Saturday, April 30, 2005

VIETNAM...30 YEARS AFTER US. This week, Vietnam is marking 30 years since the United States unceremoniously and hastily withdrew after decades of trying to prevent Communism from overtaking the south. Thousands of lives on all sides were lost in this extended debacle. Vietnam has found a peaceful life since then, and is beginning to flourish. Its scars, and those of America and the individuals and families affected by the Vietnam conflict, remain.

APRIL 30, 1975. As the South Vietnamese army collapsed and the North surrounded Saigon, U.S. forces helped evacuate many civilians who had collaborated with the U.S.-backed effort. 30 years later, many wounds of this conflict have healed, but let the scars continue to speak to us. What did we learn? How have we changed? For what shall we live? How do we approach conflict? How shall it best be resolved?

We have moved on,
Haven’t we?
We can look each other in the eye now,
Can’t we?
We don’t feel the pain as much,
Do we?
We aren’t making such political mistakes again,
Are we?

Friday, April 29, 2005

RESPONSE TO BENEDICT XVI: Will it be soulful admiration or official respect? Read my post below.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

CONGRATS TO MOLLY! She won blue ribbons in the 100 meter dash and 4x400 meter relay at Fulton Jr. High's first track meet of the season last evening at Beech Grove. Go, Molly!

STILL AT THE TABLE. Here are a few of the rogues that remained at the table after our weekly Wednesday morning roundtable at Unleavened Bread Cafe (30th & Central) concluded. Along with others, David Metzger (white beard) helped get the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood cafe going after his retirement from I U School of Social Work. He confesses that he has learned more and changed his outlook significantly about social work since immersing himself in this community and the lives of those who frequent the cafe. The Wednesday morning roundtable gathers at 7:30 am and is currently working through Psalm 119 and God's Politics by Jim Wallis.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

“What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being. We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.”
-- Wendell Berry from In the Presence of Fear

UNLEAVENED BREAD CAFE. Every Wednesday morning I meet for Men's Prayer Breakfast at WEMO at 6:15 am, then drive to 30th & Central Avenue on the northside of Indy for a 7:30 am roundtable that I've been a part of for about five years now. My father-in-law (shown here) has become a part of this table fellowship of prayer, Bible reading, and discussion of how faith intersects with urban community. Currently our group of 7-12 friends is working through Jim Wallis' book God's Politics. These two Wednesday morning meetings are important times of meeting of minds and hearts with mostly elder (though not elderly) brothers in the Christian faith.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

THIS WEEK'S EDITION POSTED. Click here to read this week's Grace Notes. Contents:
  • Moving Through Chaos - Warren Bennis
  • Creative is Daily
  • Pastor or Prophet? - Stanley Hauerwas
  • As the Cycling World Turns
  • Call for Peace Academies - Wendell Berry
MOVING THROUGH CHAOS. I find myself returning every now and then to Warren Bennis’ little book On Becoming a Leader (Addison Wesley, 1989). The following quote is from the chapter “Moving Through Chaos.”

INOVATION AND INTUITION. “A leader is, by definition, an innovator. He does things other people haven’t done or don’t do. He does things in advance of other people. He makes new things. He makes old things new. Having learned from the past, he lives in the present, with one eye on the future. And each leader pulls it all together in a different way. To do that…leaders must be right-brain, as well as left-brain thinkers. They must be intuitive, conceptual, synthesizing, and artistic.”

LEARN, LEAD, GROW. “Learning to lead is, on one level, learning to manage change…and that includes changes within the leader. One of a leader’s principal gifts is his ability to use his experiences to grow in office. The leader does it better and better and better, but is never satisfied. The leader knows better than anyone that the fundamental problems of life are insoluble, but he persists anyway, and he continues to learn.”

OUR CURRICULUM: ADVERSITY. “Leaders learn by leading, and the learn best by leading in the face of obstacles. As weather shapes mountains, so problems make leaders. Difficult bosses, lack of vision and virtue in the executive suite, circumstances beyond their control, and their own mistakes have been the leaders’ basic curriculum.”

Monday, April 25, 2005

AMERICAN TOM DANIELSON WINS TOUR de GEORGIA. On Sunday, Lance Armstrong helped one of his proteges--27-year old Tom Danielson of the Discovery Channel pro cycling team--to the winner's podium of the 6-stage Tour de Georgia. You will not likely see the young and relatively inexperienced Danielson with Armstrong in the Tour de France in July, but his win in the biggest multiple-day cycling race in the US is perhaps a hint of things to come. Win or lose, Armstrong will retire at the end of this summer's Tour de France. Click here to read the AP story on the finishing day of the Tour de Georgia.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

THREE AFTER A COLD, TOUGH GAME. "Jitterbug," "Bazooka," and "The Badger" stop for a photo after a tough soccer loss Sunday afternoon. Temps were in the 30s. The team played in blowing snow in Lafayette on Saturday. Isn't it nearly May? Click on this or any photo on the blog for a larger image.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

"The humblest and the most unseen activity in the world can be the true worship of God. Work and worship literally become one. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever; and man carries out that function when he does what God sent him into the world to do. Work well done rises like a hymn of praise to God. This means that the doctor on his rounds, the scientist in his laboratory, the teacher in his classroom, the musician at his music, the artist at his canvas, the shop assistant at his counter, the typist at her typewriter, the housewife in her kitchen -- all who are doing the work of the world as it should be done are joining in a great act of worship." – William Barclay

Friday, April 22, 2005

IMAGE OF GOD. According to Michelangelo, this is what God looked like as he gave life to Adam. The artist's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel depict various images of God.
EARTH DAY REFLECTION. The folks at The Bruderhof left this quote from Wangari Matthai, the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner from Kenya, in my inbox:

"Poverty is both a cause and a symptom of environmental degradation. You can't say you'll deal with just one. It’s a trap. When you're in poverty, you're trapped because the poorer you become, the more you degrade the environment, and the more you degrade the environment, the poorer you become. So it's a matter of breaking the cycle."

"We cannot solve all the problems that we face: we don't have water, we don't have energy, we don't have food, we don't have incomes, we're not able to send our children to school. But we can do something – something that is cheap, that is within our power, our capacity, our resources. And planting a tree was the best idea I had. For me, it became a wonderful way of breaking the cycle."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

CHEERING ON LANCE. In this Reuters photo, a young Georgian cheers on cycling legend Lance Armstrong during the time trial stage of the Tour du Georgia. Lance finished over a minute behind the stage winner--American and former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis. After four stages, Armstrong lurks back in 8th place in the race he won last year. The race finishes in Atlanta on Sunday. Follow it at

Creative is not only something
we intend to do
with paint and brush.
It is not an expression
we go to a museum
to contemplate.
It is not contrived only
beyond the framework
of the ordinary.

Creative is daily.
It is illumined in the work
of common forgiveness.
Creative is found in that conspiracy
of grace we call joy.
It is in the daily honing and preservation
of a pure heart.
Creative is the transformative power
of gratitude.

The greatest creative work of God
in our lives is diminished
when we look only
outside the soul,
beyond relationships,
beyond the daily.

But look again.
God is doing a new thing
in our hearts and
thru our lives.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

GRACE NOTES POSTED. This week's edition of Grace Notes is posted--later than usual--at Grace Notes are gleanings from reading, personal reflections, etc. They come from things noted in the margins of my weekly comings and goings. I've been putting Grace Notes together and sharing it with friends weekly since 1998. Grace Notes is nothing new, but every week is a fresh work of the heart.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

HAMILTON BANNED FOR TWO YEARS. American cyclist and 2004 Olympic cross country champion Tyler Hamilton will spend lots of time at home over the next two years. After an extended and impassioned appeal, he received a 2-year ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Will he be too old to come back in 2007? This photo is from Reuters.

Monday, April 18, 2005

FIVE DISTORTED IMAGES OF GOD. I initiated a preaching/teaching series on Sunday called "The Image of God." The images of God we carry in our mind's eye are far more potent for shaping our spirituality than the beliefs or creeds to which we give assent. With the help of J. B. Phillips and Juanita Ryan's work, I described five distorted images of God:

1. Resident policeman. “God’s gonna get you if you don’t watch out." This god is ready to arrest you if you step out of line. This god may be seen as unsympathetic, emotionally distant, cold, and interested only in facts or performance. This god can also be the “bad cop”…a bully, an intimidator, an abuser. The main response to this distorted image of God: fear and guilt.

2. Busy and aloof manager of the universe. Some say: “God’s busy somewhere…but he’s too busy for little ol’ me and my concerns.” In this common image, God is too busy with important things to care about or to listen to me. God’s doing something somewhere…but he’s just not there for me. This god is unreliable, or a god who abandons me. The main response to this distorted image of God: loneliness.

3. Uncle Sam god. This is “God-on-our-side.” This image of God makes our might right. This is the war god, who blesses men’s wars, who condones mass violence in the name of national pride, who justifies whatever is said to be in the nation’s best interest. This is the god of civil religion. No matter what the God of the Bible declares and calls for, if this god is conjured up, many people yield to the Uncle Sam god. The main response to this distorted image of God: smugness and self-righteousness.

4. God-in-a-box. Confined to the shelf or in a limited space for limited purposes, you take him out when you need him. This is the consumer god, who stays in his place in our compartmentalized lives. Sunday god. Pet god. Like a troll doll; rub his tummy when you really need him. God-in-a-box helps you get what you want without crossing boundaries that you have set for him. The main response to this distorted image of God: self-absorbed.

5. Offended, unpleasable tyrant. Some people imagine God as a person with impossibly demanding expectations. You’re trying hard to please this god…but you can’t quite measure up. The standards are high…just out of your reach. You get the feeling this god is offended and you want to please him but you’re not sure how. You’re really not sure what this god expects…like a moving target. The main response to this distorted image of God: tired (from trying hard to please).

Do any of these describe the image of God in your own head and heart?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

CONGRATULATIONS, DEB. My sister graduated from the Professional Careers Institute (PCI) Medical Assistants program this afternoon. There were about 100 PCA graduates. Family and friends packed Pike Performing Arts Center. It was a hug-fest, unlike most academic diploma distribution affairs. Deb will assist her husband, Dr. Mark Stine, as he begins an independent general practice after having worked in physians' group with Methodist/IU. Congratulations, Deb. I am proud of you!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

SHALL I BIKE 2000 MILES THRU INDIA? On Friday, a fellow Free Methodist and cycling enthusiast shared with me his plan to raise awareness and support for a Free Methodist hospital in Umri, India by launching an effort that will culminate in a 2000-mile bicycle journey from New Delhi to the southern tip of India in 2007. The ride would include only a handful of cyclists...and I could be one. While I salivate at the prospect and support the project, I have to seriously consider whether or not I am up for riding 100 kilometers a day, day after day for six weeks through the middle of India. I will give this some prayerful consideration.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A LITTLE NIEBUHR. I ran across this excerpt of Reinhold Niebuhr, quoted from his book The Irony of American History. The excerpt is in a book on urban ministry titled Redeeming the City and the authors place the statement at the beginning of a chapter that challenges change agents to address systems with principles, patience and persistence over a lifetime.

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend and foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness."

BACKYARD FORSYTHIA. Bright yellow blooms of forsythia always greet us upon our return from Spring Break in Colorado. For more than two weeks the bush shines before dropping the yellow petals and greening up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

WHAT DOES GOD LOOK LIKE TO YOU? I've been asking folks over the past few weeks: "What does God look like to you?" So, do you have a response?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


"There is a mistaken notion that our society has a problem in terms of effective human services. Our essential problem is weak communities. While we have reached the limits of institutional problem-solving, we are only at the beginning of exploring the possibility of a new vision for community. It is a vision of regeneration. It is a vision of reassociating the exiled. It is a vision of freeing ourselves from service and advocacy. It is a vision of centering our lives in community."

-- John McKnight in The Careless Society

Monday, April 11, 2005

GRACE NOTES POSTED. Read this week's edition of Grace Notes at In this edition:
  • Defiant Struggle - a quote from C. F. Blumhardt
  • Papal Conclave & Cable News
  • Sift Our Hearts - a prayer re John Paul II's funeral
  • To Share or Not to Share - four vignettes
  • Ten Days After Easter - a prayer

Sunday, April 10, 2005

TRAFFIC JAM ON THE COBBLES. Cycling photographer Graham Watson ( was on the spot of one of many pile ups during Sunday's 103rd Paris-Roubaix race. Called "Hell of the North," the race is run on 2000 year-old cobblestone roads built by the Romans in northern France. Belgian Tom Boonen won the race; American George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong's first lieutenant on the Discovery Channel team, placed second.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

DON'T LOOK NOW...but the Indiana Pacers have moved into the fifth spot for the playoffs in the Easter Conference. Two weeks ago, when Jermaine O'Neal was lost for the season to injury, the experts wrote Indiana off. But they've won 7 of 8 games since then and moved ahead of Cleveland. And retiree-to-be Reggie Miller is on fire, leading his team into the NBA playoffs. This has got to be the most bizarre season of any team on record.

PAPAL CONCLAVE VIA CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ETC. Just think: this will be the first papal conclave to be conducted in the era of cable network news. If the news editors get their way, choosing a new pope will never again be the same.

SATURATING US WITH ALL THINGS PAPAL. Before a new leader of the Roman Catholic Church is announced, the western world will be saturated with every perspective, nuance, speculation, and projection ad nauseum about the pope. For escape, we will be surfing reruns of M.A.S.H. and the reassuring banality of Father Mulcahy. Hey, why not Father Mulcahy for pope?

BEAT THEM AT THEIR GAME. One can only hope that thru the next fortnight Catholic commentators will be savvy enough (a) to not play into the news media's hands and (b) to teach us all a lesson or two in basic Christianity (vs. the made-for-TV exploitation brands).

BETWEEN SOCCER GAMES. Molly (on the right), with two Arsenal teammates, poses for a photo after a tough morning game. They played a second 80-minute game in the afternoon. Sam also played this afternoon with this Indy Burn team.
SIFT OUR HEARTS. A prayer on the occasion of Pope John Paul II's funeral:

O God,

Thank you for the public life and example of John Paul II. As the world has grieved and gathered in tribute, I pray that you will be glorified.

At such a time, let the true nature of your kingdom be clarified. It is not about rituals or the rich, but about Good News to the poor. I pray for the poor to be remembered and lifted up as central to your Gospel. I ask that the hearts of those of us who have succumbed to a mammon spirit and given ourselves to unworthy, selfish pursuits will be sifted.

Let us accept your judgments now that we may be changed and change our habits, patterns, and witness before a watching world. May we yet, in this generation, live to glorify you and your name in the world.


Friday, April 8, 2005

Having shown the world for over a quarter of a century how an authentic Christian stands and lives, Pope John Paul II has now shown the world how a Christian suffers and dies. Let us all be grateful.

A RACE OVER ROMAN COBBLESTONES. This AFP photo (at shows the treacherous cobblestones over which over 150 professional cyclists will race kilometer after kilometer in Sunday's 103rd Paris-Roubaix event. These cobblestone roads date back to Roman times. Once crossed by Roman chariots, these cobbles bounce high-tech bicycles and iron-willed competitors nearly 20 centuries later.

INSTANT SPRING. Each year, our family experiences the odd sensation of instant spring. The last weekend of March finds us heading from mildly cold and lingeringly wintery Central Indiana to definitely cold and snow-packed Breckenridge, Colorado. Most folks head for the beach for spring break; we head for the slopes of the Rockies.

FROM SNOWBOARD TO BIKE. Then, a week later, a plane whisks back home and -- wallah! -- spring has sprung! Bulbs are up, blooms are on plum and crabapple and tulip trees, and grass is -- get this -- green and growing. Some neighbors mowed their lawns and edged their sidewalks this week. That's pushing it! Next week, one of our family members will be pushing it...the lawn mower, that is. Last week, I rode a snowboard down mountain slopes packed with 70 inches of snow. This week, I rode my Cannondale in a t-shirt thru Eagle Creek Park while Sam practiced soccer. Go figure.

Thursday, April 7, 2005

JOHN BAILLIE'S PRAYERS. A Diary of Private Prayer is, to me, the most stirring collection of heart-felt Christian prayers in publication. There is a prayer for the morning and evening of every day of the month. Even though I have read and prayed these prayers over the past fifteen years, I have not begun to exhaust them. Here is one:

Here am I, O God, of little power and of mean estate, yet lifting up heart and voice to You before whom all created things are as dust and a vapor. You are hidden behind the curtain of sense, incomprehensible in Your greatness, mysterious in Your almighty power; yet here I speak with You familiarly as a child to parent, as friend to friend.

If I could not thus speak to You, then were I indeed without hope in the world. For it is little that I have power to do or to ordain. Not of my own will am I here, not of my own will shall I soon hass hence. Of all that shall come to me this day, very little will be such as I have chosen for myself. It is You, O hidden One, who appoints my lot and determines the bounds of my habitation. It is You who has put power in my hand to do one work and have withheld the skill to do another. It is You who keeps in Your grasp the threads of this day’s life and who alone knows what lies before me to do or to suffer.

But because You are my Father, I am not afraid. Because it is Your own Spirit that stirs within my spirit’s inmost room, I know that all is well. What I desire for myself I cannot attain, but what You desire in me You can attain for me. The good that I would I do not, but the good that You will in me, that You can give me power to do.

Dear Father, take this day’s life into Your own keeping. Control all my thoughts and feelings. Direct all my energies. Instruct my mind. Sustain my will. Take my hands and make them skillful to serve You. Take my feet and make them swift to do Your bidding. Take my eyes and keep them fixed on Your everlasting beauty. Take my mouth and make it eloquent in testimony to Your love. Make this day a day of obedience, a day of spiritual joy and peace. Make this day*s work a little part of the work of the Kingdom of my Lord Christ, in whose name these my prayers are said. Amen.

