Monday, January 12, 2009

New Blog at

I've finally gotten a website started for our organization, Shalom of Oakland, and I'll be blogging there at least for the time being, with a focus on East Oakland what we're up to here. Perhaps I'll be inspired to actually blog about our adventures...

Check it out at



Thursday, October 30, 2008

CCDA Conference

Andrea and I got back from the CCDA Conference on Monday. The theme was "Shalom", which is also the name of our little start-up in Oakland, so we had to go (I'm wondering if they would care if we stole the logo? :) We were surrounded by wonderful people. The plenary session speakers were inspiring and the seminars were actually extremely helpful and informative. I can be quite a critic of conferences, organizations and institutions, but the CCDA is legit. There's something about being with people who have a common vision and projection in life. A guy leading a seminar talked about moving into a new house with his Mom helping and then having the family run upstairs while there was a shootout in front of the new house, followed by repeated attempts at getting someone to talk to him after dialing 911, and we chuckled, sighed and groaned with familiarity. There is something beautiful about being with people who have similar stories. Side note: I was actually quite proud of my own mother when she took my kids to the nearby park and found blood all over the playground and was very calm about the whole thing.

We were reminded to be patient in our work here in East Oakland, to never neglect our own spiritual and emotional health, to worship the loving, peace bringing Jesus of the Bible, to care for our family (we were even we shouldn't be guilty about not sending our kids to the local elementary school) and to be confident in our calling in the midst of all the craziness in our country. I particularly enjoyed seminars on starting a mentoring program for children (led by this crew), the community and movement that made Martin Luther King Jr. the leader he was, "neighboring", and urban consumerism.

Andrea and I found a ridiculously inexpensive hotel a few miles away from the conference center, so we had an hour long bus ride twice a day. It didn't compare to my Greyhound trip to New Mexico a couple years ago, but it was a interesting little experience. I have to say that I prefer my normal mode of transportation...the bicycle. One of these days I'll get a helmet so Damon will stop reminding me to get one.

Now it's back to work...

Monday, October 20, 2008


For some reason I thought we were moving towards a less polarized society, all this talk of "third ways" and independent voters and post-evangelicals...but I'm starting to think I was terribly wrong. I once heard Donald Miller explain political polarization as a byproduct of the way we teach debate (two opposing viewpoints). The media obviously rolls forward with this way of thinking (for the most part). You put two people with opposing viewpoints on camera or radio together and hope that sparks fly. The problem is that we all know (I think) that very few issues of any kind are actually that simple.

Perhaps I'm becoming cynical by reading too many blogs and looking at facebook postings. People are so predictable. Provocative and bold statements are made, or links to provocative and bold statements are made. Your friends enthusiastically encourage you with subtle hints that anyone who disagrees is absolutely insane. Every once in a while someone from the "other side" hops and and starts an argument, and everyone can jump in and spout some statistics or logic or maybe even a Bible verse or two. I'm always tempted to jump in, but it just seems so pointless. Is anyone actually open to the other person's viewpoint? Are Christians who consider environmental activism to be of the devil actually going to consider another way? Are people who have been over talking about "penal substitutionary atonement" for years actually going to listen to someone who quotes MacArthur on the issue? How many McCain/Palin supporters don't despise Obama, along with, of course, the "liberal" media? How many people who are voting for Obama don't think Palin is the stupidest person of all time and will never be convinced otherwise? Any conservatives ready to listen to a long conversation about liberation theology, the black church and Jeremiah Wright? Wanna have an intelligent conversation about Christianity and abortion on the Internet? Have fun with that.
Seriously, I may be way off, but it seems like most of us make up our mind one way or the other about things, and all the reading we do from that point on just serves to inspire us to believe in our idea with even more passion, or convinces us that all people who believe in another way are complete total morons who hate God and America and have some ridiculous evil agenda. Then again, people do change their minds about things, perhaps due to a new environment, new friends or new experiences. Who knows, maybe someone just read a facebook rant/debate and saw the light about an incredibly important idea! Maybe...
Perhaps I'm just tired of this election season, but thanks blogger for letting me vent.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their

names are anger and courage: anger at the

way things are, and courage to see that they

do not remain the way they are.”

--St. Augustine

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I swear he just does this on his own...

Kayla has gone to the rec center with me a hundred times and watched me shoot around. She was attending men's league games as a baby and was given a basketball hoop by her grandparents, and she has probably tried to shoot a basket five times in her life. She is bewildered by the idea of playing catch or even rolling a ball back and forth. So Chase came along and I never tried to get him to play catch with me or have any interest in balls or hoops, but it's all he wants to do all day. Andrea thinks maybe we should get him on Letterman for a shooting exhibition by the not yet two year old.

Friday, September 12, 2008

CCDA Conference anyone?

Andrea and I are heading out to the CCDA Conference in Miami in October. Anyone who reads this going to be there?

"The mission of CCDA is to inspire and train Christians who seek to bear witness to the Kingdom of God by reclaiming and restoring under-resourced communities."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Quote of the Day

Selfishness ... feeds an insatiable hunger that first eats up everything belonging to others and then causes a creature to devour itself.

- Dom Helder Camara
Brazilian archbishop

From the Voice of the Day over at God's Politics

Friday, September 05, 2008

An Extremist

Excerpt from "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King Jr.

...But as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love - "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice - "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ - "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist - "Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist - "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist - "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice - or will we be extremists for the cause of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime - the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. So, after all, maybe the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I think I could just blog quotes from MLK for the next few years, and even if no one read them I would have a wonderful time typing them up and thinking about them myself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I think this idea makes a lot of sense

I read an interesting quote the other day that made a lot of sense to me...

The key to making progress is to do the right thing as often as possible. The best way to do that is to make doing the right thing as EASY as possible--so easy, in fact, that it's more effort to do the wrong thing. Weight loss success stories are loaded with simple techniques like "I started packing my lunch," and "I put the snack food on a high shelf," and "I joined a gym that was closer to my house," simple habits that make the right thing easier and the wrong thing harder.

I read this on a website about exercise and fitness, in an article advocating for the consumption of protein shakes because of their convenience. He says, "You could--and maybe should-- eat nothing but whole, natural food day in and day out. But convenience will almost always trump good intentions. Strapped for time, it's easier to resist an empty-calorie bagel by mixing up a quick shake than it is to whip up a steak on the grill. Try to do it all with whole foods and you're bound to screw it up from time to time, leaving your body with less fuel than it needs for optimal recovery."

While some people reading this may care less about how much protein they consume each day, I'm thinking that this simple idea may have implications in many dimensions of our lives. Small simple choices make up the fabric of our lives, and I wonder if simply making the better choices a little easier could change our lives for the better...any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kayla's first day at her new school

Kayla just had her first day at her new preschool in Oakland, Little Sprouts Preschool. It is connected to New Hope Covenant Church in the San Antonio Neighborhood. They are good people.

As I expected, my girl had no problem jumping in and making new friends. On her first day we waited anxiously, prepared to stay longer and provide emotional support, and she was ready for her Mommy and Daddy to leave after about 30 seconds. That's my girl.