization formed to direct the nascent civil rights struggle.

full obit from the NY Times here

Monday, October 24, 2005

Grace on the road.....

Nature seems to have a way of reserving certain special events or prerogatives for herself. There are certain unmistakable things that seem to tether us firmly to the inherent goodness of creation and remind us of just wonderful life is even in the face of the brokenness and evil that we see. One of the most notable examples of this mysterious phenomenon of grace, is the birth of a child and the totally unmerited privilege of being able to co-create with God and bring a new life into the world. There is something about an infant that can incline even the hardest of heart toward at least considering the idea of the divine. And the most atrocious and unfathomable of crimes are almost always those that involve the destruction of innocent young life. Indeed, it is Elie Wiesel commenting in his heartwrenching classic "Night" about the Nazi's dumping truckloads of children into fiery pits (pits that I have walked beside at Birkenau), who says that the sight of such an abomination "put to death" his faith in God. I cannot fathom Wiesel's pain, nor can I presume to "answer" the very real questions that the vicarious experience of his sufferings have raised for me. All that I can say is that becoming a parent has opened a whole new world for me, and has led me into a deeper experience of grace than I ever could have imagined. One particular event in the recent past gave me renewed hope that the very thing that makes the Nazi crimes so atrocious, also makes the light of God's love shine all the brighter in a different set of circumstances.

A couple of weeks ago I was out walking with my daughter Miranda, and we were walking with our backs to the sun. Hearing an odd noise I had turned to look up a sidestreet, and as I returned my gaze to the sidewalk in front of me, I noticed Miranda's sleepy little eyes wincing in the blinding sunlight. When I had turned to look away the sunlight hit her squarely in the face, but when I returned my gaze to our forward path she was suddenly covered in my shadow and able to relax. Almost instantly, I thought about that remarkably hopeful and enigmatic verse in Psalm 91 that says "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the almighty." What a remarkable visual image of that vital promise from the Psalmist, I thought to myself. This helpless little infant being shielded from the scorching rays of the sun by her father is actually me. Likewise, this whole drama of becoming a parent and purposefully taking my daughter out into a very dangerous world, is a large part of what it means to truly rest in the shadow of the almighty. It is an act of trust, I guess, an evidence of faith in the relationship. The rest of the Psalm makes a lot more promises that seem to have returned null and void for a lot people who have not been saved from the "fowler's snare." Or have they been saved in a different way? Was Jesus saved from the "fowler's snare?" These are tough questions for me, and they leave me clinging to those moments in the course of daily life where God seems to be so forcefully present in the midst of the mundane; those moments where there seems to be no separation between the "natural" & the "supernatural," bewteen the "physical" & the "spiritual." It would seem like there is a quality of relationship and a kind of walk with God that can only be found in the shadows of life, in the forgotten and cold places. This is something that the mystics down through the centuries have tried to tell us. But how can you articulate such a thing to another person? Perhaps it is a path that is only discernible when we consciously choose to take it, when the desire to be known overcomes the desire to know? Or maybe it has more to do with truly believing that we can/will step out of the shadows and into the glorious presence of God's light through Christ? Perhaps the psalmist wishes to direct us toward remaining faithful in the shadow of goodness and grace because he knows that only something which is real and solid can cast a shadow in the first place? Even the shadowy places are vital evidences insofar as they point to something that merely blocks the sun for a season? Whatever the case may be, I am thankful to God for speaking to me through nature and the elements.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

missing mountains....the book

Missing Mountains: We went to the mountaintop but it wasn't there
Foreword by Silas House
Afterword by Wendell Berry

edited by Kristin Johannsen, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Mary Ann Taylor-Hall

last friday nights several of us went to witness the launch of this book at Joseph-Beth booksellers. Here is a selection from Mr Berry's afterword:
Eastern Kentucky, in its natural endowments of timber and minerals, is the wealthiest region of our state, and it has now experienced more than a century of intense corporate 'free enterprise,' with the result that it is more impoverished and has suffered more ecological damage than any other region. The worst inflicter of poverty and ecological damage has been the coal industry, which has taken from the region a wealth probably incalculable, and has imposed the highest and most burdening 'costs of production' upon the land and the people. Many of these costs are, in the nature of things, not repayable. Some were paid by people now dead and beyond the reach of compensation. Some are scars on the land that will not be healed in any length of time imaginable by humans.
more about the book here. Please buy a copy. All the proceeds go to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

