Friday, December 11, 2009

Help One Another

These are devotions I wrote for the third week of Advent based on our worship theme at Peace of The Weary World Rejoices!  I started with the lectionary readings and found it interesting how they inspired me in reverse.

What should we do?
Day 1: Read Luke 3:7–18. Wouldn't we love to have some general outline of what it is we should be doing - to know what exactly is God's will for our lives? In a book I read recently, the heroine is about to embark on an exciting, scary, unknown adventure for which she feels ill-prepared. When she asks advice from a wise woman about what she should do, the woman tells her to simply focus on what's ahead. Maybe that is good advice for all of us. Maybe we shouldn't worry so much about having the right skills at the right time or look back on where we've been or try to plan out ahead the adven- ture of our life, but instead really focus on what's ahead of us. What opportunities to help one another are right in the path of our every day lives. These opportunities may often seem like potholes to avoid or construction zones to detour around until we find the smooth road again, but maybe what we are called to do is to mend the road we are on.

Follow my example.
Day 2: Read Philippians 4:8-9. Paul offers another clue about what we should do to help one another. First, we need to look and find where there is good, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and excellent work being done in the world and think about that. Next, we need to do the things that we have learned, received, heard and seen from people doing this work. That first step may seem like a giant leap for us, but by following the example of another, we can find a measure of comfort that at least someone else has scouted the way ahead.

Always be gentle with others.
Day 3: Read Philippians 4:1-7. One thing you may not expect to encounter when trying to help another is resistance. Sometimes helping another means altering the status quo and that's where help meets passive, active and sometimes even angry resistance. With change, someone is going to have to give something up and even if it is for the greater good, that's not a normal human reaction. In our quick fix, just do it culture, the mantra we've learned is that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." According to Paul, toughness is not going to get the job done, but gentleness, prayer and a thankful heart will bless us with the peace we need to carry on.

God is here to help you.
Day 4: Read Isaiah 12. It's interesting to me that the lectionary reading excludes verse 1 - the one where God is angry. While we don't know why the Psalmist felt God was angry with him, we can hear his relief and joy as he experienced comfort, strength and salvation from his Lord God. When we find ourselves in need of help, sometimes we may feel that "the world" is against us or that we are victims of circumstance or even that God has abandoned us and yet as Christians we are challenged to trust, to not be afraid and to look for the one in our midst who is here to help us.

I will lead you home.
Day 5: Read Zephaniah 3:14–20. Kelly Fryer writes that "God is on a mission to bless the world and bring it back home - holy and whole." Not only that, but "God wants us to help". If that's true, we've got a big job ahead of us and the truth is we probably won't be around to find out how things turn out. We might not recognize any of the ripples of love left by our acts of kindness, but I guess that's not really the point. We are going to get discouraged, frustrated, angered and saddened by the state of the affairs in the world, but that will be no excuse not to continue following God's way. God designed us with a purpose to help one another and as we struggle to fulfill this purpose, take comfort that God is with us leading us home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

More writing from my dad and me below. I'm so excited it's also posted at Emerging Women.

Today, Sunday the 29th of November, we begin another liturgical year. I once met a don (professor) at Oxford University who scheduled his life according to the church’s calendar: its seasons, its saints’ days, and its liturgical hours. He refused to use or even to acknowledge the more arithmetic 12-month, numbered-day, 24-hour-subdivided Julian calendar that most of us follow. Making an appointment with him was difficult, to say the least.
We don’t need to go to the extreme of that Oxford don, but perhaps we might pay a bit more attention to our distinctive, somewhat countercultural church calendar. There could be some pleasantly surprising gifts awaiting us, such as the peace and perspective offered by the Advent Season – the season of the advent or coming of God. It is a season that places our lives in a cosmic context or, greater still, a framework as large as God herself. We won’t find that in our holiday shopping at WalMart, Macy’s, or even Neiman Marcus. It can’t be bought; it can’t be built. It comes only as a love-motivated and grace-saturated blessing.
Let us pray:
Come among us Mothering God, Mothering Christ, Mothering Spirit. As you gave birth to us as the Alpha, the fertile source and beginning of all, so also embrace us at last as the Omega, the welcoming goal and end of all. Come among us Birthing God, Feeding Christ, Nurturing Spirit.
Amen.
Kim’s response:
My dad wrote this Advent Devotional for the congregation that he and my mother belong to – a mainline denominational church. The thing that struck me was the reference to “God herself”. I have such a gut reaction to that. First, it’s a reaction of – “ahhh, finally”. But then I wonder how much trouble he’ll get in for referring to the mothering nature of God. Finally I wonder why my solution to this quandary has been to keep my God language gender neutral. That definitely feels like a cop out as well, especially in light of the Advent season, a season of expectant waiting and preparation, a season that any mother can relate to as she reflects on the birth of her own child. I am so grateful that my dad has given me the gift of remembering God herself and the wonderful ways in which she has birthed, fed and nurtured me.
Tom Wilkens served for three years as a pastor in Wisconsin and for thirty-one years as a professor of theology at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin. He and his daughter, Kim, have recently co-authored the book, Un-American Activities: Countercultural Themes in Christianity (http://unamericanactivities.blogspot.com).

Friday, November 20, 2009

hello, world

I wanted to be creative today - to write and work on an image for our Advent worship series (the weary world rejoices - please send any ideas on). Instead, I spent my day in hardware hell. First, shelling out bucks to the Sears guy to repair my dryer. He was a really nice guy, too bad his contribution to my day was to add doing mountains of laundry to my list (and I was so enjoying wearing the same pair of jeans all week;)


The rest of the day I did my own tech support on 3 computer systems. One laptop, that has been on my list to refurb for school, needed a new harddrive and then all the drivers loaded to get video, sound and go online. That was my only success today. The wireless adapter on my laptop stopped working and I haven't found any way to recover it. Although I did learn that it is not an uncommon problem with HP Pavilion laptops (beware). I'm also trying to set up a desktop with dual monitor support for use at church and don't you know the graphics card I bought requires an increased power supply. Couldn't the tech guy at Staples have told me that or maybe even some clearly written instructions? No, apparently not. Ugh - I've been bit-slapped!



