Monday, February 27, 2006
a few years ago, i learned about a practice called centering/contemplative prayer. it's mostly about being still. about growing in fellowship with the holy spirit. i attended an intro workshop at an episcopal cathedral in downtown lex last saturday. it's beautiful how god works things out sometimes. last week, i got in touch with an episcopal priest (female, go figure) to find help with learning more about this type of prayer. she gave me a name and number and from there i was able to get into this workshop.
needless to say, it was an amazing experience. you choose a 1 to 2 syllable word that you gently go back to during your time of silence when your mind wonders. sit comfortably in a chair (i have to sit upright with my feet flat on the floor or i'll fall asleep). close your eyes and silently empty yourself for 20 minutes. it takes about that long to settle. i've been reading romans 8:6 before and subsequent verses after the time.
this is what's been missing in my life, so i've decided to make it an addition to my days during this lenten season. i don't say this to boast, i'm just thankful for a way to grow closer to god and wanted to share.
"many are avidly seeking but they alone find who remain in continual silence...every man who delights in a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within. if you love truth, be a lover of silence. silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in god and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance. silence will unite you to god himself...
more than all things love silence: it brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. in the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. but then there is born something that draws us to silence. may god give you an experience of this 'something' that is born of silence. if only you practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence...after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence"
-isaac of niniveh, a syrian monk
Thursday, February 23, 2006
to a great new magazine.
will and i picked up a copy when we were in philly and it is a much needed journal for people increasingly baffled by the Christian church in North America.
anyone want to go shares in a subscription?
one is called the high cost of cheap coal and the other is called when mountains move.
both worth checking out and the photos (as usual with national geographic) are fantastic.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Below all of these, closer to my shoulder, was written this message: I love everybody regardless. This is the most beautuful thing I have read for some time. This is the message I have longed to hear. I love everybody regardless. It refutes the statements above it simply by changing the terms of the conversation. It stood out so much that I fear it has seared my eyes. I recall these words as I washed my hands, and as I walked past the Slim Jim products, back into our car. I love everybody regardless. I long to love like that, loving regardlessly.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
It was a wonderful weekend of reunion with people practicing various styles of 'new-monasticism.' we were kindly hosted by our old friends chris and laura lahr. chris gave us a 'reality tour' of Kensington and surrounding neighborhoods. we saw poverty and urban decay on a scale i hadn't witnessed in a so-called developed nation. much of our time with those gathered for the reunion was spent eating together and connecting with old and new friends. it was one of the more diverse conversations i have been a part of in the wider emerging church/nu monastic gatherings; a beautiful mix of race, age, family shapes (singles, marrieds, kids).
we talked and talked about living in community (how to survive, what about kids?, etc) and alternative economics (health care options, relational tithe, micro-business, etc.) we also spent a good deal of time making plans for the PAPA fest event in June...more to come about this.
check out Will's photo album for some pics.
also see Mike's summary of the weekend...much better than this one
Learn more about the 2006 Bread for the World Offering of Letters campaign, the ONE Campaign, and other creative, effective ways
you can help reduce poverty and hunger in our world
Kentucky-wide BFW Advocacy Workshop
Saturday, February 25, 2006
9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Second Presbyterian Church
460 East Main Street
Lexington, Kentucky 40507-1572
Continental breakfast and lunch included. $5 registration fee requested, payable at door
(Please see RSVP instructions below—deadline Monday, Feb. 20)
9:30 Welcome and prayer time, followed by…
The Millennium Development Goals
Interactive Learning Experience
The One Spirit. One Will. Zero Poverty. Campaign
Breakout Sessions on various topics
Additional breakout sessions
Your questions, your energy…exciting next steps in our work together
And at 3:00 pm, we leave…and the work begins!
