Practice Resurrection with Jim Janknegt (Elgin, TX)

Welcome to the seventh guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

Today’s guest is an artist I’ve admired and studied for about a decade. One of the most delightful moments our first year moving to Austin was the opportunity I had to attend an event featuring Jim Janknegt, a long-time friend of our congregation at Christ Church. Today feels like another full-circle moment as I’ve often shared Jim’s art, and now get to introduce him more personally to you. Before I’d ever met Jim, I’d heard about his exemplary work ethic as a prolific artist who simultaneously worked a “day job” (see his bio below for an impressive and varied list!) to support his family. While Mr. Janknegt is now retired, this snapshot into a day in his life provides a beautiful picture of what that work/art balance looks like now that his day job involves cultivating gardens and construction projects on his property in rural Elgin, just east of Austin.

Perhaps most striking is the unifying focus of work and prayer (ora et labora) that gathers together all that the Janknegts endeavor as they seek to daily practice resurrection. May we be encouraged to this kind of gladness of heart in whatever season of life we find ourselves, friends. (For ongoing encouragement, I highly recommend following Jim on Facebook or Instagram.)

First, take a moment to tour Jim’s property as he reads us the poem.


A day in the life and a meditation on Wendell Berry’s

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”

Ora et Labora- Prayer and Work make up my life. I am fortunate to be retired. I can structure my life as I see fit. We strive for a kind of monastic rhythm. I have not given up work but only do the work that I think is right to do. It largely amounts to overseeing our little piece of land in the country just east of Elgin, TX (which is east of Austin) and painting.  In my quest to live an authentic Christian life it seems right, as Mr. Berry suggests in his poem, to NOT want more of everything ready made. To be authentic means being at the source, the author, so to speak: the writer of the document, the painter of the painting, the grower and cook of the food, the singer of the song, the builder of the house. Right now I have undertaken a pretty big project: building a cottage. I am doing almost all the work myself. It is currently taking up all of my work time and energy. So I am not doing much painting right now. The hope, of my wife and I, is that some day my daughter, her husband, and future children will come and live in our big house and we will move into the cottage. But you know the old saying: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. But plan we do and pray, and work to bring them about.

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Our work is an outgrowth of prayer as our day’s work is punctuated by prayer.  A fellow once said in a sermon to say a prayer before you get out of bed in the morning. I took his advice and have done that ever since. As soon as I am awake, I say a Hail Mary, then I jump out of bed, start the coffee my wife prepared the night before, and make tea for my wife.

Some mornings we go to daily mass at our parish, Sacred Heart Catholic Church. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The Eucharistic Celebration is the greatest and highest act of prayer, and constitutes the centre and the source from which even the other forms receive "nourishment": the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration, Lectio divina, the Holy Rosary, meditation.” (Homily, May 3, 2009.)

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After mass we break fast with our friends and eat tacos at a local Mexican food restaurant. Chips and salsa for breakfast: why not?

 On days we don’t go to Mass, I start the day off with coffee, mental prayer, and spiritual reading. Our cat, Philos, often accompanies me. Currently I am reading a biography of Blessed Solanus Casey, a simplex priest and Capuchin porter for most of his life. He had an amazing gift of being able to listen to people who came for counseling and then listen to God so as to pray for what they needed. He kept a journal of each prayer request and the answers. Many, many miracles are documented as a result of his efficacious prayers. He was a humble, obedient servant of God.

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 Before we start work, my wife and I pray a morning offering. Last year I made a card with one of my paintings on the front and the morning offering on the back. Here is one version of the morning offering by St. Therese, the Little Flower:

O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity. 

Amen. 
— St. Therese

Then I get to work. I really enjoy making things. I think back on my childhood and all the times we spent using our imaginations and playing: digging holes, scrounging wood and nails to build clubhouses, and climbing trees. Here I am a grown man, digging holes for foundations, sawing and hammering wood, climbing scaffolding and ladders; I feel like a kid getting to do the things I’ve always loved doing. Right before I start work, I make the sign of the cross and ask for help from our Lord and the intercession of a saint. For this building project, I ask for the help of St. Joseph. When I am painting, I ask for the intercession of Blessed Fra Angelico, my patron saint. When I am about to do something difficult or different, I say a quick prayer.

