First--this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Zip Code! I knew there was a time before zip codes, obviously, but the careful roll-out, the commercials complete with catchy jingles, the animation...and the resistance from the public...that was all new and fun info. Also, while it's patently obvious that the zip code has some kind of meaning, did you know that there are actually 4 zones of information embedded in that set of five numbers? Happy birthday, zip codes!
Meanwhile, as we're celebrating our independence by eating questionable foods and watching fireworks, over in Egypt there are fireworks of a different kind. It's been 18 months since the revolution, 12 months since the new president took office, and things aren't going terribly well. To put it mildly. So people are taking to the streets again, and everything is very volatile and changing rapidly. But for those of you who missed the signs that this was coming again, here's a good recap of just how we got here. I'm again glued to al-jazeera's live coverage and hoping my friends are okay. And hoping for a future that's good for all Egyptians, not just a few, or not just one religious sect, or not just one social class.
Loved this column about how social media is changing the landscape of relationships. I promise, it's more than a platform for pictures of your pets or notes about breakfast.
"Their community is much wider than mine and my wife’s. Kate, Philip and their friends don’t move on when they move to new cities. They simply add on. They keep in touch through hundreds of tiny digital connections, and these moments add up. The constancy of contact helps to sustain the freshness and the intensity of their relationships."~~~~~
Speaking of the whole generational thing, and the breach of contract between generations that I wrote about recently (and will probably continue to write about, as it's interesting and important, I think)...
This article about student loans is thought-provoking. Why exactly have we just assumed that we have to go into debt in order to get an education?
And then this sermon about passing the mantle--and not just passing, but also picking it up. While I'm no fan of creating or continuing institutions for the sake of institutions, I think it's interesting to ponder whether institutions are necessary to the continuation of energy in a movement. Particularly since institutions change so slowly, they may not be able to adapt to a change in energy or in need.
"Elisha, a second generation action prophet, has become Elisha, custodian of an institution; the Company of the Prophets. Because there is no way that the prophetic action ministry begun by Elijah and continued by Elisha can be sustained if Elisha doesn’t pay attention to the needs of the school and its prophetic members. Institutional care is necessary for ongoing, powerful prophetic action. ...While I'm linking to sermons, this is a beautiful one about a central practice of Christianity. Without hospitality, we can't ever claim to be even remotely "biblical." And welcoming isn't really about what we do when people walk in the door (though that is important), but about who we are when we're outside the doors. Love it.
As generation passes to generation, we cannot simply repeat, but must reinvent, the prophetic tradition to meet the challenges of our day."
Which makes me think of this:
And that, of course, leads me to this. I say "of course" because this is my brain we're talking about, so things aren't always linear. But seriously: blessing one another is one of the most powerful things we can do, and isn't that what we're doing if we're taking hospitality seriously?
Most people “keep” themselves. In other words, they make their own way in their own world. Such aloneness can only be described as horribly sad. In the biblical blessing, the one who blesses asks for a new reality to unfold around the one being blessed: may you know, in your life, that God is the one keeping you, he is the one making a way for you. This blessing opens up the possibility that God might take care of your needs and even your dreams. To biblically bless someone is to invite them into the tender care of God.
Which brings me to this...which I hope you can see even if you don't have facebook (make sure to click "see more" to see the whole story under the photo). Seriously, click the link. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've seen--a young woman who takes her faith seriously and decides to do something about it. I love that she did this in preparation for her bat mitzvah, and I can imagine having something like this be a part of confirmation. Not unlike, say, an Eagle Scout project--perhaps each youth being confirmed needs to find a way to put their faith into action, and implement it, as part of the confirmation process. Could be beautiful! (though then there's always the problem of institutionalizing something like this taking away the meaningfulness...sigh.)
Makes me ask the question: what have I done with my days? What do you do with yours?
Speaking of projects, Textweek is a huge project that is a blessing to the whole church. It's not an exaggeration to say that the vast majority of churches are probably affected by her work. Jenee, who single-handedly keeps that enormous project going, was the presenter on the Big Event in 2012. It was great to meet her, to get to know her story a bit, and to spend time hanging out. Now you can feel a bit like you were there too, thanks to this great article!
On a completely different note, funding of nonprofits. We have this idea that nonprofits should also be essentially free to run. That's a bunch of baloney, of course. I've seen a couple of TED talks that address this issue, but this is the first time I've seen something in print. It's important for us to think about what we mean when we say "overhead" and why it's so important that people who work for nonprofits get paid less for the same skills, education, training, and work than they would if they worked in a for-profit company. That expectation is crippling our nonprofits and their ability to respond to the needs of the world. This is one of the reasons that many churches are moving to narrative budgets and asking pastors to figure out how much of our time is spent on different things, so we can include percentages of our salary in different tasks--so some percentage of my salary is included in the cost of worship, the cost of mission, the cost of education, the cost of outreach, etc. That's a good approach, but it also perpetuates this idea that we should have as low overhead as possible. What if nonprofits said "we want the best people to do this important work" and the donors said "we want you to have the best people" and we all just worked on the assumption that paying the best people IS part of the ministry/mission/task of the organization?
(You can tell I have a lot to say about that. But instead of reading my rant on it, go read the article. It's much better.)
To end on a lighter yet equally serious note: THIS IS AWESOME. Yay vegans!