Thursday, June 29, 2006

Reading Shane's Book

My buddy Shane came out with a book a few months back that I have been meaning to read for some time. I finally got my hands on a copy (thanks Marcus and Abby!) and have been reading through it. Wonderful stuff. Really.

I have asked in previous posts where are the St. Francises or the Rich Mullins or the Dr. Kings of our day. Shane is one of them...not to raise him to some demigod category, but to acknowledge that some people really are taking the teachings of the Master seriously.

There are a few appendices in the back and one is his letter that he wrote just before he left for Iraq to practice peacemaking. I found it beautiful, so I copied a short portion of it below... For the full letter, click here.

I am going to Iraq because I believe in a God of scandalous grace. If I believed terrorists were beyond redemption, I would need to rip out half of my New Testament Scriptures, for they were written by a converted terrorist. I have pledged allegiance to a King that loved evildoers so much He died for them (and of course the people of Iraq are no more evil or more holy than the people of the US), teaching us that there is something worth dying for...but nothing worth killing for. While the terrorists were nailing Him to the cross, my Jesus pleaded that they be shown mercy for they know what they were doing. We are all wretched, and we are all beautiful. No one is beyond redemption and no one is beyond repute. May we see in the hands of the oppressors our own hands, and in the faces of the oppressed our own faces. We are made of the same dust, and we cry the same salty tears. Keep reading...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Reflections on PAPAfest

So as most of you know, Holly and I spent several days in middle-of-nowhere, TN last week at a gathering of friends on a 10-acre cattle ranch. It was called the PAPAfestival...People Against Poverty and Apathy. It was a very enriching experience, discussing Kingdom economics, Christianity and empire, humanure, and other random, but inter-related 100+ degree temperatures.

About 500 of us gathered from all across the US, Canada, and a there was one token Swede. While it was mainly 20-30 somethings, there was a fairly diverse crowd...families, anarchists, pastors, old hippies, new hippies, tattoos and dreadlocks.

There were only 6 port-o-potties (and 3 composting toilets for the daring...see below for "Poo Town" photo) for all 500 of us. Several of us hypothosized that they would be full by the next morning, but they worked for us up until the end.

Will and Lisa and Ty and Jake and Gwinny welcomed us into their camping circle, shared food with us, and made us feel at home. Will was constantly at the stove, cooking up wonderful stuff that you wouldn't expect to eat while camping. Other great folks from Communality were there like Geoff and Sherry Maddock (who recommended Binding the Strong Man early on in our pilgrimage) and Billy and Maria Kenny...wonderful folks who remind us that Lexington, KY really is a swell place.

We had great conversations around food about the hopefulness of an event like this...people living out the better way of Jesus. And it's true: there was a really great vibe at this event.

Chris and Cassie were of course there...they and their community (Camden House) played a significant role in putting this whole event together. They are wonderful people whom we love from afar (because we usually live on opposing coasts).

Holly was beginning to feel very pregnant. Like she mentioned that it really felt like her belly was growing significantly. That made sleep difficult. The first night (Thursday), the air had a fever that didn't break until about 3 in the morning. This made it very hard to sleep in a tent. I probably got twice as much sleep that night as her...and I probably got 3-4 hours.

The second night we slept in a wet tent. While volunteering a half-mile away, a fast storm rolled in that dumped huge pellets of rain for a couple hours. Our screen was zipped up, but our waterproof shell wasn' rain got in everywhere. That night was another miserable (but cooler) night of sleep.

For the third night, we checked into a hotel. We played the pregnancy card and the wet-tent card. No one challenged us.

It's always fun to see Shane (on the right) and on this trip we got to meet Lucky (on the left) in person. We had met Lucky via a Relational Tithe conference call a few weeks back. Lucky is in the army...and has come to see war and violence as contrary to the gospel of Jesus. He is an amazing icon of a person who realizes that he will suffer for the decisions that he is making. He is forfeiting pay, opportunity and will very possibly be thrown in jail upon his next deployment. He was a great guy to get to know and talk with.

Here's his sleeping set-up...

Holly and Darin and I led a couple workshops dealing with topics like 1) Owning your own business and wanting it to do more than make money (more like...making the world a better place), 2) Global ecomonics and the Kingdom of God, 3) Redistribution systems and the Relational Tithe. It was wonderfully collaborative.

A black military helicopter with large guns flew over every day that we were there. I asked Shane (who grew up on this ranch), There some military base close? You see these things often? He replied that the closest one was far away and that, in 20 years of being there, he'd never seen a chopper. Perhaps someone wanted to see if we were some sort of terrorist cell.

It was an amazing weekend of collaboration, hope, synergy (sorry Craig), and the Kingdom of God. No paid staff, no prior experience really, free to all who came.

We're looking forward to the next one...whenever it is.

