Thursday, December 31, 2009

DC's Population shows sign of rebound

According to a new Washington Post article, DC's population rebounded in 2009, the first time in about a decade. This is seen as a sure sign that the district is coming back, despite ongoing challenges. The city's population was at 800,000 during the 1940s and has been declining since the 1950s.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rublev: An Invitation to God's Table

I've been reading Dwight J. Friesen's new book, Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church can Learn from Facebook, the Internet, and other Networks. I will be commenting on it in coming posts because it's really good. He helps us see a life of faith from a completely different perspective as he draws on new insights from science, philosophy, theology, and Network theory. More on that later though.

One of his illustrations of what it means to live as a "networked person" comes from a medieval Russian icon of the Trinity painted by Andrei Rublev. I found his interpretation of the icon to be powerful. I've seen this icon before many times, but I never heard a description of why it has inspired the faith of so many generations.

He writes, "God opens up God's own being to make room for us. Andrei Rublev, one of the great medieval iconographers, wrote an icon of the Trinity sitting around a table with an open space for us. In the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, a place is set for creation at God's Table."

Through his arresting vision of God's inner essence, Rublev attempts to illustrate God's radical invitation to us to join him at the table and commune with him. What a attractive description of having faith.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tracing God's Patterns in Nature

Great article in the New York Times on the microscopic inspiration for many of Kandinsky's paintings, especially Several Circles (1926).

(You can imagine looking through a microscope and and finding something similar to the Several Circles.)

Many of Kandinsky's early twentieth century paintings capture the energy of creation and life and nature's repeating patterns. According to the Times' reporter, he saw these forms as part of a cosmic language and a link to a higher spiritual plane.

Kandinsky's fascination with the repeatable patterns in nature reminds me of the writings of novelist Madeleine L'Engle.

In her works, L'Engle explores how the patterns found in nature told us something both about how God is an Artist and how we were created to be interdependent. Stars, animals, and humans were created from the same stuff of life by the same Artist.

Windy Day

A cold, cold windy day makes it a Shirley Bassey kind of day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day for writing

Today I'll be finishing up an essay for a church history project I'm particitpating. Writing, lunch, back to writing. Pretty basic.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reflecting on Church History at a Caribou's

Ok, today I'm spending some quality time at a Caribou's coffee in Atlanta. With my dusty history books and my laptop all around me, I'm writing an essay on the rise of mega-churches, church growth theory, missional churches, emerging churches, justice ministries, and the changing face of Christianity in the US since the 1960s. In 2007 I was invited to participate in a interdenominational history writing project on the history of the Christian Church. Several years later, it's time to finish up my essays. I have to turn in my essays in a few days.

I'm particularly fascinated with the fact that more and more churches are seeking to address the physical needs and hurts in their community. Both liberal and conservative churches are now interested in helping their community (that's a big change since the 1960s), even if they come at the problem from different perspectives.

When you write on church history your challenge is not just to explain a particular chapter of the past, but to give your reader a sense of how the people during that time thought, lived, prayed, and dreamed. It's a big order for short essay. You have to pick the trends and people that best symbolize an era.

This particular project is a challenge because I'm addressing the "contemporary past"--the 1960s to the present. To a certain degree you have to wear the hat of a futurist, predicting what the biggest trends are today that will shape the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Talking Justice at the Denny's at the Benning Road Metro

Today I had breakfast at the Denny's located across the street from the Benning Road Metro station. Had a great conversation with Pastor Brian (not his real name) who has a started a dynamic, interracial, justice-focused church nearby. We talked about the willingness of younger generations of Christians to foster interracial communities and pursue justice as a holistic lifestyle. This an example of how church leaders are behind the curve. We exchanged stories about how the churches we grew up in would never have said they were interested in justice ministries. Heck, sometimes they didn't even like the concept of benevolence. (After all, couldn't poor people just work a little harder to get ahead?). Thankfully, things are changing. God is moving. And Christians are listening. People are waking up to the fact that God expects us to act justly towards our neighbor. Simply put, our fostering of a just society for our neighbor is one way we love our neighbor.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food, Folklore, and Author Talks at Eatonville Restaurant

A new Zora Neile Hurston-themed restaurant near the U St. corridor features food, folklore, and author talks. Hurston was a 1920s and 1930s folklorist, novelist, and alumna of Howard U. A three-day program of all things Hurston just concluded at the restaurant. A larger Hurston festival in Eatonville, FL is held annually in January.

Postmoderns look for Roots on U St. Corridor

Wondered what the story was on Sunday when I saw a wave of tweed riding down 14th St. Postmoderns looking for roots through wearing tweed and riding old bicycles. I love it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Renovation on U St. Corridor

Walked the U St. corridor today at U and 14th. Lots of new cafes, restaurants, condo towers, and used furniture stores

Visit to St. Augustine's in Washington, DC

Checked out the Gospel Choir Mass (12:30PM) at St. Augustine's Catholic Church, near the U St. corridor today. The choir brought the liturgy alive, and the sermon was good too! St. Augustine's is considered the "mother church" of African-American Catholicism.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back from Tennessee

Just got back from a great trip to east Tennessee. Now back in DC. I've been asking painters, pastors, and professors about the movement to use a greater and greater range of arts in the worship service on Sunday morning. I like to hear people talk about what difference the arts can result in worship. For me, when we include a variety of arts in worship we are including different perspectives and voices. Worship becomes a collective effort rather than the solitary concern of the pastor.