Tuesday, November 28, 2006
World News This Week in Prayer
My old mate Sean “back of the net!” Gladding gave this fantastic book a few weeks ago. Let me see if I can do it justice with a review. The author is Scott Bessenecker, director of global projects with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. The book is an IVP publication in their Likewise line aimed at exploring an “active, compassionate faith.” After reading this one I’m looking forward to more of its kind from IVP through this line.
Great book. Buy it and read it…then pass it on to someone who needs to know about what is doing outside church buildings. (and if you won’t/can’t buy it…you can have my copy as long as you pass it on after reading it.)
The book is a survey of both the history and current expressions of missional-monastic individuals and communities who have prioritized service and solidarity with the poor and oppressed. The first chapter is a whirlwind tour of scripture and Christian history which Scott uses to locate today’s “friars.” Scott then takes the next two chapters to unpack the various causes and effects of poverty. I felt this was a helpful start to the book – he “heads off at the pass” many questions about where the blame for poverty should lie and how that matters for us as Jesus-followers. Chapter four rounds out the poverty discussion by proposing that the incarnation is God’s ultimate and ongoing expression of solidarity with the poor.(There's more)
The middle of the book is where Scott hits his stride. He suggests that certain historical monastic orders (Celtic, Augustinian, Benedictine, Nestorian, Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Moravians, Anabaptists) share key attitudes with the new friars - InnerCHANGE, Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor (Servants), Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH), and Word Made Flesh (WMF) - and that these “ingredients” set them apart vocationally from the wider body. Each of the middle five chapters deal with these attributes; Incarnational, Devotional, Communal, Missional, and Marginal. I will not go into each of these in detail – suffice it to say I found this a very helpful set of categories for framing Christian living, perhaps even more useful than specific “practices” or “marks.” Although Scott uses (stories from) his own life to illustrate various points the writing is never self-indulgent. Once I realized the author was doing more than just presenting me with the facts (fair and balancedJ) and was instead ‘walking’ with me through the stories, the narrative flowed very naturally. In fact, on the several occasions the book had me in tears it was Scott’s personal reflections that moved me so. Each of the five middle chapters draws historical characters into conversation with current ‘friars’ to make a case for the validity of these ingredients as thoroughly Christian and deserving of our attention – especially at this time in human history.
…and that’s where he takes us in the last chapter and the conclusion, confronting the reader with the ‘cold hard facts’ of our world today. In short, he suggests that this is the “dark before the dawn”, that human history has never (!) been so steeped in poverty, suffering, and evil. Bad news….but surely, Scott writes and hopes out loud, the sun is coming up. Even if you don’t buy his doomsday reckoning of current day conditions (and he humbly offers the reader that option) one is pushed to consider the scale of despair in the developing world. A sobering read for anyone in love with Jesus and the Kingdom he announced.
This is a wonderfully humble book written without any of the edginess and self-righteousness that would have dripped all over the pages had I been given this project. It is written in a way where scripture, history, and personal stories converge to paint an accurate (as far as I can tell) picture of a still-forming movement. And it is this ‘still-forming’ aspect that I might highlight as a reader and humbled participate in this kind of ‘new monasticism.’ The greater test for them/us will come with the years that bear out their/our faithfulness to this radical and exhausting call. Can they/we keep it? Can we raise our families and nourish future generations? Can we draw in our brothers and sisters in the wider body of Christ who might otherwise see them/us as an anomaly – at best, something to watch from the sidelines, at worst, a dismissible freak show? This drawing in of those not directly connected to such ‘friars’, I think (and hope), might be the best fruit from Scott’s writing. Hopefully this book will validate such vocational choices as more than a spasm of youthful hubris. Scott stated unequivocally that not all Christians are called to serve the poor in this particular way but he does make clear that “the broader community of believers” should “release and support this movement of saints.” A timely book, particularly for the western church, as we awaken to a globalizing world and seek more mission-shaped modes of engagement.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Ryan listens to the stories of men recovering from addictions, and though he cannot share the conversations, his faithfulness helps to open our eyes to the struggles around and within us. Will prepares some vegetables from the garden he has shared with Ryan, along with a cut of steak from a side of beef collectively purchased from a local farm. These are decisions made in awareness of some of the disturbing realities concerning what we eat, and we as a community are awakened by these choices.