human trafficking

for a while sherry and i went to the Amnesty International student group at the University of Kentucky. we still get their emails and i followed a recent action alert to the amnesty (usa) site.
AI are using a new miniseries (2 nights) on the Lifetime channel to bring awareness to the terrible and very present practice of human trafficking. it will be showing this monday and tuesday nights (24th and 25th, 9pm ET).
you can get more details (fact sheets, promo materials, how to host a viewing party, etc) here. we don't get cable so we might have to wait till it is out on DVD. If anyone would like to host a viewing party please let us know and we can get the details out.

Friday, October 21, 2005

i accept ugly

thanks (again) to jonny for putting us on to Howies - one of the new breed of businesses willing to do their retailing in fresh/ethical ways. their website has some wonderful stuff....i'm a big fan of the food reflections, particularly the "i accept ugly" piece.

I Accept Ugly.
I accept that fruit and vegetables come in all shapes and sizes.
Like life, it takes all sorts.
I accept apples that don't have perfect skin.
(Remember being a teenager?)
I also accept scary looking carrots, over-sized swedes and onions so ugly they make your eyes water.
I accept blemishes on cauliflower leaves especially as we don't eat that bit anyway.
I accept rhubarbs that are taller than corporate policy.
I accept potatoes come from the ground. I have also come to terms with the fact they may well have dirt on as a result.
And as for turnips, well, they were never meant to be one of nature's good-lookers.
You see, nature grew them all. Nature gave them the OK. And, this is the important bit, nature gave these ugly critters as much goodness as the pretty ones.
These are shallow times, I know.
Even so, to throw away 20-30% of the food we grow on the grounds that it's not pretty enough, seems like we have lost the garden plot.
You say your customers demand it this way, well, just so you know, this one doesn't.

By A Customer that accepts ugly

thinking and acting

found this quote from Georges Bernanos . i read something Robert Coles said about him and knew nothing of Bernanos so i 'googled' him. Coles seemed to be intrigued by the irony and ambiguity of his life. i'm not sure about all that but i loved this quote:

"A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all."

some others i liked...

"The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means."

"The modern state no longer has anything but rights; it does not recognize duties any more."

"The wish to pray is a prayer in itself. God can ask no more than that of us."

"Truth is meant to save you first, and the comfort comes afterward."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

missing mountains

Friday, October 21st at 7pm
at Joseph Beth Booksellers (Lexington Green).

Wendell Berry, Silas House, Ed McClanahan, Bob Sloan, Kristin Johannsen, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, Jordan Fisher Smith, Rebecca Bailey, Chris Holbrook, George Brosi, James Baker Hall and Loyal Jones.

A growing number of authors are speaking and writing against the highly destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining that takes place upstream from Central Kentucky in the Appalachian coalfields. Authors from two coalfield tours coordinated by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth will share their views and discuss their forthcoming book "Missing Mountains".
Come out to listen to a phenomenal array of Kentucky Authors and to show your support for KFTC's work against Mountaintop Removal.

there is no 'away'

in a recent paper written for this week's Kingdom Conference, Howard Snyder writes this:
Recycle things rather than throwing them "away" realizing that waste products never really go "away."

