Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eat your heart out

0%-10% chance of precipitation + a high of 69 degrees = new boots!

Thanks, Paolo Nutini, for giving us the words to express this feeling in song.

Woke up cold one Tuesday,
I'm looking tired and feeling quite sick,
I felt like there was something missing in my day to day life,
So I quickly opened the wardrobe,
Pulled out some jeans and a T-Shirt that seemed clean,
Topped it off with a pair of old shoes,
That were ripped around the seams,
And I thought these shoes just don't suit me.

Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
It's so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
But long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
And I'm running late,
And I don't need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.

Woke up late one Thursday,
And I'm seeing stars as I'm rubbing my eyes,
And I felt like there were two days missing,
As I focused on the time,
And I made my way to the kitchen,
But I had to stop from the shock of what I found,
A room full of all off my friends dancing round and round,
And I thought hello new shoes,
Bye bye them blues.


Take me wandering through these streets,
Where bright lights and angels meet,
Stone to stone they take me on,
I'm walking to the break of dawn. [x2]

[CHORUS (x2)]

Take me wandering through these streets

I put on my iPod Shuffle (thanks, Paul) while making breakfast after posting about my boots to see if Mr. Nutini's song might come up. It didn't but the Shuffle seemed to know what a good morning I was having because it played for me:
"Sly" by Cat Empire
"Band of Gold" by Freda Payne
"Box of Rain" by the Grateful Dead
"Slip, Sliding Away" by Paul Simon
"I Ain't Never Heard You Play No Blues" by Steve Goodman
"Loves Me Like A Rock" by Paul Simon
"Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants.



I've got nothing against Ellen DeGenerous but I'm a little bummed that she now has to dominate any conversation about the desire to dance through your day. I mean, what else is there to say once Ellen's enthusiasm and ridiculousness have become household images?

That breakfast was the most fun (funnest sounds better) eggs on mayonnaise toast that I think I've ever prepared and eaten.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Politically correct

The activities during my week of orientation were mostly dull, as expected. The ubiquitous seminar on sexual harassment complete with skit, the lecture on academic honesty, the mandatory team building exercises with towers made of spaghetti and marshmallows. However, unlike orientations for my teaching jobs, this week did not involve a video of blood-borne pathogens and the correct use of a body fluid clean-up kit.

However, my orientation also included a keynote address, called "The Aims of Public Policy," from Kerwin Charles, a member of the faculty at the Harris School. He reminded us that amidst all of the tedium of statistics, correct citations and unwanted sexual advances, we had chosen the Harris School because we wanted to change the world. He was able to communicate earnestness and acknowledge the rediculousness of the idealism all at the same time. It was the type of address that made me want to sign up for every single one of his classes, and it's lucky for me that his specialty is educational policy and the policy of poverty and inequality: the two "areas of focus" I intend to explore.

Towards the beginning of the address, he stumbled a little in describing the hypothetical policy student as a he, she, he and she or a s/he. He'd start one way, re-think and go another way. What I like is that he settled on simply referring to the grad student we were all supposed to relate to in his examples as "she."

I have been reading David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster, a collection of essays that was loaned to me by my new friend Mike after we talked about the intricacies of teaching African American students traditional English. Regarding the great feminine/masculine pronoun debate, he writes in his essay entitled "Authority and American Usage":
For another thing, the very language in which today's socialist, feminist, minority, gay, and environmental movements frame their sides of political debates is informed by the . . . belief that traditional English is conceived and perpetuated by Priveliged WASP Males* and is thus inherently capitalist, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, elitist: unfair. Think Ebonics. Think Proposition 227. Think of the involved contortions people undergo to avoid using he as a generic pronoun, or of the tense, deliberate way white males now adjust their vocabularies around non-w.m.'s.

The footnote indicated by the asterisk reads, "(which is in fact true)."

I've always been a little blase about the whole thing. Usually, I think people are making a little too much of a fuss but I'll go along with inclusive language because it's probably better for the world. I usually sing old hymns with old male pronouns because that's how I learned them. In my writing, I'll usually use the feminine for the first hypothetical and the masculine for the second hypothetical.

