Archive for May, 2009

earth and earthworm; 5 years

When I garden, earth and earthworm pass between my fingers and I realize that I am made of the same stuff. When I pinch the cucumber vine and the water drips from the capillaries to soil, I can feel the blood coursing through my body. Man is a microcosm in whose flesh resonates and reverberates the pulse of the whole creation, in whose mind creation comes to consciousness, and through whose imagination and will God wants to heal and reconcile everything that sin has wounded and put in disharmony.

– From Chapter 1 of Vigen Guroian’s Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening


DSCN4756Because my back was turned to the audience, every time I lifted my hand to my face, people thought I was wiping away tears.  In reality, it was a muggy 95 degrees and I was wiping sweat from my brow.  That was five years ago yesterday, May 29, 2004, and I was standing with my bride-to-be making the most important commitment of my life, after my commitment to God.

I didn’t cry then — I am easily moved, just not usually to tears — but as I sit here this morning thinking about my wife, I could cry tears of joy.  So much has changed.  I’m looking out the window of our home in Boston (which we bought last year).  Our dog, Damon, is at the groomer’s this morning.  Chrissy is spending time this morning with her co-worker who is a new mom.  Yet after five years, I appreciate now more than ever the woman I married, precisely because she is the kind of woman who spends her Saturday morning sitting with a new mom with two other children in her care.

Here’s to five years, babe.  We’re a good team, you and me.  I could get used to this marriage thing.


links roundup

First off, I’ve been doing a bit of writing of late for the Jesus Manifesto zine, in the form of two book reviews and a scriptural/cultural exegesis.  The latter has sparked quite a conversation because of its provocative nature.  My evil scheme worked!  Check em out if you want to.


I’m going to go down the list of my shared items on my feed reader and share with you all what I found interesting over the last several weeks, listed in reverse chronological order as I’m reading it off the page. (in other words, not by order of importance / significance)  Beware … this stuff is all over the map.  Enjoy.

  • Review of We Shall Remain, a new PBS series about the earliest English settlers in North America. For you non-TV owners (like ourselves), the series is available online.
  • Neeraj Mehta over at God’s Politics suggests that perhaps “proximity” is a better core principle for community development than the current one, “relocation.”  I’ve always liked the term proximity, and this is a good post.
  • Ryan Fowler at Love is a Movement describes the milk carton drip system for garden irrigation.
  • There’s a cool Instructable on how to make your own laptop skin.  Pretty cool.
  • According to the Globe, Spanish-speaking folks in my neighborhood are afraid to report their neighbors that they know are committing crimes and raising a ruckus. East Boston Police are reaching out to them to build trust.
  • Empire Remixed has a great post called “Healthy Sexuality and Christian Community.”  Should be self-explanatory.
  • Boston po-po are apparently hard-nosed about guerilla street art. Shepard Fairey (the artist of the famous Obama campaign image) got arrested in Boston last year for some art he did here and was not impressed with the police’s reluctance to smile and look the other way when they saw him with his spray paint.
  • I can now take a double-decker bus — with WiFi and a sunroof, no less — from Boston to NYC, for about $18 per person. Guess I should start liking going to NYC.
  • Kester Brewin has a thoughtful post about the role technology plays in our lives, suggesting that people of faith can neither completely embrace nor completely exclude technology from their life, but that our relationship with it is a thoughtful tension. Quite relevant as I find myself outside the circle among my friends when it comes to things like Twitter, smart phones, and the like.
  • Coincidentally, the next item in my reader is an audio interview at neue magazine with Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith.
  • Shane Claiborne and Rob Bell team up to announce their new project, Two Futures, which asks the all-important question: “Who would Jesus bomb?”
  • And finally, three consecutive gardening-related items: Russ Cheatham describes his rooftop Earthbox urban garden at the Inside Urban Green blog; No Impact Man rejoices that urban gardening time is here; and here’s a wonderful Instructable on how to build your own solar-powered rain barrel.

That’s all the links for now.  I’ll likely share reflections over the next several weeks on the book I’m currently reading, Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening by Vigen Guroian, which is a great little book of earthy, practical theology. We’re off to Washington, D.C. this weekend to hang out with Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and our good friends Aaron & Amy.

great story

Nice to see CNN pick up on a positive story about church/religion.  Also nice to see a church pick up on the concept that it is better to give than to receive.


(HT: Houston)


[Begin Plug]

I want to tell you about a project a friend of mine is putting together, and it is pretty closely related to my post about the Story of Stuff.  So, many of us acknowledge that we have a consumption problem: we consume too much, and we often don’t know the origins of the stuff we consume.

Is your T-shirt assembled in a sweatshop?

What about your toothbrush?

How is the environment affected by the making of the shower radio you’ve had your eye on?