There is no "away". It's all here...even if we do put it in a truck and drive down the road with it. After Dr Snyder delivered the opening chapel address yesterday morning i had a great chat to Clinton about the underlying problems with the lack of environmental concern among evangelicals. Clinton rightly pointed out that all the recycling in the world won't necessarily help people sense the urgent need for serious creation care. i suggested that perhaps there can be significant change if disciplines like recycling are 'means of grace'..that is to say, if they really become as formative in our lives as older Christian traditions such as prayer and gathering together each week. At the heart of this transformation will be a de-comodification of the earth....we will learn (again) that WE ARE PART OF THE CREATED WORLD. it reminded me of this great rant from Wendell Berry (source):

We need to quit referring to the world as “the environment.” That phrase proposes that the world merely surrounds us, is external to us, is “out there.” If that were so, our problems would be fewer and simpler. But in fact the world is not something “out there” that we have or own. The so-called “environment” doesn’t stay put. We are in it and it is in us. We breathe it in and out. We drink it, eat it, and excrete it. When it is degraded, we are degraded; when it is poisoned, we are poisoned. Calling the world “the environment” suggests to too many people that they can abuse it free of charge. By calling the world by its right name, we would make it far easier to say to the polluters, spoilers, and wasters (including, of course, ourselves): “This is our world. We (and you too) are the world’s people. What we do to it we do to ourselves and to one another and to our children. What we do to others, even or enemies, we do to ourselves.

two links

1. we need new ways to 'make energy'....not sure about this one. Montana Coal Rush

2. If you live in Lexington and are interested in participating in the redevelopment of an important historical landmark.....go here. this old theatre is just a block away from where we live and i hope its future is as uplifting and impressive as its past.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

YOU brought me to his banqueting table......

One of the things that I really love about our community is that it truly takes a colloborative effort by all to make it happen right. Though it sometimes seems to me like it would be a lot easier to go another route, I deeply appreciate the way that we struggle together to try and live out the priesthood of all believers principle, and avoid defaulting to a dependence upon one persons gift or charisma to lift the lot. I'm not saying that we always do this well, or that we all share a clear and collective sense of what it is that we're trying to do in the first place. We need to keep working on building a more mutually shared identity, and we need to continue being honest, humble, and sober in our communal and self-evaluations. However, in the midst of the imperfections that continue to persist, I see brilliant rays of light bursting through that give me a great deal of hope in what God is doing and a lot of excitment about the future. Though they may currently (or by their very nature) be more rare than we would like, those moments in which we're able to come together and truly be the organic "body" of Christ, are truly special times that make the Kingdom seem like it is indeed coming; and they are moments that are very real, tested, durable achievements shared by everyone. Sunday's evening fellowship meeting at the High Street House was one of those moments for me.

This past Sunday was our bi-weekly time to assemble as a "family" and share a meal together. Our evening began with John & Katheryn gathering us in the front room for the welcome and the reading of the relevant lectionary passages. The gospel reading was from Matthew 22, the parable of the wedding banquet. John and Katheryn shared with us the wonderful news that they are currently looking for a house and planning to remain in Lexington for several more years. Naturally, the news was in itself a wonderful and joyous revelation. But it wasn't just the news that made it so special. It was the manner in which they shared it. They related their decision to remain in Lexington to Jesus' teaching in the parable about not just showing up to the banquet, but coming to it in a state of preparedness and being ready to honor the host with the proper attitude and reverence. It was a very powerful and deeply convicting message that came straight from the heart. After sharing, they opened the door to the middle room where they had the communion elements in the front of the dining tables waiting to serve us. Katheryn led us in serving one another the eucharist, and then we sat down to a wonderful Chipotle dinner with a tantalizing homemade dessert provided by Robert and Will T.(Will works at Chipotle). Almost everyone was present on this particular night, so their was a lot of good dinner time conversation and the energy that is always palpable when we're really enjoying our time together and simply being grateful for it. It was just one of those nights where we seemed to have a real sense of purpose in gathering, and where everyone seemed content to share what they had to offer. It was truly a special evening for me; a glimpse of the Kingdom that really left me feeling like I had been hosted at the banqueting table of a very different kind of King.

Again, I know that we don't always get it right, and we don't always feel the same way about a given event or set of circumstances. However, there are so many amazing ways in which God is breaking through with us, and the most amazing thing about it is that it really requires all of us to make it work right. We are slowly learning how to host and worthily dignify one another-probably the toughest task that we could ever undertake. And that opportunity is something for which we can truly be thankful..........let's ring the dinner bell and keep inviting more folks to join us at the baqueting table.....and most of all, thanks for bringing me to it!

