I have started a 13 week course through MIT and edX called ULab: Leading from the Emerging Future. About 12,000 participants from 145 countries are involved..many in work groups across sectors of government, health care, business, environmental science, and more.... The opening of our live video last week grabbed me: "We are living in an age of disruption." "We see communities responding in one of three ways." 1. Downloading. We listen from a habitual place that reconfirms old patterns and beliefs. This keeps us stuck in a status quo, doing what we've known to do but not getting us to a better place. 2. Another response is to move backward as the mind, heart, and will closes in hopes of protecting self and the familiar. 3. Leaning forward through a mind, heart, and will that is open to seeing with fresh eyes, sensing/connecting in different ways, being still and surrendering, letting the new come, and working to co-create through curiosity, compassion, and courage. This experience is aimed at helping us move from an ego-system of me to an eco-system of we. Its premise is that leaders have results they produce and processes they use, but under both of those are the sources from which they operate. Most of the time we cannot see the source from which we operate; we aren't aware of the place from which our attention and intention originate. The challenges we face require us to become aware and change the inner place from which we operate. "The essence of leadership is to become aware of the blind spot from which we operate, both individually and collectively, and then shift." I have been thinking so much about all the Scripture that undergirds what's being taught in this diagram. -Be still and know that I am God. -Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. -You are a new creation in Christ, the old is gone the new is here. -Do not fear. (over and over through Bible) -Love your neighbor as yourself. -Invitation to join Christ in his redemptive work. In this first week of class, I am reflecting on ways that I'm personally involved in the absencing arch, and I'm considering where I'm living in the presencing U. I'm also thinking about this regarding privilege and systemic racism. And I'm thinking about this regarding the white American Evangelical Church. Much to chew on as I jump into module one! You can check out this course yourself, if interested: https://www.edx.org/course/u-lab-leading-emerging-future-mitx-15-671-1x-0 "We cannot solve problems with the same kind of thinking that created them." -Albert Einsten
"As Christians, we must embark upon an awakening journey- a path that will lead us into direct confrontation with the narrative of racial difference. We must open our eyes to the uncomfortable racial hierarchy that has been the basis for the structure of our entire society. We must wake up to the ways that the narrative of racial difference played a major role in identity formation in the early days of our country, and to the ways it continues to play a dominant role in our sense of identity here and now. One of the primary issues we must face, especially in this socio-political climate, is the need for white people to do the hard work of wrestling with what it really means to be white. This points to one of the core messages of White Awake (by Daniel Hill); the poisonous impact of the narrative of racial difference does not land solely on people of color. The narrative of racial difference has also profoundly affected white people. But unlike people of color, most white people remain completely unaware of the ways this narrative has affected their sense of identity." -Dr. Rev. Brenda Salter McNeil (wrote Forward to White Awake: an honest look at what it means to be white by Daniel Hill.) This weekend I read through the forward and the first two chapters of Hill's book, White Awake. To my white friends who are trying better to understand what is happening around race in our country, I urge you to order this book and embark on a journey. It will be a journey that will interrogate what you've grown up believing about racial difference. It will be a journey that leads to transformation by the renewing of your mind. It will be a journey that is necessary for the healing and liberation of ourselves and our neighbor.
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, And superficial relationships, So that we may live deep within our hearts. May God bless us with anger at injustice, Oppression, and exploitation of people, So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless us with tears to shed For those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them And to turn their pain into joy. May God bless us with tears to shed For those who suffer from pain, rejections, starvation and war, So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them And to turn their pain into joy. May God bless us with enough foolishness To believe that we can make a difference in this world, So that we can do what others claim cannot be done. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and Remain with us forever. Amen.
Lately, I keep going back to the notes and experience I had some years ago while taking an Undoing Racism class hosted by People's Institute of Survival and Beyond. The second day of our workshop, we got into groups and had to reflect on two questions together: What have you known about racism that you've pretended not to know? How has that impacted your humanity?
Some answers in our group to the first question were: -we pretend we have equal opportunity -we deny our own racist thoughts -we pretend we can separate ourselves from institutions and systems -we pretend racial profiling and targeting doesn't happen -we pretend we've made huge strides and that racism is a part of our past -we pretend that we can solve the problem without coming together ...and some answers to the second question, "how has this impacted our humanity?" -we live in fear, not love -it has hindered our creativity, potential, and our pursuit toward wholeness and healing -we are not true to ourselves or others -it gives us an 'us-them' mentality -it inhibits relationships -it reinforces a judgmental, competitive nature At the end of our conversation, our instructor said, "When it comes to racism, until we know what we've lost, we won't do anything. We won't be moved to change until we recognize what has been lost of our humanity." May we all recognize the cost of racism on our humanity, and begin to educate and organize to deconstruct the evil that it is.