Advent is a time of awakening to the need for salvation.
(There's more)Our senses are aroused to the realizations of the need for change in our world and the need to for transformation in our lives. The Scriptural stories for this week describe a Creation with which God has entrusted us.... a Creation good, fruitful, and abundant; and yet a Creation marred by our unfaithfulness, causing selfishness and alienation and death. We see Noah aroused to action by judgment, God awakening the patriarchs to a new way of life in covenant, and Joseph's all-too-sobering encounters with the pervasiveness of injustice.
From Randy and Edith's reminder to us of the need for healing among Native American peoples, to Melissa's travels to serve in the orphanages of Zimbabwe, to the Brown family's political and personal involvement in bettering thier local neighborhood, we are awakened by one another to both our need for salvation and our call to participate in that salvation.
I encourage you to both fast and feast in that reality. See last year's posting for some particulars, but in general, continue to press one another along in the need for Jesus. Post a comment below on how you have been awakened this advent, and let's share some stories together Sunday evening.
What: Communality invites you to
A weekly advent letter writing lunch
When: Wednesdays 11/29 through 12/20
Where: Third Street Stuff Coffee
257 N. Limestone
Each Wednesday during advent we will be hosting a table at Third Street Stuff to provide an opportunity for anyone interested to recognize various issues of poverty, disease, and injustice and to take action against them in a letter writing campaign. Information regarding the issue and current legislation as well as the names and addresses of legislators and a sample letter will be provided.
Topics will include:
November 29th: HIV/AIDS
December 6th: Hunger and poverty
December 13th: Debt relief
December 20th: Department of Peace
Drop by during these times at your convenience. Come for one or come for all.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
(click 'full post' to read the rest...)
fair trade stuff
gifts for others
for more info and links
other stuff (organic, recycled, or just nifty)
As was quoted in the article, many of us have walked similar paths and, yet, have experienced the grace of God. The church in this article reminds me of the bishop that gives Jean val Jean the silver val Jean attempts to steal; this church has modeled the forgiveness God gives to us. As the pastor from Montana has said, "We hope that these gifts help to keep these kids off of the street," let us hope that the grace God grants us keeps us from the temptations to darker places in our own lives.
Friday, November 24, 2006
late adopter that i am, i finally joined the cool kids and opened a flickr account.
yesterday's lazy thanksgiving afternoon gave me the chance to upload some pics so if you are interested check out the communality set
i also posted some of my nature-y pics and some three springs farm pics
if any of you have some communality pics hosted by flickr (or another site) please let us know...a link in the comments would be nice.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
i thought it was a hopeful piece....some dignity finally given to a man who travelled across the ocean to represent his people. it is a sign that times and people and nations do change, perhaps a sign of some 'justice' finally coming - or it could be too little too late. is something like this better than nothing?
here's a quote from the article...
The Queen is to unveil a memorial to a native American chieftain.
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she will pay her respects to Mahomet
Weyonomon, of the Mohegan tribe, who died of smallpox in London in 1736.
He travelled from Connecticut to petition George II about the capture of his
tribe's land by English settlers, but died before he met the king.
Foreigners were barred from being buried in the City of London so his body
was interred in an unmarked grave.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
the author recently moved to our part of kentucky and we are excited about meeting with him to celebrate our kinship and learn from him while sharing what we have been learning.
this article was in the local paper on sunday (front page - above the fold. wow.)
here's a clip from the start of the piece...