But Professor Charles settled on a consistent feminine. Then he said, "She is resolute and brave and indomitable," when describing the characteristics necessary in good public policy students.

She is resolute and brave and indomitable.

That's me! Or, at least, that's who I am when I'm imagining myself as one of my storybook heroes. Only instead of casting spells or deciphering ancient riddles or learning to fight by pretending I'm a boy, I can be resolute and brave and indomitable while researching surveys and writing policy memos. Pretty cool, huh?

It's interesting because that sentence wouldn't have been worth writing down in my journal is he had said, "He is resolute and brave and indomitable." That's not me.

I guess that's the point the feminists have been trying to make all along.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back of the Knees

Some strange things have been happening to me on the public transportation lately. As background, now that I'm commuting to Hyde Park, on the far south side of Chicago, I'm now in transit for 15 to 30 minutes longer than I was going to work on the west side. I don't mind it. But I get a lot of weird looks from folks when I tell them that I don't drive to school. It gives me a chance to read and to knit. Wow, man, what a bummer.

So, anyway, this morning the train stopped with such sudden force that the woman standing next to me (whose bangs I always covet) completely lost her balance and fell into the laps of two men seated on the inward facing bench. She was my age and hale, so no one felt any guilt that she was standing in the first place but her apparently physical strength made her utter vulnerability to physics seem all that more surreal.

Then, as my bus was pulling away on State St., I looked out the window to see 7 or 8 kilted bagpipers, standing at the crosswalk with their coffees and sunglasses, waiting for the light to change. As we moved forward, I saw that they were accompanied by 3 Chicago policemen that were also carrying bagpipes and from the waist up, wore the standard police uniform. However, from the waist down, they wore special police kilts. That's right, I said police kilts. They were navy blue and pleated just like regular kilts. They were worn with special police knee-high socks with the little ribbons and feathers stuck in the top hem pointing down to their feet, just like the regular bagpipers always have. Seeing the back of a classic Chicago cop's knees was even more surreal than watching my neighbor suddenly decide that those two men were so attractive, she couldn't stay away any longer.

Last night, a compact but obviously powerful man boarded the train wearing military-style black pants and boots, black gloves that buttoned at the wrist, a red beret and a white t-shirt with red lettering that said, "Guardian Angel." As the train moved, he stood by the doors, but held on with both hands gripping different poles of straps so as to take up as much space as possible. He had a well-trimmed goatee and the rest of his face was pale, smooth and slightly foreign-looking. It was an all-around attractive image in a man-in-uniform kind of way. The first time he met my eyes, I had not seen his t-shirt and so I looked away in a way that probably didn't disguise that I had been looking at him, but probably wasn't offensive either. Then, I got a look at his t-shirt and felt bad that he might feel rejected in his role as protector. The next time his head swiveled in my direction, I smiled. At the stop after the stop where he got on, he went through the adjoining doors into the next car. Once more in my commute, he got on my car again, but I was at a good part in my book, so lost my desire to engage him. I've never seena "Guardian Angel" on the El before but I felt a little warm feeling that someone was out there looking out for me. It made me feel a little special.

The final surreality of my recent public transportation career is a little creepier and Mom, you can stop reading now if you want to. On the train the other afternoon, the man next to me pretended to fall asleep and proceeded to lightly, very lightly run his finger along the underside of my thigh that was exposed from the edge of the seat to my knee. Because I thought he was asleep, because I was reading, because he had strategically placed his bag to disguise the fact that his hand was even down there and because who ever really expects the guy next to her to be feeling her up?, it took me a minute or two to identify what was going on. Even then, I wasn't sure and didn't want to make a fuss unnecessarily, thinking maybe it was the foot of the person behind me accidentally coming up from under the seat. It moved so that I no part of my body was touching his for the last stretch of time before my stop, I thought I felt it again, but still wasn't sure when the train pulled up to my stop. I said "Excuse me," to wake him (which happens all the time) but had to say it twice (which doesn't) and he woke up with this incredibly feigned startlement: "Oh, oh, I'm sorry." At that point, my suspicions were confirmed and I was very glad to get off the train.

