Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Reforming Hope

It seems as though my wife is recovering slowly from her flu-like sickness, which is great news. Last night she stayed with her mom because I really wanted someone to be by her side during the day with her as I am not able to because of work. After leaving the Lipscomb library, I had food on the brain. Before I could escape the parking lot I ran into my friend Thunder whom I work with. We chatted a little and ended up going to his house for dinner. His lovely wife Emily and him cooked a wonderful meal and we enjoyed some excellent conversation throughout the night.

I have learned much from my brother Thunder. He and I are in very different tribes (church traditions). If you don’t know me or have figured it out yet, I’m in the heritage of Churches of Christ and he in the Episcopal family. He calls me a "change agent" after a lunch discussion around some tasty Taco Bell the other day. (Read here) We have learned much from each other, probably me more so than him, through our existence in our crummy…uh I mean….rewarding jobs at Cokesbury. Last night our discussions covered an array of topics from our job, redeeming society, and our mixed up lives in this beautiful yet blemished creation we call church.

Emily asked me why I am intending to stick with the Churches of Christ if my views differentiate from some of their beliefs. After brief reflection, I answered her quire like this:

I want to continue in the story of restoring and reforming the body of Christ like our ancestors set out to do. Their ideas of unity, equality, pacifism and faithfulness strike a cord within my bones. These things have seemed to be miss placed over the years, while many of their understandings of the Bible, theology, authority, church, salvation have crystallized and haven’t emerged in almost 100 years. There are some out there that are doing this already and paving the way for constructive dialogue to which I commend them. I guess I just have hope that discipleship will be a way of life, that our worldview will be more holistic than separate, that the catholic (universal) church can possess a useful faith in this world, that people of all classes and races will be redeem from the Powers that bind them, that women as well as foreigners and minorities will be treated as equals, that peace will reign throughout our global streets, neighborhoods, and communities, that justice will come to the captives and impoverished, that people will not bow down to America’s capitalistic empire. All I have are a few dinky ideas and a lot of hope. Yes this will take time, patience and self-control, but I desire that God’s dream for this world, this universe will break through little by little.

OK, so I didn’t necessarily say that, but that’s what I have felt for some time. Trust me, I’m a broken man that is imperfect and I still don’t understand why God chose the church to bring forth his love and kingdom into the world. But I’m gearing up for the long pilgrimage and invite all to join in loving the world, the church, and our neighbors as I belief God loves us all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Keeping Up with the Bakker's

Remember those wild and crazy evangelicals Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker? Remember their success, extravagant lifestyles, jail time as well as the air conditioned dog house? So what would happen to a child that went through such experiences? Well it seems that their son Jay Bakker and a few others have architectured a community that is reaching their surrounding environment. Their work is called Revolution Ministries. I really enjoy their claim that Jesus is the Saviour not Christianity. Check it out.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sacred Space

Our visit to the Lonestar state was time well spent. Besides my wife having the flu or bronchitis or both not to mention high fever, we had an enjoyable visit. We ate pie, rented The Terminal, ate croppy from the lake, watched college hoops, and played a mess of solitaire and rummy. It was a restful Easter weekend seeing my folks in addition to my fantastic Grandparents. One thing that I was looking forward to during our visit was seeing my Grandmother’s new home (duplex). She has been a widow for almost 10 years and has lived in their townhouse in Shreveport since I was a child. Recently her sister who lived in Shreveport died and she wanted to be closer to one of her sons (my dad). So she packed her belongings and headed west towards Longview to begin her life in a new surrounding.

It was rather odd seeing all those knickknacks and delicate antiques in another setting. I will never again see much less visit apartment #63, but I did see all those things that occupied that place. Being in her new abode made me more aware of her old environment she called home. The utility closet that contained her husband’s golf clubs or ball and mitt that would be used whenever I would visit them. The dinner table we ate at and played Hand & Foot or Canasta for hours upon hours. I even sensed a longing for the upstairs that I wasn’t fond of as a child, vowing never to sleep up there alone. My comfort was sleeping on the fold out couch so I could be soothed by the unorthodox sounds of my Grandfather’s snoring in the night and gurgling of brewing coffee the next morning. The old TV that sat in the corner where I would sit on the floor and amuse myself with clips from the Gong Show or Cubs day games. Seldom would my Grandfather stay awake during our many late afternoon viewings of game shows. I even remember the chair he sat in while he untangled my Grandmother’s hair the night before she would go to the Beauty Shop to have her hair done. The wisps of gray and brown hair flew wildly in the air as my Grandfather slowly combed through her locks with his soft weathered hands.

Images that rushed into my mind of times past were what I sensed upon entering her new home. I didn’t think I would be as nostalgic as I was but that place was special. It was where my Grandmother would rock me to sleep as a gentle baby while singing, “Bringing in the Sheaves.” It was where my Grandfather filled the atmosphere with joy and laughter as well as swelling snores from catnaps. It was the place where I would sit and play G.I. Joes on their carpeted stairs, ignoring what was beyond my glaze. It was in some sense a place that won't be easily forgotten. It was sacred space.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Last Bulwark to Commerically-Christian Holidays

I'll be traveling to Texas to visit my family tomorrow and probably won't post any the rest of Holy Week. So I thought I'd leave an article about Good Friday that permeates feeling of celebrating the last "Christian" holiday without the romaniticized, consumeristic frenzy Americans have placed on holy days such as Christmas and Easter, as well as those saint days, Valentine and Patrick. In a sense, Good Friday represents "the last bulwark of genuine Christian spirituality against the pop religion that has invaded American churches for so long." Besides, who would want to read a Good Friday greeting card that states:

Because he bled and died,
We're all choked up inside.
It's not a lovely day, But I still hope you're okay.

Wishing you and yours a joyless, grave,
and yet oddly hopeful Good Friday.

Read here

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Who Are You Listening To?

Since music is one my my most favorite avenues of expressing myself or connecting to a deeper emotion, I wanted to pass along an artist to you. He has been around awhile, but I'm just now listening to his art for the first time. For those interested in musical endeavors, check out a band called Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst's lyrics and arrangements are wonderfully moving, yet simple in his acoustically striped down album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. Check it out. What are you folks listening to at the moment?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Value of Redemption

The New York Times has a great article about the economical, environmental and personal level of redemption (both with the little "r" and the big "R") through the simple act of recycling cans and bottles.

Read here

Monday, March 21, 2005

Going Off

I normally don't harp on church gatherings or try to be negative towards what other churches teach or practice, but I can't help myself today. After what happened Sunday morning at a church I visited, I was so mad I wanted to tell the preacher off as well as the elders and the entire church for accepting such bs.

Sunday morning was Palm Sunday a day to celebrate the arrival of the Messiah, to lay our palms down and announce that this dirty homeless man named Jesus was God incarnate. But this Sunday was just like any Sunday morning gathering for this church. No one even mentioned the significance of this special day that leads up to the triumphal resurrection celebration we call Easter. Things were done the same way it seemed. Even the topic of the preacher's sermon was just like anything you might hear any other Sunday at this church. He talked on why people come down during the "Invitation" part of the service. For those not from my tribe or unfamiliar with this church tradition, it is a set apart time when the preacher is done speaking, he "invites" those who need prayers, confession or want to be baptized to the front pew all the while the congregation sings 3 or 4 verses of a depressing song that talk about how long will you wait for Jesus or the evil of walking in sin or something to that effect. Talk about a guilt trip! Really it is almost like you are transported back 50 years and find yourself in a tent meeting sweating from the outdoor heat, feeling exhausted because you just heard an hour sermon on the eternal timeframe of hell and now you must sing all 8 verses of "Just As I Am" twice while you wait for those "sinners" to come down and repent of their dirty sins.

So anyway the preacher gives the standard 5 points of why one should respond to the sermon (to be baptized/becoming a Christian, confess sin, rededicate your faith, need prayers, placing membership). About half way into his talk, I become annoyed and begin outlining my upcoming Ruth 4 paper for my grad class. He ends his talk (finally) and we all stand and sing for the "Invitation." Hmmmm, I wonder if he was actually hoping someone would find out that they can come down for the Invitation for any of these 5 reasons that they had not known before hand. Since this church is a generational church, which means that they grew up going to this church and now their children and grandchildren will continue to come while the community remains stagnate with these generational people, I'd guess that most of the people already knew the rhyme and reason for the Invitation after a sermon. Well, we are about mid way into the 4th verse when Michael comes down the aisle. All eyes glance his way as he sits down with the preacher on the front pew. "What could Michael be confessing" I ignorantly thought. "Is it some secret sin or does he need prayers for an illness?" A silent hush fell over the crowd as the preacher and Michael engage in a whispery conversation. We all sit down and eagerly await for the preacher to pronounce the reason Michael came forward. The minister says, "Well I've never had someone come down for this reason. But I must say I'm glad Michael is my friend."

Before we get into why Michael came down and what started this whole post in the first place, let me tell you about Michael. I don't know him but he has Down Syndrome. He seems to be accepted by the teen group and often serves communion and passes the offering plates around. So needless to say, Michael loves to help out and be involved. I think that's great that they let him do stuff like this. Kudos to the church. So why did Michael come down the front? Are you sure you want to know? It was because he had heard a sermon a few weeks back on the sin of dancing! He told the preacher that he had been thinking about this a lot lately because Michael likes to dance but knows its wrong to do so (according the preacher's teaching).

What the hell!?! I mean is this really necessary to preach 30 minutes on the dangers of dancing!?! Is that what is so important that the minister has to find verses that somehow back up this claim and scare the (literal) hell out of people so they won't sin. Not only does this teaching occur, they have an Alternate Prom where students from the church go to a banquet instead of their own prom because God forbid they might dance....and we all know what dancing leads to, right. Talk about sin management and how the most effective tool of guilt can be used. Most of his sermons are about what NOT to do as a Christian. I don't think I have ever heard the word grace come out of his mouth or discipleship none the less. Now to be fair, I didn't hear that dancing sermon (thank God) but to have a man who doesn't have a fully functional brain to comprehend this matter and have him probably worry about his salvation because he likes to dance, that's just ludicrous to tell him or anyone for that matter that such an act is wrong! I felt sorry for Michael because he feel into the trap of believing all that this Bible Answerman had to offer.

I have tried to be as nice as possible on this post, but nice just isn't going to happen. I kept trying to reassure myself that this is what works for them, this is their context, but I couldn't accept that answer. I know that this church probably won't come to grips with the changing world because their community (town) is not changing. They won't have to deal with this postcolonial philosophy or the emerging cultural shift because they will resist those factors whenever they arrive. And when they do, they'll reject it as evil and continue to live in the past while the rest of the world zooms on by. It's a sad reality to know that sin management is their "encouragement" to live as Christ in their daily lives. It's disheartening to know that Michael will probably never participate in the joyful service of dancing ever again. It's discouraging to know how much Easter has been reduced to a "special" Sunday that allows you to hunt for eggs, dress pretty and eat a big ham dinner at lunch. I have really found just how significant the Christian calendar can be. With all that said, I haven't been very progressive in my dealing with Lent this season. Maybe I should confess that during the next Invitation. Maybe I should ask for prayers for my attitude against my brothers and sisters at this church. Maybe I need to repent of my arrogance. Maybe I should just give up trying to care about stuff like this. Maybe...

Friday, March 18, 2005

New Monasticism

For those interested in more intentional community living, check out the New Monasticism. They are putting out a collection of essays in the form of a book called the 12 Marks of New Monasticism.

In the first mark of the book ‘Relocation,’ the author describes a few of the societies that have sought abandoned places from the Empire. Even though relocation to these abandoned places meant residing in an unconventional area like a desert or inner city, followers saw naturalness, openness and unconventional beauty. The faith of these pilgrims was that Christ’s love could spring forth a new Eden from any desert. Instead of impressiveness, a community seeks ordinariness as their trademark.

One such society is the New Jerusalem Now community. Residing with north central Philadelphia, these former homeless drug and alcohol addicts seek to “relocate” themselves from life on the streets to a new life based on spirituality. The community peruses to support and encourage each other conquer the battle against these ever-present demons. They do so in a spirit of acceptance, love and mercy.

The philosophy of New Jerusalem is that you cannot fully recover from addiction to drugs and alcohol as an individual, without helping the society that made you sick recover.

After reading that sentence I had to stop and re-read it again. And then again. And again. The community seeks not to help itself only, but to redeem the society that made them sick in the first place. In effect, they are eradicating the “Powers” from their own surrounding by forgiving it and actively pursuing reconciliation. The New Jerusalem Now community is continually renewed and healed of their brokenness by blessing their environment.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Patrick of Ireland

In case you didn't know, a Shamrock was how St. Patrick of Ireland described how the Trinity can be Three in One to the Celtic people. In honor of St. Patrick of Ireland, we pray this prayer.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Powers That Be

Over the past week, I've been reading Walter Wink's book The Powers That Be. In his summary of his own masterfully crafted trilogy, Wink describes a theology for a new millennium. The Powers That Be are not just people who are in charge, as we might quickly assume, but they are the systems themselves, the institutions and structures that knit society in a tightly woven garment of power and relationships. Not only are The Powers That Be people or institutions, but they are spiritual. Their spiritual makeup lies within the core of these structures. In Wink's mind, "there is nothing, from DNA to the United Nations, that does not have God at its core. Everything has a spiritual aspect. Everything is answerable to God."

For the Apostle Paul this is what he could have meant when he spoke of "principalities and powers." Maybe Paul wasn't necessarily speaking about disembodied spirits inhabiting our atmosphere, but institutions, structures, and systems. The Powers are both invisible and visible, earthly and heavenly. Even though these Powers That Be were created for goodwill, many have prostituted their intent for greed, power, harm, oppression, etc. When the Powers integrate themselves around idolatrous values and principles, we get what is called the Domination System. The task then becomes unmasking their idolatry and recalling the Powers to their original purposes in the world.

How interesting is it that God wants the ekklesia (assembly) to perform this task, even though it is fallen as well? God not only liberates people from these Powers, but liberates the Powers from their destructive behavior as well. Thus redemption occurs as these Powers are freed from their bondage of idolatry and renew their created function.

It seems as though another CEO of a titan telecommuncations clan has fallen. Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom was found guilty in a Manhattan courtroom of all nine counts of orchestrating $11 billion fraud that banktrupted his own company. He now faces a sentence that could land him in prison for life. Just another story of the fallen Powers corrupting those within its system and how they fail to serve the common man.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hunger Strike for Darfur

For those who care and are willing to participate, a one-day hunger strike will happen this Wednesday, March the 16th. The strike is for the awareness of the 2 million or so that have fled to refuge camps and villages in Sudan and are now starving because of a man-made famine.

Be in prayer for Darfur because next week will prove to be crucial including the Darfur Accountability Act that is being introduced in Congress. It will include imposing more sanctions on Sudan as well as a budget for food aid and peacekeepers in Darfur. Again, I am reluctant to mention this because I'm jaded and a bit pessimistic about how slow our government has been in providing aid to our brothers and sisters in Africa. If you wish to have more info, please check the websites below. If nothing more, pray. Pray for peace and justice to reign in a war-torn land.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Truth Tellers of the Hip Hop Genre

I caught an interesting interview with author Jeff Chang on NPR yesterday. Chang is the author of Can't Stop, Won't Stop a chronological history of hip hop music that has extended for three decades. In the interview, Chang describes the evolution hip hop has seen dating from the Sugar Hill Gang to 50 Cent.

In his book, DJ Cool Herc provides an introduction that tells how hip hop was all about "come as you are, we're family. It aint about bling-bling. It aint about your $200 sneakers. It aint about how big a gun you got. It aint about your ride and the rims that spin." But over time, these things have encompassed what hip hop's identity is all about. Even though hip hop has become much of an image that entails these things, hip hop is still considered truth telling by Chang. Hip hop, describes Chang, are the stories that aren't told on the evening news. They are the stories that resonate in the streets and alleyways of urban life that media and much of society neglects. Some artists make little distinction between art and activism, while others just run their mouths (Sir-Mix-Alot for example). While much of the rap music that is mainstream today is stereotypically gansta and carries a violent reputation, it was originally brought to the African American community as an avenue of revolution and redemption.

Sounds to me lot like the Hebrew Prophets...well...minus the turntables. Weren't these prophets truth tellers to their societies who pleaded for equality and justice? Were rappers like Ice Cube and Tupac modern day prophets that talked about the harshness of urban life and the redemption that lies in wait of it?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What? Say That Again? Hmm?

Well I’m a little bummed out today after my visit with the ear, nose, and throat doctor. I scheduled an appointment with him because I’ve been having inner ear trouble. If you’ve never had a bout with inner ear infection, your brain tells you the room is spinning and you lose whatever was in your stomach. Not fun in the least bit.

So the doc decided to run some ear tests on me. The procedures went as followed: I was seated in a small soundproof room and they placed earphones in my ears. I was given a buzzer, like the one you might have in Jeopardy, and told to hit the button when the beep was audible. It was kind of fun trying to listen to the beep through the processed fuzz through my earphones.

The fun shortly ended and I was sent back to the doctor for his diagnoses. He told me that my right ear hears normal while my left ear doesn’t hear very well. So he gave me a prescription of steroids to take this week and come back to see him next week for another evaluation. He said if things don’t look any better next week, he’ll run an MRI and see if I have nerve damage on my left ear. Needless to say, it wasn’t what I expected him to say. Nevertheless, I can tell my wife that all those times she said I wasn’t listening was because I wasn’t paying attention, but because my left ear is no good. Maybe I can bring back the ear horn in all its senior glory. Plus, who would want a piece of me while I’m toting around one of these bad mamajamas.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Guy Named Chuck

After listening to a story about Sue the bus driver on NPR this afternoon, I thought about the bus driver I had back in middle school. I rode the Blue Bird bus in the afternoons during my younger days as a student at Pine Tree Middle School. The route I went on dropped me off in front of my house and I was usually one of the first few off the bus. My bus driver's name was Chuck. He was a rather large man in stature with a blonde flowing semi-mullet that looked the same day after day. He wasn't afraid to yell or assign seats, both of which happened during my stint as a keylach kid. When he got really mad, he would actually pull the bus over, unbuckle his seatbelt, and trudge through the narrow aisle to come face to face with the guilty assailant or mischievous misbehaver. Silence showered over the bus as Chuck unleashed his rule onto the individuals as well as the rest of the bunch. No, no Chuck never physically beat anyone. Beatings weren't necessary for Chuck, just his angry stare and red face were all it took for one to acknowledge that Chuck was in control.

I remember when it was the day we finished school before the summer break began. Chuck decided to drive his route backwards (not actually backwards, but started from finish to start). In doing so I was the last kid on the bus when the cheese wagon pulled up to 2504 Balsam. During those last few stops, I saw a gentle side of Chuck that not many on the bus ever encountered. He was laughing and joking with the few left riding and he was even smiling. Chuck's demeanor morphed from an authoritative yelling, always looking at you in the big rearview mirror, bus driver to a 'normal' guy. A guy who was in your church passing the collection plates; a guy in the stands cheering for the same team as you; a guy who would let you in the next lane on the interstate; a guy who, well, who's normal.

Some years back I saw him at Subway while I was home visiting from college. He looked the same than he did back in the early 90s. I wondered if he had a family, if he had friends, hobbies, where he lived, did he pull for any particular sporting team, was he still the bus driver for Blue Bird. I didn't speak to Chuck, mainly because I thought it might be awkward.
"Hey Chuck."
"Who are you?"
"I'm Clark. I rode your bus back in the early 90s."
"Uhmmmmmm.........cool. So.........you...like...Subway, eh?"
I only had one bus driver during my tenure at school and I'll always remember Chuck. Sure I'll remember his angry outbursts and horrificly low pants that showed a side (a backside) of Chuck no one should see. But I'll most remember the time I saw him as who he actually was, a 'normal' guy.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ecology in the Kingdom

In many respects ecology is the new discovery of our time. It helps us understand how our world works. In my lifetime ecology has expanded and stretched the traditional view by linking the lives of snails and sparrows with human beings. This reinforces the belief that all life is important. But just how important is a previously unknown plant or insect discovered in the rain forests of Central America? We may think the plant or insect is unimportant but suppose that it produces a chemical that can cure a dreaded human disease. Suddenly something thought unimportant becomes valuable. Yet the truth is the whole earth has value—the insect and plants significance is not found in its relationship to humans. Value is presumed even when we have not found significance. It’s the connectedness that makes all life important—every part.

Yes the universe is profoundly ecological but that’s not the whole story. The smaller story of ecology is simply a strewn piece of a puzzle without the larger story of what God is doing in Jesus Christ. God’s creation is marked by interrelatedness: Man and woman in mutual relationship, love in relation to truth, the individual in relation to society, humanity in relation with the environment, the present in relation to the past and future.

Ecology can help the church perceive the breadth and interconnectedness of its mission and underscore the twin truths of unity and diversity. - from Fred Peatross' blog.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Ideologies of Marriage

During my mundane commute into Music City, I pondered the idea of the teaching of marriage. Seeing as how my theology has been in flux over the past few years I wonder what these new communities/gatherings will begin to teach and practice concerning marriage. For all my life I have heard the "wife submit to your husband because the husband is the head...." concept, even by my marriage counselor who I admire very much. While the apostle Paul did write that, he also wrote about submitting to one another, as well as the unified distinction (through Christ)between man and woman. Now I'm not a great Bible scholar even though I'm trying to get a Masters in it (ha), I wonder if the ideology of marriage is something that should stay like it is, or should be transitioning.

First, my wife is wonderful. She serves so much in our home. That happens to include your basic "woman" functions like cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. Now, I enjoy her doing that, very very much, but I feel as though she doesn't have to do those things because she is a woman. She doesn't have to do them because she is my wife, but she desires to do these things for herslef and for me. As for me, I also enjoy serving, whether that's taking our the trash, cleaning dishes, mopping the kitchen, vacuuming, etc. Should a husband/wife relationship be egalitarian or more hierarchical, I guess is what I'm trying to get at? This idea spawned from an episode of Wife Swap. A typical middle class white Christian woman who served her country in war went to live with an anti-war, free flowing, non disciplinary family in Minnesota. During the part where she extended "her" rules over the house, the lady took on all the kitchen, cooking, cleaning duties. When asked why she believed this or lived like this, she immediately referred to the story of Adam and Eve, and how Eve partook of the apple first, demoting her and women through the ages to second in command next to the male.

I began to wonder if our society has taught this so much that most woman see themselves just a little lower than males. I don't have any answers to this thought, but it has made me think of how my wife and I function in our marriage, and what ideologies to handle with care. Any ideas?

On Tap

For the weekend, I'll be immersing myself into the contents of a package I received yesterday. Inside were 3 music cds that contained artists that are somewhat new to me as well as artists that I enjoy fully. I'll be hearing from the likes of the Shins, Broadcast, Decemberists, Eisley, Arcade Fire, Jon Brion, Richard Swift, Neutral Milk Hotel, Iron&Wine as well as some oldies like Bowie, Beatles, Nick Drake, Johnny Cash and Talking Heads. The other item that my friend sent was an Oscar screeners copy of The Life Aquatic. I failed to viewed this in the theater, but plan on watching Wes Anderson's masterpiece it with my wife. Adios amigos.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Being Formed through Physicality

For several weeks now, my wife has tried to get me to join her during a yoga class on Monday and Wednesday nights. Seeing as how I have class on Monday nights, I couldn't give another excuse this week so I went with her. Actually I wanted to go because I don't exercise like I used to, now that I have a 8-5 job plus I heard that yoga is very relaxing.

Let me give you a picture: A tall slender fellow with bright blonde hair standing awkwardly above all the ladies and a few men in a studio room with mirrors lining the walls, barefoot and slightly nervous that I'll make a fool out of myself or fall on the hard wood floor trying to do the "dancer pose" of whatever it was called. Well, I actually enjoyed it. I'm pretty sore today, which is a good sign seeing as how I haven't worked out since being married. In an odd way it was extremely relaxing because it helped me focus on my breathing. But for some reason after class, this old image came back to haunt me. (Yoga Flame)

*Dhalsim, for all you Street Fighter Fans*

Being introduced to the relaxing, meditative practice of yoga, I went back and read apart of Doug Pagitt's book concerning spiritual formation through physicality.

"Sometimes we hold a pose so long and focus so hard that I must remind students to breathe. Breath that flows in and out is essential for a body to move and flex. A body in which breath is held looks rigid, as if it's trying to hold on to everything. But a body in which breath flows has a face of contentment and easiness. I'm often struck by how difficult it is to remember to breathe. It is our most unconscious action, and yet we can forget how to do it well when our minds are busy with other things."

At the end of our session, the instructor turns out the lights and we lay on our backs and let all our muscles and joint relax. Breathing becomes almost rhythmic as gentle music softly pours forth from the speakers overhead.

"This state of being is holy. It is at this time that we become closer to God, aware of our bodies, of the divine. The clutter that competes with God's presence in our lives has fallen away, and we are open to God's love and God's will. We are soft and vulnerable, knowing that we get stuck, and we thank God for this opportunity to get unstuck."
Amen. Until next Wednesday, I'll have to work on my "downerward dog" and Yoga Fire.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The American Witness

Another great op-ed piece by Kristof on the situation in Darfur. Read to hear what is happening and the frustration held by an American witness that worked for the African Union. Each day he saw another tribe burned, another girl raped, another baby brutally murdered and was not able to do anything about it because of the lack of sanctions.

At one level, I blame President Bush - and, even more, the leaders of European, Arab and African nations - for their passivity. But if our leaders are acquiescing in genocide, that's because we citizens are passive, too. If American voters cared about Darfur's genocide as much as about, say, the Michael Jackson trial, then our political system would respond. One useful step would be the passage of the Darfur Accountability Act, to be introduced today by Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback. The legislation calls for such desperately needed actions as expanding the African Union force and establishing a military no-fly zone to stop Sudan from bombing civilians.

As Martin Luther King Jr. put it: "Man's inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of those who are bad. It is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of those who are good."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hotel Darfur

After watching the sad and gripping story of the people of Rwanda in the movie Hotel Rwanda, I read an article by NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof regarding the genocide in another part of Africa. I'm sure most have heard or read about the ethnic cleansing taking place in Darfur against non-Arab inhabitants. The killings by the Janjaweed militants has been evolving for 2 years now and is backed by the Sudanese government. Men, women and children are being brutally tortured, raped, castrated, burned, mutilated and executed for no reason other than their ethnicity.

If you click on the link to read Kristof's article, you must be warned. The images are not something that you'll see on the ESPN or in your southern homes and living. These images should bring unbelief and anger at the heart of any person. But what scares me is the passivity I myself carry and indifference I will show in the next day or so. I feel like I should ask for mercy, but do I deserve it? Do I deserve to ask for such a beautiful thing as grace when people are seeing their families butchered to death by heartless scavengers? Forgive me Father for I am a sinner.

If we are all interwoven on this canvas we call earth, shouldn't we be responsible for what is happening? I am reminded of Don Miller saying, "Maybe whats wrong with the world is whats standing in front of the mirror." Take time today or tomorrow or this weekend to write a letter to your government officials, both the House and Senate. I wrote a letter to Senator Frist and Senator Alexander in a somewhat hesitant and pessimistic fashion. These two links (here and here) might give you more knowledge about the events in Darfur and what they are needing at this time. 'Will writing a letter do any good,' I thought. 'Would they even read this letter, much less their office assistants?' I know full well that we cannot rely fully on our government to provide justice and equality of human life in foreign and domestic affairs, but it's a start. So what does this say about the church and its involvement with Darfur? Even though I'm pro-life, that must exceed beyond just babies that haven't been born yet. Pro-life should be holistically viewed and encompass the sanctity of human life all across this globe.

We should heed the warning left by former Senator Paul Simon, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different." We can't claim ignorance on the genocide in Darfur any longer. May justice roll like a river through the dry graveyard of Darfur and may all drink of its fullness.

Is That Snow?!?!?

You know its going to be an interesting day when its snowing March 1st in Nashville on your way to work. That Groundhog has some sort of mythical powers or mind control over the weather, I'm sure of it.