Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Langston Hughs (1902-1967) was the first Black writer in America to make his living from writing. At the new Poetry Archive web site you can hear a 1955 recording of him reading two of his poems.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"The Crow" by Oreon Trickey

Familiar in the alley
the sunrise sound of the crow

clicking then pausing
to investigate a dumpster
whatever will bring a few cents
the recycling station
past the viaduct

Harmless intruder
pecking at potential income
feasting on cast offs
a meal
a drink
a fix

The crow lives day to day

A solitary scavenger
irritating to some
feared by others
ever present
more often than not
merely blending into the urban landscape

Soaring slowly
in search of survival

His shopping cart nest
hoards momentary security.

Monday, November 28, 2005

John W. Fountain, professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an award winning reporter for the New York Times, grew up on the "mean streets" of North Lawndale in Chicago and wrote the book True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope, and Clarity.

At this link you can read and/or listen to his heart warming story "The God Who Embraced Me" on NPR's This I Believe. He tells of "The God who warmed me when we could see our breath inside our freezing apartment, where the gas was disconnected in the dead of another wind-whipped Chicago winter, and there was no food, little hope and no hot water." It's a beautifully written manifesto that made me cry.

Always With Us

"It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. Yet now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ."
                                 --Dorothy Day

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quote from the USA Today
"1.5 million families sit on local waiting lists for public housing or rental vouchers because federal aid has not kept pace with the demand for affordable housing."
Patricia Crowley's obituary was in the Tribune today. Patricia Crowley started Deborah's Place, an agency that serves homeless women in Chicago with great love and dignity. While I never knew her personally, Mrs. Crowley's life is a legend among homeless service providers in Chicago. Her daughter, also Patricia, has taken up her mantel as a leader in the city advocating for resources for the homeless.

"She felt we were called to do things for others, especially those that have less," her daughter Sister Patricia Crowley said. "She was a woman of action."

Mrs. Crowley, 92, a devout Catholic activist and social reformer, died of Parkinson's disease Wednesday, Nov. 23, in her Chicago home. Visitation will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in her home and from 8:45 to 10:15 a.m. Thursday in Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St. Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Holy Name.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Has anyone seen my dog Charlie?

Commercialism has hijacked Christmas! The papers and newscasts are reporting yesterday's shopping frenzy. Who gets up to be at Walmart at 5:00 AM the day after Thanksgiving?!! It's a conspiracy to take over our lives I tell you!!

I am making the decision now that I will prepare for advent in quiet meditation and reflection rather than be co-opted by the marketing gurus and stripped of my shalom. I am joining friends to read through Watch For The Light, a book of daily reflections which are sure to keep our hearts and minds focused on the most awesome event of all human history, the coming of Christ to walk this planet. The readings are recent and ancient, ecumenical and even secular, with excerpts from Bernard of Clairvaux, Martin Luther, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton, and Anne Dillard, to name a few. The overall tone of the book is rather hard-edged, emphasizing the poverty, paradoxes, and perplexities of the Nativity.

Forget the Hallmark sentiments, the coming of Jesus into our backside stinking barns is gritty stuff.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me... He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." (Psalm 50:14, 15, 23)
Years ago when I was facing a financial struggle, I stumbled upon these verses and learned a Scriptural principal that I have tried to practice since. I was stressed and needed deliverance and help in my "day of trouble". I spent a chunk of time forcing myself to give "thank offerings" to God. It worked! I was delivered, first from my anxiety, and then, what I needed came to me from an anonymous source. I have had many experiences of God's provision since. I have written about some of the miracles in a post on the Breakthrough web site.

