Posts Tagged ‘ Church ’

The Soul of Hip-Hop

I cannot exclaim how excited I am to add another book about Hip-Hop to my library. Not only will The Soul of Hip Hop sit well next to Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, The Hip Hop Wars, Total Chaos Where You’re At (which I plan to someday review), and  others on my office shelf, it will add vital insight to the rich spirituality and faith within Rap music and, more broadly, hip hop culture. Full disclosure , the author, Daniel Hodge, is a friend of mine and I had the honor to have him for a professors while I was studying in Los Angeles.  Nevertheless, I truly believe this book will – for those to take it seriously – provide a strong apology of the compatibility of hip-hop and Christianity. Additionally, Hodge’s analysis will opens us hip-hop to be understood and approached as a culture – with then all the positives and negatives – rather than just a popular phenomena portrayed within popular media.

I just received by book in the mail this afternoon and it has quickly jumped to the top of my reading list. Anyone interested in understanding the depth of hip-hop and its relationship to faith would do well to pick up this ethnomusicological examination.

To get a glimpse of the book find it on google books and check out Hodge’s article on the Fuller website.

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Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness

Stanley Hauwerwas and Jean Vanier’s Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness is the third book in the Resources for Reconciliation series put out by Inter-Varsity Press.

I was introduced to Jean Vanier about a year ago. A friend of mine handed me a copy of From Brokenness to Community, which is an edited version of Vanier’s speech at The Harvard University Divinity School Wit Lectures.  As I read Vanier’s story of leaving what he thought he knew, changing his life’s trajectory and engaging in community with the mentally “handicapped” I immediately engaged with my own selfishness.  Reading From Brokenness to Community pushed me into a deep examination of myself, of my brokenness and of the redemption that God provides within community – both in communion with Him and communion with others. If you have not read From Brokenness to Community, it is well worth purchasing. The book is only 50 small pages and is easily read in one sitting – although it is best read at a walker’s pace, taking in every word and nuance.

Vanier begins Living Gently in a Violent World by explaining L’Arche. The L’Arche movement is an international connection of faith-based communities centered on developing communities where people who have developmental disabilities and people who do not have these disabilities live in harmony. In 1964, Jean Vanier and his wife Pauling welcomed two men with disabilities into their home in France. What they learned and gained from that experience was the impetus for the L’Arche movement.

Vanier is humble and poignant in Living Gently in a Violent World. Vanier admits that L’Arche is still maturing and that, in some ways, is a fragile movement.

“. . . L’Arche is a fragile reality. Will it still be here in twenty years? There is always be people with disabilities, but will there always be people who want to live with them as brothers and sisters in community, in a place of belonging that helps each member, each person, grow to greater freedom?”

As I read of the challenge and returns of the L’Arche community I could not help, but think of its larger impact. L’Arche communities are diverse both between communities and within each community. Some communities are primarily Christian (although there is denominational diversity), those outside of the Christian faith lead some, and they exist from North America to the Middle East. However, all of these communities support the whole-person transformation of all community members. The community is not to “help” people with disabilities or even to enrich or mature those who do not have a disability. While, this surely does occur the central aspect is L’Arche is the central aspect of the Christian faith; Love.

Vanier tells rich stories about what love can do to individuals hurt by the pain of abuse; abuse, spiritual, social, and mental. L’Arche’s result is to address brokenness through the love that is found in true community. L’Arche’s uniqueness is that it highlights brokenness, not so that people wallow but so they can find redemption. It is the acknowledgement and gentle approach of community that pain and brokenness that allows society to find healing. When we are willing to recess into our own brokenness, we are able to view the holy aspects of others. We have come down off our spiritual or moral pedestals to dwell and broken people in need of healing and redemption via community and ultimately the Father.

Vanier is the prophet in Living Gently in a Violent World, while Hauwerwas is the polemicist. Hauwerwas begins by confronting the issue of time. While we are often scurrying around to find answers and to enact our own justice, we often neglect that peace (ultimately love) takes time. Violence is a shortcut to peace, and inevitably brings us to more violence. Hauwerwas argues that peace is achieved by redemption and transformation, which inevitably takes time.

“If the time has already been redeemed by Jesus, we learn to wait on the salvation of the Lord by taking time to listen to our weakest members”

Progress pushes us towards deafening speeds that force us to continue to move closer to an ideal, which seems to get further and further away. However, speed is not the central issue. We are consumed with the purpose behind the speed, efficiency. We desire everything when we want it and how we want it. This expands beyond the golden arches (McDonalds), domain names, or radio signals. Efficiency has overwhelmed our relationships. We see the traces of this the heightening levels of divorce, the constant movement of people (i.e. the idea of a “starter house”), the institutionalization of the “mentally handicapped” etc.  What is more dangerous is our dependency on efficiency. Our society is suddenly lost and frustrated when remote controls do not work, when automatic gates do not close on vans, when the internet is slow, when our churches get out “late” or when our food does not come quickly enough. This fervor for efficiency passes over people and focuses on the task.  We disregard community. We go and leave church having little more than interactions of “Southern Hospitality”. We drive past our neighbors rather than getting to know them. It is not that we are inconsiderate, we are simply too busy to invest. For Haurwas the ethos of L’Arche is what the Church and society needs to combat this dependency on efficiency.

