Wednesday, June 30, 2010

more mr earl

thanks for the post, billy.  it was nice to hang with mr earl at our tuesday eve gathering last week too.  he’s a treasure.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thanksgiving for simple pleasures....

Today I had the chance to visit with one of our local downtown treasures, Henry Earl, on the front porch of the High Street House. Like all of us, Henry has undoubtedly had his struggles along the road of life. But in his own inimitable way, he has one of the most entertaining and indefatigable personalities of any one I've ever met. He just seems to keep going, keep grinding, in spite of all the stumbles and missteps. And today, as we sat and talked, I found myself sincerely hoping that he will keep going for a long time. He is a unique character, one of a kind, and the downtown is just not the same when he's not around. So, I just wanted to give thanks for Henry and mark this moment, a moment in which I've been reminded of the vital importance of friendship; particularly those friendships that can never be easily explained!

Sunday, June 27, 2010



a wonderful mission team from Riverstone in Marietta, GA have returned home after 5 days.  they served our life together and the wider community by working to care for the London Ferrell Community Garden, Kid’s Cafe (bowling, picnic, fun at the fountain), and a brief visit with Luella at KRM.  the team of 11 (6 adults and 5 kids)worked very hard and showed such generosity and grace during their time with us.  her are some pics…












Friday, June 25, 2010

US Social Forum Update

It is hard to know where to begin sharing about the last couple of days. There is so much that has happened. But there is one thing that I've been contemplating for the last twelve hours that was brought to some degree of clarity during a walk that I took around downtown Detroit this afternoon. The photos that you see here help narrate that journey and the thoughts lately chattering in my mind. Last night we took a walk through the downtown area looking for a restaurant. During our walk we ended up taking a stroll through the MGM Grand casino that sits like a gleaming jewel just on the outskirts of the downtown core. I was absolutely astonished at the size of the crowd that was packed inside the casino on a Thursday night in an otherwise mostly dead downtown. A downtown that looks pretty dead even though the forum has brought thousands of people into the city. I didn't see any USSF wristbands in the casino, though I was observing closely. Anyhow, the scene was quite disturbing and it wasn't till my walk today that I was able to pin down with clarity the contours of the internal nagging.

We got a chance yesterday to listen to an amazing conversation between Grace Lee Boggs and Immanuel Wallerstein about the current state of world economic/social affairs. Wallerstein is one, among many, who has written about "dependency theory" in economics and its correlate the "Center-Periphery" model. In short, these interrelated concepts suggest that in a free-market capitalist system wealth and material resources are extracted from outlying peripheral areas (or countries) and concentrated in urban centers (or in a relatively small number of controlling countries). This is what really struck me as I took my walk today and spent some time outside the casino pondering. I will let you ponder and draw your own conclusions.

The other picture is of the DTE energy building directly across from the MGM. DTE was the target of a USSF participant organized protest earlier in the week. The protest derived from the controversy surrounding a purported 17 deaths that resulted from DTE terminating eletricity services to vulnerable residents who then succumbed to the elements. People should pay their bills, right? Who can argue with that? Again, I will let you draw your own conclusions. All I will say is that the takeaway for me, from my sojourn at the intersection of those two buildings, is the crucial reminder that one day I will be sitting down with Christ to talk about my life, my wife and family, my friends, my neighbors and what I did with what I had.

The final picture is of some chicory and other wildflowers growing in a vacant lot across from the aformentioned structures.....a little silent protest....a quiet reminder and source of hope.

So, in the backdrop of the aforegoing, there are many amazing things happening in Detroit. The large urban gardening movement is being carried on alongside other wonderful efforts we've learned about like Detroit Summer, the Allied Media Conference/Project and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and garden. One of the themes here at the USSF has been that "Another Detroit is Happening." We can see that that is true in a great number of inspiring ways. And we can be even more proud and grateful for all the work that our friends and neighbors are doing in our own city. All of that has been very deeply confirmed and affirmed on this trip.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One possible missional model

This is a reprint of a post from 1996, whhich I wanted to share again this year.


