Sunday, October 31, 2004

VOTING CONSIDERATION #5: I recognize that most “all-or-nothing” issues cast during election campaigns are NOT “all-or-nothing.” Neither candidate is as extreme or demonic as the other camp says he/she is; neither is as morally right and righteous as his/her own press indicates. Major ideological battles will not be won or lost because either George Bush or John Kerry is elected. In the end, right-wingers do not get their way and left-wingers do not get their way. Through tough, extended deliberation, a consensus response that is palatable to most Americans will emerge on most of the issues currently framed as “all or nothing” (though the consensus response may not be Biblically tenable and though I may continue advocate for core Biblical principles behind the issue). Read all seven considerations I make when voting.

THE GLORY OF A TREE IN AUTUMN. This sweet gum tree stands next to our church, hardly noticed most of the year. But it dazzles all passersby on West Morris Street during October. Learn more about WEMO @

Saturday, October 30, 2004

VOTING CONSIDERATION #4: Fourth, I look for a candidate who I think will lead compassionately, not just talk about compassion. Will the candidate give an ear to those who are vulnerable and dominated? Will he or she be moved by more than money and political pressure? Beyond personal benevolence, will the candidate seek to make America fairer, instituting policies that roll back prejudice, disadvantage, and poverty? Will the he or she hold truth and human rights higher than political or economic expediency?

Read all seven considerations I make when voting.

Friday, October 29, 2004

IN TIMES OF GREAT DECISION. A friend sent me the following contemporary hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. It is sung to the tune of "The Church's One Foundation."

In times of great decision,
Be with us, God, we pray!
Give each of us a vision
Of Jesus' loving way.
When louder words seem endless
And other voices sure,
Remind us of your promise:
Your love and truth endure.

0 God, whose gifts are countless,
You send us bearing peace.
You fill our dreams with justice
For all communities.
You give us global neighbors
That all may justly live.
May those we choose as leaders
Reflect the life you give.

0 God, you bridged the distance;
You opened wide your door.
You call us by our presence
To reach to serve the poor.
You teach us: Welcome strangers!
Seek justice on the earth!
May those we choose as leaders
See every person's worth.

You call on every nation
To put aside all greed,
To care for your creation
And for your ones in need,
To care for those in prison,
For children, for the ill.
In times of great decision,
may we choose leaders well.

WHEN VOTING, "TRUST GOD AND SIN BOLDLY." Reading my "Seven Considerations I Make When Voting," someone asked me: "Should not a candidate's sense of morality as well as justice be a factor?" Here's my response:

YES...BUT. Yes...but if I withhold my vote or participation in civic engagement until what I define or describe or think of as a Biblically "moral" politician comes along, I will be waiting a long, long, long, long time.

POLITICIANS ARE...POLITICIANS. All candidates are first and foremost politicians. And politicians are what they are: politicians. They are not the best people. They are not the moral compasses of the nation. They are not the best leaders. They are not likely to be deeply spiritual. They are flawed. They are materialistic. They are savvy. They are compromisers. They are people pleasers...and the people they like to please most are themselves, their cronies and those who support them. They are ambitious for themselves and their ideological assertions. They are addicted to power. They will likely say anything to get elected and do anything to stay in power. This is true even of and particularly for those who cloak themselves in robes of righteousness; they only blind themselves to the plank in their own eye.

THE LAST MORAL CHOICE. Who is moral or who has a "more" moral platform is a relative factor in civic leadership and elections. There has never been a time in American history in which voters have had a purely "moral" or Christian choice. A Biblically moral person and platform is unelectable (they rejected and crucified the last one).

THE WILL AND POWER TO DO JUSTICE. Personal morality and moral sensitivities in candidate or party platforms are but one of many factors that should be considered when voting. For me, the will and power to do justice for the dispossessed ranks higher as a voting factor than a candidate being able to pass my list of Christian sensitivities.

WHY I WILL VOTE. Here's why I will vote, in spite of limited choices: We participate in a democracy that strives for the best possible at the time, not the perfect person or answer forever. That I have the privilege of a vote at all is historically incredible. And our particular democracy is blessed to at least have some orientation to Biblical principles. And, at the same time, our founders had the wisdom to separate church and state. My hope for humanity's future, for the transformation of society and redemption of all cultures lies not in the state but in the confession "Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ is coming again," and in living the Kingdom of God as we are given grace to glimpse and embody it.

