January 4, 2020

Delayed Gratification

I have found learning the value of delayed gratification to be one of the most important lessons in life. In an era of the 24-hour news cycle and ready-made meals our stamina is often diminished. We want things now! But I'm here to say that waiting is not a bad thing. Putting the needs of others ahead of ours, going last, doing something hard now in order to get something better down the road is a good thing. There are times when all that lies ahead is the hard work; the step by step of getting to what is far out in the future. Whether this letting others go before us, putting money aside for the future, waiting to have that sweet treat until a job is finished ... whatever it is, the best things in life typically don't come easy and they usually take time. In the waiting, in the keeping to the task at hand, I find the practice of delayed gratification actually make me ... more grateful in the moment.

January 3, 2020

A New Decade ...

As 2020 begins, I find myself reflecting on the last decade. So much has happened in and around our household. At the beginning of the decade, our youngest was just a baby and is now ten years old! In the first half of the decade I finished my MA at Fuller Theological Seminarysomething I never thought would happen in 2010. During the latter half of this decade, two of our children became teenagers, one voted for the first time and got accepted into college (5 acceptance letters to date). We moved from San Diego, CA to Washington DC to Houston, TX. We've traveled across most of the continental United States and have gained friends across the country.

I could stop there. Simply describing what happened in the microcosm of our family. It's much more comfortable and happy to do so. Yet, together, we have watched the world change throughout this decade.

We observed the economic recovery from the 2008 recession. Our family lived in Washington during the presidency of this country's first African American president. I was at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church when the first African American presiding bishop was elected and all of us were in Washington during his installation. We stood in front of the White House the evening after which the marriage equality act was announced. We've sweated, shivered, laughed, cried and so much more. I cannot state strongly enough how deeply I love the people I have been on an adventure with throughout this decade. But it might be irresponsible to not name realities such as the fact that we have seen an increase of natural disasters throughout these ten years. And throughout the lifespan of all three of my children, this country has been at war.

What will the next decade hold?

Our household has talked about the things we anticipate that come with the new stages of life each will come to in this decadeteenagers getting driver's licenses, graduating from college, starting college, etc. I'm also struck by the fact that there is so much happening in the world around us and there is so much that will likely change in the coming years. Whether thinking about climate change, geopolitics or economies, it's easy for people like me to feel that these things are out of our control and are no more than the background noise of our lives. In fact, it would be easy to go on living out our lives without considering these things at allwhich, I recognize, is a privilege.

Yesterday, a military strike approved by the recently impeached U.S. president killed the ranking military leader in Iran. Congress did not authorize this strike. The highest ranking leadership of national defense and security has been frayed over recent months. Current U.S. practices with nation states have fractured relationships ... it's difficult to read the headlines at the beginning of a new year, a new decade and not raise concern.

So, this is me raising my concern.

What is lacking in our current political climate is healthy discourse. The commander in chiefalong with other elected officialshas so normalized the demonizing of the other that we have come to a point where most discoursefrom congress to houses of worship to living roomsis unable to engender empathy, listening, compromise and honest discussion and debate. "Compromise," in particular, has become a bad word in politics. And, yet, if we hope to de-escalate anything from the conflicts at hand to global warming, we must make an effort to listen, empathize and be open to the goodwill of all.

This goes a step further for Christians. We're called to love our enemies. Jesus was clearer about this than most partisan political issues our theological acrobatics will cram him into. Whether this be an opposing political party or Iran. Christians have to consider that loving our enemy requires us to empathize, listen to and come to compromise for the goodwill of enemies and ourselves.

Considering this, what does this mean about what lies ahead?

Do we want to go to war again? Will this be yet another decade of ceaseless conflicts overseas?

Will we allow leaders to make decisions without discussion and debate?

I have said it countless times yet I will say it again: Leaders that require you to hate another in order to prove your allegiance are not worth your loyalty. History has demonstrated this to be true. Christian virtue demands that I cannot.

