Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cap'n Mellow vs. the Men in Suits!

Cap'n Mellow vs. the Men in Suits!
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Building the Garden Of Eaten

Building the Garden Of Eaten
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sub-version! Part I

Another excellent and timely sermon from our prophet/pastor, Cindy. Text - Exodus 1:18 - 2:10

Read it and weep.

The king is in his castle. The queen is on her throne. The president is in his office. The congress is in session. The corporate chair is in the boardroom.

And so begins the royal story, as Walter Brueggemann calls it, the story that shapes and dominates our culture…The story that shapes and dominates and often defines our reality.

Global warming? Nuclear war? Healthcare? Endangered animals? Re-instatement of the draft? The cost of gasoline? The cost of milk? The answer to these questions, indeed often the questions themselves are shaped by the royal consciousness, revealed through the royal story.

We are children of the royal consciousness,” says Brueggemann. “All of us, in one way or another, have deep commitments to it” (The Prophetic Imagination).

we live in a world phony down deep

in which we participate at a slant.

Ours is a seduced world,

where we call evil good and good evil,

where we put darkness for light and light for darkness,

where we call bitter sweet and sweet bitter

where we call war peace and peace war,

so that we rarely see the truth of the matter.

(Brueggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth)

Which is why so many Americans were initially supportive when our nation invaded Iraq. The powers deceived us well, showed us authoritative pictures, Colin Powell dressed in all of his military finery with all of his military doodads. And we, as Americans, swallowed what they wanted us to swallow. The royal version of the story. Weapons of mass destruction…

This morning’s scripture reading begins with a similar royal story…Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. Already it sounds familiar, as we are introduced to this new king who did not know Joseph, this new king who ignored or refused to learn the lessons that history, heeded, could have passed down, this new king who saw the Israelite people, who had once been friend, now as foe, as threat.

Notice, the new king based this presumption, not on fact, for they had not yet become threat, but on fear: 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land. They have not yet joined the king’s enemies, but they might. In the event of war, they might. They have not yet used weapons of mass destruction, but they might. 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh.

Notice, the new king’s expressed fears, that the Israelite people would join the other side should there be a war, just happened to coincide with great financial opportunity. The new king was able to use the Israelites to build supply cities, that is, great cities where his own goods, where his own wealth could be stored. And so we see that the decrees of the new king were based, not solely fear, after all, but also, and maybe even more so, on greed.

And we are reminded, perhaps, of the many times that we have heard it said that if Iraq simply owned 15% of the world’s olive oil reserves, that the US would not have invaded it.

12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.

The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Americans came to dread the terrorists, I mean, the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.

And we see that the royal story, the story that dominates, the story that controls, the story that shapes our lives on a daily basis, the story based on deceit and fear and greed, is a story that has not changed much down through the ages.

Let Justice Roll Down

Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Sub-version! Part II

Jesse came home from a day at the fair with his classmates, and told me that he saw military vehicles there, was able to get in one, push the buttons, even, my, don’t they start young…that he saw military vehicles there that cost three million dollars. “Can you believe that?” he asked. “Well, yes,” I said. “That’s where our tax money goes. That’s why there are so many people in our nation who do not have healthcare, that’s why there are so many people in our nation who do not have affordable housing, that’s why there are so many people in our nation who do not…” “Oh, no, you got her started,” said Dylan.

Kings and queens and pharaohs and parliaments and presidents pass down fear-based, greed-based decrees, and we the people shape our lives to the realities that they create.

But there is this other reality, this other version of the story, this sub-version that is also being lived out, worked out, wrenched out, wrestled out through the grace and determination of the God who bends low to listen. And we see that story, that sub-version of the royal story in this morning’s text as well: Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The new king is doing his dastardly deeds, killing off the babies of the perceived enemy, buying up gold and baubles to fill up the cities that have been built by the blood of slaves, the new king is doing his dastardly fear-induced, greed-induced deeds. But all the while there is another story going on, a story of which he is, for now, unaware, a story that is slowly reshaping the reality that he, the king, has created, a story that will ultimately undermine the story that he, the king, has created.