I DARE TO VOTE. As feeble as I may think the voting options are, I dare to put what I have learned and know about Christian ethics and decision-making in the face of many bad choice options to work. I will, in the words attributed to Martin Luther, "trust God and sin boldly."
VOTING CONSIDERATION #3: Third, I recognize that the priorities of the Kingdom of God and the agendas of American Presidents and governments are not the same. Combining or confusing the two is, to my way of thinking, a potentially lethal mix. I do not expect the American President or government to express the Kingdom of God; that is the challenge of the church. I yield necessary and limited obedience to given authorities; I give my heart to and live unqualifiedly for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

BOSTON DID IT. Congrats to my two (known) Boston Red Sox fan friends, Tom and Rick. You've waited almost all your life for this one. I suppose I should take both Tom and Rick out to lunch and coax them into telling their baseball war stories of delay, disappointment, unbelievable bad luck, all the ones that got away, and then...a storybook ending. Wow! This World Series was over before I could really get into it. Boston didn't mess around. Get it done and get out of town.
VOTING CONSIDERATION #2: Second of seven considerations I make when voting: I do not expect the American President to be a Christian or my brand of Christian. While candidates love to wear righteousness on their sleeves and court faith votes, in reality there has never been a Christian platform or Christian Presidential Administration. Instead of holding them up to a Christian litmus test, I expect the American President and governmental leaders to uphold the Constitution and lead with utmost wisdom, compassion, and diplomacy. Read all SEVEN CONSIDERATIONS.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

LIFE TOGETHER ON WEST MORRIS STREET. Earlier today I posted my 48th weekly issue of "Life Together on West Morris Street" on our church website. LT is my weekly information and prayer journal for our community of faith, a Free Methodist congregation near downtown Indianapolis. You might be interested in my reflections in "5 Steps Toward Breaking the Family Curse."

HOMELESS PHOTO ESSAY AT NPR.ORG. This is Paul, a homeless neighbor living in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He's one of several folks who let photo journalist Gary Clark into their world. An excellent story, "Picturing the Homeless, on Their Terms" is at
SEVEN STRAIGHT WINS. Boston continues to surprise. The Red Sox, under the pitching power of Pedro Martinez, defeated St. Louis 4-1 last night to take an unexpected 3-0 lead in the World Series. They are one win away from breaking the Curse. Remarkably, the Bosox have won seven straight games, including four consecutive games from the Yankees after being down 0-3 to New York in the ALCS. Don't think the proud Cardinals will give up the fourth game easily. Look for this series to return to Boston for game six...maybe game seven.

Long-time Boston fan (are there many in the midwest?) and Indy native Tom Orr sent me this link to a good article about Red Sox fans.
VOTING CONSIDERATION #1: Here is the first of seven considerations I typically make in thinking about candidates running for office and about regimes of government. I will post one per day through November 1:

#1: “WHAT DOES IT DO TO THE POOR?” At the core, my politics really come down to framing one question in reflection of any candidate’s or regime’s positions, policies, proposals, priorities, etc.: “What does it do to the poor?” A leading evangelical from another generation, Nicol├ís Wolterstorf, framed this question. Regarding it, the evangelical media and religious and political voices that purport to speak for “moral” issues have not raised this question or considered it. Neither domestic poverty nor the impact of American policies on those who are poor internationally factor into this year’s campaign. Yet it was to the poor who were being crushed by the Romans and belittled and condemned by the Pharisees that Jesus primarily addressed himself and to whom he announced the Kingdom. The poor continue to be disregarded by the powerful; their issues and concerns are lost in political agendas that seem to be influenced more and more by money and the preservation of moneyed advantage than morals (even the moral issues mentioned seem to be litmus tests or smoke screens behind which unbridled greed, self interest, and power are sought).

