Monday, February 28, 2005


GEORGE HINCAPIE WINS. Lance Armstrong's first lieutenant on the Discovery Channel cycling team, big George Hincapie won a single-stage classic in Belgium on Sunday. Hincapie won the 190 km Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne race, pedaling ahead of an elite group of riders in freezing temperatures.
RELATEDNESS
“I suppose those of us who assume relatedness and then look for it may find ourselves frequently disappointed. We may perceive or assume what others do not perceive or assume. We may see fine linkages worth testing and exploring, while others see unbridgeable chasms or rather quaint but useless commonness. I see incredible commonness among the many disparate people I am privileged to get to know; but I have come to realize that some of these people can’t seem to appreciate each other.”
Read my reflection on "relatedness" in this week's Grace Notes

TYLER HAMILTON HEARING UNDERWAY. American Tyler Hamilton--the 2004 Olympic champion, former lieutenant for Lance Armstrong, and a top Tour de France contender--has three days to prove he is not a doper. In a special hearing before anti-doping authorities in Colorado, Hamilton will try to prove that a new test administered on him following the Olympics is not valid. It indicated that he had had a recent blood transfusion (a disallowed practice that would have given him a higher blood oxygen level--and more power--than competitors). Hamilton denies ever having had a blood transfusion or using performance enhancing drugs. Hamilton had never failed a drug test until August 2004. If he wins his case, Hamilton will likely be restored to professional bicycle racing and contend for the 2005 Tour de France for Phonak Hearing Systems. If he loses his case, a 2-year ban will stand and, with his age, he may never be competitive again.

Follow this story at www.cyclingnews.com.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


GRACE NOTES POSTED. Click here to read this week's Grace Notes. Contents include:
- Relatedness - Do you begin with the presumption of relatedness or distinctions? How does this impact leadership?
- Separately Holy? - Does it make sense for those of a holiness theological heritage to continue separately?
- The Power of Trust - Three brief quotes from Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning
- Serenity Prayer - I led folks in this Reinhold Niebuhr prayer at a memorial service for a homeless neighbor

Grace Notes is an e-journal of quotes, gleanings, and reflections I have been putting together weekly since 1998. All Grace Notes archives are available at www.geocities.com/bikehiker.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

FACTIONS & CONTRADICTIONS. I love this quote by Paul S. Rees:

“I will go to my grave convinced that the church—the visible community of Christian faith and fellowship—needs to exhibit a unity that is perilously contradicted by the exclusive, self-defensive, and often warring divisions into which we have fractured and factioned ourselves. With time’s passing I am less and less impressed by our attempts to justify this rabbit-warren proliferation of our sects and subdivisions. Concurrently, I am increasingly struck by the flimsiness of our arguments for going on as we are.”

Friday, February 25, 2005


EBERHARD ARNOLD: SALT AND LIGHT. "Whoever receives God's life and grasps the nature of God's future has taken on the character of salt. What is important to God is genuineness. He does not expect a person to adopt an attitude that is not in accord with his inner self and feelings. Christ sees as his friends all those who have his spirit, who breathe his life. The powers of the future world are at work in them, revealing unconditional love, righteousness, and purity. The coming kingdom, which will encompass the whole earth, belongs to God. It opposes all decay; all that is insipid, flabby, and weak. It resists death." -- from Salt and Light, 1920 Learn more about Eberhard Arnold at Bruderhof.com
XENOPHOBIA. Merriam-Webster's definition: "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign."

Thursday, February 24, 2005


THE SUFFERING POPE. An emergency tracheotomy today underscored the frailty of the 84-year old Pope John Paul II. I have literally grown up with John Paul; he was selected to lead the Catholic Church when I was a Freshman in College. But the image of that vigorous "Polish Pope" who snow skiied and played football has given way to one who had a stroke and who suffers from Parkinson's disease. No question--John Paul's health is severely compromised. This man (man of God) is clearly suffering, frail, and not far from his last days. All the more reason that he shoud retain his position as "servant of the servants of God." We have admired a bright and strong pontiff; let us salute a sickened and suffering servant. Perhaps he will show the world how a person of Christian faith is to suffer and die. Perhaps that, more than anything else at this time, is what we all need to see.

