Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Thursday, June 30, 2005

ONE Concert pt. 2

I had a great time on my lunch break at this event. Sure only 55 people showed up and only 40 signed the declaration to President Bush, but it was encouraging to hear voices unifying to make one voice for one cause. Derek and his wife Sandra were excellent. Both sang a Dylan song, one of which I wanted to post the lyrics to but can't seem to find them. The song was called "A New Law" and it was extremely sarcastic yet poetic. Derek ended his short set with Woody Guthrie's "Washed in the Blood of the Lamb." He mentioned how living in Jesus-land (Nashville/Middle TN) was hard because issues like these are not focused on. Moreover, Jesus spoke about such things very unashamedly. Derek said the government should be following the church's lead in issues like these rather than the other way around. The Tennessean has a nice little write up about the event. Read here.

I missed Dan's (from Jars of Clay) speech. Didn't even know that is who he was. I was extremely impressed with a 21 year old Belmont senior named Danica Mercer. She spoke for 5 to 7 minutes on the importance of this issue, but one thing that jumped out at me was an Africian term that meant "we are people becuase of people." Translation: their identity is grounded in a communal sensitive culture rather than our Westernized individualistic ideals. I can't remember much beyond that, but it was good stuff. Made me wonder about this question Christians ask to seekers: "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?" What happens when we view life through our Africian brothers and sisters' lens and say in effect, "Do you have a communal relationship with Jesus?"

The World Is Flat

Last night my pastor and I hung out at Starbucks for a few hours just talking. He mentioned to me a book that he was reading called The World Is Flat by NY Times columinst Thomas L. Friedman. From his comments it sounds like an interesting read. Because of the .com bust (among other things) and all the fiberoptic cables and digital and satallite communication that were being installed because of this trend, the world now has become more globalized than ever. The playing field is leveled making international trade and in/outsourcing easier but has been al-Qaeda's friend in solidifying a violent Muslim identity via the internet and satellite television. Those looking forward to a planet of Wal-Marts and Dells will be charmed. Those who do not, well, welcome to the postmodern flat world.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Revolution of Values

Will write tomorrow about the ONE concert I attended during my lunch break today. For the time being, here is a great quote from Dr. King about a revolution of values.

"A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. A revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast between poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists in the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America only to take profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: 'This is not just.'"

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Group Lectio Divina

Since working for a collegiate ministry the past two years, the people over there will sometimes call me and ask me to speak at their weekly devotionals. I'm not the best speaker in the universe but I'm familiar with "giving a talk." For the past year I have been rethinking the idea of preaching/speaking as more formative and participatory. I know that most of these kids have heard numerous sermons in their lives, not to mention that fact that they are lectured to each day on that campus. So when I was asked to speak last night, I knew what I didn't want to do; a conventional 3 point lesson on the way to be a better Christian. But in the words of Jerry, "Not that there is anything wrong with that."

What I decided to do was introduce the students to lectio divina (sacred reading). If you're like me, you have tried to develop a regular quiet time, or 'QT' for short, to spend some time with your Maker. As we probably all know, we fail at this task, whether it is feeling guilty for not doing it or just not being disciplined enough or not getting anything out of the 3 chapters from Numbers we just read. From there we disregard QT as surface spirituality and our reading/praying doesn't transform us into the people we want or need to be. Knowing this, I challenged these college students to embrace the mystery of silence and meditative reading.

As we sat outside enjoying an unusual pleasant evening in humid Tennessee, I read Isaiah 43:1-2 several times, very slowly asking them to savor a word or phrase in that passage. After a short period of sharing, we dived further into this passage as I asked how God was speaking to them. Finally, I read it 3 times very slowly enjoying each word on the page and let the students discover what God was calling them to do. I'm sure it was very difficult to focus at times, especially being outside surrounded by ants or loud locusts or car stereos driving by. But this method freed me from having to entertain the audience or impress them or memorize my lesson. It was participatory, formative (I hope), and an avenue for opening up to God's quiet voice in the gentle breeze.

I wondered how it went over, especially when I saw a guy in "deep meditation" on the swing (aka: sleeping). But some people came up to me and said that they enjoyed the practice and might even try it by themselves. I say this not to pat myself on the back (I can't do that in reality even), but I guess I'm glad people know that there are different ways to read the Bible, instead of reading it as a newspaper or novel.

"What's the use of a carved god
so skillfully carved by its sculptor?
What good is a fancy cast god
when all it tell is lies?
What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker
who makes gods that can't even talk?
Who do you think you are -
saying to a stick of wood, 'Wake up,'
Or to a dumb stone, 'Get up'?
Can they teach you anything about anything?
There's nothing to them but surface.
There's nothing on the inside.

"But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
Quiet everyone - a holy silence. Listen!"

Monday, June 27, 2005

ONE Concert

If you're in the greater Nashville area this Wednesday afternoon, say around 12-1:30, come and support the ONE campaign to make AIDS and poverty history. This is a free concert in Centennial Park at the Bandshell. The artists that will be performing are Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and Taylor Sorenson. Come and support this cause and if you haven't already, come and sign the ONE letter to President Bush in lieu of the G8 Summit.

In similar news, I watched Nightline Friday night, which I never have done so I felt like a mild dork. The reason: George Clooney and Pat Robertson talked about fighting global AIDS and poverty. They are both focusing their efforts and voices around this monumental issue. I'm not a big Robertson fan, but he said some things that I resonated with, especially when he was talking about sending aid to Darfur. The aid was coming from a Jewish guy to Robertson's group (mainline evangelical) and was being distributed to a Catholic aid station. I applaud the effort to fight AIDS and poverty even if those involved are not Christian or tied to a distinct faith belief.

I really believe that fighting poverty and hunger and defeating the structures (principalities and powers) that bondage people in society is what Jesus proclaimed during his life. Is this social justice? Yes. So is the gospel primarily a social gospel? Well maybe but I tend to think of it wholistically. His message was to proclaim the captives free, to release the prisoners, to heal the lame and bring forth good news to the disenfranchised. "Repent for the Adventure of God is here. If you want to pilgrimage the trek you must realign your life for I bring you a new way of living, of being human. Live out God's dream for this world, mirror the final consummation, the eschatology that brings ultimate unity and harmony towards the Trinity and it's creation. Do justice to all, love unashamingly, and live humbly before your Father."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Extremely Funny Post

Wow! This post had me laughing out loud. Chris crafts a story unlike any I could spin.

If you want to read about a kid in the middle of church having to....uhhhhh....expell the immoral brother, then follow this link. This is too funny.

Fulfilling Evening

I had the privilege to experience 2 wonderful gifts yesterday after work. One was seeing and visiting with an old friend Zack Stroup. Zack is a someone I look up to very much. He truly lives in the moment and seeks be alive in all his endeavors. He's planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail in April with another friend of ours, David Jones (whom I saw last night as well). When asking questions, he honestly wants to know the answers, but not just the answers. He desires to hear your heart and your soul speak not just the simple words that leave your lips. He is a kindred spirit and a great pilgrim in this journey. I'm glad to enjoy his presence when I can. I know God is among us when we commune together.

Our meeting was centered around the second experience: hearing Randy Harris at Otter Creek church. I could listen to him all day probably. Using the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15, he talked about living simply in a complicated world. Basically Randy told us that Jesus uses the first 2 stories in chapter 15 to set up the prodigal narrative. Even though we have a tendency to stop at the son returning home and having a party thrown in his honor, we can forget that this story is not that bright. Rather it is very dark because the older son is anger that his sibling is back and there is no punishment that ensues from the boys' father. Why was the story told? Some people didn't like the sinful company Jesus was hanging around. Why are we like the older brother? The church likes to figure who's in and who's out, who's invited to the party and who's not, who deserves to be and who doesn't. But aren't we called to throw open the doors and party?!? Why do we make Christianity so complicated? What will it take to be a church of the prodigal? It won't be easy or clean, but it sure will simplify things.

Randy also said something to this effect: I wear this cross around my neck but usually wear it on the inside of my shirt. I'm not sure what people think when they see it. Do they see someone who will bash them over the head with the Bible, or will they see someone who will lay down their life for them?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Sacred Way

I picked up this little dandy Monday from our lovely bookstore across the street. Hopefully my purchase will allow the Jones family to buy separate jars of peanut butter and jelly instead of that Goober mess. Ever since I stopped doing a conventional "quiet time" a year ago and began to start up reading each morning about 2 months ago, I felt the urge to go deeper with my connection with this mysterious God. Granted I'm not looking to move to a mountain top or shave my head and sit on a pole for the rest of whenever, but I am thirsting for more. As Tony says, "You can listen to innumerable sermons and read countless books, but the true transformation happens only when you practice the disciplines that lie at the heart of faith." These disciplines are a way to bury myself so that God can mold me into his image. I appreciate that Tony invites all to practices these, whether Christian or not.

I'm not new to these practices but haven't given them my full attention. Sure I've dabbled in lectio divina and service and fasting, but I've done it with a mind set tiggered on consume, consume, consume. Even though I know I'll fail, I want to regain my identity in God alone and not let my identity be centered around my job, my possessions, etc. I want to, no I need to experience what St. John of the Cross calls, "the dark night of the soul." So this is a journey I'll embark on not as a pastor, or a councilor, but as a married man who works 8 hours a day and is trying to finish school. A man who will try to find God in the mundane muck of life. A man who will probably fail again and again at being disciplined and focused. A man who deeply wants to loved by God and transformed by him, in order that I may be a better blessing to this world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

(cr)Happy Anniversary

I'm celebrating (not really) another anniversary. A year ago today I started my boring job of a telesales rep at the publishing house. Since that time I have driven over 20,800 miles from home to work to home, sat in front of a computer screen for 1,950 hours, made well over 5,300 phone calls, and have taken orders, complaints, or questions from over 1,500 people.

This is my world. Jealous?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Seeking Repentance

For the last couple of years I have been enmeshed with this conversation/movement called "Emergent." (or maybe its the emerging church.....heck i don't even know). I'm looking forward to the recent directions it is taking and the future path that I will travel with it. Either way, I have felt my faith be loosed, unravel, laid bare and almost lost at times. I have been gathering up the pieces and beginning to reassemble them but not as concrete slabs stacked one on top of the other. Rather, they are more like a web of belief (as flimsy as it may seem) that is interwoven in the fabric of my life. During this transition, I have asked myself deep questions as well as meaningless ones. I stood as one who was angry with the institution that man built called "church." My trust in their leadership and style and values and goals were trampled under my "revolutionary" new epiphany. Now I could dismiss those that were "modern" and begin to live out a faithful "postmodern/emerging" live, separated from those mechicalistic, colonial driven, so-called Christians.

Even though I hailed myself as "Enlightened" (how ironic), I began to see myself as one bringing disunity upon what God had deemed good. Actually, the credit goes to my wife who helped me see this ugly root that was beginning to form within my core. It was almost as if my negative reaction towards modern Christians/church was a reaction from being in conversation with Emergent, something I'm sure it didn't intend.

Now I'm not trying to pretend that I don't get mad at Christianity (myself included) or the institutional church from time to time, but I am learning and striving to honor all types of ecclesiastical forms, whether high or low expressions of church (aka: deep ecclesiology). I once heard someone describe this in a child/parent metaphor. The child might not agree with all his parents believe or taught him/her, but they honor they parents and see that their identity is rooted in the name given them. And so it is with us. Sure we may not appreciate a lot of what moderism has done to the body of Christ, but we are products of it and should realize that she is not our enemy. Instead, she has been a guide and a pilgrim along this journey and we should honor her and not ignore the name she gave us. Our intention should not be reactionary towards what someone else deems as right or good or even negative, but we should live out our legacy in the context we (or God) see fit and appreciate those that went before us as well as those going along side us who march to a different beat.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Jesus as Emerging

Warning: Theological blabber ahead. Big words to make me look smart.

These thoughts are being carried over from my original post on “Creation as Emerging.” In my previous post, we discussed the idea of creation being seen in light of the word “good.” The term might be better understood in light of its original Hebrew mindset rather than a Greek understanding of the word. With that said, creation was considered good by God, meaning there was room for growth. Instead of understanding creation, in our Greek influenced reading of good, as static, perfect, constant, we should view creation as robust, dynamic, expanding.

So could we take this Hebrew view of “good” into our Christological understanding? I would say yes, but I need to explain. Was Jesus sinless? In my belief I understand him to be without sin. Could Jesus have sinned? Well that’s another entry for another day. If Jesus could be sinless, does that make him perfect? For me, I don’t think we should claim a view of Jesus as perfect in the Platonic sense of the word. Rather, he is growing, maturing, learning as a human being embodying the image of God in flesh. He “learns obedience” and is “perfected through suffering” (Hebrews language). So instead of Jesus being goodly perfect, maybe he was perfectly good (thanks Josh for the bad grammar). He is portrayed more in terms of his other worldly goodness than his other worldly perfection. Maybe the perfect person is the one who is good in every situation and context.

I say this because it can seem like churches paint Jesus as from some other planet, gazing beyond the person in front of him and never hesitating or struggling with temptation. I believe Jesus was fully God and fully man. Granted this is a huge mystery that baffles my tiny insignificant brain, but I think we should really show the human side of Jesus as much as we show him as this “perfectly” divine creature. So to be fully human (as Jesus was/is) is to reflect the image of God, thus the one who does not sin is more human than the one that does.


What in Clark's CD player you asked. Well, currently I've been jamming out to Brian Wilson's masterpiece Smile. My dad introduced to the Beach Boys way back when we as a family would take vacations and my dad would turn on the oldies station. From there I familiarized myself with such greats as the Beatles, Elvis, and all those Mo-Town groups. But I loved the harmony that Brian and company sang on each song whether it was about girls or cars or that little old lady from Pasadena. In my opinion, I think Brian Wilson is a musicial genius and icon (ok so drugs may have made him crazy, but he's still one of the greatest musical composers of pop music).

This album was supposed to come out back in 1966 when Wilson said this album was going to be "a teenage symphony to God." After Rubber Soul (Beatles) came out Brian Wilson was inspired and wrote the fantastic work of Pet Sounds. So the Beatles get inspired and begin work on St. Pepper. Brian Wilson soon began to collaborate with Van Dyke Parks to make, as some would predict, "the greatest rock accomplishment ever." But it would not be. Wilson suffered from nervous breakdowns and was heavily influenced by drugs, not to mention the rest of the Beach Boys couldn't understand let alone begin to play an album as complicated as Smile. So Wilson destroyed all the Smile tapes and locked himself in his room for 2 years. Honestly Wilson thought the album would bomb. Now its almost 40 years later and I have to say this avant-garde musical piece is terrific.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Jolly Old England

At the moment my folks are enjoying their frist overseas experience in jolly old England. I'm super excited for them becuase they never really treat themselves to a vacation, besides coming up to see me or traveling to see my sister which really isn't an offical vacation. So I hope that they have safe travels, enjoy themselves, and meet some interesting people, not to mention bringing me back something cool like Paul McCartney. My dad, the super organizer of any trip, has been amassing a folder for the last few weeks packed with sight-seeing places, train schedules, how much things will cost, exchange rate, places to eat, where Tony Blair sleeps, etc. I just hope my mom doesn't pull out the fanny pack for this trip. Yikes! Dude packing some serious heat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Art of Mixed Tapes

Just read a nice piece by Thurston Moore, lead singer/noise maker from the band Sonic Youth, about the past art of mixed tapes. (article) He recently wrote a book called Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture. Mixed tapes came before this new revolution of iPods or mp3s and introduced the advantage of being your own producer, rearranging songs that fit a certain mood or situation whether that be a party or a gift to a friend or lover. I think the mix tape generation had to go through the same junk that internet file sharing has gone through, but probably not has harsh as a band (cough*Metallica*cough) suing your pants off. I value the free environment of sharing music, yet I can say this knowing I'm not an artist trying to survive in the cut-throat industry called the music biz. I truly think people will buy the music if they enjoy, but then again I'm an optimist. Jeff Tweedy once said that the artist really isn't the full owner of the music, but shares ownership with the audience that listens to it because they interpret and mold the music into their own experience.

So here's a toast to mix tapes. Anyone remember a certain mixed tape you made for yourself or a crush or just a friend? I remember my Granddad making me some mixed tapes of bluegrass and the comedian singer Ray Stevens. This was my first introduction to guys like Marty Stuart, Bill Monroe, Charlie Acuff, Dave Macon as well as "The Streak." While away one summer in Oregon, my wife (then my girlfriend) sent me a mix tape of "Cheesy Love Songs." Nothing like blasting some Lionel Ritchie and Michael Bolton on my tape deck in the middle of Oregon State University.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ode to the Zen-Master

Phil Jackson is back! He was just resigned to be the LA Lakers coach for the next season. Who helped this transaction? His longtime girlfriend, Jeanie Buss who is the executive vice president of business operations and the owner's daughter. Will Jackson win his 10 title with Kobe and Co? Unless they get some help in the middle, they don't have much of a chance in my opinion. He's a good coach, but not a miracle worker. Unless that Zen stuff he teaches is miracle savy. Hmmmmmm. Maybe magical beans might do the trick. He is a rather large man, you know.
"Fee Fie Foe Fum,
I smell a deal worth millions."

Monday, June 13, 2005

21st Century Lepers

I really enjoy Kristof's pieces in the NY Times Op-Ed section. Sunday's piece was an awesome write-up about an inspiring woman, Mamitu Gashe, who has overcome such tragedy and suffering to be a blessing to those that suffer with her, even though she is illiterate and has a 3rd grade education. She is a prime example of what a co-creator is and how one becomes an apprentice of their master. Fascinating read.

Recently I found out that there was a Peace and Justice League in Murfreesboro. I know nothing of their group except their mission statement:

Murfreesboro Peace and Justice League is a community based, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization committed to working for peace, justice and a better world through the power of non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution. We endorse policies that promote renewable energy sources, environmentally sound technologies, and respect for the interdependent web of life. We dedicate ourselves to upholding civil liberties, to confronting oppression and to achieving social, political and economic justice for all people, without exception. We join together as individuals and groups for education and empowerment to accomplish these goals.

While I am still not an official "friend" to the Emergent ("friend" meaning a $50 membership member), I am trying to live by their rule/order. (Read their Rule) One of the rules of life is participating in at least one issue or cause of justice and peace at all times. Even though I try to make people aware of the situations in Darfur, the G8 Summit, the war in Iraq on this blog, I feel that I'm not doing enough. So hopefully this league can be something that I can participate in and put flesh around my ideologies of peace and justice.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Creation as Emergent

Warning: Theological jiber-jab ahead. Written for my class with Dr. Hicks.

After the wonderful creation motif written in Genesis, we witness a crisis in the story. Before we beginning thinking about the crisis we term “the fall” may we profit from discussions about the world inside the garden. Its maker deemed creation “good” and in the end (the 7th day) the Creator said it was “very good.” We would be wise to note that Hebrews and Greeks understood words very different. In this case, the word “good” could mean perfect in a Greek’s mind while a Hebrew would interpret the term as robust, dynamic, and room for growth. So was creation not complete after the 6th day? Well, we could answer this both yes and no. Yes it was complete in the sense that God rested and enjoyed what he created. Between humanity, creation and the triune God there was peace, harmony, tenderness and love in the garden (otherwise known as shalom). We can also answer “no” to the question by affirming that God wanted creation to emerge into something beautiful on its own. The purpose of humanity was to work along side with God as co-creators, caretakers and apprentices in the world. So we have a story where creativity is being developed right before the eyes of God and his creation in hopes that it will continue. But in our story, humanity as we know it does not continue in this creative goodness. Even though the world and humans and everything that has God’s fingerprints on it are still considered good, it is not where it needs to be. So what happened?

The crisis in our story happens between humans and their creator. As most of us remember in the story a serpent tempts Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. While most would say that humans did not follow the “Garden Rules” I would say that it is much bigger than that. Humanity is tempted to think that God does not trust them and is withholding valuable stuff, whether knowledge or materials or experiences. Likewise, the breach in their relationship continues to develop into stronger resistance against God’s love and community. Furthermore, the crisis evolves into a culmination of evil that puts the proposed goodness at risk. Throughout the first few chapters in Genesis, humans experience pain, loss, death, war, greed, ugliness, betrayal, chaos, and hate, all of which was never intended to grow from the initial goal of creation. Healing is needed as human’s relationship with nature, God and each other has been mangled.

