Monthly Archive: November 2008

Baltimore’s Progressive Catholic Church

It would be unfair to label Saint Sebastian’s Independant Catholic Church a “gay church”. But it’d be unfair not to mention that, perhaps, they are very into the gay happenings in Baltimore and minister to the gay community. While I am sure that Pastor Flaherty would be disheartened to think that Saint Sebastians is only a church for the queer community, the community at large would probably reference it as “The gay church”. I find this sort of thing unfortunate.

I wound up here by means of an Emergent Village book group that meets in Baltimore. I met Assisting Priest Joan Stiles, a bleached blonde short-haired middle aged woman, while discussing Claiborne’s book Jesus for President. The group discussed much and varied in theological belief tremendously. Disagreement’s abounded. Surprisingly, no one argued. I learned about Joan, her Catholic past, her current priesthood and thought, surely, if there was anyone I would disagree with it was female priest at a pro-gay church. But Joan, like much of the world, was full of surprises. I found myself captivated with her outlook on our faith, her impression of God, her passion for Biblical authority.

A few months later the Reverend Flaherty, the Priest at Joan’s church, even came to the emergent church meetup group. A tall man, who dwarfs me, with long fingers, he strikes me as the sort of person who is easy to get along with. Perhaps that same young idealism that runs in all young people’s blood still runs in his. I found him quiet, questioning, firm in his convictions yet willing to hear others out. It’s hard to not like him. (more…)

We Shopped till he Dropped

(x-posted at IndieFaith)
Did we know it would only be a matter of time? Were we aware that possible escalation had no real check? Did the legion of reality TV shows, sporting events, and corporate ladders instill in us an instinct for conquering? There can be only one! This weekend CNN announced the ‘hero of the year’. There could be no community of heroes, no spirit and discipline of heroism. There could be only the 1 million dollar hero. But yesterday the weight of this culture crushed Jdimytai Damour. The 5am sales blitz at Wal-Mart corralled desperate shoppers for over 24hrs building to over 2000 until the first crack in the dam opened at which time they flooded through the gates and poured over and killed the temp employee Damour who was brought in for the holiday season.

Lord have mercy. Lord have justice.
Yesterday was also Buy Nothing Day.
I am standing on the sidelines looking for a response.

The Trouble with Thanksgiving: A Reflection by Nekeisha

Thanksgiving makes me nervous.

For years, I’ve gotten a sinking feeling in my stomach as the month of November draws to a close and this day looms. On the one hand, Thanksgiving is about joy and gratitude. It is a time when I travel to see family and friends, welcome a few days of rest and look forward to the holiday season. In my mind, I know it is a good thing to have a day where the sole emphasis is to give thanks to God for all God has done. I also appreciate the opportunity to celebrate all my loved ones do and are to one another.

And yet Thanksgiving reminds me of a beautiful but altogether itchy sweater. Sure it looks good on the rack in my closet. It is slimming, well-made, gorgeous color–everything you could hope for in a sweater. But if I put it on I’m guaranteed to spend the whole day tugging, scratching and feeling downright uncomfortable. Try as I might, I can’t shake that weird feeling about that good ole holiday. It gets to the point where weeks in advance I’m trying to come up with other things to say besides “Happy Thanksgiving.” And since “Happy Day Off” doesn’t cut it I go ahead and mutter the greeting anyway, wheels still turning for a suitable substitute. (more…)

Call for Brainstormers

Tim Nafziger and Roxy Allen are looking for 4-6 brainstormers (aka community organizers) for a young adult pre or post-Mennonite USA Convention 2009 in Columbus, Ohio gathering.

The brainstormers will help us develop a theme and relevant programming topics and activities for this gathering to

1) facilitate networking among young (ages 18-30ish) progressive Anabaptists and

2) re-establish meaningful connection to our faith through a global, Anabaptist perspective.

Ideally we would build off of a vision young adults presented at the previous convention, which you can read here:

Great for young adult delegates to the convention!

Please comment below or email me if interested.


Bible Verses of the Day: The Seduction of Civilization

crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

This week I had the opportunity to be part of a conversation looking at the bible through the lens of civilization skepticism. Theologian Ched Myers took us through the first 11 books of Genesis looking at the way that much of the sinfulness in this story is caught up with the rise of civilization, from the Garden of Eden to the Tower of Babel.

This morning my friend Kristin preached on 2 Kings 17:7-23, a passage that lays out the sins that led the children of Israel into exile. As Kristin spoke, I began to notice things about the passage through the lens of civilization skepticism. I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you here:

7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

The sin of the Israelites is specifically against the God who brought them out of the Egyptian domination system in which they were slaves. It is a sin of forgetting. They have forgotten that they were liberated from the story of Pharaoh which told them the only way to survive was service to the Egyptian project. The rest of the passages goes on to detail the form their forgetting took.