THE LAST CONSOLIDATION? Mayor Bart Peterson is proposing to consolidate law enforcement, fire services, and township Trustee services in Indianapolis/Marion County. "Indianapolis Works" could well end the most glaring taxing inefficiency and duplicative governance in UniGov--a county-wide municipal form of government that was implemented in 1971, bringing better services and tax relief to citizens of Marion County. Click here to learn about the Indianapolis Works proposal.
POLITICS AND SAUSAGE. Yesterday, Sheila Suess Kennedy talked to the students in my Indianapolis Peace House class (thanks, Sheila!) about the formation of UniGov--the 1971 consolidation of many municipal authorities and governing jurisdictions, and township services in Marion County that created a unified, county-wide system of government. Kennedy, who served as Corporation Counsel for Mayor William Hudnut and who writes a fiesty bi-weekly column for the Indianapolis Star, spoke of the pros and cons of UniGov planning, deal-cutting, and implementation. "Two things you don't want to watch being made are politics and sausage," she quipped.

CONSOLIDATION AND EXCLUSION. Many municipal services that were consolidated, but because of competing political interests or stiff local resistance, several entities were "excluded." A few small municipal governments were permitted to continue with very limited authority--Speedway, Beech Grove, Cleremont, and Lawrence. It was agreed that the Indianapolis Police Department would have jurisdiction over Center Township and the Sheriff's Department would provide law enforcement in the other eight townships (to this day residents in Center Township have to pay a tax both for IPD and the Sheriff's patrols). Likewise, the Indinapolis Fire Department would serve Center Township and the other townships would be served by their volunteer fire systems. The township Trustee system was not touched (and continues to be a laughable platform of political patronage).

WHY WEREN'T SCHOOLS CONSOLIDATED? But the most outstanding exclusion to UniGov was the public school systems. By failing to bridge the gap between urban and suburban township school districts, UniGov effectively "locked in" the race and poverty prejudice-driven segregation that existed at the time. It also immediately resulted in Federal Court Judge Hugh Dillin calling for desegregation of school systems throughout the county through a forced busing plan--an order that still holds sway, though it has been revised in recent years. The disparities in quality of education throughout the county point back to this "exclusion."

INDIANAPOLIS WORKS. Currently, Mayor Bart Peterson is calling for the Indiana State Legislature to enact provisions that would finally consolidate law enforcement and fire departments. His proposal would also consolidate many of the township Trustee services. Taxpayer savings with Indianapolis Works is substantial. But the larger reason is that it is just sensible for our civic life. I hope Indianapolis Works in enacted. Now, about the disparity in education for our city-county's children....?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


COMPLICITY. I wrote the following piece immediately following America's attack on Iraq in 2003. I read it this morning...and it rings true of my heart and mind today:

I decried the possibility of war
and it was fostered anyway.
I spoke my piece for peace
and my voice was drowned.
I wrote to my governing authorities
and none responded to my pleas.
I stood publicly with others in protest
and we were ridiculed as unpatriotic.
I prayed for war to be avoided
and my prayer was not answered.

Still, I pray.
Still, I stand.
Still, I write.
Still, I speak.
Still, I decry.

That my perspective is not popular
does not diminish its validity.
That my voice is not heard by authorities
does not mean it is of little consequence.
That my stand against violence is ridiculed
does not negate my love for country.
That my prayer is not answered
does not mean it is not considered.
That war prevails for the day
does not make it legitimate.

I have the blood of innocents on my hands today,
and the blood of enemies
for whom I beleive Jesus Christ died,
whom I am called upon to love.
Without approving of war or pulling a trigger,
and even after protesting against it,
I have become complicit in its carnage,
I have taken the lives of children of God.

I dare not justify my complicity
or diminish its consequences,
saying the benefits outweigh the costs,
thinking the end justifies the means,
making noises about the price of freedom.
Lives as precious as mine are being snuffed out
one at a time and hundreds at a time --
in defense of their homeland,
in obedience to their governing leaders --
pierced by hot lead, shattered by bombs.

Their blood is on my hands --
not simply on governing authorities,
or on the military that does their bidding,
or on those who approve of war
and savor its anticipated glories.
I dare not excuse myself from complicity,
carry on as if it were not my war,
blame it on the arrogance of leaders,
pass moral judgment on my fellow citizens,
or diminish my participation in this
orchestration of death.

What can I do?
How can I live while others
die by my own hand?
How can I bear the judgment
for taking the lives of others?

Instead of gloating,
I mourn.
Instead of pouting,
I pray.
Instead of lashing out,
I keep vigil.
Instead of excusing,
I confess.
Instead of dulling my senses,
I empathize.
Instead of yielding to cynicism,
I cultivate hope.
Instead of being swayed by opinion,
I explore the Word.
Instead of isolating,
I neighbor.