Monday, October 17, 2005

creation trashed

thanks to jonny for the tip about this artist.
i thought this was a brilliant re-imagining of monet for our creation and theology conversations this week at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Kingdom Conference '05

We are taking ourselves out to Asbury Theological Seminary this week for their annual conference about holistic mission..."exploring issues of mission, mercy, and justice."

This year the theme is "Creation Healed." We have a table each year (along with other mission agencies) to let students know about our missional community, hear about what people are learning, and share our stories of applied missiology. this year we are especially excited about raising awareness for the anti Mountain Top Removal cause. if you have read this blog before you know what a critical issue this is for us locally, but also regionally and nationally.

if you are interested, see here and here for more background. also the official site here.

As a way of setting the tone for the conference ATS professor and well known author, Howard Snyder has written a brilliant paper adressing issues of Environmentalism and Christianity. entitled Salvation Means Creation Healed: Creation, Cross, Kingdom, and Mission. the paper directly addresses the question, "Why don’t Evangelicals, in particular, take stewardship and creation care more seriously?". Dr. Snyder does a masterful job of making sense of this "hole in the Evangelical worldview." If you would like a copy of the paper let me know and i will very happy to send it to you.

...for another excellent essay on creation and theology see this one by Wendell Berry.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Justice In Other Words

I recently shared with my men's group that I am at least a bit afraid of justice. I am not talking about getting pulled over, but more about how, according to scripture, we are supposed to live justly, and what it means if we fail to do so. Our conversaion, and my apprehension, do not completely leave the stage when I need to read for class. (I am studying to be a counselor.) Three things have surfaced recently in my reading/thinking/talking.
The first comes from a book by Michael White called Reauthoring Our Lives: Interviews and Essays. White is a family therapist in Adelaide, South Australia, who has serious concerns about how therapy can perpetuate cultural norms and stereotypes in destructive ways. Here is the exchange that struck me:

[Interviewer]: Can you say a little about the work in the Aboriginal Counselling Project?
[White]: I don't wish to say much about the specific developments in the project. To say something significant about this would require me to talk at some length about what I have learned about Aboriginal knowledges, and I have not been authorised to do so. As well, so many white people have been given privileged access to information and to life in the Aboriginal community, and have gone on to make success out of this--acknowledgement, honour, degrees, careers, and so on--and have returned nothing. This is a further injustice. Even without participating in this, as a member of the white culture, I know that I have a lot to return, and this weighs on me heavily, as it should. Perhaps the best way that I could respond to your question is to take it back to the Project, and you might get a response.

This is significant because so much of what I read for this degree depicts professionals attempting to sell an approach to counseling that is novel and brilliant, but still grounded in research. Whole books may be an account of why the author should be trusted, and how well this approach works, especially with difficult populations. White seems to deflate that model. He gives an answer that is congruent with his respect for the indigenous culture and his anger that others have sold this culture out. He seems to even take responsibility for others of our race in his answer. It is a wonderful example to me of a therapist backing away from the temptation to be both pertinent as well as omnicient.
A second example is less quoteworthy, but meaningful to me. In a book called The Lasting Promise, the authors (Stanley et al) discuss the issue of justice in a marriage context where trust has been broken. When one spouse has an affair, for example, the scales are put out of balance. One way to balance the scales may be to return the hurt. Another is to dissolve the relationship, to break the contract. Both of these option have obvious problems. For this reason, forgiveness becomes a better means for restoring a relationship. The injuring party works to earn trust back. The injured party works to be able to trust. In a situation that could be destroyed if justice were to be served, forgiveness allows grace to work, and for something creative to occur.
Finally, just to clear everything up, Psalm 85:10 says, "Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness (The Living Bible translates this as "grim justice"!) and peace kiss each other." Let me be content to see these two kissing, to not know where one ends and the other begins.


Our headless friends on the retreat!


Wendell Berry & Co.

some great speakers at this Fall's Peace and Justice talk-fest. here are a few i hope to get to...

