Thursday, December 28, 2006

ending classes

I meant to post this a couple weeks ago, and was reminded of it today.

At Oberlin, we ended most of our classes (on the final day of the course) by applauding for the professor. It was great.

We didn't clap at the end of my pastoral care class; we prayed instead. I liked that even better.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Guatemala #4: Map!

If you're the moment I'm living in Zone 6 of the city. Zone 11 isn't marked (where the MCC office and my language school are) but it's more or less to the left of Zone 7, I think. So, to get to language school, the bus goes through Zone 6, through Zone 2, across a bridge with a huge chasm underneath (the green spot on the map) through Zone 7 and into Zone 11.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

tribute to Quakers

I would just like to tell the world that the Boise unprogrammed Quakers did well by me these six months. They learned my name and welcomed me, chatted with me after, invited me to breakfast and Christmas parties, and asked me how they could support me going to Nicaragua. Then on my last Sunday they dedicated the whole meeting to holding me in the light, and then they all signed a card and gave it to me. And before July they never knew me.

Thanks, Quakers, with love from me (Rachael).


I'm experiencing premature homesickness: realizing that I have only one more day with my mom, brother, stepdad, and David, before my sister and I fly to my dad's house.

Physically, I'm pretty much set for Nicaragua. Which is to say that I'm fully vaccinated, health insured, funded, plane ticketed, and my clothes and books and music are packed.

Psychologically I'm a demure mess (I'm not sure if that's the right adjective), which is to say that one minute I'm excited and laughing and the next minute I'm cranky and irritable, the next minute I'm taking deep breaths to keep from freaking out, the next minute I'm feeling beautifully overwhelmed by the support of friends/family, and the steadfast love of God, and the next minute I'm weeping. All of this is without throwing any tantrums or missing any appointments. It's kind of exhausting.

You know what it's like? Finals. You study and stress and work really hard until all you want to do is get it over with. I think that once I'm there, I'll feel better, because instead of wondering and anticipating and worrying, I'll be interacting with an actual environment. I can respond to the surprises instead of imagining what they'll be. It'll be a relief.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got ecclesiology

Yesterday, Rachael took me to her swing dancing place. I'm not very good at swing dancing, and I'm not very interested in getting better, so I mostly watched.

Here's what I realized: Swing dancing is like Methodist polity. Improv dancing, of the kind I did at Oberlin, is like Baptist polity.

In swing dancing, you can pretty much plug in with any partner in any state or country and dance effectively. It's great, as long as you find a place that is dancing east coast swing or whatever. It's got a set form, and there's advantages to that.

But there's also disadvantages. In Improv you make it up as you go along. Every improv experience will be completely different. This can make things harder, more varied, stupider, or more interesting. Sometimes all of these.

See what happens when I'm out of seminary for a week? My church nerdliness spills over and gets the internet all nerdy.

Oh. I mean, more nerdy?


Guatemala #3: Attempt at a summary

Hello, I´ve tried several times over the past week to sit down and type up some thoughts, or descriptions of my experiences, but it´s proven to be really hard. How do I know what to share, what things are facts, what things are just my impressions (possibly mistaken because I´ve only been here in Guatemala 6 weeks...), what things I should be saying about a country that is not my own. I decided to adopt Emily´s approach from one of her posts from India, and see how it works.


There are lots of buses, and they get packed full...the only way they could get more full is if people started sitting on other people´s laps. I take a bus to my language classes every morning, and return home in the afternoon. It takes about an hour to make the whole trip. I`ve appreciated brief moments of grace or richness on the bus, such as the bus driver going out of his way to give some money to a kid juggling limes on the street. Such as the bus assistant (the guy that helps the bus driver) making funny faces at a little girl on the street, and her sticking her tongue back out at him. Such as a bus assistant who sings, whistles and laughs his way around the city along with the bus driver every day.

I experienced my first earthquake a couple of Sundays ago. I was sitting in my bed, and all of a sudden, the house gently shook from side to side! I almost didn´t believe it was an earthquake, but it really was moving! Later I found out it was about a 5.8 on the scale! Not too scary, but definitely unexpected and a bit unnerving!

Thanksgiving and service...

I spent Thanksgiving with the other MCC workers here in Guatemala. There are 16 of us (10 adults, 6 children). Of the adults, four of us are working in Guatemala City, four in Altaverapaz (farther north), one in El Salvador, and one who travels around Guatemala working with different communities. It was really good to get to know all of the different workers: each of us has a pretty different job description, but it´s good to get together and, especially for me, learn about the country, churches, and general context.

After Thanksgiving, I participated in a service project with youth from different places in Guatemala and El Salvador. There were youth from Guatemala City, Santiago Atitlán (where there is a big lake, and volcanos), the Cobán area and Nebaj, as well as El Salvador. Guatemala has a diverse population-about 60% indigenous, the rest Ladino (meaning of Spanish or mixed heritage) speaking about 23 different languages. In the group of 30 youth there were three indigenous groups represented and five languages between all of us. Traveling from one place to another in Guatemala seems to be a fairly difficult for the average person, so it was an amazing experience for me, and for the youth to get to know youth from other communities in their country. It was also an amazing experience to spend some time after Thanksgiving (given the history of the holiday) with youth from indigenous communities, learning about and practicing service. We did some work at a school, planting grass to help feed rabbits, and prevent erosion, as well as helping to build a women´s dormitory.

Things I´ve found inspiring, and\or funny
-Talking about service and development, and just talking in general with the country representatives here, as well as the other members of the MCC team.
-Hombre is the word for man, and people seem to use it kind of like in English, when we say "yeah, man", "no, man"...etc. However, it´s really funny to hear one 6 year old girl say to another, "Noooo, hooombre" with lots of gusto. (the o in hooombre is pronounced like in the word poke.)
-There seems to be a lot of interest and excitement about music classes...people in general want to learn how to play instruments, to sing, etc. The challenge will be figuring out what the expectations are, and which ones I can meet, and which ones I can´t!
-The natural beauty of the mountains and volcanoes is pretty stunning.
-I´ve also really enjoyed learning local Spanish expressions, about the way people really talk! Before I`ve always had Spanish classes in the US, where we were smushing together a bunch of different countries, but now I can learn Guatemalan Spanish...learning actually how people talk!

Surprising things
-I`ve been surprised several times during my time here, at how natural it feels to be here. I hardly feel like I´m in a foreign country...despite the huge language, cultural, societal differences! I think the differences are, and it´s pretty incredible, that first, I´m here for a long time, second, I´m getting to know "normal" people (I don´t like to use the word normal, but oh well) and third, I´ve only been to one tourist spot so far!
-I´ve also been surprised by the economy, and I don´t know much about it yet, and I don´t know much about economics in general, but it´s not hard to see that the majority of the economy is in very small family or personal businesses, or individuals making money however they can...such as hundreds of tiny little neighborhood stores, selling things on the street, repairing clothes, etc, etc.

More in a month or so,


More Fun

I know this is late...but since I don´t have a digital camera I have to steal pictures from other people`s blogs. Another picture from MCC orientation, yes, we made the fish.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

my kind of town?

Today I was taking the El home from church, as I always do. I was reading a book that I had picked up that afternoon at the Harold Washington public library, as I often do.

Today's book was "The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground." (Ron Jacobs, 1997, Verso Books.) It's about (you guessed it) the Weather Underground, a radical offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society active in the late 60's, early 70's, notable for being more openly revolutionary and violent than a lot of the other anti-war, anti-imperial, anti-racist organizations of the day. It wanted to be an appropriate venue in which white people/kids could be in solidarity with the Black Panthers.

Anyway, I'm reading about the movement, and Jacobs is talking about the October 1969 "Days of Rage" actions, in which hundreds and hundreds of Weather-types brawled with police officers. In the Chicago Loop. AS my train enters the Chicago Loop.

I read a little further and learned that the centers for the Weather types in Chicago were "churches and seminaries", including McCormick, the Presby school in Hyde Park.

