Saturday, August 30, 2008

flattened leadership and steep hills

In June, I was captivated by the enthusiastic cyclists who rode post my house as a part of a Critical Mass ride.  Last night, I went along for their August ride.

Since I've been thinking about flattened models of leadership, it seemed especially fun to watch and participate in a big group ride with no official leadership.  I enjoyed watching riders gather in the park, as some began circling the fountain, and, eventually, more and more people starting yelling to get the ride going.  Finally, we took off.  

Being a part of a thousand cyclists riding together is a trip; when the big group decides to go on through red lights, for example, it just doesn't work to stop.  It's certainly a rush to ride through San Diego in the dark, not stopping for anything (except the trolley, and, I noticed, folks were definitely ready to stop when we heard an ambulance siren).  

The diversity of people (and bike styles) on the ride was pretty fun.  There's a young, aggressive, testosterone-driven energy that is probably the most visible dynamic, but I wouldn't say it described even close to a majority of the riders.  For every one biker yelling the kind of words people usually apologize for using in front of preachers, I heard three others saying "thanks" to cars that had stopped, or cyclists who were helping provide safety to others.    
I treasure the image of riding through the underpass under the 5 freeway on Laurel Street, away from the Harbor, and seeing the vast swarm of red tail lights on the hundreds of bicycles ahead of me, climbing that steep hill.

You can check out the view of this month's ride here.

The ride has no official leaders, and most riders (well, I, at least) didn't know where we were going as we took off, or as we rode.  Some people were clearly more involved in helping make the ride work, and they seemed to know a basic plan.  All along the way, people participated in various ways, like by calling directions, wishes or warnings.  

Sometimes, it felt powerless to not know what decisions were being made or who was really making them; at other times, it was darn cool and liberating to ride along in a community, trusting that the group wouldn't go too far astray, because we were doing it all together.

Today, though, I'm most keenly aware that it's been a long time since I have ridden my bike for 20 miles.  And up, as I said, some hills.

Friday, August 29, 2008


One of the women who works at the produce market on my block always laughs and waves her had dismissively when I try to put my 3 little serrano chiles on the scale to pay for them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

flattening worship leadership

I've been contemplating two ways to make worship leadership and participation more communal.  I've had fun thinking about them, and thought they might be even more fun to think about together, with you:

-Using text messaging to share prayer leadership.  What if, during worship, people to text their prayer, it would appear on our screen, and be shared by the community?  I love the opportunity to share prayers, but feel like our "joys and concerns" time often creates a sense of insiders/outsiders that isn't overly welcoming to new people.  And, it sometimes takes a lot of time.  (I like the idea that texting might push us to say things with fewer characters.)  

I think something like Twitter would be cool, but I'm not much of a tweeter, so I don't know if it's best; if people have to create an account, that would be lame.  My other current best idea is to ask people to text message to an email address; it could be received by the computer running MediaShout with our projector, and cut and paste into the presentation.  I'm sure churches are doing this already, but it's certainly not the norm in ours.  I think it would be nice to think about using text msgs for praying, though.

-Xerocratic worship leadership.  "Xerocracy" is my new favorite word.  It comes from Critical Mass bike riding communities, and refers to the practice of making decisions based on who has the convincing photocopy; the hierarchy-free Critical Mass community apparently chooses its rides by xerocratic decision.  So, I'm thinking, what would xerocratic worship leading look like?  What if folks just showed up, and the person with the best worship design would lead?

Dangerous to the power of clergy like me, I know.

But, as I explored the idea on Wikipedia, it seemed to sound a lot like one of my favorite moments at General Conference this past May: when we elected a new group of Judicial Council members based on the unofficial, last-minute, communal and authentic hallway networking of a bunch of delegates, who had $20 to spend a Kinko's to help make their consensus known to others.  There was no name on the flyer, which was passed among delegates; it honestly came from no official group.  Xerocratic-style.  And, there, it prevailed over much better-funded efforts to keep our Judicial Council dominated by the same folks who brought us exclusive and Spirit-limiting decisions for the past 4 years.

I wonder how to help cultivate that spirit of investment, participation, authenticity to the people involved and innovative revelation in our weekly worship...

(I'm also excited to be headed out on my first Critical Mass ride this Friday!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I gathered my first passionfruit today.  I've been keeping an eye on my vine, which is loaded with fruits.  Every time I look, they all seemed to be still green and very firm.  Then, today, I noticed something different: something deep red and purple, lying just under the vines on the ground.  
I took them inside and here's what I found!

I'm totally new to passionfruit growing, but I've since read that if I let them get wrinkly, they'll be even better.  So, I guess we'll see what happens with the two on the counter.

Anyone have any favorite uses for passionfruit?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I got excited by this article, which told me that invisibility cloaks might could actually come to be!

Though I still treasure the moment when Colleen and I ditched a seminary class one Halloween to go to JoAnn's Fabrics to buy shiny silver material so I could sew my effective-only-with-a-good-imagination invisibility cloak for Joel's birthday. The woman cutting the fabric asked, so pleasantly, "What are you making?"

"An invisibility cloak," I answered, enthusiastically.

She was suddenly silent.

"Like from Harry Potter," I added.

After another moment of silence, she simply noted. "I still don't get it."

Monday, August 18, 2008

a few words to help me organize the week ahead

The NYTimes had a piece on Jon Stewart this weekend, noting that he's among the most trusted sources of news in our country. I think that doesn't scare me at all. Because, with good comedy, he's taking us closer to important issues than most main-stream news is willing.

I particularly liked the last bit of a passage quoted from him, at the end of an explanation of why they're interested in tough subjects:

"Everyone here is working too hard to do stuff we don’t care about." -Jon Stewart

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I feel like my garden has gotten out of my control; I've been away too much, and, when here, I've been distracted and busy.  It's been hot, too.  So, I spent some time on Friday evening doing my least favorite garden tasks: tearing out overgrown and dry plants.  There's still a bunch more of that work to do.  

Today, I started some new seeds, which is a happier job.  

And, as if a sign of grace and possibility, the fig tree yielded up some delicious fruits.  I love how figs hide their fleshy beauty inside such misleading, shriveling brown exterior. 
In between a bunch of other adventures (including fashioning 5 veils to make clergy robes look like nun costumes for our Sound of Music Singalong at the church), I also finally sewed a wraparound skirt from an old sheet I got at the thrift store.  It's deliciously soft, and lined with another dangerously soft (and worn) sheet.  

On Friday, I tried to take care of myself a bit: a fresh haircut, buying some watercolors, and a massage; when I was in Santa Fe, I relaxed enough to notice how tense the muscles in my shoulders were.  I still feel tender from having those muscles loosened.  A good, looser kind of tender.  Enough to make me think I should not wait so long next time.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

thankful for creation

I'm just back from my week at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, and am very happy for a chance to give time and space to creating beautiful things.

Few things embody joyous possibility like fresh, quality art supplies.  So this has been a good week.  And, since I like to think that one of the coolest things about God is the endlessness of beautiful possibility toward which s/he draws us...well, I guess that makes it even better.

It also helped that I got to hang out in the midst of natural beauty and the wide open spaces of the Santa Fe area.  With lovely flowers and a whole lot of beautiful people.

I was a part of a seminar led by Tim Rollins, whose artistic work embodies social transformation and beauty, together.  It felt pretty rad to create things together with him.  

Nearly as rad as it is to remember my own call to be a co-creator of God's kingdom, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the beloved community around us all.