I don't know when the school is going to see this laptop because right now, it's my connection to the world.


Friday, November 06, 2009

equal justice

What is the great equalizer of humanity? I think I got a glimpse of it in the airport yesterday. I was scoping out the outlet possibilities while I waited for my flight. You'll always find the geeks and business men at the outlets. I sat down next to a business man, who was clearly sending out vibes to not sit there - but there weren't many other options to grab an outlet and frankly I felt I had every right to be there as him - right? He was on his cell phone - typical. But before I knew it, I was drawn into a conversation that shattered my preconceptions.

This white, middle-aged business man just recently learned that his wife had some sort of stroke that day at lunch. His wife is in intensive care, incoherent, facing possible surgery and further complications. As he talks to a doctor, I can feel all his walls crumbling down. He is desperate to find out what is going on and what he needs to do. He is hanging on by a thread, but maintains his composure and uses that business brain he's been training all these years to cover all options, possibilities and outcomes. I was completely drawn into his suffering. As his walls came down, my prejudices about white, middle-aged business men evaporated. We were both just humans then.

When I got on the plane, I started reading a manuscript, Why God? that my friend Bob McAdams asked me to read. Right on the first page, he writes that "when any of us stands facing a reality that is unbearable, we cry out against whatever fate or providence or divine plan or human purpose brought this pain to us ... the intensity of our sorrow opens our hearts to the sorrow of others."

I think that pure love and joy also have this equalizing property, but when speaking of justice issues, we are speaking of suffering. It's in the suffering that we can actually identify with those living in such different circumstances than ourselves. We all know what suffering feels like. We all feel some gut instinct to help our fellow man out of their suffering. We may not know what to say or do, but the instinct is there. It is this instinct that we need to follow into the uncomfortable world of those suffering injustice. It is this instinct that levels the playing field of humanity when we sit next to each other and start to listen.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Book signings this weekend in Texas

Fri night - Hill Country Bookstore in Georgetown.
Sat morning - Texas Lutheran University Bookstore in Seguin.
Hope to see some of my old Texas friends and make some new Texas friends this weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

crazy justice

Crazy, but that's how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe, it's not to late
To learn how to love
And forget how to hate

Mental wounds not healing
Life's a bitter shame
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train
- Ozzy Osbourne
I'm beginning to have some empathy for those U2 fans who love the music, but don't pay much attention to the lyrics. To explain, first I'm going to have to admit that I'm a 'Dancing with the Stars' fan. Not only that, but while I'm watching apparently I have this silly grin on my face - at least that what sources close to me say. Why am I such a fan? It could be my way of imagining my life as a dancer - this dream having been crushed at an early age. Maybe it's the morbid fascination of watching some of these famous people fail like plain, old regular people might fail when they start something new. But the real reason for me is that every season these stars step outside their comfort zone and I get to watch a transformation take place.

But I digress. Last night I saw Kelly Osbourne dance to her dad's song 'Crazy Train'. Now I know I rocked out to that song in my youth, but I'm pretty sure I didn't catch any significance to the lyrics. Without Ozzy and his crazy antics, I heard the lyrics for the first time. Who knew Ozzy Osbourne could sound a prophetic voice in my head? What do his words have to do with justice? Here's what I heard. We live in a conflicted world where suffering somehow coexists with joy. Greed and generosity, apathy and action, denial and forgiveness, despair and hope, addiction and wholeness, hate and love somehow live alongside each other in varying degrees and somewhere between these contradictions injustice is born. As you become aware of justice issues, you become more aware of these contradictions. As Brett Dennen sings, just thinking about this reality is "enough to make you go crazy". If you actually take on the work of doing justice, you are by definition living in the midst of the contradictions. No wonder one can become mentally wounded, fatigued, confused, even ashamed. No wonder others look at those doing justice and suspect they are about to go off the rails and ride the crazy train.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

normal justice

The authors of Justice in the Burbs advise that when you start getting involved with justice issues you can "kiss normal good-bye." What is normal anyway? Is it normal for 1 in 4 college aged women to experience an attempted or a completed rape? Is it normal for half the current homeless population to be made up of families with children? Is it normal for 1 in 5 people to be without health insurance? Is it normal for 1 in 10 people to go to bed hungry in the US. Unfortunately, these things are normal today - that's why they are justice issues. Changing these "norms" means altering the status quo and that's where doing justice meets passive, often active and sometimes angry resistance. With change, someone is going to have to give something up and even if it is for the greater good, that's not a normal human reaction.

Is it normal for Christians to feel passionately about issues of justice and speak out?
The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. - Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963
I'm afraid Christianity in America has lost its passion. It’s become mainstream, selfish, narcissistic, bland, couch-potato, feel good fluff. Core values include promoting creationism, pro-life, heterosexuality and "saving souls." These are good things to promote and I respect those who strongly believe in them…but I don't fit in there. I don't see these as pressing issues in my faith. I need a gut-retching, enduring, bold challenge to seek justice, love, peace, understanding, and tolerance. I need a community where I can be held accountable, not only for my daily actions and prayer life, but for the greater ills of society. The pain and hurts I've caused by compliance, compliance with a world that is inherently broken with systemic injustice. I need something real and tangible. I've just spent three years of my life in a corrupt country with few resources to bring about lasting healing; I need to know it wasn't in vain. I need to know there's still a community willing to take me in and care for me as I rediscover this strange reality of America. - Carol in Philadelphia, 2009
I wish it were normal. I thank God for these voices of justice in my life urging me outward and onward, beyond normal!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Risky Living: The Good Life

I took the opportunity to write devotions for the first week of our new series Risky Living, which I think will be a very justice-oriented series.

This week we focus on the story of the rich man in Mark 10:17-31. Try reading from a variety of translations throughout the week. Many different translations are available at www.biblegateway.com.

Day 1: Read Mark 10:17-31
Consider who you identify with in the story and why. Is it the rich man, searching for something more? Is it the disciples, who are shocked and confused by Jesus’ statement about how hard it is to get into God's kingdom? Is it Peter, who wonders out loud that surely they have already done enough? Or maybe you identify with Jesus, because you have seen or experienced first-hand the iron grip that riches can have over someone's heart.