I entrust myself and my neighbors
to the mercy of God,
to the justice of God,
the wisdom of to God,
to the compassion of God.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


COOLRIDERS. Those crazy Germans! A group takes off in the Coolrider 2005, raced in Germany on February 20. Don' t you wish you were there? Perhaps we will yet get a good snow in Central Indiana before the winter ends one month from now! Who's up for a snow ride?

Monday, February 21, 2005


LANCE...OR JAN IN '05? The guessing game is over. On Wednesday, things came into focus for every cyclist and team planning to contest the Tour de France. The Discovery Channel cycling team announced that six-time defending champion Lance Armstrong would attempt to defend his title in the July epic. Immediately, the "old man" (he's 33) becomes the target and focal point of preparation for every up-and-coming professional cyclist. The one who defeats Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France will be celebrated in history.

UNBEATABLE...OR LUCKY? Is Armstrong beatable? Or is he lucky enough to avoid crashes, mistakes, scandals, and illnesses through four months of training and twenty-one days of competing across the terrain of France...one more time?

CLASH OF TITANS. Wouldn't the ultimate outcome be Jan Ullrich--who has provided the stiffest competition and placed second to Armstrong five times--winning by a few seconds? Not to take anything away from Lance, but if this era of the Texan must end, let it end in this final clash of Titans dueling it out to the final finish line on the Champs Elysees.

CORNEL WEST: OPTIMISM VS HOPE. Here's more Cornel West from an essay in The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear , an anthology edited by Paul Rogat Loeb. Again, thanks for the Daily Dig and links, Bruderhof.

"Hope is not the same as optimism. Optimism adopts the role of the spectator who surveys the evidence in order to infer that things are going to get better. Yet we know that the evidence does not look good. The dominant tendencies of our day are unregulated global capitalism, racial balkanization, social breakdown, and individual depression. Hope enacts the stance of the participant who actively struggles against the evidence in order to change the deadly tides of wealth inequalities, group xenophobia, and personal despair. Only a new wave of vision, courage, and hope can keep us sane and preserve the decency and dignity requisite to revitalize our organizational energy for the work to be done. To live is to wrestle with despair yet never to allow despair to have the last word."
COURAGE TO QUESTION. The following quote by Cornel West was in my inbox this morning from the folks at www.bruderhof.com:

"The country is in deep trouble. We've forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that's the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never to allow despair to have the last word."

Sunday, February 20, 2005


CENTRAL KENTUCKY. Even for a bleak mid-February morning, I was taken by the rolling terrain and simple beauty of central Kentucky as I drove between Louisville and Lexington on Saturday. Though my mind was focused on a presentation I was to share later in the day, as the sun's rising revealed the passing landscape, I couldn't help but enjoy the view. I was born in Albany, Kentucky. Our family moved from there when I was six months old...and I have never been back.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

WORSE THAN A HOUSE DIVIDED. It is said that a house divided against itself will never stand. Neither will a house that demands a veneer of intimidated uniformity at the expense of creative tension, open questioning, considerable debate, and exploring options.

Friday, February 18, 2005

LOOKING FOR A LEADER. I am looking for a leader who openly second guesses him/herself. Who carries on internal and open debate instead of unveiling ironclad edicts demanding unquestioning acceptance and lockstep conformity within his/her own ranks.
SOCIAL CRITIQUE ISN'T VERY WELCOME. Have you noticed? Social critique isn't very welcome when you're the one being criticized. Even the most good-intended and well-reasoned social critique is reinterpreted as negativism, or sour grapes, or just being contrary. Call it whatever you will, without it we all perish.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

THE STONES. Here's a poem of Wendell Berry from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Counterpoint, 1998):

I owned a slope full of stones.
Like buried pianos they lay in the ground,
shards of old sea-ledges, stumbling blocks
where the earth caught and kept them
dark, an old music mute in them
that my head keeps now I have dug them out.
I broke them where they slugged in the dark
cells, and lifted them up in pieces.
As I piled them in the light
I began their music. I heard their old lime
rouse in breath of song that had not left me.
I gave pain and weariness to their bearing out.
What bond have I made with the earth,
having worn myself against it? It is a fatal singing
I have carried with me out of that day.
The stones have given me music
that figures for me their holes in the earth
and their long lying in them dark.
They have taught me the weariness that loves the ground,
and I must prepare a fitting silence.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


THE HOSPITALITY OF ABRAHAM. This 1411 iconography by Andrei Rublev has become the primary symbol for hospitality. Based on Genesis 18:1-15, it depicts the three strangers who showed up near Abraham's tent (pitched near the tree of Mamre), sitting at the table awaiting a meal that Abraham has directed to be prepared for them. In welcoming these strangers, Abraham receives the gift they bear--the promise that he and Sarah will have a son.
WHEN HOSTILITY ECLIPSES HOSPITALITY. “The movement from hostility to hospitality is full of difficulties. Our society seems to be increasingly full of fearful, defensive, aggressive people anxiously clinging to their property and inclined to look at their surrounding world with suspicion, always expecting an enemy to suddenly appear, intrude, and do harm. — Henri Nouwen in Ministry and Spirituality

MOVING TOWARD HOSPITALITY. “The movement from hostility to hospitality is a movement that determines our relationship to other people... Sometimes events in our lives breed feelings of bitterness, jealousy, suspicion and even desires for revenge, which need time to be healed. It is realistic to realize that although we hope to move toward hospitality, life is too complex to expect a one-way direction. But when we make ourselves aware of the hospitality we have enjoyed from others and are grateful for the few moments in which we can create some space ourselves, we may become more sensitive to our inner movements and be more able to affirm an open attitude toward our fellow human beings." – Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out

Monday, February 14, 2005

THE REBEL

by Mari Evans
When I
die
I'm sure
I will have a
Big Funeral ...

Curiosity
seekers...
coming to see
if I
am really
Dead...
or just
trying to make
Trouble ...

Mari Evans is a distinguished African-American poet who resides in Indianapolis. I found this poem on this website
NOT AT THE HEIGHT OF OUR GLORY. Few people die at the height of their glory, in the prime of life. Most of us will die long after our "time" is past and after friends, fellow church members, classmates, and loved ones are alive or able to make the trip. Our contributions to the community will have faded from memory by the time we take our last breath.

PAST TIME? An 85-year old woman, a member of our congregation, died early Sunday morning. She had been in a nursing home for about four months and homebound for a year before. Though I visited with her occasionally, I don't know if she attended a church service in the past year. But what must be known, what must be told, what must be celebrated, is the vibrant life and witness of this woman in her prime. 66 years of faithful marriage must be celebrated. Years of active service and faithful attendance at the church. Contributions made, lives touched--these must be told.

GATHER UP THE STORY. It is one of the unique tasks of a johnny-come-lately Pastor to facilitate the gathering up of the story of an older and non-attending saint who dies. This distinctive story is to be shared in memorial, as much a way of helping all present to release her into God's hands as a beckon to all who are young that this is a life-pattern to be embraced.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


LANCE IN 2005? Lance Armstrong, Tour de France champion and cancer research advocate, told Oprah Winfrey yesterday he will attempt to defend his Tour title. But he did NOT say if it would be in 2005! Ever since winning in Paris for an unprecedented sixth consecutive time last July, there has been speculation about whether or not he would make another attempt. I hope he will try to defend his title this year.

A FAIR CHANCE. Win or lose, Armstrong's participation in this year's Tour de France would give all rivals a fair chance at dethroning the reigning champ. If he wins, he further sets himself apart. If he loses, he goes down trying. There are plenty of young, up-and-coming cyclists who will rise to the occasion and knock themselves out with Lance in the Grand Tour.

THE ONE-HOUR RECORD. Lance certainly has his eyes set on another prize in 2005: the one-hour record. He is planning an attempt to ride the longest distance ever within a 60-minute time frame. The effort will likely be made at high altitude on a wind-harbored outdoor velodrome or specially-built indoor track. Other possible win attempts may include the Tour of Italy or Tour of Spain. Stay tuned to professional bicycle racing at www.cyclingnews.com
GRACE NOTES POSTED. I have posted "Grace Notes: Weekly Fragments from the Margins of a Graced Life." Click here to read it. In this week's edition:
  • Stringfellow on Biblical Politics
  • Settling for Moral Morsels
  • Lance in 2005?
  • Recovering a Holiness Social Ethic
  • Let Something Essential Happen to Me - a Poem of Ted Loder in Guerrillas of Grace
NEITHER IS THE BIBLE APOLITICAL. Here is William Stringfellow in An Ethic for American Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, 1973:
“Despite the habitual malpractice of translating biblical politics as the American story, there is also the odd and contradictory custom among many Americans to denounce the truth that the Bible is political…American experience as a nation--as well as biblical scholarship--discredits any attempted Americanization of biblical politics and confounds the notion that the Bible is apolitical.”