So: a)this is really interesting. b)I'm really curious about whether CTS housed Weather Underground folks during this action. c)Can I get CTS to house radical activists these days? I bet I could! d)I'm still unconvinced my arguments for violence, but it's interesting that a group designed to, basically, do what Cone calls white people to do, to become ontologically black and radically in solidarity with the oppressed, so quickly turned to violence... e)The "Weatherbureau", the group's leaders, did some pretty sneaky/vile things in order to maintain control over local groups. This seems to be counter-revolutionary, and is certainly counter-Anarcho-Baptist. So there. f)this is a pretty good book and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Heck, it beats studying.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guatemala #2: On Giving Thanks

I´m thankful for good people, health, and food to eat. I hope you all had a rich Thanksgiving experience. Last week I was about four hours north of Guatemala city, here with some of my coworkers. There are incredible mountains (the best way I can think of to describe the mountains and hills is that they look like big hugs) and I heard some great marimba playing at one of the local churches. I´m also thankful for you.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Study Suggestions for Ted Jennings' History of Christian Thought

Here are my suggested study terms for Ted Jennings' History of Christian Thought final. I just went through my notes, and pulled out some terms and names that I think are likely to come up. I think I got all the weeks, but I might have missed one. It's obviously only updated through last Tuesday's class, but I think it's a reasonable starting point. It doesn't have many women on it. Each term/name is conveniently linked to Wikipedia, everybody's favorite open source encyclopedia. And, hey: if you really like the list, buy my history of christian thought related t-shirt.

The list follows: And here is the rest of it.


Justin Martyr




Clement of Alexandria




Council of Nicea



Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory Nazianzus

Basil the Great






Council of Ephesus


Pope Leo's Tome








iconoclast controversy

John of Damascus

communicatio idiomatum?

Psuedo Dionysius


Simeon the New Theologian

Saint Anthony




sic et non


Theories of Atonement


Thomas Aquinas

Julian of Norwich

John Wycliffe

John Huss

Martin Luther

John Calvin

Keep your eyes out for the ent wives,

Thursday, November 30, 2006

robot arm/ drag show

Tonight I'm going to the Neo-Futurists' New show "Drag". I was going to go with folks from CTS' queer group, but every one of them bailed on me. No potential snowstorm will flag my adventure!

Also, I figured out something notable. The revelation came to me while Rachael and I were sitting on the roof of my apartment building (a amazing place to sit) reading Jane Yolen and John Irving respectively.

"It's like this," I said, "When you're around, it's like I have an extra, robotic arm that is super-strong and shoots lazers. When you're not around, I don't have it, but I still have two reasonably strong arm, and, you know, my lazer-sharp intellect."

So, I'm emotionally ready for Rachael to go to Nicaragua, partially because of this excellent, robotic metaphor.

Also, the spellcheck thinks that lazer should be spelled with an s. Screw that.


Monday, November 20, 2006

i love the internet

So, I've been using this desperately-finding-something-to-do-while-I-wait-for-it-to-be-time-to-pick-up-Rachael time to catch up on the internet. Some friends sent me you tube links, and so I watched, in quick succession:

-an allegory featuring dancing cardboard bears, set in the Oberlin laundromat.

-"Let's Paint, Exercise, and Eat Pie"
-the Captain Vegetable Sesame Street song. In Dutch.

Now, all of these things are wonderful, but I'm not going to link to them. And not only because I don't know how.

Instead, behold:

This blog post brought to you by the American Council for Increased Use of Dashes (A-C-I-U-D)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

advent calendar

Here are two pictures of the advent calendar I made for my sister. I got out my bulging folder of saved church bulletins, an old Bible I saved from the trash, and samples sent to me by publishing companies while I was Director of Christian Education. I cut out prayers and Bible passages and pasted them on printer paper in a liturgical arrangement involving pictures of purple and one pink candle on Sundays, and cut windows in wrapping paper to cover them. The windows are numbered 1-25 for days in December. I cut the Magnificat out of Luke (feels weird to cut apart a Bible) and cut up a Christmas card, and an announcement about donating to the Caring Tree from a bulletin.

It fed my soul to read so many churchy words. That is one thing about Quaker meeting-- lack of churchy words! I'm thinking about going to my family's Methodist church during advent to enjoy some liturgy!

Anyway, this was SO FUN and I think it turned out beautifully, probably due to the TLC for Sarah that I put into it. Feast your eyes and your liturgical womb, ready to bring forth Christ into the world!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Here's a picture I stole from my friend's blog...this basically captures what orientation at MCC in Akron PA was like. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

things sure are different

Today I woke up between warm flannel sheets and looked at pictures of Oberlin on the wall by my bed. I've been so dissoriented while I've been here that I put up pictures of my past life and it sort of reminds me about another way my life has been in the recent past. There's one of Phyllis and Paul at peace vigil, one of Formosa and Ginger picking flowers, one of my dad and Denise at my graduation, one of the tree on the corner of Tappan at Professor and College, and one of the view from my 27 Union St. bedroom window in winter with snow. And one of Easter egg decorating at Family Night at FUMC.

Then I listened to something I'm very proud of: a recording of me and lots of my friends singing Meg H.'s a capella arrangement of the Ginny Weasley song, based on Harry Potter. It is on the internet available for the listening pleasure of thousands! There are comments on it at the website by people who I don't even know! That is SO COOL!

Also so cool is the fact that I've had the privilege of performing said song at all. It is an experience decidedly outside of my current range of activities, a reminder of a community I've been part of and connections I used to enjoy.

Then I went to work and one of the chefs asked how I was. She waited like she was ready for a long answer so I told her about the internet and Meg's recital and the song and she listened and responded and was interested. I went on sweeping the restaurant, thinking how easy it is to perk me up: just one person has to ask, listen, be interested. But it seems like that doesn't happen very often for me right now. I will be glad to end this little season of my life.

John the Whaptist

There was an AP article on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. It was about evangelical popular culture, and it featured a paragraph about Christian Professional Wrestling leagues. The article CLAIMED that there was a wrestler by the name of "John the Whaptist" (alongside such other heroes as 'the Sermonater', and 'the Abrahammer.') Now, that name is totally awesome, and so I looked up John the Whaptist on the internet.

As near as I can tell based on a five minute Google search, there is NO SUCH PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER. A travesty! It seems that the name has only been circulated as a joke.

At first, this made me quite sad. 'John the Whaptist, why can't you exist?' I thought.

But then I realized- if there is no John the Whaptist, that means that the first person who wants to can call dibs on the name, thus forcing everyone to refer to them as John the Whaptist.

Friends, I invoke that priviledge.

In daily parlance, you may still refer to me as "David", but please, in formal use, from now on: Mr. David Reese, AKA "John the Whaptist."

Keep your eyes out for the entwives,
aka John the Waptist


Dear friends,

Here is a belated update on my Halloween proceedings. This fellow's name is Scarface. See how the smile and eyes are asymmetrical? That's not the way it looked before the Terrible Pumpkin Adventure. Luke's pumpkin is visible behind.

By the way, for Halloween I was a Tai Kwon Do student, a doctor, and a soccer player. All while waitressing various shifts. I actually was working during trick-or-treating, but they had a bowl of candy in the kitchen so that whenever we dropped off dirty plates we could trick or treat!!! yay!

Sorry this is like two weeks late.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Guatemala #1: I'm in Guatemala!

Here are a couple of short stories and quotes, and thoughts from the past few days:

-If you ever get a chance to watch a sunset from a plane, it´s pretty cool.

-The southern part of Guatemala is FULL of mountains, while the other half is much flatter!

-Quote, "En Guatemala hay mas iglesias que niños felices."
"In Guatemala there are more churches than happy children."

-At church we talked about forgiveness, vengeance, justice-it was a discussion sermon, which was cool. The pastor mentioned the response of the Amish community in PA as an example of faith and forgiveness, and a woman in the congregation shared her own experience of a family member who was killed.

-We´ve been talking a lot about building relationships, trust and confidence with the people we´ll be working with (I say "we" because there´s another MCC worker who´s here in orientation with me, who will be working in El Salvador) But, it´s really hard because trust and self-confidence has been destroyed by a 36 year civil war, not to mention centuries of colonization, and war.

-The MCC workers here are incredible people-loving, very concerned with peace and justice.

-There´s a mall around the corner called Tikal Futuro- Tikal is the site of some ancient Mayan ruins.

It´s now Wednesday morning. I think I´ll finally finish and send this today-I´m sitting in the warm sun by a somewhat overgrown garden in front of the MCC office. The weather is really perfect here. This whole week we´ve been meeting in the mornings, going over various aspects of life and work here- context, history, programs and MCC team, security, etc. It´s been very interesting, but also a lot of talking so it will be nice to start language classes and do something more concrete. I met my spanish teacher, and I´ll start classes Monday. I´ll also be moving in with a host family, in Zone 6 of Guatemala City. (There are 22 Zones) We went there on a bus yesterday to learn how to use the buses. I´m excited to live there, because it´s much more of a community feeling than the neighborhood where I´ve been staying so far. There were kids playing soccer in the streets, etc.

Anyway, I´ll leave you with that for now...and congratulations on the smashing elections you had yesterday!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld stepping down?

According to, Donald Rumsfeld is resigning.

I told you guys, you can't stop the Spirit.


