Conflict can generate beauty

Photo by Jack Fusco

I got to take a quick trip up through Ontario last week. My family and I got to experience the beauty of the Niagara River, Niagara Falls (including the Hornblower!), and maybe best of all – we laid on the shores of Lovesick Lake and observed the Perseid Meteor Shower. We didn’t even know it was going to happen, I think my kids just thought it was Canadian magic or being 2hrs from a city and light pollution. The reason we can see such glory is not because junk is falling from space onto us – it’s because the earth swings through a bunch of rock/debris in our orbit each year around this time. It’s conflict. The earth is coming through, and the bits (like a tiny asteroid belt) pass into the planetary orbit and turn into fireballs and “wakes of light.” Spectacular.

We experience conflict every day. Most of the time we don’t get too emotionally involved and we find solutions easier when our defense mechanisms don’t take over. I find that when our emotions get to firing, we generally respond to threat in one of three ways: avoidance, assertion, or combustion. These categories aren’t scientific or anything but can generally describe most reactions.

Jesus lived in the middle of conflict. Besides the overlay of Greek/Roman empire influence, his tribal life existed during a spiritual reform as well as survival movements in the face of warrant kings and economic disparity. As he gathered folks from many walks of life, he also created conflict. Whether he called disciples out of their collusion with the states, out of their family business, or from under a fig tree, Jesus moved people to make changes. That meant leaving job, family, etc – not easy stuff to walk away from.

I have been enjoying a lot of conflict lately that Circle of Hope lives in. I think we have the vitality and centeredness to discern the Holy Spirit and move with God – that’s what this whole Second Act thing is about. We are trying to move beyond what has worked so far and change. I think our leaders have shown a lot of courage thus far. Each of us has to do our own processing about this particular threat. I hope we don’t just avoid it, I think that would be the worst. Combusting or asserting both keep us moving.

Our Compassion Core got about 120 of us to meet up at 9pm the other week at the future

Photo by Amanda Capasso

headquarters for the Phila Police to remember Mike Brown and other victims of racialized police brutality and to pray in a new era of justice in our city. We prayed for police (especially those who don’t wan to kill anybody, don’t want to stop & frisk, etc), for leaders, for those involved in the numerous stories we read, and for God to wake us up with justice. I think getting somewhere at 9 pm created conflict, so did the racial focus of the event, as well as not blindly siding with the authorities. About half the people who went didn’t RSVP on Facebook – maybe they are not on FB or maybe they didn’t want it on their feed because it was about Jesus or Black Lives Matter. I had a few combusting conversations about it, especially if I enumerated that last sentence. I felt the assertion more than anything – over 100 people feeling moved to do a notable act of compassion that brought us together and made a statement in the world! That was spectacular – like the meteor shower. Conflict was beautiful.

Last Sunday my good friend Drew Hart spoke at our Sunday meetings (listen to it here). They went long, especially because he was helping people process how we are “Taking on the form of Christ in this racialized world.” I appreciate both his prophetic, truth-telling brilliance paired with a pastoral instinct to help people move along the journey from right where they are at. I could sense lights turning on as he pointed out how we can jump on individuals for saying racist things (like the Hulkster lately) because it absolves us – but it doesn’t see how we are being formed by a racist system that produces the attitudes. By getting at the system, with the hope and power in Jesus, we can make personal changes and move together to form something new every day (not just on Sundays or protest days).

 

I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of couples – married and about to be – in counseling sessions. We do a lot of work about communication and conflict. I get to co-captain an amazing baseball team that is full of conflict – every pitch. After a session with some business partners the other day, I felt grateful to be living with so many people who want to get at solutions – even if it’s in the middle of combustion. It’s quite a beautiful thing to want to solve a conflict with another person. After all, we live in a world where we send unmanned drones to blow up houses, people stab each other over a few bucks around the corner, and Black men are being locked at astonishing rates. Getting beyond just intention and into transformative relationship with Jesus, the earth, and one another is still the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen.

end of semester, beginning of…

Lots of things coming to a good end lately:

The 2007 Frankford renovation.

The college semester (one more assignment and final).

Lots of good things beginning:

Wed night baseball

Shalom House Festival (May 13, 6:30pm at 2007 Frankford)

The Discerning Team has met twice about the next church plant.

Composting in the backyard, getting ready for our little garden (Japanese cukes, cilantro, some flowers already going)

I also managed to sprain my ankle during the first inning of the first game of the year.  I go to a specialist tomorrow to see how bad the damage is.  Today was the first day that the swelling went down, that’s encouraging.

Lighten up a little bit. It’s only the end of the world.

Okay, maybe only the end of the greatest show in TV history-Battlestar Galactica.  Season 4.5 is underway next Friday, and will be the beginning of the end of a great ride.  There are 10 webisodes to prime the pump, only 8 are on scifi.com/rewind right now, so if you want to wait until they are all there to save yourself from suspense, better wait.

