Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices (Pre-Order Our New Book!)

As many of you know I have been on an editorial board of young Quakers for that past couple years working on a book that collects writings from Quakers around the world. The book was edited by Angelina Conti, Cara Curtis, Harriet Hart, Sarah Katreen Hoggatt, Evelyn Jadin, John Epur Lomuria, Emma Condori Mamani, Katrina McQuail, Rachel Anne Miller and myself. Well, it is about to be published and is ready for pre-order (15% off). Yes, I am proud of it and recommend it to all those interested in reading about young Friends from the many branches of Quakerism and many different countries. Here’s a write up Lucy Duncan who has played a huge part in seeing this book through from start to finish:

Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices celebrates, critiques, questions, and reflects on the Quaker faith experience. Writing and visual art by teenage and young adult Quakers from around the world and across the theological and cultural spectrum of the Religious Society of Friends give readers a window on the spiritual riches and witness these Friends offer. The product of the two-year Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) Quaker Youth Book Project, it includes over 200 contributors from 17 countries who reflect on their faith and lives as Friends, on worship and practice, on Quaker testimonies, community, conversion and convincement, and on service to and in the world. They also challenge and inspire, as they witness to and celebrate Quakerism as it has been, as it is, and as it could yet be. Continue reading Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices (Pre-Order Our New Book!)

Missions by the Spirit by Ron Stansell (Quaker Missions)

Quaker Missiologist Ron Stansell has a new book coming out this month from Barclay Press called Missions By the Spirit. My review of the book is posted there if you have interest in getting a brief overview. I recommend the book to all of you who are interested in missions as it pertains to Quakers. Stansell has done a good job and I hope has initiated further studies in this direction. There will be a book discussion over at Barclay Press over the next month if you have thoughts you’d like to share. Here’s the link to that page.

The Power (and Difficulty) of Forgiveness

Of the many things to be considered today the thing that stands out to me as I sit down to write this is the film we watched this evening called “The Power of Forgiveness.” Four of us from our meeting traveled to St. Luke’s Episcopal in downtown Vancouver to watch this documentary on various (difficult) acts of forgiveness and how various religious (and non-religious) people have thought about the practice. The film discusses a number of different people who have wrestled with very difficult crimes against them. From the 2006 Amish school shootings in PA, to September 11 and even Auschwitz this film covers a lot of ground with a complex topic, but in a way that makes it real and palatable.  Continue reading The Power (and Difficulty) of Forgiveness

Favorite Music of 2009

Here’s a list of my favorite, or at least most listened to, albums from this past year.

Elvis Perkins In Dearland

Elvis Perkins in Dearland’s self-titled, second album arrived this year and it has been in constant rotation on the record player since it’s arrived. It is seriously one of our daughter’s favorite albums, she loves all the upbeat songs especially. I loved the first album, Ash Wednesday, and listened to it none stop while I was in England for three months. Whenever I listen to that album now I can’t help but remember that time in our lives, Emily was pregnant with our first daughter, and I was studying away at Woodbrooke making great life-long friends. Their sophomore effort is even better than the first, the songs are very diverse, deeply emotional, spiritual and psychological. Do yourself a favor and listen to them. Here’s how:

If you follow this link, you can preview a number of songs on google’s search page.

Here’s a full concert on NPR.

And here are two videos from the new album that are marvelous.

Continue reading Favorite Music of 2009

Freedom Friends Church Faith and Practice

Freedom Friends Church in Salem Oregon is currently an independent meeting that has recently written their own Faith and Practice. A number of Friends, Monthly Meetings and Yearly Meetings, have been interested in reading about this unique meeting and some of the practices they espouse. I have done a decent amount of research on the meeting for my our studies, comparing its similarities and differences with the emerging Church and the simple fact that they put together this book was very helpful for me.