Catapulted to superstardom

As if there wasn't enough to celebrate today, three authors of this blog are among those performing the a capella version of "save ginny weaseley" which is now on the Harry and the Potters website: I'm sure Beth, Rachael, and I all await our catapultment towards superstardom.


Monday, October 30, 2006


So, friends, you might be asking yourself: could there be any halloween costume better than leviathon, the seven-headed sea monster of the Hebrew Bible?

Answer: no.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

the flipside cafe

I'm sitting in "The Flipside Cafe" which is the cafe portion of the
Boise Co-op, haven of hippies. Although I had vegan choices on the
menu, I'm having vegetarian pancakes with non-vegetarian sausage. Did
you know David is a vegetarian now?

On the wall to my right is a piece of art incorporating pictures of
Guatemala, and on my left is a series of portraits of Guatemalans and
landscapes. My waitress is wairing a vintage dress and reminds me of
Linden. They have wireless internet and I'm in between Quaker meeting
and picking my mom up from the airport (she was visiting my aunt in

I opened up my laptop to read a friend's sermon, after just meditating on
and talking to David and Beth about the concept of spending next year
in Nicaragua. I'm in such a different environment than I was when I
made the decision to go. I see going there in a different light
because of my different environment. I guess there feels like a big
disconnect between my life right now, living in a huge house in the
suburbs, and a third world country. There didn't seem like as much of
a breach in Oberlin, where I was on a tight budget and lived among
many people who had relationships with Latin American countries or
people from those countries.

So, coming here after feeling disconnected, confused, and lonely for
weeks, I just got this rush of goodness coming over me, of God's presence tangible with fulfilled promises. The pictures
of Central America, the connections with faith communities at Meeting
and reading the sermon, and hippie food-- I guess I just felt at

I'm praying about how to prepare for Nicaragua. According to Emma, I should get vaccinated, pack a change of clothes, and get ready to be surprised.


As some of you might know, Beth's at Mennonite Central Committee Orientation, getting ready to go spend three years working in Guatemala City. Here's an email I got from her:

Hi David,

Here is the story of a song:

So, before I went to Oberlin, I did not know the song that goes, "B-b-b bubblin' (snap, snap, snap)", etc. I'm pretty sure I learned it from you and maybe Rachael. So, here at MCC orientation we do a morning devotional every other day. There are a number of people that do music, and we got together last night to pick songs. We decided that I would teach the Bubblin' Over song as part of our singing this morning. So, I did, and it was cool.

Then, this evening, we went to an Amish home to have dinner. Our group, being 40 people, was split up between two different Amish homes. At the home I was at, we ate dinner, the family sang for us, and then we sang Amazing Grace together. After we got back, I found out that at the other house, they ate dinner, the family sang, and then my friend Beth (who is going to Nicaragua with her husband) taught Bubblin' Over to the Amish family and the whole group sang it together. The Amish family really liked it. Beth had learned it from me this morning. So, indirectly, you helped to teach an Amish family that song. That makes me happy:)

Love, Beth

[insert joke about blogs and the Amish here.]

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

crapostolic succession

Today I was feeling sad about empire. So I made this. You can buy a t-shirt of it at I don't think I'm going to, but I suppose it would be a good way to proclaim your simultaneous church geekiness and radical politics.


Saturday, October 07, 2006


a) They tell me that the university of chicago has t-shirts that say "that's all very well in practice, but how does it work in theory?" (Funny, and one of the reasons I don't go to U of C.)

b) So, Walter Wink, in The Powers that Be, describes how Jesus advises a subversive method that uses humor and cleverness to dismantle evil forces. It's pretty cool in theory (see his discussion of turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, etc.) So, does it work in practice?


I'm in.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I came home from seeing David today and already have to gear up for the quick part of my work week. I don't know yet when my next day off is, but I do know that I'm working 8-12 hour days the next 3 days. So I was feeling glum. I decided to watch veggie tales while quilting.

So that was fun, and I am cutting fabric. It's nice to cut because I get to look at it all, it's beautiful fabric, but one of my spiritual gifts is not painstakingly lining up corners with an eye for detail and precise measurement. And it's slow.

But I was cheering up by hearing about Little Joe, a cowboy who is cheated over and over but, through a knack for dreams, organizational skills, and faith in God, ends up reconciling with his eleven brothers and being reunited with his father and saving the whole countryside from famine. But he had to go through tough times, when he doubted whether God was going to follow through on the dream promise.

And I had the thought: I will love having this fabric all cut into shapes so that I can lay them out and do the fun part, designing the quilt pattern. I will get to use the triangles and squares like a brush and paint, and paint out my vision, the vision I've been working on for months. But I have to do this part in order to have that part.

And, waitressing does not use too too many of my spiritual gifts. But, waitressing is allowing me to get to know Luke, live with my family, experience the place they are having their lives in, and it is also allowing me to finance travel within Latin America next year.

In the meantime, I should be the author of myself as Sue Monk Kidd encourages, finding my own power and "author" ity within myself as I embrace my creative and spiritual core and embody that spirituality. And in the meantime, I should watch for the ways God is being faithful to me in this lifestyle that I am not comfortable in. Emails from friends, friendly gestures from Idahoans, biking to work, sun on the mountains, etc.

Dear God, please be with me through the next three days.

world communion sunday

Rachael was in town for the last week. It was lovely.

On Sunday we went to Grace Baptist Church, where I've been attending. It was World Communion Sunday, and one of the ways they celebrated was to have a variety of breads and beverages for communion. You could come up and pick a piece from one of four breads and dip it in water, grape juice, or soy milk.

I broke off a piece of an orange, crispy tortilla type bread. After I dipped it in grape juice, I ate it. It was really spicy, and I thought, as I went back to my seat, "Boy, that communion had a little kick to it!"

Then I thought, "Maybe communion should always have a little kick to it."

Oh, and check this out:

Keep your eyes out for the ent wives,

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mindfulness and wisdom teeth

So, my mouth is feeling pretty decent by now, although I still cling to the ice pack that has been my good friend this week. (I got my four wisdom teeth removed last Monday)

Really, the amazing thing about it is that I've had to be completely aware of every single thing that I put in my mouth-whether it's water, or oatmeal or as of Thursday, a piece of toast! Chewing is a wonderful thing, and this whole week has made me more aware that the variety in taste, options, and especially the texture of food is a blessing. I've found myself craving things like carrots and pretzels, and especially vegetables in general. (It's kind of hard to make vegetables appetizing in a form where you don't have to chew them)

So, I'm glad for the mindfulness training that I've gotten this week. Having to expend so much effort to eat enough to give me any energy, and having such limited options has taught me (for the time being at least) to remember to pay attention. Providing nourishment and energy for yourself isn't something to be taken lightly!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

thinking parabolically

I'm in a great class about the parables here.

Every week, three people bring in a little five minute presentation which includes
a) a recitation of a parable
b) the context that they're dealing with
and c) a reperformance of the parable. (For example, today someone did 'the unjust judge' in terms of Emmett Till)

It's a great way of thinking about the texts/stories, and some of the folks were reading have some interesting arguments. John Dominic Crossan, for instance, sets up this continuum of literary forms, from myth to parable. His argument is that while Myth creates a world, parable subverts a world. (apologue0 defends world, action- explores world, and satire- attacks world all operate between the two ends of the continuum.) In other words, the very form of the parable is designed to break our established ideas about the world. This has led me to see more of how Jesus' parables fit into his other teachings that make use of the 'subvert to overcome' method. (ie- turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, etc... for those unsure of why this is subversion, ask me or check out wink's powers that be).

Last week I did a pirate retelling (in honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day) of 'The Land of a rich man produced abundantly...' (The one where he tears down his barns to build larger ones, then dies.) We've been reading a book called The Parables as Subversive Speech, which argues that this parable is a condemnation of the rich man, because he did not return the abundance of the harvest to the community, its rightful owners. I named an Oberlin College convocation as my context, then told the story of the pirate captain Shankleford Firearm, to try to get at the too-often prevailing mindset of academics getting knowledge wherever they can and keeping it in the proverbial ivory towers. But see, it's better as a story, you know?

The professor warned that the class would get us thinking parabolically about most things before too long. It's already happening to me.

What if the widow in the Unjust Judge parable is to be read as God? What if the parable encourages us to take heart and keep praying (as Luke suggests) by reminding us that God keeps showing up, to grind away at the terror of Empire?

I'm also curious about how the Uncultured Man and the Ramayana story fits in. I can't do it justice here, but it's like a world-subverting/world-affirming tale combined. I think I might tell it to my professor sometime, in the hopes of figuring out what it does, in order to more clearly articulate how awesome it is.

I also continue to love the way that we go from the theoretical to the practical. For example, a riff on the Great Feast parable led us to a discussion about open and closed communion. Imagine an place where the smartest people in town gather and figure out how all this stuff applies to the local church. I'm in it. Hot.