The sub-version: A woman gently places her child in a papyrus basket. A young girl keeps watch from the riverbank. Unbeknownst to those in power, the sub-version unfolds, and this wave-rocked baby grows to lead the people of Israel to freedom.

We see this sub-version of the royal story over and over again throughout history, if we have eyes to see it, that is…

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) Ahhh, the royal story. The king was on his throne. Caesar Augustus, the most powerful emperor of the most powerful empire that the world had ever seen.

But look, here’s the sub-version, God’s workings, God’s wrenchings, God’s relentless intention for a new way…

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David); to be taxed with Mary his espoused, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

The sub-version: A mother, a baby, a world with no room. And this cradle-laid baby grows up to become the biggest threat of all.
by Pastor Cindy. More coming...

Chicory Over Clarksdale

Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Sub-version! Part III

In the book, Bury the Chains, by Adam Hochschild, he describes a meeting of twelve men in 1787 who gathered in a London printing shop to pursue a seemingly impossible task: ending slavery in the largest empire on earth. “To understand how momentous was this beginning,” he writes, “we must picture a world in which the vast majority of people are prisoners…At the end of the eighteenth century, well over three quarters of all people alive were in bondage of one kind or another, not the captivity of striped prison uniforms, but of various systems of slavery or serfdom. The age was a high point in the trade in which close to eighty thousand chained and shackled Africans were loaded onto slave ships and transported to the New World each year. In parts of the Americas, slaves far outnumbered free persons. The same was true in parts of Africa,” and he goes on to talk about slavery in the Islamic world, the Ottoman Empire, India, and Russia.”

Such a world would, of course, be unthinkable today. But this was the world—our world—just two centuries ago, and to most people then, it was unthinkable that it could ever be otherwise.”

In fact, the era was one when “freedom, not slavery, was the peculiar institution” (Seymour Drescher). Most of us have heard of John Newton, the slave trader who became a very popular preacher, and who wrote the song, “Amazing Grace…” Well, it was 30 years after his conversion before he would even come to see slavery as wrong. He’d captained slave ships, seen the abuse and horror of slavery up close and personal. Men and women and children piled on top of one another. And yet it took him 30 years after his conversion. He wrote a sermon a quarter of a century after he left the slave trade summing up all of Britain’s sins, and guess what? Slavery did not make the list. Which shows how deeply entrenched was that royal consciousness. The empire and most of the so-called church couldn’t imagine a world without slaves. Didn’t even try.

But there was a sub-version being written: Twelve men meet in a dusty printing shop, several of them, of course, Quakers. And listen to this, only five years after this initial meeting of twelve men, more than 300.000 Britons were refusing to eat the chief product of the slave industry, sugar, 300,000 Britons back in the 1700s,. boycotting sugar, and within one life-time, within one century, slavery was, at least on paper, outlawed almost everywhere.

Several weeks ago, Cindy Sheehan, who lost a 24 year old son in the Iraq war, set up a chair by the side of a highway in Texas, right down the street from George Bush’s ranch, where he’s vacationing for six weeks. She said that she wanted to meet with him face to face, but he refused. So she continued to sit there. People came and sat with her. And on Monday, Mike Jupin called me and asked if we could hold a prayer vigil on Wednesday night in support of her efforts. We did, and so did over 1,700 other groups of people around our nation.

The royal story, according to last night’s news, is that we’re going to keep our soldiers in Iraq for the next four years. But there’s a sub-version unfolding: a mourning mother sets up her folding chair on the side of the highway. And even now, the reality that George Bush and other leaders of our nation have created is being re-shaped. God is relentless in God’s purposes, and God desire is peace.

Some of you have been involved in some sub-versions this week.

[Church members] Susan, Dan, Sue and Mike have been exchanging e-mails this week, talking about how they can get more kids at their kids’ school to “opt out,” meaning to sign a sheet saying that the school does not have permission to give their name to military recruiters. We need to put up posters, they’ve said. We need to develop posters, they’ve said. We need to have a workshop, they’ve said. These e-mails may not amount to much. But maybe they will.

