Saturday, December 03, 2011

Makes Me Wanna Holla!

(based on Genesis 7—a story of creation)

I'd like to think someone, some two or more said yes they would join Noah and his family on the ark. The way the story has been handed down to us leaves just enough room to imagine this possibility, even though the Bible does not explicitly say so. . . . Finish the story!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner... or Not—Episode 4

(based on Genesis 7—a story of creation)

There was a lot of back and forth about whether he should, but the decision had already been made. Noah saddled the mare. Though not quite as fast, she was much more sure-footed and not as skittish as her mate.

One of the large heavy doors creaked open, Noah dashed out. Ham move quickly to close it. Watching the water roll back toward the opening, he couldn't help but think that slanting the deck for the first five feet of the entrance was a stroke of genius on his wife's part. . . . Finish the story!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner... or Not—Episode 3

(based on Genesis 7—a story of creation)

Pair by pair Noah and Naomi, Shem and Varda, Ham and Ital, Japheth and Nitzan led the walking animals into their stalls or cages 14 clean (as in kosher to eat) animals of each species and 2 unclean (not so kosher) or two-by-two, depending on which part of the biblical narrative you're reading. The flyers found space to roost for themselves.

It had to be more than a little unnerving to escort the first predator across the gangplank. Do you push them? Do you pull them? How much force is too much? If you you tie a rope around their necks and pull, how much lead do you give yourself? Do you dare turn your back to them? Do you think they've eaten already? . . . Finish the story!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner... or Not—Episode 2

(based on Genesis 7—a story of creation)

Meanwhile, Naomi, Noah's better half, took her three daughters-in-law around the side of the ark. Sadly, through the years as these stories have made their way down to us, many of the women in them lost their names and their contributions. That's an injustice that has happened all too often. We should lament that. We should also give them new ones.

. . . Finish the story!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner... or Not—Episode 1

(based on Genesis 7—a story of creation)

The thing about friendship is that it's often easier to recognize it's absence than it's presence. For many of his neighbors, Noah was just the kindly old kook who lived across the way. Sure he always had a encouraging smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, good humor, sage advice and food to share, but sadly, at their own loss, few labeled that "friendship," although all benefited from it.

Because we place so little significance on friendship itself, more on its absence, it's hard to think of the quiet grace of friendship or neighborliness as being a major theme of the Noah epic. In fact, neighborliness is such a quiet grace that we would likely not have the Noah story if it were not for the dramatic ironies that come in to stir the pot. . . . Finish the story!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Saving Grace—Episode 2

(based on Genesis 6—a story of creation)

So building pretty much proceeded according to spec: 400 some-odd feet long and... wide and... tall. That was easy. Noah's family tackled what they could, and for the really technical stuff, they hired craftsmen. The challenging part wasn't the building: it was learning to extend grace to those who just couldn't see what Noah saw coming. . . . Finish the story!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saving Grace—Episode 1

(taken from Genesis 6—a story of creation)

"Now it came to pass, when humans began to multiply on the face of the earth... the LORD said, 'My Spirit shall not always strive with humanity, [nor shall my breath remain in humans forever, because they are only flesh and blood].'

"Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of humans was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."

"Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." This is one of the iconic phrases in Judeo-Christian tradition. It is the first time we are given this word "grace"—one of the unique treasures of the way of Jesus. Grace works in two ways. First, by not limiting the good we receive to only what we deserve in light of our shortcomings. For example, even though we poison our land with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that make it hard for anything to grow without more and harsher chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Elohim allows the food we grow to have enough nutrients to keep us alive. Second, grace also allows the good that we are able to do to not be limited to just our own shortcomings. Again, for example, if after years of poisoning the land we decide we want to do better by honoring the natural rhythms by which things grow, we can reintroduce worms to our poisoned land, feed them leftover scraps from our dining table, and before long, they will aerate and naturally fertilize the land, making it again hospitable to all the other good insects and plants that keep the bad insects away.

