Monday, June 28, 2010

FWFS: Brethren & Mennonites and the national anthem

After accepting the invite to blog about things Brethren on Feetwashing and Foursquare last week, I've just made my first contribution there...

Brethren & Mennonite attitudes toward the national anthem of the U.S.A.

If you're Brethren and/or Mennonite, head on over and check it out, and please comment!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Basket-weaving the biblical narrative

From Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
My introduction to Douglas Rushkoff was the excellent Frontline special, Digital Nation, which Rushkoff helped produce and appears in. This post isn't about that Frontline special, but I'm serious when I say everyone who uses digital, networked technology (and if you're reading this, you do) should watch it. I also saw him in a scary/awesome documentary called We Live in Public, which is about an eccentric visionary in the early days of the internet (whom Rushkoff knew personally). While poking around on Rushkoff's website, I found that a few years ago he wrote a four-volume comic book series called Testament.

Comics were a pretty significant part of my childhood. So were computers. I grew up going to church, too, so the Bible was also in my awareness (although not as prevalent in my consciousness as the other two). I stopped reading comics regularly back in high school but I never lost my love for them. So when I discovered Testament, it immediately caught my attention: Old Testament biblical narratives (Rushkoff is Jewish) are told and then re-told as near-future cyberpunk narratives. A cosmic spiritual battle that happens outside of time (and outside the actual frames of the comic's pages...very clever) rages, with ripples being felt in both time-periods. Spiritual warfare is a topic I've done some thinking and writing about this year, so it thrilled me to see it depicted so interestingly here. The cyberpunk narrative folds in the rampant expanse and corporatization of technology in society, which is a special interest of mine. To top it all off, at the end of each volume, there is about 8 to 10 pages of biblical commentary from Rushkoff as it relates to the comic! Basically, this comic felt like it was written especially for me. Thanks, Douglas Rushkoff!  So read on after the break for a few comments on this amazing comic...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A nod to sister blog: Feetwashing and Four Square

A few weeks ago I started following a blog moderated by Nick Miller Kauffman called Feetwashing and Four Sqaure, which is described as "A blog that examines life, God, politics and everything from the perspectives of young people in the Church of the Brethren." All of those things have relevance for me, so I was thrilled to find it. Nick (and I believe the other authors who contribute to the blog) is studying at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana. Bethany is the single Church of the Brethren seminary in all the whole world (or at least the U.S.), so it's "my" seminary in the denominational affiliation sense, despite my actual academic home at present, Eastern Mennonite University (Seminary + Justice-Peace studies).

I've made a few comments on FWFS and threw it up on the "In conversation"/blogroll here at Restorative Theology, and I'm looking forward to getting to know Nick and the crew. As I've commented on their blog, being the only Brethren student in a Mennonite academic institution has its ups and downs, and can be lonesome at times, so I'm grateful for the digital connection.

Check them out:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Consider the Wallace

The American author and college English professor, David Foster Wallace, committed suicide in 2008 after long battles with depression. After finishing my first Wallace book, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, this fact makes me very sad indeed. What American literature lost was a hilariously brilliant and articulate social critic with the ability to immerse himself in any number of disciplines and vocations, and observe, listen, and absorb, before finally letting it all back out in his various works of fiction and nonfiction, novels and essays appearing in a diverse array of magazines. I miss him already, and with every intention to read more of his work, I'm anticipating that sense only growing deeper. So read on after the break for a bit more reflection on this great book from an even greater author...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lamenting a Season of Service

From Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Back in March, I re-posted a paper which I wrote in 2007 for my senior English project, called "A Season of Service." It was based on experiences amassed from late 2005 through the summer of 2007, especially my volunteer work with the Iowa Dept. of Correctional Services. As I mentioned in that post, those experiences became a catalyst for dramatic life changes in 2008, moving my family from Iowa to Virginia to start graduate studies in seminary and in peacebuilding/conflict transformation.  These are my butterfly stories. They're pretty. Like butterflies.

When I saw Howard Zehr speak in Des Moines in March of 2008, he told the crowd that butterfly stories are good. But so are bullfrog stories. The stories that aren't so pretty. The stories that end in sadness or failure or tragedy. Well, I was reminded today that there are some bullfrogs hiding amidst the butterflies of my Season of Service story.  Today I received a letter from Jan, the woman who helped me facilitate the writers' workshop program three years ago. While it lifted my heart to hear from her, and she offered some encouraging words, the primary tone of the news she shared with me was sad. It took me a bit to adapt this news to the sun-shiney story I've been walking around telling for the past few years. So read on after the break if you're up for a dose of the dark side of reality...