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If I weren’t occupied with this building, I would be gardening. My wife is taking over some of the vegetable gardening while other things are just on hold. I still get to enjoy the many plants and trees we have planted since we moved here over 20 years ago. I learned how to do aqua-ponics and found it was a great system for propagating perennials. I haven’t kept count, but we have planted over 200 trees of many different species. One of my favorite books (and animated movie) is The Man Who Planted Trees.

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Around noon we break for lunch. Today I made tuna salad with lots of veggies, nuts and fruit thrown in. Like the ancient Christians we choose to not eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays in reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.

After lunch, I take a nap. Naps are civilized. The world doesn’t come to an end if you take time for a nap. After the nap, more work. Over the years, I have learned many skills for which I am grateful. I think of myself as a maker, a creator. The general paradigm I perceive in our culture is to become really good at one thing, say being a doctor or investing. Make as much money as you can, then pay people to do everything else you need done. It is living primarily as a consumer. Money becomes a divide, an insulator, a barrier between need and work, creating or making. It separates us from meaning and authenticity by restricting us to a life of mere consumption.

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At three o’clock we stop what we are doing and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I bought this beautiful rosary at Clear Creek Benedictine Monastery in Oklahoma. We usually sit outside to pray, enjoy the beauty of the land, and watch the birds.

Here is the beginning prayer:

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. And the ending prayer: Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
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 Then more work. I am often accompanied in my work by the animals we keep. Here is our peacock.

We also have chickens, guinea hens, two dogs and one cat. And today I found a Cardinal fledge hiding in a nest while I was peeing by a bush (another benefit of country living)!

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After a shower and supper, (my wife is an excellent cook by the way!) we pray the Rosary for the many intentions of our family, our friends, our church and the world. When we pray, the Communion of Saints surrounds us. Does the head go anywhere without the body? When we pray, Jesus, the head, is present, and his body is present as well, his body made up of the saints in heaven. We have a place to pray that reminds us that it is not just “me and Jesus” but Jesus, us, and our many friends we have made that are not bound by time or space. Some of these icons we made, some we bought, and many are gifts from friends.

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Sometimes in the evening, we watch TV (I like building shows, cooking shows and crime dramas) or listen to audio books or listen to music or read.  I stopped watching the news a long time ago. I have considered the facts, (things don’t end well), and I am still joyful. Then it is time for bed. Sometimes I wake up around 3:00 am and can’t get back to sleep. I usually pray another divine mercy chaplet until I get sleepy.

 Ora et labora, work and prayer are not so different as Reverend Reginald points out:

It is, therefore, as necessary to pray in order to obtain the help of God, which we need to do good and to persevere in it, as it is necessary to sow seed in order to have wheat. To those who say that what was to happen would happen, whether they prayed or not, the answer must be made that such a statement is as foolish as to maintain that whether we sowed seed or not, once the summer came, we would have wheat. Providence affects not only the results, but the means to be employed, and in addition it differs from fatalism in that it safeguards human liberty by a grace as gentle as it is efficacious, fortiter et suaviter. Without a doubt, an actual grace is necessary in order to pray; but this grace is offered to all, and only those who refuse it are deprived of it.

Therefore prayer is necessary to obtain the help of God, as seed is necessary for the harvest. Even more, though the best seed, for lack of favorable exterior conditions, can produce nothing, though thousands of seeds are lost, true, humble, trusting prayer, by which we ask for ourselves what is necessary for salvation, is never lost. It is heard in this sense, that it obtains for us the grace to continue praying.
— "The Three Ages of the Interior Life" by Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.

 

As the penultimate prayer, I have long loved the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and believe in the true presence of Jesus: body and blood, soul and divinity. It was only recently that I learned the body of Christ we consume in the Eucharist is the RISEN body of our Lord. What better way to practice resurrection?


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James B. Janknegt was born in Austin, Texas in 1953. He attended public schools. He graduated with a BFA from the University of Texas in Austin in 1978 and an MA and MFA from the University of Iowa in 1982. After his return to Austin he exhibited his work in various galleries and museums in Texas and the U.S.

The Janknegts converted to Catholicism in 2005 and were received into full communion in 2007.

In 1998 the Janknegts moved from Austin to Elgin, Texas where the have an ArtFarm. They grow artists, fruits, vegetables, chickens, goat, guinea hens, peacocks, and ducks. They also have two dogs.

