there is beauty in those things we see as feeble and weak. are we willing to be weak in order to find beauty or will we continue to hide behind false pretenses, power, control and pretend as if we are greater than life itself?
I went through and typed out all those book this year that have been most influential in my schooling.
It was good for me to do this because I actually had the opportunity to realize that I did learn something this year!
Brown, Warren; Murphy, Nancy; Malony, H. Newton eds
Whatever Happended to the Soul: Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human nature
A collections of Essays put together by Fullers Main Philosopher Nancey Murphy of the possibility of human beings having no soul and its implications upon Christianity. She Who is an Anabaptist believer herself believes that there is no immaterial soul and seeks to verify her beliefs through Science and theology.
Influence on my thinking*** (out of 5)
Reasoning and Rhetoric in Religion
An easily accessible book covering the structure of arguments to Alasdair MacIntyres account of how to evaluate traditions using Philosophy and the Methods from the field of science.
Journey Inward Journey Outward 3rd Ed
A biography of the Church of the Savior in the late 60s a wonderful community church that reaches out to the urban poor in downtown DC.
King, Martin Luther
Strength to Love
A Collection of Luthers Sermons you could almost hear him speaking these powerful messages.
(I thought it was amazing, but I agreed pretty much with what he was saying, and much of it wasnt that new)
The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman
A great read for any mystic and especially for those who are interested in how the Abolition got started. John Woolmans Piety is challenging to anyones faith.
A Living Faith, A Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Belief
A brief history and summary of Quaker Beliefs from the most liberal to the most conservative evangelicals. One of the best parts of this book is when Cooper talks about Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, and how Christ as prophet was one of the most important parts of early Quaker Christology, a part that is lost in much of evangelical Christianity today.
Apology for True Christian Divinity
The founding theology for Quakerism, written 30 years after the movement was started. It is as systematic a theology as the Quakers had and it is quite frankly an amazing work of theology. I found myself saying time and time again why have I never heard any of this before???? Probably the single most important book to me this school year.
Barbour, Hugh and Frost, J.
A great history of Quakerism in America, pretty critical and covers fairly the different parts of the movement.
How to Live Your Life
Probably the best book ever written by the one true Christian human alive.
Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger
A very powerful, provocative and moving account of the Americas (and its church) neglect of the poor.
The Black Christ
A book about Christ and how he relates to African American Spirituality written from a Feminist African American Woman. A great a short read to get your feet wet in Black Theology.
Fundamentalism and American Culture
A critical and well put together history of the Fundamentalist movement and its negative effects on the American church. Probably the second most important book I read this school year. It helped me understand much of my church background and the ideologies that fueled it.
The Careless Society and its Counterfeits
How is it that there are so many service jobs now? With so few product producing jobs available in this country? J. McKnight asks this question and many others as he sets for the idea that much of Americas economy is fueled by service jobs that were created to fulfilled false needs in the society. He says that what people need is true community (and he offers great ideas as to what this is) and not more therapists, doctors, teachers, and rescue mission workers etc.
African American Ethics
A great ethics book looking at many important issues for African Americans and how these issues are being handled by the larger society. It also has some great Black Theology in it.
We have been packing for about two weeks, and we have
already taken many things to the other apartment.
Last week emily went everyday i think just to take
even a couple things so that we would have less to
move when the day came. it is here. I am picking up
a uhaul today – i will probably spend about $80 on it.
we were considering taking multiple trips with vans
and small trucks but decided that one trip with the
uhaul would be less stressful and less of a commitment
for our friends.
We have been thinking about, praying for and talking
about moving to Glendale for about 4 months now. and
when it comes down to it i am nervous about the move.
What if we aren’t supposed to go there, what if we
can’t really afford the rent, what if we have a really
hard time maintaining our friendships or making new
ones, what if young-life falls through…
“You start to trust the things that deeper comfort
brings..safety abounds, safety abounds..” -Pedro
Lord please helps us to find the deeper comfort.
and Emily and I all helping.
We should be good to go.
We went to Jessie’s birthday yesterday, and met many
of her friends, and then those who she rents from DAVE
and MEREDITH. they are pretty hip people with fun
personalities. they own their own home so of course
we were jealous and felt like kids because we haven’t
bought a place yet. This is one main reason i want to
be back home. right now we could be living in a 3 or
4 bedroom house. anyways hanging out with these kats
makes me want to continue to pursue art and music. I
know what i have some ability and when i get around
people who are artsy it makes me want to be amazing
-that is what i am not. I often wonder how much my
art should be apart of my life, because i am not
naturally gifted like some i know – i wonder if i am
chasing after hollow dreams.
“I am a simple, and I sing a simple song…”
I found myself entering a conversation on urban
ministry with a friend who is a young-life staff person.
I think i have four
things you don’t want me talk about, Urban ministry,
Quakers, Dylan and Macs. I have a hard time shutting
up about any of that stuff. anyways she pretty much
said that for her Urban ministry is no different than
any other kind of ministry and she gets really annoyed
with people who “are like i am all about urban
ministry, that is where it is at…” I told her i
don’t like people that make one thing their cause –
because people get more caught up being sold out to
their cause and can often miss the point of the
Gospel. I know plenty that have done this for urban
ministry, suburban ministry, homosexual and abortion
issues etc. I don’t want to be one of those people
that have a cause, except that my cause be to proclaim
the kingdom of God.
BUT…(knew it was coming)…i can’t help but read the
prophets in the OT and read the whole freaking! Gospel
(especially the very urban-underdog focus book of
Luke) and see that Jesus speaks time and time again
about serving the poor, and the rejects of society,
those who have been forgotten by the suburban church,
those who have been hated by the government. I am not
trying to read into the Gospel here, i got this from
reading the Gospels honestly.
I just read Matthew 4:23 – where it talks about Jesus
“proclaiming the kingdom of God” and he was healing
all the sick around him. It was interesting to find
that both of these events were recorded as taking
place in the same verse, and if i remember correctly
it was in the same sentence! so what do i mean to say
about this? Well the sick and crippled have always
been the poor and outcasts of society, there is little
argument otherwise and the fact that proclaiming the
kingdom of God (the verbal event) is coupled with the
healing of people (the physical event). For Christ to
speak of the kingdom of God (the good news) was to
make things right for those who have been brought low
by the social, cultural and political systems of the
day. This isn’t something that is understood by the
typical evangelical church today (suburban or
otherwise). Most people equate proclaiming the
kingdom of God with preaching the Gospel and they
couple that with “getting people saved.” The ideology
that fuels this thinking is, “I believe that Christ
has called me to get people saved, i get them saved by
telling them to believe in Jesus and get out of sin,
when they do that their lives are now whole. Now I
must move on to the next person to get them saved, and
so on.” There is something wrong with this
picture…it is that Christ never got people saved and
then ditched them, actually it is if anything flip
flopped, Christ fixed their social situation, gave
them hope by healing them, feeding them, or
confronting the unjust systems that took advantage of
the weak. The point isn’t to say that christ never
tried to bring people into a relationship with God,
because he did do that, the point is that he was
concerned about the whole individual, and how to make
it right for each person – one at a time. There are
whole people, hearing about how to get saved but left
to sleep on the cold streets, there are people who are
hearing “Jesus Saves” but then they go home to an
abusive single mother who has no food or money and
screams at her kids out of desperation and fear.
There are mothers who are forced to live in places
like Skid Row in Downtown LA, with four kids. There
are divorced familes, that are broken, angry and tired
of the fighting but have no one who is willing to just
listen to their problems, there are people who preach
at them about right and wrong choices, but no
Christ-loving friends who shut-up and just listen.
There are children who have fathers who kill
themselves because they lost all hope, those kids
wonder where the “Jesus Saves” church was at for the
past 10 years while their father died from depression
– no one to love – no one to listen to the rejects.
those same kids now have no father, they know he gave
up because he had no hope, and they only here the
words of “Jesus Saves” while they see no real physical
people who are willing to get involved in their lives,
who are willing to get dirty.
well this is why I believe that ministry to the poor,
rejected and oppressed is at the base of Christianity,
because just like everything else our Lord did, it is
counter intuitive, it is difficult, costly and frankly
it is really unappealing to my american wallet and LA
Good thing Christ never called us to those things.
