Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Good Scents & God Sense

I'll write more about this later; but, I've been thinking a lot lately about finding another practical way to express care for the homeless. Those of you who know me, know my heart for this group. The hot days increase the need for personal deodorants, soaps, clean laundry and general hygiene products.

I've decided to start gathering trial sized personal hygiene products to pass out. (Note: I'm not endorsing this link, just linking to add a visual and ideas for brainstorming. I've never purchased anything from them before. Maybe they're great; maybe not.) Being female, my first thought goes to a scented trial sampler like body wash, body spray and lotion all in some fun scent; but that's not all that's needed (and not everyone will want something scented). Trial sized since they're light and easy to carry when you're mobile. My friends and I like to add a fun scent when we want to feel special or attractive. Why not give the same opportunity to the homeless?

In the summer months natural scents can become off-putting if you don't have the stuff to do something about it. This is confirmed for me in the elevator at the public library (where I go pretty often). Even when entering an empty elevator a distinctive smell from one of your predecessors can linger in the air for quite a while. Wouldn't it be personally attentive, if we banned together to help people avoid this kind of embarrassment? A woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus' feet when they were probably stinky and dirty. I'd like to do something like this in a culturally relevant way. I think that Bath and Body Works, Gillette, and other personal hygiene products just might help to that end.

Drop me a note if you're interested. I'm looking for:
- More ideas on the topic
- People who want to donate trial sized items (or money to buy them), or
- People who want to pass out some of the stuff (with me or on their own)
- Somebody with a 501(c)3 who wants to take checks so they can be tax deductible

It's stuff like this that makes me think I need to just hop the nonprofit hoops just for the tax breaks it gives to people who want to partner financially! Anyway..........

Here are some more ideas of summer relevant things for the homeless that would be good if you're thinking of making a donation of stuff:

Sun block
Disposable Razors
Antibacterial Gel
Glasses wipes
Sun Glasses
Socks (to replace the old smelly ones)
Zip lock bags (it's not fun to have even a trial sized bottle of liquid soap spill in the bag that carries all of your possessions)
We also used to pass out laundry cards at a local laundry mat that paid for a free wash and dry of one load of laundry. I'd like to start that up again.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Al Gore & Store Wars

Thanks to the free movie passes that we get at work from time to time, the other night some friends and I saw a preview of Gore's movie about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.

Although Gore makes several attempts at self promotion throughout the course of the film, the message he sends for each American to take personal responsibility for the environmental factors we contribute to our warming planet, is a good one to hear (even with the condescending Simpson comic used early on to explain green house gases). However, since one can easily argue that people read much less than what they see these days, maybe this, too, has its place to try to get quickly get the message to the masses.

Things are getting hotter. When I was in high school we had one summer in Phoenix with 4 days over 120 degrees (the hottest then, was 122 degrees when we popped 3/4 of a bag of microwave popcorn on the black top of the school parking lot). Last summer they had over 2 weeks over 120 degrees in the same area. In a few more weeks matinee viewers in the Phoenix area will probably be able make their own popcorn from the movie theater parking lots before heading in to see this flick.

If nothing else I hope the movie will leave more of us seriously contemplating this question, "What can I do to take more responsibility to reduce the way my life pollutes our planet?"

Not being scientifically inclined, perhaps this next tid bit is not even relevant. Nonetheless, I thought this video spoof called Store Wars might be a light way to end an otherwise heavy topic.

Sinking Into Confusion

Jumping off of the post below, (Relevant, Diluted or All Together Distorted), here's another video that shows how easy it is to be really off base without even having a clue.

For more good reading on the topic of finding meaningful ways of 'embodying Christ in our cultural context', I also found that I really like what Dwight J. Friesen has to say in his article, "Living Incarnationally."

Is the Message Relevant, Diluted, or Altogether Distorted?

One of my favorite professors in college, (Dr. Doug Dickey) used to say, "All great men are inconsistent." This is true on at least 2 levels: 1. Nobody's perfect, and 2. Great people stay on a learning curve that results in an on-going path of growth and change.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is for well-meaning Christians to give God a bad name - I include myself in this. I've had several (seemingly unrelated) conversations over the course of the last month with friends and family about this topic in one way or another.

I think it's important to regularly re-examine the messages my words and actions communicate. I also think I need to regularly laugh at myself and accept the reality sometimes I'm just totally off base. See the two video links below for some satirical examples of this with evangelism:

1. This one is friendly for all ages. I think we could call this the "Convert Hunter."

2. Since there's crass language in the next one, I don't recommend this one for everyone. (If you choose to view this one you probably also won't want to do so with children in earshot since there's heavy repetition of some crass phrases that young ears could easily pick up on.)

