Friday, August 29, 2008

the crossing's first retreat!

not too long ago, the bridge youth group (dubbed 'the crossing') took its first-ever retreat out near brinnon, wa. we stayed with m and m, a wonderful senior couple who hosted us in cabins on their property out near a river. by day, we engaged in various activities from clam digging and waterfall swimming to scripture study and group reflection. among the more memorable happenings:
  • n was quite daring, playing in the waterfall, swimming in the icy river, and generally being the nature girl that she's never been before. she also took a ton of photos. it was fun to see her stretch in some new directions.
  • c, the only non-family member on the trip, jumped right in and had fun mixing it up with us. he wowwed the assembled with his eating of a raw oyster (a move he almost immediately regretted), swam at every opportunity, and helped lead the way on 'talk triggers,' questions we used to stir up discussion so we could know one another better.
  • b, in her final 'crossing' activity, took a special liking to the s'mores and demonstrated her prowess as a log splitter, being the only one of the youth who managed to split a log with a single blow.
  • m led the weekend and did most of the cooking and driving, and i... well, i fell down really hard at the waterfall, busting open my elbow and soaking my shoes, while managing to save the camera. that was two weeks ago, and my elbow still smarts -- ouch!

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on the nomination of barack obama

i was recently commenting on a friend's blog entry about barack obama's nomination by the democratic party, and found myself going on and on. apparently, this historic event has stirred up more in me than i allowed myself to verbalize. and since i've posted negatively about hillary clinton in this space (see here and here), i thought it only fair to share my reservations about obama, which i noted in that comment (see below). at a later date, i'll post my critique of john mccain, to complete the set.

i should say up front that there is a part of me that is thrilled by obama's nomination; that someone of african descent can run as a candidate for president without his race being the primary topic of discussion is measurable progress. i find much to appreciate in his call to serious-but-civil discourse on the critical challenges of our generation, his challenge to work together (even with our disagreements) by trying to find some middle ground, and his casting the vision for taking both individual responsibility and some responsibility for one another. still, i have serious reservations, as you'll see below.

please note: my goal here is not to endorse a candidate for president, but to interact in a thoughtful way with their candidacies and proposals. for the record, i disagree with both major candidates in significant ways, and i'm guessing many of you do too. for the less politically-inclined, especially those of you who frequent this space to see photos of my beautiful family or to hear what God is doing in our lives and ministry, feel free to skip this one...

i'm surprised you've only gotten one comment on this [blog post on the nomination of barack obama]. it is, indeed, a historic and amazing moment, and one worthy of reflection.

i will admit to being conflicted about the nomination of barack obama. on the one hand, i'm excited. what a life story this guy has -- bi-racial (though simply consider 'black' by most americans), raised by a single mom and grandmother, lived in hawaii and overseas, columbia- and harvard-educated, and against all odds, democratic party nominee. he's obviously an impressive fellow, but i'm especially fascinated by what his ascent says about the progress in race relations in the u.s., no matter how uneven and imperfect.

but i'm also concerned -- at his relative lack of experience at governing (especially at the national level) and exposure to international political realities, and at the media's seeming unwillingness to really discuss that in a somewhat objective, dispassionate way. it's either the right-wing fireballers calling him 'hussein' and insinuating that he's a muslim on the one hand, or msnbc's chris matthews has a tingle coming up his leg?!! what was that all about?
i don't doubt obama's intelligence. but i do doubt that his experience at this time makes him a strong candidate to be president. if colin powell were accepting the nomination, i'd breathe a lot easier. he's actually led a large organization before (albeit not as an elected official) and quite successfully.

and that's aside from the policy disagreements that i have with obama. his record on abortion notwithstanding (and that's a huge problem for me), i probably disagree with his approach to solving just about every major national problem. without picking a political fight with all of my berkeley friends, i am not a liberal and do not share the progressive 'faith' in government and government-run enterprises. obama and the democrats in general worry me with their reflex action of turning over so much of life to government leadership, intervention, and oversight.

so, there it is. am i inspired? almost every time i hear obama speak. am i worried that the bandwagon is going to lead to a morning-after case of buyer's regret? yes. do i think obama has the policy prescriptions to renew america's promise? sadly, no.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

baby columbia debuts at columbia

well, the deed is done. after nearly a week of sun and fun in new york city, we dropped off b at columbia university. i'll write more later about our trip, but for now, it's just an amazing thought. all week, i saw little girls -- from infant to about five years old -- and thought about how it wasn't that long ago that we were carrying b around and trying to answer her surprisingly deep theological questions. now look at her!

we praise God for the young woman that she has become -- and for the one he is making her to be!

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Friday, August 08, 2008

a blessing of discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness

heard recently at the willow creek leadership summit, from craig groeschel of it is from a franciscan benediction...

may God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart

may God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

may God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

and may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

how's that for a blessing? we keep using that word -- perhaps it doesn't mean what we think it means.