Good thing for me that i was born in a struggling
middle class family – that was better than those
damned families in Skid Row. God must have just
decided that it should be that way. I should consider
myself lucky and do whatever i can to keep my family
from ending up down there, oh heavens what could be
worse than living on the streets??!!
May we be like you Lord Jesus – concerned with the
whole person – healing those who you loved and sought
Matt. 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in
their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the
kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness
among the people.
Luke 12:15 And he said to them, ÂTake care! Be on your
guard against all kinds of greed; for oneÂs life does
not consist in the abundance of possessions.Â???
Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make
purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an
unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes
near and no moth destroys.
Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your
heart will be also.
Unfortunately – those who speak with such passion
often get written of as too extreme, this is not my
intention, and those of you who know me hopefully you
can testify to my heart. But at the same time Jesus
was written off as too extreme – so if we are like our
Lord I hope we are too extreme.
I found, at least for myself, one of the best places to spend a fourth of July Church service at – an African-American Church located in the middle of the hopeless and Notorious Skid Row of Los Angeles. Emily and I went to Central City Community Church of the Nazarene (CCCN) this Sunday and experienced a side of church (and patriotism) that was good for the soul and challenged a white-man’s pride.
I spent this past week with my Urban Mission Models class meeting at CCCN and was intrigued by their grassroots” approach to the hopelessness within Skid Row. I decided to call it hopelessness as opposed to poverty or homelessness because that is exactly what it is; Skid Row is comprised of Human Souls that have lost all hope. This Church seeks to have small groups of people that it ministers to; attempting to build transforming relationships with each person they come across. This leads them to shutting their doors on some people, but it also means that they are able to be more deeply involved with those they are ministering among. Their style of ministry got my attention and so my wife and I went to visit.
We found this church with its doors wide open, people flowing in and out of the doors, some sitting outside against the walls, showing that the location of this church is very important to their ministry. The predominately black church, was filled with many people, some of other colors, some wearing dress clothes, suits, some wearing jeans and head bands; it was truly a band of misfits which reminded me of Gideon’s army.
There were two significant things I walked away with yesterday: the first was that it is important to hear counter-narratives of our country and Christian faith and the second is that building community must be an intentional act within the church for any community to take place.
First the pastor, Jeff Thomas, gave a powerful message on Dependent Independence,” the main point of his message revolved around the theme that America within the Declaration of Independence wanted freedom from its oppressor, England, while at the same time oppressed those that maintain the economy of the country – those enslaved by those writing against oppression. This was much more my kind of Fourth of July service, no USA worship, no uncritical talk of the sheer amazingness of America; rather it was great to hear another side to the “the truth.” I was glad to hear, the other side of the story.” The story not often talked about in those ways, especially not most white churches today.
I can’t help but think of the deaths of the Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans when it comes to America’s Independence, but this is not a popular view-point, and many people push it off as – can’t we move past that yet? I thought about this also, but then I realized something, the African American churches continue to talk about this because the white churches have not collectively owned up to this or talked about it. When one group (or person) tries to persuade the mass population that group or person, often must tug hard the other direction in hopes of raising awareness, this is one reason why I think the black church continues to rehash these issues.
Secondly, history must be retold in hopes of preventing repeats and learning from past failures. Unfortunately America is in the business of oppression, our economy is fueled by sweatshop labors in and outside this country, it is powered by service oriented governmental jobs that create needs in order to create jobs (one example of this is the compartmentalization of much of the educational system – there are many more specialists in the field than every before yet the quality of education continues to drop), and it is powered by resources that we must take from other countries. Bush’s war on terrorism, motivated for a control over the middle east’s oil resources is yet another form of America oppressing others. I realize that some will not agree with this view, some will argue for humanitarian reasons that Hussein had to be removed – I don’t doubt that there was awful cruelties taking place in that country, but what we have done over the last year with our bombs, and warfare machines has created much more destruction and brought the end to many more lives than what Hussein was doing. If we were motivated to rescue the people from his tyranny, why was the war sold as a quest to end terrorism, and why has it turned out to be all about gaining control of Iraq’s oil resources?
