Saturday, November 29, 2008

being thankful for mr berry

this article appeared in our local paper as a guest commentary piece on thanksgiving day.  a very well composed summary of wendell berry's insights into a life well lived.

here's a sneak peek.

Mr. Berry, who as a young man left a promising East Coast academic career to return to ancestral land to farm, write and raise a family, has long been both behind and ahead of his times.

Though to all appearances an old-time Democrat, his faithfulness to his iconoclastic vision makes him an uncomfortable presence among the mainstream left and has won him new admirers on the dissident right. He is a moralist hostile both to big government and big business. He is a Christian who can't be understood apart from his deep religious conviction that humankind is under divine command to be good caretakers of creation – the land, its creatures and each other.

If you build your politics on this foundation, you will find yourself standing outside the camps of our parties. Most Republicans don't care for him because he is a harsh critic of industrialism, consumerism and the unfettered free market as a destroyer of land, community and healthy traditions. Most Democrats regard him as out of touch because he is a religious man who holds autonomous individualism, especially the sexual freedom it licenses, to be similarly destructive of families, communities and the sacredness of love.

In short, the Kentucky gentleman is an ardent and prolific foe of liberty without responsibility. In that, he embodies Southern writer Flannery O'Connor's charge to "push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

pregnant with God

"Standing at the threshold of another Advent we begin our season of growth and expectation - a time to secret ourselves with Mary, to join our hearts with hers, and to grow pregnant with God together. God invites us to a quiet place of reflection and bounty. This Advent, choose some time for silence. Make space within yourself to grow large with the abundance of God’s favor. Make this a time to fill your lungs deeply with God so that you can breathe Christ into the world."
Thomas Hoffman, A Child in Winter, Sheed & Ward, 2000.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

protecting ourselves from our government

in recent years, the catastrophic practice of mountain top removal has left vast regions of kentucky, west virginia and virginia looking like lifeless, flat moonscapes.  one of the many detrimental and unjust side effects of this greedy retrieval of coal is that residents of these rural counties are left without potable drinking water.  apparently the starting place and source of much of the water throughout the southeastern u.s. are these tiny streams in the eastern part of our state.  right now, president bush is proposing to weaken restrictions that prohibit dumping mountaintop mining waste near rivers and streams.  thank goodness our governor (beshear) and our congressman (ben chandler - an honest and just representative who happens to apply his christian faith to his politics) oppose this.  see this link -

Monday, November 17, 2008

a blessed weekend

a beautiful time of celebration.  check out all of the pics here...if you took some photos or have any reflections about the weekend, please post them or link to them here.

Communality 10 years - Friday

Communality 10 years - Sat. lunch

Communality 10 years - Sat. night

Communality 10 years - Sat. night

Communality 10 years - Sunday

Communality 10 years - Sunday

Communality 10 years - Sunday

Communality 10 years - Sunday

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ten years

a milestone for communality this weekend.

we celebrate God's good work in and through us and welcome the chance to gather together remembering that our story is part of a bigger work - the kingdom coming on earth as it is heaven.


Monday, November 10, 2008

seeker un-friendly church...un-pc jesus

i though these were mildly amusing comedic clips.


musings of an urban farmer

A friend I hadn’t met yet recently called me asking for help. He had been kicked out of a recovery program and needed to stay occupied for a couple of days. He was worried that if he didn’t stay busy, he would start to make some bad choices.

So I met him at one of our gardens. We worked together. We ended up getting to know each other a bit. We talked about compost, his history, cover crops, his art…all kinds of things. This man noted that this was a much better way to spend a morning than what he usually does.

I wish I could tell you that a couple of hours in a garden cured this man of his longing to use substances. But even as he scattered the wheat berries, he recalled a story Jesus told about seeds and where they land, and which ones grow. They didn’t all grow. In the same way, a short time in a garden is not likely to convince a man that he has better things to live for than alcohol.

But on a sunny fall morning, this man had a chance to do something positive, and he did it. The effects of his choice will ripple out from the event into the lives and stories of others. And this is one reason why it is good to have a garden--to give folks who need it something redemptive to do with their time, with their hands.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Meeting Jesus in Momentary Translation