“Constancy of place seems to me imperative if we are to be Christians who don’t abandon one another in the name of greater goods. You cannot be constantly going and coming as an assistant in L’Arche. Core members, love routines, and routines create and are breated by familiarity. Familiarity is what makes place “a” place.”

I must admit; I was a little disappointed by Hauwerwas’ contribution.  Make no mistake; Hauwerwas gives a sophisticated perspective on the L’Arche community and its prophetic voice to both the global and local contemporary church. Hauwerwas’ academic resolve is unquestioned. However, his academic prowess convolutes the wisdom of his commentary. Nevertheless, Hauwerwas’ perspective is a valuable asset to the book.

Gentleness and weakness are usually the last things we think about in our modern society. We are a society of quickness, efficiency and strength. These characteristics result in a violence that is sometimes systematical interwoven in the fabric of our society (i.e. American Slavery) and sometimes intentional.  Vanier and Hauwerwas view L’Arche as a flagship to the church and hope that its expression of Christianity can embrace a gentleness of patience that will bring healing to broken people and a broken world.

(I will be going back and writing on the first two texts Welcoming Justice and Reconciling All Things later this spring and I hope to read the last text Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission soon after its release.)

Vince Campbell

Here are three youtube clips of great commentary on the early church – specifically the divisions that emerged from different cultural perspectives and cultural philosophies.  The video is from a workshop he and Soong Chan Rah led at this year’s CCDA (which I was unfortunately unable to attend).

Vince is currently a PhD student at Catholic University, studying the early African church.

Thoughts?

Seven Myths of Disaster Relief

Via Christianity Today

News of the December 26 tsunami was almost immediately followed by news of donation scams, inefficient relief efforts, and good intentions gone awry. Longtime World Vision relief director Rich Moseanko sent out a list, condensed here, to help donors understand what’s really needed after a major catastrophe.

1. Americans can help by collecting blankets, shoes, and clothing. The cost of shipping these items—let alone the time it takes to sort, pack, and ship them—is prohibitive. Since they are often manufactured for export to the U.S. in the very countries that need relief, it is far more efficient to purchase them locally. Cash is better.

2. Food and medicines must be airlifted to the disaster site. Food is virtually always available within a day’s drive of the disaster site. Purchasing the food locally is more cost-efficient, and ensures that the food is appropriate to local customs and tastes. Medicines are often available within the country, too. India, for example, has a large pharmaceutical industry. Because medicines are high-value, low-weight commodities, in some cases they can and must be airlifted in to save lives.

3. If I send cash, my help won’t get there. Reputable agencies send the vast majority of cash donations to the disaster site; the rest goes for administration, operating expenses, and monitoring the efficiency of their own operations. Donors have a right and a responsibility to ask aid groups how they will be using those donations, and what will be done with donations raised in excess of the need.

4. Developing countries depend on foreign expertise. While specialized assistance is always welcome, most relief and recovery efforts are carried out by local aid groups, police, firefighters, and neighbors before international teams ever arrive.

5. Relief needs are so intense that almost anyone can fly to the scene to help. Volunteers without skills necessary in disaster relief can do more harm than good, and siphon off critical logistics and translation services. Hiring qualified disaster survivors is much more cost-efficient and provides much-needed employment.

6. Insurance and governments can cover losses. The vast majority of the world’s population has never heard of an insurance policy, and those who have usually can’t purchase one. Poor countries don’t have a safety net like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) in the United States: They can barely meet ongoing social service needs. Disaster survivors must bear their costs alone.

7. People are helpless in the face of natural disasters. The United States and Canada are proof that tougher building codes, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness can save lives. Even in poor countries, communities are taking steps to mitigate the loss of life in future emergencies.

Words of a King

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”

“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love”.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

Pray for Obama

Has anyone actually seen one of these T-shirts?

Before anyone thinks that folks are actually praying for Obama take a look at the verse and its context.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven [d] from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

I don’t have much to say, I am just disgusted with the people of propagate this trash.

It is not funny, it is not poignant, it is not appropriate and, most importantly, it is not Christian.

Desiring To Write

I have been pretty absent from the blogging world recently. Graduate work has taken up a great deal of my time, but I do plan to start writing again soon.  I am actually realizing that writing on this blog and about  non-Grad School related topics helps me persevere through my Graduate work and stay sane and balanced

As a start back into blogging, I will probably start posting my outlines from the commuter chapels that I lead on the campus of Huntington University. Perhaps that will help me get back into the habit of occasionally posting. I will post my outlines from last semester when our focus was the story of Daniel and I will begin to post from this semester, in which we are focusing on the Parables of the Christ.

I hope all is well out there and look forward to discoursing with folks in the future weeks.

PEACE.