When I look towards the next decade, I think it's time we engender a different kind of discourse. A discourse in which we state our conviction without demonizing the other. This does not mean that we fain false flattery but that we extend a listening ear, try hard to put ourselves "in the shoes of another," while extending honest accountability that carries within it the concern for the well being of all.

January 2, 2020

On A Boat

When starting a new community, finding a public place to meet can be difficult. It's easier in some contexts than others but it many it can be an expensive and difficult endeavor. Part of the difficulty lies only in the limits of our creativity.

When Dave Pilkington was commissioned to plant a new church in London he was faced with the limits of available public space to meet in. The solution? Planted a year ago, St. Columba meets on a boat.

The genius of this is resourcefulness not novelty.

Novelty wears off. Resourcefulness points to a greater cause that drives one towards innovative problem solving.

Listen to an interview with Pilkington hosted by Bishop Sarah Mullaly of the Diocese of London.

January 1, 2020

And A New Year Begins ...

Happy new year!

By now, all of us have been asked, what are your new year's resolutions?

Here are mine:

Write more. In my journal, here, my newsletter and elsewhere (I've actually been working on an outline of a book on my phone over the last few months).

Meat free. Actually gave it up a couple months ago and it feels really good.

Exercise daily. My goal is to run daily. Already on track.

Keep podcasting. Got some interviews recorded for reviving A New Thing and the annual schedule for TSOANTTC is in place.

Think big. I am working on missional projects at a scale and pace I never have before. I want to grow into this by thinking more strategic and sustainable.

So, what are your goals?

December 31, 2019

2019 Year End Podcast List

As you may know, I love podcasts! I listen to them on the long drives my job takes me on, when I run in the morning and working on projects around the home on weekends. There were some great new podcasts to come out in 2019. Here are my top ten:
1) Finding Fred: By far my favorite podcast discovery in 2019, Finding Fred is a beautiful profile of of the creator of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Carvell Wallace is one of my favorite writers and I loved his previous podcast, Closer Than They Appear. Discovering this creation of his was a joy. I cried, I laughed ... I loved this! A goal of mine in 2020 is to read my first sports related biography ... simply because Carvell wrote it.
2) Dolly Parton's America: Hosted by Jad Abumrad of Radiolab, this was a fantastic series on the rise, fame and legacy of Dolly Parton. If you love Dolly Parton, you'll love this. If you don't, listen to this and you just might.
3) Impeachment, Explained: I found this through host Ezra Klien's other podcast. I find Ezra to be a rational, balanced interviewer that is always respectful of other opinions and, yet, this presidency consistently finds him in WTF! moments throughout this series ... which is cathartic.
4) One Life One Chance: Toby Morse is the vocalist of melodic hardcore band, H20 and host of OLOC. He interviews some hardcore legends that tell some great stories.
5) Rogue Theory: I'm not a only a music nerd but a sci-fi, super hero geek as well. Rogue Theory is a regular panel conversation hosted by the folks at the fantastic YouTube channel, New Rockstars. If you like comics or Star Wars movies, this is for you.
6) The Art of Process: The title says it all; musicians Aimee Mann and Ted Leo team up to interview creators about their artistic process. The friendship between the two hosts makes for great chemistry.
7) Noble Blood: Noble Blood was created by Aaron Mahnke, who produces several solid story-telling podcasts. This is the first to be hosted by Dana Schwartz and not Aaron. She tells grim, historic stories of royalty across Europe.
8) DUST: Found this through another YouTube channel. DUST shares short sci-fi stories. If you like narrative podcasts but don't have time for multi-episode stories, this is may be for you. 
9) American Jihadi: This podcast tells the story of an American teenager in the south who grows up to join ISIS. An fascinating narrative and well told.
10) The Shape of A New Thing to Come: Okay, yes, I co-host this podcast but I'll be honest ... even if I didn't I would listen to it! This podcast has landed at an intersection of passions that are so important to me. I love the heck out of Adam and Dan and look forward to chatting with them every month. If you love punk or hardcore music and wonder if some of the things that scene taught you just might help save the Church here in the west you'll dig this.

Here's my 2017 year-end list of podcasts and here are some other podcasts I've written about.