Noah, Magic, and Poetry: What is a Christian?

I have always believed in magic. Perhaps I believe in magic because I would be bored by a world limned by quadratic equations. But more than that, I don't think we'll ever be able to map the complexities that arise from the simplest of rules. There will always be room for the mystery that has propelled humanity since the inception of language.

In college, I wrote a program to describe the behavior of ants. When they found food, they laid down "pheromones" as they carried it back to the hive. Other ants would follow the pheromone trail to the food, laying down more pheromones. Based on these rules, I expected my ants to behave like flesh-drugged zombies. But what boggled my mind was when the ants appeared excited by the pheromone trail. Behavior emerged from this incredibly simple system that I couldn't explain, even though I'd coded it. I was ignorant to the complexities arising from even the simplest of rules. How much more ignorant are we in understanding the infinite complexity emerging from the human mind? Or complexities emerging from human language?

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Thank You for Supporting Grow Your Own Farm-to-Table

Noble Friends,

The Grow Your Own Farm-to-Table campaign was a total success!!!! We raised $10,770, with another $1,000 and change pledged. That makes it possible to even build an iPhone application if grassroots folks want it!!! I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. So many of you responded with such generosity. So many of you helped by sharing and encouraging me. THANK YOU!!!

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Lent: Falling in Love With the Ordinary

Definitely, I'm not one much given to joy. I'm far more likely to escape from normal with a fantasy novel than I am to delight in the cutting of vegetables and the washing of dishes.

I'm not so rare a bird as Brother Lawrence, who can practice the presence of God as easily as whistling. No, for me, practicing the presence of God in the midst of the ordinary is a thew-straining effort. Thews being what characters in fantasy novels strain when they're wielding a battle axe or rescuing a distressed maiden. Which we feminists no longer do.

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Feminism and the Kitchen: Is Cooking a Moral Act?

I really enjoyed the article,

"Is Michael Pollan a sexist pig? "Femivores" have made DIY domesticity cool. But critics who blame feminism for obesity and fast food have it wrong."

As a man who identifies as a feminist, I'm going to comment on this article from my own perspective. First, a little quoting is in order,

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When the Wheels of God Become the Wheels of the State

Kurt Willems asks whether or not

nonviolence helps or hinders evangelism. I believe that some of our metaphors for personal change and God, when read in the context of a violent state, are rendered utterly terrifying to late modern people in the United States. That is to say, the church must differentiate itself from the State through nonviolence, or our concepts of God will be read as totalitarian and frightening.

"Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple."
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NRSV
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Why Bother With "Idolatry of God?"

People have asked why I critiqued "Idolatry of God," and pointed out that Rollins' earlier works were much clearer on God. Oddly, there seems to be a criticism/dialogue phobia in the emergent church. As for me, I find spiritual and intellectual critique invigorating and healthy and was rather baffled by the strong response Micah Bales' post got.

So I found my old copy of "How (not) to Speak of God" by Peter Rollins, and started poking around (it was lost for the last few weeks).

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Nonviolent Resistance through Fantasia: on Peter Rollins' "Idolatry of God"

They look like big, good, strong hands, don't they. I always thought that's what they were. Ahh, my little friends, the little man with his racing snail. The nighthawk. Even the stupid bat. I couldn't hold on to them. the Nothing pulled them right out of my hands. I failed.
-Rock-biter, in The Neverending Story

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Waiting for God in the Dark Night of the Soul: On Peter Rollins' Atheism for Lent

I love Peter Rollins' honesty about his dark night of the soul.

He's popularized a term for the intellectual position accompanying the dark night of the soul: a/theism. I interpret Peter's thought as being in relation to an experience of God's absence. [Note: corrected this paragraph's content from "even coined" to "popularized. Turns out another author coined a/theism."]

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highlighter

my books are my mind

spilled out in pages
scattered across shelves

i am sifting through my ancestors
the sacred and profane
remembering and forgetting

i am becoming

my path is a line of green
highlit fire

I am a thousand flames
words
called forth
from the black ink

to think
is to divide:
each letter
infinitesimally smaller:
the beating of a heart

god
i love the fire
pressed through me
called forth by the word
into difference

yes i am
fractal
infinitely recursing
into flaming colors

books within books
are written
as my soul exults
in the infinity
of spaces
between words

Waking Up in Washington, D.C.

it is 9 o'clock in the morning

and my brain is full of tongues

i woke
to a president's plan
for an ailing economy
pressed through
a recalcitrant congress
ground finer still
by the pecking fingers of reporters
stuffed into the airwaves
like a sausage.

my dreams were cobweb
clinging in my mouth

I prayed
in the light
as I waited for the snooze
my dream persisted
like hope but soured

a sharp toothbrush punctures
my reverie
not unpleasant

i elect Ira Glass
soft king of my ear
for breakfast
a small truth
etched deep
into five acts

there is coffee
moving quickly
and I go
full
before the dawning fluorescence
i was predestined to arrive
a little late

i know how to empty myself
but where does it go?

time swept me
like the metro

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Praying for a Holistic Food Movement in the Household of God

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, is is a sacrament; when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration...in such desecration, we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.
-Wendell Berry

If we're going to reform our nation's unsustainable agricultural system, we're going to need to tackle economic inequality. That is to say, when you can't afford fresh arugula, you definitely can't afford organic fresh arugula.

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Firefly in a Jar

The echoes

of a night
drift
through my screen mesh.

A man explains
fervent
against a Crown Vic's
acceleration.

Crickets pulse
aloof
as tree branches
rustling above.

And why
does a horn slice
insistent
across the rustling
of dry leaves?

Anonymized
by distance,
a dog yelps
in pain
incomprehensible.

Our city
vast as starscapes
whose lights
yet travel
to our eyes.

i am a distant hope
i make no sound
my ballpoint
is a ninja.

How much less am i
than a single cricket:
whose sound brings sex
the thousand-throated drums
of pheromones in ecstasy?

While yet
my pregnant wife sleeps
through her symphony
of ninjas.

One evening soon
the rain will fall.
I will watch
the smallest inifinty
of sound
blanket her all.

Hope begins

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Occupy Church Photo Gallery

Remember the Occupy encampments? We set up a church there. Here are pictures of us in prayer at the encampments. In those days, it felt like the Occupy movement was a fulcrum so placed as to move the world.

(sorry for the overflow, remote Flash isn't themable, and my blog's theme isn't very accommodating!)

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i am (i am) among the 9 thousand

the day barks:

a hound set to guard
by inner clockworks
officious, vigilant

exhaustion
nine thousand anonymous
lapping at the will
an attriting ocean

once again it bays
thirsting for work
and feed

"i am (i am)"

yes, and i am
i say
but less
in the dawn

oh the ceaseless dawn!
calling me to life
from wordless desire

ah how it tracks me
9 thousand distinctions
shattered from a single pane
and the wind carries a howl
through the broken glass

"i am (i am)"

i see that you are!
and i am less!
who am i this morning?
who was i last night?
who shall i be today?
why do you track me
you bloodhound
where do you come from
on the coattails of my grief
to the citadel of my self
where i had thought to rest

"i am (that i am)"

again you are?

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excerpt from the dystopian scifi novel i'm writing

Energy swirled around the book: what secrets were trapped between those dense pen marks? Histories bled through its thin pages when held to the light. He studied it in secret and hid it deep beneath the hoarded Vac bric-a-brac in his closet.

There was a time before the Mind when all information, all knowledge, was stored in these inert paper volumes. Isaac knew from some distant memory that the secret to books lay in the study of their pages, with the eyes scanning back and forth. He knew their pages contained knowledge in a symbolic form, that somehow the black shapes represented spoken words. He knew this intellectually, but Isaac had never known any form of stored knowledge but the instantaneous pictograms of the Query Daemon.

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the leafcutter ants

i remember the hammocks
staring up
into the meshed leaf canopy

a midwesterner in paradise
still working

i remember the hammocks
of paradise

high in the leaf canopy
i strove against the leafcutter ants
against the green-hued sun
to build a haven
where all things stay
where put

i remember the hammocks
where i strove in my mind
as my body rested.

Does Your Carbon Footprint Matter?

Bill McKibben writes that oil companies have, on their books, enough oil to create at 18 degree (Farenheit) increase in global temperature. Wow. That's just what we're planning to burn. If you haven't, go read his article. Post it to Facebook and Twitter, and then come back here.

While I agree with McKibben on nearly all his points, I find him impatient on the power of individual transformation:

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Physical Churches: Do They Matter Anymore?

Micah Bales asked a deep question. He suggests that the wealth in property we’ve inherited is hindering our work for social justice. He talks provocatively (as a spiritual challenge, he clarifies) about “burning the meetinghouse.” He asks, “What would happen if we put the movement of the Spirit ahead of property management?"

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Social Location at Wild Goose

At Wild Goose, I was humbled to be among justice-seeking Christians seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

I see a deep connection between the personal practice of simple living and activism for social change. While I struggle to live justly, particularly in my everyday purchasing decisions (as Julie Clawson advises!), I often don't live as simply as I could. Sometimes I take shortcuts, going out for lunch, driving my car to work, or buying something to solve a problem that actually requires time I lack because of overcommitment.

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The Table is the Microcosm of a Practical Faith

Generally speaking, my generation is a practical generation, and I am challenged by my faith to be a practical person. Don't get me wrong: I love all verbal and theological things: story, theology, politics, and history, perhaps even inordinately.

But I believe in places. I believe that relationships, rooted in love, transform us. And it just so happens that most lasting human relationships are formed around the table.

In the Eucharist, the ordinary is made sacred. The original Eucharist tradition as recorded in the book of Acts and later Paul was a feast that united people of all incomes and races in a common purpose.

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Letter to a Seminarian from a Christian Occupier

Originally published

in Justice Unbound.

“The task of prophetic min­istry is to nur­ture, nour­ish, and evoke a con­scious­ness and per­cep­tion alter­na­tive to the con­scious­ness and per­cep­tion of the dom­i­nant cul­ture around us.” — Wal­ter Bruegge­mann, The Prophetic Imagination

I do not know how to be a pas­tor. I’m an orga­nizer. I orga­nize the church for grass­roots democ­racy, and some­times I do pastor-like things, but I am a layperson.

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Anti-Oppression Work in the Church

"I am a man of unclean lips, from a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 6:5)."

Isaiah is an institutional reformer. He's a part of the priestly class. He's a part of the problem.

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When a System Demands our Allegiance Away from Christ

When I am faced with dishonesty and fraud on a systemic scale, I ask questions of God. But as I trace the origins of injustice, I am directed back towards humanity. The question becomes: what can we do to end injustice?

The Washington Post reported on the massive falsification of documents by banks:

"Employees at major banks who churned out fraudulent foreclosure documents, forged signatures, made up fake job titles and falsely notarized paperwork often did so at the behest of their superiors, according to a federal investigation released Tuesday.
...

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