Friday, October 31, 2008

letter from Reginald Meeks

we witnessed a sickening act in our city this week (see this report for background).  we thought this was a good response from one of our state representatives.

(geoff and sherry)

There are times when the body politic needs to be shocked into recognizing and admitting what some parts of the body know to be true.

The Kentucky we want to believe exists, and the Kentucky that does exist for many is not the same Kentucky.

The hate-filled, cowardly and despicable actions of whomever was behind the planning for and committing of this crime should serve as a reminder to each of us that we must be honest with ourselves, and work diligently to wipe out the flames this act is designed to fan. I urge the authorities at the University of Kentucky, and the relevant federal and state authorities, to investigate this crime, find the person or persons responsible, and to prosecute the matter to the fullest extent of the law.

I also urge each of them to reach out to the African American students and other students of color at the University of Kentucky and in the Lexington community to assure them of their ultimate safety and protection today, and in these days leading up to the General Election.

Any and all steps should be taken in the Lexington community to ensure this act does not have a chilling effect on the community's safety as they go to the polls next Tuesday.

President Lee Todd and his staff, deserve to be recognized for having the sensitivity and understanding to respond quickly and comprehensively to this threat to the peace and tranquility of all Kentuckians, regardless of color.

Finally, I want to say to Senator Barack Obama, Michele Obama and their entire family that this act is but one more on a long list of obstacles, challenges, yes, threats, you have faced as you have climbed the rough side of this mountain. I am deeply hurt that the state and the people in Kentucky whom I love would be represented to you, and to the country, in such a dishonorable way. We understand this is a symptom, and the best way to treat this symptom is for the Nation to have a successful General Election on Tuesday, and prove, once and for all, that we recognize the character of the man, the strength of his heart and the power of his convictions are the cure American needs to end this sickness. God bless and keep you and your family safe.

State Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville


Reginald K. Meeks

Assoc. Director of External Programs

University of Louisville

College of Arts & Sciences

Gardiner Hall, Rm. 330

Louisville, KY 40292


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

godspeed the plow conference

a great conference coming up Nov. 7th and 8th.

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.

Friday, October 24, 2008

pray for the pres

We all have our opinions about who should be the next president...but I think we can all agree that whomever it is, needs our prayers! I found this prayer on the UMC website. A prayer we can pray in the days leading to the election...

A Prayer for the United States Presidential Election

by The Rev. Kenneth H. Carter, Jr

Creator of us all:
you are the source of every blessing,
the judge of every nation
and the hope of earth and heaven:

We pray to you on the eve of this important and historic election.

We call to mind the best that is within us:
That we live under God,
that we are indivisible,
that liberty and justice extend to all.

We acknowledge the sin that runs through our history as a nation:
The displacement of native peoples, racial injustice,
economic inequity, regional separation.

And we profess a deep and abiding gratitude
for the goodness of ordinary people who have made sacrifices,
who have sought opportunities,
who have journeyed to this land as immigrants
and strengthened its promise in successive generations,
who have found freedom on these shores,
and defended this freedom at tremendous cost.

Be with us in the days that are near.
Remind us that your ways are not our ways,
that your power and might transcend
the plans of every nation,
that you are not mocked.

Let those who follow your Son Jesus Christ be a peaceable people
in the midst of division.

Send your Spirit of peace, justice and freedom upon us,
break down the walls of political partisanship,
and make us one.

Give us wisdom to walk in your ways,
courage to speak in your name,
and humility to trust in your providence.


keep our commitments

speaking of justice...check out this link associated with the ONE campaign:

...and please send an email to McCain and Obama about this critical issue.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

a word about injustice

Just before Pete and I returned to the states from Southeast Asia, a friend asked if we had ever heard of International Justice Missions.  At the time, they had a position open in Thailand, and our friends were trying to tempt us to look into...hoping we would choose to stay in Southeast Asia.  We looked the job up, but didn't feel it was the right time to pursue it.  However, I admit that I have checked out their job board several times in the last month...hey, we miss being overseas!  But we've bought a house to safeguard ourselves from making any rushed decisions.  For now, we are back in Kentucky.  But my main reason for telling you all of this, is that I just discovered that IJM has a blogsite.  It posts updates on injustice issues around the world, even including internationals within the USA who are victims of injustice.  Since Communality is a community interested in justice, I thought I would let you all know of this blogsite:  
  Their mission as stated on the blog: "International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.  IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local governments to ensure victim rescue, to prosecute perpetrators and to strengthen the community and civic factors that promote functioning public justice systems."