But the creation narrative does not end with a single event in the garden or God seizing as it were creation. Going back to the term good in the mind of a Hebrew brings us to the idea of a God that seeks for creation to move forward with its original intent: co-creating with the Creator and bringing balance and shalom back into the world we experience. God created a vibrant world, not a static world, to dance, move, create new ways of being so that goodness would grow and become something bigger and better than experienced in the garden. Thus our role in this creation is to create (co-create) reconciliation, goodness, hope, love from the clay we each use, however different your clay is from mine. May our community embody this creativity out among the fields of creation as God draws us closer into the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

In the News

Yesterday, an Israli researcher challenged the popular claim that Jesus did not die of blood loss, but rather from a blood clot. (read here) Professor Benjamin Brenner wrote in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis that Jesus of Nazareth condition resembled pulmonary embolisms, which leads to sudden death, stems from immobilisation, multiple trauma, and dehydration. Professor Brenner even says that Jews from Jesus' region, northern Israel, may have been at a particular risk to suffer from this fatal blood clot.

In other news, medical science have made another startling discover concerning the death of another biblical character. Researchers have claimed that Lot's wife died from high blood pressure.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

And Justice For ALL

Lots of ideas running in my head this afternoon. Wanted post about the Darfur situation as well as the upcoming G8 Summit on July 6th. If you don't know what the G8 Summit is for, it is 8 of the world's wealthiest and most powerful countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA) teaming together in Scotland to hopefully alleviate poverty, hunger, and economic debt that is affecting over ONE billion people, half of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. I would advise checking out their site and signing the letter to President Bush to show the need for such relief and aid in poverty-stricken regions around the world.

Along the lines of Darfur, our government is taking its sweet time to bring justice upon that land. Kristof writes another opinion piece about Bush's current cabinet and policies that are ignoring the genocide happening in Darfur. His closing comments say it all: "Mr. Bush values a frozen embryo. But he hasn't mustered much compassion for an entire population of terrorized widows and orphans. And he is cementing in place the very hopelessness he dreads, by continuing to avert his eyes from the first genocide of the 21st century."

In regards to these injustices happening in our world, I think we need to speak out against such hate and disregard for human life, especially the church. For those who are going to be in the Washington DC area this summer, check out Worship in the Spirit of Justice. Every Sunday throughout June 12 to July 10, Cedar Ridge Community Church will have a worship service dedicated to peace and justice in Africa in order to be prophets to those in power. If you want more info, check out their site.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Happy 1 Year Anniversary!

Rock City

It's been a great first year of marriage. My wife is a wonderful companion, excellent cook, great at making me laugh, and really has a heart for the poor in spirit/life. I hope the next 70 years of our journey together are as fun, inspiring, joyous, challenging, and exciting as this first year has been. Love you babe!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Tension as an American Christian: pt. 2

I seem to have hit a nerve with some people on this issue of nationalistic pride/culture and religion, specifically Christianity. I wanted to write some thoughts for Memorial Day but was traveling with my wife from the lovely town of Chattanooga. We had a wonderful 2-day vacation to celebrate our 1st year of marriage together.

Since we were away I wasn't around a computer to post my responses to Fridays post. I'd like to follow up with a small part 2 of this on-going discussion. While my previous post may make me seem to be anti-American or one that despises all our Westernized culture has produced, that’s not the case. I am thankful for the land, which I was raised. I am thankful that I can sit here at a computer and hack away at meaningless words that become public property once I hit "publish." I am thankful for the men and women who sacrificed more than I'll probably know to protect their families and future generations (thanks to your brother, Grandma). In no way do I desire to deflate their willingness and attitude of service to their country. I am thankful to know and see diversity all around me. I am thankful to be free to think for myself. Thankful to be able to explore religions, culture, languages, and opinions. In no way am I anti-American in that I despise this land, its history, our ancestors and their courage and sacrifice.

The tension I have is pledging my allegiance to a land that has become obsessed with consumerism, power, individualism, and greed. Maybe I'm old school here, but I value diversity, equality, harmony, community, peacefulness, and love. I struggle to live a non-violent faith and lifestyle in not only America, but also in this entire cosmos. If I offended anyone, I deeply apologize. Really my initial post wasn’t about the flag itself, but more along the lines of how one lives a faithful life living in our context, mine being America. I know this whole issue of patriotism and discipleship is a sensitive issue especially during this time of war, and granted I don’t know all the answers to this tension. But I know when I was baptized, I took part in a civil disobedient act that said I pledge my complete allegiance to Jesus the Christ and nothing else. No more. No less. How I live this out in the tension is what I'm striving to do.