Read all Seven Considerations at

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

WHAT I CONSIDER WHEN VOTING. I recently received an e-mail from a Christian who asked me how I could reconcile the Democratic platform stand on abortion and gay marriage with my belief that Scripture is true. The inquirer confessed to having the same problem with the reconciling the war in Iraq with their faith. I took some time to respond. What emerged are SEVEN CONSIDERATIONS I make when voting or acting as a citizen between elections. I will post these daily here through November 1. Or you can read them all right now at

GRACE NOTES THIS WEEK. I just posted my "weekly fragments from the margins of a graced life" at This week's Grace Notes contents include:

  • October Epic - a reflection on Boston and the "Curse of the Bambino"
  • Forgiveness and Gratitude - a quote from Henri Nouwen
  • A New Confession of Christ - text from the recently signed statement regarding Christian witness in a world of violence

Monday, October 25, 2004

MOLLY IN THE PARK. The trees were ablaze at Brown County State Park over the weekend. The Oogle Hollow Trail was a cathedral of color. Our family had a vigorous trek.
THE CURSE UPDATE. The Boston Red Sox appear to be on their way to thoroughly exorcizing the Curse of the Bambino. They've taken a 2-0 lead over St. Louis in the World Series. It's too early to celebrate, just as it was too early to write off the Bosox when they were down 0-3 to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. But two games is a good head start. They'll need it: the Cardinals haven't lost a game at home in the playoffs.

Friday, October 22, 2004

THREE OF US IN THE FOREST. Molly, Sam, and Becky stop and smile at a bridge deep in Brown County State Park. This is part of our annual trek during fall break.
WHERE ARE YOUR NEEDS MET? Take in this statement by Jeff VanVonderen in his book Families Where Grace Is In Place. Here is a key to changing the tone, communication, expectations, and behavior in so many families:
“Quit trying to get your personal needs met by making members of your family conform to you and live up to your expectations. Instead, learn to depend upon God to meet your heart needs. He’s the only one who can fill the emptiness inside and satisfy your soul, anyway. When you count on Christ to meet your needs, it sends ripples through every other relationship.”

Thursday, October 21, 2004

BABE AND THE CURSE. After trading the Bambino to the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox haven't won a World Series and, until a few days ago, had never bested the Yanks in a league championship series or all-or-nothing game. Was it a curse? Is it over? Hang on to your hats!
CURSE OF THE BAMBINO. Everybody's talking about it on sports radio. The question is: with its four-game, history-making, come-from-behind American League Championship Series over the Yankees, have the Boston Red Sox finally broken the "Curse of the Bambino?" Boston won numerous World Series before it traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920. Since then, they've never beaten the Yankees in a series championship series or all-or-nothing game. In addition, they haven't won a World Series since. They finally beat the Yankees to win the American League pennant. Now, can they beat St. Louis or Houston? Will the curse be broken?
CONFESSING CHRIST IN A WORLD OF VIOLENCE. The following new "Confession of Christ" came to me via Jim Wallis of Sojourners today. It is a confession signed by more than 200 theologians and ethicists. I include it in its entirety and heartily embrace its concerns and assertions. The Confession follows:

Our world is wracked with violence and war. But Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus said: "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all the more difficult today.

Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons on these texts since the terrorist atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does Christian "realism" mean resigning ourselves to an endless future of "pre-emptive wars"? Does it mean turning a blind eye to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment rather than intelligence and restraint?

Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism and nationalism.
- A "theology of war," emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.
- The language of "righteous empire" is employed with growing frequency.
- The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American "mission" and "divine appointment" to "rid the world of evil."

The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But a policy that rejects the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear.

In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.

1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confess his name are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.

We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness of modern warfare strengthens this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never be done - torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction - regardless of the consequences.

3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary's eye, but also the beam in our own. The distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every human heart.

We reject the false teaching that America is a "Christian nation," representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious. We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most of the world's evil. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, 10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love does not mean capitulating to hostile agendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in God's image.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law's protection. We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all political disagreements, and it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.

We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who fundamentally question American policies must be with the "evil-doers." Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians, are expressions of the Manichaean heresy, in which the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.

We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urge them to remember these principles in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord.

INDIANA STATE CAPITOL. Even though mud flies under gray clouds in the race for governer, the sky shines bright and clear on the State House. I took this picture at the south end of the campus; the top of the dome is just visible.
FORGIVENESS AND GRATITUDE. I've been mulling over this insight of Henri J. M. Nouwen from Here and Now:

"To leave home, whether it was a good or bad home, is one of the greatest spiritual challenges of our life. Two of the most important ways of leaving father, mother, brother, or sister are forgiveness and gratitude. There is so much to forgive. But if we are willing to see our own parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents as people like ourselves with a desire to love but also with many unfulfilled needs, we might be able to step over our anger, our resentments, or even our hatred, and discover their limited love is still real love, a love for which to be grateful."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

MARY RIGG NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER. I serve on the Board of Directors of Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, a multi-service community center that serves neighbors of West Indianapolis. MRNC is just a few blocks away from West Morris Street Free Methodist Church. Mary Rigg has been directed for 25 years by "Dr. Bob" Burgbacher. Check out the MRNC website for information about how this organization is making a difference in our near Westside community.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

D.C.LAND. Have you seen the parody of "Dixieland" (changed to "") at Good for a hearty laugh. Give a listen, also, to "This Land Is Your Land."