J. Matthew Sleeth is a man of God and a man of science.
He is a physician who believes that the Bible is the literal word of God, that Jesus Christ walked on water, and that our addiction to oil and energy is killing our spiritual lives and violating a sacred pact with God.
As a "born-again" Christian preaching environmentalism, Sleeth is part of a growing phenomenon of evangelical Christians who think protecting the natural world should transcend politics. He spreads that message with his new book, Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, and through an incessant speaking schedule before groups and congregations across the country.
Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World
This is a brilliant book about missiology for those of us laboring in the globalizing Western context. It is brilliant because it is concise, humble, and hopeful. It is just 4 chapters (112 pages) in length and deals with the themes of globalization, universality and particularity, narrative theology, and hermeneutics. I think the inclusion of the tired clause 'postmodern' in the title is off-putting and serves to understate the broader scope of the book which is to identify the ways in which Scripture might be contextualized in our time.
(click 'full post' to read the rest...)
One of the most helpful frameworks Bauckam describes is his "three dimensions of the biblical narrative (pp.13-16):
Temporal (movement into the ever-new future)
Spacial (movement towards ever-new horizons)
Social (movement always being joined by others, an ever-new people)
He suggests these three dimensions give us clues as to how mission flows from Scripture and how we might also imagine our engagement with the world around us. He takes the time to urge us not to confuse the Modern myth of progress with biblical eschatology (p.20), and to remind us that our life together as God's people is the story of "permanent openness" while we also anticipate closure with hope for wholeness. But even this closure is not some bland overarching sameness...it is, rather, particularized expressions of the Kingdom coming in all kinds of places and ways.
Another very helpful part of the book is Baukham's reflections on 'biblical geography' (ch.3). This is an especially important dimension of missiology in a world where we can access so much of the globe with such (relatively) little effort. The story of God has always entailed crossing cultural boundaries into unknown places. With the western missiology conversation increasingly employing descriptive terms like "empire", "center", and "margins" to orient our missional movement (especially among people identifying themselves with new monasticism and the emerging missional church) I am grateful for Baukham's articulate exploration of geography and its implications for ecclesiology. He uses the twin terms centrifugal and centripetal to describe the comings and goings of the church, reminding us that these movements are not tied to any particular geographical location though they will always have geographical contexts. The new center, John (12:32) tells us is Jesus, and Jesus is always taking us (sometimes kicking and screaming) outside our comfort zones. At the end of his chapter on geography, Baukham adds another metaphor - the diaspora or exiled people. I would have liked a little more discussion on this as it seems to be an especially useful paradigm for a highly mobile subculture like the "cultural creatives."
In the last chapter, Baukham suggests some reasons why the Christian story is not a totalizing, metanarrative (ala Lyotard). In short, he argues that Christianity is not modern (post-enlightenment), not based on cumulative progress, and not a story of human mastery (God is the primary actor in history). The Christian story offers "a plurality of angles on the same subject matter", making it inherently untidy and complex - hardly the blueprint for finality. Having dodged the post-modern silver bullet accusation, Baukham moves on to offer a brief reflection on the supreme ideology of the west - economic prosperity (p.103).
While coercive power is the modus operandi for the increasingly omnivorous consumerist-economy, Baukham's summary point is to offer witness as the alternative way of the Good News. The Kingdom will be coming in unlikely places in unlikely ways and at the 'edges' of our experiences. We can be encouraged, says Baukham, because "much that is happening" has "some real correspondence" with the ways of God in Scripture.