Day 2: Read Mark 10:17-31 & Matthew 7:7-12
Today; consider the rich man's quest for eternal life. Have you ever thought to yourself; if only I had "fill in the blank", my life would be good? What are you searching for in your life right now - a job, a life partner, a house, a college education, a vacation, a promotion, validation, security, spiritual growth, reconciliation, hope, love?

Day 3: Read Mark 10:17-31 & Genesis 3:9-11
Is there something missing in our make-up that we are looking for to make us whole? Donald Miller, author of Searching for God Knows What suggests that the missing element is our connection to God:
"Man is wired so he gets his glory (his security, his understanding of value, his feeling of purpose, his feeling of rightness with his Maker, his security for eternity) from God and this relationship is so strong, and God’s love so pure, that Adam and Eve felt no insecurity at all... But when that relationship was broken, they knew it instantly. All of their glory, the glory that came from God, was gone... All of the insecurity rises the instant you realize you are alone.
If man was wired so that something outside himself told him who he was, and if God’s presence was giving him a feeling of fulfillment, then when that relationship was broken, a man would be pining for other people to tell him that he was good, right, okay with the world, and eternally secure."

Day 4: Read Mark 10:17-31 & Mark 10:42-45
Is there an antidote for this missing element? Jesus told his disciples that there is, but it is a radical procedure: “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” Glenn McDonald, author of The Disciple Making Church says, “We have managed to do something that the early Christians would not have thought possible. We have made Christianity safe, middle-class, comfortable. Even when we acknowledge the words of Jesus, we tame them.” Consider how you might be taming the words of Jesus.

Day 5: Read Mark 10:17-31 & Luke 14:25-33
In our culture, this message of servanthood almost always ends up sounding negative instead of positive: Give it up, lose your life, be a servant. We want to know why, what’s in it for me? There are not many things for which we humans are willing to make large sacrifices. Consider how being rich with stuff makes this sacrifice more difficult than for those without. Consider where the Holy Spirit is leading you and acknowledge what following this call will cost you.

liberal justice

"It's tragic, to see how we've built our country into the wealthiest country on the planet — there is so much abundance here — and yet we have such a disparity between the haves and have-nots in this society."
- Michael Moore, director of Captalism: A Love Story

I know he pisses off a lot of people, but how can anyone dispute this statement from Michael Moore? Why is it so hard to recognize or see the have-nots? Who or what is perpetrating this massive delusion that we're going to be fine, everything is okay? The story may be fed to us from other sources, but aren't we, the ones in the burbs, buying into it? As the authors point out in chapter 3 of Justice in the Burbs, it certainly feels safer living in the burbs where we can "avoid facing the bigger issues of life." Even when we are jolted awake by a justice issue that we can no longer ignore, it is so difficult to unravel ourselves, our stuff and our life in the burbs from the delusion.

I read following quote this week from Inward/Outward - maybe this defending against the Bible is part of the delusion?
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?
- Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, ed. Charles Moore

my Justice in the Burbs book study notes
chapter 3: justice in the burbs
- why did you choose to live where you do? beautiful, private, convenient & part of our American dream
- how does your view of America shape your understanding of what it means to live justly? living justly when we bought the house wasn't really on the radar, now that it is, I vacillate between guilt and gratitude.
- is it possible to have a government that is concerned with justice? it better be. the mission of the county where I live is "To enhance the well-being and quality of life for all citizens through the provision of the highest level of public service consistent with the prudent use of public funds." that sounds like being concerned with justice to me, but it is far from being pursued.
- what concerns, such as being labeled a "liberal", do you have when thinking about living justly? my main concern is that I don't do enough and that the liberal & conservative labels cause all sorts of translation issues

Friday, October 02, 2009

just play the f'ing music

so said the grumpy, middle-aged guy sitting in front of me when Archbishop Desmund Tutu came on the U2 360 screen to introduce the One Campaign. Talk about a groove stomper. I can't express the gratitude I felt when soon after Scott Stadium reverberated with Amazing Grace.

On the way out of the stadium, I heard someone else exclaim that they loved the music, but not all that other stuff. If by other stuff, they meant "the claw". Well I must admit that feat of engineering was strange and mystifying, and maybe I didn't love it, but it was something to behold. On the other hand, if they meant the references to social justice issues like voter protests in Iran, the Aids epidemic, the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, starving children and environmental concerns or highlighting groups like Amnesty International, the Red Campaign and the One Campaign, then I don't get it. How can you be a fan of the music, if you are not also a fan of the message? Do you hear the call to social justice when you listen to U2?
One love, one blood, one life, you got to do what you should.
One life with each other: sisters, brothers.
One life, but we're not the same.
We get to carry each other, carry each other.
Carry on U2 and keep singing those f-ing lyrics!

some days are better than others


. a good friend who said "hell yes" to a last minute plan
. husbands & kids who respond "why not" to a girls night out
. a beautiful moonlit evening
. great seats from which to ponder the minds responsible for "the claw"
. everyone belting out "i still haven't found what i'm looking for" & "amazing grace"
. no traffic issues

thanks be to God!
goodnight

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ordinary justice

"We all want to be big stars, but we don't know why and we don't know how.
But when everybody loves me, I'm going to be just about as happy as can be.
Mr. Jones and me, we're gonna be big stars. " Mr. Jones by Counting Crows

I am so not on board with being ordinary, average, or regular.  When the authors of the book Justice in the Burbs (pg 27) start equating justice with things like mercy, compassion, being fair and living by the Golden Rule, that seems like a weak definition to me.  But, in the very next sentence, they highlight a few individuals that we all pretty much recognize as being synonymous with justice:  Mother Teresa & Martin Luther King, Jr. That's  more like it.  Being fair sounds boring, but being part of something that changes the world, now that sounds exciting, challenging, special.  The cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing, is that I'm beginning to realize that all this changing the world stuff starts out as justice lived out in ordinary, average, regular, everyday lives like mine.

