Since almost two months now I am working on a Palestinian farm surrounded by settlements – more on the project maybe in another article. Today I want to share with you an observation I have made about my relationship with the animals I am taking care of. All our animals have a very strong will for freedom and since it’s not only my job to feed and clean them, but also to lock them in their cages and repairing the fences, this will for freedom conflicts with my role.
But while the goats ram me with their head and the horses sometimes try to run away, or even kick me, our dogs have employed a different strategy:
They always break out of their cage either during lunch or dinner to protest the lack of food I am giving them and run around barking. So, I need to interrupt my meal and catch them. Now the strange thing happens. While sometimes they’ll run away, when I catch them, they always just lie numb on the ground and stretch their feet out towards me. They don’t try to bite me, they’re just lying there. I try to convince them by telling them it is my duty to lock them up and I’m sorry I can’t give them more food, but I can only give them as much food as possible.
Next, I pet them and promise them I’ll try to get extra food though I know there isn’t any.
No reaction. (more…)
October 23, 2011
Animals, Bias, Dumb Stuff., Israel, Military, Nonviolence, Palestine, Power, Stewardship, Tactics
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There’s a building boom on the Bowery these days. It’s been happening for a while, but the last couple years have witnessed an escalation in development, turning the neighborhood into a hip destination point.
Fifty years ago the Bowery was the largest skid row in the world. There were gin joints and flophouses on every block. That’s all gone now, thanks to the forces of gentrification. In their place are condos, art galleries and upscale eateries. Only one skid-row relic remains: the Bowery Mission.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting behind the Mission’s pulpit in the 1960s, looking onto a sea of expectant faces while my father preached. In retrospect I realize the men behind those faces were awaiting the sermon’s conclusion so they could get their grub. (more…)
August 22, 2011
Anabaptism, Biographical, Change, Church, City, Civilization, Consumerism, culture, Current Events, Economics, Education, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Mental health, Nonviolence, philosophy, Polarization, poverty, Power, Privilege, Race, Schism, Sex, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Urban Ministry, Wealth
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As part of the conversation that often occurred in response to Mennonites in Northern Ghana, who were asking me “what does it mean to be Mennonite?” I would quote a snippet from Menno’s document. (I mean, only sometimes, when they asked specifically about Simons, because “church founders” are a BIG deal there). But the language was such that I always found myself changing the words. These folks loved Jesus, and they weren’t necessarily asking me about what Jesus had to say about discipleship and prayer, but they wanted to know what Menno had to say. They had only relative familiarity with British English and most are distanced from the written word. I wonder if I translated the following accurately? I wonder if it matters? How would you translate/summarize this part of Menno Simon’s Why I Do Not Cease Teaching and Writing (1539)
“True evangelical faith is of such a nature that it cannot lie dormant, but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it dies unto the flesh and blood; it destroys all forbidden lusts and desires; it seeks and serves and fears God; (more…)
February 15, 2010
Anabaptism, Change, Clothing, communication, Community, culture, Death, Discipleship, Education, Ethics, Evangelism, Global Church, God, Group Identity, History, Interpretation, Language, liberation theology, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Poetry, Polemics, Politics, poverty, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Stewardship, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009
2509 Harvard Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38112
This year’s anarchism and Christianity conference, hosted by Jesus Radicals, will look squarely at the economic and ecological crisis facing the globe, and point to signs of hope for creativity, for alternative living, for radical sharing, for faithfulness, for a new way of being. We are living in a karios moment that will either break us or compel us to finally strive for a new, sane way of life. The question we face at this pivotal time is not if our empires will fall apart, but when they will fall–and how will we face it? We hope you will join the conversation. (more…)
June 25, 2009
activism, Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, City, Civilization, Clothing, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, culture, Current Events, Discipleship, Economics, Education, Emerging Church, End Times, Environment, Ethics, Evangelism, Faith, Family, Gender, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Healthcare, History, Immigration, Indigenous, Interfaith, International Relations, Leadership, liberation theology, Mental health, New Monasticism, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Polarization, Police, poverty, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Roman Catholic, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, submergent, Television, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Travel, Urban Ministry, war, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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Given all that we’ve talked about here, maybe there are some opinions on what the next Executive Director should do? Who it should be? How they should act? What salary (if any) they should be paid?
This is a chance to weigh in to the process. The search committee is consulting far and wide across the Mennonite church. Feel free to add your voice in the comment section below. (more…)
March 23, 2009
Anabaptism, Change, Church, Community, Current Events, Economics, Education, End Times, Excommunication, Faith, God, Group Identity, History, Interpretation, Leadership, Mennonite Church USA, philosophy, Politics, Poll, Power, Stewardship, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Young Folks
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Hey! These folks are riding from Harrisonburg, VA to the Asuncion, Paraguay for the Global Youth Summit of Mennonite World Conference. Check them out!