How often is God's value for genuine relationship (which loves us before we become lovers of God) tossed by the way side in search of a conversion? How often do Christians 'make like they value relationship' only to bail out when it doesn't look like conversion is probable? How often do circular logic and/or self-serving ideologies replace the true kerygma of the good news shared in a charismissional way?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Chicken Little and My Mixed Metaphors

I've been reading this awesome new book by Alan Roxburgh called The Sky is Falling: Leaders Lost in Transition. I'm only about 70 pages in, but so far Roxburgh has proven himself to be a smart, balanced person with an enduring commitment to long-term kingdom growth.

Playing off the Chicken Little story Roxburgh's title calls back to the chick who runs around calling, "The sky is falling!" after one acorn strikes her on the head.
Roxburgh makes a case for why Christians need to become more comfortable with a sense of disequilibrium noting that our culture/time in history is marked by more than continuous, understandable change. He calls it 'discontinuous change.' Here are a few quotes I've been enjoying:

"Discontinuous Change is an all-out acorn assault. Because there's no discernible pattern to the changes[;] the attacks seem to come from all angles and directions. Discontinuous change literally feels like the sky is falling. It exhausts our physical, mental, and spiritual resources by its sheer magnitude." (pg 29)

"The real challenge facing [t]his generation was determining which changes to pay attention to." pg 26

Quoting R.R. Reno's In the Ruins of the Church, "At the heart of modern Christianity is a dislike of 'organized religion,' a distancing habit that keeps at bay the demands of a suffering intimacy with the concrete and particular forms of the apostolic witness."

Roxburgh describes two present-day Christian tribes with a missional focus: 1. The Liminals (those missionally focused who remain at the threshold of the Institutional Church -- my wording, not his) and the Emergents (those missionally focused who step outside of the IC to find a new practice). Roxburgh writes, "It's my conviction that without dialogue and cooperation between these two tribes -- the Liminals and the Emergents -- we will never be able to discern the shape of the communities God truly wants to call forth."

I think he's onto something. It's worth the read. The pages of my book are filling up with ink - which, in my world, is a sure sign that I'm loving what I'm reading.

In another couple months I'll be at the 4-year mark having left my liminal threshold to stand out in the emergent desert that has seemed more like a wasteland for my cares, affections and sense of security than the lush garden I came in search of. Over the last 4 years there have been times I felt like my whole world had been tipped on it's head - lack of job, relationship, miniscule community and excessive confusion ... hunger for something more, something different, something new, something familiar all at once. Other times I felt like my world wasn't just upside down, but rather that it was spinning, a never ceasing motion of confusion and change. I'd catch glimpses of what I was looking for; and, scents of it would go wafting by. There'd be conversations and stories full of it; but it was much more fleeting and momentary in life experience. Unlike the church where I used to work or my favorite scripture verse I never could find the address of missional community.

For a while I kept trying to figure out which way was up so I could regain my sense of balance and stop the spinning motion; but, when you're spinning, 'up' is a relative concept. If anything is tangible it's throwing up. Much to the chagrin of many family members, friends, colleagues, and mentors I've been unable to stop the spinning ride. Some have fallen into a sense of despair or disappointment at my 'lost potential' and stepped back from the wind generated by all the spinning in my life. Others have weathered the tornado-like gusts and maintained an encouraging posture toward me. Nonetheless, the whirling continues.

I think, at long last, I'm beginning to acclimate to this continuous sense of uncertainty. - I don't necessarily like it; but, I think I'm getting used to it. Kind of a vertigo as a state of experience with grounding only in love and Emmanuel as reality. Thankfully, I think I'm finally starting to accept that God's point in all of this is not in my finding a new equilibrium from my daily experience. The point? ... I'm still figuring some of that out; but, I think in its simplest form it has much to do with finding Him.

One last quote from Surfing the Edge of Chaos (great title of a book I've only yet read in citation) "At certain scales (i.e. small) and in some time frames (i.e., short), equilibrium can be a desirable condition. But over long intervals of time and on very large scales, equilibrium becomes hazardous. Why? Because the environment in which an organism (or organization) lives is always changing. At times, it is turbulent. Prolonged equilibrium dulls an organism's senses and saps its ability to arouse itself appropiately in the face of danger."