Tag Archives: world

St. Francis on Global Community Development

Tonight at Asbury Seminary, St. Francis will lead our community in heart-formation. We will contemplate with the thoughts of the one, who eight hundred years after his death, gets to have little concrete statues of himself in billions of gardens across the world.  You will see why.  This session will be held on the Wilmore campus in the Richard Allen Chapel, 6.30-8.00pm.

When you first read St. Francis three things immediate surface: 1. He is deeply Roman Catholic (so for us protestants, we have some translation work to do), 2. One-in-two words he writes is  a quotation of scripture.  We see Jesus eminating even from the few words St. Francis wrote, 3. His vision remians just as vital today as it did then. And for “Thriving Among the Lilies”, this means we are especially interested in his vision for Global Community Development.  Here are some passages to get you started:

“And all of us lesser brothers, useless servants (Luke 17.10), humbly ask and beg all those who wish to serve the Lord God within the holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and all the following orders: priests, deacons, sub deacons, acolytes, exorcists, lectors, porters, and all clerics, all religious men and all religious women, all lay brothers and youths, the poor and needy, kings and princes, workers and farmers, servants and masters, all virgins and continent and married women, all lay people men and women, all children, adolescents, the young and old, the healthy and the sick, all the small and the great, all peoples, races, tribes, and tongues, all nations and peoples everywhere on earth who are and who will be—that all of us may persevere in the true faith and in penance, for otherwise no one will be saved.”


 “No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister.  And the minister should take care not to grant [this permission] to anyone indiscriminately.  All the brothers should preach by their deeds. And no minister or preacher should appropriate to himself the ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching, but he should set it aside without any protest whenever he is told.”



Global Community/ Local Service: An Asbury Service Learning Entrée

Global Community Development Mondays: Journal Entry 2.

Monday- June 14th, 2010: Garage Sale

Our next phase in the transformation of the garage included a garage sale to 1. get rid of a number of items that we could no longer use, and 2. make a few dollars in the mean time that will go toward the refurbishing of the garage.

We started with an all-day prep on Friday.  10 volunteers showed up throughout the day, though one intercultural moment particularly caught my eye.  We rented a dumpster (now just about full) for the weekend.  At one point we had four men carrying a monster of an air conditioner long dead to the dumpster.  Two hands belonged to a Kenyan, two to a Zimbabwean, two to a Ugandan, and two to an African American.  As we continue to search for beloved community, I saw a sparkle in that moment and watched the community grow closer as they participated in something as simple yet profound as a shared mission to clean up a garage.

The next day brought about 40 community members to Cox’s in search for treasures and furniture’s we were selling.  We made, in total, $111.00.  Though not our goal of $200, there were a few elements of the day simply priceless.  The sale itself brought together our local community and our global Asbury Community.  Not only were the patrons given a chance to mingle with folks from Korea, Kenya, and Singapore, but the event allowed for peoples from all social classes to connect.  We ate lunch after with the totality of our volunteers (about 8 in total), and again every social class (except of course the wildly rich) were present.  As I will continue to testify, the energy at Cox’s has the power to divide our community and the power to bring us together.  It also contains the most intercultural potential I’ve seen on campus.

One conversation stood out to me the most.   There was a North American, Kenyan, and African American standing together helping oversee a portion of the sale.  Their conversation started in small talk but led to a robust discussion on initiation rites and manhood.  The two North American men lamented about the lack of initiation rites in the US while the Kenyan man reflected on his 2 month wilderness passage and how it laid out the expectations for manhood very clearly.  Though it was just one conversation, it represents hundreds of conversations I’ve heard over the course of five years.  While we can have these conversations over lunch or as we walk together, I have witnessed these intercultural interchanges as a usual circumstance when our global community finds herself in shared local missions.

The Mission Continues: every Monday, including tonight (October 4th) 3.30-5.30pm,   at the Global Community Development Center, next to Cluckers.

Gender Week

It is gender week here at “TaL”.

That means I am pulling out my “Battle of the Sexes” playing cards, Mars/ Venus textbook, and resurrecting the ole’ camp motto “We have pink and we have blue. Now no making Purple!”

In all seriousness, we have come in our age to a global gender crisis.  Sexuality has been replaced with Genitality, such that when you inquire about someone’s sex, they usually respond either “active” or “not”.  This is a change from 50 years ago.  They would have responded “male” or “female” and ascribed a web of social expectations.