Last week, I was moved by a powerful Global Leadership
Summit. Bryan Stevenson was among the
many gifted speakers at the 2017 Summit.
Stevenson spoke about ways we have to go about leading
change in our communities and nation. He
spoke about changing the narrative that
fuels what we think. I wrote about
this some in my last blog post.
Stevenson also talked about becoming proximate with people.
Distance will never lead to healing and justice. In the same breath, being proximate without
taking the journey into the race narrative that has fed our worldview has
potential for further wounding. The
superiority that lies below in me will manifest in unhealthy ways of thinking
about or working with people if I am not aware of how I’ve been socialized to
think about people. Paternalism, judgment, power, control all want to spring into
action unless I am doing the work of being transformed by the renewing of my
mind into a Kingdom of God worldview.
Stevenson talked about brokenness. The more I can recognize my brokenness, the more
I can recognize my need for others different from me. The more I can receive grace and give
grace. The more I can experience collective power in
growth comes from being awakened to and broken by the realities of systemic
racism and a new understanding of my own broken place in the system.
Earlier this month, my daughter returned from a high school
trip called Caravan, and the theme this year had 4 R’s: Rethink, Receive, Remain, Respond. During the return celebration, I thought
about a few more R’s that I need in this race recovery:
Rethink—I need the Spirit’s guidance to continue to challenge
the narrative that has shaped my thoughts and beliefs.
Repent—I need to confess and repent of the evils of institutional racism
that lives in our society and in me and
has affected my thinking, beliefs, actions in my life.
Receive—I can receive the grace and forgiveness of Jesus who
nailed racism to the cross and rose to make us new. I can receive a Kingdom worldview where
Christ and His power are central, not the power of economics. I can receive the hard truth because there is grace and freedom and hope
found in Christ.
Remain—I am given Christ’s Spirit and invited to remain in
Him to find wholeness and life to the full.
Reorder—I can examine my life, listen for God’s calling for
me, and reorder my life accordingly to pursue the whole of the
Gospel which includes healing, reconciliation, loving my neighbor,
justice for all.
Without brokenness, repentance, and grace my being proximate
will not lead to a new way of seeing and being that leads to healing,
reconciliation, or justice. But brokenness, repentance, and grace + proximity = mutual interdependence and power.
God created humans
who have a rich variety of ethnic heritage, cultures, languages, personalities, physical
Humans created race,
a construct intended to create a hierarchy of human value for the purpose of
power and economic gain.
There’s so much I still need to learn about the history of
this construct called race and both the psychological, spiritual, and social
impact it has had on others and on me, a white, middle class Christian woman
from the Midwest.
As in any good recovery program, we are asked to explore our
families of origin, the narrative of our upbringing. So, too, with race. I need to learn about race and racism through
the generations in this country and how I have been taught to think and see and
believe through a racialized worldview.
In 2011, I took an Undoing Racism class led by the People’s
Institute of Survival and Beyond. I
learned about internalized racial oppression that results in internalized
inferiority for those who have been oppressed, and internalized superiority for
those who are among the oppressing people group. We studied how both manifest themselves in
our society, and I thought, “uh-oh, I have some serious work to do to become
more adept at recognizing, naming, and working to recover from my own internalized
Manifestations of internalized
superiority are things like privilege, individualism, denial, defensiveness,
intellectualism, exceptionalism, protected status, entitlement. So much of this is wrapped into what I have
been raised to believe is the normal and right way to see the world, so I have
to be very diligent about taking a journey with Christ and others so that I
might “be transformed by the renewing of
my mind.” (Romans 12:2)
In the video below, Joy Degruy Leary describes the multigenerational
trauma that racism has caused and the persistence of a hierarchical, racialized
worldview that has been passed on from one generation to the next with no
corporate reckoning or healing of any sort along the way.
I need to study the history that I never learned in America’s
public schools. I need to hear from the
voices who encourage me to look and think critically about history and the
narrative that has been promoted broadly.
