Thursday, January 29, 2009

it begins in the belly

one of the most wonderful blessings in recent years for sherry and me has been to meet Simon Carey Holt.   he is a professor at a baptist seminary in Melbourne, Australia.  his recent book, "God next door" is simply one of the most compelling and gracious texts we have read on mission and 'everyday spirituality'.  we cannot more highly recommend it to you.

Simon has a new blog/web address... check it out here.

on a recent post one of Simon's readers (Geoff B) quotes theologian Jurgen Moltmann.  i thought this was a beautiful distillation of what we are fumbling toward in Lexington.

"participation [in the Christian faith and life] means in the first place to eat, to drink, to live in common. It begins in the "belly" not in the head. One must savour it before one can speak about it... this happens best through [local] communities and groups which live intensely with the gospel and their neighbours"

(Moltmann, J├╝rgen. The Open Church : Invitation to a Messianic Lifestyle. London: SCM Press, 1978.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reflection on Genesis 1 and Ruth 1: Whanau Means Family

This afternoon, I was feeding the horses and taking Pieces out for a bit of a jaunt. We were walking through knee deep snow when I had the sudden urge to just drop backwards into it. I felt like I was falling into pillows; there is quite a bit of snow out here on the farm this year. While Pieces was eating snow, horse poop, and expending his pent up energy on the snow that came up to his back, I lifted myself up to my knees and became keenly aware of my surroundings. The snow on my skidoo suit, the one lone star in the dusk sky, amidst an array of blues, oranges, purples, pinks, and a hint of grey. The biting chill on my face, which happened to be the only skin exposed to the minus thirty degree weather, the pup playing in the snow, and the saliva jumping to my mouth's rescue in the freezing dry air.

I was reminded of Genesis 1 and the seven times that God saw that his creation was good. And then I thought about Ruth 1:16-17,

"But Ruth replied, 'Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."

Ruth, a woman of a different people who had a different god, stayed with Naomi and took upon herself (to what extent I have no idea) Ruth's God and Ruth's people. Naomi's worldview had to have been strikingly different from Ruth's, yet Ruth was willing to risk the way she viewed the world for the sake of this relationship.

I am now son-in-law to Terry and Bev LeBlanc, Mi'kmaq husband and wife from Restigouche; I am nephew to leaders from the Cherokee, Lakota Sioux, Cayuga, Cree, Maori, and Aboriginal peoples; brother to Mi'kmaq, Anishinabe, Maori, and Aboriginal brothers and sisters. I am still son of Martha and Jeff Lowe of Florida and brother of Allison, also in Florida. I am nephew, still, to William and Tommie Taylor of Alabama and Thomas Lowe of Florida. I am still great grandson to the 10th power of a Revolutionary War captain that sold American Indians and First Nations people into slavery. I am Dan, a man of a different people who have a very different understanding of God, and now I stay with Jeanine. I am learning what it might mean for me to take upon myself her people, though I am beginning to experience what it means to take on their understanding of Creator and creation.

And somewhere in the mix of all of that, though not with me directly, is the example of what it means to live and walk the way of Jesus together. There is no reason that any of those representatives from any of those marginalized people groups should now call me, an obvious representative of the majority culture, family, but it is because of who they are and the way that they see the world that I am welcomed. And not only am I welcomed, but so are the various other non-indigenous people in their families and circles of influence (as far, broad, and reaching as those are). I am humbled to the core of who I am when I sit in very very cold snow and realize the immensity of this fact.

This picture, this understanding of community and relationship, accountability and mutual growth, is the only antidote to the Constantinian hangover. It is through this sort of welcoming, friendship, family-making, intentional dialogue, room making, and re-sorting the seats at the table, that the Church will be transformed to the depths of the claims that the going Western voice is making. Creator has given us indigenous people because we in the West have forgotten how to see and how to hear; we no longer remember our ceremonies nor our dances, and very shortly it may be that we forget even our prayers. And we, the Western people, have been given to them in order to help them heal from the Constantinian colonialism that our ancestors forced upon their ancestors. And they invite us to do so.

When we pray that God's Spirit would give us ears to hear and eyes to see, how often do we consider that the answer to that prayer is the irrevocable transformation of our worldview? We are, in fact, asking God to help us to hear and see in a different way. It is my hope and prayer that those in current leadership in the church in the West would begin to see that God is giving us to each other so that our prayers for new ears and new eyes might very well be answered. And in there, in the mix somewhere, will be the transformation of Christ's body in our world.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sitting on this Side For Now

David Grey writes a song called, "The Other Side." I watched a live concert with him on television the other night with Jeanine, and he discussed his meaning behind it, much of which I don't remember.

