Monday, July 31, 2006

Asleep

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.....

-Beth

Friday, July 28, 2006

defining

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 Est├ęs'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..."

Love,
Rachael

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?

David

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 boingboing.net:

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/07/18/update_on_india_cens.html

David

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

Prayers...

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

chorus:
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

chorus

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.

chorus

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

chorus

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!"

chorus

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.

David

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...

Monday, July 03, 2006

coming attractions for the nerdly

Here are some things that I am thinking about/ want to research sooner of later.

1. Non-geographic church affiliations. My Baptist church in Oberlin is a member of the Rochester region, mostly because we got kicked out of our local association for our views on including GLBT folks in the full life of the church. (Hint: we're for it.) I'm interested in looking at the history of other non-geographic regions and bodies, and seeing if any of that can inform Baptist life these days, which is seeing more and more of this non-geographic alignment stuff. I'd like to see how the old segregated Central Methodist Jurisdiction operated in a non-geographic space, and also how ethnic groups like the UCC's Calvin synod operate.

2. Both Anabaptist theologians and post-colonial theologians have written about the necessity of reading the gospel and the Bible in its context of empire, and the importance of framing Jesus as an enemy of empire. (And perhaps of seeing the contemporary church as called to oppose empire.) I would be interested to see how these multiple discussions of empire differ and over-lap. What do the mennonites and the po-co's have to say to each other? Are there any po-co anabaptists running around? I would be relatively surprised if no one's done this work already, but if they have, I haven't heard about it. Let's get some John Howard Yoder in dialogue with Kwok Pui-Lan or Sugirtharajah.

3. I've been taught to see most oppressive forces, and therefore movements as linked. For example, I can't talk about peace adn non-violence without talking about anti-racism and civil rights work, or at least I think I shouldn't. Lately I've heard a least a couple people around the age of 50 bemoan this kind of linking, or at least the way they play out. One of them complained about the number of different issues represented at a national anti-war demonstration. Another couldn't really see a connection between working for civil rights and working for non-violence. What is this about? And how do we as activists work on all these issues, that are linked, all at once, or properly work on one issue while acknowledging its connections to other oppressions? Anybody?

I'm in Oberlin this week, and resting at Beth's house. I'm spending today in Mudd to learn more about Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker, and the fundamentalist take-over of the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm excited about the prospect of living at a Catholic worker house next year, and I think that reading about the SBC can inform my own actions regarding denominational politics. I want to know enough about it to be able to talk about it with non-Baptists, and draw parallels with contemporary groups, movements, and ecclesiastical structures.

Any ideas or resources on these, let me know.

David

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Eva and the Cascade Mountains



Here is a picture of Eva. I brought her from Oberlin. I had to cut off 8 leaves to fit her on the train, and I took her out of her pot and triple-bagged her roots and the soil around them. Now she's repotted and her new leaf is unfurling!

This picture was taken on the porch of my friend in Seattle. She picked me up from the train in WA and fed me and my aunt picked me up the next day. We drove into the Cascade Mountains for a family reunion. Here are the mountains!

i knitted a dolphin



I knitted a dolphin without using a pattern and gave it to a little girl who named it Fin Fin. It has googly eyes and I was able to make it because of the variety of fancy stiches Bethany Draeger taught me in order to make that stegosaurus! Yay!

(It's about 6 inches long and 2 inches fin to fin)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Thoughts from the month of June

I suppose I haven't been contributing, because I haven't gone anywhere yet, and am just starting to figure out how the communication with friends thing might work after being so close (in a small town) to some of you for five years. So, here's what I've been thinking about!

First, reasons why camping (actually "cabin-ing") with the Peachey's and Parrishes is paradise:

1. Among the parents are a geophysicist who smashes rocks, makes maps and talks about time travel, a librarian whose dissertation is on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement and loves talking about historical utopian societies, two peace and justice advocates; one who does peace education in the Mennonite church, uses bad puns fairly regularly, the other who does womans advocacy in the Mennonite church, has a Master of Divinity degree, and loves to talk about books and President Bush.

2. Among the "children", almost all of whom are over 18 by now, are a music teacher who's getting much better at guitar playing, a tree-and-hiking-without-shoes loving international development major, a pianist and French speaking quilt-maker who's spending a year in France in the fall and a violinist who happens to play and love soccer.

3. All of the aforementioned people generally bring 2 or 3 or more books to the cabin, leaving them lying around everywhere, so that everyone can read any of them, whenever they want. Then, if you have a book you want to talk about you can "present" it to the group, and have a discussion.

4. Hammocks, campfires and s'mores are involved.

5. We saw chipmunks, toads, and baby deer on some amazing hikes. We (the four children) also got lost once, and stuck with our very dubious trail much longer than we should have because of the inadequate map we had. Our resident geologist later pointed out the flaws of this map in great detail.

Second, leaving Oberlin.....:

I'm not sure what I'm thinking about this right now...I'll be ready to go, but I'm not as excited about heading to Guatemala as I was a month or two ago. Maybe because I've had to be so focused here with spending time with friends before they leave. Also, it seems like my job won't really wind down much before I leave-we have this three week tutoring program that finishes my last week here, and so I'm still having to really focus on that, and I have a good amount of reporting left to do on what happened with the tutoring programs the past year.

So, in two weeks, all of the sudden, I'll be done (not because there isn't still work to do at the two organizations I've been working at), but because my committment will be fulfilled. I think it will feel pretty strange.

Once I get home, I want to find some cool stuff to do...ideas of interesting/helpful/cool stuff to do for three months, anyone??