RSVP requested to help us plan for lunch. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org (put “BFW” in subject line) or call (859) 254-7768 by Feb. 20 so we’ll know you and others are coming.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Here's a clip from the Simple Way website about the Family Reunion and Papa Fest:
The Family Reunion
Every year we host a gathering here in Philly of friends, sister communities, and old housemates... a little family reunion. We're trying to keep this intimate (less educational) so we can catch up and conspire a little, so we'll be sending invitations and hosting it cozily out of our homes. But we love the fact that there is a stinking movement emerging (there were over 100 folks at our reunion last year) so we have decided to host another gathering this summer called PAPA Fest, a mega-family-reunion of sorts - where we can gather en masse to learn, play, rock-out, and camp.
The PAPA FEST
Some of you are aware and some are not… a summer gathering is in the works – P.A.P.A Festival – June 23-25, 2006. The People Against Poverty and Apathy Festival will be a convergence of communities and movements coming together to share, dream, and create together. Several hundred folks from across the country will be camping out in the hills of TN in a little village of subversive friendships to conspire together in learning workshops, roundtable talks, over campfires, and on hikes through the woods. The PAPA Fest has emerged again, after several years of feeling the itch to gather a larger group of friends and communities, more than we can accommodate at the annual “Family Reunion” hosted each February in Philly. We hope to have folks from a variety of dazzling circles of hope – from the Community of Communities and new monasticism, the Christian Community Development Association, Emergent, Jesus Radicals, the Relational Tithe, Ekklesia Project… So this is a mega-Family Reunion of sorts.
Who Killed the Miners?
Now that the last prayers have been offered up for sixteen men who lost their lives last month in West Virginia mines, I think it’s time we get down to the hard work of taking responsibility for their deaths. Because Appalachian coal is shipped across the country, almost anyone who uses electricity at home or work must acknowledge part of the responsibility. But some people bear more than others. It’s time to name names.
I’ll start close to home with my senator, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell. No other senator has so adamantly defended the right of corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to election campaigns, all in the name of free speech. And because coal companies give 91 percent of that money to Republicans, George W. Bush rewarded McConnell’s efforts by naming his wife, Elaine Chao, as Labor Secretary in 2001. Within days of Bush’s inauguration, Chao replaced Assistant Secretary of Labor Davitt McAteer, who oversaw the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), with Dave Lauriski, a man who had spent his professional life managing and lobbying for coal companies.
Several months before Lauriski’s appointment, the largest-ever environmental disaster east of the Mississippi occurred when the bottom of a huge coal impoundment pond gave way, pouring 300 million gallons of toxic coal slurry into the town of Inez, Kentucky (where, incidentally, LBJ had stood on a miner’s porch in 1964 to announce his War on Poverty). Jack Spadaro, superintendent of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy (which trains the health inspectors and support personnel at MSHA), discovered that Martin County Coal Corporation, the company mining above Inez, had been warned that the pond was unstable and would eventually break. But Martin had refused to comply with MSHA’s recommendations to reinforce the pond’s reservoir. Spadaro and a team of investigators recommended that Martin be cited for criminal negligence.
But there was one problem. Dave Lauriski was not Davitt McAteer. Lauriski (who during the investigation met repeatedly with Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, Martin’s parent company) refused to go along with Spadaro’s recommendation. Consequently, Spadaro refused to sign the final report of MSHA’s investigation. In retaliation, Lauriski had the lock on Spadaro’s office door changed, then tried to have him fired on trumped-up charges. When that didn’t work, he transferred Spadaro far from his West Virginia home to a Pittsburgh office.Spadaro retired rather than accept the transfer, but Lauriski used the same tactic against other MSHA employees who had the temerity to do their job of protecting miners. On May 14, 2002, Lauriski met in his Washington office with Bob Murray, an influential coal operator, who complained that safety enforcement at his mines was too strict. Ellen Smith of Mine Safety and Health News reports that Murray had personally donated $75,000 to Republican campaigns and that from 2000 to 2003 his political action committee contributed $648,000—96 percent of it going to Republicans. Within days of Murray’s meeting with Lauriski, two MSHA officials were transferred away from Murray’s mines.