They are releasing a hardcover version of it in the next week or so, here is the blurb I wrote for the back of the book:

Freedom Friends Church have created one of the first postmodern Quaker Faith and Practices to date. Here is a Faith and Practice that is creative and actually fun to read. This is because it is not only relevant both to the concerns of their own faith community and the larger societal context, it is also deeply rooted within the historical practices and theology of Friends. If there was any question whether the heartbeat of Quakerism still had a pulse, FFC has shown that the tradition is not just alive, it is kicking: the Quaker faith is indeed fit for the 21st century. This kind of hybrid Quakerism, this remix of tradition and innovation, is a promising future for the Friends Church.

Their Faith and Practice is well worth checking out.

Check Out The Kingdom Experiment (Book Review)

I recently subscribed to the new magazine Generate, which I highly recommend for all of you in church ministry and thinking about alternative, ’emerging’ ways of ministry. It is a great magazine (first one just came out this fall). I read through the whole thing in an evening I enjoyed it so much!

Anyways, the great editors of Generate sent a gift to those of us who subscribed early (at least that’s how I understand it), a book called, The Kingdom Experiment. And I’ve read through most of that as well! Besides the book having a catchy cover and nice design inside (made by the same people who did the design for the book “Jesus for President.”), it’s a really great book I recommend you checking out. What I like about it is that it works through each of the beatitudes, it gives a good introduction into each phrase but then the rest of the chapter are suggested experiments to try that in one way or another embody that beatitude. I like the guidance the book gives while allowing for a great amount of creativity. They also suggest doing it with some friends and journaling along the way. I look forward to doing this with some of the Quakers at Camas.

From their website:

What is The Kingdom Experiment?

The people are starting to catch on. There’s this guy who has spent his life working in his dad’s wood shop, making beds, stools, and some real nice end tables. But, around the age of thirty he gets to thinking a career change is necessary. Only problem is he wants a position that is seemingly already filled, the job of priest. Doesn’t stop him. Call him an entrepreneur of sorts, cause he begins preaching and healing in ways no one has ever seen— without the employment of the temple. And to top it all off, he starts collecting a good fan base—lots of people begin showing up to all his public appearances.

One day, he climbs up on a mountain and says there is a new kingdom at hand, and that this kingdom will be contradictory to everything they have known before.

And the people get the feeling this is only the beginning. You see, they were expecting a king arriving in grand fashion, but instead they got a carpenter, turned speaker and healer, who was about to shake things up a bit.

The Kingdom Experiment is a challenge to live this kingdom intentionally. It won’t be easy. And it may get uncomfortable. But if you commit to live what a carpenter started 2000 years ago, you too will experience the kingdom He spoke of.

How it works:
1. Read and discuss each chapter with your group
2. Pick one of eight experiments (challenges to live intentionally) to do throughout the week.
3. Journal your thoughts and experiences
4. Share your experiences as a group the following week

The point of The Kingdom Experiment is community. And to share stories while we’re at it. To grapple with what “good news” means in the context of this specific time and place. The Kingdom Experiment is an 8-week challenge, but who says it has to end there. Hopefully, this way of living becomes a habit. We wouldn’t complain if it did.

You can get the book here. (But always support your local bookshop first if you can!)

Food, Inc. Documentary on Where Our Food Comes From (Review)

Official Food IncThe tag line for FOOD, inc. is “You’ll never look at your dinner the same way again,” and well, they’re right. This for some of you may be the very reason why you decide in advance to not watch it, or to not read the rest of this post, but let me encourage you to a little bravery: what is happening in our food industry, what is going into our food, what is happening to the earth hosting the growth of this food, what is happening to both the animals and the people who are growing and raising this food, and what’s happening to the people eating this food, is something that concerns you, your family, and our children future. This is the kind of stuff you really want to know about. And far from being a scare-feast, this film is well documented (and yes, some of the details are disputed as in all documentaries) and the big picture it paints is one of needed change, rather than simply doom and destruction. This is the kind of film that motivates, and leaves you, or it at least left me, feeling like I can actually do things to respond (that don’t all include shopping more!).