School is going extremely well and I seem to be at the core a "group" of friends, which has never in my life happened. I've got a couple of other things that I want to share with you, but for now, the image of Chicago's finest in kilts moved itself to the forefront of stories that I wanted to tell you.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Marquita on the train

Her mother was gigantic and glared at me after she kicked my foot while boarding the bus. Waiting for the train, Marquita sat next to me on the bench. She was about 8 years old and as I sat there knitting, I realized that she smelled bad. Not horrible to the point of repelling but she definitely hadn't showered in a couple of days. She asked me about my knitting. I did not realize at that point who her mother was since her mother was standing all the way on the other side of the platform; I thought she was traveling alone. I answered her question about what I was making and when she asked about the 5 sticks I was using, I explained about knitting in a circle, also pointing out how a rectangle (like most people knit) can easily be made into a circle. She asked me who had taught me to knit and I told her that my grandmother had when I was her age but then I forgot how until recently and then I learned from a book and the internet.

When the train pulled up, I gathered up my stuff and got on. She and her mother got on the same car and even though it was totally empty except for us, her mother moved to the opposite side of the car and Marquita sat right next to me. I was vibrantly aware of the fact that it was possible that the adults in her life don't engage her questions with satsfying answers, if her mother's behavior was any indicator. We've all seen and been adults who answer questions with, "Why do you need to know that?" "I'll tell you when you're older." "Stop bothering me." "Pay attention to your food." At best, this is because the adults don't know the answer and don't realize that out-loud speculation of what the answer could be is just as valuable for the development of kids. At worst, the kids are unwanted annoyances in the adults' life.

Engaging didn't feel like a burden, but it certainly felt like a responsibility. Nothing in my life at that moment was more important than making this little neglected girl feel valued. Even the fact that I'm not usually very good at interacting with kids this age. Even the fact that I would always rather put my nose in my book on the train to make the time go by faster.

So, I began asking her questions. How was the start of school? Did she like her teacher? I didn't ask what her name was at first because I didn't want her mother to feel like I was being inappropriate. However, her mother never looked at us for the entire 45 minute trip.

We talked about all sorts of things. She asked me what stop I was getting off at and figured out the implications of who was going to get off the train first. Since she was getting off at Pulaski, we talked a little about Casmir Pulaski and how kids in Chicago are the only kids in the country who get a day off from school to honor him since we have so many people that live here that used to live in Poland. She was going to the public aid office with her mother. It was 1:00 in the afternoon and she told me that her mother had pulled her out of school early in order to go to the public aid office. My heart sank when she told me this. When I told her that I was going to pick up my car, she told me her mother was about to buy a car because she finally took lessons, so the car was free. I didn't want to ask a follow-up question for fear of what the answer would be. Full of responsiblity, I told her that even though I have a car, I ride the train because it's better for the environment. She asked if she could try knitting. I let her practice and she did passably well for a kid with a kid's fine motor skills. I used the cadence my grandma used. Over, under, around and through. When we passed by a construction site, I asked ehr what she thought was beng built there. She asnwered with confidence, "an office building with papers and stuff." So, I asked her what other kinds of things went in an office building. Between the two of us, we came up with papers, chairs, file cabinets, deskes [sic], computers, pencils, and pens. Then, she asked me if I could speak Spanish. I expressed regret that I hadn't learned when I was her age because it was easier to learn other languages when you're younger. Always feeling the responsibility to be the turning point in this kid's life, right? Fortunately, I snapped out of it enough to ask her if she knew Spanish. Her face lit up and turned shy in the smae moment, so I prompted her to ola me and to count. I learned that she and I are both the only girls in our families. She has 4 brothers; I have 3. I learned my first year teaching African American kids that they were always amazed to look at my family pictures and notice that my older brothers don't look like me, my younger brother or my dad. They had never considered that white families might have half-siblings in them. (Although technically, my brothers are a quarter Philipino, so they're not all white. I used to get street cred from my students for that, too.) So, feeling the responsiblity for showing this girl that our races were not all that different, I confided in her about my brothers. It took her a minute to process, but she responded in the same way my students had. She asked to try my knitting again and I let her. She wanted my phone number so that I could keep teaching her. I explained that I didn't live in her neighborhood but I bet that one of the old ladies that live by her would know how. I asked if she went to church to see if there would be old ladies there to direct her to and her facial expression of disappointment that she had to tell me she didn't, with her eyes flicking toward her mother broke my heart a little more.

