Thursday, July 31, 2008

More on I.O.U.S.A.

I just wanted to let everyone know that the I.O.U.S.A. movie that Geoff mentioned is going to be showing locally at the Regal Cinemas in Hamburg Pavillion on Thursday, August 21 at 8pm. The showing of the film will be followed by a live interview with Warren Buffet, David Walker, and Pete Peterson. The film, which One Horizon Foundation helped to initiate two years ago, is a documentary intended to raise consciousness about the problematic nature of the U.S. federal trade and budget deficits. So, if you're interested in the subject or have been let down by recent boring movies like the Dark Knight, come and see this movie filled with riveting material.

Monday, July 28, 2008


this documentary makes the case that the US is on the brink of a financial meltdown due to the massive debt.  Billy worked hard to help get this project started and we recommend you see it if you can.

It will be released nationally on August 21st...see the official web site for screening details...

[update]  i forgot to post this link to an excellent NY Times article that deals with these issues and mentions the movie.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I stand at one and you at fifty nine,
and the ticking is incessantly loud in my ears.
Each day has become a series of breathings,
twenty five moments of those, filled with tears.

One might think that falling to thirty
is the highpoint of the day,
except that one forgets that climbing to sixty
is an uphill climb all the way.

There is no pause at three or nine,
just a quick breath between the clicks;
an inhale of the lungs and a stride of the foot
and on I race pass the ticks.

I can begin to see you, like the sun on horizon,
when I reach the fifty mark,
and forget the lack of pause at three and nine
reach out to grasp you at twelve,
when the bell toll, again, breaks my heart. 

And then I'm sliding toward thirty.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reflection on Jeremiah 29 and 1 Corinthians 13

Hey family,

So, about a year ago, we contemplated what it means to live out Jeremiah 29 while at the same time its message of hope, challenge, and command live out of us. Then, before Jeanine and I left, we just started 1 Corinthians 13; I hope you all are still "recapitulating" (Love you Geoff!). Anyway, the following is a short piece of reflection on both of those as I find myself in Kalispell, MT. 

Love you all.

Waiting and walking and wandering,
either way you slice it,
I’m here.

I’m here waiting for the way to be clear,
striving to make the conscious decision
that the door I can’t see, still, is open.

I’m here walking into and out of places,
yearning to connect with the lives of the dead,
or at best, the barely living.

I’m here wandering, wondering if I am in exile,
but I have no soil to plant a garden or child to give in marriage,
so I will be here, loving, (or at best, striving to love). 

Friday, July 25, 2008

It Helps to Have a Cheering Section

Last night I was cooking for myself at the end of a long day. The windows were open in the kitchen. Behind our home is a row of houses that face two baseball fields, and on many summer nights we can hear baseball being played before a small crowd.

My heart and stomach applauded together as I set about my work. This was echoed by the baseball fans. I chopped two onions and a beet we found unexpectedly at the London Ferrell Community Garden just hours earlier. Mild applause here (the beet is not a crowd-pleaser). These went into the skillet and were followed by okra, which was more exciting. The green beans seemed to get the crowd into it a bit more. I reached for an ear of corn Jodie had gotten from the farmer’s market and they went wild. All of this began to simmer together, and I was thinking about my next move. I grabbed our first heirloom tomato–a yellow beauty–you should have seen it. This brought the house down. I pumped my fist and did a victory dance. I don’t recall the final score, but the home team had clearly won.

(from Ryan)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Return to basics....

I've been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is for me to slip into reliance upon my own faculties, and even those of my co-workers & friends, while forgetting God. For me this is one of the greatest occupational hazards of trying to work for good in the world. When we dedicate ourselves to working for justice, believing that another and better world is possible now, we have to be willing to give our best and challenge ourselves to continually keep growing and refining our efforts. But this, I am finding, is a very slippery slope that often leads us quickly from the best of places (loving surrender to God and God's work in the world) to the worst (trying to be God). Education, competency, effort, experience, even life-long commitment to something, can never take the place of trust in the goodness of God and our reliance (in trust) upon God's love revealed in Christ and poured out through the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of this powerfully this morning while reading this selection from Brennan Manning's book "Ruthless Trust:"

"This book started writing itself with a remark from my spiritual director. 'Brennan, you don't need any more insights into the faith,' he observed. 'You've got enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust what you have received.'

That sounded simple enough. But his remark sparked a searing reexamination of my life, my ministry, and the authenticity of my relationship with God-a reexamination that spanned the next two years. The challenge to actually trust God forced me to deconstruct what I had spent my life constructing, to stop clutching what I was so afraid of losing, to question my personal investment in every word I had ever written or spoken about Jesus Christ and fearlessly to ask myself if I trusted him.