fully human

it is such a joy to be hosting mary fisher in lexington.  she has been more than generous with her time; talking with us about politics and jesus. last night, she shared her insights into the triune god and mission, this as part of a placed people occasional school.  tonight she will join us for our discipleship groups where we will talk about the fact that truth is essentially relation (embodied).

mary has many things to teach us as a biblical scholar, theologian, and grounded missionary.  one of the things that is most compelling to me is her insight into personhood and the social nature of being properly human.  this, she contends, flows from an understanding that creator god is triune and delights in meeting us where we are.  to be caught up in the life of such a god is to take on those outwardly oriented, self-sacrificial traits.  god knows that we long to be in communion with creation, each other, and with god's self.

jumping to another wonderful communicator....mark sayers is a remarkable student of our times.  his post today about hugh hefner entitiled, 'a very lonely playboy' adds weight to mary's insights.  well worth reading along with his post about 'the unadulterated pleasure of limits'.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

10/16 Film Fundraiser: "The Ordinary Radicals"

BIG REMINDER - get the word out and bring everyone you can


The Ordinary Radicals: A Conspiracy of Faith on the Margins of Empire

a fundraiser for Kentucky Refugee Ministries


7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Thursday

October 16th


Kentucky Theater

214 East Main Street


Tickets are $7.50 each.  Purchase tickets in advance by calling 859.231.7924 or 859.231.6997


This full-length documentary film is a fundraiser for Kentucky Refugee Ministries to help with their work settling refugees in central Kentucky.  The film's director, Jamie Moffet, will be present for live interview and Q & A after the showing.

Click here to view the film's trailer.

In the margins of the United States, there lives a revolutionary Christianity.  One with a quiet disposition that seeks to do 'small things with great love,' and in so doing is breaking 21st Century stereotypes surrounding this 2000 year old faith. 'The Ordinary Radicals' is set against the modern American political and social backdrop of the next Great Awakening. Traveling across the United States on a tour to promote the book 'Jesus for President', Shane Claiborne and a rag-tag group of 'ordinary radicals' interpret Biblical history and its correlation with the current state of American politics. Sharing a relevant outlook for people with all faith perspectives, director Jamie Moffett examines this growing movement.

Featuring Interviews with:

Shane Claiborne - Author, "The Irresistible Revolution" and Co-Author of "Jesus For President"

Chris Haw - Co-Author, "Jesus For President"

Tony Campolo - Author, "Red Letter Christians"

Jim Wallis - Author, "God's Politics" and "The Great Awakening"

Brian McLaren - Author, "Everything Must Change" and "The Secret Message of Jesus"

John Perkins - Author, "Let Justice Roll Down" and "Beyond Charity"

Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove - "New Monasticism" and "Free To Be Bound"

Donald Kraybill - Author, "Amish Grace", "The Upside-Down Kingdom" and "The Riddle of Amish Culture"

Bruce Main - Author, "Spotting the Sacred"

Ron Sider - Author, "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" and "The Scandal of Evangelical Politics"

Brian Walsh - Author, "Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire"

Zack Exley - Writer, "Revolution in Jesusland" and the pioneering organizer for

Leroy Barber - President of MissionYear and featured in the book "unChristian"

Peter Illyn - Contributor, "The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World" and featured in: "The New Conspirators"

Becky Garrison - Author, "Red and Blue God" and "The New Atheist Crusaders"

Rick Perlstein - Author, "Nixonland"

Lisa Sharon Harper - Playwright, and Executive Director of NY Faith & Justice




One Horizon Foundation


Bill Kenney
(859) 233-9777

Friday, October 10, 2008

Politics and Radical Inclusion

I've been thinking more about politics this year than ever before, thanks in large part to being immersed in a community of such thoughtful people. This is the first election cycle here I've been more than a casual observer and participant. (Ok, I'm still a casual participant, but I'm observing much more intentionally.) And I'm trying to figure out how to hold opinions thoughtfully and strongly while holding more tightly to the people whom I love and respect, and to the character of Christ which we try to cultivate in our community.

At our fellowship time last Sunday, our friend Will led us in a discussion of politics. What do we think of politics? How does the process make us feel? How does our participation in the body of Christ affect (and effect) our political involvement? One text we discussed was Matthew 18, and how Jesus' instruction to treat those who sin against us "as Gentiles and tax collectors" is actually a call for radical inclusion (since Jesus tended to hang out with Gentiles and tax collectors). I wondered how such radical inclusion would shape the manner and content of our increasingly polarized political discourse. Can we have close friends and family who vote differently? How do we relate to someone who believes passionately about something with which we disagree? What hope is there for us to journey together towards those goals we share in common?

