Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More Economic Slowdown

How disparaging is this. They were talking about these newly released studies on NPR this morning, and it overwhelmed me. Not sure how people are going to survive all of this. The story on NPR was followed by a story about how the French economy is dramatically slowing and in recession now.. geesh. What is it like to live life with so few or no resources!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My other blog

Mostly I think over here, where it's a bit more unfiltered and not necessarily about poverty.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Dear Friends and Family,

On Sunday, October 19th, Tyler, Livia, Jude, and I will be walking a 5K (complete with double stroller) in the 33rd Annual Pasadena CROP WALK for Hunger. Over 2000 families walk each year to raise funds to help alleviate local and global hunger. This year, as food prices continue to soar, we are looking forward to this social event, especially since we are in Los Angeles, a city where the growing divide between the rich and poor is dramatically evident on most any street. We also expect this to be a great and practical way to begin introducing our kids to the plight of those in need.

In 2007, over $40,000 was raised collectively. Our church's, Pasadena Mennonite Church, current goal is $2200. The money that is used locally will be donated to the various soup kitchens and food banks that serve the homeless throughout the greater Los Angeles area. The funds that are utilized internationally will flow through Church World Service and their partner humanitarian organizations. The benefits of undesignated, ecumenical funds like this are plentiful as they support a much wider range of needs.

Therefore, Tyler and I would be so grateful if you would like to make a financial contribution to us as you sponsor our family in this endeavor. If you are interested, you may give as a general donor, or more specifically. For example, you may designate your money to various organizations like The Baptist World Alliance, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Heifer International, Project Hope, Mennonite Central Committee, and many more. In addition to financial support, for those of you who are local, if you would like to give us non-perishable groceries, there are collection barrels at the start line of the walk. We would be happy to offer those up for you.

If you would like to donate and need further information please feel free to contact us. All donations are tax deductible and need to be in our "walk packet" by Oct. 19th. Additionally, you can navigate to this website, and click on the "donate" button to use your credit card to give.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and generosity. We so appreciate you!

With Peace,

P.S. CROP = Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thoughts--as Promised

My posting is so sporadic right now because I don't have time, or when the time is there, I don't have the energy to write. Two-week intensive classes, swim lessons for the kids, visiting family, etc. makes for speedy summer days. Yet, somehow in the midst of ordinary Mayfield mayhem, I am struck once again right now at how God's voice can perpetrate my routine so dramaticaly and quickly.

Background Info.
In my class on wealth and poverty last quarter, and also on this blog, we talked quite a bit about the Rich Young Ruler. Using it metaphorically, if Jesus were going to ask me to sacrifice something that was preventing me from experience life with him more fully, what would it be? I have struggled with this question ad naseum in a quest for great self-awareness. What would make me grieved at the thought of its loss? I asked Tyler if he could sell his books for Jesus, the symbol of what he values immensley. I asked my parents if they could sell their lovely home, a warm, hospitable place used more often than not for ministry and community. I asked my brother if he could arrest his educational pursuits, and on and on. But what is my question? (and not that these people should give up these things--that's not my point.)

More info.
Tyler and I were members, and I was the children's minister for a while at Wilton Baptist Church when we lived in CT. It is mostly comprised of New York business men and their wealthy families, as Wilton is a small town in Fairfield County, one of the richest in the country and only about 30 minutes east of Manhatten. We attended All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena for about the first year that we were here in California. Their social agenda and 'liberal' inclusivity attracted my wayward evangelicalism and permitted me to delve even further into the waters of mainline Christianity. (An ocean that I was only able to dip my big toe into while we were at Yale for fear of drowning or nearing too close to the dark waters.) Now, after having been members at Pasadena Mennonite Church for a little over two years and understanding better the subversive call to simplicity, especially in an area so full of consumption, smog, and oil as is Los Angeles, it leaves me perpetually perplexed. Where are all of these experiences leading my family? How are they shaping us?

I more often than not feel like a fish outta water at Fuller, but then I remember that we're all in one great big ocean, under God (note my previous metaphor), so, what am I supposed to be gleaning even in the wake of Fuller?

When I was cynically reading the first chapter to Wilson-Hartgrove's New Monasticism a few weeks ago, my skepticism receeded and in washed a powerful new currant of hope and direction. While I am still weary of the marketing of this movement, and the fact that a bit of their publishing is coming from Grand Rapids, nor do I think this communal stuff is really all that "new," I find myself totally in awe of what this lifestyle communicates to our contemporary society, one that is mostly socially fragmented, morally thirsty, and economically bereft--even in the rich parts like Wilton. There is something that seems so right to me about living, eating, and sharing everything with those we serve, as if we are married into one giant family--to borrow the metaphor from the Eugene, OR, folk...thanks, Chris. (I like it, a lot!)

Enter God.
So as I was sitting in the library reading this book, wondering these thoughts, query-ing these questions, praying such prayers, (before my phone rang) the windows all merged into one for a few seconds, and it began making sense..until I realized now I have about fifty gazillion more questions.

While the light at the end of my theological and educational tunnel started glowing a bit brighter in this moment, so too, was my rich young ruler question being answered, nearly causing me to lose my vision for all the bright dots of color that were overshadowing my questions and preventing my eyes from adjusting to the new route in life.

When Tyler finishes his dissertation and we move to wherever he gets a teaching job (hopefully as early as next August), we will be moving into an urban area to live with the poor, in community. This is where it's all going for us. We've seen the rich, we've seen simple living, we've seen ecumenism and inclusivism at its best, and as I learn more and more about what it means to pastor, it is clear that the only place this will fulfill God's giftedness in me, is to be in the city, with the poor, working it out, side-by-side with those Jesus really did come to save.

So, yeah, the sacrifice? Just like that young ruler was being asked to give up his goods, I'm being asked to give up a way of life. One that I am comfortable with, accustomed to, and more reliant on than I have ever realized before now. I swallow deeply at this. It is a suburban life with lots of time at the pool in the summers, over-sized smelly fires in our living room in the winter, and basically any and every need met with no worries. When I think about passing on a different childhood experience to Livia and Jude, I get excited about the multiculturalism and social awareness they'll be immersed in. And I'll always be thankful that even amidst my own childhood comfort, the wider world of need was never too far away, even only a few blocks away, and we were careful to not ignore it.

I have a lot to learn, though. I am eager and anxious about how this will work out and what it really all means. I don't think I really have any idea.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Monasticism

I am gathering thoughts from friends regarding this new movement of doing and being church. If you have anything to add to the conversation please feel free to comment. I might not get anything...that's okay. I am working on my own response to it all, which will be my next post. I promised in an earlier blog that I'd share my beefs about Shane, and while they're mellowing out, I'm currently reading a new book (note the pic) about New Monasticism that's quite intriguing. It sparked a new spiritual quickening in me while I was in the Claremont library the other day. But then my phone started blasting her Back Street Boys ringtone, which not only pierced the quite of the summertime library (read: I'm the only nerd alert who was in there) but it interupted my pastoral contemplations and aspirations. So more to come, but in the meantime, please tell me what you've read and are thinking about it. Gracias.

P.S. Here is an interesting article about it from one of my favorite sites.

P.P.S. And here is an article about it from the Christian Century.

P.P.P.S. Krista Tippet has a few podcasts on the movement (easliy found through itunes) on her NPR show, "Speaking of Faith."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

'Nother Sign

We drove by another one last night worthy of mention, but I didn't have my camera...argh!

"Tithe if you love Jesus! Anyone can honk!"

I kid you not.

The second week of our class, our professor entertained a lengthy and interesting discussion centered on the question, "Why do evangelicals teach the importance of a 10% tithe?" After examining several OT texts on the purpose of tithing for the Israelites, along with the percentages they were suppossed to tithe, it's more clear that our modern tithing concepts are pretty fabricated. Not only so, but designating only a portion of our income, like 10%, to God or the church, or our ministers seems to convey a completely erroneous concept, that being only a portion of our earnings/worth is God's, the rest if ours as a result of our hard work. This mentality fails to promote the idea that all of our wealth, possessions, and charity are God's.

If our financial perspectives admit that everything in our bank accounts belong more fully to our Creator, it might be easier to love Jesus by giving it away. However, I don't think the church sign was relating this theological presupposition.

I am a BIG fan of the congregation financially supporting their pastors and ministers. But I'm not a fan of it coming forth from legalism or a duty to keep up one's "Christian" appearances.