The Cobalt Season in Dallas

Hey, so if you live in or near Dallas and are so interested, please join us for a sort of "house show" sans house. The wonderful folks at Journey Dallas are hosting us for an evening of song and story.

Wednesday, June 28th (tomorrow). Directions here. 7pm.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

On The Road Again

After a wonderful few days in eastern Tennessee at PAPAfest, we took off this morning to head back west, stopping through Dallas for a few days. We'll post pics soon, but in the meantime, Will has some reflections already posted up.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Our Favorite Newborns

Just left DC to head to Knoxville for the PAPAfest. We had a beautiful, rich time in DC. Pictures for you...

Will and Nana...

Ella and Dad...

Holly and baby (baby not seen yet)...

Ryan with Ella...

The Stavlunds...

Matt and Dawn, our gracious hosts...

The Dude...

Monday, June 19, 2006


Thanks to Jason for posting this: "'Of course, let us have peace,' we cry, 'but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties....' There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake." - Daniel Berrigan

And Chris Haw reminds us: "In times of war, our leaders always speak of their prayers. They wish us to know that they say prayers because they wish us to believe that they are deeply worried and that they take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they believe or hope that prayer will help. But within the circumstances of war, prayer becomes a word as befuddled in meaning as liberate or order or victory or peace. These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. A Christian supplicant, therefore, who has resolved to kill those whom he is enjoined to love, to bless, to do good to, to pray for, and to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven is not conceivably in a situation in which he can be at peace with himself. Anyone who has tried to apply this doctrine to a merely personal enmity will be aware of the enormous anguish that it could cause a national leader in wartime. No wonder that national leaders have ignored it for nearly two thousand years." -Wendell Berry, 1991

The Capitol Yo.

We made it into DC yesterday evening. Traffic wasn't too terribly bad, and the drive was soothing across Pennsylvania.

We showed up to Children's Hospital just in time to catch the last 5 minutes of visiting hours for the day. We got to say hi to Mike, Stacey, Will, Ella, and Stacey's mom. We only got to see Will for a brief few moments (due to the aforementioned visiting hours), but he seems to be doing well, an observation I made from seeing him myself, hearing several doctors/nurses say so, and seeing the proud Dad confirm.

Got to spend then an hour or so in the cafeteria with them and talk...and stare at Ella. What an expressive little face. Mike asked if the toll roads since Illinois had been better. Yes, I responded. They sure had.

Then we left the Parents and headed to pick up some dinner and make our way over to Matt and Dawn's place. They're the kind couple who hosted the house show last November and who bought 2 of Holly's art pieces to hang in their family room. And they're putting us up for a few nights in their newly finished guest room.

And speaking of house shows, we're doing another one Tuesday (as in tomorrow) night. Details here. If you are reading this and you are in the DC area, you are invited.

Okay, now some work and then off to the hospital.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

An Open Letter to the Illinois State Toll Authority

My God. I mean seriously. If you're going to charge me $5 to cross a few miles on your highway, could you please help to ensure that it's not undergoing intense construction during peak hours, causing piles and piles of traffic. I thought that the point of a toll road was to help me get there faster. Am I wrong? What am I paying for, I wonder, if not to get there faster?

My wife and I sat for hours in your polluted state, waiting at toll booth after toll booth to drop our 80 cents at a time. Why do you feel that you need a toll booth every couple miles? Again, doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of a toll road?

Take Indiana's or Ohio's turnpike system, for example: I get a nice little toll card when I enter that allows me to know in advance what toll I'll pay if I exit the toll road. And guess what? If I don't exit the toll road, then I don't have to go through but one toll booth at the end! What a spectacular idea!

Good Lord, I would have done better to take farm roads around the Windy City. Perhaps I've only myself (and Google maps) to blame.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Little Retrospect

We just left Minnesota today. We're now in Wisconsin.

Turns out we were in Minnesota for a solid week and a half. What a wonderfully enchanted time. Really.

The first few days were the Emergent Summer Learning Institute. As is typical for us at these kinds of things, we just pretty much hung out with people...and that was great. Through Doug and Shelley and through our October gatherings, we have met some very cool folks from Minneapolis. And it is always our pleasure to catch up with them.

The weather was nearly perfect all the time. It even got cool to give us some relief from the mild heat. Aside from the mosquitos in the Boundary Waters, it was dang near perfect. Hard to believe this place has such ridiculously awful winters!

After the Institute was over we spent 3 days on an Emergent Coordinating Group meeting. I must say that I went in with slight hesitation. You see, I would align myself with more anarchists than organizationalists (are there truly either such person?), so when it appeared that there was a possible institutionalization of my beloved Emergent, I wondered if I had a place in it any longer. And I wondered if the direction of Emergent was going to be more like "new church resourcing" than "new understandings of being human in the way of Jesus".

But I would say that these days of meetings were some of the more rich, hopeful, and life-giving conversations and encounters I have been a part of with Emergent. It was great to talk very openly...very openly...about all things Emergent. It was great to finally get to spend some times with Tony Jones. He is a genuine soul, and I'm glad to know him.

It felt a bit like a family meeting. A sort of "So are we cool with where we're going? Or ought we go in a different direction? Or what?" kind of conversation. I think that there is much work to be done (I think "Getting Shit Done" should be the new Emergent Village slogan), but this meeting was a wonderful, hopeful starting point.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Boundary Waters, MN

In the Boundary Waters for a couple days with Marcus and Abby. Had a beautiful time canoeing last night after dinner. Caught up on some good sleep this morning.

Tomorrow we leave to begin our trek to DC and then down to TN. We're thinking that we're gonna skip the Toronto excursion because we'd have to zoom through it and we'd rather visit when we have time to really see the city...not this time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Oh, some photos please...

Been writing alot and lax on getting pics up. So now, a slew of pics...

From the 814 wedding...

In Colorado with Jay and Jen Howver...

In Kansas City with Laci Scott...

With our lovely Minneapolis hosts, the Barnhill family...

Holly with child...

Damien with child...

Naomi and Doug at the BBQ...

Shelley and Doug dancing in their own special ways...

The Pagitts...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Remember Three Things

So, three goals for me for the remainder of 2006 (and perhaps my life)...

• Live consistently
• Stop building straw men
• Embrace and become who I am

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Thanks Shelley For Not Killing My Good Bacteria

Holly and I did a 2.5 hour "consultation" with our friend Shelley Pagitt regarding our diet, exercise and overall nutrition. Shelley is a good friend and she has recently been "ordained" as a wholistic nutritionist. She knows her stuff.

So, she's helping us to understand the way the wholistic perspective works versus how the Western medical perspective works. She tells us that there is, you know, good and bad bacteria in you body. When you take antibiotics, it kills the bad bacteria...but it also kills the good bacteria...which is bad.

A naturalistic (is that the right word? perhaps homeopathic?) approach says that the good bacteria, if nurtured, will eventually "overpower" the bad bacteria and will define the environment more fully. Shelley said killing both in order to kill the bad is not such a swell idea. Better to nurture the good.

Now there are certain situations where a bacterial infection is so bad that antibiotics might could end up being a sort of "necessary evil" (it irks me to say), but you run the risk of the creating an environment where the good will never be able to overcome the bad on it's own...a person's immune system will find itself always needing to bring out the big guns in order to heal a body that was created to heal itself.

Jimmy and Carla (our lovely hosts this past week) shared with us that it's not so different in gardening. The roots of the good and the bad are so intertwined that to spray them all with weed killer or to begin to pull up the weeds would be so very dangerous to an already sensitive ecosystem.

Perhaps that's what the Master meant when he said Pull up the weeds and you might take the wheat along with them. Hmm.

Friday, June 09, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I'm glad we saw this film. It was very informative (not in a misinformation sort of way that some might suspect) and very compelling to make changes. While some parts of the film were a little too "Al Gore True Hollywood Story" for us, his personableness (is that a word?) kept this heated issue at a warm, personal level.

I recommend this film to anyone. It's a conversation we should have been having for some time, but perhaps this film will act in a fairly non-Michael Moore sort of way that perhaps will allow us to talk with one another about what kind of world we are creating/stewarding.

I do, however, wish that Mr. Gore had said more clearly that to make changes such as these in the world, that is, to help reverse the effects of global warming and the fallout from that, that it will cost us something. Yes, it will cost you and me something...some sacrifice...and it will cost you and me, not just some politician or somebody else.

We are the ones who make up the world we live in. I am constantly reminded of that.

It was kind of ironic that several scenes in the film are shots of him on an airplane, flying from place to place, burning tons of fossil fuel! Ha. Well, I guess I'm a culprit too...driving around the country...even in my green machine.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Jim leaves for Australia today. Pam gets married on Saturday...or will she? Perhaps we'll find out on July 13. Oh God.

The Last Supper

Can you spot Jesus?

More photos on Doug's .mac.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Heart Minneapolis

What a great town. And what great people. Seriously.

Everytime we get to hang out with our friends from here, we're reminded what a concentration of cool people they have here.

It makes us happy to be here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

"Jesus Is The Answer"

This is a phrase I heard and said several times in my youth. It was sometimes the way to hopefully bring comfort, sometimes a way to trump a conversation, and sometimes a way to remind myself why others were not the answer...others like Gandhi, Buddha, Mohammad, etc. It might have been wrapped up in Jesus being absolute truth and it was most always wrapped up in something about having a personal relationship with God. "Jesus is the answer" meant having a personal relationship with Jesus (ie. talking, walking, hanging with J-E-S-U-S) and that relationship was somehow the final answer.