What I’m not talking about this week is sexuality as we know it.   This week we will dive into the jumbled world of gender expectations and roles.  It is just as unclear today what it means to be a “real man” as it is a “real woman”.   And for many, we unknowingly live day in and day out in the fog of gender disorientation (one among a hundred factors that sap our vibrancy in this global age).  I know many men and women who long deeply to release their authentic man or womanhood.

The emancipated woman has come a long way since Jesus and St. Paul planted the seeds for Western suffrage.  Now, two thousand years later (in the West), women’s roles continue to evolve blessedly giving us women CEO’s, women politicians, and women’s voices at the center of our civic consciousness.  But many women I know still feel disoriented, especially as diverse global expressions of womanhood challenge the American definitions of “emancipation”.  For the most part women are still expected to happily birth, nurture, and nanny their little ones while retaining Barbiesque sexuality for their men.

On the other hand, definitions of manhood generally adopted by our fathers and grandfathers have proven bankrupt.  The stoic father and emotionally absent husband no longer satisfy the awakening sensibilities of our women nor the rebellion of our young people.  In response, notes historian Robert Bly, a type of soft male has emerged: “The male in the past twenty years has become more thoughtful, more gentle.  But by this process he has not become more free.  He’s a nice boy who pleases not only his mother but also the young woman he is living with.”

We need help!  In the next four posts (except tomorrow’s) I will offer some observations and insights that might produce some real emancipation for men and women in our global age.

Steward of Creation: A Prayer-Poem

In Darkness I clutch a created thing
With sense that to it I’ve been given
To watch and heed and shelter growth
No tiny task to bear

“Now, steward them all and show dominion”
I hear with mix-ed troubled mind
So onto the search for God’s intentions
A blueprint for His care

“You’ll steward the whole of the fishy sea”
Please know they breathe the water in
So care for it and heed my will:
A swarm of scaly things

“You’ll steward the feathery flocks of birds
for through their likeness I’ll proclaim
“My Son, I’m pleased, they’ll heed your words”
my Holy Spirit sings

“You’ll steward the tiny creeping things”
Their grassy blades: cathedral walls
I do not want you harming them
They fertilize my soil

“For eating and tasting, I give most trees”
That bear a barkened fruity seed
And to the lowly animals
Greens grown without your toil

So, watching and heeding please shelter growth
And with your faith all things will bloom
And one more thing, I want more you’s
My family multiply



The edges and bordering lines of Eden
Expand across this vista’ed wood
It’s good, the wood, and all I’ve made
Now rest with me tonight

I’m watching you drift into peaceful rest
And soon the sun will westward set
And, here’s one law to rule our wood
One tree, you see: restricted.

For eating its fruit in the cool of the day
Might bring you worlds of bursting light
But death to you its pulp imparts
The consequence: evicted.



Arising we from our Sabbath’s sleep
With moon afresh on Eden’s camp
And flushed in mind we go in haste,
to shady midnight oak.

Dreaming or waking I am not sure
And into shadowed branches stare
Entranced on fruits of false desire
Against the words He spoke.



In darkness I clutch a created thing
With sense that I’ve, to It, been giv’n
To serve and bow below the earth
Its hollowed eyes ensnare.

It’s curves resemble fish and wood
Alive but dead like birds and bugs
Into their bark we pour our lust
A heavy yoke to bear.

In turning disdain we’re forced to dance
While steps betray our deepest song
A power, which like a puppeteer
Eliminates our worth.

This fruit, which seemed so opportune
Its poison suffocates our life
From crusted arid selfish clay
Turns us against our earth.



In Darkness I clutch uncreated things
Below the stormy waters where
The grainy cruciform will lead
Enticing me to care

I’m thrust beneath the torrent rains
My selfish self-demise
Where all intended evil there
Is changed by Holy leaven.

How could this fruit bring us such ruin?
Oh, Lord your good salvation bring
Re-darken our faith to return to the place
Where, “On earth as it is now in heaven.”

Back to “Sacred Earth”

Keith’s Big Year

This was a big year for me.

