Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who Owns Ownership?

So I just got done with one of my workshops here at Deaconess Convocation in Nashville and this one was talking about concepts of economic justice. We looked at various Bible passages that refer to the Jubilee year (Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 25, Luke 4:18-19) and talked about the ancient concept of ownership in biblical cultures. Land wasn't considered something that was owned by individuals - it was borrowed from God, so if God told you to let that land rest, you let it rest. Nowadays, at least in Western culture, we are consumed with this notion of ownership. What's mine is mine and I'm going to make sure that nobody takes it away from me. Think about how many property crimes there are! What if we radically changed how we looked at things so that it was all borrowed from God (after all she is the one who created it in the first place) rather than ours to own. So many conflicts arise from challenges to ownership - land disputes, intellectual property, etc. and people literally die from these fights everyday. Is it really worth it? And who gets to decide who owns what in the cases of disputes?

One of the powerful experiences I had in seminary was going to Guatemala and meeting people in several different cities, visiting with them and talking with them about their lives and their faith in the midst of their political situations. Many stories in Guatemala (and most of Latin America) involve land disputes, some of which go back for generations. Native peoples lived on land which churches, European settlers or govt armies later claimed. Indeed, the US started this way as well! What are the chances for those native people to ever get their land back? Looking at reservations and the life of Native Americans today, I think it's clear - they didn't get much say in the matter. If we really live as the biblical nation so many want to claim us to be, do we really know what that would look like? I think it would be a lot more differnt from today than just allowing praying in our schools!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Traveling madness

October is a crazy month for me. My birthday is at the beginning of the month, and this year I get to go to the Renaissance Festival and to see the Lion King on stage (which is absolutely AMAZING!) all in the same day. I normally work Tuesday - Saturday, but this month I'm also working Mondays to make up for the fact that I have trips on 2 weekends. Oct 10-12 I was in Nashville for a Reconciling Ministries Network retreat/training/strategy session. Nashville is beautiful, the center where we stayed is nice and very hospitable (it even has a labrynth to walk!) and I got to spend time with some great people that I haven't seen in a few years. I learned a lot about what's going on the United Methodist Church and renewed my faith that there are changes coming for the better because of these people. :) I love you guys!

This weekend I'm headed back to the same center in Nashville for a different church group. This is the biannual Deaconess/Home Missioner Convocation (i.e. formal gathering or conference) and I'm really excited about being there. I haven't seen these folks in several years either and the fact that I was just in Nashville at the center makes me feel comfortable - I know what to expect and what I'll need to bring or not.

I get back from Nashville on Sunday evening and then Monday morning I head back out for work. I'm going with all of our AmeriCorps members to Leadership training in Taladega, Alabama. We'll be staying at a church conference center so it should be pretty nice accomodations. I normally love this kind of event, but I'm really bummed that all of this travel is happening all at once. I just want some quiet time to sit at home with my family! It makes me think of people like my father-in-law who travel a lot for their jobs. It's one thing to see lots of places and meet lots of people, but I need more stability than that. I kind of like a routine and knwoing what to expect - not that I don't like spontaneity too, but I need to come back to that something solid and reliable. I think I could handle a trip every month, as long as I got to be home for a few weeks between each one. Right now I'm just looking forward to November and life being a little more calm.