.....Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that border on the heroic. When the shadow of Jesus' cross falls across our lives in the form of failure, rejection, abandoment, betrayal, unemployment, loneliness, depression, the loss of a loves one; when we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own pain; when the world around us seems a hostile, menancing place-at those times we may cry out in anguish, 'How could a loving God permit this to happen?' At such moments the seeds of distrust are sown. It requires heroic courage to trust in the love of God no matter what happens to us.

The most brilliant student I ever taught in seminary was a young man named Augustus Gordon. He now lives as a hermit six months each year in a solitary cabin deep in the Smoky Mountains above Liberty, Tennessee. The remaining half-year he travels the country preaching the gospel on behalf of Food for the Poor, a missionary outreach feeding the hungry and homeless in Haiti, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands.

On a recent visit I aksed him, 'Gus, could you define the Christian life in a single sentence?' He didn't even blink before responding. 'Brennan,' he said, 'I can define it in a single word: trust.'

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Pleasant Revolution

The Ginger Ninjas are the first band in history to go on tour with their bikes only. They didn't use vehicles to carry their gear, and they even figured out how to utilize pedaling power to make their instruments, mics, etc. work. For all you bike fans, earth lovers, and music connoisseurs, check out Ginger Ninjas here:

Ironically enough, I went to highschool with the bass player. Jared May. Great guy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Waiting on Papaws

I’ve been watching a small bunch of papaws ripen this summer. It has been such a joy to observe this growth, in part because a late freeze killed all the fruit on the tree in front of the High Street House last year. But this year, this little cluster keeps ripening toward a day of fullness.
Learning about papaws was part of my initiation into Kentucky. David Wagoner presented me with one a few years ago when I visited his farm. We had spent the morning in the field, and he insisted that we take a hike up into the hills, where trees were reclaiming fields that had been over-grazed by livestock. He disappeared for a bit, and came back with a fruit. I ate this smallish, mango/banana silently, intent on the peel, seeds, pulp. The seeds were large, lusty, improbable. The whole thing impressed me as being far too tropical for Nicholas County, Kentucky. But there we were. I wouldn't soon forget it.
And here we are. I can’t come into this house without passing these ripening shapes. My waiting may not be rewarded. These fruits are not safe from bugs or weather or other threats. But I am hopeful enough to allow these fruits some of my hope. I may not be present when these come to be ready. But I can joyfully anticipate that fullness. Almost like a summer advent. I am happy to wait.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Goodbye to the High Street House office....

This month has involved a lot of substantial change for me and my family. John moved out of our home two weeks ago after six-years of shared life, and today I moved out of the office that I've occupied for nearly a decade, since the early months of Communality. I want to thank Ryan, Hollywood, and Jodie for helping me with the move. I feel good about leaving this office to Ryan and I like how the two chairs remain in the center of this picture. I believe that a lot of fruit is going to be borne by Ryan as he works here with others and goes out from here. Anyhow, it is a time of reflection for me. This space has been a place where I've grown more than I ever could have imagined, and is yet a space that I'm leaving wishing that I had grown much more in some ways. This is life; it can never be fully mastered, I reckon, or we're not setting our sights high enough or being honest enough. Anyhow, the main thing that I want to do is to give thanks for the time that I had in the High Street House office, time that changed my life forever. Thanks to all the people that shared their lives with me there, in that building, working together to try to be faithful to our belief that the church is not a building.........truly, it is not...but it is still vitally important to have special places in our lives. This might be the greatest and most ironic lesson I have learned over the last ten years.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

coming to america

the wonderful nystroms hosted a party for some new friends who arrived in this country as refugees from iraq (there's a war happening there, you know).

here are some pictures of cornhole comp., kiddie pool shenanigans, and fire-fly catchin'.  how's that for a way to get adjusted to life in the good ol' U.S. of A!?

welcome to america

welcome to america

welcome to america

welcome to america

welcome to america

oil, oil, oil

check out this astounding segment on "fast money".  my brother sent me this link at


Mr matthew simmons is no shrill lefty...this man has been an energy advisor to the current president.

what is most astounding about this video is the way the 'experts' grimace and smirk while simmons breaks it down.  it is as if they cannot imagine a world where commodity prices, oil rigs, and food are all connected.  this is serious and lives are in the is not all about making "fast money."

a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

godspeed the plough

check out this great conference.

Godspeed the Plough!:
The Church and The Redemptive Practice of Agriculture

A conversation on church, food and economy; an exploration of what it means for our churches to be faithful witnesses to God's work of redeeming a fallen creation.