Jim  always worked full time to pay the bills and painted in his off hours. He  painted billboards, dressed store windows,  drove a taxi, sold plumbing and hardware supplies, worked as a graphic artist assistant, ran an offset printing press, been a procurement officer and a building manager and taught private art lessons. He worked as the building manager for the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin until he retired in 2015.

When he is not painting he enjoys reading, building things, gardening, tending to animals and camping. He also enjoys watching movies and listening to music.

You can view and purchase Jim’s artwork at his website. You can also follow him at Facebook and Instagram.


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)

Practice Resurrection with Suzanne Rodriguez (Rochester, NY)

Welcome to the sixth guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

Today’s guest is a friend from our hometown, both of us living in new places now. I’ve been grateful to stay connected to Suzanne through social media not only for the reminder of home but for new insight into the transformative power of love of God, people, and place. Suzanne and her husband Agustin live out the beauty of the Gospel in a truly diverse community of Christians intent on seeing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I’m always encouraged by Suzanne’s focus on the beauty that surrounds her even in a city struggling to emerge from post-industrial depression. She and her community live out a prophetic imagination that turns places of evil into places of  redemption. I hope you’ll be deeply encouraged by Suzanne’s post to see your own city with a refreshed, resurrected imagination.

First, take a moment to listen to Suzanne read the poem as she walks around the border of the property of Heart & Soul Church where drug paraphernalia can always be found. This is the same plot of land Suzanne held her wedding in the summer of 2016. Talk about practicing resurrection!


(don’t) Love the quick profit, the annual raise,

vacation with pay.

I'm in the process of reducing the hours of my full-time job so that I can have more time to pursue my passions. Though it's a far cry from "take all you have and be poor," it's a baby step in the right direction.

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(don’t) Want more

of everything ready-made. 


One of my favorite activities is making food from as original a source as possible. This week I made Vanilla Bean Custard.

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(don’t) Be afraid

to know your neighbors and to die.


My husband and I have tried to be deliberate about building relationships with our neighbors who are physically next to us. We've found it's difficult as everyone has such busy lives. It takes being intentional and willing to run out of the house in sweatpants and with messy hear to say hello if that's when the opportunity arises. This week while talking with a family who lives on our street (who we do not know as well as we would like), their youngest son ran up to me and gave me a big, long hug. Then proceeded to run to another neighbor's yard and pick me this tulip. 

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So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. 

For the past few years, my husband and I have made one day a week a Sabbath day where we pause from work and spend a day doing things that fill us and investing extra time with God and with those we love. We also try and spend at least a few minutes in silence with God each morning. In such a hurried culture, my default is definitely to "keep moving!" with an unending list of routine tasks on my mind. These moments, often spent on our front porch, are the perfect reset. They allow me to remember my true identity and calling in Jesus and keep me ever-mindful of my need of and dependence on God.

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Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it. 

Last week my church co-hosted (with the Rochester Latino Rotary) an "Opioids In Our Community" forum with a panel of local experts. Situated in a neighborhood notorious for drug traffickingwe desire to understand the issues surrounding drug dependency and what small parts we can play in stopping the destructive cycle.

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Ask the questions that have no answers. 


We meet up weekly with a group of fellow Jesus-followers to eat a meal together, ask questions (that many times don't have answers), and share in the realities of life with each other.

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Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. 

And herbs! I don't have a great track record being able to keep green things alive (I've killed cacti before), but I'm trying to put in the time and attention it takes to help plants grow and produce fruit.

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As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind,

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn’t go. Be like the fox

who makes more tracks than necessary,

some in the wrong direction. 

Participating in the #the100dayproject has challenged me to just jump in and create something every day. I haven't created a masterpiece each day and that's ok. This project has brought lessons in persistence and grace. It has also led me to dabble in various media, helping me discover which techniques I want to leave behind and which processes I'd like to play with more. (Find Suzanne on Instagram.)

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Practice resurrection.


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Suzanne Rodriguez lives in Rochester, NY with her husband Agustin. They enjoy traveling, breaking bread around the table with friends old and new, and being a part of their multi-cultural inner city church family, Heart & Soul Community Church, where Suzanne is the Director of Arts & Marketing. Suzanne currently works in online advertising and is starting a marketing business with her husband to equip small businesses and nonprofits with what they need to be able to create effective brand awareness at an affordable cost.