A few months later Murray told other MSHA officials that if enforcement didn’t loosen up at his Powhatan Mine in Ohio—which had the worst safety record in Mine District 3—he would put district manager Tim Thompson “in his sights.” According to Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette, Murray told the MSHA officials, “Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and the last time I checked, he was sleeping with your boss.” Within months Thompson was transferred out of Murray’s district, which was already operating at only 86 percent of federally required staffing levels. Two weeks after the transfer, in January 2003, an explosion at the district’s McElroy Coal Company killed three miners.Given all this transparent corruption, it’s easy to understand why people like Martin County resident Mick McCoy have reached the conclusion that under the current Administration, “the watch dogs of the people have become the guard dogs of the coal industry.” Under Bush 100 safety officers have been cut from MSHA. Under Bush MSHA has issued fewer and smaller fines and collected less than half the money owed by violators.
When Lauriski left MSHA this past January, he left behind an agency weakened and demoralized. But to Lauriski’s way of thinking, he had accomplished much. In 2003 he brazenly told the Oklahoma City Journal Record, “The industry has always been good to me.… I just hope that I’ve given back as much as I’ve received.” I’d like to hear him tell that to the families of the sixteen dead miners.There are two ways to mine coal: You can strip it from the surface or dig it underground. Surface mining, especially mountaintop removal, which is leveling central Appalachia at a disconcerting pace, destroys forests and streams and leaves entire communities with toxic water, mudslides and flash flooding. Underground mining kills miners— quickly with explosions and roof collapses, slowly with black-lung disease. And yet Dick Cheney’s new energy plan calls for millions of dollars in subsidies for this callous industry.Which leads me back to responsibility. In an astonishing display of indifference, Richard Strickler, Bush’s new appointee to head MSHA, told senators he saw no need for tougher safety laws. But West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin isn’t waiting for the Feds to act. He has already begun overhauling safety regulations at the state level, calling for miners to carry greater oxygen supplies underground and for every mine to install tracking devices that would quickly locate miners in the event of a roof collapse or an explosion. Every governor in coal country should follow Manchin’s lead.
If the Bush Administration won’t assume any responsibility, individuals can. If everyone reading this replaced the five most frequently used lights in their homes with compact fluorescent bulbs, which use a quarter of the energy of regular bulbs, our country’s consumption of coal would plunge overnight. And if on top of that, you bought an Energy Star–rated refrigerator, your consumption of coal-fired energy would drop almost by half, and so would your electric bill. And if we as communities demanded that our electric companies followed the 10/20/30 plan—provide us with 10 percent renewable energy by 2010, 20 percent by 2020, on out—we could finally stabilize the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, stop our global climate crisis and weaken some Gulf Coast hurricanes in the process.To base an economy of infinite growth on a finite and deeply problematic source of energy is shortsighted and dangerous. It is time we called ourselves and our so-called leaders to account.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Sunday I was able to wonder if the house was sold so quickly because maybe God did not want us to buy it. But surely the unethical way in which this deal was made is not the way that God works. Is it?
(There's more....)I was unable to get the ideas out of my head, leading to a night without much sleep, which is a little tough when I have to be at work at 4:30 every morning these days. But I guess all that thinking has led me to hopefully a better place today. I tried to take my thoughts back to scripture today, and I found myself thinking about all the stories in the Bible where well intentioned people have been unfairly treated. In particular the story of Joseph being abandoned by his brothers to slavery and imprisonment in Egypt. Here is a beautiful example of a faithful man of God choosing not to waste his energies trying to prove all the ways he was mistreated. Instead he chose faithfulness, humility, love, and service in all circumstances.