Samuel Anders, whose quote is the title of this post

Samuel Anders, whose quote is the title of this post

The end of 2008 has also come and gone.   So have the days of having to root for Pat the Bat (sorry, Phil).

gone to Tampa Bay to DH

gone to Tampa Bay to DH

A dynamic year,

Rich with grief and jubiliation…

Glad to see it gone.

chillaxin in the Mohawk Valley

I love Philadelphia.  I also love vacation, and it feels like it doesn’t happen all that often-we have a lot to do.  Wednesday night we rolled up to my mom’s house in the center of New York State,  Thurs morning drove to my aunt’s house outside of Buffalo, chilled for a few hours and then drove back.  That made me tired.

Friday was much kicking it and not buying stuff.  We got to play late night Rock Band with my long-time amigo Nick and his wonderful wife Ann.  And we took some rock-out shots (set here) to commemorate. For good or for ill, on RB1 there is a default character called Moosejaw Bordeau (mostly known as Amber Alert, though) who some say bears a resemblance to someone we know.  Not sure who, but he’s a great lookin guy-for a video game.

amber alert

amber alert


RB1 is better than karaoke

Today my brother Buddy had a basketball scrimmage-this is his senior year.  He dominated-so good to see him rip it up.  Me and the kiddos walked back from the school through the woods that I used to play in.  Their minds are always blown by the woods.  City slickers.  We had dinner with my old man and then rocked out on Lazer Tag.  No doubt an incredible time (set here-why not?).

Hanging with more old friends tommorow, (and the Bills are on TV here!!!) playing some b-ball ourselves, maybe the sacred Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday-it’s only like 40min from my mom’s house.

Wonderful End to October, Oh Eight!

What a day.  I was one of the few at class this morning, and we started a new book-I Write What I Like by Steve Biko.  So good.  You may have seen Denzel play him in Cry Freedom.  I did (sorry Balz) cut class this afternoon to take the fam down to the Phillies parade!  (photo set here)

Then we got back and ate, got ready to go to Northern Libs and meet up with Jesse/Lo/Ruke/Janey, Marni/Sage/Fern, Marlee/Oli, Brandi/Elisha, Kristin/Sammy, Jeff/Lola…and Reece’s PB Cups.  A few photos in the set here.

Today was the second time in a month that Helena said “this was the best day ever.”  Maybe that is just her thing to say right now, but I agree that we’ve been having a blast.

philly fix my car

I totally saw that car yesterday from Philly Fix My Car!!! It was real jacked up.  Maybe you want to give that guy Ted $10?

I think it’s kind of funny, though, that the cops are asking for everyone with private videos to “come forward”, even if it’s on a cell phone, so they can find those responsible for the damage.

Yeah right.  I’m sure the boys down in the lab will get right on it. Talk about illusion of safety, or more so the illusion of justice.

Let me know if you catch that guy who was standing on the traffic light, guys.

Do you mind not trashing my town?

This one goes out to all those people who had their cars flipped over or smashed in (I saw a car all busted up at Broad & Ellsworth today), to the statue of the Man Holding the Umbrella, to the postal carriers who had their boxes knocked over, to the parents in Mayfair who couldn’t get their babies to bed, to the poor young ladies who were flashing teenagers Mardi Gras style, and to Joey Mahoney’s Russian neighbor who really did not know what was going on.  Sorry about last night.

Sorry about the frat boys jumping through fire on Broad Street, for the luggage store getting robbed, and sorry about that Jeanne Zelasko. I founda a bunch of youtube videos here-not great quality, but this guy was really bummed about the situation and was in the right place at the right time.

The AP actually called the outburst last night minor, although many personal stories would say otherwise.  My one friend made the observation that so many of the people doing idoiotic things came in from out of town to trash the place.  It made him want to go up to Wayne, PA, and do some “celebrating”!

I do love that Bud Selig (MLB Commissioner) got booed when he gave Charlie the WS Trophy.

I’m glad I was at home, and I had an AMAZING time last night!  And I can’t wait to take the kids to BW tomorrow!

ripped off by the rain

Man, last night’s baseball game was such a ripoff.  Tonight was even a better night for it.  Never should have gotten it going.  Now what?

1.  Did Wm Penn just come back from the dead to bring the rain on the day that the Phillies were no doubt going to bust that curse?

2.  Is this the spark that the Rays need to turn it around?  The middle of their lineup has looked terrible until the rain started pouring down.

3.  Do the Phils have enough to beat the Rays in a short game?-our bullpen vs. theirs?

It was insulting when the MLB leadership said that they weren’t calling it because of the convenient tie.  No Philadelphia sports fan in their right gourd wants to win the World Series on a game that ended because of rain.  We want Brad Lidge on the hill, or at least Victorino hitting a home run.

One more, Uncle Charlie!  One more!

feasted

great love feast tonight.  i seem to frequently forget to bring my camera to get some pics, although I guess most of us do.

I did upload some pics from my cell’s World Series party the other night here.  Game 2 loss was kind of brutal, but it was still a great time to be together like that.

They playgroup carved some pumpkins and MG took a bunch of photos (Marni & Lo, you a bunch of super cute ones of your girls!).  The set is here. Here’s Ada and Lily showing off the gourd art.