Friday, February 11, 2005


MOLLY IN "SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK LIVE." Molly as "Shulie" sings a solo in the Fulton Jr. High (Wayne Township) production of School House Rock Live Jr. on Thursday. Great job, Hopper!

Thursday, February 10, 2005


ZACCHAEUS TODAY. I'm re-reading the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) through the lens of radical hospitality. The social dynamics of this story are powerful. The likeness to contemporary Zacchaeus's is eery. And the promise of personal and social redemption through simple hospitality is hopeful. I feel a sermon coming on...

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

BUDGETS ARE MORAL DOCUMENTS. The following is from Sojourners; I heartily agree with and recommend reckoning with its challenges. I have registered my concerns with my Congressional representatives:

"Yesterday, President Bush released his administration's proposed 2006 federal budget. The $2.6 trillion budget projects a record $427 billion budget deficit, not including funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes increases in military spending while at the same time proposes major cuts to domestic programs that benefit people living in poverty.

Some of the proposed changes:
  • Making permanent the tax cuts of 2001 - 70% of which benefited the wealthiest 20% of U.S. citizens
  • The elimination of block grants that aid poor communities
  • Making it more difficult for working poor families with children to be on Medicaid
  • A $355 million cut to programs that promote safe and drug-free schools
  • Cuts to housing and urban development programs
  • The elimination of 48 educational programs
Budgets are moral documents. This administration's proposed budget reflects a set of priorities that stand in clear opposition to biblical values. Paying attention to the poorest among us is arguably the most central biblical imperative - not increased spending on nuclear warheads and tax cuts for the rich.

When considering a document as important as this one, it is imperative that our leaders consider its impact on people living in poverty. Urge your members of Congress to consider this budget's effect on the poor."


RECOVERING A HOLINESS SOCIAL ETHIC. I grew up in a Protestant Christian faith tradition that traces its roots in the ministry of John Wesley’s 18th-century Methodists and the 19th-century American holiness movement. One of the privileges of a theological education is the awareness--and hope for recovery--of a definitive holiness social ethic that has all but dissipated today. It is this deeper heritage, instead of contemporary shallowness, that fuels my daily service.

NOT JUST WITH WORDS. Church of the Nazarene founder Phineas F. Bresee (pictured above) and Free Methodist Church founder B.T. Roberts not only believed that ministry to the urban poor was important, they intentionally stood with the poor in blighted communities. They defended the poor, advocated against the injustices that fueled poverty, and developed spaces of belonging and access in which the poor were not only welcome but at home.

CHALLENGING SOCIAL INJUSTICES. Both leaders challenged their church brethren to move from merely preaching a holiness of heart (spiritual) to expressing holiness of life (social, material) in solidarity with the marginalized. Such late 19th-century Wesleyan holiness revival advocates not only perceived evil lurking in worldly entertainments and personal vices, but saw the social injustice in condoning unbridled capitalism, in the denial of workers rights, and in rapacious stock market schemes.

BECAUSE OF THE POOR. Bresee and Roberts called for radical simplicity of church facilities, not only because the ostentatious styles were a put-off to the poor, but the sheer cost of unnecessary embellishments were poor stewardship of resources of God’s people. Tithes and offerings should be used to serve the poor, not build impressive structures. Likewise, words, dress, and lifestyle were to be simple...because of the implications for the poor.

A WITNESS DISSIPATED. Over time, radical solidarity with the poor deteriorated into mere charity and infrequent compassion. Holiness groups pulled back from challenging oppressive social structures and marketplace practices. They became known as people who didn’t smoke, dance, drink alcohol, wear jewelry, gamble, or frequent movie theaters. This caricature became the extent of the holiness social ethic.

WHAT WE KEPT AND DISCARDED. I have repeatedly asked: Have holiness folk held on to distinguishing aspects of early Nazarenes and Free Methodists that are not eternally important and at the same time discarded some critical stands in relationship to social ethics that may be critical to reclaim? And I answer my own question with a resounding “Yes!”

