Friday, September 26, 2008

Water Security

I saw the documentary "Flow" this week.  This movie is still playing at a few theaters around the Bay Area, and I recommend it highly.  It shows the consequences of allowing corporations to privatize what has been a part of our environmental commons: Water.  What happens when companies bottle municipal tap water?  What happens when companies take over publicly owned water systems?  What happens when cities, counties, states, and nations allow this transfer of control over drinkable water in a time of drastic climate change?  It tells the story of Bechtel in Bolivia, our SF Presbytery mission partners through Joining Hands.

Flow is still playing at:

Shattuck Cinemas
2230 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
2:45 pm  9:35 pm

1118 Fourth St., San Rafael
6:45 pm

Opera Plaza Cinema
601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
1:50 pm   4:40 pm   7:15 pm   9:50 pm

Visit the site at

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What do we do with conflict in the church?

Do we ignore it, hoping it will go away?  Do we overreact?  Instead, it seems that Jesus invites us to keep short accounts with one another.  In fact, he compels us to meet conflict head on.

About this dynamic of life, Jude Siciliano says, 

"Jesus isn't calling us to be wimps, to lie dow and let the world run over us in its pursuit of pleasure and ease.  He wants us to be an assertive, believing community, ever challenging by our values and ways of living what the world takes for granted and calls "blessings."  We are, according to the beatitudes, people who practice unlimited forgiveness, peacemaking and patient loving, in the ways Jesus taught us by his living and dying."
It is too bad that many Christians use Matthew 18:15-20 as the necessary steps to go through before one has an excuse to exclude someone from the community – rather than positively as a way of resolving conflict.  It makes me wonder how many of our judicial cases in the Presbyterian Church could be solved before major expense if we followed these words with the grace they were intended.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Alaska siting - yes, there are labyrinths there too.

I spent this last week with my lectionary group at the Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux near Juneau, Alaska.  We shared papers on lectionary scriptures for next year's texts, went out whale watching, and did a little fishing.  On the grounds there was this 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth made of stone and gravel.  At each of the turns there were local plants, and a large stone in the middle where people have left symbols of prayers.  The labyrinth is built into the side of the hill with large retaining stones that are perfect for sitting.  And, of course, there are roses all around, a symbol of the presence and prayers of St. Therese.  

It can be a little hard to walk when the stones are above ground, like in this labyrinth.  It is still possible to walk such labyrinths with others, but it makes it harder to pass one another.  Metaphorically, what obstacles to we find on life's journey of faith?  Do we wait for others to make their way before us?  Do we feel constrained by the path, or do we experience the freedom of venturing off the path on our way to Christ's presence in the middle?  What do we take away from such an experience with us back into the world?