Proposition Hate

Tuesday was quite the night. Like Celeste, I found my way to Grant Park (coveted tickets for the official campaign event in hand) and joined the crowd of a hundred thousand gathered to scream, cry, hug, and jump our way into a new spirit of hopefulness that is solidifying around us.

Besides Obama’s victory, there was another vote that meant a lot to me on Tuesday, and left a lingering bittersweetness to the otherwise perfect night: Proposition 8 amended the California constitution to define legal marriage as exclusive to opposite-sex couples, overturning the decision of the Supreme Court and ending the right of California same-sex couples to the legal protections of marriage for the near future.

Initial reaction: rage. I found someone who expressed this very very well:

Ultimately, though, rage against injustice must energize something else, something life-affirming.


Biking part of Chicago on election night 2008

TimN encouraged me to post this reflection from Tuesday, when we met up in Grant Park with CharlettaE and others; sorry for the delay in getting it up here.

Rather than join the rally crowds you saw on TV on Tuesday – I didn’t try to get tickets; they were limited and I felt others deserved them more, among other reasons – I watched returns with friends and joined the group in Grant Park after Obama was declared the victor.

I biked with several friends from our neighborhood, Pilsen, about three miles through East Pilsen and the South Loop on the unusually warm November night. It takes about 30 minutes to bike to the Loop. We passed the entrance to the Dan Ryan Expressway and the cars were bumper to bumper, yet people looked happy. I was leading our group of five bikers, and one woman in her car looked at me and somewhat tentatively said, “Obama.” I yelled back, “Obama!”

The memory I will most take with me is talking with traffic management authority officials once we got closer to the Loop. Usually a staid bunch at best, and surly at worst, I saw a huge smile on the face of a middle-aged woman as we waited at a stoplight. She seemed not to mind in the slightest that she was working at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday. She smiled and smiled at our bunch of young bikers, and said, “Yes, indeed.” We clapped for her and her co-worker, and for people passing, coming from downtown.

The only other time I have smiled at so many people in such a short period of time was at my wedding. Once we reached Grant Park and walked through, large groups of teenagers smiled at us, and cheered, and we smiled back. People of all ages and ethnicities enjoyed camaraderie with strangers. There is no previous experience to which I can compare it.

Wasting Votes

*A bit of tounge-in-cheek election fun*

I walked up to the polls today to cast my vote. I was surrounded by a group people marketing for their respective politicians. An old man wearing a McCain hat, a heavy-set black woman enthusiastically waving an Obama sign. Another half dozen or so had signs with “Say yes to question 2” or “Vote No on question 4”.

The Obama lady cheerily greeted me, quickly handing me some Obama brochures. “Have you decided who you are going to vote for, yet?” she asked.

I’m kinda private about this stuff but I was drunk so I responded: “Cynthia McKinney. She’s running with the Green party, you know. Her wackiness will make great Saturday night live fodder.” SNL is important to me and affects me weekly, thus being more important than any “serious” issue. (more…)

What happens in church on a Thursday night when you are not looking.

The church basement’s cinder block walls radiate the cold. Coffee permeates the air. Two dozen people or so sit at 8′ X 3′ wooden folding tables, set up in a circle, eating cake and drinking the aforementioned coffee. Another dozen or more sit at chairs placed around the room. My friend, we’ll call him Brian, sits at the front, the Serenity Prayer scrawled on a plaque on his right.

God, Grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

This is an A.A. meeting.

Brian is celebrating one year. He is chairing the meeting, which means he gets to tell his story, speak however long he likes, and call on any member he sees fit to call on. Before any of that can begin, though, the various “officers” read off various lists of A.A. “rules”, “codes of conduct”, and other bureaucratic regulations. You would think these to be many considering A.A. has a reported 1,867,212 members worldwide with 106,202 meetings.

To put this in perspective A.A. is about the same size as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and larger than the Assemblies of God in the USA. (more…)

Why I Don’t Vote

I just want to say at the onset, that I am not really an evangelist about not voting. But I am tired of people telling me that I am immoral or unpatriotic for not voting. And given that some have spoken of the presidential election on this site, I figure I can give my “third way” point of view:

1. The system of choosing leaders requires the leaders to boast about themselves, to be self serving. But Jesus tells us to have our leaders be humble, to serve others, not themselves.

2. The only people who gain the highest offices are those of the rich elite. We do not live in a democracy, where the people have a voice, but a plutocracy, where only the wealthy have a real vote to change the country.

3. Voting is the least effective of all political action. Our ideas would be heard much more by the world if we act out the life of Jesus, or if we write people in the government, than if we vote.

4. There is not a single candidate that is concerned about the issues Jesus is concerned about. Not one has a platform about loving our enemies. Not one has a platform about giving to the poor. Not one is concerned about living out a radical life-transforming faith in God. Although some talk about health issues, no one is really concerned about healing the sick. (more…)