As we were walking the ruins of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-prince Haiti, we stumbled upon a string quintet rehearsing in what is now the worship space. Not only was it poignant to listen to their music being played with the backdrop of their destroyed church, but the piece they were playing was written by a Haitian composer about finding hope in the church. You can see more of my day one pictures HERE.
As some of you know I am headed to Haiti tomorrow as part of a delegation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) [FULL ITINERARY]. These past few days have been beyond hectic with my brain in overdrive and life hectic as I try to balance and navigate duties at MBCC, chaperoning kids and making sure I am actually ready to spend eight days in Haiti.
But now, I am getting to the point of giving it up to God, because if it isn't done by now, it probably isn't going to get done and probably was not all that important to begin with. With my shots in order, bug repellent and netting purchased all I have now is to get packed and collect the offerings of medication and supplies at worship tomorrow AM.
As I make my final preparations, I had thought that I would just leave my laptop at home and be unplugged for the entire week. And while there is part of me that would love to do that, this trip is not about my sabbath or rest, but about learning, engaging and seeing first-hand the impact of the earthquake AND the ways in which the church can continue to be part of a longterm systematic rebuilding. So, I am bringing the laptop, had my phone opened up for international service and I will be blogging and twittering my way through Haiti as I can, so we can experience this together.
You can obviously sign up to get this blog through EMAIL or RSS feed for daily reports, but if you want more frequent pics and updates, I'll be twittering from @breyeschow. I will also be giving a presentation Mission Bay Community Church after worship on April 25th, around 7:00pm if you can make that.
So . . . until the next post or tweet, peace be with you.
What seems like a lifetime ago, I was sitting in a room with a bunch of Presbyterian folks from the 2009 Montreat Collegiate Conference. These were committed, competent young adults that, while not naive about the current state of the church, were very much interested in being part of what the church was to become next. Not focused on battling the previous generations of leadership for ownership of some nebulous denominational reality, they chose to simply be the church in the ways that they see fit, grounded by who and what has formed them and called into the future seeking to be faithful to God.
What was born out of those conversations was a gathering of folks who believe that, THE CHURCH IS ALIVE. And while it is still early to say this group in itself represents some kind of revolutionary transformation, it is clear that they are part of a larger movement of folks eager to be the church in creative and faithful ways.
So that are doing it. Here is just one of the projects that is taking root for them, The Water Project. Check it out and pass it on.
It is not often that I read a book that simultaneously expands my knowledge base on social and cultural realities AND draws me into deep reflection upon my own life in the midst of the knowledge. What a gift Eileen O'Brien has given this cyclical armchair sociologist. Throughout the reading of The Radical Middle I found myself exhaling with deeps sighs of self awareness while being moved by the thoughtful way in which she has dug deeply into the lives of those who contributed to her study.
The Radical Middle is the account of what many of us have experienced who have lived a life in a world who's rhetoric around race is arguable controlled and guided by that of the White/Black dynamic. Those of us "brown" folks have been, for generations, stuck in the middle and much of society not knowing what do with us. Are you White? Are you Black? Where are you from? Where did you learn to speak English? "What are you?" This list of confusions goes on and on. Many of us know exactly what this cultural location feels like, we are adeptly able to shift from context to context without skipping a beat, but there are few who have captured this experience so well.
While this book feel a little academic at times, especially the first chapter where we get a glimpse of the methods that were used, the rest of it is deft dance between the sharing of first account stories and experiences and O'Brien's insightful analysis and reflection. Throughout the book O'Brien acknowledges and affirms the realities of this middle racial reality while challenging some of the ways that this group is still impacted by race, racism and the divide between White and Black.
Here are a few snippets from the book.
on self-understanding of race . ..Perhaps the most striking finding is that racial and ethnic categories operate more as sliding scales or continuums in the mind of respondents rather than hard and fast classifications. That is, one can conceive of race and ethnicity as continuous variables rather than categorical. Race and ethnicity appear to be "relative" designations that take shape for respondents as meaningful or salient categories for them depending on the context or who is surrounding them. - page 30
on the middle race's upholding of racist paradigms . . .When we look at this racial hierarchy from the vantage point of Latinos and Asian Americans themselves, we see that they are highly complicit in its maintenance. Leeway is given for white partners that is not given for blacks. Often antiblack prohibitions are not explicitly stated, and are seen as taken for granted or matter-of-fact.- page 123
on the future of race . . .The future of race may be thus not in academic theories and racial terminology, but in the everyday experiences of the racial middle themselves, as they do the work of carving out a space that they ca call their own. This space values bilingualism, even multilingualism, language "of the world," whether or not they seem to correspond to one's particular ethnicity. This space values cultural traditions that do not emanate from the dominate culture, and welcomes the opportunity to celebrate multiple traditions simultaneously.- page 217
Needless to say, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in what I would call an "emerging" reality of the racial landscape in the United States that will continue to affect all facets of American life: religious, political, social, cultural, etc. And yes, it does have a Kindle version.
I do enjoy the traveling, except when I have to hightail it out of town in order to beat the arrival of a possible storm. Not sure if the clouds unleashed anything on Louisville, but I did make it all the way with nary a delay. This is the pic from my gate at the Louisville International Airport (SDF)
One of my friends that I have known for a few years is musician and pastor, Bryan McFarland. He is putting together a very cool project of music and hymns that will go to benefit a program within my denominational family, Presbyterian Hunger Program. This is a little blurb from Brian. Check it out!
This month [through May] musicians, pastors and other friends of the Presbyterian Hunger Program have launched a unique project of music and mission called "until all are fed." Individuals are invited to help fund the production of a CD of hymns & spirituals. 10% of the production costs and 20% of the profits go to the Presbyterian Hunger Program. The goal of the project is to raise awareness and funds with "music on a mission" that can make a difference until all are fed. The "...until all are fed" CD and subsequent hunger action events called "Jacob's Joins" are designed to equip congregations, presbyteries, campus ministries, etc. with hymns, songs and spirituals to SING the mission of the Presbyterian Hunger Program to "alleviate hunger and eliminate the causes of it."
In cadences that bring the listener along, McFarland witnesses to hard issues that must be faced, but sings, in the midst of those hard issues, about healing, hope and finally about the divine “You.” ~ Walter Brueggemann, Old Testament scholar & author
When I heard Bryan's songs, I felt immediately that he was a kindred spirit helping turn the tide with his beautiful lyrics and energetic music.~ Brian McLaren, author, speaker, activist
“Peace it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
Thank to all who have asked for this. This is a compilation of many different benedictions that I have heard throughout the years, no originality claimed, just some great opportunities to share it.
Go forth into the world
With compassion and justice in your heart
Give voice to the silent
Give strength to the weak
See one another
Hear one another
Care for one another
And love one another
It's all that easy
And it's all that hard
Now may the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ
The love of God
And the power of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, now and forever more