my Justice in the Burbs book study notes
chapter 1: life in an ordinary world
- why did you pick up this book?  somebody lent it to me
- what has been your experience so far with issues of justice?  working on justice is frustrating, slow, educational, inspirational, lonely
- how would you define justice?  joining your voice and actions with others in the pursuit of fairness and equity for all
- is justice - however you define it - possible?  maybe someday, need to be willing to take baby steps

chapter 2: hearing the voice of justice
- does God care about justice?  absolutely. how should that show itself in our world? empathy for those who suffer injustice and an understanding or self-awareness of how our actions and/or inactions contribute to that suffering
- what do you believe the Bible says about living justly?  it is the only way to achieve the kingdom of God
- how does the model of Jesus relate to living justly?  love your neighbor, stranger, outcast, sufferer more than yourself
- how can you live in light of the whole Bible in the American suburban world? is it even possible - it seems like something's gotta change

Sunday, September 20, 2009

chasing justice

It all seemed so clear after attending the community organizer training last year:
1) doing justice is our God-given call
2) because doing justice requires changing systems, whether religious, political and/or economic, we can't do it alone
3) therefore, we need to organize people to do justice by engaging them, being in relationship with them, identifying their self-interest and finding common ground.

I tried to bring these principles back to Peace and share them. I know I am lacking in the interpersonal department, but I have felt like the more I pursued justice, the more elusive it became and the more I shared my convictions about doing justice, the more I repelled folks instead of attracting them to the cause.

I wonder, what am I doing wrong?

In Everything Must Change, Brian McClaren makes perfect sense as he lays out the roots of human suffering in the systems we have embraced and how Jesus responded to those systems during his lifetime, but what to do and where to go next with all this information is kind of vague. It turns out everything is way more than I can handle.

In The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne makes pursuing justice by living the simple way sound a lot easier than it is for me, but then I'm pretty sure he started chasing justice when he was young and single.

In Justice in the Burbs, the authors themselves feel they failed in doing justice right where I live, with my family in the burbs.

So am I chasing justice or just chasing my tail? I know I'm on the verge of having some sort of rash reaction and yet the passion to do this thing called justice won't seem to leave me alone.

Maybe it's time I got back to the basics:

What is justice?

What do I have to offer?

What am I missing?

Where do I need to step it up and where do I need to step back?

I'm hoping to find a few more answers than questions with some others in a book study of Justice in the Burbs. I'll be posting my thoughts from this weekly study, so you can check back and see if I've had a meltdown or finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, September 14, 2009

book in cyberspace

The book is now available from Amazon and in Google books:


Friday, August 28, 2009

They're here!!



5 boxes of Un-American Activities just landed on my front porch! (bet the UPS guy must be wondering what's going on at our house;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The book is launched!

Read all about it @ the book blog!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

book jitters

I'm a little nervous. The book is coming out in just over a week and I'm not feeling the relief I felt when we finally turned in a final draft or the excitement I felt when we got proofs to review. No, I'd say the feeling I've got is closer to having the jitters. It took me awhile to realize why that is. I've certainly gotten more comfortable with sharing my postmodern, doubt-ridden faith journey with folks at church and even on my blog. Thanks to my participation with IMPACT this past year where I was called upon several times to get up in front of large groups and speak, my stage terror has been downgraded into merely stage fright. Clearly, I'm not someone who naturally puts herself out there - but I've been working on it. However, now that my story is going to be out there in print - that kind of seems like a whole new, big, scary deal! What was I thinking? I guess we'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, I'll try to remember to take deep breaths and go to my happy place.

Friday, July 17, 2009

rationalizations, grassrooots organizations & totalitarian regimes, oh my!

There have been a few things I've wanted to blog about this week, but couldn't find the time or energy.

Thing one was this excellent list of rationalizations that we come up with to convince ourselves we're still good people - a fool's defense. Really not much to say after reading it except, OUCH!

Then yesterday, I got a phone message from my Albemarle County Board Supervisor, Ken Boyd, inviting me and my family to attend an Americans for Prosperity event this weekend. Seems this event it about trashing the idea that we should have universal healthcare in America. I find it ironic that Boyd, who has not been a fan of our local interfaith, social justice, grassroots organization because organized, grassroots, citizen advocacy is just not the way we do things here, is perfectly happy to be an activist for this self-proclaimed grassroots organization that is all about "educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process." Maybe he'll be a fan of IMPACT now?!?!



And finally, I could not pass up blogging about this page layout in the latest National Geographic. Do you see what countries besides the US still have the death penalty? Something seems very wrong with this picture. "The practice is strong in culturally conservative areas - Japan, Saudi Arabia, Texas - and totalitarian regimes." That could be such a funny quote if it weren't so damn depressing.

But don't give up hope. Right there on the opposite page is this awesome ad! I LOVE this United Methodist Church message (What if church led more people to water?) and website (10thousanddoors.org)!

"What if church wasn't just a building, but thousands of doors?" Way to go UMC - you've given me a little hope in humanity and even church.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

and now for something completely different



I stumbled across this clip today - luv it. For those of you who haven't heard my creed rant yet, let's just say that I am not a fan of creeds and I think this video demonstrates my issues nicely. One argument I've heard that makes some sense to me in continuing their use, is the common language they provide across the Christian church. But mostly I just can't get over my intellectual assent problems. Even after reading from Marcus Borg in the Heart of Christianity:
But credo does not mean "I hereby agree to the literal-factual truth of the following statements." Rather, its Latin roots combine to mean "I give my heart to."

At one point, I started looking for alternate creeds that I could give my heart to. Here are a few.

Do you have a statement of faith that you can give your heart to?

extra, extra, read all about it

A couple of pretty newsworthy events have happened this week in the life of the Christian church.

The first event I heard about was the online release of the Codex Sinaiticus. This is "a manuscript of the Christian Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament." Leaves and fragments of this manuscript have been held in four different locations around the world. All the available pages have now come together in the digital world - yeh technology!

I know I can't read these pages directly and they don't provide English translations for all of the pages, but I love the idea that they are there and available for all. And, I am intrigued by the books it includes that are not in our modern Bible and how it's been "heavily annotated by a series of early correctors."

The second event was the release of an Encyclical Letter "Caritas in Veritate" by Pope Benedict XVI. I'd never heard of this letter or ever really been a fan of the pope, but apparently he planned this "Charity in Truth" message to coincide with the G8 summit hoping to rattle a few cages. It's a pretty rambling document, written in a male-dominated voice, but it appears there are a few gems.

