Monthly Archive: February 2011

Ask: Why is Your House Empty?

….Dedicated to this dying Child.
Childwarsawghetto

A child dying in the streets of the crowded Warsaw Ghetto, where hunger and disease killed 43,000 in 1941 alone.[92]

You told me that:

“This is your house and you can say whatever you want in it.”
Indeed it is your house
&
You can say whatever you want in it.

Last night
You went on
about
The International Jew
&
how they and the Freemasons
are secretly plotting
on how they
can take over the world
&
how Hilter must’ve
killed all
those Jews
for a good reason…
because no one kills six million
people for no reason. (more…)

Patterns of this World: Institutions and Bureaucracy among the Mennonites, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I referenced Romans 12:2 in a comment on SteveK’s post on fire codes and faith. Tim B questioned whether this was a relevant passage. This post represents my further thoughts on the passages relevance to bureaucracy.

Jesus is the Answer

“In the world, but not of it.” This is a concept long embraced by Mennonites in style of dress and rejection of other “worldy” trappings. But in the last 50 years, the stance of mainstream Mennonites has changed dramatically. Embracing radio, television and lipstick, we’ve come to see our Christian distinctiveness through our dissenting view on war, our commitment to simple living and our Christian service. Unfortunately, in our rush to engage the world on these issues, we have uncritically embraced a piece of this aion (Gk., spirit of this world) far more dangerous then lipstick and ties. That is: institutional structures and bureaucracy.

Tim, you might say, aren’t you being a bit over-dramatic? Can institutional structures really hurt anyone? Aren’t they just neutral tools that can be used for good or ill?

In this first part of my series on bureaucracy and institutionalism, I’ll draw on three writers to make my case. The first is Kathy Ferguson in her book, The Feminist Case Against Bureaucracy. (more…)

A review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

This review is cross-posted from La Fleur Epuisee

This week, I finished this lovely book. I’m a bit behind on the bandwagon, but I’m glad I finally got around to it: finishing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle left me feeling challenged and alive and hopeful.

The book is Kingsolver’s account of a year’s experiment in local eating. She, along with her husband and two daughters, set out to fully occupy their Virginia land, gardening and raising animals, canning and freezing, cooking from scratch, and purchasing what they could not make (with a few exceptions) from sources as nearby as possible. It’s a beautifully written narrative, combining experience and research. Kingsolver’s husband Steven Hopp provides succinct (and sometimes zingy) sidebars on the politics and science of U.S. food economics, and her daughter Camille ends many of the chapters with a young person’s perspective and suggested recipes.

This is the sort of book that makes me long for a bit of land, a laundry line, a nice wide pantry, a chest freezer. Its compelling writing and solid argumentation leave me wondering how most of us continue to deceive ourselves that our participation in widespread profit-driven food practices has no lasting negative effects. The book doesn’t browbeat, but it certainly leaves me with a heavy sense of my responsibility–our responsibility–as well as our possibilities. Does our attachment to convenient, out-of-season, processed, cheap foods in the U.S. damage our own health, the health of soil, the health of local economies (in the States and across the globe), the health of global economies, the health of vulnerable migrant workers, and the health of the planet–thus the health of our children and theirs? Absolutely. Are we all free to up and leave our urban or suburban lives to go claim a bit of homestead? Not really. But are there things we can do? Absolutely. (more…)

Why I agree with Brian McLaren’s answer (and why it matters that more of us do the same)

Brian McLaren recently published an article addressing the question, “Is God Violent?” In it he makes a case for God’s nonviolent nature that merits a response—both internal and external—from those of us who desire to follow Jesus.

To read McLaren’s article, click here (NOTE: you will be prompted to register in order to view it).

I’ve wanted to respond to McLaren’s essay for a while.

So when the March 2011 issue of Sojourners showed up in my mailbox, I determined it was time to slow down and reflect on his propositions and the nature of God as I understand it.

McLaren frames his essay in response to the notion that God is violent, as is reflected in the Old Testament narrative and which culminates in Christ’s crucifixion at Calvary.

It’s an idea that many Christians (and Jews, and Muslims) hold true, but McLaren identifies how this profoundly impacts how we interact with one another on multiple levels.

(more…)

A Practical Christian Community

Lately I have been doing a lot of communicating with God via the Holy Spirit; or is it that God has been doing a lot of communicating with me via the Holy Spirit or even still a combination thereof? God has been giving me a desire to become a “United Front” with my Christian Community who are literally brothers and sisters through Christ Jesus. I feel that Satan is using the technique of “divide and conquer”. I, for one, have felt isolated from Christian Fellowship and disconcerted by it.

God has been ministering to me and He has put something in my heart that I feel is very much His reasoning power. This is what my conversation with God has brought me. Isn’t it beneficial for the Christian Community to have believers that are well fortified? He has shown me the image via an analogy. It is interesting how American society has the impression that they have to fend for themselves. It is a very social Darwinistic complex. Each family member feels like they have to be responsible for providing for their own success. It is up to them to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and not “be out for a hand-out”. This attitude creates defensiveness, competitiveness, contempt, insecurity, fear, pity, strife, envy, depression, a lack of motivation, procrastination, a sense of inferiority, defeat, anger, hatred, you get the picture… It is fertile ground for negative emotions that fuel everything from “racism” to family separateness, to death i.e. suicide, addiction, etc.

(more…)

Refuse to Be Tempted to Have a Despairing Heart; Refuse to be Alienated!

I have finally discovered how to beat spiritual oppression. I realize that in this day and age of the trillion self-proclaimed “self-help gurus” that this blog may just fall by the wayside. But my spirit must confess what I have learned on this journey, commonly referred to as life. This is a practice and it is work and sometimes hard work, but I must say that the alternative namely living life angrily, broken-up, passive-aggressively, and above all in a negative fashion is far more draining even if it is less work at the end of the day.

I have noticed that I find it most unbearable to subject myself to people who have entitlement complexes, resentments that they refuse to amend, grudges, burnt bridges,  sour grapes, angry dispositions, and in general a loathsome negative approach to their thinking. It is not enough that people who have decided to be negative are themselves negative but unfortunately this adult form of colicky can not seem to help but to alienate whoever has the bad fortune of making their acquaintance. It may seem that I have a lack of compassion for those who suffer from this form of spiritual oppression but that is not the case, it is just that I by birth inherited such a person who happen to come in the form of a parent and several grandparents and so I have been initiated into this horrible lot from childhood and therefore it has been a uphill struggle for me to reclaim my birthright as a Joyful Christian and Defender of the Faith.

(more…)

Now I Understand

This last year our church determined that we would open to shelter the local homeless each time the weather went below freezing, but the city wouldn’t permit other churches to open up. We live in a fairly temperate climate, but the winter was cold, and most homeless weren’t prepared for it. After opening more than 15 nights, the city shut us down. Here is my reaction to my conversation with the city. If you are interested in our church and what our focus is, please check us out at www.NowhereToLayHisHead.org

I had a mysterious conversation with the emergency services manager of Gresham and the fire marshal a couple weeks ago. I was talking to them about the need of people sleeping on the street and how much danger they are in, especially when it gets below freezing. I spoke of Fred, whose leg was cut off a couple months ago because he had slept outside in freezing conditions. I spoke of the sixteen year old girls who have been sleeping outside all winter. And about a father and his sixteen year old pregant daughter who found themselves desperate without shelter.

And the response I recieved from them is a lot of fire codes, and how we can’t open because we don’t have 200 square feet per person and how it is acceptable to have a standard of only opening churches when it gets below 22 degrees. And they told me, “This is not a social problem,” and they said, “This is not an emergency,” and they said, “You should just let other people deal with this.” This was a foreign language to me, so I spoke of fire code with them, because it seemed to be the only language we could both understand. (more…)

Stories from National Anthem Conscientious Objectors

Last year many of you were saddened to learn that the administration at Goshen College decided to begin playing the national anthem before sporting events.  A group of faculty, staff and students at the college is hosting a new website for those opposed to the decision to share life experiences that have shaped their convictions.  See http://anthemCOstories.posterous.com/ .

Several stories are being posted each week, and we encourage more submissions.  Stories currently posted share experiences from the U.S. as well as from conflicts in Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, and Vietnam.  Events of other stories originated in Costa Rica, Uruguay, Trinidad, and Haiti.  Take a look and consider sharing with others the experiences that forged your convictions about civil religion.

Will we standby while Mubarak’s thugs massacre protesters in Egypt?

Egypt angry day 02

Like many of you, I’ve been watching closely as the events in Egypt unfolded this week. When the protests first began on Tuesday of last week it seemed like it might be a brief flare up, quickly repressed like so many others. But momentum grew through the week and the brutality of the police proved ineffective in preventing mass protests after prayers on Friday.

Then on Saturday, the olice left the streets and the media stories began to talk about “looting” and “lawlessness”. It’s clear now that the regime’s hope was that things would get so chaotic that people would beg the police to come back. To encourage this, undercover police joined in the looting and thousands of criminals were released from jail according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Mubarak’s mantra to his own people was that he was the guarantor of the nation’s stability. It would make sense that he would want to send the message that without him, there is no safety,”said Peter Bouckaert, the emergency director at HRW.

(more…)