Then, she asked me for change.

In the moment, I played it off as funny, asking in mock indignation, "Now, why would I give you change?" She smiled, thought about and said, "I don't know. So, I can get something for myself?" Later, when I told this story to my mother, I began sobbing as soon as I described the way she smelled. As my mother came over to where I was sitting and held me, the climax of episode came when I told her about the change.

I grieve powerfully that this little girl has grown up in a world - my world - that taught her to beg simply out of habit. How will she ever regain dignity that she never had?

Because dignity is where it all starts. Without believing that we are worth something better, we will never attempt to obtain something better for ourselves. For all her inquisitiveness and imagination, the only thing Marquita is being taught is dependence. That is a poverty that no amount of stuff can redeem.

Now, I have had a tough couple of weeks. I quit my job, started school, picked up my car from the shop 4 times only to take it back again 4 times, helped my best friend move away from our neighborhood, got a new roommate, and the man I've been seeing and I broke up our relationship. I am heartbroken and liminal and very, very tender. Maybe if I met Marquita in another week of my life, she wouldn't affect me like this. Maybe if I were still working in non-profit administration, I would simply see her as another recipient of the work I was doing and so I would see her need as necessary to my ability to fulfill Christ's commandment to clothe the naked and visit the prisoner. But this week, all I can do is grieve for her and do my best to give her 45 minutes of sunshine.

At church tonight, we sang Taize vespers and in the repetition of one of the prayers, I found resonance in this poetry:
By night we hasten in darkness to seek for the living water.
Only our thirst lights us onwards.
Only our thirst lights us onwards.

Notice that I said that I found resonance in the poetry, not inspiration. It is the middle of the night for me right now. The only thing that keeps me moving forward is my thirst for something better. Otherwise, I would take muchmuch easier paths or sleep through the darkness by being emotionally lazy. So, I suppose I thank God for my thirst. I am happier every time I come across a stream and I can only find new streams by continuing to hasten onward.

My prayer is that Marquita keeps feeling the thirst that caused her to be bold by sitting down next to a stranger and asking for love. I pray that she does not sleep through the night, sinking into apathy, drugs, despair, unhealthy sex, bitterness, or dysfunctional relationships to mask her thirst. Like the woman at the well, I hope Jesus shows up at sometime in her life, in some guise, and tells her the truth about herself so that she feels valuable for more than just 45 minutes. I hope she continues to seek for living water. She will find it even in the darkness if she lets her thirst guide her. At least, I hope that's true, for both hers and my sake.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

An Emerging Manifesto of Hope

I have just finished reading An Emerging Manifesto of Hope, which is a compilation of essays by a variety of people engaged in trying to create a new kind of church. For instance, my pastor wrote the third chapter. One of the beautiful things about the emerging church is that one truth that ties most of us together is that following God in the context of the current culture is less about everyone agreeing about what is "right" and more about having room to ask questions and to hear God's voice for ourselves. God is so big that s/he doesn't fit into anyone's box, right? So, all of these different essays create an overview of how people are thinking about church, rather than a core set of doctrines. Because of that, I found that some authors resonated with me more than others. Some topics seemed more important than others. I think it's the kind of book that everyone who reads it will come away remembering different ideas. With that in mind, I typed out the passages in the book that I underlined as particularly true. You know, those passages that - when you read them - make you think, "Damn, there is no way that I could ever say it better than that." Also, they make you think sit back in your chair with a little bit more peace in your chest because you realize that you're not the only one who has had that same experience. That, by the way, is my definition of art. Objects of creation that make us feel less alone because we know through them that some parts of human nature are universal.