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)

Practice Resurrection with Amanda McGill (Southwest Ohio)

Welcome to the fourth guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

I first met today’s guest through The Homely Hours, the beautiful blog she collaborates with a couple other “churchwomen” providing an excellent resource for those wanting to orient home life around the daily, weekly, and seasonal liturgies of the Anglican tradition. No matter your denomination, if you love the Church and you hope to influence the next generation to do the same, take time perusing The Homely Hours website or follow on Facebook or Instagram. In this season of Eastertide, I’m so grateful to Amanda for sharing a snapshot of her life living out the reality of resurrection.

First, take a moment to listen to Amanda reading us the poem, and please don’t miss the adorable poetry buffs who show up at the end!


So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute.

At this point in the poem, the Mad Farmer turns from ways to practice profit, fear, and death, to ways to practice life and resurrection. “Every day do something that won’t compute,” he says, which contains everything that follows. My main theme in “practicing resurrection” fits within his statement, too: Amanda, learn to be small and happy.

As you keep reading, you’ll find I’m a person who takes myself too seriously. I grow huge in my mind, but not small enough to delight in the real world. By “small,” first, I mean to be simpler inside, to be content with limits; and then I see the principle expand.  My children are my teachers.

Going big is the way of quick profit and promotion; smallness within limits is the way of new life, the way of “two inches of humus” and even the seeds of sequoias. For me, this means a constrained and creative life, tied to a small family and a small church and a small plot of earth in a small town.

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Love the world. Work for nothing.

When I take these statements together, I think of making a place where love dwells. In another poem, Berry calls it “my art of being here.” This photo is of my first real garden and it has been my primary Eastertide practice. For years, I’ve overthought, become overwhelmed, and barely done anything. This year I told myself, “It’s fine to not get it perfect the first time; just start small, Amanda!” And it’s made me so happy.

There’s love in places where people garden and I’ve known that even when I’ve been too fearful to start. Gardening sends down roots into the order of the world, which is love. And Love spends itself lavishly on perennials and fruit trees, in hope.


Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

My children and I often go to the forest, the “peace of the woods.” I’ve been inspired by Charlotte Mason, the great British educator at the turn of the 20th century, to attempt four to six hours a day outside with my children (“attempt” is key). I do this because it’s good for me, good for all of us. Outside, I’m not harassed by my to-do list or frustrated with the futility of housework (not to detract from its meaning and value). “I rest in the grace of the world, and am free,” as Berry says in The Peace of Wild Things. Underneath the towering sycamores, next to the creeks endlessly flowing on to the Atlantic, I’m content to be little along with my little girls. And they are also learning from their teachers: the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, the trees planted by streams of water whose leaf never withers.

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Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

though you have considered all the facts.

G.K. Chesterton said, “Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One ‘settles down’ into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness...For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

 I could belabor my lack of lightness, but that only makes me sink deeper into “selfish seriousness.” Here, I know that my children are given to me as a gift, always offering a way into laughter and happy smallness (as well as the chance to frame the daily frustrations into the ludicrous). My husband is also my good match, who “belittles” me in all the best ways: with wit, kindness, and love.


Go with your love to the fields.

Lie easy in the shade. 

Can I “lie easy” and relax with my husband, my children? Do I have enough space in my soul that I can release the pressure to keep accomplishing things? Can I, as Pope Francis questions, “waste time with my children?” Am I small enough to enjoy this moment? Do I have to think it to death? (And now I will stop overthinking).

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Practice resurrection.

In the end, I take Berry’s phrase to “practice resurrection” as shorthand for St. Paul’s words in Romans 6, we are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” We walk in “newness of life.” Every week, we enter through the doors of our church. It’s small and old – lived-in, well-loved. It’s not the place to enter if you think newness of life means something big and shiny. But here, to take C.S. Lewis’s words, “the inside is bigger than the outside.” There are mysteries here -- of smallness and joy (how a stable could hold a King and the whole world be changed through a few weak men). Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary. I follow the fox to church. The incongruity is stark. It certainly won’t compute. But here, most of all, by love and liturgy, I practice resurrection.

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Amanda McGill lives in Southwest Ohio with her husband Jon and two young daughters. In 2015, she and her friends started The Homely Hours, a liturgical living resource in the Anglican tradition. She is music director at Christ the King Anglican Church in Dayton. She perpetually rereads C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen; but currently, she is interested in everything written by Rumer Godden and Martin Thornton.  If she has any free time, she’ll spend it reading and writing (after running).