Emily, Beth, Rachael: I think you should all consider going to seminary sometime. Maybe even this one. It'll teach you why wearing one of those little mustard-seed necklaces around might be a radical act.


healthcare songs

I've been recruited to play and sing with a small group at church. We're doing some songs for Health Care Sunday, where worship is focused on the pitiable state of health care in the US, and around those who work in health care, need health care, etc.

So, any suggestions for songs we should do? I have Rise Up Singing and the Internet, so I should be able to find lyrics and chords to most songs.


training wheels

today, i was listening to the magnetic fields on my headphones as I walked to school. It was a little like having training wheels.

When I listen to the Magnetic Fields and walk to school, everybody's walking in harmony, and all of the businessmen on bikes and five year old's with backpacks are transcendentally beautiful.

Someday I won't need the headphones.

ps- This seems a little trite after reading Emily's post.
But I think it's still appropriate. All this stuff together, just like the world.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Adventures of Rachael (and Sue Monk Kidd)'s Book

Rachael kindly sent me a book on feminist spiritual searching, by Sue Monk Kidd, called Dance of the Dissident Daughter.
I brought it with me on my traveling and on my regular living last month. This is what the book did:
The book curled up with me to sleep on the couch in my new flat.
The book went to Kolkata for the 7th National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements in India. Where the book heard rousing speeches ("the only globalization we'll accept is a globalizing of dissent") and waited through abundant translations (in a strong commitment to affirm diversities, everything was AT LEAST trilingually translated from podiums or panels -- and then translated in small groups from there, given India's vast language diversity). The book went with me on a bus rally through Kolkata. We were on the Sappho for Equality (LBT) bus. When we'd pass the bus of, say, the women from the NorthEast fighting state violence and mass rape, we'd try and do back and forth chants, against state violence and the criminalizing of homosexuality (Section 377 and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, specifically). The book was also witness to the sadness and frustration of realizing that -- unknown to me until the last day -- there was significant discrimination and abundant UN-hospitality to the trans community, who did not stay in the dorms with the other women. The book was there to hear a leader in VAMP quote one of my new favorite quotes, speaking specifically to sex workers' movements coming to the traditional women's movement, but with broad applicability: "We are here in solidarity and discomfort."
The book traveled across the Ganga river, profoundly sacred in Hinduism. The Ganga River that is prayed to and bathed in. The Ganga where clothes are washed and animals washed and people washed. The Ganga where people send their dead bodies, their corpses or ashes, as well as their small prayer lamps. The Ganga that is religiously pure, but ecologically/environmentally downright septic, according to my roommate. The Ganga where a woman's torso floated by me, as though that were just a thing to happen, in a small boat on a river at night, tourists and devoutees and dead bodies and dolphins.
Rachael, thank you for sharing with me your book. I tried to take it on some good trips. It tried to take me on some good trips, too.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Procrastination and accountability

So....I was thinking, and was about to post a plea for help on the blog about how to stop procrastinating. Then I realized that doing so would also be procrastinating. So, I went and did three of the things that I've been successfully and quite unreasonably avoiding for a couple of days.

Thanks for somehow unknowingly and over the internet helping to hold me accountable!!


Thursday, September 14, 2006


So, today my friend Steve emailed me, telling me that when he was going to be in Chicago, so that we could get our puppets together.

I told him I might not be able to make it, because I have something else scheduled.

Here's the thing:
the other thing scheduled is ANOTHER puppet play date.

My life is awesome. Proof.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Whenever I mention that my current employment-- various restaurant jobs-- is not as spiritually fulfilling as my previous employment-- Director of Christian Education-- I'm always careful to allow for this current job to have some spirituality inherent in it. I intentionally have been saying "less" instead of "not at all".

Well, I've finally identified proof of the Spirit in my restaurant work. Like Jesus, I am being a servant. I carry the food. I clean the tables. I get people's half-drunk beverages accidentally poured down my collar when I carry stacks of glasses back to the kitchen. Sauces mess up my white button-up shirt. I get on my knees to reach the crack in the cushions of the booths where food gets stuck. This was all fairly boring until I realized that it puts me in a position worth meditating upon: servanthood.

As evidenced by my defensive reactions to not being perfect at the jobs I'm currently being trained in, I need to learn some humility.

the lessons you have hidden in gladiolas

One of my dissapointments with my current employment is their lack for need for me to create anything beautiful. They don't want me to decorate a bulletin board, create a flier, design a craft project, or put stickers on mailings.

The one opportunity for some creativity is the gladiolas.

Mama Romano's favorite flowers are displayed in two wooden bucket-looking vases on islands in between the tables and booths at Romano's Macaroni Grill. Inside the bucket is a clear plastic disc with holes for all the flowers to go through so they are evenly spaced.

Sometimes I get to go back into the kitchen, take flowers out of the box they're shipped in, cut off the bottoms, trim the tops, and arrange them. It's not REALLY arranging since the holes in the discs leave few options, but still, I am interacting with something that's there just because it's beautiful.

Sometimes I meditate on the artificialness of taking cut flowers out of a box that were probably grown in a human-monitored environment, and putting them in a vase where sunlight will never reach them. Or on the fact that they're already dead and will just get deader, or on the fact that I must snap the tips off-- the little flowers-to-be that will never bloom because we already cut them off from their source of nutrition and life, and that because of us they will never bloom. Not only will they never bloom, we remove their non-bloomingness from our must-be-blooming arrangement.

But the other day I meditated on something else instead. These flowers have been through a lot. They have put in a lot of effort to grow from a tiny seed into a sturdy green stalk budding with gorgeous white flowers. They have been cut off at the base, packaged in newspaper, and jostled around in a box. They are being trimmed yet again. Despite all this, they are prevailing. They manage to blossom forth in an unfamiliar environment despite somewhat harsh treatment. Instead of exacting vengeance by refusing to bloom, they Grace-fully share their beauty with anyone who cares to notice. They bloom, even where they aren't planted. These flowers don't seem angry. They seem forgivingly and regretlessly alive.

I've been praying this prayer,

O Great Spirit
whose voice we hear in the winds,
and whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear us.
We come before you as your children.
We are small and weak; we need your strength and wisdom.
Let us walk in beauty and make our eyes ever behold the red and purple sunsets.
May our hands respect the things you have made, our ears be sharp to hear your voice.
Make us wise, so that we may know the things you have taught your people,
the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
We seek strength not to be superior to our brothers and sisters,
but to live in harmony with ourselves and all of your creation.
Help us to be ever ready to come to you, so when life fades as a fading sunset,
our spirits may come to you without shame. Amen.

50 cents, a left turn, and an olive-green creeper

The other day I was feeling sick but I wanted to venture out anyway to buy fabric for a quilt I'm working on (it was my day off). There was a lot of traffic, it was really hot, and I thought that by drinking water just before I left I could get away without bringing a water bottle along (being sick made me tired and therefore lazy). Not so. Pretty soon I was feeling miserable and really needed something to drink. I parked and stood at the corner waiting for the crosswalk light to turn on and thought how ugly all that concrete and car exhaust and traffic looked, and felt pretty depressed about the human race. I crossed the street. I searched the little plaza for anywhere that would sell drinkables, and saw a sign above the flower shop advertizing chocolate and wine. That was my best, if long, shot. Inside a woman was happy to show me their various canned sodas. I picked strawberry lemonade. She asked for fifty cents. I said I just had a credit card. She said they had a minimum purchase rule. I asked how much it was, thinking I could buy some flowers or something. But she said, "oh, just take it. it's on me! no problem" she added in response to my thanks. my throat was saved!!! I went next door to The Quilt Crossing and bought fabric. The ladies were very helpful. After getting back to the car, I headed toward the exit. Another car was in front of me, looking for a break in the four lane traffic to turn left, same direction I was headed. The traffic started backing up behind a stopsign but a car approaching from the left stopped before us and waved us-- both of us-- through.

After receiving these small acts of kindness from strangers, I wasn't feeling so depressed.

Next time I went back to The Quilt Crossing and waited for the walk sign at the corner, I noticed that, in the dirt next to a fire hydrant surrounded by grey concrete, a tenacious plant was growing and thriving.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

So here's what we'll do, David

Okay, David, so here's what we'll do.

We're going to get a bunch of brilliant people. And then we'll have them teach classes to other really smart people. From a huge variety of traditions and backgrounds.

And also this: all these people are going to be focused on theorizing about and working on the exact context that you are most interested in. And all of their brilliance will be focused into finding ways to more effectively work in the context in which you want to work.

I like it here.


dream interpreters?