FOUR WITNESSES TO RECLAIM: I think the holiness churches have four major witnesses to a holiness social ethic to reclaim in this and the coming generation:

1. SOLIDARITY WITH THE POOR. Re-commit to a radical solidarity with and service among the urban poor of North America. This is our heritage...and calling. I personally wonder if Wesleyan theology and practice make much sense outside this context.

2. RADICAL SIMPLICITY. Re-commit to a radical simplicity of lifestyle, particularly in light of a global economy, in which American consumerism and unbridled, trans-national capitalism directly feeds injustices for laborers and the poor around the world. With what is saved: give, share, redistribute more equitably.

3. PROTEST STOCK MARKET PRACTICES. Re-commit to a radical protest against the stock market because of its rapacious direct, indirect, and residual impact of injustice to common laborers and the poor in America and around the world. Holiness folk should expose stock market practices, companies, and funds that degrade human life and community everywhere. If it is necessary to participate in stock investments at all (as most do indirectly through retirement accounts), utmost care should be taken to examine local labor and market practices of every company in which one is investing…and call for social responsibility.

4. AGAINST ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE. Re-commit to a radical stand against violence against human beings in all its forms. This is a stand against the violence of war, to be sure. It is also a rejection of the language and norms of violence in our society. Alternatively, it is a pursuit of methods of conflict resolution and shalom-bearing that are a positive testimony to the power of a holy God whose way is love.

So, let me know of a Nazarene or Free Methodist or other holiness church contemporary who is ready to walk this way with me in faithfulness to our holiness heritage and Biblical witness...

Monday, February 7, 2005


RACING PAST THE PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS. Pro cyclists pedaled past Malaysia's claim to fame--the tallest building in the world--during the recent Tour of Langkowi, a 10-stage race. Somewhere in the world today, cyclists are churning along roadways or through city streets as the 2005 cycling season gets underway. Photo by Mark Gunter; see Mark's work at www.cyclingnews.com

HOPPER & KELSEY LOU. Our daughter Molly, whom I affectionately call "Hopper" on the field, is on the left; she's with her soccer pal Kelsey, whose middle name is not Lou. We're at indoor soccer games every Friday night with Sam and Saturday afternoon with Molly. I will begin indoor play with the "Grey Hares" in an over-40 evening league later this week.
WHAT ARE "GOD'S POLITICS?"

Jim Wallis asserts:

"God's politics is never partisan or ideological. But it challenges everything about our politics."

"God's politics reminds us of the people our politics always neglects — the poor, the vulnerable, the left behind."

"God's politics challenges narrow national, ethnic, economic, or cultural self-interest, reminding us of a much wider world and the creative human diversity of all those made in the image of the creator."

"God's politics reminds us of the creation itself, a rich environment in which we are to be good stewards, not mere users, consumers, and exploiters."

"And God's politics pleads with us to resolve the inevitable conflicts among us, as much as is possible, without the terrible cost and consequences of war."

"God's politics always reminds us of the ancient prophetic prescription to 'choose life, so that you and your children may live,' and challenges all the selective moralities that would choose one set of lives and issues over another."

From God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
AMERICAN PRIORITIES

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is a nation approaching spiritual death." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

GRACE NOTES IS POSTED. I have posted this week's issue of Grace Notes - Weekly Fragments from the Margins of a Graced Life. This week's contents include:
  • An American Bible? - Excerpts of William Stringfellow's Preface to An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land; Stringfellow is uncannily prophetic for our generation!
  • The Dream - a Poem of Wendell Berry
  • Choices for Peace and War - a few quotes about the impact of the daily decisions we make
  • Rants & Raves - just what it says

Saturday, February 5, 2005


GOD'S POLITICS: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. Jim Wallis' new book is well placed on the New York Times bestseller list.
JIM WALLIS WITH JON STEWART. A few weeks ago Sojourners co-founder Jim Wallis was invited to talk with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It's a great conversation you can link to by clicking here . Watch it and tell me what you think of Wallis' "second conversion."

GOD'S POLITICS. Wallis' new book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It is well placed on the New York Times bestseller list. I'm sure it's not because people are clamoring to become radical Christians; more likely they are interested in an alternative vision of the crossroads between religion and politics in American life and public policy.
BEWARE THE LEADER. I noticed the following statement, attributed to Julius Caesar, posted on the wall of the classroom at Indianpolis Peace House, where I teach:
"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has 'closed', the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. AND I AM CAESAR." --Julius Caesar

Friday, February 4, 2005

MY 75th LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT. I just e-mailed and posted to my Geocities website my 75th letter to President George W. Bush. Read it here. All 75 letters are accessible by clicking here. As an exercise in citizen participation, I started out to write Mr. Bush a letter a week for the duration of his Presidency. I faded from writing weekly, but still write occasionally. I copy all my letters to my Congressional representatives and post them to the Geocities site. My simple site, "My Letters to the President of the United States," is cited as a "Best of Geocities" site.