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)

Weekend Daybook: some heartwarming things

Seven days of collecting what I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) photo from this week

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On February 13, we attended the Exhibit Opening for our friend Adiel Dominguez. His first show and it was impressive! You can see (and purchase) his work here.


(2) projects I’ve been up to

  1. Ash Wednesday is March 6, and that means It’s time to talk about Lent! (That might not feel exciting, necessarily, but it still warrants a couple !!) I put together a substantial post about why and how we practice Lent: Lent begins in 2 weeks! [Lent Daybook explained] I’m working on a follow-up post of recommended resources for Lent, but don’t get too hung up on needing the right things. Lent is mostly about the Church’s heart toward God and God’s heart toward us.

  2. I added another segment to a series of Spiritual practice stories on Instagram: Becoming Secure in the Father’s Love. I fully intended to write a blog series during Epiphany on spiritual practices that have been life-giving for me. It didn’t happen on the blog for a variety of time-related reasons, but I’ve been grateful for the IG platform to share what I’m learning and to hear back from you. Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, I believe you can also view what I’ve shared about the practice of silence and noticing without judgement.

Click on the photo to see my 15-minute talk on Becoming Secure in the Father’s Love.

Click on the photo to see my 15-minute talk on Becoming Secure in the Father’s Love.


(3) reminders that God loves us even when it’s the end of February in the Northeast

  1. These stunning photographs of frozen trees in snow.

  2. If this doesn’t warm your heart, you might be dead.

  3. If beautiful photos and heartwarming stories aren’t doing the trick, here’s some science to help you get through the rest of winter.


(4) reasons to be encouraged about being a person who goes to church

  1. My friend Amy (who also happens to be the Children’s Ministry Director at our church) wrote a note about how much she’s been enjoying teaching our 4th-6th graders even though it’s been a reminder that “What every teen knows, however, is that the church is not cool. The good news is that the church does not have to be cool to be relevant. What the church has is Jesus, and he is enough.” See the rest of her note here. And take heart!

  2. On the subject of children, here are three simple but profound ways to help your kids soak in the Scripture. via The Homely Hours

  3. Be glad that this exists, and receive their wisdom. via Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network (AMEN)

  4. These weeks of Epiphany are all about the world-shaking truths Jesus spoke in what we call the Beatitudes. Would that world leaders read and follow what this Vietnamese church leader’s written: The 8 Beatitudes of the Politician . H/T: Global Christian Worship


(5) meaningful, thoughtful, nuanced pieces on current events

  1. What Local Government Should Do in the Wake of Amazon’s HQ2 via StrongTowns

  2. A Spot of Good News in the Ebola Crisis: Vaccine Supplies Are Expected to Last via Stat News (This IS good news! Here’s something I wrote for Think Christian in 2014 when the news about the Ebola crisis was much bleaker: Balancing Vigilance and Providence in the Face of Ebola ),

  3. In Black History Month and every month, there are so many stories to celebrate. Here’s a small, but profound moment: Marian Anderson’s ‘defiant performance’ at the Lincoln Memorial. via The Kid Should See This

  4. I no longer refer to myself as [*merely] Pro-Life , but Consistent Life. It’s pieces like this that help me think through biases and double standards of both political platforms: The Price of Violence: When Dehumanizing the Vulnerable Hurts One’s Own Causes by Julia Smucker via Consistent Life Blog (Here’s a related piece I wrote for TC in 2017: Making Space for Pro-Life Feminists.)

    *UPDATE: The author of this piece, Julia Smucker, reached out on my FB page to graciously share some insight on the matter of terms:

    “We're a pretty diverse mix of people at Consistent Life, coming to it from different places, but I think I can safely speak for all of us in saying that we view the term as an extension of the term pro-life rather than a replacement of it. Personally, before I knew the term consistent life, I would sometimes say I was "pro-life across the board" - for all human beings, across all the life-or-death issues. That still holds true. And knowing the unfortunate political baggage that terms like "pro-life" sometimes get saddled with, I still am often quick to underscore the breadth of what I mean by it: "I'm pro *everyone's* life," and such like.”

    Thank you, Julia!