I dreamt two nights ago (two mornings ago) that my middle-school scoutmaster was driving me somewhere, and I made him stop because I saw two boys on the side of the road, and one of them was beating the other with a flail. He finally agreed to stop, and I ran over and snatched the flail from the boy. This kid was really, really evil, and so was his friend, and they danced around me, and told me that even if I could take their flail away, I couldn't get them to take the mime out of their box. I now saw that the box that the flailed boy had been leaning over was indeed big enough to fit a mime, a la the gimp in pulp fiction. I called out to the box "If you're in there, make some noise!" because I didn't believe the evil boys. The box moved. I tried to convince the boys to let the mime out, whom they had taken prisoner some time ago. I wrote them a check for twenty dollars as an attempt to ransom the mime. They would have none of it, but someone who might have been my friend Gracie showed up. Finally, sick of it, I tore the lid off the box with my bare hands, and a grateful mime achingly climbed out. He thanked me (even though he didn't talk, I suppose still faithful to his mime-ness.) As me and the mime were about to get the hell out of there, I noticed that the person who might have been Gracie was standing by the box. The boy were trying to convince her to get in, and I called to her, but slowly realized that I wouldn't be able to stop them from trapping Gracie in the box.

Then I woke up.

I don't know what this dream is all about, but it's the scariest one I've had in recent memory. I don't often have nightmares, at least ones I remember, and this one was striking and disturbing. Maybe it's about the whole "you can't save them all" thing, or about frustration about the sheer amount of evil in the world, or something.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

first day. And, world can't wait.

Today's my first day of seminary, so keep me in your prayers. I just had my first course, which is called "The Parables in Preaching and Teaching", and it looks like it's going to be really good. We're talking about parable as a subversive genre, so that the stories are not just subversive in their content, but also their form. We're going to be doing some classroom presentations that are limited to five minutes in order to get a handle on the power-in-brevity that the parables offer. There's only about ten folks in the class, and I'm the only first-year, first-degree program.

It's also, of course, really igniting the storyteller side of me. Naturally. I'm really glad to be here.


On Sunday afternoon I stopped by the big, main branch of the Chicago public library, named after Harold Washington, on my way to church. A woman stopped me on the street, and I thought she was going to ask me for change (as do 90% of the people who stop me on the street) but instead she gave me a flyer for October's 'World Can't Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime' march and day of actions.

Now, I think that driving out the Bush regime is a worthy goal, but looking at that flyer made me just feel exhausted. After spending hours and hours to organize Obies to DC last September, the last thing I want to do this September is help to organize another big march or rally. I'm getting frustrated looking for actions that will actually help end the war in Iraq. But, on the other hand, if everybody thinks like me, and no one shows up to the Anti-War march, then everyone will assume there is no anti-war movement.

Plus, I'm pretty sure that the World Can't Wait campaign is spear-headed by the Revolutionary Communist Party, and I've never had much fun with those guys. I want a revolution in my methods, I guess.



Monday, August 28, 2006

a paragraph from emily, why hyde park seems like a good place to live, etc.

from an emily jones email:
"I will never forget my early experiences in this village. A man had died of AIDS, but no one wanted to touch his body, not even his relatives. I went to his house and helped to carry the body...My own parents used to ask me: why are you doing all this? But now they understand. I lifted his body to show that we need to believe in humanity." (Mahipathi Ballal, social worker) (VAMP, 51).

Also: I was walking to seminary one morning, and I passed two boys, who were maybe eleven years old. They were arguing about something. Now, when I was 11, I mostly argued about whether Captain America could beat Batman in a fight. (He could, provided Batman didn't have time to plan. If Batman had time to plan, he could beat anybody.) However, as I approached these kids, it became obvious that they were arguing about what counted as Germanic. ("No, dude, Norse is Swedish!" "Swedish counts as Germanic!") I think I'm going to like living in Hyde Park.

I got to go see Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind last night. Anyone who comes to visit me in Chicago on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, gets a free trip to this show with me. It's thirty plays in sixty minutes, and one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Being able to see it more often was a big part of why I chose Chicago.

Also: My fall courses are going to be: "People of Faith and Israel I" (aka Old Testament), "History of Christian Thought I", "Introduction to Pastoral Care", and "Preaching and Teaching with the Parables." I'm excited. Classes start in about a week.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


It's a hard thing; this having roots in two communities. (Lancaster and Oberlin) And of course, within these two communities, there are many smaller ones. It's interesting to be in Lancaster again...I like it. So that's good, but I'm not so sure where I fit here now, because I haven't been around much the past two years; I'm here now, but I won't be for long! I'm also worried about entering a new community in Guatemala. If I'm having trouble adjusting to having roots in two communities, what will happen when I have a third one?!

I guess I'm confused about how I'm supposed to be fully present where I one place, while also retaining some sort of meaningful connection to the other people and places I care about. Do I have to let things go? If so, which things? I can't just keep going through life adding more communities (to keep in touch with) to the ones I've already spent time with, can I? That would be exhausting! But it feels daunting as well to pick a place to stay for a decade or two or three....Because that would mean choosing. Committing to one place over another, and focusing on life there. Maybe at this point in my life it feels limiting, but later it will feel okay.

This post started as a paragraph in an e-mail to Steve, but then got expanded as I thought about it more. I was reminiscing this morning with a couple of church friends about things that happened at church like 10 or 12 years ago (I can't believe I'm old enough to talk about something that was over 10 years ago!) so I was thinking about how my two homes feel very much like different worlds, even though there are many similarities between them!


Saturday, August 26, 2006

two anecdotes...

Emily, no need to apologize!

Rachael, I'm beginning to understand how you kept picking up babysitting jobs! After a month of babysitting for my two cousins, I've picked up occasional babysitting for their friends that live down the street, and also a short term piano student. My 6 and 9 year old cousins have quite the social network going on. Last night another neighbor family hosted an outdoor movie projected onto a sheet hung on the wall of the house for 15-20 kids and some assorted parents.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking from the parking lot across the street to my house, and I saw two little boys playing on the porch of one of the houses on my block. They had a bouncy ball, and a bucket. One little boy threw the ball, and the other caught it in the bucket. They were having fun. I love it when kids are resourceful!

Blog misuse.

Blogs, David says, are good for short and interesting anecdotes.

Instead, my blog is an apology and an announcement.

I'm sorry I'm a bad blogger.

But I've sent you (you the people on this blog, not you the people in the world who may be reading this blog but aren't David, Rachael and Beth) mail! By slow international post, because of not having internet where I live. (If you, other people who read this blog, want a postcard on theology and the left and my personal angst, send me your address and I'll try to oblige.)

Happy work and school and rest!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

CTS Orientation

The pre-orientation retreat for Chicago Theological Seminary consists of all the first-year students describing their faith journeys.

It is the best thing ever.

Also, from an email from Emily:

"Yesterday, some kids tried to sell me Femina (like Vanity Fair plus People in India), then Maxim, then Good Housekeeping, then a Business and Economics journal. I didn't buy any. I'm pretty sure they couldn't speak English (all the magazines were in English) and I sort of doubt if they were able to read (given the general literacy of kids who have to do street selling/begging). I found the combination of the things they were selling me and the dynamics of me the potential buyer them the potential seller and the alienated text really... interesting."

Monday, August 21, 2006

American Bible Society

So, I went to my friend Ruth's house last night and watched the movie Chocolat. It was great.

She showed me a letter she had gotten from the American Bible Society. They sent her a letter and a very badly produced full size cloth American flag! The letter, along with the flag, was supposed to prompt her to donate money to the ABS to buy New Testaments for US Soldiers in Iraq.

I read the letter and started hitting myself in the was so awful. It wasn't just straight propaganda (i.e.-it's patriotic and Christian to support our country, our troops and our role in the war) but schmultzy and melodramatic propaganda. Imagine; fundraising appeal + altar call + soap opera.

Is there any way to get churches to stop buying into empire?!!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Imago Dei

Steve Hammond just announced a lovely redesign of the Peace Community Church website. My favorite part are the great photos there, and seeing them inspired me to post some of my own PCC shots from the past couple years.

Also, I am a) really excited to be hooked up to high speed internet
and b) drunk with power over discovering that my picture editting software interfaces with my blogging site via one button. Google: completely able to take over the world whenever they feel like it.

Anyway, here's the photos. I promise that's the last for today.


hilarious signage

Near our hotel, my mom and I saw a carwash. The sign had the message:

"Horses dislike the French."

Also, I saw this at Peace Camp:

summer photos from David

In no particular order:

Rachael at Craters of the Moon National Park. This was where the volcanic activity that is now under Yellowstone last erupted.