Here are some helpful quotes:
"So the church's mission is not a steady cumulative process in which we move even further away from the biblical narratives. We are always beginning again from the biblical narratives, which still open up unexpected possibilities for our own future within the future of Jesus Christ. We are always figuratively starting again from Jerusalem on our way to the ends of the earth. We are always starting again from Jesus who is the one human for all others, and we are always starting again from Pentecost, the event that gives birth to the new community on its way to the new future." (p.21)
"God's presence is now among the people in the metaphorical Temple they themselves compose. This new center is everywhere and nowhere, just as with the advent of modern geography and postmodern globalization the ends of the earth are now everywhere and nowhere. To substitute another physical center for Jerusalem...was always a mistake, however understandable. God's people move from place to place, but not from a geographical center to a geographical periphery. Mission, to borrow the title of Mishop Nazir-Ali'a book, is 'from everywhere to everywhere'." (pp.76-77)
"The church is never far from the insignificance of Jesus and his band of unimpressive followers. It is always setting out from the particular in the direction of God's incalculable gift of everything." (p.18)
"So to witness to the kingdom of God as far as the edges of the earth, as Jesus commissioned his apostles to do, was to expose Rome's aspiration to limitless dominion as blasphemous." (p.107)
i am incredibly thankful for the women that gather early monday morning at the high st house to pray. it is a practice i don't participate in directly but certainly i receive a direct blessing. the fact that my sisters in community do this for me (among others) is a great reminder about how my salvation is caught up with the salvation of others..we need each other so that we can be saved. it also causes me to think about my own commitments, making me freshly aware that my disciplined life (or lack thereof) is more than mine...it will build up or tear down people around me.
wow that got a bit heavy...bottom line: i am thankful for you monday-morning-praying-women.
Friday, November 17, 2006
my first and most primal response to get togethers like this is lament - for the people of the first nations and for the immeasurable loss of life and other horrible fallout of colonization such as the annihilation god's majestic cultural gifts. languages, symbols, and ceremonies that would have no doubt taught us much about the ways of God. then i go deeper into sorrow as i think about my own 'sunburt country' and what was (is!) done to the Aboriginal people.
my second sense is to just watch and listen to the stories, songs, and dancing. the beauty and strangeness of praying with flutes and drums was a gift to me and somehow created space for contemplative prayer i rarely experience.
thirdly, and this is the truth for most 'conferences', the treasured words are not principally from the stage but come with the informal conversations that fill in the gaps between the programmed events.
finally, from the stage i heard richard twiss, mike rynkowitch, and terry leblanc....all excellent thinkers and communicators. i'm not sure if anything was recorded.
it was also a treat for sherry, isaac, and i to catch up with our dear friends (the Jacksons) and visit the Vanderbilt campus and Fido's coffee shop (along with bongo java our favorite breakfast spots in Nashvegas).
it is a movie that wears you out..in a good way. intense and engaging, incredible direction, stunning imagery overlayed with sparse but potent dialogue.
each scene might be the seed for a doctoral study in anthropology and it is a must see for anyone interested in missiology and our globalising world.
at a closer-to-home level we both ached for the characters, their lot in life. tragic mistakes. heartbreaking lonliness. the redemptive moments toward the end caught the magical tension between the particular (personal) and universal healing for which we all yearn (in our better moments).
it is one of those movies that has stayed with us for days...churning away in the some 'back room' of our brains. if you are up for a provocative, disturbing and ultimately beautiful experience go and see it....or just go and see it for our sake so we can talk about it with some others :)
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
After living in Detroit for almost 5 years, I have returned to Lexington to continue the work of creating sustainable communities…which means that our life work is guided by the interdependent principles of social equity, environmental health, community vibrancy and economic prosperity . I recognize that a critical mass of visionaries/activists/cultural creatives/progressives is needed that believe "Another World is Possible" and are interconnected like a spider web in manifesting that vision. Towards creating these spider webs I contribute Sankofa Nest Gatherings which were held this past spring and we now reconvene after a summer break . These gatherings are meant to connect us, inspire us, educate us...and nourish us...for the Great Work of Transformation. The evening experience includes a potluck dinner, lots of conversations and discussion, usually watching a video, a backyard bonfire, sharing flyers/materials and some FUN!! Some stay late and dancing is known to happen.