So, here are the parts of the book that I consider art. I'm sure that if I read it again years from now, there would be different parts that spoke particularly to me. I'm also sure that the recurring themes in these quotes will be revealing regarding who I am and what I think is important. I'd love to get some thoughts in the comments about how these ideas affected you. Choose one quote and write a couple of sentences regarding your response. Agree? Disagree? Laugh? Cry? Why?

Mark Scandrette, "Growing Pains: The Messy and Fertile Process of Becoming"

I give you this unsolicited advice. Make your own life. Host your own emergence. Stop reading so many books and blogs. Start your own conversations, and be a caring friend. The most important conversations happen between people who have the potential to live out their story together.

Heather Kirk-Davidoff, "Meeting Jesus at the Bar: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Evangelism"

Relational evangelism is not just a change in tactic. It is a change in the reson we engage in evangelism, shifting the focus from recruitment to the cultivation of relationships that are an end in themselves, indispecsable to our spiritual journeys.

If we took these experiences seriously, we would soon realize that developing and tending to relationships are perhaps the key spiritual disciplines of many adults in their twenties and thirties (and often beyond). While we may also pray and read Scripture regularly, while we may chant with monks or do yoga or go on a silent retreat, our relationships with others give us the most insight into who God is and where God is leading us. . . And it is often through learning to love each other that we find ourselves opening to God in new and deeper ways.

Nanette Sawyer, "What Would Huckleberry Do? A Relational Ethic as the Jesus Way"

Thinking back on that pivotal interaction with my childhood minister, I believe the whole conversation missed the mark in a big way. He was defining Christian identity as assent to a list of certain beliefs, and he was defining Christian community as those people who concur with those beliefs. This didn't leave any room for questions, doubts, or growth in faith. It made community acceptance of each other completely conditional on having already arrived at a particular intellectual destination. In asking me if I was a Christian, and accepting my preteen answer, he essentially told me that I wasn't part of the community. I wasn't in; I was out. And so I found myself spiritually homeless.

I like to call it paradoxology - the glory of paradox, paradox-doxology - which takes us somewhere we wouldn't be capable of going if we thought we had everything all wrapped up, if we thought we had attained full comprehension. The commitment to embracing the paradox and resisting the impulse to categorize people (ourselves included) is one of the ways we follow Jesus into that larger mysterious reality of light and love.

If we can come together and eat and live and serve together, then we will be changed.

Carla Barnhill, "The Postmodern Parent: Shifting Paradigms for the Ultimate Act of Re-Creation"

Indeed, parenting is about more than raising children. It is about investing in our hopes for the world. It is about joining in with our Creator in the ultimate act of re-creation. It is about pointing our children toward the work God has for them and giving them the resources to do it. It is about celebrating the goodness of life with God, a life that looks more like the kingdom with every generation.

Sherry and Geoff Maddock, "An Ever-Renewed Adventured of Faith: Notes From a Community"

Paul reminds the church at Philippi that they must work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12 NIV). The language he uses here is plural. In the South we might use the word "Y'all" to get the same effect - "work out y'all's salvation." It is our contention that salvation is more than personal renewal; it is at best a collective experience.

We believe that when we live in missional ways, we discover God most intimately where we encounter other kinds of intimacy.

Many of us had to weed out the desire to wear exhaustion and busyness as badges of honor; somehow we imagined that these proved our commitment.

Thomas Malcolm Olson, "Jailhouse Faith: A Community of Jesus in an Unlikely Place"

Each time I attend, I'm struck by the posture of humility and vulnerability people willingly adopt with one another. It's contagious. There's an attitude of "I don't have it all figured out and I need your help," which seems like good theology to me. Recovery groups are the easiest, most natural way people can "bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2 NASB). The dynamic of the group becomes the catalyst for living faithful lives.