Me and Pancake McPancake (my sock puppet friend) at Yellowstone. My new Facebook photo, naturally. (Photo by Rachael E. Wylie.)

Rachael and her sister Sarah photograph a meadow simultaneously.

There were many pro's and con's of traveling Yellowstone in an RV. It was only kind of like being camping, but I got to see these guys!

Caleb, Steve, and Mary watch Carrie come down the aisle. So sweet!

Rachael and Beauty Pool, a hot spring at Yellowstone. (Rachael is the one on the left.)

I know, this looks like I've been playing with the color filters again. Yes, this is a shot of some guy in the Detroit Airport, but it's completely uneditted! The Detroit Airport has the coolest basement hallway ever! The changing lights and colors were accompanied by changing sounds. It was like being inside a Timara project, except that people were walking around with luggage. Scratch that, it was exactly like being in a Timara project. (TIMARA- Oberlin program: Technology In Music And Related Arts.)

I didn't find any coffee shops open past eight in Warren, but I did find this cool building.

(published using the free high speed internet in the hotel that my mom and I stopped at on the way to Chicago.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

farewell to an old friend

In the spring of my senior year of high school, I got an internship with a social services agency in Fredonia, which was about a half hour drive from my high school. It was a great gig, and I could get course credit for it, but in order to get there I needed a car.
So, my dad and I went to some dealers, (we didn't know anything about cars, but we looked under the hood and kicked the tires anyway) and wound up with a shiny green '99 neon. I immediately named him Rocinante, after John Steinbeck's pick-up in Travels with Charley, and Don Quixote's horse. Rocinante and I soon became fast friends. I decided that since I knew nothing about automobiles, I would shower him with love and affection in return for his continued operation. This worked suprisingly well, as when various problems arose and then promptly fixed themselves.
We had many fine adventures: spending a cold, cold, icy January driving around Buffalo, going on the best road trip ever with Digger, ferrying around various significant others, ferrying around my dog, going to and from Oberlin loaded with my worldy possessions, and much more. Recently, we carried some wood from the Oberlin College Arb to my friend Mooch's house, where it was to be lashed into a table. We drove to protests and job interviews and dates and retreats. Through five years of my life, Rocinante was my stalwart companion. His beautiful rear-end slowly became decorated with a half dozen bumper stickers, from "Priestly People Come in Both Sexes" to "Field of Dreams- Dyersville Iowa".

One of the reasons I chose Chicago for grad school is that it meant I wouldn't need a car. I don't really like having a car, as it is a lot of cost and hassle, and is bad for the environment.
However, I do like Rocinante. And today I peeled off all the bumpers stickers, and took the books and gear and recyclables out of his trunk. I suppose it was a fitting ceremony of leaving behind part of my life to begin this new journey.
But I'll miss him.


PS- Anybody want to buy a neon?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

august thoughts are a couple of comments all rolled up into one post.

I now have exactly two months until I begin orientation with Mennonite Central Committee (October 17). The orientation will take place pretty close to my home (about 25 minutes away) and will last about 2 weeks. I'll leave for Guatemala right after that, so end of October/beginning of November.

It was lovely for Rachael to visit Lancaster after the wedding that we attended in Oberlin. I drove her to the airport in Philly yesterday, and would like to share a scene from my trip back to Lancaster that relates to Emily's Globalization post. So, as I was nearing Lancaster, I noticed some protesters along the side of the road (picture a two lane highway with lots of restaurants and stores along the way) They were holding signs, and had flags wrapped around, and a couple were wearing masks or other satirical outfits. Typical left-wing protest. There were other people just lined up on the sides of the road. Then I remembered that President Bush was speaking at a hotel right around that area, in the afternoon to drum up support for the PA Republican gubernatorial candidate.

I drive another minute or so, and get to the "Bookworm Frolic" (a big outdoor book sale) at the Mennonite Historical Society. So, I decide to stop, look at some books, and see what the scene is like in preparation for Bush's arrival. There are police cars lined up, and I find out that Bush is landing in a helicopter on a field owned by the local Mennonite High School. (Apparently, people at my parent's workplace called the principal of the school to express their outrage that he allowed Bush to land there!) Anyway, so he was supposed to be driving right by the book sale to get down the road to the hotel. There was a strange mix of people looking for books, people lined up on the sides of the road to see the president, people waiting to see the president, but looking at books because they were bored, and protesters! Among the people lined up waiting to see the president was an Amish family, drinking Starbucks iced drinks.

An interesting scene. I'm not sure that it actually comments on globalization, but there's an interesting juxtaposition of lifestyle choices present in the group of Amish people involving themselves in politics enough to want to see the president, and involving themselves in the capitalist society enough that buying drinks from Starbucks is okay, even while retaining very specific ways of dressing and living simply.

Plus, it makes me mad that the president can fly in and out of places, while only having to be on an actual road for 3 minutes. Can you imagine what an inaccurate picture of the country you would get? Coming to a city like Lancaster, from what I know of his trip, he only saw some fields, a bunch of generic restaurants, some protesters and admirers, the book sale and the hotel. But would he ever go through normal residential neighborhoods of any kind? It seems unlikely.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


So, it turns out I won't be living at the Catholic Worker House in Chicago. They let me know yesterday that they will not, in fact, have room for me. This is a bummer, as they were pretty sure that I would be able to live there, and have told me so since the beginning of July.

A couple days ago I read a book called "what to expect in seminary: theological education and spiritual formation", by virginia cetuk. One of the author's most cogent points, in my mind, was her encouragement of an attitude of hospitality. She proposed that seminarians would do well to confront unexpected hurdles, unfamiliar customs, and new ideas with an attitude of hospitality, rather than one of anger or fear.
I thought it was a good idea. Now I am challenged by it. The turn-around from "that's a good idea" to "this idea is a pain in the ass" was remarkably quick this time. I'm struggling to find a way to be hospitable to this change. Maybe it means that God wants me to live somewhere else, and I am scouring Craig's List for signs of providence. I'm sure I'll live someplace, and it might even be someplace cool, and there are certainly advantages to not living at Su Casa. Namely, I'll be able to be a little more flexible with my time, etc. Still, it's a bummer. I'm just trying to be hospitable towards it.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Globalization is funny...

Last weekend, I went to a protest in re: to the civilian death toll in the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Israel's disproportionate use of force, etc.

And it was strangely familiar. There were people in Bush/Blair/etc. masks carrying a fake coffin. People lying on the streets in symbolic protest. Little kids with homemade "Peace" signs. Talk of turn out. Attempts to read poetry as though people could hear all standing on a street corner in Delhi.

Living amid constant evidence of globalization (coca-cola water and lay's potato chips and shakira played constantly on the radio), it was funny to realize how globalized the small-peace-protest is, as well.


P.S. Beth, when do you leave the country?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

arguing with Al and feeding 5000

I just read and responded to an interesting post by Al Caroll at the PCC blog (!). In theory, it's accessible via this link:

However, I was only able to get to it by going to:, clicking on the "sermons and other interesting stuff" link, and going from there.

The conversation reminded me of something I've been meaning to post here, which came up in church two weeks ago.

So, we were talking and hearing about Jesus feeding the multitude. You know the story: some folks were gathered to listen to Jesus, and Jesus' friends were worried that there wouldn't be enough food to go around. Phillip goes so far as to say, "Jesus, even SIX MONTHS WAGES would not be enough to buy food for all of these people."

It's interesting, because that week, as I was lamenting the overall state of the world, I was thinking about how, you know, even if you work your whole life for justice, and get up every day thinking about "How can I best dismantle empire today?", there's only so much you can do. It's like: "Jesus, even MY WHOLE LIFE'S WORK would not be enough to build the beloved community on earth."

Fortunately, Jesus takes our loaves and fishes. That is, Jesus takes a long, hard look at the stuff we happened to end up with, the skills and passions and habbits and experiences we have. And He sets to work, and before you know it...

I'll close with my favorite line of "The Bible is Totally Literally True", this one composed by lyrical genius Baraka Noel.

"Jesus fed five thousand/ with just some loaves and fishes/ I guess that as a caterer/ He'd be totally vicious."



Friday, August 04, 2006

A few stories...

Just a few quick stories... I'm sorry that I'm such a slow and rare post-er...