While I will always, in some sense, be a Texas girl at heart, I also love being out East. The spring brings blooming fruit trees and clusters of daffodils along the roads, and the fall has the gorgeous arrays of changing leaves. It's breathtaking.

Summer also has lots of stuff in bloom, many things which wouldn't grow in my arid hometown of Lubbock unless you spent the kids' inheritance on irrigation. I especially enjoy the June-blooming daylilies under our bedroom window. But I was thinking today about the summer arrival that I most anticipate -- the sudden bouquets of chicory in almost every corner of the city.
Chicory is really beautiful. It has sky-blue flowers that open every day. Its hardy, woody stems grow in nice clusters for good visual effect. And it seems to appear, without fail, just about everywhere. It grows alongside telephone poles, in vacant lots, and in cracks of sidewalk. It's quite the survivor. During a recent city meeting on planting flowers to beautify Lexington for the Equestrian Games, someone stressed the need to plant flowers which would thrive without constant attention, exposed to exhaust fumes and choking dust. I wanted to nominate chicory.

Interestingly, it doesn't do well as a cut flower. Try to bring it home for the vase on your counter, and it just wilts. It needs to be connected to its context, to the stems, to the soil. It wants to stay where it was planted.

There may be some lessons here for the Church. We've become quite adept at planting and nurturing beautiful seeds, which smell nice and undoubtedly bring beauty and grace into the world. The trouble is, so often they require too much work, attention, and care, whch could be going to other things. We need to take our cue, not from dainty blossoms that wilt under the baking sun or wither in the slighest drought, but from this hardy and intrepid pioneer. The Church needs no more hothouse flowers; what it (and the world) needs is bunches of chicory.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Initial US Social Forum foray

I drove up to Detroit today to meet up with Greg (Leffel) and Steve (Pavey) to begin our journey with the approximately 15 thousand people who've come to attend the US Social Forum. I had a smooth journey overall. It was actually kind of nice to spend time alone in the car. It was the first road trip of decent length that I've taken in a while. I guess if you're going to take a road trip (in a car) in America then Detroit is a pretty good destination.

I got to the hotel at 5:45 and walked over to Cobo Hall to join Greg, Steve and a new friend Craig at the opening ceremony. We took in about twenty minutes of the ceremony and then went to the commons area where we ran into Jai Sen whom we'd previously met at the World Forum in Belem, Brazil back in 2008. Jai Sen is an Indian scholar/activist who has become one of the primary archivists and networkers of the wider movement. We had a brief but good visit with him and enjoyed getting an update about his current work.

We went to dinner in the "Greektown" area and rode the elevated train that cuts through the downtown Detroit area. We were joking about the fact that the train was kind of like a model railroad because it just runs in a simple loop around the downtown and doesn't really get you anywhere that you can't get on foot or bike relatively quickly-not really public transport. It was apparently spearheaded by GM and is kind of a gift from the company to the city....a gift, noted Steve, that does little to challenge the hegemony of the car! Anyhow, just an observation...

Perhaps the most intriguing exchange of the day for me came when I was riding in a cab from the airport rental drop to the downtown. My cab driver was from Jordan but has lived in the US for about 20 years. He really wanted to know about the forum so I did my best to give him a brief explanation about how the forum was created to help create an alternative space to the World Economic Forum and its perceived economic reductionsim; a space where all participants, and their unique cultural and social considerations, could have a voice and the conversation is not dominated by the prevailing interests of the G8/G20. Anyhow, my guide was skeptical about the forum. Perhaps I did not do a good job of representing it. But I had to be amused when he said (paraphrase) "It is good for a small number of smart people to make decisions for all the rest....This is a good long they're thinking about all the people." Is that what we refer to as a "divine monarchy?"

Anyhow, miss my family and friends back home but glad to be here.....a good opportunity to listen, reflect, observe, be challenged and meet some new friends as well as spend some quality time with older ones.

Monday, June 21, 2010

sunday gathering

sarah and andrea shared some reflections on their recent participation in this conference.

rich discoveries and insight that will continue to serve our efforts at receiving the gift of reconciliation in our city.

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