Every person needs one safe place where he or she is able to stop pretending, a place of ruthless honesty and unconditional love where no one is allowed to fly underneath the radar.

Adam Walker Cleveland, "Presbymergent: The Story of One Mainliner's Quest to Be a Loyal Radical"

One of the things I appreciate most about these friendships is the unspoken understanding that it is acceptable to question, critique and deconstruct much of what we think and believe.

Brian D. McLaren, "Church Emerging: Or Why I Still Use the Word Postmodern but with Mixed Feelings"

We are rich in resources gained at the expense of the colonized (money, technology, time, freedom) that can be used to serve them and to foster a more equitable and collaborative future.

Will Samson, "The End of Reinvention: Mission Beyond Market Adoption Cycles"

Even when explaining a very real event, such as a car crash, each person interprets the phenomenon through his or her own lens. How much more do we interpret God, a deeply metaphysical entity, through our own lenses?

It is helpful to have a common understanding of belief to which all who claim to be Christians can subscribe. But it also may be true that councils like that of Nicea set a precendent for the notion that people can be a part of the story of God through their belief in Jesus, regardless of how they act.

Individual conversion is vital and small-group involvement and church attendance are good things, but perhaps these metrics tend to be emphasized as measurements of the health of the church because they are easier to evaluate than the hard work of asking if the people who are following God in the way of Jesus are, in fact, becoming more and more conformed to the way of Jesus.

Barry Taylor, "Converting Christianity: The End and Beginning of Faith"

One thing that it does signify, almost universally, is the rejection of traditional faiths as a primary source of connection to the divine. I would argue that traditional faiths are no longer the first resource that people go to for developing and nurturing their spiritual lives. Instead, traditional faiths function more as secondary archives from which new spiritual permutations are created.

The future of faith does not lie in the declaration of certainties, but in the living out of uncertainty.

This is not a slide into relativism but a commitment to nondogmatic specificity. We can tell the gospel story without resorting to competition, exclusivism or elitism.

The concerns of religion are different from those of faith. Religion is concerned with right belief, faith with believing in the right way. This was somethng that Jesus confronted continually in his encounters with the Pharisees.

For too long we have gone out into the world to tell people what we think they ought to know rather than seeking to discover what they are interested in and where they are looking for answers.

Sally Morgenthaler, "Leadership in a Flattened World: Grassroots Culture and the Demise of the CEO Model"

. . . There is no irony here. Machine parts don't have minds or muscles to flex. They don't contribute to the process or innovate improvements. Machine parts simply do their job, which is, of course, to keep the machine functioning.
The mechanical paradigm or organization largely explains why modern church leaders are trained as CEOs, not shepherds. Sheep have their own ideas of what, where, and when they want to eat. They may not want to lie down by quiet water and go to sleep at eight. They just might want to check out the watercress down by the streambed. Or they might want to head out over the next ridge and see if there are any other flocks out there. Conveniently, machine parts don't get ideas. The just get to work, and they work according to specification.
Church members who don't comprehend this three-decade shift in leadership paradigms are frustrated that their CEO pastor is so self-absorbed. They were loking for a shepherd - albeit one with a big name and a big flock. Instead, they ended up with a "my-way-or-the-highway" autocrat - a top-down aficionado whose ecclesiastical machine whirs only to the sound of his own voice and functions tightly tightly within the parameters of his own limited vision.

Samir Selmanovic, "The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness: Finding Our God in the Other"

This choice between accepting the name of Christ and being Christlike has been placed before millions of people in human history and today.

It is worth being reminded that Christ never proclaimed, "Christianity is here. Join it." But Christ did insist, "The kingdom of God is here. Enter it."

In the Old Testament, God repeatedly rebuked his followers for treating him as a manageable idol, someone they could actually avoid through the means of religion. Christians can conceive of things like money, sex, and power being idols. But the Christian religion itself being an idol? Certainly, if we proclaim that Chritianity itself is immune from idolatry, then we have come to believe that, finally, God has become "contained" by Christianity.