I need to ask myself, “How did I grow up thinking about people of color?” “How and what did I think about inner cities,
discrimination, injustice?” “What messages did I receive from history
books and classes? From media?” “In what ways has institutionalized racism impacted
my own humanity?” “What have I gained and what have I lost due to racism?”
The first step in recovery is always an awareness of what
lies beneath in me. How can I do
this? By opening myself up to other
voices who share their truth and experiences, I can begin to identify and name my own brokenness
within a racialized society. Why can I
do this? Because of Jesus Christ. Because He gives me the grace to do it. His mercy and forgiveness allow me the safety
and assurance to face it. He is the
healer whose reconciling power can help me heal and see myself and my neighbor
in a whole new way. I read this on
Twitter today: The battle against racism within ourselves can begin with a
simple prayer: Lord, show me the lies I believe. Forgive me for believing them. Amen.
We have a grocery store in the works for the Walnut Neighborhood of Waterloo. That's exciting! For some years now, we've listened to neighbors speak their desire at neighborhood association meetings for a grocery store with quality, affordable groceries that would be within walking distance. And here we are in 2017 with City Council's vote last Monday taking this dream to reality one step closer. Not only is there a grocery store planned, but there are several pieces of good news within it... *The developer is an African-American man who grew up in Waterloo and is committed to building up his home community. *Uplift Solutions, a nonprofit that comes alongside urban grocers to help them be successful, will be a part of this start up. Check out their mission here. They work together to create food sustainable solutions, health solutions, finance solutions, and workforce solutions. They strive to create community and are committed to offering job opportunities for people who have been incarcerated. Their mission: to strengthen, heal, and inspire. Plenty of that needed in our neighborhood and across our community! *We have heard that the operator will be a local owner/operator. It's hopeful that this will mean a long term and strong connection and commitment to excellence inside the store, to the property, and a relationship with the neighborhood. *Rodney Anderson, the developer is also putting a restaurant in the grocery store. The grocery store and restaurant will bring needed jobs and commerce to the area. Commercial development will help housing development in the neighborhood, and vice versa. More residents living in the area will increase the customer base at local businesses. Win-win. The name planned for the grocery store is ALL IN GROCER. It will certainly take an All In approach from a broad spectrum of our community to create a thriving and bustling corner of commerce. The neighborhood CVS store, which will be directly next door to the grocery store, is across the street from our home. I find myself at CVS a couple times a week to buy some item. On average, no matter what time of day I shop, there are 2-5 customer cars in a very large and open parking lot. All In Grocer will need to have unique appeal not only to residents who live in the vicinity, but to people from across the community, especially those with discretionary income, who will commit to lifting up the neighborhood and community by spending their dollars at this downtown grocery. I'm all in. You?
I'm home after 2 days at the Global Leadership Summit 2017. So much good content and inspiration and challenge! In Bill Hybels' opening talk, he addressed what we can seemingly all agree to in this particular time of our history: we are living in a time of increased disrespect and incivility. Hybels went on to give the following list that he used in a message he gave entitled "Respect Everyone Always". This is an important code of conduct for us in this day of increasing tribalism.
10 Rules of Respect Every Leader Simply Must
Leaders must set example on how to differ with others
without demonizing them.
Leaders must have spirited conversations without
Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and
must not dominate conversation.
Leaders must set example of limiting volume levels and
refusing to use incendiary or belittling words that derail a discussion.
You know what words are like hand grenades. Don’t use them.
Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word
and deed to everyone at every level.
Leaders must never stereotype.
Leaders must apologize when they are wrong, don’t
double down or cover up.
Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open
minded if better information comes along.
Leaders must set the example of showing up when they
say they will and do what they say they will.
Leaders must set rules of respect for what they believe
and implement relentlessly. Make a written code of what the rules are and
have the employees sign.