LIFE TOGETHER ON WEST MORRIS STREET. I just posted my 47th weekly issue of "Life Together on West Morris Street" on our church website. LT is my weekly information and prayer journal for our community of faith, a Free Methodist congregation near downtown Indianapolis. You might be interested in my reflections in "Families That Play Together."

"47" IS THE NUMBER. That's 47 weeks for me as Senior Pastor of West Morris Street church. I've joked about this with the congregation on Sunday mornings from time to time: "Well, this is my eleventh Sunday as your pastor...and they haven't shut us down yet!" Forty-seven means we're nearing a year--I think it will be the last Sunday in November, since I started the first Sunday of December, 2003.

Monday, October 18, 2004

BOUNDARY CROSSINGS. My work as a pastor takes me in every direction of the metropolitan area. I go toward downtown to get to the church facility, but I travel in every direction to meet with those who form our community of faith and circle of concern. As I traverse the city, I am aware that I cross many sensitive community boundaries every time I get in and out of my VW Beetle.

CHALLENGE IN ALL DIRECTIONS. Whatever way I go, whatever street or highway I take, I am aware that these are places people have left behind or are moving toward. These are emotional and generational boundaries as well as geographic locales. They represent spiritual journeys toward and away from Christian discipleship, hospitality, and creative witness.

WHOLE CITY. As I think about this, it seems to me that metropolitan ministry, for both individuals and groups, calls for ever higher levels of understanding and appreciation for the whole city, its movements, and its challenges--inside and out.
GRACE NOTES POSTED. I e-mailed and posted this week's edition of Grace Notes a bit earlier today. Grace Notes is my weekly e-journal, what I subtitle "Weekly fragments from the margins of a graced life." This week's contents:
  • Autumn Prayer by Ted Loder
  • Where the Sidewalks End
  • The Lord of the Dance

Sunday, October 17, 2004

WEEKEND SPORTS UPDATE. This just in...Molly's team won the U-14 Gold Division of the Nightmare at the Rock tourney in Center Grove, Indiana this afternoon.

Jared and the Ben Davis High School boys varsity finished runner-up in the Ben Davis Sectional, falling 0-1 to Covenant Christian on Saturday evening; BD defeated Ritter earlier in the day. BD's mostly sophomore and junior team will return next fall as a strong contender for the MIC conference and a possible berth in the "elite eight" of the state tourney.

On Saturday in Ben Davis Cadet Football, the Bears beat the Bucs, 12-0, and Sam's team finished the season 5-2. Good luck in the playoffs Sam.

Up in Warsaw, Indiana, where Olivet Nazarene University soccer women visited Grace College, Abby's team defeated Grace 2-0 on what was the coldest day of the far. Good luck in upcoming playoff games, Abby.

LOOK UP! IT'S A... All eyes are on a soccer ball (looking more like a flying billiard ball) kicked into play during the championship game of the U-14 Gold Division of the Nightmare at the Rock tournament in Center Grove, Indiana. The girls in blue are Arsenal; Molly is #5. Arsenal won on PKs after two overtimes, 4-1.

Friday, October 15, 2004

AFTER A WET, WINDY RIDE. The riding temperature today was in the low fifties. Light rain and a stiff eastward wind made it seem colder. But that's what riding gear is for. I overdressed; I was drenched, not from rain but from sweat, by the end of today's ride.


Here’s a gem from Ted Loder’s Guerrillas of Grace (Innisfree Press, 1984), a striking collection of poems and prayers from the heart of a Methodist pastor from Pennsylvania. Thanks, again, Kathy Wallace, for the gift of this book.

