Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Abduction and Rescue

Check this event/site out....


The Rescue Instructional Video from Jason Russell on Vimeo.

Monday, April 20, 2009

P&J #1: The Anniversay of Columbine

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy in Littleton, Colorado. I write Littleton in the sentence because its ingrained in me as a good journalist but most Americans and many, many others in the world know exactly where this horrific event occurred. It changed the American psyche forever. I've had a strange fascination with reading about Columbine; albeit, what most strikes me is the survivor stories. Many of these survivors have turned the horror into messages of hope. Many, as Craig Scott (father of Rachel Scott), are teaching students tactics of kindness to overcome bullying and violence. I read recently in the New York Times that he's even taken his message into the corporate world. Amazing. For my new week of posting/bloging aspects of Peace & Justice, here is a website that highlights three survivors of Columbine and the positive non-violent methods they instill in their everyday lives. I encourage you to also check out the links of the article itself, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/columbine_s_survivors_vignettes. Also, here is Scott's push to make a change in the grace of Peace and Justice, www.rachelschallenge.com. Lastly, several years ago I heard Craig Scott speak at Leander High School. Inspired, I wrote the following piece for the high school I worked at and printed it in the newspaper I advised. I know it's long but I hope you can take a few moments to look it over....(oh and incidentally, I've taken out references to the high school I taught at. Ironically, this high school almost went all the way to the State championship last year and won its district division title two years in a row.)

This past Saturday morning, I went to statesman.com to realize that not only did the varsity football team lose again but saw the reality of a young school struggling for identity encapsulated on this website in five words, winless for two consecutive years. At first thought, this sounds pitiful but upon second, I knew that as any person, family, community, state, nation, or even a school's varsity football team and other self esteem woes is part of its journey only to be reversed at a moment’s notice.

This community has tremendous heart and an enormity of personality. These aspects are not always seen in the every day dealings of students, staff, faculty and administration. Everyday stresses cloud and misdirect the grounded truth of the adults molding the hearts and minds of young people and the young people receptive to learning and actively participating in the pursuit of becoming responsible adults.

No one high school is alone in this problem. High schools across the nation are in the same boat, so to speak. This past September, I heard the father of Columbine victim Rachel Scott speak on the problems that plague education today. Darrell Scott talks to high schools across the nation and has even talked to Congress. His theory is that the problem does not stem from potential school violence, video games or rock-in-roll music but from a lack of kindness and compassion at all levels. It’s a heart matter, not a testing to prove achievement matter, or how many wins on Astroturf and grass matter.

According to Scott, compassion can replace fear and violence all the while creating safer and more productive places for students to learn and achieve. Compassion is not saying hi to everyone but the heart behind it. In his address, Scott challenges all to start by erasing any prejudice that might exist in a person’s heart. He provides the heart-breaking example of Columbine victim, Isaiah Shoals, whose last words he heard in his young life was that of a racial slur and his last utterance was that of wanting his mother.

Scott’s second challenge was for students to choose positive role models and develop a sense of purpose and destiny. He provided his daughter Rachel as an example. Rachel reached out to those that are typically shunned by high school society; the handicapped, the picked on and the new. Scott spoke that Rachel provided profound opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives…small, simple things to show kindness and acceptance. He went on to remark that one should never be too tough or too cool to let someone show that they care.

Scott’s last challenge to his audience of students, administrators, faculty members and parents is to make a short list of those that have impacted one’s life in a positive way and tell them thank you and that they are appreciated. Right now do this exact thing; administrator to teacher; student to student; student to teacher; student to administrator; teacher to parent; write down 10 individuals and tell them how much they mean.

Negative environments, TAKS scores, athletic wins, academic advances and overall reputation can be turned on its head with small steps toward compassion and kindness. Accountability comes through care…it’s a heart matter. As Rachel Scott wrote in one of her last English essays, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” And so it is.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

The last push toward the end of the semester starts today, My whine is a want the semester to end but too tired to make the effort. So, I rely on history and remembering that the energy is found always found somewhere, as in seeing this video shot in Antwerp Belgium. Enjoy and a bit about the video, according to the original poster, "More than 200 dancers were performing there version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of "The Sound of Music". ). More traditional Peace & justice thoughts will return on Tuesday :-).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday...He is Risen, Risen Indeed

words by Sydney Carter, music traditional

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday...Serenity in Austin

Two thoughts stay with me this Holy Saturday: the first is insurrection...what does that word really mean and specifically in the scope of Jesus being considered an insurrectionist in his place and time, or even in our place and time?.....And, second how do we look at the character of Judas? Do we look at him demanding justice, or do we look at him through the lens of mercy?
The video for today is one I find by the band Flyleaf recorded after their recent trip for World Vision in Rwanda. They talk about peace, reconciliation and hope. Ah yeah, and it was recorded here in Austin during SXSW. Excellent.....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I have a few traditions on Good Friday that help bring me into contemplation of the day itself. I always need to listen to Andrew Lloyd Weber's Pie Jesu and Abraham, Martin and John by Dion for starters. (Sidenote: growing up in Los Angeles, I always remember that song 'Abraham...' being played on the radio on Good Friday. For me, this song represents our work in both the shadow and in the light of the cross) In the last several years in which I've lived toward the northwest corridor of Austin, I've gone to a noon or 3 p.m. service at a church off 620. Their stations of the cross are located in a wooded setting and to walk it with a couple of hundred people is in a word, cool. It's so quiet, except when the priest reads, yet you're in the midst of all these people who approach Christ's death on the cross differently. Some are families that visibly show their closeness, some are more charismatic as they genuflect in front of each station, while others are, like me, just simply reverent and reflective. At this outdoor walking of the stations of the cross, people also just come the way they are...simple, not sophisticated, loud or trendy, just grocery store ordinary. In an ordianry way, I have one last tradition, I always eat a fish sandwich somewhere :-). This year life is different and I will commemorate Good Friday differently too. In the midst of heavy reading assignments and gearing up for the end of the semester, I will have a more quiet day; campus service at 11, give to others from 3-6, and then my own special prayer time at 9. Oh and the fish sandwich, I ate that last night...today, it's simple soup. :-).
Below is a sharing of my traditions and one new. Watch the Abraham, Martin and John video, it's a great reminder and reflection on the lives of MLK, Lincoln and John and Bobby Kennedy, the virtuous ideals they stood for...the second video is Pie Jesu song by Hayley Westenra. And, lastly the new...a short speech given on Good Friday by author and activist Shane Claiborne ("The Irresistible Revolution"). It's his shares experiences gained from a trip to Iraq in March 2003 with a Christian Peacemaker Team / Voices in the Wilderness delegation.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