A friend, who's a lifelong and rabid (er, devoted) fan of the University of Georgia, said something which struck me as quite insightful. "So many people," he commented, "seem to be Democrats or Republicans the same way that I'm a Dawgs fan." It's a great analogy, startling in its clarity and evocation of an almost blind devotion to a certain allegiance. While this is entirely appropriate in the realm of sports (Go Cowboys [despite Terrell Owens]!!), it's hardly conducive to thoughtful political conversation. How do we, as participants in the kingdom of God, reduce the stridency of our discourse and genuinely seek that radical inclusion that we find in Scripture?

I have definite opinions, some of which I've posted about at Temperance Girl. And in all fairness, this post and this post I did on Palin weren't exactly moderate in nature. (Although this post about Obama and McCain had a much more conciliatory tone.) How do we dialogue meaningfully and graciously? I'm not sure. I don't have a tidy theological answer. What I do have are 2 close, close friends and several family members who will certainly make a different choice on Nov. 4th than I will make. And I'm committed to them, just as committed as to the folks with whom I largely agree. I don't hate them, they don't hate me. We love and respect each other. How do we find the courage to sit down with someone and say, "Tell me why I should care about this issue. Tell me why you are voting for this person. I may not agree, but I want to know. And I'm really listening." And how do we have the grace to answer this question, not with arrogance and hubris, but with a passion tempered by humility?

What do we do?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sober update from China....

Today Greg and I got the opportunity to travel to the north of Chengdu to the rural outlying areas of Sichuan Province ravaged by the recent earthquake. It was a remarkable and sobering experience that I know we will never forget. About 90,000 people were killed in the earthquake. Tens of thousands more lost their homes and are still living in makeshift shelters or temporary housing provided by the government. We visited the village of Bai Hua where 700 people were killed including 7 children at the local school that we are helping to rebuild through an OHF sponsored fundraising intiative. The village of Bai Hua was actually fortunate to lose only seven children as many other village schools lost staggering numbers of young people (the earthquake hit in the middle of the school day). As the photographs below indicate, the village school at Bai Hua took a direct hit but managed to stand; I thank God for that one gift amidst the tragedy. Observing the badly damaged building Greg remarked that is was like the "building gave up its life to save those inside it"-yes it did, thank God. The force of this earthquake was astounding, causing whole sides of surrounding mountains to collapse into the valleys below, sometimes crashing down on homes. I have never seen anything like this is my life. It was incredibly humbling. I thought a lot about my young daughter Miranda as I looked at the crushed remains of the school wash room where the children died. How do you process something like this? One very bright ray of hope was that we actually happened to visit on the day when they were celebrating breaking ground for the new school that is going to be built. It was a really serendipitous confluence of events and a great way to wind up a challenging visit like this one. I'm really glad that we're making an investment in the recovery of this village and the people who live there. They are amazingly strong and resilent people who have really inspired me to keep going in this is not always easy.

Children lined up to celebrate ground-breaking ceremony for new school

This is me examining a large crack in the wall of a classroom...unbelievable....

Astounding....whole sides of mountains collapsed..this is one of the smaller ones...

A local plant that was completely flattened by the earthquake.......

The school building that truly did give its life to save the occupants.....

Major cracks in the first story of the building...but it held.....

The remains of the school washroom where 7 children died

A local villager who gave Greg the "thumbs up"....a great moment of human connection

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Update from China.....

Greg and are wrapping up the first week of our trip to China. It has been an amazing experience thus far and I thought that I would share a few quick details. We flew to Shanghai from Atlanta and then on to Chengdu in Sichuan province. We spent a couple of days in Chengdu and then flew for the weekend up to the Tibetan Plateau to the north of the Himalayas. We literally landed on top of a mountain that had been converted to a real descent, the mountains coming up to meet the plane.....incredible views. We then hurried off to Yellow Dragon Mountain, speeding dizzily through switchbacks to heights approaching 16 thousand feet...a pretty harrowing drive, Greg got motion sick....pretty rough night but recovered well. We spent the whole next day touring Jiuzhaigou nationa park...really beautiful, spectacular views, lakes, and to spend some time with some of the ethnic Tibetans, lots of great food like Yak meat, spicy eels, indigenous vegetables, mushrooms, and other things....we flew back to Chengdu today and will be here tomorrow and then going up to the village of Bai Hua Thursday to see the earthquake devastation and try to assess some of the work we're trying to do there-then it will be on to Beijing, Shanghai, and back home. I think we've had a good balance of business and team/relationship building for OHF...talking about our future as we're awed by nature, daunted by the complexity and scope of development, and struggling to put into perspective catastrophic natural disasters like 90,000 dead in the Sichuan earthquake...we're deeply thankful for this opporunity and for your support.....keep praying for us....look forward to seeing you all soon.....