WHEN: Saturday November 18, 2006 7:00pm-11pm
Dinner begins at 7pm and ends when the food is all gone....and the video begins at 8:30pm…
VIDEO Topic: The documentary, "The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil," The Community Solution: Cuba Film http://www.communitysolution.org/cuba.html
We will discuss how to move Lexington along the path of local food sustainability...so bring lots of ideas!
WHERE: 573 STRATFORD DR--.home of Jim Embry (off of Claysmill Rd. turn left .3 blocks south of Rosemont Garden..look for candles in the walkway)
HOW: POT LUCK (please bring only vegetarian or vegan foods.. and good drinks..also make concerted attempts to bring food or drink that are local products).
PLEASE RSVP…at 859-312-7024 …..and for more info
The concept of SANKOFA is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Afrika. SANKOFA is expressed in the Akan language as "se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki." Literally translated it means "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot".
"Sankofa" teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated.
Visually and symbolically "Sankofa" is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth. ________________________________________
SANKOFA - GO BACK AND RETRIEVE
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
here's a blip from the website about the purpose of the gathering:
"It is my hope that you will prayerfully make the sacrifice to join us for these historic gatherings, beginning this November in Franklin. Become part of this emerging “Missio Dei Initiative” to bring the Shalom of God back into the forefront of the church. Let’s begin to envision – to look out into our increasingly radically diverse, multiethnic and religiously pluralistic world with new eyes of faith to recognize the Spirit of God at work in lives of people around the world.
Convener of the Missio Dei Initiative"
the article...i found it interesting because neuroscience is such a new field and i think these kinds of technologies are going to broaden our understanding of how humans are (being) made and how we (think/believe we) experience the divine. it is a place where theology and anthropology merge and i imagine this to be a great, exploritory-science dialogue that has enormous implications for missiology (among other things).
so here's a quote or two and here is the link to the article.
"The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who “speak in tongues” reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.
Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.
The new findings contrasted sharply with images taken of other spiritually inspired mental states like meditation, which is often a highly focused mental exercise, activating the frontal lobes. "
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
By Sam Harris
Nov. 13, 2006 issue - Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the Earth, more than half the American population believes that the entire cosmos was created 6,000 years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. Those with the power to elect presidents and congressmen—and many who themselves get elected—believe that dinosaurs lived two by two upon Noah's Ark, that light from distant galaxies was created en route to the Earth and that the first members of our species were fashioned out of dirt and divine breath, in a garden with a talking snake, by the hand of an invisible God.
This is embarrassing. But add to this comedy of false certainties the fact that 44 percent of Americans are confident that Jesus will return to Earth sometime in the next 50 years, and you will glimpse the terrible liability of this sort of thinking. Given the most common interpretation of Biblical prophecy, it is not an exaggeration to say that nearly half the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. It should be clear that this faith-based nihilism provides its adherents with absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization—economically, environmentally or geopolitically. Some of these people are lunatics, of course, but they are not the lunatic fringe. We are talking about the explicit views of Christian ministers who have congregations numbering in the tens of thousands. These are some of the most influential, politically connected and well-funded people in our society.
Read the rest of the article at:
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group will be holding the 16th Annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference. (Whew, say that five times fast) It is January 25-28 in Louisville. The cost is low for a typical conference but still not cheap. There are waivers available for those who are planning on working in the area of sustainable agriculture.
I am planning on attending some part of this conference, so let me know if you are interested in sharing rides out there.
and clock on the 'blog' tab at the top of the page.
his new book will be out sometime in the next month or so. sherry and i have had the good pleasure of reading the manuscript and it has been a significant challenge and encouragement - along with 'constants in context' (by Bevans and Schroeder) the best missiology text i have read in recent years.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
we celebrated all saints this past sunday eve. a couple of my favorite living saints are mike and sarah brown. after our gathering mike unleashed yet another gift on us with some fire-spinning. it was a holy night and mike added a magical touch with his new craft. thanks for the show, mike. keep it coming. a couple more pics to follow...