birthday gifts

My family knows me very well. For my birthday I was given gift certificates for On Saturday I used some of the money to order the following…

Maggie also gave me Jens Leckman, Night Falls over Kortedala and the in-laws put The New Conspirators by Tom Sine in the mail.

And then to top it off, Maggie took me by the Map Room on the way to see a Chicago Fire game.

How sweet is that?


papa festival (3)

As previously mentioned, those of us at this year’s People Against Poverty and Apathy Festival (PAPA Festival) were an eclectic bunch. The Swanson/Davidson clan spent a few conversations wondering what the commonalities were that brought people to Plow Creek Farm for the weekend.

I think Bob was the first to notice a major theme among the festival-goers when he said, “As I’m talking with folks they assume I live in some type of intentional community.” And, as simple as it sounds, that was the common interest: community. Over the course of the weekend a few things stood out about this desire for community.

  • Most of the festival attendees were folks in their 20’s. I’m sure the idea of camping with a bunch of strangers in a farmer’s field is probably more appealing to those of a certain age. Even so, I’d venture to guess that these 20-somethings are representative of a generation of people who not only highly value friendships, they are devoting time and resources to figuring out how to live in community.
  • When people talked about community at PAPA they meant different things. For people at JPUSA and Reba Place it generally means sharing a household. For some community means intentionally living in close proximity with others in order to share resources and close relationship. Most folks seem to envision intentional community happening in urban environments (often in order to serve under-resourced neighborhoods) but there were some experimenting with household communities in the suburbs.
  • Many of the attendees seemed interested in moving beyond vague descriptions to a more clearly defined theology of community. Leroy Barber’s presentation on The Beloved Community was one example of this. In summary, Barber riffed off of 6 of Dr Martin Luther King’s themes: creation stewardship is a justice issue, poverty is unacceptable in all its forms, there is never a place for racism, non-violence, choosing love and trust over fear and hate, and resolving conflict by speaking the truth in love.

As I explore how to raise the value of community at NC3 in the city, I will draw in part from our experience on the farm.

And then there is this question: Is the hunger for community something new that has been impacted by certain cultural realities? Or, is this simply the latest expression of something that has always been true? Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.


consuming jesus

A few weeks back I mentioned that Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church was one of the top-3 books I’ve read this year. On Thursday I had the chance to interview the author, Dr Paul Louis Metzger, over the phone for Leadership Journal. Dr Metzger was very generous with his time and thoroughly answered each of my questions. After the interview we talked for a while about the ministry of NC3 as our multi-ethnic congregation is of interest to his research and personal passion.

The interview and accompanying book review won’t be out until October, but I’d recommend poking around the book’s blog, Those of us NC3 folks who are currently going through the Race Matters sermon series will find additional resources here. Be sure to explore the different categories on the sidebar.

the good stuff is in the comments

In case you’ve missed it, there has been a bit of action in the comments on the blog over the past few days.

As always, thanks for those who have commented… it’s what makes blogging so interesting.

dobson and obama: related stuff

There would seem to be a bit of interest in the James Dobson/Barack Obama story that I posted about a couple of days ago. Here are a couple of additional items some of you may find interesting.

  • An article in Time that analyzes the backlash instigated by Dobson’s remarks. After years of attacking Democrats with relative impunity for their supposed moral failings, Evangelical leader James Dobson surely didn’t expect to suffer much of a backlash when he trained his sights on Barack Obama. Over the years, the party had practically cowered in fear and gone into radio silence when the head of Focus on the Family targeted one of its standard-bearers. So in a campaign that has already proved to be anything but predictable, the counterattack on Dobson this week epitomized the new, fraught political climate that Christian Right leaders like himself face.
  • Check out the website,, that went up the day after Dobson’s broadcast. James Dobson doesn’t speak for me. He doesn’t speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide; He doesn’t speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible; James Dobson doesn’t speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack…