Monthly Archive: April 2008

Neighborhood v. Conference?

A friend and I were invited to be respondants at the upcoming conference — “At the Crossroads: Promise and Peril 2008″ in Winnipeg. I feel like our household is involved in kingdom work and has plenty of connections/theological grounding for the work. And it sounds like some solid folks are already going to be there, representing much of what I would be saying. So I’ve been wrestling with whether to leave life-giving work in my neighborhood for a conference I’m unsure about.

QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE CONFERENCE:
Why does God work through people-hood even when that people is not deserving?
What does covenant mean and how does that inform our questions of faithfulness?
What are the temptations of God’s people in the land in which they live?
Where do God’s people find security as they live in the land and are tempted by wealth, power and ownership?

I have my working answers to these questions. We’re working to live them out in the neighborhood. (more…)

Jeremiah Wright and Black Liberation Theology

I was surprised to see that there was little discussion about the Jeremiah Wright controversy on this blog; perhaps because it is being discussed in every other forum available.

At any rate, if nothing else, the whole charade has produced a number of interesting responses; I was particularly struck by the series that NPR did on black liberation theology. I think it was a thoughtful way to approach the Jeremiah Wright scandal: they asked the question “where is he coming from?”, and set out to find the answer. If you are interested, I have linked below a number of radio pieces on black liberation theology, particularly interesting is the interview with James Cone, a founding thinker in the black liberation theology movement.

Black Liberation Theology, in its Founder’s Words

The Roots of Black Liberation Theology***

Religious Scholars Discuss Liberation Theology

Understanding Rev. Jeremiah Wright

And here is a great video of a Catholic priest who was stopped on the street by a Fox News team to question him about why he was having Rev. Wright speak at his parish. This priest then goes on to basically own the Fox News reporter and give one of the better interviews I’ve ever seen on Fox News.

Fox News Owned by Catholic Priest
(more…)

How a guy like me ended up at a Mennonite Convention

by Jason Evans

Jason Evans at San Jose 2007Last year, I was asked to speak at the national convention for the Mennonite Church USA. I had the opportunity to listen to the opinions and concerns of many young adult Anabaptists. I was eager to hear what my fellow Christians–with a heritage of nonviolent theology–had to say. I was anxious to hear their ideas about the future of Anabaptism.

I was surprised to say the least.

My idealistic perception of this tribe did not prepare me for the reality of those that have grown up in this tradition. What I found in the eyes of many young people I saw was disillusionment and frustration with a pacifist gone passive-aggressive system. Sitting there, I wondered what the future is for denominations rooted in the Radical Reformation. And what did that mean for someone like me who came to this tradition out of conviction rather than bloodline? … and how did a guy like me end up at a Mennonite national convention in the first place?!

I was at a rally in downtown San Diego this last week. We cried for a cease in cuts to education budgets. As I walked down the street with my young son over my shoulders, I was amazed at the thought of how much money has been spent on the “war on terror”. All the while, we continue to cut funding for our public schools, the only educational option for the poor who can not afford private schools and can’t afford for a parent to not bring home an income in order to home school their children. (more…)

Information Sharing for Us Radicals

So, from time to time, a YAR will name drop or link to a blog that she reads.

I would like to propose that, for the mutual edification of everyone on the blog, and for my own curiousity, that we share – via comments on this post – some of the blogs we frequent.

If you have a few blogs that you think are high quality and cover issues that you think are important (or even news sites), then please share those blogs in the comments here.

I think if we all are able to know what others are reading, we will be able to better understand each other and understand what issues are important to YAR authors.

Thanks!

Earth Day Reflection: You will be exterminated one by one…

Last week I shared the following reflection at an earth day service at Westminster College in Missouri. It’s an attempt to bring together the themes of creation care and peacemaking. The last 3 paragraph are a postscript.

The community I’m going to share about today is located in the San Lucas mountains in north central Colombia. They are small scale gold miners who work their own claims in 16 remote communities scattered around the Sur de Bolivar region. They work with picks and shovels to extract enough gold to feed their families and little more.

In early 2006 the Colombian military began a campaign of intensified military operations in the area. The small scale miners see it as an attempt to intimidate them and force them off their land to make way for the transnational mining corporation Anglo Gold Ashanti and its subsidiary Kedahda to begin industrial scale exploitation of the gold deposits in the region.

On September 19, 2006 Alejandro Uribe, a leader in the small scale gold miner’s federation was walking home from a community meeting when he was stopped by the Colombian army. The federation has been an important voice for the communities in organizing to defend their way of life and their right to the land. On that evening in 2006, the army shot Alejandra dead. Two days later soldiers told residents, "He won’t be your only death. There will be more dead leaders."

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“It could be that civilians were nearby… it would not be the first time,”

Photo by New York Times

Many of you remember my post from a few months ago on what is currently happening in the Gaza strip in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The above image comes from last Thursday, when Israeli military killed over 20 people in one day during fighting in the Gaza strip. 14 of those deaths happened in Central Gaza, and five of those killed were under 16 years old. The image depicts an unnamed Palestinian boy, in what is probably the last moment in his life. He was hit by Israeli tank fire while standing amongst a Reuters TV crew – with vehicles clearly marked as a media crew – that lost a cameraman whose name was Fadel Shana.