My friend, Michael, moved to Georgia today. I stopped to say goodbye a few days ago, and besides wishing the best for him, I wanted to let him know how much he inspires me and increases "my brave". Three years ago, Michael and a few other friends from the Democratic Republic of Congo moved in kitty-corner to our house in Walnut. They came to America by lottery and were escaping political corruption and civil war in their home country. A few friends and I spent the summer of 2014 driving our new friends to English classes at a local church. I watched them get jobs at Tyson Foods, and we escorted some of them to Hawkeye Metro to get signed up for a series of English classes that would start that fall. I also learned that many of them had already gone to post-secondary school and held professional jobs in Congo. Now, they were starting over. Fast forward three years. This May, I had the privilege of attending Michael's graduation from Hawkeye Community College. Over those three years, Michael and his roommates have learned English, worked difficult jobs at Tyson, gone to college, and even worked their way back from a house fire that burned most all of their possessions- both with sentimental value, and items they had purchased since arriving in the United States. I am in awe of Michael. His grit. His courage. His faith. His tenacity and perseverance. I sometimes think about if the table was turned. If I landed in Congo...away from my home, family, friends, culture....not knowing the language, nor the people, nor what resources were available. That seems overwhelming to me. As we were saying goodbye, Michael mentioned that God had helped him, but that people like me had helped him too. On days when I feel like life seems difficult and obstacles loom large, I say the same to Michael in return. God helps me, but people like Michael help me too. His life inspires me to press in to struggle, and it's people like Michael, gracefully working through hardship, who make me braver. Continue to put your hope in the Lord, Michael, and Godspeed in Georgia.
Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Orchard Hill Church organizes a week of camping every other year at fabulous campgrounds in the Midwest. This year, about 130 individuals and families signed up to camp together at Baker Park Reserve just west of Plymouth, Minnesota. What a stellar campground! Excellent bathroom and shower facilities, well-groomed property, bike trails, sandy beaches, boat rentals, a golf course, a large playground for children, and more. Just a beautiful lake and campground...and a day trip into the Twin Cities from there is very easy, too. I drove up mid-week with a friend and co-worker and her children, and we spent two nights enjoying the fun of camping...campfires, s'mores, hikes, card games, swimming, fishing, etc..., and the joy of the community of friends gathered for unhurried meals and conversation, for play, for devotion and worship. In short, it was a terrific week for new and old friends to be in community in the great outdoors. The BLESS model was the theme visited during each morning's devotional time at Camp this past week. It's a model that comes from Dave Ferguson and the Verge Network. Basically, its premise is that God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. The BLESS model describes a strategy for blessing people: Begin with prayer. Listen to people. Eat together with people. Serve people. Share your story/God's story with people. When I am intentional about these actions, whether with my family or with anyone, I do find they often lead to a life-giving experience, a blessing in the midst of our days. What I noticed this week while camping and paying attention to the BLESS model, is that each of the actions is one of mindfulness and one of time. A slowing and an attentiveness is needed to enter into this space of blessing. So often our phones and TVs, our frenetic schedules, our hyper pace run a distracting counter to the BLESS model....perhaps they are the CURSE model. :) Anyhow, being at Baker these past few days, and being able to eat together, listen together, share stories together, serve together, pray together, was a necessary reminder to me to make space and time for individuals and meals and conversations in my life.
Listening and considering the thoughts and words from several speakers at the recent Justice Conference. Michael McBride, Director of Live Free found at www.livefreeusa.org
"We can't say we love our neighbor if we don't create environments where our neighbors can thrive." "I think part of the task of the church, particularly in this moment, if we are really trying to help people live into loving our neighbors both as a discipleship and disciple-making enterprise, is to help train our eyes and our heart to have a systemic and structural vision of how loving our neighbor happens so that we don't just devolve into radically interpersonal conversation about loving our neighbor." "Systems are complex. They've taken generations, centuries to put into place. So, every generation has to identify their mission and fulfill it or betray it. We have to own the calling to dismantle while we are alive the systems/structures that are being sustained or built on our watch. We have to learn, we have to read, hear, and listen to the stories of those who are oppressed and marginalized. We can't just operate from a position of power, privilege, and status and say everything is great." "We-the Church- are even now more called to make sure that no one is excluded in a vision of what it means to be human."