Food, Inc. is a 2008 documentary by the filmmaker Robert Kenner, which came out this June. It gives us a look into America’s food industry, where our food comes from, the conditions for both the workers and  animals on those industrial farms, and some of the bi-partisan politics behind what is happening. It is also recieving a lot of rave reviews (see listing below) at such sites like Rotten Tomatoes which has given it a score of 97/100,  the consensus being that it is: “An eye-opening expose of the modern food industry, Food, Inc. is both fascinating and terrifying, and essential viewing for any health-conscious citizen.”

The film really is an unveiling of much of what is going on behind closed doors (complete with footage from hidden cameras, etc.). There was a day and age when humans were directly connected to the our food source, we knew where it came from, we knew the names of the people who grew it (or were the ones growing it), and all this organic, free-range, grass-fed blah, blah, blah, needed no labels because it was the expected and natural way of life. But as Michael Pollan has said:

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000, but the image that’s used to sell the food … you go into the supermarket and you see pictures of farmers. The picket fence and the silo and the 1930s farmhouse and the green grass. The reality is … it’s not a farm, it’s a factory. That meat is being processed by huge multi-national corporations that have very little to do with ranches and farmers.”

Food, Inc. brings us into the stark reality of the multi-national, uber-powerful, industrialized food factories. It confronts us with some really difficult facts, images, and stories. At times during the film I felt scared because it feels so big, at other times I found hope because there are many stories in the film about what individuals and families are doing to respond. I found the story-telling to be powerful, the voices and people interviewed to be true-to-life, and the overall narrative to be not simply doom-and-gloom filmmaking but left me with the feeling of a heavy burden that needs to be and CAN be responded to. This is a well made film and not just informational but entertaining to watch. It is, in the words of the NY Times, truly and activist film. That is, it calls for action around a variety of deeply important issues.

Here are some of the more astonishing statistics from the film:

  • In the 1970s, the top five beef packers controlled about 25% of the market. Today, the top four control more than 80% of the market.
  • In the 1970s, there were thousands of slaughterhouses producing the majority of beef sold. Today, we have only 13.
  • Prior to renaming itself an agribusiness company, Monsanto was a chemical company that produced, among other things, DDT and Agent Orange.
  • In 1996 when it introduced Round-Up Ready Soybeans, Monsanto controlled only 2% of the U.S. soybean market. Now, over 90% of soybeans in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented gene.
  • The average American eats over 200 lbs. of meat a year.
  • During the Bush administration, the chief of staff at the USDA was the former chief lobbyist for the beef industry in Washington (And Obama is making similarly poor choices).
  • 1 in 3 Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes; Among minorities, the rate will be 1 in 2.
  • E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks have become more frequent in America, whether it be from spinach or jalapenos. In 2007, there were 73,000 people sickened from the E. coli virus.

My favorite part of the film was certainly Joel Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist farmer” (who apparently loves Wendell Berry) and is well-known from Michael Pollan’s must read book, the Omnivore’s Dilema. In fact, my wife says Food, Inc. could be thought of the movie version of the book, so if you find yourself really interested in knowing more Pollan’s book would be a great next step after watching this. Anyways, Joel is kind of a super-hero when it comes to farming (see his webpage here). He’s growing everything as completely natural as possible, keeping a live the art of farming and gardening the way it was meant to be done. Joel’s approach is radically counter-cultural to the massive industrial sized meat-factories, and that’s the appeal. He’s actually making a living, loves his work, and enjoys educating others not on just what to eat, but how to really farm.

The film left me with lots of questions and a lot of energy to begin making even more concrete steps to eating well. We at the Daniels ranch at doubling our efforts to cut meat out of our diets (I ate meat at three meals this past week), supporting the local farmer we buy our eggs and most of our veggies from, and looking into ways that we can produce more of the things we want to eat. I find it really fulfilling to be more involved in these ways with our meals,  when we pray over dinner saying, “God, thank you for this food you’ve provided,” it feels more connected for me.

If you’re interested, here is a list of places where You can see the movie. Of course, you can always get it on Netflix and rent it (at the library for free) now that it’s out as well.

Here are some suggested responses.

Also, they recommend participating in Go Meatless on Mondays

A couple more reviews: