Friday, September 29, 2006

Dollars Expose Priorities & Paradigms

This sure seems a great way to spend 1.2-??? billion dollars.

Certainly this question has been dragged through the mud, but weren't we all just immigrants at some point?

Getting our feet wet.

So one of the hopes of spending some time in San Francisco was to get our feet wet attempting to live out the teachings of Jesus. Many of us have realized that to fully understand the Man's teachings, you must delve deeper into the Hebraic tradition in which he lived and was raised. The words of the prophets of old were seemingly a part of the very social fabric of the First Century Palestinian-Roman Jewish world. In order to understand the very nature of the "good news" to which Jesus spoke of, one must turn to the prophets.

Anyways, we have been attempting some common life rhythms with friends in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods that resonate with this good news. We have been participating with a group where we're putting up propaganda pieces around the Mission district to encourage folks to take care of their neighborhood...and not to just look to others to do that. It's called Barrio Libre. Nate and Mark and Adam have shared some wonderful thoughts on this particular experiment with truth that we're embarking on.

Another part of our common rhythm is the reading of sacred texts. In reading these below suggested passages for this week, I was struck at how Isaiah–while traditionally held that he was speaking of Jesus–could have been speaking of himself or perhaps any who would attempt to live out the sacrificial way of recalling people to a covenant of humanity...of justice, peace, and life. And perhaps this is not unusual to think...that those who were to follow the example of the Master would be treated as he was treated and should encourage the initiatives that were Kingdom initiatives.

Isaiah 1:17
"Learn to do right! Seek justice. Encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

Isaiah 42:1-4
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice. he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope."

Isaiah 53:1-12
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 58:6-12
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 1and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

Luke 4:16-21
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What's Up With Us

I am sick...some sort of Upper Respiratory thingie. I'm getting over it by drinking lots of water and Emergen-C packets. Mmm. And sleeping when I can.

Holly is good. Our midwife says she's in a really good place (so is the baby) and just needs to be patient.

We've both been reading in our spare time. Me, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, borrowed from a certain Lora Burnett. Wonderful, probing book about international banks/loans, US-Global Empire, and a guy who "got out". Wow. Holly finished Gandhi's Biography...a beautiful book from all she relayed to me. He was someone who took seriously Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Her bookmark has now become my bookmark, and I'd like to share it with you. It's a airplane ticket stub from our first (or second?) trip to Thailand last year. It's a little note to herself that Holly wrote.

A life of substance, a life of meaning. I want my life to count for something more than my own personal gain. I don't mean this in the small things I do on the side, a couple of hobbies or a trip here and there...I mean I want the very substance of my life to be consumed with helping others. I want my job (or lack-there-of), my money, my family, my house (or lack-there-of) all to be decisions based around these thoughts.

I know as I return it will be easy to return to comfort, self-seeking behaviors, money, stability, safety, and all America has to offer. Some of these 'ideals' are good, but I want to look beyond them and forgo the good for a potential better. I want to be a part of that 'better' and I want to be responsible for helping bring that to others as well. I believe this to be the teachings of Jesus. I don't know exactly what 'better' looks like, but I want to wholeheartedly pursue it and hopefully bring hope to others with the hope I find.

That was written while in Thailand by the woman I love.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Saw This Coming

Iraq war fuels terror. I just wondered if it'd ever be admitted to.

Honestly, did you think it'd go differently? Violence breeds violence. Injustice breeds further injustice.

How long must we go over this?

Didn't the Master speak to this?

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

If the Master teaches that this is the better way, why would we think that in matters of politics or global terrorism that it'd be different. It's a sad thing to me that so many people under the label Christian do not see a connection between the man's teachings and their world. Truly something has been lost.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Life can feel like a waiting room, where you busy yourself with unimportant things, thinking that what is important is going on elsewhere or is soon to come. So we move with haste to busy ourselves with nonsense. How do we redeem waiting?

Our journey in pregnancy changed a week ago, when Holly started feeling different sorts of contractions. Our midwife came over and said that we might be in "real" labor soon. This was of course exciting news for a great many reasons. But it was inconveniencing as well. My mother was coming in for the weekend, we had a shower in Santa Cruz on Saturday, and I had bought a ticket to fly to DC on Sunday night to be with friends whom we love dearly.

Everything was temporarily put on hold. And so I cleaned house. What else can you do when you're told to wait?

Here we are, a week later, and no baby yet. I'm told that this is good practice for how life will be post-pregnancy...that is, that we are no longer in control of our schedules and whatnot. I'm sure there is great truth to that. But that doesn't mean that I'm ready for it. And that means nothing at all.

