Monday, June 26, 2006

When Is It Okay to Start Hoping?

Something Billy said this evening (I'd give you the context but I was only half listening) made me think of the following words from Tommy Merton:

Hope is always just about to turn into despair, but never does so, for at the moment of supreme crisis God's power is suddenly made perfect in our infirmity. So we learn to expect His mercy most calmly when all is most dangerous, to seek Him quietly in the face of peril, certain that He cannot fail us though we may be upbraided by the just and rejected by those who claim to hold the evicence of His love (p. 201, No Man is an Island).

The Great Turning

David Korten is speaking in Lexington over the next couple of days.
I have heard great things about his book, When Corporations Rule the World.

Author David Korten speaking on THE GREAT TURNING Empire to Earth Community

7:00 p.m. Monday, June 26
& Tuesday, June 27
Earth Community Dialogues on Regional Sustainability
9 a.m. Earth Community Dialogue #1
7 p.m. Earth Community Dialogue #2

Lexington Central Library
140 E. Main St.

for more information read this article from Yes! Magazine.
here's a piece from the 'great turning' website:

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Value of a Seed

The other day I planted the last of our tomato plants. In the middle of my frantic, time-pressed garden work, a friend from out of town dropped by as a complete surprise. I left everything strewn about the patio and we went inside for a cup of tea. That night, at 1:30 a.m., as thunder rolled across the sky, I sat up in bed and thought of all my seed packets outside in the rain. By 6:00 a.m. the next morning, I was awake, peeling open wet packages of seed and spreading them out to dry on our dining room table. The seeds made it into the ground with the effort and hope of something good to come. That afternoon, as I picked up from our day’s activities to prepare the table for an evening meal with friends, I balled up the leftover seeds and drying towels and started to discard them without thinking.

On that same day, I went shopping with my dear friend from Bosnia. I love our time together because we are companions who relax with one another, drink tea and talk about food, travel, and our husbands. Often, during the most ordinary times together, she shares a war story that somehow relates to our discussion of the day. Every time I hear her stories, I never fail to be astounded as I learn of the lengths they went to in order to survive a siege lasting four years.

During our time together, we talked about gardening. She told me how, during the war when they had no electricity or running water, her father learned how to grow a garden in the middle of Sarajevo. He cut down a tree in a cement courtyard next to their apartment building to use the wood as fuel and the soil beneath it to grow food. I asked, “Where did he get seeds in the center of a city in the middle of a war?” She said that seeds came in aid relief boxes from the U.N. And when their supply of seed ran out, her father ventured to the edge of the city to find people with enough land for garden plots and he pleaded for spare seeds. Each year their garden produced, they painstakingly dried and saved the seeds from everything. She said they grew potatoes, tomatoes, squashes and watermelons at a time when most people were eating freeze-dried army issued rations dropped from airplanes.

That afternoon, as I headed for our trash bin with the remaining seeds that I couldn’t be bothered planting, her words from just a few hours before resounded in my ears. I felt thoughtless, wasteful and ashamed. I hadn’t considered the true worth of seeds and I was instantly weighted with a simple conviction I’d never had before…soil + seed + the smallest amount of effort = available food. As a fledgling gardener and a struggling Christian, I had to welcome her piercing story as a powerful lesson of the value of a seed, and life itself.

Papafest, here we come...

this weekend a number of communality peeps are off to Papafest.
Will has blogged about it here.
should be a wonderful time of circus meets jesus meets the mountains of Tennessee - sounds like a Flannery O'Connor short story.
i'm remembering back to a conversation Will Samson, Shane Claiborne and I had in October 2004 (at the Emergent Glorieta gathering) about Greenbelt and how we would love to foster a similiar (but contextualized) gathering here in the US. lots of people did lots of work (mostly folks, i believe, from the camden house and the simple way) and it will be tons of fun to see this Kingdom festival in full swing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Theology and Art: A Short Story