BUG & BIKES IN CAIRO, WEST VIRGINIA. I want to make this journey again. Cairo, West Virginia is a main stop along a wonderful 80-mile rail trail (with no less than 12 tunnels) between Parkersburg and Clarksburg.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005


O God,

Removed ten days from celebrating the Resurrection event,
I wonder if I have yet begun to grasp but a fraction
of its meaning and power for me,
for the church,
for the world?

I press on presumingly,
speaking Resurrection words
but carrying on as if little had occurred.
I got stirred up about Easter
but I am apparently changed little.
Radicality dissipates into
minor adjustments,
shallow commitments,
tepid dreams.

Still, I dare to hold to faith in Easter,
to believe that on that morning
no mere rustled resettling occurred,
but a tectonic plate shifted reality
for a world without transcendence,
people without hope,
life locked in death.

Help me to explore and live the Third Day
in the face of my own doubts.
Believing you live and go before me,
meeting me in unlikely moments,
I go forward into this day,
this work,
these relationships,
your world.


Tuesday, April 5, 2005

MY LETTER IN THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Today the Indianapolis Star published the following letter I submitted regarding funding plans for a new Colts stadium and an expanded convention center:

Regional approach will benefit all residents

Regional participation in a new stadium and convention center upgrades makes economic sense for Central Indiana.

Residents in all Central Indiana counties benefit directly from a vital economic core. And if it is accepted that keeping the Indianapolis Colts and expanding the convention industry are necessary for regional economic growth, then participation from across the region is a no-brainer. All stand to lose or benefit.

Few regions in the nation have the potential development trajectory of Central Indiana. But county-based polarization, protecting petty political fiefdoms and trying to solve problems in isolation will diminish quality of life in each community and the region as a whole. Leadership calls for a regional approach to investment in Central
Indiana's future.

John Hay Jr.

Monday, April 4, 2005

PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS. The following prayer is found in the Book of Common Prayer, the guide to worship in the Anglican congregations. John Wesley was an Anglican minister and used this prayer as a framework for his understanding of God's dynamic work in the heart and life of person. It frames holiness theology. I am grateful to Wes Tracy for this insight.

Almighty God,
Unto whom all hearts be open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid,
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name,
thru Jesus Christ our Lord,

Sunday, April 3, 2005

THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF GRACE NOTES IS POSTED. Read it at This week's contents:
  • A Prayer: Your Call
  • Share the Civic Benefit, Responsibility - I commend a regional approach to funding the new Colts stadium
  • A Prayer: What Shall I Become?
  • One Draught - a quote from Malcomb Muggeridge
  • Life & Death in the News - reflecting on the "death events" of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II

Access all Grace Notes editions at I have been putting together Grace Notes: Weekly Fragments from the Margins of a Graced Life since 1998 and sharing it as an e-journal via e-mail and online. Bikehiker blog grows out of that effort.

DEATH EVENTS. One would do well to observe--and compare and contrast between--the “death events” of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. One divisively leaves people polarized and offended. The other leaves the world in grateful vigilance and reverent grief. One family feud continues to spew venom beyond a loved one’s death. The other family unites in solemn release and celebration of a life.

Still, our peace with one should not diminish our discomfited concern for the other.

AFTER A DAY ON THE SLOPES. Nothing like a hot tub in the Rocky Mountain air to soothe away aches from a day of skiing and snowboarding. Here's all four Hay kids chillin' earlier in the week.

Saturday, April 2, 2005


O God,
I live in response to your call.

My life is not my own.
But yielded to you,
my life is given creative capacities
and myriad opportunities
to serve, to learn,
to grow, to give--
to live more fullythan if I never heard
or never responded to
your call.

Yet your call remains a mystery,
an enigma that challenges me
without being fully fathomed
or sharply focused.

I would like to understand more,
in the thought that I may more
pointedly cooperate with
your purposes in my life.

But if my fuller knowing
ignites my pride or selfish will,
or inhibits an iota of your desire,
then let me carry on
seeing as thru a glass darkly
that I may be led haltingly
into a future that fulfills
your call on my life.


Friday, April 1, 2005

SEVENTEEN. Jared has been snowboarding on spring break since he was nine years old. Now seventeen, he's adept with a board and unbeatable to the bottom of a run.
DEAD WRONG. Buried amid this week's headlines of the Terri Schiavo case and the sharp escalation in gas prices was the final report that American intelligence was "dead wrong" about Saddam Hussein and Iraq possessing any unconventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction. And, once again, the primary rationale for over 1,500 (and counting) American troops losing their lives, a war that is driving a multi-billion dollar deficit and undermining domestic challenges, is proven fallacious, untrue, unreal, illegitimate. And, once again, this is ignored.