October 18, from 5:00-6:15 p.m.: Jerrod Felice, on Fair Trade
October 20, from 5:00-6:15 p.m.: Bob Sloan, on Mountaintop Removal
October 28, from 3:00-4:00 p.m.: Wendell Berry, on Kentucky

go here to keep up to date with related events around town...

Friday, October 14, 2005

That darn Jesus, always leaving me with the thorny questions.....

I had dinner with a friend last night and we got into a pretty good conversation about the struggles and challenges involved in being in relationship with each other in a community context. As we talked, our discussion began to turn toward considering how jarring and shocking it can be when we encounter sharp differences of opinion or even minor disagreements with those whom we live with or whose company we regularly keep. We both commented about how such encounters can easily cause us to pull back from involvement with others and incline us toward seeking the path of least resistance or defaulting to a kind of self-protective mode of relating. But the thing that really struck me as we continued to share, was how easy it is for me to treat as unnatural, threatening, or even objectionable and offensive, things that are a very natural and healthy part of building robust & genuine friendships with each other. I began to realize in a whole new way how my own tendency to internalize and take personally differences of opinion, or even conflict with others, prevents me from being able to learn that this is a very natural, and healthy, part of being in mature adult relationships with each other; it prevents me from seeing that working through and with difference(s) is the only path to true and lasting relationships. I'm beginning to understand that at many points when I feel like I'm in crisis or stalemated in a particular relationship, what I am really experiencing is the beginning of the pathway to a much deeper and richer experience of love and fellowship with another person. But this is only if I choose to continue moving forward in situations and with people who make me feel unmcomfortable (for whatever reasons).
Obviously, there are genuinely bad conflicts/relationships, and there are times when we move beyond disagreement or difference into violence, emotional abuse, blatant insensitivity, or outright manipulation of each other. When these circumstances arise, we need to decisively address them and arrange for the kind of help that will lead to their proper resolution. However, I have to admit that I think these kinds of circumstances are actually a lot less prevalent than my own fragile ego would like to admit. Most of the conflicts & difficulties that I have with people in my life are just a natural part of two (or more) human beings entering into a relationship with each other; and the natural corollary is that a substantial part, even the majority, of the conflict is actually bound up in my own personal insecurities, my demand to be right, my own desire to be safe, my own desire to find the answer that everyone else needs, etc. At any rate, these are some of the things that last night's encounter brought before the bar of my own conscience. It helped me realize a bit more about what Jesus might have meant when he said, "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax-collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that (Matthew 5:46-47)?


This woman embodied courage and grace. As all saints day approaches i'm mindful of heroic ones that inspire selfless living. these notes from today's obituary column in the NY Times.

Vivian Malone Jones, who on a blisteringly hot June day in 1963 became one of two black students to enroll at the University of Alabama after first being barred at the door by the defiant governor, George C. Wallace, died yesterday in Atlanta. She was 63.

The cause was a stroke, her sister Sharon Malone told The Associated Press. Her entrance to the university came as the civil rights struggle raged across the South. On June 12, the day after Ms. Jones and James Hood were escorted into the university by federalized National Guard troops, the civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot to death in Jackson, Miss.

On May 30, 1965, Ms. Jones became the first black to graduate from the University of Alabama in its 134 years of existence, earning a degree in business management with a B-plus average.

rest of the article here (free with registration)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

blue gold

In 1995, a vice president of the World Bank famously declared that, as the wars of the 20th century were fought over oil, so the wars of the 21st would be fought over water. (source)
water is the hot topic here in Lexington....see these sites for differing opinions/information.
Kentucky American Water

it is a very serious debate that has more to do with ideology (free-market capitalism vs. public commons...commodities vs. human rights/essential services) than it does with H2O, rivers, lakes, and the hydrologic cycle. but there is a bigger water shortage.
see this BBC article for an overview and links.

bit depressing.

anyway, we went to an event planned by the FLOW people tonight and it was good to hear someone like Maude Barlow present her ideas and talk about the connection between my kitchen tap and globalization. i'll leave the debate up to others.....but i will say this. four of us went together to the talk tonight and the conversation before and after was such a delight. i'm very glad to belong to a group of Jesus-imitators that think so differently from one another and come from such a broad set of experiences and backgrounds. the guys i went with show me different ways of looking at things and always push back at my inane ramblings with bright, reflective insight.
thanks lads.
it (almost) doesn't matter that you are wrong :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

home...but not alone

Isaac and I are home alone for a few days. here we are grilling out this evening...nice healthy flame on the grill in the background.
since returning from our trip to greenbelt the house has seemed very empty with Brad and Laura gallivanting around the land of Oz(tralia) the house seems even more bare with sherry gone to the emergent gathering in Glorieta (New Mexico) with Will and Jen.

it's starting to feel like one of those last-one-standing reality TV shows around here ("Survivor: East 4th St"). i have my money on Isaac getting the last spot...i'll be sent off saying something like, "he's just too tough...too aggressive. i can't compete with his stamina. where does he get the energy? the kid can go all day and still give 110% after lights out...and he's only 2!"

anyway, i hope the delegates from Communality are having a good time and we look forward to hearing about their travels. i hope to find someone blogging at the gathering...i know andrew will if he gets a chance.

from stress avoidance to world class christian

this article from Christianity Today covers more about Rick Warren's "plan to defeat poverty".
an interesting read to follow an earlier post on Pastor Rick repenting. this article also includes extensive comments from Kay Warren.

it's great to hear such honesty from well known Christian leaders.
here are a few choice quotes:

"The church is the body of Christ. The hands and feet have been amputated and we're just a big mouth, known more for what we're against." Warren found himself praying, "God, would you use me to reattach the hands and the feet to the body of Christ, so that the whole church cares about the whole gospel in a whole new way—through the local church?"

"Every revival and spiritual awakening in history starts with the peasants, not with the kings. It starts with average, ordinary people," Warren says. "There are not enough superstars to win the world. It has to be done by average people."

"There are millions and millions of local churches around the world and now we have the technology to network them." This mobilization strategy, Warren says, also incorporates two ideas from Luke 10. Individuals would be sent out in teams, and on entering a village, they would seek "a man of peace. Find the man of peace. Bless him. He blesses you back. Who is the man of peace? He's influential and he's open. He doesn't have to be a Christian. Find a non-Christian who's influential and open—a Muslim or an atheist."

As Warren was developing the PEACE plan, Kay was getting the brush-off from secular HIV/AIDS activists and judgmental church members. But she was undeterred. "I pretty much thought that anybody who had HIV was gay. If they were gay and had HIV, they probably deserved it, because they had lived a lifestyle of risk. Therefore, I didn't really have to care very much about them. Not a pretty attitude. I'm not proud of it, but it is where I was."

Once an individual church adopts the Purpose Driven model, there are many more moves to make. They describe those steps as moving around a baseball diamond. The goal is mission-minded disciples. Warren says, "You can't get the church to jump from total selfishness, where they want all the sermons about 'How do I avoid stress,' to caring about Angola." "How do you get them to become a world-class Christian?"

How indeed.

Monday, October 10, 2005

terrorism, religion, and diplomacy

Lexington Theological Seminary Invites You to...
The 2005 Paul S. Stauffer Lectures
"Religion and International Politics"
Thursday, October 13 - 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.
Fellowship Hall
Speaker: Dr. John D. Stempel
Senior Professor of International Studies
Patterson School of Diplomacy, University of Kentucky

About Dr. Stempel...He is Senior Professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and was director of the school from 1993-2003. He came to the University of Kentucky following a 24-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, which included an assignment in Iran from 1975-79 before/during/after Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Fundamentalist revolution. There, he was deputy chief of the political section, later acting political counselor.