Enter WikiChoice, an open-source Web site that is positioning itself as the most powerful aggregator of information on the products we buy, from a social and environmental perspective. Like Wikipedia, WikiChoice harnesses the power of mass collaboration, allowing users to create content on the brands and products they use.  Over time, consumers will be able to access information on the social and environmental justice of thousands of brands — all within the framework of one site.

Right now, WC needs two things: time and money.  They need money to pay administrative costs, become incorporated, and let its founders eat.  Time-wise, they need you to go onto the site and import information about companies and products you care about.  It’s super easy, and the site walks you through the process.

As you can tell, I believe in this site, and not only because one of my good friends is one of its masterminds.  I love it because I can imagine a world where people begin to think before they buy, a simple step that will assist and relieve millions around the world. (not to mention our Earth)  So go to WikiChoice, sign up for more information, upload some information, give some money (if you have it), and use the site for your next purchase!

[End plug.]

Story of Stuff

I’ve been a huge fan of Annie Leonard’s Web-based video, “The Story of Stuff,” since it first appeared in 2007.  It lays out in a crystal clear and non-divisive (or partisan) way the impact our current process of consumption in the West has on our planet, our neighbors, and ourselves.  One valid critique of the video is that it is short on practical “what now?” information, except that which can be found on the rest of the site after watching the 20-minute video.  Nevertheless, Leonard’s mission is one of whistleblowing and education, and I believe awareness of crucial societal issues will depend heavily on the creation and dissemination of media like hers — media that present complex problems in simple, reproducible ways.

Anyway, it was nice to see a front-page nod with a picture to the Story of Stuff in Monday’s New York Times. While the NYT article gives an overview of the history of the video, its news hook is a battle that is being waged in Missoula, Montana, over the use of the SoS in a classroom.  According to the article, the school board ruled “that screening the video treaded on academic freedom after a parent complained that its message was anticapitalist.”

Anticapitalist.  Heh.

Look, I’m no raging commie and there are certainly aspects of capitalism that I very much enjoy, but I’m not sure the Big C is exactly the invincible tank we in the US once thought it was.  I’d say it’s been shown to be quite fallible over the last, oh, three years or so.  Last time I checked, everyone was talking about how many of those economic “truths” we accepted blindly are systematically crumbling around our feet.  Against a dreary backdrop of environmental devastation, economic collapse and corruption, and global poverty, we could actually use a few hundred more videos, Web sites, and books like Leonard’s SoS — media that ask the tough questions about our economic assumptions and suggest new paths forward.


HT: The Priesthood via Steve K

Random bits

I’m tired, but the good kind of tired.  The kind of tired where you’ve been working hard outside and in the garden, haven’t showered in a few days, and have a killer farmer’s tan.  The last few gorgeous days, we’ve seen our little neighborhood block come to life — neighbors helping neigbors dig up ugly bushes (then introducing themselves), ordinary folks turning weedy, grown-over plots of land into gardens, and folks stopping by just to say hi.

Ahh, springtime in Boston. =)

And the weekend’s only half over!


A couple resources to point you toward:

  • Christine Sine of Mustard Seed Ministries in Seattle has just released (on lulu as an e-book) “Gardening With God,” which is a compilation of her reflections on gardening and Christian spirituality.
  • I recently ordered Vigen Guroian’s Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening, which promises to be a great read.  I love his stuff.
  • And on a slightly different note, Chrissy’s working through An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor, a book in which the former minister explores the spiritual nature of ordinary practices: waking up to God, paying attention, walking the Earth, encountering others, saying no, and pronouncing blessings, among others.  I’m pretty excited about reading it when Chrissy’s done.


Our good friends just got back to Boston from some time in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  While in PA, they had the opportunity to stay for a few days with a Mennonite family in Amish country to get to know a little bit more about the rhythmic, simple way of being practiced in that part of the world.  They said they were blown away by the intense faith put into action that is practiced by the Amish (and Mennonites, for that matter), who believe wholeheartedly that a faith that doesn’t radically augment every part of your life (and your community’s life) is no faith at all.  They told us of a short video they watched in one of the museums where an Amish man is asked if he’s a Christian.  His response?  “Don’t ask me; I could tell you anything.  Ask my neighbor.”

A few days later, they happened to be in a small WV town on the “National Day of Prayer.”  The town held some sort of prayer service in the center of town where person after person got up and prayed forcefully for a different area of our national government.  As our friends listened to prayers being screamed into a mic for the U.S. military to remain “the mighty arm of God in the world,” they said they couldn’t help but think of the previous days they’d spent among the Amish, who quietly lead radical lives that put into practice the teachings of Jesus in ways many of us can only dream of.  They thought of the Amish community’s forgiveness of a killer who took 12 of their children from them in a tragic shooting.  Looking at these two experiences of Christianity side-by-side, they thought, “Are these two expressions even the same faith?”