Month: December 2007

Friday Photo … Guest Photos

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Tommie took these while we were without power staying with my folks.

Under the knife [UPDATE]

I have some more thoughts to post but will be out for a bit. Minor surgery early this afternoon. Should be back in commission later today. Blessings to you.

Dr. McNeely excised a lipoma in the right center of my neck. A bit sore but doing quite well.

Mourning … Moleskine

A number of years ago I became intrigued by Vincent Van Gogh. Maybe it was a reference in Len Sweet’s Soul Salsa to a painting of the Church at Auvers. Could have been coming across some of Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo. May be it was reading biographical material referencing Van Gogh’s study for the ministry and his work among the poor. What ever it was I have a great interest in Van Gogh.

Reading I came across a reference to a small sketchbook used by Van Gogh – a moleskine. Many keep notes on their computers or PDA’s. I tend to have better recall if I write something down. I picked up some of these little notebooks. I am on my third small, ruled version. I found another size in a Barnes and Noble and picked a few up. It is thinner but larger and has a thicker paper cover. I took this one on my recent trip to Philly.

The thin brown version soon became my favorite. Notes from meetings, personal reflections, notes from bereavement visits and thoughts from my recent Soularize trip fill the pages. Today I began looking for my notebook on the way home. I scavenged the two bags I was carrying. No moleskine. Frantic I looked again. Standing waiting for my plane from Dallas to OKC I called the hotel hopeful it had turned up in the morning rounds of housekeeping. No notebook. I have called again and may hear tomorrow. I called the car rental company and may hear from them. In the meantime, I am preparing myself for the word to come back – “We’re sorry, no notebook.”

Strange what we become attached to. Our thoughts recorded are hard to give away and the thought of losing them is painful. Sure it sounds weird to mourn a book of your own words. Alas, it is true. I am mourning my moleskine.

Listening and relational learning

One of our favorite, and honest, phrases parenting our girls was, “There are two sides to every story.” Occasionally this was construed as either, ‘You don’t believe me,” or, “How come you won’t assume my position.” These interactions came during conversational moments where in relationship with our girls we were attempting to learn together in a way a particular event could be a moment of growth and maturity, even for we parents.

Frustration generally curbed or slowed all of our learning. We so wanted to be understood  that our only gauge for understanding was for the  “other” to “come over to  our side.” Our girls would on occasion feel as though their parents did not listen and we reciprocated with the same feelings.

This kind of impasse is often experienced in any number of relationships. What we must be careful of is asserting the “other” is immovable and thereby exhibits a flawed character. It could be the “other” listened but for a variety of reasons did not assume a posture of holding on to his or her position out of pride and belligerence.  It may well have been the “other” found merit in the “argument” presented and may have even moderated some elements of a position but nonetheless found confidence in the decision made.

Attempts to couch this experience in terms of antagonists limits what we may learn. In other words, it is easy to make ensuing conversations and descriptions part of an “us/them” framework. Doing so runs the risk of exhibiting both a lack of humility and an attempt to control and direct the “other.”

Pastoring often brings such a criticism when it is perceived a person is not “heard.” Listening in this context means the one casting an  accusation is more interested in “getting their way” than working toward understanding that may even result in disagreement but not the dissolution of the relationship.

Over this past several months I listened and learned from a group of students. Our conversations centered on leadership beyond power. The ways in which we exhibit power over the “other” often leads to a decline in powerful leadership after the manner of Jesus as each person is interested in “getting their way.” The subplot of the course found expression in the title, “Beyond Power: Leadership and Gender in a Flattened World.”

Students with differing views and perspectives made for an  interesting, even intense, first couple of days. Over the course of the semester learning from “others” took precedence over positions. This does not mean some fell pray to the proverbial slippery slope of giving up ground only to be come …. you fill in the blank. Instead, what ensued was a final two days together that exhibited just how those who differ can learn and love one another to a place of powerful learning – relational learning.

Creating an atmosphere where this may occur in all  relationships may result not in a particular hegemonic position, but a plurality that allows us to see in ways we otherwise would not. Our own confidences are refined as we embrace the “other.” Since we cannot “fully know” the position of learning from the “other” seems to be a better place from which to move forward in following Jesus and working with others to live what my friend John refers to as, “reconciled lives with God and with others.”

“With My Money I Have a Voice.”

â??No one will ever listen to me.â? â??My vote does not matter.â? Considering the political season and the decision to vote for President of the United States left me wondering what effect our vote, more specifically â??myâ? vote, will have. It stands to reason many people think this way and so voter turnout is not close to representative of the overall population. If it represents anything, it illustrates despondency often ruinous to healthy change.

Giving up is not in an â??achieverâ??sâ? vocabulary. We must be able to make a difference. The size of the difference does not matter. So I have some ideas that began germinating hearing Scott talk about the current moves made with One Village Coffee.

Scott made the comment, â??With my money I have a voice.â? In the context of a church setting the implication is often understood as a means to exert power or influence. Ron Fannin used to say people vote with their hand, their heart and their pocket book. Often people vote with their hand and not their pocketbook ; which is a â??noâ? vote. In this way the statement Scott made would be viewed negatively.

We often do not think about what we do with our money. Scott talked of Hives for Lives. He noted he would pay more knowing his money was going to help others. With his money, he has a voice.

If you have not clicked on the link to One Village Coffee, do so and learn of the ways these young mission minded entepreneurs hope to influence communities to collaborate for the good of the world. Scott reported today that his father uncovered a small village in another Country needing to find avenues for their coffee bean crop. Connecting this small group to those who would buy will go a long way to bringing a more sustainable living context for these villagers.
In church how we spend our money on things such as plates and coffee and in the process illustrate who we speak for. Adam noted that his young church plant took Scott’s story to heart and stopped buying paper or Styrofoam cups and instead will be using coffee cups – real coffee cups. Realizing the effect we have with the consumption of paper products, this young church is using its voice.

Too often churches slip into the role of consumer thinking what they buy really only effects the given church. Scott’s statement and the work of companies like One Village Coffee and Hives for Lives should spur us all to consider what our money says about our values.