I graduated from the Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality.  My wife completed a rigorous year of her master’s work.  And we somehow managed to keep raising a confident (though not altogether sane) 3 year old girl 🙂

It all culminated as I reflected at Palm Beach.  Actually I reflected as I lay on the wave line where the beach and the ocean constantly joust.  It was a spiritual moment.  Who knows what the other beach goers thought about this crazy beached man.  Eyes closed, on my back, sprawled, I lay my head on the wet sand. CRASH!  The wave came over my body.  The water ran away again.  CRASH! Another round.  Ever try this?  It can evoke real fear.  You never know when or how intense the wave will hit.  It was to me it was a grand metaphor of my year.   Taking the brunt of the ocean’s rage, the waves and sand worked together to slowly swallow my body into the earth.  It was a cruciform epiphany. All along, I cringed over the next wrathful wave to crash.

Over the course of a half hour, I slowly learned to enjoy myself.  The waves crashed just as hard, but I began to find joy in the power of the earth and its waters crashing over my legs on my torso and over my shoulders.  A peace and then an abandonment grew in me among the lily foam.

It was an abandonment hard won over 12 months.  An abandonment that helped me lead a group of students to San Diego then Cincinnati for a conference that would thrust us into modern abolition and local justice work.   It was an abandonment that gave me confidence among 13,000 Biblical Scholars in New Orleans.  It was abandonment that encouraged me to apply to PhD even so (I was accepted to 1 of 8 schools that I applied).  It was abandonment that got me through the seminars I directed for 100 pastors in post-January Haiti.  It was abandonment that I learned so acutely about in Pittsburgh finishing Epiphany.  And it was the abandonment among the Florida crest that reminded me to cast my cares to the One who holds us when the pounding waves of adventure, community brokenness, disappointment, and triumph swallow us into the ground.

On Portals

There is no question.  Somewhere we lost our ability to really touch and taste our world.  Most of my food comes in packages that I peel away in my office that has no windows.  As I bite into my food, I realize that it has been injected with things that preserved it for the last two weeks.  How my spirit misses the chance to eat an apple still warm of branch life.

Men used to spend 14 hours a day in concert with trees, and field, and forest.  Now, I’m lucky if I can drive 4 hours to find good public woods with trees older than 60.  I come home from my meetings and enter into my house, which has been systematically enclosed from the elements.  I have never slept through the driving rain.

So, when I go to a place like an orchard, it is no wonder that something in me awakens. On an October afternoon, hundreds of shiny cars crowd the grassy gravel lot. They reflect the autumn sun like lasers to the eye.  The visitors line up to pay for fall crafts, apple cider, and a hay ride.

It is genius really.  The fields are open, so you wander among the wilderness and pick an apple or two and feel like Johnny Appleseed. You puncture its juicy skin and look over your shoulder.  You make sure the hay ride driver is far off, just in case it is against policy. Then you buy a dozen of them inside so you don’t feel so bad.

Then, after a crowded hour in the woods, you turn around, pick your pumpkin, and head to the register.  There you realize that they knew what you were doing all along. That’s the point.  They know that the general public longs for the bare wild, and they have created a portal of sorts here. Enter for a time and commune with the fruit of the earth.

Quite fantastic, and in the upcoming month, I plan to visit at least twice.  So should you. It will fill your life and office-cave with just a little more radiance this fall.

Back to “Sacred Earth”

Ripening Sensibility

I read recently a book on manhood. It said that a good lover is first a good gardener.  So, I decided I should probably learn to garden.

Well, that’s not the only reason.  It seems to me that a good human is a good gardener.   In the urban jungle, suburban wasteland, or the rural countryside we all need a connection with the earth and its growing things.  It is a matter of health.
I think old men know this.  Have you ever noticed how old men love to garden?  As a college boy, I could not understand it.  There was so much life to master and so many things to do.  How could  grey beards then turn to flowers?  Surely they must have surrendered to life long ago.
But as grey now creeps onto my face, I hear a faint cry in some ancient part of my soul: slow down….slow down.  It calls my hands back to the earth.
Until a lad can enjoy the sweet breeze and until the golden horizon gives him pause from upturning the clay, he will remain a boy.  And the measure in which we can keep growing things alive all around us often reveals our level of vibrancy.  If you can’t keep you house plants alive, you will likely struggle to keep your love and soul life beating along.
Back to “Sacred Earth”