DR. JOHN D. STEMPEL will give two lectures on the theme "Religion and International Politics," discussing the rising and now critical importance of religious issues in the world since the end of World War II.
The first lecture at 11 AM will focus on "Religion And Diplomacy." Dr. Stempel will discuss how religion and diplomacy interact, both for good and bad. Religion is the basis for good values on one hand and is also the driving force behind terrorism. In terms of the ultimate goal of a peaceful world, diplomacy has something to offer religion as well.
The second lecture at 7 PM will discuss "Religion, Politics, and Terrorism." Here Stempel will analyze the religious basis for terrorism, as well as the ways religion can both warp and clarify issues. This will draw on his experience in the Middle East with Islamic fundamentalism, and in India with Hindu fundamentalism. What constructive ideas do religions offer for dealing with such problems?

Global Water Issues

We (Communality) are co-sponsoring the following event.

Maude Barlow, author of Blue Gold: The Battle to Stop Corporate Theft of the World's Water

The Global Water Crisis:
Local / Municipal Control of Water vs. Control by Global Mega-Corporations

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 12

Agricultural Extension Center
1104 Red Mile Place Lexington(see directions below)
Free & open to the public.

Maude Barlow is Chair of the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest citizen advocacy organization. She was the primary speaker at a Water Conference, held in Lexington last April by the University of Kentucky's Appalachian Center. Her 10/12 lecture will relate the Central Kentucky water situation to the Global Water Crisis. Ernie Yanarella. Professor of Political Science, and Co-Chairman of The Center for Sustainable Cities, University of Kentucky will moderate. Speaking at a Seattle Teach-In on water, 11/26/99, Maude was introduced as follows: "Maude Barlow is one of the most inspiring battlers against globalization and corporate control of water on the whole planet. Campaigning against privatization and globalization of the planet's remaining fresh water, she has been on every TV station in Canada and has given speeches in every Canadian city, and many American and European ones. She's tough, she's brilliant, she's fun ---and she wins." "Maude is a major public figure in Canada. She is national chair of the 100,000 member Council of Canadians. Many Canadians say she could run successfully for Prime Minister of Canada--if she only would." Following Maude's lecture, there will be a Question and Answer period for questions and comments.

Red Mile Place is on the southwest side of Red Mile Road, 3/10 (0.3) of a mile from the Versailles Road, and next to the entrance to The Fayette Seed Company. Colored balloons will be placed there to mark the entrance. The Extension Center is a low red brick building at the end of Red Mile Place. There is some parking in front, more in the rear.

Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice (CKCPJ)
Communality: Faith Seeking Action
The Environmental Program, U.K. College of Arts and Sciences
GreenThumb, a U.K. Environmental Group
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth - Central Kentucky Chapter
The Sierra Club
United Nations Association of the Bluegrass
Vote 'Yes'

Ray Wilkie - Water Program Chair 255-6319.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

some scripture to accompany the NY Times article

Jeremiah 22:13-14 (the message)
Doom to him who builds palaces but bullies people, who makes a fine house but destroys lives, Who cheats his workers and won't pay them for their work, Who says, "I'll build me an elaborate mansion with spacious rooms and fancy windows. I'll bring in rare and expensive woods and the latest in interior decor.'

strangers in our midst

very important article for us Jesus followers in today's Times.
most of us still want our gardens landscaped and our plates washed...we just don't want to see who is doing these things (especially if they are moving into our neighborhoods and living rough on our streets). you can read the full article here but i have selected some quotes that i thought were interesting.

from the New York Times (free with registration)
As Illegal Workers Hit Suburbs, Politicians Scramble to Respond
By PAUL VITELLO Published: October 6, 2005

- "Immigration has become a local issue because, at least from their perspective, local governments feel there is no federal policy in place," said Audrey Singer, immigration fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution. "Local officials don't want to be responsible, but they have to respond to local concerns."
The scramble for solutions reflects a major shift in immigration patterns during the last decade, she said. Since 2000, the number of immigrants living in suburbs, legally or illegally, has surpassed the number in cities, 52 percent to 48 percent.