Yes, some of you have been involved in some sub-versions this week. In fact, you’re involved in a sub-version right now. Because simply being a part of this community is a sub-version, being a part of any true community is a sub-version in this world that so values individualism. Tithing is a sub-version in this world that so values the accumulation of wealth. Meeting for worship is a sub-version in this world that puts a premium on time. Telling the truth about who we are and where we hurt during joys and concerns is a sub-version in this world that teaches us to mold ourselves to look and act and own like everyone else.

Yes, a sub-version is unfolding, and you and I are smack dab in the middle of it. God is pursuing love over hate, peace over war, justice over oppression, community over alienation, authenticity over falsehood. God is writing a whole new story, and we just might be some of its lead characters. Imagine that!
by Pastor Cindy, a true prophet for false times

Sunday, August 14, 2005

redneck truck (self-defined)

redneck truck (self-defined)
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Vernon Easterhare Declares: p.m.--8/13/2005.

The Inclusiveness of the Messianic Banquet Table.

...My focus is again on the Gospel of Luke, since that topic is the subject of study by the Jefstreet Adult Sunday School Class for past moons.

Consider Luke 13:29 NRSV, "Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat [emphasis mine] in the kingdom of God." I see this as connecting-- over chapter boundaries which were established many centuries after this writing--in the Middle Ages-- with the entire content of chapter 14 Luke. For we read in the first verses that Jesus is at an eating of bread [phagein arton] at a Pharisee's house, and in healing a man and making a Rabbinical pronouncement, says in plain connection with his 'social Gospel:'

"...when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:13-14 NRSV.

Then to amplify this same teaching, Jesus goes on to utter a parable in keeping with the notion that the Realm of God consists of a Great Meal to which the Insulted are guests of honor. In this parable, a great man holds a dinner and at first invites friends to attend, but one-by-one for reasons of varying importance the invitees 'beg off.' Therefore, the lord of the house instructs his servant to go out and bring in the poor, the crippled, and the blind, and the lame. This being done, the lord then instructs that the 'people of the land,' the peasants [am har'etz in Mishnaic Hebrew] be invited into the feast-- to the utter exclusion of the first-invited guests.

Then to the crowd after these teachings, Jesus tries once more to teach that old kinship loyalties must be rechanneled in favor of a new family in the Realm of God. "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26-27 NRSV.

Jesus proceeds inter alia to utter strongly, "So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." Luke 14:33 NRSV.

Finally in Chapter 14, we hear Jesus utter something about salt-- then and now an ingredient in feasts! Luke 14:34 NRSV, "Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"

To my perception, these utterances all connect back in a 'cut-and-paste' way editorially to the Messianic Banquet Feast to which Luke 13:29 alludes, a great coming-together from a Diapora of the Righteous [Greek: dikaoi and Hebrew/Aramaic: tzdkim/tdkin both have strong implications of 'doing-charity']. One should note that many who thought they were being righteous by following rote morality had been-- in Jesus view--evildoers!

IT IS ESSENTIAL TO READ NO ANTI-SEMITISM INTO THIS PIECE. NEITHER JESUS NOR I AT ALL AM CONDEMNING JEWS BUT 'ALL WORKERS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS' [pantes ergatai adikias.] To my mind that means there will be -- the Ultimate Sense--many many Jews who get 'saved' and many many evildoing 'Christians' who are 'not-saved.' BUT I DO THINK THIS LANGUAGE OF 'SALVATION' IS TALK ABOUT WHICH WE MUST BE VERY CIRCUMSPECT!

At any rate, Jesus is telling us that the Realm of God we Christians should expect should have at the Table a plethora of Life's Untouchables. Let us keep the Feast with sincerity and truth!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

All Smiles

All Smiles
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Jeff Street's Peace Statement

As we solemnly remember the deliberate targeting and nuclear destruction of two entire cities this weekend (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), I thought it appropriate to put up our Peace Statement. May we never tire in our efforts for peace. Amen.

Peace Statement

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
-Jesus Christ, Luke 6:27-28

As a community of faith we have covenanted together:
to work to ensure that Creation is respected, enhanced, and protected;
to speak out against all forms of oppression to ensure the dignity and worth of all people;
to accept our responsibility as ministers of reconciliation in the world by helping people to accept one another and God, and;
to promote peace and justice in all life circumstances.

As a community of faith we further declare that:
Peace is the will of God and all war is sin.

All persons are created in the image of God and owe their first allegiance to God.
All persons have the responsibility:
to read and interpret the Scriptures,
to reflect on their religious experience in order to understand peacemaking for them and the world, and,
to obey God's will for peace above all human directives, even when obedience requires conscientious objection or civil disobedience.

As a community of faith we believe that all persons should examine and speak out against individual, corporate, and national participation in the forms of political and economic oppression that cause war and work, even if at some cost to themselves, to discover constructive avenues of peacemaking within these venues, for in doing so we demonstrate our obedience to Jesus Christ.


Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

God as a Woman

We recently had a service led by our women's spirituality group. A wonderful and thoughtful service where we were all invited to bring in images that, for us, represent the feminine in divinity. Sister Janel offered us these grand words of wisdom:

I want to speak to you of moons and menses,

Of mystery and madness,

Of menopause.

Of things hidden, secrets undiscovered.

The internal, deep dark mother-knowing, imposed on women magically simply because we are women.

Or perhaps I want to talk with you about how an oppressed people—and do not for one second doubt that women have been and continue to be oppressed—how an oppressed people, in order to survive, develop complex communication and information systems, heightening sensitivity to their environment, to the feelings and thoughts of those around them.

But then, there is the X chromosome. That chromosome and its counterpart, the Y, determine whether we are male or female. Two Xs, out comes a girl. An X and a Y, you get a bout. Genetically speaking, the difference ends there. No big deal.

So how, then, CAN we talk about “Women’s ways of knowing?”

For the past year or more I have been meeting with this group of extraordinary women. We have broken bread, we have shared what has broken our hearts, I have broken some promises, and we, together, have broken open.

Like the circle we form, our council more often than not returns to our beginning place.

To the deep, deep wounds caused by the denial,--no, not just the denial,--but the violent severance of the feminine from sacred texts, symbols, and ritual.

As a result, from our consciousness.

Look at these images.

Look at them.

When you have the chance, touch them.

I invite you to use them to move toward a deeper experience of the Sacred as female, as a girl. God as a woman.

Are you afraid that the images will crowd out what you believe?

That embracing the feminine means denying the masculine?

Never fear. The masculine is ingrained. We thirst for the feminine. Drink in the images.

As you look at these images, think about what it does to our daughters (and to our sons) NOT to see themselves reflected in the divine.

They we become small. We deny the power and potential given to us.

Think about what may happen when they DO embrace the feminine. Catherine of Genoa, after spending much of her life in meditation, could finally exclaim, “My me is God!” Oh, that all women and girls—and men and boys—could know that!

When we experience only the flat, lifeless, singularly male image of the divine, when we relegate the divine feminine to the annual blue-veiled virgin in a stable, then we—you and I—damage one another, and our daughters and sons, in unspeakable ways.

The results are war, torture, melting of the glaciers, decimated rainforests, species facing extinction daily.

Another result is rape. One of the things we women know deeply is what it is like to be raped.

If we haven’t had the experience ourselves, or sat in stunned silence with a friend or mother or daughter or niece who has, it’s still not a stretch to extrapolate from experience who have had.

And I will tell you, there are not enough women in the world, no matter how high and frenetically or frantically we wave huge banners, to stop rape.

Only men can do it.

And men—and women—can only stop the war, the torture, the destruction of our planet, when we—all of us—see the Sacred as feminine, and the feminine as sacred.

My me IS God!
by Janel Temple, one of our wonderfully wise women