Here's what some other bloggers are saying about it:

BTW - is it weird that I learned about these things from listening to the BBC and not the US news?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

to be educated

A review of our book by one of my favorite professors at Texas Lutheran.

A book review by Norm Beck,
Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages

If to be educated is to be led from one position and perspective to another, Dr. Tom Wilkens and Kim Wilkens, together with other members of their family and in interaction with their culture, eloquently demonstrate what it means to be educated. Their book, in a most profound sense, is also our book.

During the 24 years in which Dr. Wilkens was my closest colleague on the Texas Lutheran University faculty, I and thousands of others within the community of this University were blessed to be educated in so many ways by him. That education has continued during the past decade in which he and Betty, who had been our campus nurse, have traveled and interacted in educational endeavors in many other areas of the world. In the broadest sense, he reminds us that, although we may be resistant, if we are sentient beings we are constantly being educated by our interactions with others, especially by those who are younger than we are.

Kim Wilkens, co-author with her father, a graduate of TLU not too many years ago, provides an education and an articulation for all of us, including those who are closest to where she is in her life and faith pilgrimage. There is so much of TLU in these authors and in their book, a book that defines and exposes us.

The subtitle, “A modern father and postmodern daughter reflect on their pilgrimages of life and faith,” provides an indication of education within slightly more than three hundred pages and thirty segments, each segment of which can be read separately much as we might read articles in a Reader’s Digest publication, but with much more cohesion. The primary title, Un-American Activities: Countercultural Themes in Christianity, challenges us and alerts us to the educational scope of the work, expanding for us the purview of the book far beyond the arena that is TLU.

Find the complete review here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

where you do not wish to go

I'm at a conference in SA called The Jesus Way. Okay, I admit it sounds like an over-the-top Christian immersion experience and in some ways it is. And so in many ways, I feel like an impostor here. There are lots of people very comfortable with their Christian identity. The metaphor of sheep, ready and eager to follow a shepherd comes to mind. The thing is, I'm not sure many of us are prepared to go where we do not wish to go. That's what I've liked about this conference - is the challenge to do just that. Should being comfortable and being a Christian be mutually exclusive?

Where is it you do not want to go and what are you going to do when, inevitably, you arrive there? What will you learn? Who will you trust? How will you find freedom? When you find yourself where you don't want to be, will your life be about where you are or who you become? These are life questions that trouble me and I find that this is where the way of Jesus offers me the best hope to grow from challenging experiences instead of being buried by them.
wait for me by moby

i'm going to ask you to look away
i love my hands, but it hurts to pray

the life i have isn't what i'd seen
the sky's not blue and the field's not green

wait for me, wait for me, wait for me

i'm going to ask you to look away
a broken life will never stay

tried too hard and i always lagged
days are gray and the nights are black

wait for me, wait for me, wait for me

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

trip of a lifetime


1 boy, 1 mom, 1 dad with 2 grandmas and 1 papa just got back from the trip of a lifetime to 5 countries - Zurich (Switzerland) with long layovers both ways, Venice (Italy) for 3 nights, Azamara cruise for 7 nights stopping in Kopar (Slovenia), Zader & Dubrovnik (Croatia), Santorini & Nauplion (Greece) & Athens for 2 nights.

Overall, it was an incredible experience. Here are a few of my random thoughts about the trip:
- The boy was an amazing navigator through the twisting, narrow streets of Venice, but it still gave me nightmares thinking of him getting separated from us and navigating those streets alone.
- After that, letting the boy have the run of the ship was easy.
- My first impression of the cruise staff was how super friendly they were. Then I found out that this ship is known for having the friendliest staff, so I began to get cynical and wondered if they were friendly because they wanted to be or because they had to be.
- The cruise is definitely one of the more high-end things we have ever done. I started the trip feeling kind of guilty, but by the end I was getting kind of used to the pampering.
- The cruise staff was a way more diverse group than the passengers.
- Traveling with grandparents is definitely a bonus.
- Dubrovnik turned out to be one of my favorite stops. Exploring this walled city by the sea was an incredible experience.
- Walking through ancient Mycenae ruins gives you the perspective that our US history is pretty puny.
- Encountering some kind of ruin around every corner of Athens just reinforces the feeling that ancient history permeates this place.
- Almost everyone we met throughout our journey spoke some English.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

facilitator

I have finally found meaning & purpose in my life as I facilitate bringing the Mr. Deity series to you.



I saw my first Mr. Deity video @ exploring our matrix.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

stop helping God...

"stop helping God across the road like a little old lady"
- Stand Up Comedy by U2

It's my new favorite U2 lyric. In fact, Stand Up Comedy is my new favorite U2 song followed closely by Breathe (where you will actually find cockatoo in the lyrics;).

I'm one of those people who works best when I'm listening to music, so I've been listening a lot lately to U2's No Line on the Horizon via their U2.com media player.

During this Lenten season I have been experiencing more doubts, distractions and discouragement than ever. This lyric reminds me that God can handle my unbelief, anger, frustration, ambivalence or any other feeble emotion or thought I possess. I don't need to hide it or rationalize it or just get over it to make God feel better.

During the passion reading this week, I heard about a God who became weak in flesh, but remained strong in spirit. And this God does appear to need our help, but it's not going to be a simple walk across the road to safety. When we step up to help, we will journey upon a much more perilous path.

(image: Chris Gollon's 'Stations of the Cross' in St. John on Bethnal Green Church)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A rebel without a clue

Here's another excerpt from Un-American Activities: Countercultural Themes in Christianity. It's kind of a response to The Wounded Image of God at A Mending Shift.

"Rebellion permeates all aspects of human life. It originates from the subconscious will of mankind not to surrender to destructive forces. But rebelling is not the same as defining a cause that would improve the quality of human life, or formulating a constructive program of action. Marching in a parade is easier than blazing a trail through a forest or creating a new Jerusalem. Daumier’s hero looks like many rebels in our midst. He is fighting against evil rather than for a well-defined cause. Like most of us, he is a rebel without a program." - So Human an Animal by RenĂ© Dubos

I've always had a rebellious nature. I don't think it's riotous or boisterous; it's more driven and determined. My primary cause has been feminism. My earliest memory of this rebellion was at some extended family gathering, probably Thanksgiving or Christmas. At the end of the meal, I noticed the women go into the kitchen and the men go to the living room. That didn't seem right to me, so I announced that I was not going to the help in the kitchen, I'd hang out with the guys instead. And as I've heard my mother say to me on many occasions, "where do you get these ideas?"