Did God want us to buy the house next door? I don't know. Did God want Joseph to be imprisoned in Egypt for many years? Again, I don't know. These things are complex and more than I am able to comprehend. What I do understand is basic. None of these events are really about me at all. In a fallen world things happen that are unfair and can hurt me. I can choose to respond to that by focusing on myself, or I can choose to respond to that by focusing on Christ and His Kingdom purposes and acting accordingly. I do trust that God can give us the strength to do that.
Brad has been leading us in studying Colossians in our Sunday morning fellowships this month. I have only made it to one Sunday, but I do remember this verse read from the Message:
We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me. (Colossians 1:28-29)
May God continue to give us the strength to be basic.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Not long afterwards, we met the owner, who was making some minor repairs to the property. She was considering converting it to a section eight lease, or possibly selling it. Lisa and I know several couples interested in involvement in redemptive urban living and started to think about the potentials of our new neighbors. We suggested the house to one of our friends, who took a look at it this weekend, but didn't think that it would meet their needs. Meanwhile, Lisa and I began to toy with another idea.
(There's more....)What if we purchased the house and rented it through Kentucky Refugee Ministries? It would be a great way to provide low-cost, downtown housing to an incoming refugee family, and would give us the opportunity to share our lives with someone coming to our city literally with nothing. We started to imagine the future.... perhaps we would remain neighbors in the long term, perhaps our kids could grow up playing together. Hope-filled "what if's" filled the conversation.
Over the weekend, we chatted with folks and researched the logistics.... friends with resources to help with a down-payment... friends with knowledge in liability and real estate issues... friends to get us excited and to help us through.
And so a hopeful expectation grew.... and so we prepared to put things in place today.
We left Lexington yesterday afternoon for lunch out of town, and returned that evening to a find a "for sale" sign in the neighboring yard.
A few phone calls later, we discovered that the property had been posted for sale late that morning.... and sold, two hours later.... for cash.
We were pretty floored.... and so we come to the death of a dream.
Maybe it is for the best. There were many reasons why maybe we would not have been able to afford it, mostly "what ifs" of a different tone. What if Lisa doesn't get a job when she's out of school? What if something happens and we need extra money for Swaziland? What if we accidentally become pregnant and have to provide for a new baby? What if it would be better to invest resources elsewhere?
I kind of believe that God did not want us to buy this house. Or is that just something I tell myself for comfort in my disappointment? It is pretty rare, I suspect, for a house to be listed and sold for cash so quickly. Maybe God really is that involved in our lives. Perhaps there really is a God out there with a vision that we do not have and who is able and willing to act in ways that disappoint us but also protect and bless us.
Perhaps there was a different idea for this little home next to us. The house was not bought by a slum lord or by someone just wanting to move to the neighborhood with hopes of increasing property values. It was bought by Faith Community Housing, an organization that does just what we had planned to do ourselves. We may just end up living next to a refugee family after all. If we do not hold too tightly the the dream which lay dying, we can be awakened to the birth of a new hope.
I'm surprised that it is not very easy. It's hard to put aside the part of us that wants to help in providing for the needs of others, preventing us in simply rejoicing at their provision. It's easy to feel slighted... putting in a faithful, early effort... approaching with generosity and sincerity... expectantly pursuing hopes of shalom.... and watching them all supplanted with only a moment's forwarning. It is hard.
But perhaps that's the seed that falls to the ground and dies.... and some time later, with God's care, pushes forward through hard earth in resurrection, in maturity bearing fruit.
And so our current hopeful expectation is that we can be as deliberate, sincere, generous, and excited about our new neighbors-to-be as we were about our recently uprooted and now-replanted dream.
(co-written: for an extra thinking exercise, you can figure out which parts are mine and which are Lisa's)
Thursday, February 09, 2006
while looking into issues of food consumption i came across this story at NPR and found about this wonderful book - Hungry Planet - What the World Eats
check out the following pictures from the book...these a families posing with what they eat in a week. these are some of the most beautiful pictures i have ever seen - they manage to capture the glory and fragility of being human. (for details about each picture see the NPR story link).
