Sunday, June 26, 2011

An Alternative Seminary in Kansas City

For a while now, I've been thinking about developing a program similar to The Alternative Seminary. I've been fascinated with their Philly program for quite some time, and since the inception of Anavah House I've wanted to do something along these lines.

The gist of it is this: an almost-free course taught by seminary-trained individuals in an informal setting. Each course would be roughly $10-$20 to attend (or whatever anyone can afford to give), which would go to both buying food for the course meetings (yes, there will be meals!) as well as prep materials (handouts, textbooks, etc.). Although there would be no formal degree presented at the end of the course, the seminary would provide an opportunity for laity folks to enjoy the benefits of an in-depth seminary education, and for those who are interested in that kind of thing, it would look really good on a resume. The classes would vary in length, and there would possibly even be homework, depending on the volunteer who is teaching the class.

Some ideas for classes could be:

  • The Word of God in our World: A Year-Long Study of the Hebrew Bible
  • The Way of Jesus For Our World Today: A Year-Long Study of the New Testament
  • The Economy of God: Biblical Economics and Our World
  • The Gospel of Mark: The Radical Way of Jesus
  • The Gospel of Luke: The Reign of God and the Empire of Caesar 
  • Jesus and Empire 
  • Building Community Between Justice-Seeking Christians: Bridging Race and Class Gaps 
  • Christianity, Colonization, and Deconstructing White Supremacy
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: Liberation Prophet
  • Jesus For President
  • Healing the World, Healing Ourselves: Personal Peace Practices
  • Proclaim Jubilee! A Jewish-Christian Study of Biblical Economic Values
  • Reading the Bible into the Lives of Sexual Minorities
  • Women and Scripture
  • Casting Out Demons: Applying Biblical Exorcism Stories to Modern Society
  • The Isaian Vision and Urban Ministry
  • Liberation from Consumerism
  • Biblical Forgiveness and the U.S. Criminal Justice System
  • Liberation Theology in the U.S. Context
(All of these were taken from past classes at the Alternative Seminary in Philly)

I also have a curriculum called The Facilitator's Manual for the Class of Nonviolence, which I've been itching to use for a long time. It has a foreword written by peace activist Colman McCarthy, author of I'd Rather Teach Peace.

On a side note, another idea I've had in the last few years is a weekly event called "Midweek Midrash," which would be a kind-of Bible study. Each week there would be a story--sometimes Biblical, sometimes, say, an anecdote from the Desert Fathers and Mothers, for example--and during our meeting we would begin by praying/eating/singing together, followed by a discussion and interpretation of the story for the week.

Let me know what you think about the alternative seminary idea. I'd love to have some help fleshing it out. I'm hoping to start developing a curriculum soon, as well as find a few qualified folks to help teach. If you have any ideas or know of anyone who would be able to help out, let me know--and don't shy away from it just because you don't live in the KC area;  we will most likely have an online course option, as well.

Grace and peace be with you.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some long-awaited pics from around the ol' homestead.

Alyssa and I have spent the last few weeks getting settled into our new house, our new community, and our new church. Here are some photos from our house.
The living room sun window
Lots o' books
The studio. All of this came from the SEMO
ceramics studio when they moved. The
buckets are various glazes and clays.
The wheel. It looks really tiny in this
The upstairs studio area also has a little
music space/recording studio.
The guest bedroom
Our dining room has a little display cabinet with leaded
glass windows.
Wedding china on the left, handmade ceramics on the right.
Our dining room table is ten and a half feet long. Lots of
room for community meals and long discussions over
coffee or wine.
The table runner is actually a shawl I
bought while I was in Burma.
The garden!
The cabbage is doing surprisingly well...
The zucchini is taking over
Tomatoes. I finally caged 'em today. I took these pics right
after watering the garden, so everything looks kind of droopy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What I'm Doing This Summer

This is a little article about me that just came out in Second Baptist Church Liberty's newsletter. I'm interning there, helping my friend Tyler work with youth-aged students. Click the picture for full-size.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Running Mix

I put together this running mix on 8tracks, and aside from the utterly asinine fact that I haven't actually gone running since moving into our new place, I think it's a decent little mix.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Simple Pasta Salad Recipe

I haven't posted a recipe in a long time, and recently I've been having a hard time coming up with stuff to eat that doesn't take a lot of preparation or money. Alyssa's been out of town, so cooking for just myself can get tedious sometimes. This week, I tried to put together something out of what I had in the cabinets and fridge. I came up with this simple pasta salad that has a summery kick, and would be a great side-dish for a picnic.

[Note: this is an experiment that just happened to turn out well. Feel free to alter ingredients or amounts as needed.]

Sorry for the lousy picture. I took it with
my phone.

For this tasty and easy pasta salad recipe, you'll need:

- 1 box of whole wheat rotini pasta
- 1 large can of black beans
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. oregano
- 1 tbsp. garlic salt

While the pasta is boiling, drain and rinse the black beans and put them in a small bowl. In the same bowl, add the oil, lime juice, and spices. When the pasta is ready, drain, rinse, and cool it (refrigerate, if needed). Place the rotini in a large bowl, then add the contents of the bean bowl. Toss and serve.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Dangerous Spirit

According to the author of Luke/Acts, almost two thousand years ago, during the Jewish festival of Shavuot, tongues of fire descended from the clouds and into a crowd of early Christians, filling them with the Paraclete. The Helper. The Holy Spirit.

My friend Mark has spent the last few days discussing this with our little community of friends as he's put together a sermon for this week. A few high points of some of our conversations:

1. Acts 2:37. One of the assembled Jews asks what should be done, presumably for salvation. However, he specifically asks, "What should we do," suggesting that salvation is communal and codependent upon the actions of the community.

2. Acts 2:38. Peter responds that the only thing left to do is to repent of sins and be baptized. No "acceptance-of-Jesus-Christ-as-your-personal-Lord-and-Savior" talk. This is pretty consistent with Jesus's own teachings. Repent (turn or return), and you will be forgiven. No more, no less.

3. The Holy Spirit appears to be one of the most faith-threatening concepts of Christianity.

What makes the Holy Spirit--which I believe dwells in everyone, Christian or not--so difficult, and indeed, dangerous, is that it opens beliefs and convictions to the personal whims of individuals everywhere. More and more these days, I find myself believing things that aren't scriptural and even eschewing some beliefs that actually are found in scripture (the Book of Obadiah, anyone?), all because the Spirit within me--my heart, what the Quakers would call the Light of God--is so persuaded and convicted. However, there are others for whom this is untrue--even shockingly so--and they are led to this conviction by the Spirit, as well.

This obviously has its problems. The relative tension between personal conviction and communal salvation is sticky enough. But also, being comfortable with the idea that the Spirit can lead others in totally opposite directions seems to conflict with Jesus's last prayer for unity: "May they be one, like the Father and I are one."

Perhaps the Spirit with which we find ourselves endowed provides us the perilous freedom of a different kind of unity; a bond of solidarity that transcends dogma and doctrine and speaks to the most basic common denominator of our existence together: the community of our humanity.

Happy Pentecost, sisters and brothers.

Prayer for Pentecost
Spirit of life,
fill our emptiness with your fullness.
Spirit of power,
stir our hearts afresh.
Spirit of love,
touch us, and through us, our neighbor.
Spirit of creativity,
enable and empower us with the gifts we have been given.
Spirit of eternity,
draw us ever deeper into your Kingdom.
Glory to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning,
is now and will be forever.
(adapted from

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Film List

After putting together a sizable summer reading list for myself, I thought I might try expanding my film horizons as well. The following is a list of films (in no particular order) that, given their descriptions on Netflix, Wikipedia, etc., I thought sounded good. If you've seen one or more of them and would like to leave a comment, feel free to do so below. If there's a film that you haven't seen but want to, and if you're in the KC area, stop by the house this summer and we'll watch it together.

PS--There is a running theme with this list; all but one of these ten films has something in common. Can you guess what it is?


1. Diabolique, 1955. Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot

2. Kicking and Screaming, 1995. Dir. Noah Baumbach

3. L'Avventura, 1960. Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni

4. Man Bites Dog, 1992. Dir. Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel

5. Paths of Glory, 1957. Dir. Stanley Kubrick

6. Ratcatcher, 1999. Dir. Lynne Ramsay

7. The Seventh Seal, 1957. Dir. Ingmar Bergman

8. Through a Glass Darkly, 1961. Dir. Ingmar Bergman

9. Walkabout, 1971. Dir. Nicolas Roeg

10. Network, 1976. Dir. Sidney Lumet

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cape Women's Shelter Benefit Concert

For those interested, this is a video of my friend Matt, my wife Alyssa, and myself playing a few songs for a benefit concert at the Baptist Student Center back in February.

1. "The Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie," by mewithoutYou
2. "The King Beetle on the Coconut Estate," by mewithoutYou
3. "Tik Tok," by Ke$ha (yeah we did).
4. "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around," traditional song covered by the Psalters
5. "White Man," by the Michael Gungor Band

Sorry for the mic topping out. We got a little loud.


Sermon on the Mound [video]

Mad props to my friend Matt C for finding this beautiful video.

Every now and then, I need to be reminded of Jesus as a drug dealer, or as an abused girlfriend, or as a bag-lady.

Sermon on the Mound from phos pictures on Vimeo.