This song, though, makes me think deeply about paradigm shifts, worldview changes, the questions we ask ourselves about faith, and the questions we want others to ask about their faith. The song is an invitation and a confession. It's a declaration of hope; it's a plea for understanding. I feel smack dab in the middle of this song. I imagine myself standing in a field, with a fence in front of me; the wooden kind, with 1x6 panels and the slits in-between the boards. It's got holes where the knots came out of the logs, and it's worn. And about two feet over my head. I can't see what's on the other side of the fence, but I can see what I'm leaving behind; I can smell it, taste it, hear it, feel it. It's tangible. Uninviting. And the other side? I don't hear anything, and when I peek through the knot holes, I see acres and acres and acres of nothing. No horizon, no darkness, no light, no nothing. It's like a blank canvas without border, without surface, just a vast amount of inviting nothingness. And I think about these lyrics from the song:

I know it would be outrageous/To come on all courageous/And offer you my hand/To pull you up on to dry land/When all I got is sinking sand/The trick aint worth the time it buys/Im sick of hearing my own lies/And loves a raven when it flies.

And I am struck with the deeply humbling realization that I have no idea what the other side holds. And that courage has nothing to do with jumping the fence or tearing it down. Most days I don't really know what I'm inviting other people into. I've got nothing tangible for you to put your hands on except for wet tears, beating hearts, and smelly bodies. I'm learning more and more that the words I've learned don't really carry the vastly deep pains that people experience; they're like buckets with huge holes in them. So many words and ideas and experiments that smell like feces and taste like vomit and sound like the screams of a dying cat; that's what I can smell and taste and hear and it's what I want to leave behind.

So, I don't know when I cross the fence; I don't think it'll have so much to do with courage as it will with hands filled with tears, reaching down from atop the wood and inviting me over. So many hands with so many faces and so many different stories and tears and wounds and fears. Because the shift isn't the end; it's not the fullness; it's simply a shift - I'm just hoping that when Raven flies, he releases the sun that's in his beak and when the sun bounces off of the nothingness and into the sky that the stars are remade, and when the sun stops bouncing that it will find its place in the sky and reveal the potential for creative action in a world yearning for buckets without holes and words and ideas that finally have meaning and experiments that have integrity.

O Lord, please. Hear my prayer.


Thanks Communality women for helping me celebrate the upcoming arrival of our little guy

Sunday, January 18, 2009

rev. mlk

"Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured."

MLK Sermon Delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on 31 March 1968. Congressional Record, 9 April 1968.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

more bits

seems like the new year has sparked a rush of interesting articles (or perhaps i am just now starting to pay attention.


  • will samson sent this link on our communality list serve...a long article about Van Jones, a green-jobs innovator.

Tag line:  Can a remedy serve for both global warming and poverty?


  • i spotted this article at the blog belonging to Mark Sayers...a very interesting set of predictions about what the new year will bring for our always-changing culture.

Tag line:  We have suffered from too much choice and there will be less.

finishing well?

so many times we hear about (and perhaps witness) christian workers and ministries finishing badly...personal failures and scandals are all too common in "well established" and "high profile" ministries.  more subtle but no less problematic are the vibrant communities that dissolve into bureaucratic stability and debilitating formalization.

this is a fascinating article about the church of the savior in Washington DC.  well worth reading, especially for those of us caught up in the life of missional communities.

as i read through the article i felt an unusual commonality with the people of the church - i have read about them over the years and always had this church in mind when describing our life together in lexington.  i'm encouraged by the magnanimity and grace of gordon cosby (founder and long-time servant of the church).  what a remarkable dedication to the kingdom and what a lose grip on leaving a legacy.  lot's to ponder for us as we start our 11th year of life together.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

this blog post chose me

you may have seen this article in the NY times over the weekend.  the catchy title caught my eye - "who would jesus smack down?"  a very interesting exploration of some of our brothers and sisters in Jesus.

for me, the best line of the article comes at the end.  it reads:

Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.

whenever i read an article like this my first instinct is to chortle to myself and revel in my being right and "them" being wrong.  i am, by god's grace, practicing the use of a better but more shy reflex.  one of prayer and grace and humility.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

the first egg


such a gift of first fruits - our friends, ryan and jodie, shared their first chicken egg with us.  we've gone in with them and two other families to raise chickens together, although ryan and jodie are saddled with a bulk of the effort since the chickens reside in their backyard.  we ordered them back in may '08 as adolescents.  they've grown up, all 15 of them, with one ending up unexpectedly as a rooster (his name is dolly and he's quite aggressive).  we've waited all this time for these hens to develop and reach the point where they will begin to produce eggs that we will divide among us and savor.  last week, as a precious gift, our friends gave us the first egg laid.  the next morning we cooked it up for isaac as egg on toast, with promite of course.

in today's usa today, there is an article about the urban backyard chicken-raising phenomenon -  at this point, we know several people with chickens as food-producing pets.  it's a part of a wider movement of sustainability and local food.  we're just glad lexington allows it.