Food is one of the basic elements of human life, and yet in many churches there has been little reflection upon how our eating habits intersect with our call to live peaceably with all humanity, and indeed all creation. In recent years, there have been plenty of prophetic voices (e.g., Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan) calling us to re-examine how we eat, but how do we respond as communities of God's people to these calls? Maybe we eat less. Maybe we eat more local foods. Maybe we work together to grow some of our own food. Let's come together in November and share our stories and encourage one another to a more just pattern of eating.

      When: Friday evening Nov. 7 and Saturday Nov. 8, 2008

      Where: Englewood Christian Church / Indianapolis

for more information, go here:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"racial justice on the cheap"

in last sunday's ny times, there is an opinion piece that provides another angle on what we seem to ignore, for the most part, in this country - racial inequality.  i appreciated this article that digs far deeper than the controversial issue of affirmative action and exposes the true crisis of poverty among the majority of african americans.  it is something that surrounds geoff, isaac and me in our neighborhood and we are not only left without answers, we're left without the right questions.

the commentator laments that

those who suffer most from the legacy of racial oppression are not competing for spaces in the entering classes of the nation's most selective colleges.  millions of them are not finishing high school.  we countenance vast disparities in education in america, in where children start and where they come out.  and we do not even want to talk about it.

it's worth reading - affirmative distraction


Thursday, July 10, 2008

renewable energy in appalachia

this is a fascinating article that addresses some positive alternatives to mountain top removal in our region.

here is a taster...see the full piece here

If Senator Barack Obama ever needs a living symbol of change we can believe in, and a hopeful way to transcend the dirty politics of our failed energy policies, he should go and see the future of renewable energy in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia.

Yes, renewable energy in Appalachia.

Something historic is taking place in West Virginia this summer. Faced with an impending proposal to stripmine over 6,600 acres -- nearly 10 square miles -- in the Coal River Valley, including one of the last great mountains in that range, an extraordinary movement of local residents and coal mining families have come up with a counter proposal for an even more effective wind farm.

Mother Jones, the miners' angel, once declared: "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living."

Having witnessed the destruction of over 470 mountains and their adjacent communities in Appalachia, the Coal River Valley citizens are doing just that. On the frontlines of one of the most tragic environmental and human rights scandals in modern American history, the community-wide Coal River wind advocates have devised a blueprint to get beyond the divisive regional politics and break the stranglehold of King Coal on the central Appalachian economies.

The Coal River Wind Project is the first bottom-up community-based full scale assessment to directly counter the nightmare of mountaintop removal with a renewable energy and economy alternative prior to the actual mining.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

register your disgust

if you are the activist kind....sign your name here and (at the very least) make it known you expect (y)our leaders to keep their promises and act with the simplest kind of human decency by doing what they say they will do. (didn't someone say something about letting our 'yes be yes'?)

this kind of reversal makes me angry...especially when i think about all the effort involved in the grass-roots organizing that made such public pressure known to our leaders.  all those rally's and meetings and letters and emails really did make a difference.  do they think we will just move on and forget?  let's hope not.

Go well, dear brother

After almost 6 years as friends and housemates, John is moving on. We love you, John, and will be praying Jeremiah 29 over you as you begin this next part of your journey. Indeed, we'll be praying it for all of us. See here for more.

IMF finally knocks on Uncle Sam's door

you know things are bad when...

Der Spiegel wrote that the IMF had "informed" Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke of plans that would have been unheard of in the past: a general examination of the US financial system. The IMF's board of directors has ruled that a so-called Financial Sector Assessment Program is to be carried out in the US.

This, Der Spiegel wrote, "is nothing less than an X-ray of the entire US financial system", adding that "no Fed chief in US history has been forced to submit to the kind of humiliation that Ben Bernanke is facing".

The fact that the IMF is knocking on the very doors of its parents and waving legal papers about who lost the house, the car and the kids will, if the past is anything to go by, be buried in the US by pom-pom waving on CNBC telling all what a great time it is to buy.

see the whole article here

not such a great birthday present this july 4.

Waiting and Whispering

It was a long way to walk from there to here,
and driving didn't make much of a difference.
All my best laid plans ended up in a wreck,
and this interruption was never my preference.

I've the shadows of men once real
and seen the real within the shadows,
drilling and pumping for the deeper water
and the stuff of life that matters.

I’ve seen a shepherd talk out of both sides of his mouth,
and the only thing he’s feeding me is the dross
of a truth that shines just beyond his reach,
and while he’s talking, I’m wondering if he’s the one that’s lost.

And in the space between, in the pause of this uninvited intrusion,
I am listening. Pressing my ear to the ground, to the tree, to the water;
"What am I doing here?" I whisper with them all,
praying my question is answered before the leaves start to fall.