Well, she's not completely blameless. Even though she did a majority of the domestic chores and actually claimed to enjoy cleaning – "it's therapeutic," she says - my mom also balanced being a stay-at-home mom with a part-time nursing career (working the late shift). She was on the cutting edge of childbirth education, bringing couples into our home for Lamaze training when other facilities were unavailable or more likely unwilling to support this radical new approach to childbirth.

My feminist rebellion energized me to excel academically. It drove me into the male-dominated field of computer science. It pushed me up the corporate ladder. It alienated me from religion. Sue Monk Kidd in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter gives a very good description of what this alienation feels like:
"A girl, forming her identity also experiences herself missing from pronouns in scripture, hymns, and prayers. And most of all, as long as God 'himself' is exclusively male, she will experience the otherness, the lessness, of herself; all the pious talk in the world about females being equal to males will fail to compute in the deeper places inside her."

For several years, I was humming along quite nicely in my feminist cause, but then I had a child, left corporate America, turned 40 and had a huge identity crisis. I had done well in a man's world, but now I found myself in the world of motherhood. How was I supposed to excel at something I had no training for? What was happening to my feminist agenda? I thought I was helping to pave the way for the women after me to be treated as equals, but instead I was just playing by the rules of corporate America and they no longer seemed adequate for my life. I felt like a rebel without a clue. I needed to redefine the rules for living my life.

First, I tried finding balance. I searched for the magical formula that would give me just the right balance between family-life, career-life, community-life, volunteer-life and church-life. It felt like a juggling act and when I would get too much of one and not enough of the others, I started feeling out of control and unbalanced. I would lose track of some of the balls. I would have to regroup and try to figure out the formula again. Usually the new formula worked for a time, it was fresh and it was fun and exhilarating! But I would end up in a cycle of trying to arrange the balls just so, putting them up in the air, and juggling them for a while until I started to lose some of them. This strategy for living wasn't working either.

Then I heard an interview on NPR with a soldier in Iraq. He said he had to compartmentalize his soldier-life and his home-life. He gave an example of a cell phone conversation with his wife: she's talking about her "bad" day with the kids and he's thinking about his "bad" day cleaning up dead bodies. Compartmentalization was necessary for him to focus on the task at hand or he might get shot. But the cost is high as it wreaks havoc on relationships because the whole person is never completely present.

It struck me that this is what I've been doing. I hadn't been thinking of it as compartmentalization, but as I was performing my juggling act, I was really assigning out pieces of myself to get the tasks done. When I was working on one task, another part of me was usually occupied with lists that need to be completed for other tasks. I was rarely wholly involved with the task or relationship or situation at hand.

My new cause is wholeness. "There is nothing more important than being fully where we are, in the plain ordinary events, day in and day out. I think women understand that we create change as we live out the experiences of our souls in the common acts of life." Where I used to be like Martha, worried and distracted, I am trying to be more like Mary, taking time to learn about Jesus.

I find my new cause still has room for the frustration I feel toward gender issues found in many religious institutions. Instead of fighting against the male/female stereotypes that have kept me from moving forward in my faith, I feel that God wants me to walk humbly through these human failures and acknowledge them. I believe that God can reorient the whole world from one of inequality to one of equality and I believe God wants you and me to help.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the medium is the message

I haven't read Flickering Pixels yet, but I'm a big fan of Shane Hipps and his first book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture. In fact, that book inspired one of my responses in my dad's upcoming book. First, a few words from Shane:

.
(thanks to Jonathon at Missio Deo for posting about video)

Now a few words from me:
"The medium has far more impact on the culture than its content." I’m guessing many Christians would disagree with this statement. I certainly found it shocking when I first read it, but after more reading and thinking, it’s beginning to make some sense. So, if you’ll bear with me, here’s what I learned.

With the vast cultural shifts we have experienced in America, many churches struggle to connect with the culture and are not keeping up. I hear things like the church is often decades behind the culture. Churches are involved in many exercises of trying to keep up. Pastors and lay leaders are eager to employ the latest technology, gadgetry, structures, musical styles, fashions, and espresso bars in the search to be relevant.

After reading The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture by Shane Hipps, I think we’ve got it backwards. I think the problem may be a misconception held by almost everyone involved with church and that is that the message should never change, just the delivery methods that will allow the message to "reach" the culture. First, it seems obvious to me that "the message" is not only slightly or very different for each Christian denomination; it’s different for every congregation and every individual inside or outside a congregation. Each of us brings our own interpretative lens to the message. Our faith and our beliefs are impacted by our experiences and our community. Belief and faith cannot be measured or checked off on a list.

Second, we fail to realize that the medium is the message. Shane skillfully identifies and describes basic media inventions that have had enormous impacts upon Western civilization. So all consuming are the resulting cultural shifts that we often no longer recognize their birth was caused, in part, by technology we now take for granted. That is the hidden power behind the medium. One of the pivotal technologies that has shaped faith from Martin Luther’s time on is the mass-produced, printed word. Shane writes that the printed word has "caused a cultural shift and an emphasis on the individual, on objectivity, on abstract thinking, on rationality, that – for better or worse – came to dominate nearly every aspect of social, political, and religious life during the modern era."

So what do we do with this printed word, this Bible that is at the heart of our Christian tradition? As Christians, we are called to be in "the word" daily. Many approaches to studying the Bible begin with the admonishment to "be objective" and not to let our own preconceived notions color our interpretation. I even have a discipleship study that encourages approaching the Bible with a "scientific method" of investigation. There’s this process called exegesis that many pastors and scholars employ to try and peel back the layers until one finds the kernel of "truth." Whose truth is that? We need to understand that this medium of the printed word has caused us to believe we can be far more objective and rationale creatures than we really are.