O extravagant God,
in this ripening, red-tinged autumn,
waken in me a sense of joy
in just being alive,
joy for nothing in general
except everything in particular;
joy in sun and rain
mating with earth to birth a harvest;
joy in soft light
through shyly disrobing trees;
joy in the acolyte moon
setting halos around processing clouds;
joy in the beating of a thousand wings
mysteriously knowing which way is warm;
joy in wagging tails and kids’ smiles
and in this spunky old city;
joy in the taste of bread and wine,
the smell of dawn,
a touch,
a song,
a presence;
joy in having what I cannot live without --
other people to hold and cry and laugh with;
joy in love,
in you;
and that all at first and last
is grace.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

HILLY GLORY. This is one of the vistas 5,000 cyclists will have during the annual Hilly Hundred this weekend. I snapped this shot somewhere on Helmsburg Road a few years ago.
HILLY HUNDRED WEEKEND. It's Hilly weekend and 5,000 cyclists will converge on Ellettsville, Indiana for the two-day, 100-mile ride through some of Indiana's most colorful and hilly roadways. I won't be there on Saturday or Sunday due to family and church obligations, but I do plan to ride "The Ride to the Hilly" tomorrow (at least ride with the CIBA group from downtown Shapiro's as far as Morgantown before returning to Indy). At least I'll get some of the flavor of this annual cycling highlight.
NEVER REST? Here's a refreshing perspective on Sabbath keeping: “In our society the individual is independent, ideally depending on no one and nothing. And individuals who depend only on themselves must always be on guard. They can never rest. Thus we live in a world that might be characterized above all else as restless.”

DARING TO KEEP SABBATH. “Yet Jews and Christians are peculiar people who celebrate the Sabbath rest and understand that rest as one of the most crucial aspects of our witness. Unlike others in our society, we claim that our lives do not belong to us and are not in our control. We claim there is a Creator who trusts the goodness of his creation enough even to rest himself on the seventh day! How better can we show that the world and its welfare do not depend on us and our efforts than to rest regularly and boldly? How better to show that the world is good enough to believe in than to let it be one day a week?” -- Rodney Clapp in Families At the Crossroads (IVP)

ART ON MASS AVE. An October setting sun shines through this stained glass art piece along Massachussetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. Mass Ave and its adjoining neighborhoods is haven for artists.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

ALONG ANY INDIANA STREET. Maybe leaf colors are peaking sooner than I anticipated. These tree colors, along Belmont Street on the Near Westside of Indianapolis, can be found along any Indiana street or roadway in October.
CAN'T PREACH RESPONSIBILITY. Check out today's Daily Dig quote by Vaclav Havel:

"There is such an enormous gap between our words and deeds! Everyone talks about freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, and peace; but at the same time, everyone, more or less, consciously or unconsciously, serves those values and ideals only to the extent necessary to defend and serve his own interests, and those of his group or his state. Who should break this vicious circle? Responsibility cannot be preached: it can only be borne, and the only possible place to begin is with oneself."
BD WINS ROUND ONE. Ben Davis High School boys soccer team defeated Indianapolis Northwest in overtime, 2-1, Monday night in the first round of Sectional play in the Indiana High School Athletic Association's State Soccer Tourney.

Northwest played with the intensity and skill of an all-Latino team. BD countered with tough defense and good strategy. It was a rough game; at least 10 yellow cards were handed out. Once again, Jared shined.

BD takes on Cardnal Ritter in Sectional round 2 on Saturday morning; if they win that game they will likely face either Pike (ranked 7th in the state) or Covenant Christian for the Sectional championship at 8:00 pm Saturday night. Go Giants!

Monday, October 11, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

GRACE NOTES UPLOADED. I just uploaded to my site the latest edition of my weekly e-journal. This week's contents includes:

  • A reflection on the choice of Wangari Maathai to receive the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • A reflection on forgiveness in the household.
  • The Dominion of Trees, a poem by Annie Dillard.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

DOWNTOWN BEETLE WITH BIKES. Sam and I rode the Canal downtown at sunset on Sunday. In the background is Merchants Plaza, historic St. John's church, and Pan Am Plaza. The bug is parked on the southside of the Indiana State Capitol building.
FORGIVENESS IN THE HOUSEHOLD. I worked with Colossians 3:13 today -- "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Here are four pithy assertions regarding forgiveness:

1. Forgiveness is an imperative for authentic Christian life and witness.

2. Forgiveness in the household is necessary because we are selfish, error-prone, and often presumptuous.

3. Forgiveness is possible because God is gracious.

4. Forgiveness is both a daily choice and a distinctly heavenly grace.

NEAR EASTSIDE ARTIST. On my Sunday evening downtown bike ride, I stopped by to visit with Ed and Janas Durkee. Janas was painting on deadline for a commissioned piece. Ed and Janas live in Cottage Home, one of many thriving neighborhoods in the shadow of downtown Indy.