As anyone who has been on a bike for an extended amount of time for their primary form of transportation knows, it is a life-altering experience. Godspeed to Lars and Jon and Love to all whom they will visit. I am in the process of encouraging the youth group from my church to bike to the Mennonite Youth Convention in Columbus, Ohio June 30-July 6. I hope it works out…it will definitely be life-altering. Besides saving money and petroleum, getting some fresh air and exercise, biking together is a great self-esteem and group-building opportunity. It generates an equality among races and genders through the creation of a camaraderie and shared intense, rewarding experience.
But there is some resistance. Sometimes I get so excited about something I can’t embrace alternatives. Pray for me as I discern how much to push and where to step-back….And DO visit bikemovement America’s website.
January 29, 2009
activism, Awesome Stuff, City, Civilization, communication, Community, Contemplation, culture, Current Events, Discipleship, Economics, Education, Environment, Ethics, Fun, Gender, Group Identity, Healthcare, International Relations, philosophy, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Spiritual Life, Sports, Stewardship, Stories, Travel, Young Folks
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“I haven’t been entirely truthful with you…” says the young, well-dressed, middle-eastern man. The camera focuses in on the pained expressions on those he is speaking to in that shaky, fast cutaway style of those Jason Bourne flicks. Intense, dramatic music plays in the background. The editors let this cliff-hanger like suspense build for, well, seemingly forever. I guess, in reality, 10 seconds.
This is the Fox network, the network that, when drama doesn’t exist enough for the producers, they go ahead and make it up. Young married couples on an island with a bunch of hot singles. The screaming, shrieking Gordon Ramsey. The Fox network, God bless ’em, takes decent ideas for shows and makes the dramatic effect linger like a sky-diver in mid-air. Then they find talent to pump that drama up. It’s all really unnecessary. The material is good, let it be.
But here we are. “I haven’t been entirely truthful with you…” “…” “…” “…” “…” “I’m really a multi-millionaire.” SHA-BANG! And, lo-and-behold, the victims of what Fox believes to be a cruel joke could give two shits. Who would? The lying millionaire has been a part of their lives for six whole days. (more…)
December 12, 2008
activism, Church, Community, Contemplation, Corporations, Dumb Stuff., Economics, God, poverty, Privilege, Stewardship, Television
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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…)
November 25, 2008
activism, Anniversary, Bias, Change, Church, Civilization, Clothing, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, Corporations, culture, Current Events, Death, Economics, Education, Environment, Ethics, Fair, Faith, Family, Food, Foreign Policy, God, Group Identity, Guns, Hate, History, Indigenous, Interpretation, Language, Leadership, liberation theology, Love, Loyalty, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Schism, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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23 About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way.Â 24A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans.Â 25These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business.Â 26You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods.Â 27And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”
28 When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”Â 29The city was filled with the confusion; and peoplec rushed together to the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s travel companions.Â Â Â – Acts 19:23-29 (NRSV)
(my version of Acts 19…don’t get huffy I’m not translating from the Greek)
A man named Henry Paulson, a secretary who made decisions about currencies, brought no little business to the Senate. These he gathered together, with other wealthy men, and said “Listen everyone, I don’t like to mix in the market anymore than you do. De-regulation has served us well for some time. But you see, we’ve gotten ourselves into a bit of a mess. This market, it has served us well for some time and made us all rich and powerful. But, the market needs more – it’s hurting. And we can’t lose the business. Now, a number of so-called “progressives” are concerned about the mortgage crisis – remember those mortgages? Ah, they were good for us weren’t they? Well, now they’ve gone sour. And a number of folks are concerned that everyone is going to lose their homes and be out on the street. But, really gentlemen, I’m much more concerned that, if we don’t act quickly, they’ll not only lose their homes, but we’ll lose lots, and lots, and lots of money. And we don’t want to upset the market – it gives us all that power remember? So, I need you guys to help me out: tell all those bleeding hearts to shut up for a while, scare the nation into thinking that all will be lost, and pass this bill giving me a lot more power to make you and all our friends alot more rich. I know you are concerned now, but you’ll thank me in the long run.”
When they heard all this, they agreed and said “Great are the fudamentals of our economy!” The country was filled with confusion, and bills were hastily past, and many were left wondering what protection was out there for them.
A week later, everyone forgot and Paul went to Macedonia (Acts 20:1).
October 9, 2008
Consumerism, Corporations, culture, Death, Economics, Stewardship, The Bible, Wealth
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Not everyone can or wants to go to every conference. This is a summary of a recent conference. I think sharing the info that we learn at conferences is important.
The “Everything Must Change” tour came to Goshen College on May 9-10. This seminar was lead by renowned evangelical leader in the emerging Christian church movement, Brian McLaren. His focus for the event was addressing the following questions: “What are the world’s top global crises?” and “What does the message of Jesus say to those crises?”