George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley and author of The Political Mind said some amazing things about how the brain works in an interview with Diane Rehm: things like; "people mostly think their thoughts are conscious, however 98% are unconscious" and "we think reason is dispassionate, however reason requires emotion."

So, here's the deal: once we open up a Bible and read from it, we’ve already gone beyond it because we’ve brought our unconscious thoughts and passion to it. Does this make the Bible irrelevant? I don't think so. I agree with Marcus Borg "to be Christian is to be centered in the God of the Bible. This is not a mark of Christian exclusion, but of Christian identity." He goes on to say that "the point is not to believe in the Bible – but to see our lives with God through it." We live these lives in community and so it is with our community of faith that we pray, listen, learn, study, teach, struggle, admonish, encourage, and try to live our lives in God’s way. A way that has been recorded for us in the Bible by our predecessors and continues to be lived out, beyond the Bible in Christian lives today. The medium is the message and we, the people, are the medium for God’s message. - excerpt from Un-American Activities: Countercultural Themes in Christianity

Monday, March 23, 2009

it's enough to make you go crazy

love the message in this song - started making a list of the things making me crazy - too long, depressing and convoluted to post today - now I'm mad
don't hesitate to speak your mind
never hesitate to speak your heart
they'll call you crazy, when you speak your mind
so never, never hesitate
cause it's enough to make you go crazy
it's enough to make you mad
- Make You Crazy by Brett Dennen

Monday, March 16, 2009

10 Steps to Online Parental Supervision of Your Kids

Here's an article I've been working on for parents at the school where I teach tech - basically targeted at parents of 4th thru 8th graders. I hear the kids talking about stuff they are doing online that I'm not sure their parents are aware of. Who can really keep up with it all? It's a challenge, but I also think it's the responsibility of the parents to figure it out if their kids are online at home.

What's your online supervision experience with your kids? What kind of help, advice or assistance do you need?

10 Steps to Online Parental Supervision of Your Kids

1. Create an Online Safety Contract, review and sign it with your kids and post near all computers in your home. You can find a good example at SafeKids.com.

2. Keep computers and other wired technology in public spaces in your house where you can easily check in on what your children are doing online.

3. Create a list of "approved" websites for your kids to use. For instance, the Upper Elementary students have a list of websites they may use at montessoripantops.org/ue. Here are some examples of free resources that you can use to create your approved website list: squidoo.com/mcs or wikispaces.com.

4. Consider using a filter with some sort of parental control, but do not consider filtering software a replacement for your hands-on monitoring. At the very least, ensure that Google's SafeSearch is set to "Use strict filtering". To set this, select Preference from the Google home page.

5. Peruse the history on the computers used by your child. See if there are any patterns or websites that are new that are being visited a lot. Talk to your child about it.

6. Are your kids using a social networking site, like Facebook? Are they playing a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), like Runescape? Are they posting videos on YouTube? Did you know that all these sites have a under 13 years old age restriction?

Here is the Facebook policy in a nutshell:
"Children under 13 years old are not permitted access to Facebook. In addition, parents of children 13 years and older should consider whether their child should be supervised during the child's use of the Facebook site."

If your child wants access to this kind of site, first take the time to thoroughly review the site yourself. If you approve, then you should consider having full access to their accounts. This is not an invasion of privacy issue, this is a safety issue.

7. If your child sets up a web page or blog online, subscribe to the page over RSS or bookmark it and visit it daily.

8. Carefully consider the ramifications of allowing your child to have an e-mail account. There is no good way to avoid all the inappropriate spam that's bound to come in. There is a way with a gmail account to use the plus-addressing feature to create filtered inboxes. If you approve of your child having an e-mail account, then you should set up the e-mail account together and let your child know that you will occasionally be monitoring their e-mail activity. This is really no different that an administrator at a company or school having access to e-mail account info of their employees for security purposes.

9. Google your child. Nothing will probably turn up, but you never know. Just in case, every once in a while, you should Google your child's name, nickname, city (put your child's name in quotations and then type + the town, eg. "John Doe" +Anytown)

10. If your child is living online it is your job to supervise online! They should know that you are watching, vigilant, and involved and that you care.

(adapted from Cool Cat Teacher blog)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

love will prevail

in the meantime, there's some pretty crappy, discriminatory stuff going...


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

learn more about courage campaign

Sunday, February 15, 2009

are you Lost?

I've got a love/hate relationship going with Lost. I love it when I'm watching a new episode and new things are revealed and I start hating it near the end of an episode when it's clear that not only are there still some old things left hanging, but there's usually a whole new plot twist to absorb, adding more, new, unlikely, unresolved content.

This dual reaction (love/hate, good/evil, light/dark) may be just what the producers are going for according to mirror matter.

Or maybe it's just for fun...



links found via exploring our matrix

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What does it really mean to "do justice?"

Over at Transforming Theology, they are looking for actual "normal" people to ask their most pressing God question. I don't know about "normal", but the question that keeps coming up for me: through working with PACEM & IMPACT, through watching our economy tank, through preparing a reflection about caring for one another for the women's retreat is - what does it really mean to "do justice?"

My "rehearsed" answer is that doing justice means you are willing to stand alongside and help give a voice to those who are struggling every day with local social justice issues. It means being in relationship with and caring for those who are suffering.

What I'm looking for are some insights about caring for others - doing justice, when its difficult and over the long haul. I think there are some clues to how difficult this can be in Job. But the lessons in Job are difficult to grasp because we just can’t relate to or can hardly bear hearing what’s been happening to Job. I think we can relate to the three friends that came to visit Job in the hope to sympathize with and comfort him.

"When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." [Job 2:12-13, NIV]

Their hearts are in the right place and they let Job vent for a while, but finally his friend Eliphaz interrupts. It seems he wants to shake Job out of his funk by launching into a lecture about how important Job is, how much people look up to him for support and guidance, and that he should view his suffering as some form of discipline from God. Job’s response is filled with pain and loathing and this little zinger:

"Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid." [Job 6:21]

I think the story of Job and his friends has some parallels to the church and its relationship to those who are enduring long-term suffering, such as the poor. As the church, we are more than willing to provide the poor short-term relief in the form of food, clothes, and even shelter, but getting involved with the poor long-term is distressing because we want the poor to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and persevere. Instead, when get beyond the problems on the surface, we see something dreadful and are afraid. This is certainly where I find myself getting stuck personally and where I see us getting stuck as a community of faith. It knocks our preconceived notions, about how God interacts with the world and what God expects of us, out of whack.