a Maundy Thursday Blessing

The Farewell Tear
a feast of friendship
a story of betrayal
a memory of gifts given

you look with such intense love
on each one gathered there,
mist covers your deep brown eyes
as you hold each one in your gaze,
you close your eyes and I see
the farewell tear of friendship
as it follows the curve of your cheek.

you take the bread,
bless it gently, profoundly,
with old words and new.
(do you mean to say it is yourself?)

and then the wine,
again with words old and new.
(do you meant to say this, too,
is now yourself?)

you look again at each one there
and give the eternal gift:
“remember me and do the same”

like those around the table then,
so with us who gather now,
if we knew how close our hearts
are held inside of yours,
we would always be amazed
that you meant this for us, too.

how shall we ever be brave enough
to do what you have done,
when grief engulfs our every breath
and each memorial word
is laden with our loss?
-- Joyce Rupp

This poem was given to me by my spiritual director Jean yesterday..............and now, here's the second part of Wink.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ghandi Trifling part II - Wednesday of Holy Week

As part of my class, we've been reading Walter Wink's book, Engaging the Powers. Here is a snippet of Wink talking about living nonviolently.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ella's Birthday and a NonViolent trifling for Tuesday of Holy Week

Today is Ella's Fitzgerald's birthday, (1915-1959). Enjoy her rendition of the classic Gershwin favorite, The Man I Love. Also, in honor of my goal this week to write about nonviolence and what individuals can do to live more in line with Jesus' teachings of living a peace oriented and purposeful life of a nonviolent nature...here is a project that my Education in Peace and Justice class is doing. We are charged each week to do a "trifling" to test Ghandi's theory that we can cultivate nonviolence in ourselves by attending to the little ways in which we are constantly tempted to participate in violence and take advantage of the opportunities life gives us to develop a regular practice of nonviolence. In this assignment you can pray in a particular way, or fast from certain kinds of habits or thoughts that contribute to violence, like gossiping or cursing at the guy or gal that cut you off in traffic. It might be to start to recycle, or take a walk to a place that's close to your home instead of driving. My trifling has been to write an anger journal. I got this idea from Ghandi's grandson, Arun Ghandi. It's not to just write down and vent about anger, but to find solution out of your anger. Where is it rooted and how can you react differently next time you are in that situation. Now, I'm not an angry person but I can be emotional at times and this has made me just pause at what are my triggers. Are my emotions giving rise to violence against myself, ugly self-talk I would say to myself and never to another person, or negative judgments and thoughts about another person? In this Tuesday of Holy Week, what can your trifling be about? Look at Ghandi's list (on Monday's post) of sins and the add-ons to the list? Any triggers or ideas come to mind?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Week Starts: Monday

This is Holy Week and a week for contemplation...quiet high, a welcome for Christ to come in; remembering, a time to reflect and enjoy a supper, and lasting love and wisdom; despairing, feeling the depth of the the deep valley of a pit and the deep pain of the world's ails; and then quiet once again followed by exuberant rejoicing, an all soul knowing that God moves with us and through us (there is no barrier between God and humanity any longer) to bring healing and grace...and most ultimately to bring the encouraging and eternal demeanor of hope through Christ's love. A joyous day to realize He is Risen, indeed. But Sunday is not here yet, so for Monday, I will start with seven things Ghandi wrote that prevents us from living non-violently and promotes us to live a life spiritually deprived (what he referred to as the 7 sins of the world). These were taken from a speech given by his grandson, Arun Ghandi.

1) Wealth w/out Work
2) Pleasure w/out Conscience
3) Knowledge w/out Character
4) Commerce w/out Morality
5) Service w/out Humility
6) Worship w/out Sacrifice
7) Politics w/out Principles

And, I've personally added an eighth to this list, Rights w/out Responsibility

What would you add......

Friday, April 3, 2009

Palm Sunday

April 5, Palm Sunday....I thought for Holy Week, I would post either videos that held the memory of the day for me and, or post some thoughts on peace and justice, living non-violently. The first one here is Bon Jovi's version of the classic, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. I heard an interview with Cohen on NPR Friday and when I looked up his wide breadth of work over the years, I found out he wrote this great song. I looked through many versions by different artists on YouTube until I settled on Bon Jovi. If you get a chance to do a YouTube search yourself, Allison Kraus did a beautiful rendition as well. Additionally, I've placed the lyrics to this song on this post. As we enter Holy Week, may you become clsoe to God in new, refreshing and engaging ways. Peace~

Hallelujah lyrics

Now, I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which are heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah