Friday, November 30, 2007

Wal-Mart...or what I fondly call "the devil store"

I'm watching Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price right now. I realize that the documentary is not holding back on any sort of bias or perspective, being very clear that Wal-Mart is a company that is terrible to its employees, environmentally unsound, and participates in slave labor. It is a disturbing movie. I'd already read some books and formed some opinions about the company in college and early on in my return to Warrenton. That being said, occasionally I've shopped at the store for certain types of products, mainly, deodorant, toothbrushes, boxers, white t-shirts, the very basic stuff. But after watching this documentary, I really don't think that I can shop there at all.

You see I've always been torn...because I've known and know people who work there, and on one side, I'd hate for them to lose their jobs, especially if I encouraged them to develop a union, or advocate for fair wages. Yet at the same time, the injustice experienced in the U.S. by employees, and perhaps more importantly, the suffering of those working in sweat shops and poor working conditions and wages in places like Bangladesh and China is absolutely horrible. And let's not forget the local and independent stores that have been affected by Wal-Mart opening up in our town.

So, on one side, I think that not shopping there is really important, yet at the same time, how might Christian communities be prepared to help the employees of those stores find other jobs?

Also, what would we do if the Walton family was not prepared for the apocalypse with their bomb shelter that they've built in reaction to 9/11?

Anyone been involved in helping change the practices in their town of Wal-Mart?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

over lunch

on one of our few trips out over the holidays, i had an especially amazing conversation with Shey. i was telling Shey about how i wanted to possibly combine all my Christmas gifts from family to put some money towards a Mac. she proceeded to tell me that i only wanted a Mac because they are cool, and that by getting a Mac, i would think i was cool too. and then Shey said this:

"I transcend cool. Cool passes right through me and keeps on going."

my wife transcends cool. top that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

high school boys are dumb (and so am I)

so i am getting up in 4 hours to meet some high school boys for breakfast. why you ask, would we meet at 4 a.m. for breakfast on a day that they have off of school and we would normally meet at 6 a.m.? the only answer i have right now is stupidity...and they (we) think they (we) are funny.

we're not. and it is going to hurt at 3:15 a.m. as i leave to pick them up b/c most of them can't drive. i'm stupid.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

our last day of NYWC

So we have returned home tonight from our trip to Atlanta. The speaker at the general session this morning was Doug Fields. Honestly, I wasn't very excited about the session. I hadn't read his famous book that all youth pastors are supposed to read, and I didn't expect much to connect with. But I was pleasantly surprised by Doug's humility, grace, and openness as he challenged youth workers to consider how envy has influenced and informed their youth ministry and lives. He was entertaining, pretty funny, and seemed to be having a lot of fun when he shared. Like many of the speakers for the main session or worship bands, I was surprised by the way they carried themselves. Although there were some bands that I wasn't so excited with, and I didn't always agree with a lot of the things said, there seemed to be an openness throughout the weekend to see the "other" as a person with a face, a family, a life...and that those persons are doing their best to live life in the way of Jesus. Doug did a great job of challenging youth workers to let go of envy while learning to support others.

The last breakout session that Shey and I went to was Phyllis Tickle's seminar on the Seven Ancient Disiplines that could help nurture and inform our students' spiritual formation. Like every other time I've heard her speak now, she is always up for a great laugh, telling a powerful story, and doesn't take herself too seriously. Through her own humility she opens the door for dialogue amongst various perspectives. She talked a lot about her experiences and theological insights in practicing fixed-hour prayer, or keeping the offices. I've been trying to keep the hours again this semester and I've found it to be a profound experience. Praying with the church all over the world is a beautiful image of unity and community that I believe helps to act as an icon or image that beckons us forward to living out the reality of God's kingdom come and will being done on earth as in heaven. Tickle's prayer manuals are fantastic, and very helpful for what she called the "liturgically challenged." Which myself, growing up Southern Baptist, most certainly am.

I'll post some further thoughts of my overall impression of the convention tomorrow. But as for now, it's time to get some sleep, 5:40 a.m. is coming quick. peace.

Mrs. Phyllis Tickle and Chris Folmsbee...and it all ends in the presidential suite

Today was a good day. It was the second day of the NYWC in Atlanta. Shey and I have been having a great time, especially after this morning's general session. Phyllis Tickle, author, speaker, prophet, and guide shared a message and lesson this morning. She talked about "The Great Emergence," or this time in history which we find ourselves in today. This is the term she has given to describe the next period of reformation in the church which is happening today and is changing the landscape of Christianity, especially in the West. If you have never had a chance to hear her speak, or use the prayer manuals she has created, I highly recommend her works, and finding a way to hear her speak the next chance you get. You'd never expect a 73-year old woman to get up at a youth conference and blow your mind, but that's just what happened today, and is what happened when she spoke at the general sessions at the Emergent Convention a couple years ago in Nashville.