What do we do when caring doesn't feel good or doesn't seem to be accomplishing anything? What do we do when the person we are caring for doesn't meet our expectations? What do we do when we see something dreadful and are afraid?

Oops, that's more than one question...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

a voice for affordable housing - part 2

I spoke again at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting this morning on behalf of IMPACT.

Hello my name is Kim Wilkens, I live in the Rivanna District and am a member of IMPACT's Housing Committee.

Lately, we have been bombarded by distressing statistics about our economy like growing rates in unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness. If you are not part of these statistics, they can seem very abstract and overwhelming. That is why I am so grateful to be part of IMPACT, where I learn first hand from and get connected with people in our community who are struggling with these very issues. I am honored to represent IMPACT and to be a voice for those who every day are facing the affordable housing crisis in our community.

So let me say that IMPACT is encouraged with the progress made by the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing over the last year. We believe all their recommendations are vitally important in resolving the current affordable housing crisis in our community. I am here to voice IMPACT support for one of these recommendations in particular: making comprehensive amendments to the existing proffer policy so that the policy more fairly addresses the various levels of need for affordable housing in Albemarle County.

The Albemarle County 2007 Housing Report indicates how successful a proffer policy can be: "Since the adoption of the County's Affordable Housing Policy in 2004, 1,600 affordable housing units have been proffered along with over $1.5 million in cash." However, as the task force members discovered - because of the way the existing policy is written, proffered units are:
- usually priced at points affordable to those at or about 80% AMI,
- affordability is only guaranteed for 5 years, and
- proffered for-sale units may not be affordable beyond the first sale.

IMPACT urges you to direct the Planning Commission to look at all the amendments that the Joint Task Force has put forward and to adopt a comprehensive proffer policy that includes:
1. a requirement that proffered units or cash offered include an equal share of units affordable at 3 levels: extremely low income (less than 30% AMI), very low income (30-60% AMI), and low income (60-80% AMI);
2. a mechanism that caps the value of proffered for sale units; and
3. a requirement that the term of affordability for proffered rental units be a minimum of 15 years.

A comprehensive review and amending of the County's proffer policy will help close the large gap of unmet housing needs identified in the 2007 State of Housing Report. Careful consideration and implementation of all the recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing will help you fulfill your mission to "enhance the well-being and quality of life for all citizens."

p.s.
(got this in my e-mail this morning - coincidence?)
The contact of the affluent with the poor today is primarily through two means, television and statistics. We hear the stark statistics of human suffering and we watch starving children in living color. But what do those numbers mean to us, and how real are the young lives we glimpse for a moment in a news documentary? - One Humanity by Jim Wallis

Sunday, January 18, 2009

a class divided


Amazing video called 'a class divided' - one third grade teacher's response to Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. I just watched it with my 5th grader. I pray for the day when we no longer have to learn this lesson. In the meantime, I am thankful for people who will share it and for the baby steps forward.

found on a mending shift

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Extra Discernment Required

Gentle readers, it has come to my attention that certain "Christian" reading material may require extra discernment. I must have an extraordinary ability to sense these types of books because it turns out I own so many of them. So as a public service to you, I am providing an extra discernment required warning label. Feel free to place this warning label on the books you own or even those you might find in your church library that "may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology."



The books in question may include, but are not limited to:
- The Shack by William P. Young
- anything by Rob Bell, Brian McLaren or Donald Miller
- probably some of the stuff by Kelly Fryer, Marcus Borg, Anne Lamott, Russell Rathbun & Shane Hipps
- definitely anything by Kim Wilkens or her dad, Tom Wilkens (shameless plug for their upcoming Un-American Activities: Countercultural Themes in Christianity)
- and perhaps the Bible, especially the CEV and Message translations

Thanks to Jeromy at A Mending Shift for pointing out this potential danger.

p.s. I find it quite ironic that LifeWay quotes Wikipedia as source material - talk about words that need to be Read With Discernment(TM)!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ed Rowe Travel Biography


"I have done magic. I have controlled emotions with a wave of the hands. I have silenced with a look; caused enchantment in the eyes with the right words. Am I talking the occult? No; simply classroom teaching. A place where when thing go right, you can't walk any finer, but when things go wrong, you have no idea how long a second can be." Ed Rowe Travel Biography

So starts the writing of Ed Rowe. I just read about his death and thought he sounded familiar. I'd seen Ed on the downtown mall many times. I actually talked with him once outside Mudhouse. I was hooking up with our new intern to do a never done before and so far not repeated "man on the street" interview with folks on the downtown mall about their faith & doubts. I was hanging out on the bench at Mudhouse waiting for David and the "card reader" sat near me and spontaneously shared a bit of his story. Honestly, he kind of freaked me out, but in retrospect I wish I had had the guts to interview him. Now after reading his biography, I see it was a missed opportunity.

I'm glad he left his journal. His writing is a hodge-podge of ideas, experiences and thought experiments and I can't track it all, but he definitely gives a rare view into what our society looks like from the bottom. Here are a few of the gems I found:

"Existence is a classroom, God is the teacher and we be two year olds and he wants us to play nicely in the sandbox! What is the mantra of the two year old? "If it looks like mine it's mine, if it used to be mine it's mine, if you got it it's mine, etc. Look at any behavior you see on the street; it's more refined, it's more polished, but it's still a two year old, "I want!"."

"We all have a choice between freedom and safety. ... We all yield to our fears of the unknown and stay in a miserable situation rather than try something new. It's safe! It's tied to our memories of the past and how we perceive it. It is tied to our anticipations of our hopes and our fears. It is what you want, but more especially what you settle for. But there is no safety! The job can disappear, or the pantry closes. People who assume anything end up whining. It is the people who can face the unknown who do well. Because there is only freedom and it is our perceptions that make us slaves."

"You have everything you need to overcome every obstacle and achieve every goal, but you hesitate."

Ed Rowe Travel Biography