The day is cold and gray and Martin rummages through the remains. He has ten minutes to collect all he can to fight back the wind that will rip through him when he walks out the door. He approaches me from behind, black hat pulled down over his wild, white hair; two teeth jut out from his otherwise toothless mouth as, with a thick French-Canadian accent, he loudly introduces himself and an onslaught of unintelligible jargon escapes. I look to Sean to help me escape this noisy, ancient remnant of a dying generation. I can’t help but shift back and forth on my feet because of my unease. I can hardly understand his sentences. I catch every second or seventh word. I move up and down one stair at a time. But his eyes, a shocking blue, pop because of the backdrop of his white hair; it’s as though they see right through me, which doesn’t help my discomfort. “Dark times!” I hear as I look into his eyes, followed by a rambling of various words and phrases. I interrupt him to introduce myself, realizing at this point that I don’t even know this crazy man standing directly in front of me. I extend my hand, which he takes. In that moment, I experience momentary translation as Martin introduces himself as Martin Carpenter, son of a Flemish-Jewish father and Scottish mother. A bit more rambling ensues until I hear, “haven’t slept in 45 years,” and I’m thinking, this guy is the antithesis of Rip van Winkle. Except that Martin gets about 30 minutes of sleep a night and roams the streets of Edmonton for the rest of the evening. My thoughts are interrupted again, “but God has given me a big heart and working hands; I worked with these hands all my life until the arthritis set in,” as he touches his shoulders and elbows. “Never been married, don’t have any kids, don’t sleep much” followed by another string I can’t understand. “Hey asshole!” I hear as Martin’s friend descends the stairs, “time to go.” And as they head out the doors, I stretch my head into the cold and gray and shout, “Martin, it was great to meet you,” though he just kept walking, which, unless it’s his thirty minute nap-time, he’s probably doing right now. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On November 5th

I know that some people reading this post will be happy about the outcome of the election, and some will not. In fact, that's one of the things I like best about our community -- that we strive to be a place where these differences, while not insignificant, are ultimately subsumed in the saving grace of our Lord.

Yet all of us might recognize the amazing import of last night's decision, the historic nature of barriers being challenged and broken. To see Jesse Jackson shedding tears that are rich with history, to imagine how others might be experiencing this day -- in all humility, I admit that I don't fully realize what this day means. I'm just grateful to have been a part of it, and to be a part of the 4 years to follow.

No matter whom we supported, let's covenant together to uphold both of these men in prayer, in our conversations together, and with the constant reminder that God sees us, and wants our hearts to be fountains of grace, and truth, and faith, and hope, and love.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


* if you are reading this on a computer screen, you are involved!

tonight at our gathering we focused on the democratic republic of congo.  it was a very moving time of hearing about and seeing images from this place - a horrifying litany of struggle and chaos.

we talked about the fact that we are a community of faith and action and that we cannot ignore such injustice .  we discussed the fact that all of our computers, dvd players, and mobile phones require a precious metallic ore (coltan) found in the congo.  we agreed that we are caught up in the conflict over there...when our lips and cheeks and ears touch our cell phones and our finger tips tap on a keyboard, we come into intimate contact with a war that has resulted in as many as 5 million deaths. we heard that there are at least 120 Congolese refugees in our city and some of them still have family in the middle of the violence today.  

it was a harsh reality to face that our consumerism and convenience fuels, as things are presently, an unrelenting war.  we heard the words of scripture that call the people of God to action and away from frivolous religiosity.  we signed letters to our leaders calling on renewed action to bring fairness and justice to trade.  we prayed against apathy, despair, and impotent rage.  we prayed to be more holy people, more engaged and loving citizens of a world that god so loves.

if you are interested in joining in this work here are a couple of good places to start:

for related material on christian action in darfur:

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Jesus for President author to visit on Election Day

this article in our local paper's the first part:

"We've found the hope of the planet ... and it's not Obama or McCain or even America, but Christ in the body of the church." — Shane Claiborne, co-author of Jesus for President.

Shane Claiborne believes in change, but he doesn't endorse Barack Obama. He's not a John McCain man, either.

Claiborne also is not big on America's military-industrial complex, conspicuous consumption or the suburbs. He doesn't care for the intertwining of church and state: Christians should be Christians across borders, he thinks, not Christian-Americans who think that respect for God intersects with their respect for the country's ability to push around others.

Claiborne, raised in East Tennessee and now living in Philadelphia, has a different idea for Christians: His latest book, written with Chris Haw, is called Jesus for President. He'll discuss the book at Asbury College in Wilmore on Election Day.

Either you find the book witty, or you're a more earnest type of churchgoer who says that of course Jesus for president is a swell idea, but then who's going to fret about economic meltdown and universal health care? The man from Galilee wasn't exactly a policy wonk.

Claiborne, a dreadlocked inner-city resident who also wrote 2006's The Irresistible Revolution: Living Life as an Ordinary Radical, is an adherent of New Monasticism, which is more about how Christianity walks the walk and less about suburban churches in which worship is an isolated, once-a-week affair like getting an eternal-life shopper's card punched. The movement includes the Communality group in Lexington.