  5. Let’s remember Venezuela.


That’s all I’ve got for today. I’m off to Boston today for a meeting with my Spiritual Direction supervisor. May you enjoy some good company and conversation this weekend, friends.

I’ll leave with you this painting of a moose doing yoga.

Peace,

Tamara

Is boycotting the NFL another example of white flight? & 18 more questions I'm asking myself about the response to the #TakeAKnee protest

A possible response.

A possible response.

I'm not sure how to respond to the troubling rhetoric that bombards my Facebook news feed regarding the #TakeAKnee protest.

Here's a bullet list of questions that I'm asking myself. Feel free to use for yourself, if that is helpful.

  1. Is it possible to be both patriotic and to protest the inequalities that cause us to not live up to our greatest potential of our founding documents as expressed, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”? 
  2. Do I agree or disagree that the people who are opposed to the #TakeAKnee protest would have hated Dr. King, or Rosa Parks, or the Woolworth lunch counter students with the same vitriol? What are the differences or similarities in this protest?
  3. I respect the flag and the anthem, in large part, to honor the women and men who've made the greatest sacrifices for our country in battle. In what ways are their sacrifices honored or dishonored when citizens participate in peaceful protests like #TakeAKnee? 
  4. How is the football field more or less appropriate of a civic space for this protest?
  5. When is it a civic responsibility to question - with our public rhetoric and postures - the systems and actions of our government? 
  6. In what way might Christians be confusing national patriotism with biblical allegiance in their (positive or negative) response to the #TakeAKnee protest?
  7. When is it a Christian responsibility to question - with our public rhetoric and postures - the systems and actions of our government? 
  8. Think about the times I've heard rhetoric that says something like, "You're racist and you don't even know it."? And then the rhetoric, in response, that says something like, "We are not racist. Racism no longer exists." Is it possible that ridiculing the #TakeAKnee protestors or boycotting the NFL because of players' peaceful protest might be a racist response? Why or why not?
  9. If the #TakeAKnee protest is, in fact, misguided, what sort of civic harm could it lead to? 
  10. If I a black brother or sister told me that respecting those who participate in the #TakeAKnee protest was one way to acknowledge and validate them in the pursuit of justice, would it be worth my support for their sake alone? Why or why not?
  11. If the President is not wrong in referring to the NFL players who would offer a peaceful protest as "sons of bitches", how should he have labelled the Nazi, white supremacist protestors in Charlottesville a while back? 
  12. If I boycott the NFL because I believe the players are unpatriotic, were there any other concerns I've had about players' behavior in the past that might have caused me to boycott before now? (domestic violence, for example) How did I respond to those issues? Why boycott now? In what way is this behavior worse than all the others that would lead me to ridicule or boycott now?
  13. In what ways is boycotting the NFL (a perfectly legal, nonviolent protest of its own) similar to the "white flight" response to segregated schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces in the middle of the last century? In what ways is it different?
  14. If I'm not sure whether I should ridicule the #TakeAKnee protestors or not, here's a question I can ask myself. If it's (morally, civically, or religiously) right to ridicule or boycott, and I don't do it, what could be the result?  Conversely, if it's (morally, civically, or religiously) wrong to ridicule the #TakeAKnee protestors or boycott the NFL, and I do it anyway, what could be the harm from that? If I'm not sure, on which side might it be wiser to err?
  15. (For those who are Christian) What sort of rhetoric most points toward the Christ of the Bible? 
  16. If I'm not sure I've committed acts of racism with my words, what might happen if I asked my friends to be honest with me and to give me a little bit of help with my assessment? 
  17. (For those who are Christian) If I'm pretty sure I'm not racist, but I care about loving God with all my heart and loving my neighbors as myself so much I want to be sure, what might happen if I ask not only my friends, but also the Holy Spirit to show me where I might be wrong? Would it be better to humbly repent in light of the possibility that I've sinned in racism even if it wasn't necessary or to avoid admitting that I might possibly be sinning? Which is the most Christian response? Is there any reason to fear humble repentance?
  18. If I don't give a damn one way or another, what might that mean about my heart?
  19.  If a war veteran takes a knee, is she or he unpatriotic? 
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You might be interested in another post I've written about welcoming opportunities for self-assessment and repentance here: This Is An Opportunity To Repent


What questions would you add to the list above? How do you discern if you are promoting racism?