The first is about kindness.
Background: I was sick this week.
Having been up for much of the night with a fever and some pretty gross projectile vomiting stuff, a consequence of food poisoning, I think -- having tried to go to work, but turning around after being there only two hours -- I came "home" to my PG (essentially boardinghouse) to lie on the bed in the hall in front of the air cooler and listen to headphones and try to will my fever down while my body was cursing me for this whole Delhi scheme. I was lying there for a little while in half-sleeping self-pity when the woman who cleans the floors and does the dishes (and does lots of other things that I don't see about or know of) put her hand on my head and looked at my with concern. And tried "doctor". To which I responded overly extensively in English (I don't speak Hindi, she speaks only a little English from what I can tell) that I was fine, I'd taken medicine, I didn't want to go to the Doctor, blahblahblah. And she picked up my things and pulled me and my stuff into my room. And cleared my bed of the stuff on it, and lay me down. And tried to find a blanket or heavy shawl to cover me (I don't have one) -- and, failing that effort, piled my laundry on top of me. And she squeezed my arms and legs and rubbed the sides of my head and, having tucked me in, turned out the light and waved and said "Good night."

The second is about David.
Who was present to me (or through whom I felt a presence) a week and a half ago in the form of a monkey who stole the cheese off the table next to mine while we were eating dinner/lunch in Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama lives, sometimes). That was impressive.

The third is about/for/responding to Rachael. See her post and comments.

Also, just as an aside, for me light has always been a primary experience of God. Since I was young. It was even what I wrote my college application essay about. But now that I'm here, where sun has a whole different meaning, breeze has a whole new meaning and maybe wind is taking the place of sunlight for me for this time. That is unexpected.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006


Here are a couple of quotes from a book I just read. It's called Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario. Challenging? I'd say yes.

The book follows a 17 year old Honduran's journey as he attempts to make it to the U.S. to find his mother. His mother had left him and his sister 11 years before to work in the U.S. in order to earn enough money to support her children. Thousands of migrants attempt this journey, riding on the tops and sides of freight trains through Mexico, trying to avoid gangs, bandits, police, not to mention the danger of getting on and off moving trains. Many get deported from Mexico to Guatemala several times before they are able to get close to the U.S. border. Many others die or are severely injured along the way.

The following quotes are from (and about) a priest in a city in Mexico close to the Texas border. His church feeds and clothes migrants, as well as finding them medical treatment and all sorts of other services.

"His focus is one instilled by mentors at the seminary: 'Either we are with the poor, or we are not. God teaches us to most help the poor. Any other interpretation is unacceptable.' To Padre Leo, the people most in need in Nuevo Laredo are migrants. They go for days without food, for months without resting their heads on a pillow; they are defenseless against an onslaught of abuses. He vowed to restore a bit of their dignity."

"He tells church members that they, too, were once migrants. Saint Joseph was a migrant. The Bible was written by migrants. Running off a migrant, he says is like turning against yourself. A person must be more than spiritual, he tells them. They must act. 'Some people read the Bible and fall asleep,' says Padre Leo. 'For me, it was a jolt. The worst thing as a Christian is to go through life asleep.'"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I agree

Yes, let's get a better defining moment. I was talking to some friends about how whole nations stop and watch world cup games when they happen; so the cities are completely quiet and stopped during the games (because everyone is watching) and then when they win, all of a sudden everyone's outside celebrating and it's loud and noisy and everyone's involved. We were trying to think of a sport that would cause that kind of reaction across the U.S., but failed. Is there not much that brings people together in the U.S.?

My point is, it seems that for something to be of concern to enough people to be defining of a generation in this country, it has to involve violence or horror. What kinds of amazing things would really make our generation sit up and take notice??? Maybe a defining moment could be something that moved us to action. Or a moment where we solved (or began to solve) a problem like global warming or injustice against LGBT people or people in poverty.

I wish I could think of something that would excite a much broader population. I seem to be gearing my defining moments towards liberal democrats.

As of now, I'm in for 2010. Let's not limit ourselves to any one country.....


Friday, July 28, 2006


I was watching the Daily Show with my mom a couple days ago. And there was this ad for a 9/11 movie. The tagline was "Every generation has a defining moment. This was ours."

Now, clearly, since I was watching the daily show, the narrator meant our generation. (I might have assumed something different if I was watching the Price is Right, or Pro Golf.) This leads to my point:

I don't want September 11 to be the defining moment of our generation.

Can we get a better one?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

rage and outrage

This is a response to Emily's post. It is a quotation from Sue Monk Kidd's "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter", her spiritual memoir. The book is the story of her feminist spiritual awakening. The quotation below had a heading: "Transfiguring Anger", and regards her anger at patriarchal structures that wound women.

page 186-187
"By transfiguring anger, I don't mean that we wave a placating wand and poof! anger disappears. Nor do I mean that anger is turned into sweet resignation. By healing or transfiguring it, I mean to imply, in Clarissa Pinkola Estés's words, that anger becomes "a fire that cooks things rather than a fire of conflagration." A conflagration may embolden and impassion you for a while, but if you get stuck in it, it can burn you up. A fire that cooks things, however, can feed you and a whole lot of other people...
...The transfiguration of anger is a movement from rage to outrage. Rage implies an internalized emotion, a tempest within. Rage, or what might be called untransfigured anger, can become a calcified bitterness. What rage wants and needs is to move outward toward positive social purpose, to become a creative force or energy that changes the conditions that created it. It needs to become out-rage.
Outrage is love's wild and unacknowledged sister...She is the one grappling with her life, reconfiguring it, struggling to find liberating ways of relating..."


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

fellow student

I recieved an email forwarded from a fellow CTS student. Here is the information that follows her signature:

Fifth Degree Black Belt Four Time World Karate Champion
Ordained Minister Ornament Artist Certified Public Accountant
2005 U.S. Martial Arts Association Illinois Tae Kwon Do Instructor of the Year.

Grad school is going to be awesome!

cinematic genius (Rene el Rana, in spanish)

When I'm in the mood for cinematic genius, I turn to one place, and one place only. Namely, the muppets.

My mom and I watched the Muppets Take Manhattan. Kermit's and his friends have to seperate after graduating from college, (who knew?) but they get back together when their musical is produced on Broadway. Also, fanning out throughout the country (Scooter in Cleveland, naturally) gives them the extra dogs, bears, and whatevers to add the one thing that the script was missing to the show, namely, lots of dogs, bears, and whatevers.

To touch on what seems to be a continuing theme of random media mirroring my life, I think we have something to learn from Kermit. I mean, clearly, we have a lot to learn from Kermit, but this is a particular plan. Let's just all go and do our stuff, you know, the work we're called to or whatever, and that'll be really cool. And it will be so cool that it will probably intersect with the other things that our friends are doing, and those who have long been seperated from us by field or geography, will naturally have to come and live in the same community as us. Or at least work in the same "community." Kermit stood on top of the Empire State Building, and swore to the city of New York that he would get the show produced, so that he could get the gang back together.

This seems like a good plan. I've got a good feeling that at the very least the four co-writers of this blog will all live in the same place. And we'll bring with us all the other frogs and bears and dogs and whatevers that we have met in-between.

2010, anybody?


ps- In other news, i hung up a bunch of old keith haring prints on my wall. My room in Warren is now approximately 34,000 times better than it was before.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

India's censorship of blogs and implications for Emily

So, in a bizarre twist of world politics, Emily might not be able to read this blog anymore. I'm not sure whether or not she'll be able to post to it. I will email her and offer to post anything from her here.

Here's the story from


Monday, July 17, 2006

hi from Lancaster

Emily! It's good to hear from you.

I'm sprawled out on the big spinny chair in the office at my house in Lancaster, doing internet things at a much slower pace than usual:) However, I just installed Firefox which makes a gigantic improvement. Out the window is our neighbor's bright red garage (picture a small barn) with what looks like a wagon wheel with a Puerto Rican flag on the front above the doors. The rest of what I can see out the window from my present position are tall trees.

It's good to be here. I'm still feeling kind of overwhelmed, but in a really good emotional/spiritual place after the church service and potluck lunch yesterday.

I found a Lancaster Coalition for Peace and Justice NEWSPAPER laying around the house. I don't think this group has been around for more than a couple of years (I might be wrong...) but it was really incredible to see that there's a peace group around that's established enough to publish things! Let's keep praying for the people and nations that have been struck with such violence during the past several weeks.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


See news article about Mumbai train bombing.

Prayers for peace and healing, please.

An overdue hello...

Hey folks,

I'm writing this from an internet cafe in Delhi (Lajpat Nagar, if that has meaning for you). Although this particular internet cafe is just one computer big.

A brief update: I work for an NGO; I live in a guesthouse; I eat a lot of mangos; I'm here for a couple months (tbd, precisely).