- The illegal newcomers have attracted notice in the high-cost suburbs primarily by overcrowding single-family houses, which neighbors then complain become eyesores, and by assembling for day laborers' jobs in parking lots and on street corners.
The local response has been somewhat like the suburbs themselves: decentralized; somewhat haphazard; self-contained; aimed at enforcing a set of "quality of life" standards that are defined differently from place to place. In Silver Spring, Md., local officials support a hiring hall for immigrant workers. In neighboring Langley Park, also home to many immigrants, they do not

- The reasons for the perceived paralysis of national immigration policy are many, experts say: post-9/11 antiterror politics; deep conflicts within the ranks of both the Republican and Democratic Parties; and, not least, ambivalence among the general public, which opposes illegal immigration in principle but generally benefits from the low-cost services of those illegal workers - who mow lawns, clear tables, pack meat and dig holes for swimming pools.

- Local and state politics seems to be filling the gap. During a nasty Republican primary last month in the Suffolk County town of Brookhaven, which includes Farmingville, the two candidates for town supervisor vied to be known as the more hard-line anti-illegal-immigrant candidate.
One accepted the endorsement of a local organization that has labeled illegal immigrants terrorists. The other mailed a campaign flier that claimed "illegal immigrants are taking over our community" and "eroding our quality of life."
The slightly less strident candidate, Edward Hennessey, won that race, but the campaign raised the fear that immigrants will become scapegoats. "It's scary how readily some will attack immigrants, demonizing them, just to get votes," said Nadia Marin-Molina, director of the Workplace Project, a Long Island-based immigrant-advocate group.

coal companies and the common law

it is a rare day when a coal company is made to pay...

Virgie couple awarded nearly $1 million

A Pike County couple who accused a coal company of wrongfully mining their land were awarded nearly $1 million Monday in Pike Circuit Court.

According to court documents, a jury found that Premier Elkhorn Coal and TECO Coal, both based in Corbin, must pay $880,000 in punitive damages, as well as $88,000 in compensatory damages, to Bobby and Nell Ruth Spears of Virgie.

"I think this jury just wanted to say that everyone -individuals and coal companies - have to follow the law or pay the consequences," said the Spears' attorney, Herman Lester.

read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

every picture tells a story.

here is the retreat in (some) pictures.
click on the 'full post' link directly below...

talking circle

our community retreat was this past weekend.
we gathered at the beautiful Eloheh village.
this is our time saturday evening.
randy walked us through a time of communion and reflection.
(more pics to come)

Monday, October 03, 2005

effective mission

we have been at it for almost 7 years now.
we have been trying to put mission at the heart of our being the church. we have been intrigued with the idea that mission is the mother of theology (and, we might add, ecclesiology).
but i know i have often tried too hard and seen mission as the 'target' instead of the off-spring. too much self-awareness about being missional. it seems to me that we need a gentle urgency (as David Bosch put it) funded by an outward orientation. we have been at our best when we have acted on a courageous, intentional optimism about the ever expansive Kingdom of God.
in more recent years we have lived our way into a matrix of ideas and practices that include (but are no means restricted to): caring for the homeless people in our city through housing and lay social work, delivering meals to people suffering from AIDS, connecting our eating habits with local food production, welcoming and settling refugees, visiting with like-minded communities throughout north america and the world to stimulate reflection and foster solidarity, and partnering with local environmental and human rights activists. we just spent the weekend with friends committed to birthing a training and development complex to equip native american leaders (see more here).
this gaggle of experiences has formed us into a missional community.
we're still trying.
still failing.
tons more to learn...

This week i have been reading a book called Journeying Out by Ann Morisy and this quote (p.17) gets at what i have been learning:

"Effective mission is not achieved by giving it focal awareness. effective mission is a fruit - a gracious outcome of other factors working effectively and appropriately. This upends all our habits and assumptions. It means that effective mission is something that emerges as a result of looking and journeying outward rather than by means of a self-conscious and self-regarding process."

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

This coming Saturday there will be a walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and they need some volunteers. We are still in need of volunteers in the accounting room at Republic Bank. We ask that volunteers arrive at Republic Bank (3098 Helmsdown Place) at 8:30 a.m. and plan to stay until around noon. Responsibilities will include counting money and verifying information listed on walker collection envelopes (no official accounting skills necessary - don't worry). If you are interested in helping, please email me