There is so much that I am thankful for today: My family, friends, ministry and health for starters. My daughter, Teri, is in from Ohio State and we will all be together for a late afternoon feast. I spent the morning drinking coffee, reading the paper and cuddling with my grandson, Jayden. I am bursting with joy and gratitude! Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The process of forming BUILD, Breakthrough Urban Institute of Leadership Development, will be the foundation for my Doctor of Ministry dissertation. I am ABD (all but dissertation) toward getting my DMin in "Transformational Leadership for the Global City" from the Bakke Graduate University in Seattle. The studies have been very helpful in my journey toward "getting" an urban theology and a working philosophy of ministry in the arenas of community development, cross-cultural communication, social justice and faith. The BGU DMin has taken me on urban plunges to Ethiopia, Manila, Hong Kong and China. I traveled with Ray Bakke to garbage dump communities, roof top shanty towns and urban ghettos throughout the world and have met dynamic leaders in those communities who are making a difference. My greatest learning is that I have so much more to learn.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

We recently started an urban training program at Breakthrough called BUILD (Breakthrough Urban Institute of Leadership Development). BUILD brings together small groups of individuals from diverse backgrounds to read books and articles and discuss issues of race, class, justice, urban mission, and theology. Our first group was chosen from among our staff as a pilot group to test this interactive approach to learning. The experience has been incredible. We have all learned so much.

We are looking forward to expanding the program in January to include three new groups that will meet at various times during the week and on Saturday. I hope you will consider getting involved. It will expand your vision, strengthen your commitment and change your life.

CLICK HERE for a course syllabus or to RSVP to attend a future group.
Here is another challenging link. It is William P. Quigley's Social Justice Quiz. It is a pdf file so you will need Adobe Reader to open the file.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Oh... this is really good. Go to the Global Rich List and type in your salary to see how you compare to the rest of the world!! There are 5,945,324,435 people poorer than me in the world. Oh, Lord, help me!
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the Implicit Association Test designed by Harvard. It uses rapid association to measure our biases. I took the test and was ashamed of my results. Gladwell says we can not will ourselves to be less biased. The way to be transformed is to be more often and more intimately involved in cross-cultural associations. I have a long way to go.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I ran four miles today. I am training for the Reebok Triathlon in Naperville in June 2006 and have been thinking about running the Chicago Marathon next October. I have to decide by March because that is when the registration fills up. I'd like to get pledges and raise money for Breakthrough. Anyone want to join me?

by Oreon Trickey, Program Director, Breakthrough Urban Ministries
In red
And blue
And brown
And orange

Old men discussin’ on ‘em
Young men cussin’ on ‘em
Women smokin’ on ‘em
Young girls jokin’ on ‘em.

Arranged in a circle on a corner
Lined up in a row on the street
A few lurking in the alley shadows
The place where the street folk meet

Lawn chairs of the poor folk
Stephen Covey in The Eighth Habit says...
"The crucial challenge of our world today is this: to find our voice and inspire others to find theirs.".
What is VOICE? Voice =
TALENT (your natural gifts and strengths)
PASSION (those things that naturally energize, excite, motivate and inspire you)
CONSCIENCE (that still, small voice within that assures you of what is right and that prompts you to actually do it.)
There is a deep, innate, almost inexpressible yearning within each of us to find our voice in life.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Donald Kraybill from his book, The Upside-Down Kingdom...
“Any gospel which isn’t social isn’t gospel. God’s love for the world produced social action. God didn’t just sit in a great theological rocking chair and muse about loving the world. God acted.”
Jayden Napoleon Jimenez, my grandson, at the pumpkin patch...

Here's what John Piper had to say after reading Carl Ellis' book, Free at Last...
"Therefore, I am not willing for the greatness of God and the supremacy of God and the centrality of God and "the preeminence of the glory of God" (which is the essence of the Reformed tradition) to be hijacked by a white, western, over-rationalized, cool tradition that alienates the Black experience which has drunk so deeply at the wells of suffering and scorn. These great realities are not meant to be like planks in a party platform, or like colors of competing teams, or like hostile signals between warring gangs. They are meant to be like the air we breathe and the earth we stand on and the galaxies we stare into."
I like the strength of his language... "hijacked by a white, western, over-rationalized, cool tradition that alienates the Black experience"! That is great!

Carl Ellis has some great teaching about the "Gospel Gap" and the "Righteousness Window". I have an mp3 message that I downloaded a few years ago where he describes it. I have been trying to find the site to pass on to you but can't find it and I still don't know how to upload audio files from my computer.

There is another audio for download of a more recent message that he gave at John Piper's 2005 Desiring God Conference that is also very good. It seems he has had a strong impact on Piper. That is awesome!

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Warning To My Readers

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.

Wendell Berry
I listened to the message Jim Wallis gave at the Generous Orthodoxy Conference in October in DC and picked up the other messages there as well. Great stuff! I have always enjoyed reading Jim Wallis' contribuitons to the Sojourners enewsletter and recently read his book God's Politics. He is helping to create a movement that is providing an alternative to the religious right. Thank you Jim!

I have been reading and following the Emergent Church Movement (Brian McLaren, Erwin McMannus, etc.) for awhile especially because so much of what they say impacts urban ministry... the cross-cultural emphasis, cultural responsibility along with individual piety being an important aspect of the gospel, etc.

Of course, they have started a discussion that is raising flags for some more conservative Christians. James McDonald recently wrote a blog about Why I Am Not Emerging and Don Carson wrote a book critical of the movement. I think it is a discussion that needs to happen and I find myself resonating with much of what I am hearing from Sojourners and the Emerging Church movement.

Divided By Faith, by Smith and Emerson, is an important read for those of us who consider ourselves evangelicals and are concerned about race relations and social justice.

There is a sequel called United by Faith that I have heard is an important read, but I haven't gotten to that one yet.

I attended Calvary Church in Naperville last Sunday and heard Dr. David Yonggi Cho from Korea. Cho is the pastor of a church of 800,000! His message is available online. In short... We have enough faith, grace is given to all (Rom. 12:3; Matt. 17:20), but we need to learn to activate our faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1). Often we don't know what we hope for. We need to be specific. Write it down. He gave the example of praying for six months for a bicycle, table and chair. Finally we got exasperated with God for not responding to his prayer and he heard God say, "What kind of table, chair and bicycle? You are being too vague." He described the bicycle, chair and table he was hoping for in great detail and later that week as he helped someone move, he saw the exact items in the man's garage and they were given to him.

The challenge... what do you hope for? Hmm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Here it is. I am taking the dive into the deep, jumping off the cliff clinging to the rope, not sure where this will take me, but convinced I need to start writing. I have written Leaders Briefs for our Breakthrough email newsletter and a few little magazine articles, but this is different. I am going to write from my heart about what I think and feel, without editing and refinement. I admit it is a bit frightening.

I am afraid that what I write will be trite, pedantic musing that will be boring to everyone. Or that, worse yet, no one will read it or even care about the things I write about. But really, isn’t that a common fear, the fear of being overlooked, ignored, not taken seriously?

That is why I must write. In my work in the inner city of Chicago I rub shoulders daily with people who are ignored and overlooked, not just by the internet, but by a society obsessed with success, with a fast-paced culture that doesn’t have time for the illiterate, the dispossessed, the disparate, the impoverished.

I am going to try to raise consciousness, starting with my own. I believe that the discipline of writing will be good for me. It will force me to put my thoughts into words and the words to paper, or in this case, the world wide matrix, the biosphere, the stratosphere, well, at least, out there somewhere for others to see.

I hope to write just a few paragraphs and try to pump this blog full of helpful links to audio files and articles that will give voice to inner city strugglers who carry the disproportional brunt of poverty on their backs. I hope others will join in bringing resources of knowledge and understanding so that we all can move forward in opening our eyes to the realities of social injustice and experience the joy of God’s work in the midst of the pain.

So, that’s it for today. I leave with a quote I heard on a podcast interview of William P. Quigley from an aboriginal woman. It confronts the patronizing attitudes of people who want to “help” the poor.

"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us struggle together."