I. His father reigned as king, sending soldiers to hang the harlot. Her children were murdered and the soil soaked red with their blood. Sword twisted and turned; all in sight were laid at his royal feet. "Find the whore!" was screamed from the throne room. "Strip off her dress and expose the breasts where men suck the milk of idols and daemons. There will be no funeral! Take her to the gallows!" The harlot was found; the harlot was hanged and; instead of blood, milk flowed forth that once fed the minds of men. And one watched from the crowd; she watched, weeping and waiting for the moment of revenge while the king laid down with his ancestors.
II. A prince, now king, weeps at the memories of the madness. His tears water the barren ground while he shivers in the cold. Soil drinks saline while seed breaks and roots find nourishment in rotted ground. Stem breaks through hardened dirt while a bud breaks from its bloody prison, blossoming in winter's sun.
III. An angry child, now a woman, wanders the kingdom with fires of madness and revenge burning in her heart. Winter has failed to freeze her mother's milk, fresh on her lips, sucked from the very breasts of a body broken and forgotten. Head bowed, she walks the barren land, death having taken its toll in the guise of Reformation. Eyes and feet find the single evidence of life, and love lances her heart, like a hot wind fiercely smoldering the fires of revenge and hate. Bending down, lying down flat upon the bloody ground, she fingers the single flower and loves the author of its birth.
IV. The soldiers are dead and the gallows have long since rotted and returned to that from whence they came. A young king walks a once barren land, now made nearly beautiful. Colors and life and joy and desire now flow from a source of mysterious power. Walking and wondering, praying and pondering, he falls forward, only able to glance at that which made him stumble.
V. Love leaps from his heavy, saddened heart. Where once no fire flamed to burn the memories of madness, a funeral pyre engulfs all traces of his father. Stammering like a giddy child, lost in a reverie of desire, he attempts gretting while reaching to touch that which he longed for meeting.
VI. She welcomes his warmth while he caresses her burning body. All traces of revenge and hate are consumed in their naked passion. He drinks deeply from the masses swollen with milk, finding not the elixir of idols and daemons but the mysterious power of desire and joy and life and color.
VII. Their sweat and their tears pierce the blood hardened earth as seeds break forth from their prison and stems break through the hardened dirt and buds blossom in the summer sun and life returns to the Love redeemed land.
VIII. When Theology stumbled over Art, life once again burst forth in a chorus of praise to Love. The ashes of madness, hate, and revenge blew away on a warm summer wind. Art's milk once again refreshes the Theological minds of men.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fire and other stuff (aka psalters at the Browns')

Last night with the psalters was even better, if possible, than the night before. Some 30 people gathered at the Browns' home for hamburgers, fresh fruit, ice cream floats and a great jam session. There were folks from the neighborhood, some Nepalese guys with their drums (one a friend of WIll Talbot), a fellow from Azerbijan, Josh (one of our Golfview neighbors), and some Communality folks. It was a lot of fun. The psalters brought out the "big drum" and the cello.

Towards the end, there were four or five other drums in the jam. Great improvisation.

They also brought out these little pots of fire on chains, which Abigail and Hannah swung in time with the drums. It was really cool.

Also, their new CD arrived today, with a pretty incredible hymnbook-esque cover and original artwork. It's great.

Thanks to our friends for spending some time with us! And props to the Browns for making it happen!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Worship like you mean it!

Well, we had a fabulous time last night with the folks from psalters. The High Street House was filled with pizza, conversation, and really incredible worship and sung proclamation of the Word. It was so intense that a guy from the restaurant on the corner came down and ended up in the drum circle!

They are new-ish friends from our connections in Philly. They have chosen a life of nomadicism, reminding us in the Church not to sink our roots too deep in this land which is, after all, only a temporary home. (Scott said it much better last night.) They are smart and fun and down to earth, and it's great to be able to host them as they prepare for their gig at Ichthus. We'll also be able to hang out with them next weekend at PAPAfest.

Thanks to everyone who came out last night and participated in the worship and fun. For round 2, join us tonight at the Browns. You won't be disappointed. These folks rock.

Friday, June 09, 2006

worth reading

two more masterful posts ("the smell of blood - part 1" and "HIV clinic") at

Clinton and Lisa continue to dish up moving and entertaining narratives documenting their time of service and adventure in Swaziland.

keep it coming you two....

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Holding on to hope.......

I was reading several news articles this morning relating to the news that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was "terminated (the Iraqi Prime Minister's language)“ overnight in an airstrike by U.S. military jets. What really struck me was that the Prime Minister was quoted as saying that, "This is a message for all those who embrace violence, killing and destruction to stop and to (retreat) before it’s too late.” I was really astonished by this statement and the context in which it was made. It was accompanied by another similar statement saying that "we" will "kill" anyone who attempts to follow in the path of Al-Zarqaqwi. Equally astonishing to me was a different article, concerned with the mounting "tension" in Iran, that quoted Elie Wiesel (a Nobel Peace Prize winner and holocaust survivor) as saying that with great sadness and regret he had to confess that military action might be "necessary" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. I really don't want to say much beyond sharing the dismay that I feel whenever we as human beings find ourselves in these kinds of seemingly hopeless places. I guess I'm holding on to the hope that there really is another way (beyond violence, retribution, or "justice") to handle evil when it confronts us. I understand that the world is a "complex" place and that there are no easy or tidy solutions (and I'm not trying to present one). Still, I can't help but share a thought that has been hanging around in my head all week; it won't leave me alone:

"How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the uranium enrichment programs and WMD programs out of your country,' when all the time there is a huge nuclear arsenal and WMD programs in your own country? You hypocrite, first take the ICBM's and other WMD's out of your own country, and then you will see clearly to remove the WMD's from your brother's country."