Friday, October 8, 2004

TREE HUGGER WINS. This is the first time the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to someone for working for environmental concerns. Kenyan Wangari Maathai's work is tied inextricably to local and international justice. Her efforts to oppose development exposed the strong-arm corruption of Daniel arap Moi's government. And the Green Belt network has helped many women become self-sufficient through the sale of saplings in a country that had become 90% deforested through rapacious development and bad wood harvesting practices.
LEARN THIS NAME: WANGARI MAATHAI. She's the Kenyan environmental firebrand who just won the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai's "Green Belt Movement" combats deforestation in Kenya and other African countries by encouraging planting (and selling) trees. Her protests led to the downfall of the corrupt and oppressive regime of Daniel arap Moi, and to reforms for democracy and environmental stabilization.

TALE OF TWO WOMEN. On the day when a popular and "ideal" American woman entered jail for lying about investments on the stock market, a relatively unknown 64-year old Kenyan woman entered world consciousness and won the world's most celebrated award. Meet Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. She's no Martha Stewart. Maathai has likely never made cutesy knick-knacks. But Stewart has probably not stripped naked in public to show marks from beatings from her government, either.
THIS JUST IN...ABBY VOTES FOR THE FIRST TIME. Abby, our 19-year old daughter, called me from college just a few minutes ago to tell me she just received and mailed in her absentee ballot for the upcoming national election. Yea, Abby! She also said she gave her friends the voter registration and absentee ballot links to friends, and they are doing the same. Isn't that cool?
BEN DAVIS TIES AVON. Ben Davis High School boys varsity soccer team tied Avon 2-2 last night. I missed the game, the last of the regular season, due to a late flight arrival. Becky said Jared played wonderfully. The Avon player he marked got so frustrated he threw Jared to the ground, for which he received a red card (expelling him from the game). Next up for BD: IHSAA Sectionals for the State Tourney begin Monday.

"To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, 'Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

BREAKING THE BRIDGE? “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” –Thomas Fuller, M.D, quoted by M. Scott Peck in Abounding Grace

Thursday, October 7, 2004

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. What experts thought they saw in the report on no WMDs in Iraq is not what's important, Mr. Cheney tells us today. Most saw in the report a clear indication that no WMDs were being worked on by Saddam Hussein. Most saw that the primary justification for taking American troops to war at what has become a cost of over 1,000 lives and $200 billion to American taxpayers was unjustified. But Mr. Cheney says most are reading it all wrong. He sees in it ample justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Are all these experts missing something? It must be in the eye of the beholder.

GEORGIA SPIDER WEB. There's a spider in the middle of this web, spun between two trees on the banks of the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta. I couldn't quite capture in this photo the way the evening sun was shining through the web.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

SOJOURN AT SIMPSONWOOD CONTINUES. My mini-sojourn at Simpsonwood retreat near Atlanta continues. I made my presentation to the Pastors In Community group today, calling it "Making Space Hospitable." It was a pictoral (PPT) reflection on how we tried to incorporate the principles of Christine Pohl's book Making Room in the service plan and building construction of Horizon House. Hospitality is the focus of this particular series of meetings of this group of 17 pastors and Asbury Seminary profs. Discussion and insight has been rich.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

POHL & SOME OF THE PIC'S. These are some of the "Pastors In Community" that I am in discussion with this week at Simpsonwood near Atlanta. On the far left is Christine Pohl, author of the groundbreaking book on hospitality, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Among the range of evangelical pastors from California to New Hampshire are three Free Methodists (myself included).

