This week I was appointed by California Treasurer Bill Lockyer to be part of a blue ribbon commission to study the Toyota NUMMI
auto plant closure in Fremont. We will be gathering information in the hopes to persuading Toyota to keep the plant open or at least to delay its closure. Needless to say, in this economy, California can ill-afford to loose nearly 5,000 local jobs and an estimated 50,000 total jobs through other related industries. Obviously I bring little economic juice to the commission, but was included because the clergy in the Bay Area have long been a part of fight for just and fair work situations and there are moral implications to this closure that we want to make sure Toyota is aware of.
"A key goal for the commission is to have Toyota defer the decision on
the future of the plant for at least two years when the auto market is
more stable, when the state of California is more secure." - Bill Lockyer
As this commission moves forward in our work including possible brief trip to Japan to meet with Toyota Executives, I will blog, Facebook and Twitter my way through the entire journey. My hope is to bring some visibility to the situation and lift up public support for those impacted. We do know this is a long shot, but worth the time and effort to possibly avoid such a huge loss.
Here is the Official 02.24.10 Press Release [pdf].
• Professor Harley Shaiken, UC Berkeley, Chair • Bob Wasserman, Mayor of Fremont • Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Presbyterian Church USA [twitter] • Victor Uno, Chairman, Port of Oakland • Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of CA [twitter] • Bruce Kern, Executive Director, East Bay Economic Development Alliance • Carl Pope, President, Sierra Club • Nina Moore, Fremont Chamber of Commerce • Art Pulaski, Chief Officer, California Labor Federation [twitter] • Danny Glover, Actor [twitter]
One of my "offices" is Mamá Art Cafe in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. I usually come here on Sunday's before church to just relax and catch up on things as the vibe simple feels right. This month they are featuring the paintings and monotypes of Soad Kader as part of their commitment to connecting art, community and coffee.
Wandering around San Francisco today, I stopped at Coles Hardware to pick up a couple of things. Coles is one of those places where if you can't find what you are looking for, you probably don't need it. Seriously, they have EVERYTHING there.
Oh the dreaded question that comes around every year as we Jesus-types start that time in our church life known as Lent. Lent is that time - 40'ish days before Jesus begins his walk to the cross - that is to be a time of repentance, reflection and humility all in preparation for Holy Week and Jesus' walk to the cross, his death and resurrection.
As part of the traditional Lenten experience, many people give something up, symbolically, mentally and/or physically sacrificing something that keep him/her separated from God. In this act of giving something up that in some ways has taken God's place in our lives, we thus learn to fight temptation to forget God, we examine our own brokenness and we promise to God to chance our ways or "repent."
One of the things that seems to be popular over the past few years is to give up social networking: Facebook, Twitter, etc. Yesterday, feeling a little snarky and willing to express my feelings as such, I posted this tweet:*
Adam Walker Cleaveland and Ryan Kemp-Pappan have blogged about their Lenten disciplines so here I go with my musings on the topic in case any of you are thinking about giving up social networking or church for Lent.
But first . . . before the all you self-proclaimed techno-peasant-luddites take this opportunity to gather the masses and beat me with your messenger pigeons, please hear me out.
Lets unpack some of the assumptions that I have placed in these 140 characters.
First, the "community" to which I refer that is found on social networking platforms can be positive and meaningful. I reject the notion that social networking is inherently narcissist, addictive and impersonal as so many charge.
SIDE NOTE: I once had someone say to me, "Social Networking IS addictive. We all know it is. It is addictive." I wanted to respond, "Yes, and we all know that making sweeping generalization in order to support one's own lack of understanding, unwillingness to be thoughtful and the discounting of people's actual experience is also an addiction. We all know it is. It is additive." But I didn't say it . . . then.
In any case, suuuuuuuure . . . social networking CAN be any of those things, but as many will testify, the community found and nurtured via social networking can also be incredibly transforming, healing and holy.
The second assumption I make is that most churches hope to provide the same kind of experience for those that are engaged in its ministry. Now I know that this has NOT been the case for many who find such more meaningful community within some social media platforms, so in some ways I am being generous here. But, in the end, all of us engaged in church life all expect the church to be a place of meaningful transformation, hope and love.
So operating off of these two assumptions if you are considering giving up social networking or church for Lent, I have some questions that may be helpful in your discernment. Now mark this date down, because I am giving some answers here . . . take note, I must think this is important.
SCENARIO 1: If your social networking or your church life has become an addiction: destroying relationships, creating secrecy, forcing you into isolation and ultimately drawing you away from the person that you believe God intends you to become, please please please consider giving it up and surround yourself with people you trust to help you to see how you might develop better practices and disciplines.
SCENARIO 2:If your social networking or your church life keeps you away from God in ways that you think outweighs the ways in which it connects you, give it up for Lent and then develop better practices for the long-term. That way, like so many other things in our life, we learn to navigate the waters of community well and in ways that foster growth of the person and community.
SCENARIO 3: If you find that social networking and/or your church life brings you joy, feeds your soul and you deal well with all the other "stuff" that can clutter community, then email this post to the person who told you to give up social networking for Lent and then find something in your life that fits into either of the two scenarios above.
Now I know that some are going to say this this post is simply a rant to justify my own social networking patterns - and it may be - but at the same time, I will stand my ground to say that if the church does not take a more thoughtful approach to learning how to use such technologies well, then we are missing out on an amazing opportunity to live into the fullness of what the church can be in the world.
*I also posted the basically the same question on my FB Page and FB Profile so feel free to visit either and join in on the conversation.
“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