In the afternoon, Shey and I went to Chris Folmsbee's super-seminar called "Stories, Signs, and Sacred Rhythms: A Narrative Approach to Nurturing Students." Chris' message and seminar was fantastic. He proposed a philosophy of youth ministry that could have a profound impact on the landscape of Western Christianity and youth ministry in the coming years. The models of faith development and beginning in the narrative will be extremely helpful and insightful in working with students whose very lives and thus their stories are being fragmented, alienated, and disjointed from others, God, and themselves on a regular basis. The language and metaphors that Chris is exploring is powerful and helps put 'words to some of the things' many of us are thinking about in this round table of discussion and conversation. Be on the lookout for his new book that will most likely have the same title of this seminar to be coming out in the future.

I'd like to post some more comments and thoughts about both Mrs. Tickle's talk and Chris' seminar, but it is too late to dig out the notebook. Shey is knocked out already, it's late...and I've ended on a high note. I got to see Shey when I came back, and the place I came back from was Marko's suite. I spent the evening with Chris and some other guys who work with the newly joined Sonlife/YouthFront. They are doing some amazing stuff that youth ministry folks should check out.

I met some cool guys tonight, and unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to talk to Marko, but Chris, Doug, Len, Scott, Mark, and others made me feel right at home this evening. It was fun to meet some of the other speakers, and to see some of the ways these folks hang out together. There is a warm spirit of hospitality and graciousness that was great to be around. All in all, Day 2 was a good day.

Friday, November 16, 2007

NYWC in ATL Day 1

Shey and I are down in Atlanta this weekend for the National Youth Workers Convention organized by Youth Specialties. So far we are having a great time, running into old friends, and getting to hear some great stuff. My friend Chris is blogging about his time down here too!

Speaking at the first General Session today was Andy Stanley. My pastor is a huge fan, but up until this point, I had never really heard him speak, but had been given excerpts of books, seen some clips of some talks, but nothing from beginning to end. He came across as a pretty good guy, and I think even gets it on some stuff, in terms of Jesus displaying his understanding of leadership and "power" through washing the disciples feet. However, I think that he stretched the metaphor a bit, asking us to consider how we can utilize our power in the way of Jesus when we come to realize that we are the most powerful person in the room with the capability to greatly influence others. My first question was: What about Jesus or the Holy Spirit being present? Secondly, I wondered if there wasn't a better way to understand the relationship between ourselves and "the other people in the room" in terms other than leader/follower or powerful/less powerful. Nevertheless, his conclusions about serving others in humility were on target and provided some helpful insights about the nature of leadership.

This afternoon/evening, two amazing things happened. First I attended Mark Yaconelli's seminar on "The Dark Night of the Soul: When God is Absent." It was beautiful, the way he weaved the stories of Mother Teresa, his own, and his friends together to tell stories of the struggles with the inability to comprehend God and the process of doubt, waiting, darkness, purification, and trust that was involved in wrestling with the silence of God. Some of the stories brought tears to my dry, red eyes, worn tired from writing sermons and papers and getting up at 3:30 a.m. after going to bed at 12:30 a.m. last night. This was a wonderful gathering and time of reflection. I may try to post some of the notes sometime in the future. It was simply a wonderful seminar.

Lastly, Shane Claiborne got up, breathed fire, did a back flip, and then proceeded to tell the 5,500 youth workers that he was going to tell them the best sermon ever told. He read the entire Sermon on the Mount from Matthew's gospel, and then said "amen" and sat down. It was one of those times when you know the prophet has spoken. I don't think anybody knew what do after he walked off the stage...Tic Long allowed some room for silence which helped us to process and soak in the truth-telling done tonight from the pulpit. Talk about power...

It's been a good start to the conference. I am super-excited about Phyllis Tickle speaking tomorrow at the General Session. When she spoke at the last Emergent Convention in Nashville a couple of years ago, I was floored with her messages, stories, and depth. I can't wait for tomorrow morning.

I hope folks are well. Shey and I are really bummed to miss the baby dedications for the Vegas and Cullops. I hope things go well. We'll be thinking of you friends!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

latest sermon and something new

I preached on Sunday, and if you are interested, below are some links to listen or download the sermon, Shey said it was one of the best I've preached. It was short and sweet, and it was a new style for me. Almost completely narrative.

On Monday November 26, I am going to have an initial meeting with Father Lewis Fiorelli, as I am considering meeting with a Spiritual Director, and Father Fiorelli is taking a chance to spend some time with a Baptist Youth Pastor who is interested in ecumenical dialogue and the spirituality of St. Francis of De Sales. I really hope this works out, and I am looking forward to the experience, the questions, and the reflections that will come in meeting with Father Fiorelli.

Has anyone else had any experience meeting with a Spiritual Director? What was it like?

On Being A Pharisee

Article Pic

11/11/07 - Message Title: On Being A Pharisee, Josh Hayden
Right Click Here to Download mp3 OR Listen Live

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

two prayers

In light of some recent conversations about divergent points of view on some theology, these prayers have echoed the hopes of my heart:

God, you have prepared in peace the path I must follow today. Help me to walk straight on that path. If I speak, remove lies from my lips. If I am hungry, take away from me all complaint. If I have plenty, destroy pride in me. May I go through the day calling on you, you, O Lord, who know no other Lord.
Ethiopian Prayer (from The Divine Hours)

God be in my head
and in my understanding.
God be in my mouth
and in my speaking.
God be in my heart
and in my thinking.
God be at mine end
and my departing.
Sarum Primer, 1527 (from The Divine Hours)