These questions need to be asked, leaders need to be questioned, and I think the fourth of July is a perfect time to talk about what is freedom?” and how are we freeing or oppressing others? In our country and in the world?” The white evangelical church has for the most part turned a blind eye to the injustices in this country and world, they are not listening to the voices of the oppressed. The cries of the poor, urban and black churches continue to seep forth from the walls of injustice, calling those in power, those educated, those who have turned a blind eye to look up and notice – that our country is not yet land of the free,” it calls forth hoping to find a prophetic voice from which it can speak.
I am learning how to be more visible in my thinking, I want to be apart
of greater communities, thinking and storytelling.
Class Journal #3
June 30, 2004
Three topics arose today as we visited Skid Row, the interrelationships between Rich and poor, how to deal with the overwhelming problems of the city, and also what missions means to todays evangelicals. First we spent time discussing the appointment with a wealthy CEO that Jude did with other class at other times, and how it is important to meet with people like that because they are doing things for the poor, and it is important for us to be stay connected to the because we can become very separate, often times anti-rich, even to the point of leaving the rich feeling unwelcome. Bigotry toward the rich and those who live in wealthy areas can be feelings that arise within the poor and those who serve them, but if this happens then the cycle of bitterness and oppression is not broken and people are not freed from those sins. If the rich dont feel welcome in the poorer, urban churches then there is yet another segregation taking place. What a holistic-relational Christian community seeks to do is not only bring together multi-ethnic, multi-generational but also multi-economic peoples to the community. Problems do arise however because many rich dont want the poor meeting in their nice suburban churches on Sunday, and many rich dont feel welcomed in poorer churches because they are often times objectified for their money.
What is most important is that we continue to try and bring people together because the there are many things to be learned from each subset of culture. One person stated that, If we go to the rich we will lose the poor, but if we go to the poor we will also gain the rich.” This is because there are lessons to learn within those who are poor that are deeply rooted within the Biblical message and cries of the Spirit. These are some observations that those who are poor make that those who have money can learn from: People with money often get too caught up with their own image, and dont pay attention to anyone else; they are often times empty, searching for something they cant find; they are lonely; we are all the same deep down inside.
Christa spoke to us about prostitution in Thailand and what her and her husband are doing to help offer positive alternatives for the ladys there. Two things that struck me most here were the possibilities of creating jobs for these girls in ways that not only help the women but one that is also positive for the community.
Christas talk struck a chord with in me concerning foreign missions though. Looking through this very present experience of being in Skid Row and feeling the overwhelming needs of those hurting around me, I felt as though helping those in Thailand is a far off dream. I understand the role of foreign missions, but wonder how one can look through the problems of our own cities and into the problems of foreign cities. This is not meant to critic Christa and her husbands call but rather to ask how can I, as one who feels called to minister to those in my immediate community help those outside of it? What is my role in helping those hurting and objectified Thai women? I want them to be free from sexual oppression, I want to see them liberated from Buddhism, but is there a place for me to truly support foreign missions when I feel so strongly about rescuing those so close to home? One response the Spirit gave was, by educating those around me of the injustices in the world.” The Spirit showed me that though I am may be unable to support or serve those ladies in Thailand in any ongoing way, I may be able to educate and empower others do to so, even those who are poor and oppressed here in the States. It is possible by informing those around me of such injustices that some will find a way out of their own holes in the form of serving others who are in similar or worse situations.
Finally our visit to Mosaic felt left me with critical responses. In many ways I saw what Mosaic was saying as putting a new hat on an old form. Mosaic is a homogenous group of people seeking to grow (by spreading the Gospel) by reaching those who are like them, practically speaking, the majority are around the age of 24, middle-class, and single. It is a church still built on the foundation of evangelical tenants, where preaching is at the center of what is done, and worship is regularly understood to come through forms of music and art. They are basically a typical American protestant church that has hyped itself up enough to appeal to the young crowd, which is not in and of itself bad, but it is lacking in multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-economic peoples. Further as a Quaker Christian, I find a church community that is built around a pastor/speaker, the Bible (or word) as foundation, and worship limited to acts of music and other art forms, to be lacking in the talk of the Light of Christ, the Priesthood of all believers and contemplative and sacramental lifestyle. I find these latter things to be at the heart of not only true postmodern” movements but also at the heart of church that are socially relevant and active, driven by the spirit of God in a given community.