I'm really disappointed that I couldn't make it to DC...and if I were some sort of fatalist, I'd say there was a reason behind why I didn't "get" to go out there. But I think of myself as a sort of pragmatic deist sometimes. But if we had had a baby then it was going to give me a reason for why I didn't "get" to go...perhaps I'm a fatalist when it's convenient?

So we wait a little while longer...get some more work projects completed, clean house a little more thoroughly, read some books on kids and economic hit men, water my plants, write thank yous, eat breakfast, make coffee.

But the moment is now, not later. Why is that so hard for me to fathom? I can make sacred the future, but seldom the moment. Am I alone in my predicament? Is this the worst kind of sin? Lord, help me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

In The Meantime, The Kingdom of God

What do we do in the meantime, I'd wonder in my youth. Sure, we understand that in the distant future we will study war no more and that the lion will lay down with the lamb. Some folks call that heaven, some folks call it the millenium, some folks refer to it as nirvana, some call it ridiculous.

Yesterday, as I braved San Francisco traffic to head to Oakland, I wondered how I was to be an advocate of goodness in a seemingly pissed-off environment...was I to be meek and serve others by allowing them in front of me? Of course, that can only go on so long before I begin shouting shit, shit, shit. And I thought, you know, if we'd all take care of each other, then I'd be able to serve people better. If people were working cooperatively here, then I could let a few people in and eventually someone would let me in. But I was aware that during rush hour, most people can only think of themselves. And I said, well, in the meantime, I guess I'll have to be my own advocate here.

And it dawned on me that very few of us live in the future reality presently.

Jesus came proclaiming a Kingdom of God that was both here and at hand. He harkened the words of the prophets of old. But so many of us forfeit the meantime, thinking only of the future...or even the next step. I journalled in my moleskine in Europe about how I often use future language to describe how the Kingdom of God might be.

But the community of the Way was to model the Kingdom of God now. NT Wright said something about modeling the future of God in the here and now. And of course it doesn't always make sense. That's what makes it an alternative community...even though it is attempting to move with the most ancient of rhythms of our Universe...attempting to recover healthy relation to Creator and creation.

But what do we do in the meantime?
is an uninformed, sleepy question...because the meantime is the time of the Kingdom of God. We are the ones we've been waiting for. Now is the time. It's not all about God and nothing to do with you...let's put behind us that silly, escapist's about a always has been a partnership. Always. This is the year of the Lord's favor. Let us engage as though it depends on us holding up our end of the deal, receiving grace for fucking up and still pressing on in the dark.

Do you not know?
You really are the one
To bring the healing that has begun
And it has begun

We must begin to live consistently, realizing that all of life is sacred. Banish from our vocabularly the phrases, I did it for the mortgage and Yah, but in business, it's about the bottom line. We are to live the Kingdom now, not later, not when thinking spiritually, not in certain all things. All things. All things. All things.

Everything counts. How did we get so far off from this? Everything, everything, everything counts...what we buy, how we fill our days, how we fill our bellys, who we coming along side of, who we shun, how we treat this good earth, how we treat our next-door neighbor and our global neighbor.

This is the meantime...the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

William Addison Stavlund

May 9 - September 12, 2006

We love you Will. We love you Mike, Stacy, and Ella. You are a beautiful, loving family.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Last Few Weeks

We moved into our place in San Francisco about 6 weeks ago. It's been a busy few weeks.

In the last 6 weeks, we've...

Hosted half a dozen people in our home,
Watched the entire first season of Arrested Development on DVD,
Driven to Sonoma twice,
Finally eaten more meals at home than out,
Eaten at 4 of the local restaurants in our neighborhood,
Had coffee at 4 of the local coffee shops in our neighborhood,
Hosted a party,
Taken a sick day the next day,
Resuscitated my laptop,
Checked out the financial district,
Gone to MOMA twice,
Driven Twin Peaks,
Made several trips across to the Richmond, Parkside, and Sunset, up to the Mission, Haight, Noe Valley, Castro, Bayshore,
Gone to the POWER TO THE PEACEFUL festival in Golden Gate Park,
Checked out Coit Tower,
Found a pediatrician,
Shopped at half a dozen or so farmer's markets all across the Bay,
Made a batch of Late Summer Wheat Ale (it's still in the fridge for those interested),
Reworked my blogger template,
Written zero songs,
Planted 1 tree and a dozen or so herbs/plants,
Bought and moved a piano, some bookshelves, and 4 wine barrel planters half way across the City,
Set up a home projection system (sounds fancier than it is),
Met 11 of our neighbors,
Had any sort of real conversation with only 2 of our neighbors (and they just moved several blocks away),
Ridden the MUNI a dozen or so times,
Taken BART around the City and across to Berkeley,
Missed several bus connections,
Gotten on the wrong BART train,
Eaten at a lousy fish-n-chips near Fisherman's Wharf once (gag),
Had ice cream at Mitchell's Ice Cream (eh...not my favorite),
Read some birthing books,
Bought some homebirth and waterbirth supplies,
Run with the boys twice,
Met with our wonderful midwife at our place 3 times...

Holly, am I missing anything else worthy of reporting here?

Oh, and we've crossed the Bay Bridge enroute to Oakland more than a dozen times, had a yard sale of epic proportions, gave a bunch of stuff away, I've regrown my beard and Holly's shaved her head again, and we painted what Lora calls "a masterpiece"...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Imagination Communities, Part 4

Thanks Will for your brilliant post (see below). Will is in our extended imagination community...a dear friend who we have walked through life with (even if at a distance) for a few years now. Thanks for this modern "channeling" of Amos' prophetic voice...

God, Speaking To the American Church:

You spend too much time thinking about and wishing for the end of the world. Why are you so anxious to bring about God's judgment? And what kinds of people have you become, thinking the world will end tomorrow?

In your arrogance and laziness you have forgotten why I placed you here. You have endless conferences and seminars on how to do church, but you have forgotten to be the church, a people who faithfully live as an alternative community, pointing all people toward Me through loving service.

You have grown rich exploiting the poor. You bring a tiny pittance of that money back to Me and say, "God, you have been so good to us." But your money smells like crap in My nostrils. It sickens Me and I don't want it. Give it back to the poor from which it came.

You grow more food than you need by destroying the very soil I gave you to tend. You sit down to a sumptuous buffet and say, "Look how God has blessed us." I have not blessed you. I have left you to your own destruction.

There will come a day when the womb of the earth will no longer produce and the poor will rise up and pledge never to sew a cheap garment again. You will grow hungry and your shopping malls will close. Then you will turn to Me and cry, "God, why have you rejected us?" And I will say, " have not rejected you. I have been here all along, waiting for your return."

So turn your face toward Me now. Seek after Me. Live out My commands. Do you want to be people after My own heart? Then care for the poor, the needy, the marginalized, those for whom My heart has always beat loudly. Cease your endless Bible studies, searching for the answer to righteous living. Commit yourselves to following what I already told you to do. Don't believe you are pursuing Me if you are not seeking to do justice.

Care for the planet. You have become so worried about who might also advocate this course of action that you forgot it was one of My first commandments to you. Tend well what I have given you.

Seek the welfare of your community. As people in exile, your future and the future of the place you live are one and the same. So make your world more whole, that you might be more holy.

And live in love. I had hoped you would get that message when My Son joined humanity and demonstrated sacrificial love in action. But you are so worried about His return that you forget why He came. Be a people shaped by the model of Jesus, not just the prospect of escaping the world I have asked you to help heal.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Had a good time chatting with Nick and Josh a couple weeks back once we had arrived into San Francisco. Take a listen.

We've got a new podcast up with Ryan Sharp. Ryan is a singer/songwriter/thinker/graphic designer/insert other cool job title here. His music is excellent and serves as a prophetic voice to us all immersed in Western culture. Ryan is embedded in San Francisco where he is married and expecting his first child (his wife, Holly, is also an excellent artist which you should check out). Ryan has been a friend of Emergent Village from way back in the beginning and is an important voice for us all. He is also actively involved with Relational Tithe, a collective of friends seeking to transform their communities through the generosity of their resources.

We discuss South Park, war, narratives, and money.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Speaking Truth To Power

Thanks to Rick for this link. Good words.

Why are we inclined to be such sleepwalkers? Just today I read a headline saying that the CIA protected the US from further attacks by their secret prisons. I am reminded that Caesar could use anything to justify the growing of the Empire.

When will those who claim the love of God as a higher way be awakened...this sleeping giant called the Church, when will you speak out and not align yourselves with the Empire and it's narrative? Choose the narrative of life set before you...a life of love of Creator and creation...a life that speaks of turning one's cheek, walking the extra mile...not resisting an evil person, but overcoming evil with love.

How long, oh Lord? Teach us to love your world.

Click here to view the video clip Rick refers to.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Imagination Communities, Part 3

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Why are we so bound?
We love our lives...we feed off sound
Of noise in the background
We pray, "Help me, help me drown."

But are we not like butterflies?
Or is this childish Kingdom all lies?
A naivete no one buys?
Everyone hopes, but no one tries?

Why is it we aren't free?
Why is it we can't see?
Why can't I become who I was meant to be?
To speak the truth and live and be
In harmony with the Kingdom come
A place where rich and poor can run
A world that is here and is yet to come
Where creation and Creator move as one?

Why are we so bound?
- Me

We must retell the story of a God who said, "It's not as you assumed it was; and you can live into the story I tell." We must.

Holly's Latest Work

Just posted it's a beautiful piece. It's inspired by and contains the words to the Hopi Elder's speech that I blogged about a while back.