This is a link to a video from Fadel Shana’s camera. It is of an Israeli tank in the distance firing a shell at the TV crew – again, a clearly marked vehicle. You will see, just before the video goes black, a secondary explosion in the upper part of the screen. This is the shell cartridge as it explodes, shooting thousands of lethal antipersonnel darts (“flechettes”) into the bodies of Fadel Shana and three Palestinian bystanders, two of them boys.

Here is a link to the NY Times coverage of the fighting that day. Note the comments of Israeli Army spokeswoman Leibovich:

Asked about the many civilian casualties, Maj. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli Army spokeswoman, said the military had struck an armed group. “It could be that civilians were nearby; it would not be the first time,” she said.

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Theology and Gendered Ministry

For any of you who may be interested I posted a recent series dealing with theology, gender differences and ministry. My intention was to explore what it could mean to talk meaningfully about ministry to men in particular but the posts deal more broadly with the issues of gender and theology. Here are the links.
Preface to Theology and Gendered Ministry
Framing Gender Differences
Understanding the Gendered Jesus – Part 1; Graham Ward’s Cities of God
Understanding the Gendered Jesus – Part 2; Graham Ward’s Christ and Culture
Theology and Gendered Ministry: A Critique of (Some) Contemporary Men’s Ministries
Pastoral Care to Men

Forgiveness time

Sigh. I’m exhausted from preparing for a mediation session tomorrow.

A white highly educated straight man new to the church community has remained apparently oblivious to racist and unkind remarks, gestures and communications that he has done in the last number of years. I spoke up about them after I’d been profoundly hurt. Now we are going to have a mediation session. I’m nervous about so many aspects of this conversation tomorrow. I was doing my homework, but I thought I’d write to YAR for encouragement since I can’t concentrate anyway.

I keep praying that I don’t get angry or try to make a point to make myself feel better/look better. Vengeance is not mine. I must entrust myself to the one who judges justly. But the balance is hard when I have to speak up for myself and for others who are still silent. I’m praying that no matter what happens, myself and others who have felt isolated and marginalized by his behavior will be able to move on and not let him control our lives at church. (more…)

Biblical Commands For the Privileged

Who are the privileged?
Those who have greater resources than anyone around them, whether through birth or fate or labor. Resources could include opportunities in wealth, education, prestige, relationship, and esteem through race, sex, social class, or any other level of status as determined by society. We should remember that we are all privileged in some ways, so these commands apply to all of us in some areas of our lives.

a. Do not boast about your privilege.
“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

b. Do not use your privilege for your own benefit.
But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. Luke 6:24-26 (more…)

Moving from Tired to Rewired?

Okay, it’s a corny rhyme, but given the wildly active response to Katie’s post, I’d like to propose a simple, concrete step to try to address the concerns Katie and many others of your raised. Way down the comment thread at slot #59 I mentioned a system that would allow users to rate posts and thereby democratically moderate what shows up on the blog.

I did a little more research today and discovered a way to implement the first part of this proposal: enabling voting on posts. This system could provide an easy way for folks to offer feedback on what posts they appreciate and which they don’t. Here’s an example of the system in action (see the stars at the bottom of every post):

http://lesterchan.net/wordpress/

The voting doesn’t have any effect on posts it just provides information for readers, writers and editors. What do you all think? Would this tool be a useful addition to YAR? Would it help to clarify what posts are useful? Or would it just end up being a tool for dissing people you don’t agree with?

MLK and the Mountaintop

Yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King and I spent a good part of the afternoon listening to the media coverage. To commemorate the event, I read his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech delivered April 3, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis, the night before his assassination. It’s a speech that in hindsight is not only prescient about MLK’s fate, but also prophetic–

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

(more…)

Will Biofuel Save Us?

Its been a while since I have written on here, and want to get back into the habit!

The a recent TIME Magazine issue really got me thinking. Titled “The Clean Energy Myth”, the main article talks about how biofuels have their own set of moral and environmental issues to deal with. I think it is very important we examine this evidence now before it gets so far down the road that to really revert it would be extremely difficult.

Ethanol and biofuels have been labeled as the “next generation of alternate fuels”. They are said to be clean an renewable, friendly to the environment and totally independent from OPEC who we buy our oil from. Sure, it is a renewable source of energy. But lets examine how this affects the world in a bigger picture. (more…)

YAR 2.5

We did a bit of updating on the back end of this here radical blog. You’ll notice it if you log in. We’ve gone all 2.5, but it took a bit to work out the kinks. Sorry if we had you worried. Wouldn’t want you to miss out on the latest. If you notice anything suspicious, let us know. Anything. Especially unattended baggage.

An Invitation To Express Yourself

Okay so we are Young Anabaptist Radicals—but that doesn’t mean that we are in agreement on the basics. I’m not talking about the basics of what is “young” “Anabaptist” or “radical”. These terms have been discussed. I mean the basics of what is significant—what is the good, what is truth, what is moral, what is justice, what is our hope, and how do we know any of these things? And what is the minimum that we expect others to agree with us in order to discuss any of these things? Some of the disagreements we have originate in differing opinions on these matters, and we often go to loggerheads in our discussions because we think others think as we do. Folknotions brought up this issue in Katie’s “Tired” post, and I thought that perhaps instead of assuming where we are all coming from, perhaps we should explore it.

So, this is my recommendation: If you can, put your basic worldview down in a paragraph or two, so we can know where you are coming from when we discuss things. If it is significant in your life, then talk about Jesus and/or Scripture, but the most important thing is that you talk about the foundation of your beliefs and morality, not what you think others want to hear. (more…)