That was my youthful fundamentalist understanding.

I wrote a post a few days ago about coming back to words like believer and others that I had disposed of a few years back. This is a phrase I'd like to come back to.

You see, in my limited understanding of Jesus' core message and his charge to his followers to go out and live and teach this Kingdom Way, he was not calling people to go out to introduce them to this new religious celebrity. He was calling people to actually live out this Kingdom Way and train others in loving Creator by loving creation. Seems simple enough for me to find this in the Gospels.

But somewhere along the way (and perhaps quite recently) there has been a shift away from the man's teachings and just to him as a person. Interesting.

Okay follow me for an example of how silly this shift seems...

So, if I am a student, nay, a disciple, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then how am I going to conduct my life if he charges me to make disciples or to do greater things than he was able to do in his existence? When I meet people, would I ask them if they want to get to know the King? Would I ask folks to trust him or trust in him?

I don't think I would.

I think to be faithful to Dr. King in making disciples in this Way that he spoke of would be to actually live that way and invite others to live in that way...and not only live in it, but live in and beyond it. If he said that we, his mere disciples, would do greater things after his death, wouldn't we attempt that? To go beyond Dr. King's teachings to even greater realizations of this way?

Would I be so hung up on telling people that it was Dr. King who said these things and no one else? Would I require all students to read his books and say that other books that say similar things are a threat to this way? The others are wrong, I'd tell my friends.

Perhaps Jesus is the answer...but not in some hyper-romatic sort of way. Perhaps a relationship to him is a relationship to our common man, or perhaps to "the least of these" as he said in one of his sermons. Perhaps he is the answer because he led a way for humanity to fully realize itself in the greater story. He awoke us to this Kingdom in our midst...the Human One (as Luke calls him) led the way for a new possiblity for humanity... and still leads the way (as do several others who have passed on).

Would I not tell people that I am a disciple of this Jewish prophet, Jesus? Of course I wouldn't hold that back from them. But would I go there first? I don't think so...not here and now. Jesus' message has echoes thoughout humanity and there are so many other places to start. If I am truly looking to make disciples in this Kingdom Way, I think that in our context (American or Western), it might actually get in the way. Perhaps the very name has become a stumbling block to those who actually are seeking his Way. Could this be?

Now before some of you blast me about how he is a stumbling block or how no one comes to the Father but by him, really think about what I am trying to say here. I am not saying that Jesus was not the Ultimate One, but perhaps his initiative was not to introduce himself to others, but instead to show how to truly be as creation ought to be.

Updated Itinerary

Some stuff moving around...and solidifying.

Mon, June 5 - Tues, June 13 - Minneapolis
Wed, June 14 - Thurs, June 15 - Boundary Waters (near Canadian border)
Fri, June 16 - to Toronto
Sat, June 17 - Toronto
Sun, June 18 - Toronto to DC
Mon, June 19 - Wed, June 21 - DC
Thurs, June 22 - Sat, June 24 - PAPAfestival, Eastern TN
Sun, June 25 - to Nashville
Mon, June 26 - to Dallas
Tues, June 27 - Thurs, June 29 - Dallas
Fri, June 30 - to CA

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Universality and Consistency

I've become very aware recently that I tend to universalize that which is personal. This is a huge realization for me...perhaps even a break-through in understanding how I see the world.

I wonder if others universalize that which is personal to them... or perhaps that's me universalizing my condition onto others... Taking my perspective and assuming it's what others think or should think.

But I long to understand and value a healthy pluralism that goes beyond tolerance to cooperation and truly values multiple perspectives. A world that is thoroughly contextualized to individual and group experience that is not fragmented or disconnected. I long for this...really, I do. But the problem is that sometimes I think I'm right...which means that if I believe that, not just personally, but universally, then others sometimes are wrong.

Of course sometimes that makes sense, but sometimes it is very near-sighted and narrow of thought.

You know, I just want a consistent picture/story/life...and somehow it seems necessary to my mind to verify it as universally consistent. Perhaps that's just my fundamentalist roots, holding a sort of "absolute truth" that I alone get to see. What foolishness, but how interwoven it is into my skin and soul.

My friend Emma says she just wants to meet some people that are truly consistent. I get that. I want to live a life that is truly consistent.

I'll share a poem I wrote in April when we were in Europe...

I'm searching for a unified theory
Everything accounted for
No one left out
No one left wondering

But a closed system would begin to feel oppressive

Some tell me, "Keep looking."
Some ask, "Why bother?"
Some say, "Heretic! Leave things well enough alone."

But I want it all to make sense
Be consistent, be connected
No one left out
No one left wondering