Feeling, healing, and embodying

Philadelphia has been in touch with suffering this week. The Phillies (for a day) had the worst record in baseball and Utley can’t get over .130. We marked the 30th anniversary of the state firebombing a whole block with impunity (until a civil suit in 1996, no criminal charges). Less than two miles up the road from me a train going 106 in a 50 went off the tracks, killing at least seven and injuring over 200.

I spent a few minutes near the scene yesterday morning, but couldn’t get close enough to see too much. I did see the looks on many faces of people who had been there for a while. Whatever prevented me from really feeling it before then was removed. Reading stories, seeing helicopters, and understanding numbers got me interested and sort of vaguely sad, but I drove away from the scene in tears.

When Scotty wrote We Are All Lepers Here he had been studying leprosy, a misunderstood disease. Rather than being a disease that makes limbs and whatnot look gross and fall off, it’s a neurological disorder caused by bacteria. The disease often makes one unable to feel – at least certain parts of the body, thus not pulling one’s hand away from a candle while sleeping or attending to early infections. As a metaphor for the Body of Christ, the song asserts that in order to feel the pain of the Body – we need Jesus to help us feel again rather than just “tending to our own.”

My brilliant friend Randy Woodley takes this body image a step further in his book Shalom & the Community of Creation that it’s not even just Jesus’ followers that He made us one with, through discipleship Christ restores us back into a natural harmonious rhythms as part of creation.

How I wish more of us in the US could feel the sting of Nepal’s earthquakes this month. Over 8,000 are dead from the quakes, aftershocks, and tremors. That number doesn’t register very easily with us but when experts say over $5 billion in damage (over 25% of their GDP) we sort of get a better sense. If we felt it – I’m not just talking about tears, now – couldn’t we shave a little off of the federal $600 billion “defense” spending to help out?

At my cell’s meeting this morning, we talked about how depressing it can be to learn or think about some of these situations and facts – feeling isn’t always our problem in the same way. Rather than feeling our limits as in a place to reach out for God we feel powerless and often ambivalent about faith. I know what that’s like, I’ve even described it as feeling too much.

If you have that kind of sensitivity today I hope you can allow that to be a space for you to acknowledge Jesus – the very sensitive person of God. Not only does Jesus come into the suffering of the world, He offers hope that our work is not in vain, that doing our small part is worth it, and that being faithful to the cause makes ripples throughout time that we can’t even fathom yet.

If you are not feeling very sensitive to some of these issues (or others), I hope that space can also be ripe for Jesus to bring some feeling back into your body. I hope that your emotional and spiritual scabs might fall off or that God will touch you and you’ll help pull the proverbial hand off of the hot stove before it gets too badly burned.

We are all connected in this great big Community of Creation, and those trying to walk with Jesus can have a richer sense of what it means to feel pain as well as heal and to shine hope in the face of despair. There are a lot of folks who want and need to be made alive again. Let’s embody what it looks like to be a people who bring hope to the challenges of our day.

Writtenhouse

My Hip Hop & Black Culture class has been pretty great throughout the year, but the past week or so has been particularly cool.  Last week Chris Conway & Charlie K from the Germantown-based hip hop trio Writtenhouse were our guests.

Last tues, Chris gave the lecture about “finding the perfect” beat.  He taught on the progression of DJing and producing beats and development over time.  He pulled out some obscure clips to show how producers built up parts of songs.  I never realized Kweli’s Get By was built by Kanye using Sinnerman by Nina Simone-at 5:19ish, 8:29 in particular.  Both songs are amazing.

On Thurs, Chris & Charlie K talked about their creative process and Chris brought in the MPC to show us how he makes beats. The two of them and their 3rd member Kush have a lot of talent.  Chris & Kush do their beats and keys live-building songs and beats out of broken down elements of other songs and adding their own flavor…Charlie K is the emcee.

These dudes were really cool, and are playing on May 2 at Studio 34 in West Philly, or if you are rich you can catch them at The Roots Picnic this summer.  They are tentatively up for doing a show at circle of hope with psalters at some point!  We’ll see.

psalters spring 09 update

this is a cross post with the new handsome Circle Venture blog.

For psalters Jay Beck & Scotty Krueger, creating a working Philadelphia headquarters has been a challenge.  They spent the better part of the last five years living on a converted veggie oil-powered school bus with the rest of psalters travelling around, leading worship, leading seminars, and experimenting with Exodus.   Some of those travels were international, most recently Jay & Scotty attended the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People in Israel & Palestine.   Christians from around the world gathered to worship in their traditional cultural styles of music, dance, and dress…it was a great time to learn and network and visit friends and various sites in the Jerusalem area.

Inspired not only to compose new psalms that bring together both worship and social justice, psalters are in the process of developing the Croatan Training Center & Studio located at 2007 Frankford Ave, the same building as our Frankford & Norris congregation meets.  Jay has already taught a series of West African Drumming classes so dozens of people got a taste of how transforming and fun it can be to learn.  The studio will not only be a place for psalters to practice and record, but also a resource to make connections with other musicians and friends.  The Training Center aspect will feature a library of cultural and theological books and videos as well as various classes and workshops by our team as well as other musicians from Philadelphia and around the world.  More from Jay on Croatan Training Center & Studio here.

The team has also been commissioned to compose and perform the music for a new play by Director Lear Debessonet and Playwright Lucy Thuber called Quixote.  “A site-specific performance based on Cervantes’ classic tale ‘Don Quixote’…this production re-imagines the intersection of art and its community” (from stillpointproductions.org).  It will run in Philadelphia this Spring, and perhaps NYC this fall.

The team continues to participate in local worship teams for Circle of Hope (including a special 9pm worship time at 1125 S. Broad St on March 22), as well as other local performances, seminars, and worship times.   This summer may feature a short tour in mid June that includes the Ichthus Festival in KY.

Circle of hope, croatan,  croatan training center,  ichthus festival,  israel,  lear debessonet,  lucy thuber,  palestine,  philadelphia,  psalters,  quixote, stillpointproductions,  wcgip world christian gathering of indegenous people

me 3.0

my brother Jeffrey (funniest of the 4 of us) made a couple cracks to me about 3.0 today.  He is not only funny, he’s right.  I’ve been getting ready for the next version of me, today is a good day to be feeling it.   I feel good.

Lots happening these days.  Last week I was in Michigan with psalters most of the time.  Next week FN Stakeholders meeting, more music, CoH Camden, saying farewell to my boy Clarence.  So much and so awesome.

Maybe different looks like:

1.  I cried while watching A Little Princess with my family last night.

2.  finishing the rehab at 2007 Frankford

3.  starting my Kodo training

4.  both kids will want to go to Phillies day games

5…other?

Getting Africanized

I just wrote a longer post on the Circle of Hope blog, but at least wanted to mention how pumped I am to get the drumming classes going again-see earlier post here for deets.

Last night a group of us spent several hours re-headding and building djemebes.  I learned a lot about a lot.  We tried to take a bunch of photos (set here), even though tonight we have to shave and tune the drums.

Meko teaching me how to weave the cradle

Meko teaching me how to weave the cradle

I’m pumped that Martha and a bunch of her friends are taking the class, too.  Still working out what to do with the kids for a couple hours on Monday nights, though.   And yes, everyone else in the photos is severely underdressed.

good to be home

what a week.  sorry that I haven’t posted anything.  I either didn’t have time or didn’t have any wireless signal (on the Turnpike you have to pay!)

One of the things was going out to western PA to pick up Abigail (our accordian player) and practice for 24 straight hours before we went over to Messiah College for a show.  The next morning I met Rod & Nate out in Grantham for a sort of seminar day.  Back in the Philly just in time for my cell meeting and then yesterday went back down Lancaster way for a nice dinner with more BIC kinfolk.  Today Christina and Bobby get married!

When it got late I started taking photobooth shots at practice the other day.

psalters practice

psalters practice

I still don’t know how to have it not be mirror image.

More about travels and ideas that were kicked around to come.

Jay’s return

I’m glad we’re getting the drumming classes going again.  We are going to have some issues with scheduling and no doubt with space conflicts until we get the studio built.   Here’s the flyer for the upcoming classes.

The word on the street is that the mate-masie will be in the house for both classes.  MG and some of her squad are planning on taking the early class!

psalters are also getting ready to play at Messiah College in Grantham on Nov 5th.  It’s free at the Union at 10pm.  If you are in the area already it would be awesome to see you.  Check out this video from cornerstone 08!

meko and the dream moth

Brittney had a pleasant surprise up her sleeve today when she brought our friend Meko over for dinner at my house.  I didn’t even know he was back in town!

Welcome back, buddy.  Can’t wait to get the studio/school rolling with you.

Among other more relevant things, my cell discovered afterwards that Monster Camp is out on DVD!  Dude, I moved that junk to the top of my queue!!

Sooo goood!

Dream Moth:  “I eat your mind 1…I eat your mind 2…I eat your mind 3…”  I hope it actually proves to be good, because Denzel in American Gangster just got bumped to 2.