ALONG THE CHATTAHOOCHEE. I walked this afternoon along the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta. It was my first time to see the legendary river, that I recall (though I may have crossed it on an Interstate without knowing it).
URBAN GREENWAYS. Read this story in USA Today about a 2000-mile urban greenway from Floriday to Maine. Greenways development continues to be a great investment in urban quality of life. Come on, Indiana; let's get into it.
FROM ATLANTA. Entries over the next few days are from Atlanta. Simpsonwood, specifically. Simpsonwood is a 300-acre retreat center on the banks of the Chattahoochee River facilitated by the United Methodist Church. I've been invited by Dr. Christine Pohl (author of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Eerdmans, 1999) to participate in a "Pastors In Community" event and to share how we wove principles of hospitality into the facility and service model at Horizon House (

Monday, October 4, 2004

ARCHITECTURAL GIANT. Indiana lost a great mind and spirit when J. Irwin Miller died a few months ago. Miller used his influence to shape Columbus, Indiana into the “architectural capitol” of the world. The following excerpts are from a speech he gave in Indianapolis about fifteen years ago. This is great food for thought for leaders. Read more in this week's Grace Notes @

MAKE THE MOST OF SMALL OPPORTUNITIES. “Your chance is to be found in a continuing succession of small, manageable events - little opportunities as well as the great ones. Every time any public building is built, that building is a statement to anyone who uses it, anyone who passes by, as to what this city thinks about itself, what standards it sets for itself, what it aims to be.”

WHAT STATEMENTS DO OUR BUILDINGS MAKE? “It matters not whether the building be a city hall, a museum, a school, a jail, a fire station, a parking garage, a park, or for that matter, new signage laws, exposed power lines, or the design of benches at bus stops. Each, for good or ill, makes a statement.”

CREATE ENDURING MESSAGES. “If the design and construction is clearly aimed to be the best it can be, that message is sent out every day, as long as the building or the park, or the ordinance stands. If the design is ugly or routine and the construction shoddy, the message is that nobody really cares. Nothing you do or build is too small or too insignificant not to do well.” Read more of J. Irwin Miller's reflections @
ATLANTA BOUND. I am headed to Atlanta for a few days to talk about hospitality. Not cup-of-tea hospitality, but hospitality as a primary paradigm for local congregational life and community-based social services. This is risky hospitality, put-your-life-on-the-line hospitality, get-ready-to-be-changed hospitality. I've been asked by Christine Pohl (author of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition) to participate in a Pastors In Community event, which is part of a larger initiative of Lilly Endowment called "Sustaining Pastoral Excellence." So, my entries over the next few days will be from Atlanta (where the temperature today is supposed to reach 85 degrees). See y'all.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

GRACE NOTES POSTED. I just posted this week's edition of Grace Notes @ . This edition includes an original poem, "Chasing Saints." It also includes an series of pithy statements from a speech by J. Irwin Miller. Miller's quotes are great thoughts for leaders.

THAT'S MY OLDEST SON. Yeah, the one waving his hands and acting crazy. The Indianapolis Star snapped this photo (and put it on its web site: at Friday night's Indianapolis Ben Davis High School vs Lawrence North football game. BD (6-2) beat previously undefeated LN, 14-7. Not sure what Jared won...or lost? Click on this or any photo on the blog to get a larger view.
HAITI RELIEF. Haiti needs our help, North Americans. I am directing my prayers to God and my financial support to the Free Methodist Bishops Relief Fund. I have confidence in their direct and wise use of funds I send, stewarding my desire that specific and long-term care and development be part of the relief and rebuilding that will occur. Learn more about what the Free Methodist Church is now doing--and has been doing for many years--in Haiti.

Saturday, October 2, 2004

MILITARY RECRUITING IN SCHOOLS. Since 9/11, military recruiting in high schools has reached an alarming level. The presence of the military and heavy-handed recruiting efforts play (prey?) upon young people at a most malleable period of their development. Is this the best response to the call to patriotism? Military recruiting steps up while community service programs are defunded. Hmmm...

ANOTHER PATRIOTISM. Scott Button, age 18, comments on military recruiting in school, and wraps up his essay with this: "It is not enough just to say, 'I oppose killing in war'; we must represent our opposition as positive energy through our daily actions. We must not condemn those willing to die for what they see as the good of our country, but join them by demonstrating that another kind of patriotism rests in offering enthusiastic service to help make America and the rest of the world a safer, happier, and better place."

Friday, October 1, 2004

JARED CHIPS THE BALL TO A FORWARD. That's our blond-haired bomber, #3, chipping the ball to a forward in Thursday night's second round of the Marion County High School Boys Soccer Tournament. Ben Davis trounced Perry Meridian 6-3 to advance to the semi-final round. The Giants face Lawrence North on Saturday morning.