Now for some quick notes on my living here --
Traffic. There's a lot of it. It consists of people walking and autorickshaws (like a fancy three-wheeled golf-cart taxi) and bicycle rickshaws and motorbikes and regular bikes and cows and buses and cars and other assorted odds and ends. It's funny how quickly a person adjusts; I'm already used to the cows.
NGOs. I like them. I arrived at the NGO where I now intern only 7 hours after getting to Delhi (due to missed connections and the like) and was really pleasantly surprised to realize that I can sit down and start reading through materials about HIV/AIDS prevention and adolescent sexuality education and gender equity and feel right at home, even on the other side of the world. There's an international NGO-speak language, which I happily realized I'm somewhat proficient in speaking -- which is a big plus given that I don't speak Hindi or any of the other dozens and hundreds of Indian languages.
People. They're nice. Really, I've been overwhelmed with hospitality since coming here. In part by long-term Delhi residents and in part by others in the short-medium term migratory community of ex-pats and foreigners and (mostly) people from other states in India.
Streets. Streets are crowded and hectic and full of fruit and vegetables and small shops and piles of rubbish and animals and people. However, they are conspicuously missing the usual number of women. There are mostly men on the streets of Delhi. I didn't realize how much I rely on seeing other women on the street in my Delhi interactions.
Weather. Thankfully, the monsoon started on Sunday breaking a truly unbearable week and a half of unmitigated heat. Yay, rain!

Moving on from the obligatory part...

This is a place to make me think. And a place for me to try and learn how to do something good with my anger. To let it move things rather than choke things. I haven't figured that out yet.

A thing to think on: .7% of women aged 15-24 in India are HIV+ ( and .3% of the same group of men) I discovered in my reading on Monday. There has been a tremendous wave of farmer suicides due to crop failure and mounting debt and the selling of seeds. I will keep updating in these areas, regularly. Particularly the former as that's the area of my research where I work.

There is a place for rage.

Also, there are monkeys that hang out outside the entrance to the B'hai Lotus Temple gardens. This is something David (in search of Hanuman) might be interested to know. There are fabulous, endless mangoes. There are people ready to extend kindness to strangers (those people themselves strangers of different kinds).

There is a place also for something of wonder and awe.

I will update more, later.

Friday, July 07, 2006

what we bring/ showing up

A melody and some words came to me on my way to church a couple of months ago. I wrote some more during the sermon and sang it a couple weeks ago, at my commissioning service at PCC.

Someone in the congregation asked for the lyrics, and since I had to type them up to email them, I figured I would post them here. They don't rhyme or anything fancy like that, and it's just the same melody over and over again. But I think it has some good lines. It's not the greatest song, but it's good enough for church.

chords: D D/ A D/ D D/ G A

some of us are tired
some of us are lonely
all of us are broken
from the weather of the world

this is what we bring
what we bring to Jesus
this is what we carry
when we show up at the church.

we show up with our eyes open
could this be the season?
could this random bunch of people
be a shelter or a home?

we show up with our bleeding
for twelve long bloody years
interrogate our heart strings
dance us back to here

so pray for my bleeding
and i'll pray for your mourning
and together we will pray
for the people of the world


could these questionable people
be the means of my deliverance?
could this dusty bunch of pilgrims
be the body of the Christ?

we can't stop the process
of transubstantiation
when we show up Sunday morning
we become the risen Lord.

the ceiling's losing plaster
by the big round stained-glass window
the staircases are ugly
but that won't stop my Lord.


what if I don't like the way
that the man up there is preaching?
how can this be the body,
when I'm not welcome here?

Look at the institutions
that claim the name of Jesus
when they leave out the outcast
they crucify the Christ

so you citizens of heaven
open up your churches
stand back from the barred door
something's breaking through


we show up for the work
we show up for the resting
we show up to meet our Jesus
in the breaking of the bread

what kind of mission is this
that pits us against empire?
throwing in our prayers
to stop the works of war.

can this be such a place,
for the Easter incarnation?
amidst our stupid broken-ness,
you say "yes, yes, yes!"


so show up with your doubts
with your pains and your frustration
if you show up with your hunger
you can stay for lunch (stay for lunch.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

By the way, I graduated.

This Day and days to come

I spent most of yesterday reading about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker, in an anthology of essays editted by William Thorn, Phillip Runkin, and Susan Mountin. A lot of her ideas and methods really appeal to me, speaking of concensus process. She and the co-founder of Catholic worker, Peter Maurin, developed these really exciting communities build on personalism, which was basically an adaptation of anarchism. No centralized structure, no party line, decisions by concensus and local autonomy... it's downright Baptist! (Recognizing that I use Baptist in the historical sense...) But she also had a really interesting relationship with the church, sometimes taking mass and protesting at the same cathedral. This book was particularly interesting for the range of uses the writers called Day out to support- some Catholic workers raged against others for not being authentically Catholic, and opposing the church, and other writers wrote as if it was against the spirit of the Catholic worker to not oppose the church. Both were true of Day's life. This kind of radical orthodoxy might be reflected in my own life, and my own attitudes to towards the church. A powerful love that recognizes the need for, and demands, appropriate reform and transformation... Perhaps this is something to aspire to. I look forward to learning more about the Catholic Worker movement.
I also learned that the house I'm applying to live in (in Chicago) is different from most houses, or at least most houses before Day's death in 1980, in that it is incorporated as a 501-C3 non-profit. Most Catholic Worker houses rejected this status as too close an alignment with an imperialist, militaristic, and capitalist government, and the accompanying evils. Many Catholic Workers also refused to take interest on any money in savings, seeing interest as usury and condemned by God. I don't know if I'm ready to ask my bank to stop compounding interest on my savings...
A few good lines that I copied down: the first is a quotation from Candinal Emmanuel Suhurd of Paris, that Day inscribed in her journal: "To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda or even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery; it means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist."
The second is a line from Day's work, explaining what Peter Maurin was like. "Peter made you feel a sense of his mission as soon as you met him. He did not begin by tearing down, or by painting so intense a picture of misery and injustice that you burned to change the world. Instead, he aroused in you a sense of your own capacity for work, for accomplishment. He made you feel that you and all men had great and generous hearts with which to love God. If you once recognized this fact in yourself you would expect and find it in others."

My kind of method. I feel like I could basically live the rest of my life in Chicago, and among Catholic Workers, if I wanted to. Not that I want to right now, just that there's enough stuff to learn and do there, that I could without being bored.

I hope I get into the house in Chicago.


two take-overs

I spent most of Monday reading about the conservative resurgence/ fundamentalist take-over in the Southern Baptist Convention, from 1979-1991 or so. The book I read is called "The New Crusades, the New Holy Land", by David Morgan, and it was very detailed if a little dry. It got me thinking about how this should apply to my own work with churches and other organizations. I think it's important to think about how one's organization might be "taken over" or "reappropriated" by those who disagree with the existing membership, or at least the existing leadership.
Basically, the SBC was taken over by a growing group of fundamentalists rallying around the issue of Biblical Inerrancy. (Wow! A Protestant denomination arguing over something other than sex!) Other issues played into it, but the litmus test for loyalty and support from this block of fundamentalists was whether you were willing to sign on to their idea of inerrancy. There were some possibly sketchy elections of national leaders at general conventions, but it was basically just a slow build of power, and forcing "liberals" (actually, non-fundamentalist conservatives, or even charismatics) off of agency boards and seminary faculties. Such an action is especially ironic in a Baptist body, which in theory has no centralized organization. However, what little was there was appropriated to the ends of those who would "regain control from liberals."
It brought to mind a story I heard about another take-over. Some years ago, there was a pretty active college republicans group at Oberlin. There's one now, but it just re-started this year, and had not been active since before I got here previously. Supposedly, the reason for this lull is that one year, the OC Republicans announced they were going to be holding elections at their next meeting. About five republicans showed up, and so did twenty-some members of Socialist Alternative. The SA members voted themselves into power, then promptly transferred the Republicans' budget to their own organization.
Now, I don't know how true that story is, but it has at least the possibility of truth. It's also kind of hilarious. Thinking about these two stories made me think about take-overs- is it important for organizations to think about how easily they could be taken over?
All of this points, I'm afraid, to the importance of knowing the bylaws of your organization. The fundamentalist SBC block had some folks that would pore over the bylaws for hours, strategizing. The Socialist Alternative folks took advantage of a weak spot in the structure and bylaws of the OC Republicans, and for all I know this weak spot has not yet been patched. In addition to making me worried for the ABC and the National Council of Churches, whose best moderate parliamentarian passed away this year, it makes me think about systems of government.
It makes me even gladder than I was that Peace Community Church, my church in Oberlin, is run by concensus. Concensus takes a long time to build, but this slowness can work against small groups that hope to over-run the established methods and practices of the existing body. I can see this back-firing, and working against justice, when a few hold-outs block the body from taking important action. But remembering these take-overs certainly makes me reflect on another piece of the usefulness of concensus.

It would also be interesting to think about the theological/ecclesiological implications of a chruch being "taken over", but that's for another day, and maybe for another person...