MORE NAZARENE THAN A NAZARENE. This photo is of Phineas F. Bresee, the primary founder of the denomination called the Church of the Nazarene. This was the church of my upbringing. I am no longer Nazarene. But if the life and ministry of Phineas F. Bresee is the primary measure of what it was supposed to mean to be a "Nazarene," then I am more Nazarene than contemporary Nazarenes. More later.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

HELLO?! Okay, so since September 11, 2001, the American government has...
  • declared a policy of "preemptive war" legitimate
  • substantially curtailed civil liberties in the Patriot Act
  • presided over an unprecedented militarization of civilian life
  • rounded up and detained thousands of immigrants and people of color
  • declared the Geneva Conventions "obsolete" regarding suspected terrorists
  • declared "preemptive" war on Afghanistan and Iraq against the pleas of fellow democratic nations and the UN
  • engaged in well-publicized extreme torture of detainees
  • engaged in further labeling and stereotyping of gay citizens
  • driven the national budget into the largest deficit ever over military spending
And no one is raising eyebrows? And no one is looking back at history to see precedents, make comparisons, and project trajectories of such actions? Hello?! Anybody home?!
SACRIFICE YOURSELF? The Bruderhof brethren had this Christof Blumhardt quote waiting for me in my inbox this morning:
"Sacrifice yourself for once for the sake of God's will. It will not be in vain. Sacrifice yourself for truth, for justice. Sacrifice yourself for once against all human sense for something that is truly good. Sacrifice yourself for Christ in all things, and seek the kingdom of God. There is great strength in this… Stand for something; then your joy will be unbroken and lasting. Read more: Sacrifice myself?

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

SMART GROWTH. Sprawl. New Urbanism. Smart growth. I haven't used terms like this in a while. This was common language when I was working with the Central Indiana Regional Citizens League on the Central Indiana "Vision Plan" transportation and land use study a few years ago. Smart growth and new urbanism continue to be critical concepts that are influencing urban planning.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CONGREGATIONS. I am reading a recently-published book that reflects on the concepts of new urbanism in light of congregational life and decision-making. Sidewalks in the Kingdom by Eric O. Jacobsen (Brazos Press, 2004) is a good read. Churches located in urban areas (like the one I serve) would do well to think about the implications of new urbanism and smart growth for ministry and facility development.

Learn about New Urbanism.

Explore an online interactive model of New Urbanism.

Learn about Smart Growth.


Tuesday, February 1, 2005

WHY ARE THESE "OBSOLETE" FOR SUSPECTED TERRORISTS? Read the following applicable articles of the Geneva Conventions and tell me why they are, in the word used by the man President Bush has nominated to be Attorney General of the United States, "obsolete?"

Part II General Protection of Prisoners of War

Article 13

Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

Article 14

Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour. Women shall be treated with all the regard due to their sex and shall in all cases benefit by treatment as favourable as that granted to men. Prisoners of war shall retain the full civil capacity which they enjoyed at the time of their capture. The Detaining Power may not restrict the exercise, either within or without its own territory, of the rights such capacity confers except in so far as the captivity requires.

Article 15

The Power detaining prisoners of war shall be bound to provide free of charge for their maintenance and for the medical attention required by their state of health.

Article 16

Taking into consideration the provisions of the present Convention relating to rank and sex, and subject to any privileged treatment which may be accorded to them by reason of their state of health, age or professional qualifications, all prisoners of war shall be treated alike by the Detaining Power, without any adverse distinction based on race, nationality, religious belief or political opinions, or any other distinction founded on similar criteria.

Read all of the Geneva Conventions articles here.

COMMUNITY BUILDING. “Community building is more an orientation than a technique, more an outlook than an activity. A community’s own strengths, whether they are found in churches, block clubs, local leadership, or its problem-solving abilities, are central. Community building is based on the belief that urban neighbors and neighborhood institutions can and must be primary actors in efforts to solve the problems of their neighborhoods.” -- Lizbeth Schorr in Common Purpose (Doubleday, 1997)