I did not attend Justice Conference 2017 last month at Willow Creek Community Church, but I am grateful that the Justice Conference facebook page has begun to post messages from the event. According the web, "Jeremy Courtney is cofounder and executive director of the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), an international development organization based in Iraq that provides lifesaving heart surgeries to Iraqi children and trains local doctors and nurses. Jeremy resides in Iraq with his wife, two children, and an indespensable team of dear friends." He is author of Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time. "I want to start by acknowledging that I'm standing here on stolen ground....we don't do that in America....we don't acknowledge our first nations, our friends who have been here before us." "It's easy to sing songs about lifting high the name of Jesus...I find it interesting that we don't spend a lot of time lifting up the way of Jesus." "What if we could flip the script on this whole thing and what if we could dare to be a people who would love first and ask questions later?" "What if there is something bigger, and better, and more important than trying not to be carried by six friends to your grave. What if instead of trying to just stay alive, we could figure out how to truly live?" "Could we dare to be a people of preemptive love? Could we love first and ask questions later?" "The simplicity of some of our mantras, and mottos, and quips, and ideas they get a lot more complex and a lot more nuanced when you're actually living it and you're not just doing some arm chair pontification about it." "This idea of ask questions later got us here but it wasn't going to get us there. We actually knew the questions by this point. The questions came at us hard. We had to figure out how we were going to live this next chapter. We had come to the conclusion that the world is scary as it's ever been, what would we do about it?" "When the world is scary as hell, we're going to redouble our commitment to be a people who love anyway." "When we only lift up the name of Jesus and we don't lift up the way of Jesus, we can get the impression that somehow things are just supposed to be comfortable, things are just supposed to be nice, things are supposed to be easy. And this love anyway mantra has become the thing that we need as a community to get us through some of the hardest things that have ever been thrown at us." "As the bombs are falling, could we love anyway?" "And they kidnap your friend, can we love anyway?" "You will see soldiers pointing their guns at you. Do not be afraid. They are people too," "Police officers, you may see people pointing their guns at you. Do not be afraid. They are people too," "We will see people on trains and buses, who are wearing different clothes and speaking different languages. We need not be afraid, they are people too." "Somewhere between 'be safe' and 'have no fear' is where most of us live....bring your fear to the table. We can be afraid. And don't let anyone shame you for your fear. But try to figure out how to rise above the fear.... The only way to ever get above the fear is actually to press through the fear. You have to go closer to the thing that scares you most. You have to go closer to the bombs and the bullets. You have to go closer to the people that would hurt you and hate you. You have to dare to draw near to each other to understand each other. To feel each others' pain, to hear each others' stories, to hear each others' perspective. To love anyway in the face of the things that scare us most is the thing that refines us and pushes us through to the other side." "You can still love anyway. You can still press into the confusion. You can still press into the things that are not working for you. You can still press into the things that are not yet made whole. And love anyway. It's only by pushing through it that we're ever going to find a way above it. And on the other side of fear, on the other side of the things that scare us most, is the most beautiful world our hearts know is possible."
The Pushing and Shoving in the world is endless. We are pushed and shoved. And we do our share of pushing and shoving in our great anxiety. And in the middle of that you have set down your beloved suffering son who was like a sheep led to slaughter who opened not his mouth.
We seem not able, so we ask you to create space in our life where we may ponder his suffering and your summons for us to suffer with him, suspecting that suffering is the only way to newness.
So we pray for your church in these Lenten days, when we are driven to denial — not to notice the suffering, not to engage it, not to acknowledge it. So be that way of truth among us that we should not deceive ourselves That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain. We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.
"Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us—the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty—all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifices and death. Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say: I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish. Amen." -W.E.B. DuBois *This prayer was the conclusion of today's Lenten Devotion at www.lentenlamentations.org . If you don't have a Lenten devotion plan, I encourage you to check this one out.
I am so glad to be welcoming Cheryl Miller to the Cedar Valley today! She travels from her home in Texas to train 15 local partners in the way of restorative justice and mediation over 3 days. I took the training from her a few years ago in Chicago, and as divisions heat up in our country, I thought it might be a good time to revisit these principles and gather community partners to also gain important tools for helpful dialogue. Miller recommends reading and learning from Howard Zehr. Here's a list from Zehr on 10 ways to live restoratively.
10 ways to live restoratively
by Howard Zehr
1. Take relationships seriously, envisioning yourself in an interconnected web of people, institutions, and the environment.
2. Try to be aware of the impact +/- potential as well as actual +/- of your actions on others and the environment.
3. When your actions negatively impact others, take responsibility by acknowledging and seeking to repair the harm +/- even when you could probably get away with avoiding or denying it.
4. Treat everyone respectfully, even those you don't expect to encounter again, even those you feel don't deserve it, even those who have harmed or offended you or others.
5. Involve those affected by a decision, as much as possible, in the decision-making process.
6. View the conflicts and harms in your life as opportunities.
7. Listen, deeply and compassionately, to others, seeking to understand even if you don't agree with them. (Think about who you want to be in the latter situation rather than just being right.)
8. Engage in dialogue with others, even when what is being said is difficult, remaining open to learning from them and the encounter.
9. Be cautious about imposing your 'truths' and views on other people and situations.
10. Sensitively confront everyday injustices including sexism, racism, and classism.