28 March 2008

message from muslim americans

I was deeply moved when I saw this video entitled "A Land Called Paradise" on YouTube. I saw in those American Muslims many of the Muslims I know and have met around the world. The song is by Kareem Salama, an American-born Muslim of Egyptian parents.

25 March 2008

easter aftermath

If you haven't seen the videos our church produced for our series entitled The Aftermath of Easter, check them out at www.easteraftermath.com. We got a mention in the Sunday Sacramento Bee, as well as being chosen as a featured video on MySpace. The comic has nothing to do with the videos; it's thrown in for free.

17 March 2008

:: practice resurrection ::

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry

14 March 2008

but does he?

Translated: "Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live."

There was a great version of this painting in the building where we used to play tennis, of all things, in Kyrgyzstan. I always thought of it as the Lenin Super-Hero Pose. I reget that I didn't try to buy it off the owner of the building. Chances are he would have parted with Eternal Lenin: Super Hero, if the price would have been right.

be the train

I've been in conversation lately. A bit with people I know -- my friend Brian, and, as always, those little podcast people, who live in my iPod. Brian and I got started after he recently returned from the re:create conference. He was all fired up after hearing Jon Tyson from Origins Church in New York City. Jon's message: “As Christians, we’re not called to change the world, we are called to create culture.”

Too often, as Christians and Christian organizations we are no more than cultural karaoke singers, mimicing already dated, middle of the road, pop culture. Music for example. I love music. To learn that WalMart is the largest music retailer in the United States distresses me. (Warning: I now plan to sound like a music snob.) WalMart does not have good music. As I heard a writer from WIRED magazine say today, "That means that people who hate good music buy the most music." If the available music was restricted to what is available at WalMart or what one finds in the Curcuit City ad in their Sunday paper, the world would be a very, very, very musicly poor place. (And I wouldn't struggle with an iTunes addiction) It appears to me that the majority of Christian "artists" and leaders are floating down that very same mainstream, yet often a few minutes behind their non-Christian counterparts.

As well, just taking the name "emergent" or "missional" in an attempt to find the "hip factor," isn't cutting it either. Listen to this:
My problem with many of these emerging church projects is that they are still attempting to bring church up-to-date by “trainspotting” some aspect of culture and making church fit it. I want to argue that in the Emergent Church the emphasis will be on being the train, rather than trainspotting: rather than trying to import culture into church and make it “cool,” we need instead to become ‘wombs of the divine’ and completely rebirth the church into a host culture.
Kester Brewin, Signs of Emergence (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2007), 92

I have a question for you:
how do we begin creating culture? Or, in other words, how do we "Become the train?"

People, be the train.

04 March 2008

spring has arrived?

Wow! We have had a marvelous month of February, and, if the weather predictions for this week hold up, March isn't bad either so far. We can see signs of spring everywhere, from the blossoming trees to the appearance of 'billions and billions' of cedar waxwings. At the church where I work, they have arrived in-force. When you look closely into the trees, you become aware of dozens, at times, maybe hundreds, of them perched, ready to dart away to the next tree if you get to close.

Maybe we're a little desperate for spring. Having come over from New Zealand in mid-November, we feel like we have been in winter-like conditions for 'billions and billions of years' (I love mimicking Carl Sagan, may he rest in peace, as I type it :: "Billions and Billions of years.")

Living in this area of N. California, I always wish for a long spring and a long fall. Compared to other parts of the country, I risk sounding like a whiner, but winters here can be too wet and cold, not ice cold, but like getting caught in an unanticipated damp cold, unprepared and under dressed. Summers can, or should I say, are, too hot and dry. I've nearly killed myself by attempting to jog or play basketball in the middle of the day. However, spring and fall can sometimes be one perfect day -- not too hot or too cold; not too dry or too wet -- after another. I find myself just wanting to sit outside, stare at all the beauty around me and get creative -- write poetry, take photos, draw pictures, or write stories -- Walt Whitman-like.

All this to say, I'm pretty happy right now. Sunshine can do that to a soul.