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
86 Evangelical Leaders Join to Fight Global Warming
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: February 8, 2006
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."
Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."
"For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority," the statement said. "Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough."
The statement calls for federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through "cost-effective, market-based mechanisms" — a phrase lifted from a Senate resolution last year and one that could appeal to evangelicals, who tend to be pro-business. The statement, to be announced in Washington, is only the first stage of an "Evangelical Climate Initiative" including television and radio spots in states with influential legislators, informational campaigns in churches, and educational events at Christian colleges.
"We have not paid as much attention to climate change as we should, and that's why I'm willing to step up," said Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College, an influential evangelical institution in Illinois. "The evangelical community is quite capable of having some blind spots, and my take is this has fallen into that category."
Some of the nation's most high-profile evangelical leaders, however, have tried to derail such action. Twenty-two of them signed a letter in January declaring, "Global warming is not a consensus issue." Among the signers were Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
New species found in Papua 'Eden'
The first photo of Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise An international team of scientists says it has found a "lost world" in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of new animal and plant species.
"It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," said Bruce Beehler, co-leader of the group.
The team recorded new butterflies, frogs, and a series of remarkable plants that included five new palms and a giant rhododendron flower. The survey also found a honeyeater bird that was previously unknown to science. It's beautiful, untouched, unpopulated forest; there's no evidence of human impact or presence Bruce Beehler, Conservation InternationalThe research group - from the US, Indonesia and Australia -trekked through an area in the mist-shrouded Foja Mountains, located just north of the vast Mamberamo Basin of north-western (Indonesian) New Guinea.
the complete article is here
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Nor was it the best lunch the man had ever eaten. He ate alone; he was not sharing this meal. Additionally, he was trying to read, so the cabbage and the noodles and peppers only won his attention as he delivered each forkful. But it was warm food, full of love on a cold and rainy day. And each ingredient came with strings attached. It was only after the meal had become a part of him that he came to savor the strings. It was then that he gave thanks.
Friday, February 03, 2006
U2 frontman cites religious text at breakfast attended by Bush, top leaders
WASHINGTON - Quoting from Islamic, Jewish and Christian texts, rock star Bono called Thursday for the U.S. government to give an additional 1 percent of the federal budget to the world’s poor. Speaking to President Bush and members of Congress at the National Prayer Breakfast, the U2 front man said it’s unjust to keep poor people from selling their goods while singing the virtues of the free market, to hold children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents and to withhold medicines that would save lives.
“God will not accept that,” he said. “Mine won’t. Will yours?”
if you're interested in reading the rest of hte article you will find it here
...and post your vote in the online poll
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Lost Mountain by Erik Reece was released today. Please seriously consider buying a copy if you live in the United States. This is a critical issue for our country and no-one is writing about it with the passion and eloquence of Erik Reece.
If you are local to Lexington, please come to the gathering on Feb. 10th where Erik will read fro mthe new book. It is a fundraising dinner for people involved in protesting Mountain Top Removal (details below).
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
"I have learned that an age in which politicians talk about peace is an age in which everybody expects war: the great men of the earth would not talk of peace so much if they did not secretly believe it possible, with one more war, to annihilate their enemies forever. Always, "after just one more war" it will dawn, the new era of love: but first everybody who is hated must be eliminated. For hate, you see, is the mother of their kind of love.
Unfortunately the love that is to be born out of hate will never be born. Hatred is sterile; it breeds nothing but the image of its own empty fury, its own nothingness. Love cannot come of emptiness. It is full of reality. Hatred destroys the real being of man in fighting the fiction which it calls "the enemy." For man is concrete and alive, but "the enemy" is a subjective abstraction. A society that kills real men in order to deliver itself from the phantasm of a paranoid delusion is already possessed by the demon of destructiveness because it has made itself incapable of love. It refuses, a priori, to love. It is dedicated not to concrete relations of man with man, but only to abstractions about politics, economics, psychology, and even, sometimes, religion.."