The question begs to be asked: would God who gives enough revelation for people to be judged but not enough revelation to be saved be a God worth worshipping? Never!

Dwight J. Friesen, "Orthoparadoxy: Emerging Hope for Embracing Difference"

Jesus did not announce ideas or call people to certain beliefs as much as he invited people to follow him into a way of being in the world.

The hope is not to defeat, debate, condemn, or even convert the other; rather the hope is to live reconciled with the other, not avoiding differences but seeing them as an expression of the largeness and diverse beauty of God.

Anyone with access to the internet, television, radio, and newspapers encounters more information than has been availalbe at any other time in human history, but we risk ignorance because we tend to receive information passively, relying more on experts than on our own experiences to make sense of what we take in. Talking with others is a way out of this bind.

Conversations matter because the people with whom we converse matter; thus, conversations offer a human face - created in the image of God - to what otherwise might be reduced to a abstract idea. This kind of engagement is less about knowledge and more about wisdom.

Orthoparadox theologians seek not to defend their claims as much as present the fullness of their convictions and beliefs as an act of service.

Developing a life of orthoparadoxy, which fosters relationships by allowing strong conviction to remain in dialogue and surrenders the will to exclude on the basis of those same convictions, may sound impossible. Let there beno doubt, seeing connections where we once saw difference will require nothing less than divine intervention; may it be so.

Dan Kimball, "Humble Theology: Re-exploring Doctrine While Holding On to Truth"

Yes, we have the Spirit to guide us, but even so, there are many godly, wonderful, Spirit-filled people who sincerely study and pray and ask the Spirit to guide them, yet they come to different conclusions.

Chris Erdman, "Digging up the Past: Karl Barth (the Reformed Giant) as Friend to the Emerging Church"

I wonder if that's not what many of us sense and hope for - the freedom of God and the church from the ideological captivities that make God a commodity to be bought and sold, and the church an institution that gobbles up resources, panders to cultural whims, and resists the renewing, emerging winds that feel like life to us.

Rodolpho Carrasco, "A Pund of Social Justice: Beyond Fightig for a Just Cause"

Perhaps justice, in the end, is giving a person everything that God wants for him or her to have, not just material or social goods but the quiet assurance that, "Before you were born, I knew you - and loved you. I still do."

Deborah and Ken Loyd, "Our Report Card in the Year 2057: A Reflection on Women's Rights, Poverty and Oppression"

We would like to suggest that homogeneity is the curse, rather than the poverty.

Randy Woodley, "Restoring Honor in the Land: Why the Emerging Church Can't Dodge the Issue"

An understanding of shalom has been one of the most neglected concepts in the modern church. The rendering of this word as "peace" in most translations of the Scriptures is anemic and inadequate. One should not underestimate the importance of shalom, for without this base of understanding, it is impossible to understand God or humanity.

Doug Pagitt, "This is Just the Beginning: Living Our Great-Grandchildren's History"

If our grandchildren speak of our time as characterized by a cultural niche expression of faith specially formulated for Gen-whatever, we will have left them very little. No one is 2140 will need examples of trendy cultural tricks masquerading as missional innovation.

If our grandchildren are forced to speak of our day as a time filled with those who saw faith as the prized possession of the insider with member benefits, we will have failed. If we leave a version of the gospel that is ultimately for the benefit of the faithful and not the whole world, we have missed something. Our grandchildren must be able to say about us: "They did not see themselves as end users of the gospel. Faith was not value-added living, but life-giving to all the earth."

Well, there you have it. If you made it this far, I'd definitely love to hear what your response to my abridged version of the book is. What do these writers communicate about the emerging movement that I haven't written about yet? What was new to you or reinforced to you? Or like I said above, choose one quote, copy/paste it into the comment section and write a couple of sentences summarizing your response. Agree? Disagree? Laugh? Cry? Why?

Let's build a little community, shall we?