May 21, 2007

urban plunge

The Hawthorn House hosted/coordinated our first "Urban Plunge" group here in the city. A group of 20+ students from Bluffton College in Ohio came down for the weekend for a urban experience. We met Friday night for introductions and to go over logistics of the weekend. Brooke and I shared a little about what we do, how we live and why.

I also handed out the "Siamese Twins" chapter in Mike Davis' book, Magical Urbanism. The chapter deals with unique relationship between Tijuana and San Diego. For those that may not be aware, TJ and SD are separated by a line that divides affluence from poverty, even though our two cities are completely dependent upon each other. We talked briefly about finding the kingdom in this context.

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The next morning the group headed for the border and went on a maquiladora tour, with a wonderful lunch served by locals. That evening we were back at our place for a vegetarian meal prepared by my lovely wife. Our friend, and local prophet, Lee VanHam from Jubilee Economics Ministries debriefed with the group talking about their experience, globalization and choosing devotion to the gospel or the market (the good news or the good life).It was challenging, for sure, but well worth it. Lee did an amazing job!

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I ended the night by giving each of the students a hand-out with questions for the following morning. We split up the group of students to visit three churches the next day. The questions were meant to engage the students in looking at church differently as they may have in the past. One group visited Mission Gathering, one St. Luke's (and Arab speaking Episcopal congregation) and the other visited Mid-City Nazarene (a collection of 5 different language based congregations). We then gathered for lunch again at our place (with another fabulous vegetarian meal prepared by Brooke). I read to the group Matt Casper's closing words in his book, Jim and Casper Go To Church (Matt was going to meet with us but was out of town). We discussed what they saw, what they appreciated, what made them uncomfortable, where they saw devotion to the market and where they saw devotion to Jesus.

Thanks to Joel Shenk at CAL for all of his hard work in pulling this together, to Matt and Brooke Gonzalez for all their help on Saturday night, Lee for his genius and gentleness, and Herb and the rest from San Diego Maquiladora Workers??? Solidarity Network for their humble, necessary work. We had a lot of fun showing off our city(s). Lee was asking us if it was hard to put it together and we admitted that is was a lot of fun actually! Sure, it's not easy after a full week of work but still fulfilling to watch peoples' eyes open up to new ideas and realities.

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