Early on in the seminar, McLaren related a story in which he was leading youth worship as a young adult. He asked the youth to help him create a list of the major concerns at their churches. Issues such as whether or not to have guitars as part of worship music were brought up. He then asked the youth to help him create a list of the issues that they considered the most pressing global concerns, and issues like nuclear disarmament and famine came up. A startling difference was apparent between the two lists. Just like he suggested in the narrative of his story, McLaren instigated a call for a breaking down of the secular/sacred divide and for the Church to be deeply involved in the issues on the second list, the global list. Those of us who attended the seminar were treated to and challenged by a multi-dimensional, mixed media approach to exploring how to understand and deal with interconnected global crisis issues of planet, poverty, and peacemaking. The fourth major crisis McLaren introduced was “purpose”. He explained the latter concept in his assertion that “the biggest problem in the world is the way that we think about the biggest problems in the world.” (more…)
June 2, 2008
activism, Books, Church, City, culture, Current Events, Education, Emerging Church, Environment, Evangelism, Faith, Foreign Policy, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Peace & Peacemaking, poverty, Stewardship, Theology, war, Young Folks
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As a Mennonite, and an activist, I’ve always been aware of the huge gaping problems with Christmas as practiced in America. I know all about the Christmas industrial complex and the way it has stolen the true spirit of Christmas. I’ve read many an article about simplifying Christmas and getting back to it’s true spirit. I know that corporate America has taught us to live to consume rather than consume to live. I honor Buy Nothing Day.
But somehow, none of this has ever stuck very well. It’s not that I’m a shop-a-holic or even an extravagant gift giver. But despite my radical aspirations, there’s something sentimental or romantic in me that really enjoys the Christmas tree and the Christmas carols and the warm, fuzzy feeling I start feeling sometime in the week after Thanksgiving. And I’ve never really found a way to shape a consistent alternative Christmas tradition.
But this year, I’ve finally come across someone who takes liberating Christmas seriously. My good friends Tim and Patty Peebles are featured on the cover story of the Mennonite: Throwing out the tree. Ten years ago, Tim and Patty decided that they needed to start from scratch in building a celebration worthy a child whose birth challenged the foundations of empire and financial domination. Read the article to hear about they looked to the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany to build an authentic radical Christian Christmas. (more…)
December 19, 2007
Change, Consumerism, Corporations, Ethics, Group Identity, Stewardship
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I serve as a full-time volunteer with an agency that coordinates homeless services. I thought a reflection on poverty would be apt, particularly given that we don’t have a “poverty” category yet on this blog.
Nehemiah 5 (NIrV)
1 Some men and their wives cried out against their Jewish brothers and sisters. 2 Some of them were saying, “We and our sons and daughters have increased our numbers. Now there are many of us. We have to get some grain so we can eat and stay alive.”
3 Others were saying, “We’re being forced to sell our fields, vineyards and homes. We have to do it to buy grain. There isn’t enough food for everyone.”
4 Still others were saying, “We’ve had to borrow money. We needed it to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 We belong to the same family lines as the rest of our people. Our sons and daughters are as good as theirs. But we’ve had to sell them off as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been made slaves. But we can’t do anything about it. That’s because our fields and vineyards now belong to others.” (more…)
November 8, 2007
Economics, Ethics, Food, God, Interpretation, poverty, Power, Stewardship, The Bible, Theology, Wealth
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Marketplace has an interactive game called “Consumer Consequences” that is worth checking out. My current lifestyle is estimated to require 2.9 Earths to sustain it. What about yours?
Check out the game and some background info by clicking here.
September 22, 2007
Change, Community, Consumerism, Current Events, Environment, Food, Fun, Politics, Science, Stewardship, Wealth
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Let me start with a disclaimer, no I’m not in San Jose at the convention, and yes I would love to be there. I was in Charlotte for a couple days a few years ago and I attended the Nashville convention but I’m no expert on the whole convention model. I think that it is a good and healthy thing for the church to gather in a large body to discuss important issues, worship, and fellowship together. I think these things should all continue to happen at Mennonite conventions (or assemblies, is that the more correct term?). However, I have two main concerns with the current convention model. One, is it really necessary to spend thousands of dollars on renting out convention centers in large cities (where there usually aren’t that many Mennonites) and then having all the participants stay in hotels. Now this could be a question simply of numbers, are there just not large enough buildings to host joint worships of thousands (other than in large cities)? However, would it be totally unthinkable to have a Mennonite convention in an area with significant Mennonite infrastructure? (more…)
July 6, 2007
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It’s a concept I learned in Sociology 101.
To have a group, you’ve got to have a boundary. Something that establishes the “in” from the “out.” What is a group without a clear line of demarcation?
Our church’s lines of demarcation used to be coverings, plain coats, black cars, no TV, etc., etc. Lots of time spent on who was in and who was out, and what defined separation from the world.
It’s not a conversation we have much anymore, but one I feel like we’ve got to have if we’re going to survive as a group. Are there new ways we can define what makes us counter-cultural? Things like the way we spend our money, the way we react to violence, the way we welcome and forgive and share grace . . . but these things are much harder to measure than whether or not someone is wearing her covering. And grace and forgiveness are not the same as apathy and tolerance, but they often look alike.
So what can we offer that is different than what our prevailing culture offers? Do we care enough to do that? And how do we do it without getting wrapped up in legalism?
Just stuff I’ve been thinking about.
February 21, 2007
Church, Community, Consumerism, Exclusion, Group Identity, History, Stewardship, Tradition
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