So when the Hebrew storytellers say "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord," they are saying that Noah looked "into the face of God and [saw] the truth of his own dignity."
. . . Finish the story!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Middle School Meditation on the Prodigal Son

One of my unexpected joys at the Wild Goose Festival was the impromptu opportunity to guide middle-schoolers through the creation of art around the "Parable of the Prodigal Son," perhaps better titled "Parable of the Faithful Father." I am often pleasantly encouraged by the creativity adults find when they free themselves to live in the biblical narrative. However, I was blown away by the questions these kids were asking about the text and the beauty unleashed in their expressions of those questions.

This is a recording of our conversation about the middle-schooler's reactions to the Prodigal and the art many of them created:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It Could Have Been Different, by Carolyn Kennedy

In our impromptu Stories that Compost workshop at the Wild Goose Festival 2011 we reflected on the biblical narrative of Hagar the Egyptian slave who bore Abraham's first son, Ishmael.

Carolyn Kennedy was one of only two workshop participants who wrote fully developed stories during our writing time. Sadly, I only captured one (technical difficulties). Even more sad, I don't remember the other woman's name, so I can't track her down. All I can remember is that her story angle intrigued me. She was a mature women, real pleasant smile, with salt-and-pepper hair cut in a bob, kinda like Anne Rice if I remember correctly (then again, maybe not). But her smile reminded me of Anne's, and I know I've seen her before. If anyone who was there happens to know who I'm talking about, please let me know.

Carolyn is a soft-spoken-yet-hardy mid-western mom and minister who lives in one of those cold northern-most states. I appreciate her telling this story from Hagar the outsider's perspective. Carolyn saves me the trouble of having to write a version of this story myself ;-).

Monday, July 04, 2011

Joseph the Enslaver, by Jay Beck

I love Jay's voice and visage! It's so untamed, so aggressive. In the opening concert for the Wild Goose Festival Jay spoke of Joseph selling his family into slavery. I found that recasting of the Joseph narrative so compelling that I asked Jay to let me record him telling that story.

Joseph's story was the inspiration of the new Psalter's album, Carry the Bones. The Psalters are amazing musical storytellers and well worth our ongoing support.

The clip ends with a excerpt of the Psalters "Re-member".

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Re-membering Forward, by Tevyn East

Tevyn East's understanding of Jesus' temptations in the wilderness is informed by the Sioux tradition of vision questing. In keeping with indigenous rites of passage all over the world, Jesus goes off into the wilderness to become attuned with the Spirit-wind that will at times stir, at others cool, still others billow through his life. Hear Tevyn's moving interrogation of what it means to surrender to the whims of the Spirit-wind of God.

The clip ends with a excerpt of the Psalters "Re-member" from the album Carry the Bones.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Multiple Ways to Tell the Story... of Cain & Abel [ages 15 & up]

The first annual Wild Goose Festival gave me a phenomenal opportunity to collect more stories and to get into thrilling conversations about various ways of unpacking the same story. Those conversations were so much fun that I hope to initiate and record them at various gatherings for the duration of this project.

One such interaction at the Goose took place in the afternoon sun of the festival green with Jay Beck and Tevyn East. Jay is a percussionist and vocalist for the band Psalters out of Philly. Tevyn is a dancer, choreographer and activist whose current project is called Leaps and Bounds. Both are amazing storytellers looking for new and living ways to articulate their faith. Our conversation that afternoon began with the conflict between the Cains and the Abels (the previous story posted).

The clip ends with a excerpt of the Psalters "Re-member" from the album Carry the Bones.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

God With Us—Episode 2

(taken from Genesis 4—a story of creation)

If we are fortunate, we live long enough to regret a few things. Feelings of regret suggest that we have learned a bit along the way and that we would do some things differently were we to have the chance. This is not a bad thing.

Experience teaches, but there are many things we need not learn from experience. As assuredly as there are situations we would love to handle differently were they to come up again, there are just as many choices the results of which we wish we could undo, but we can't. Our choices often set off a chain of reactions that are far beyond our ability to control. We can only choose the seeds we plant and what we feed them, but we don't get to choose whether, when or how they grow.

Humanity doesn't seem particularly mindful of this truth in our story . . . Finish the story!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

God With Us—Episode 1

(taken from Genesis 4—a story of creation)

The story of the talking snake is often told as the story of how sin entered the world, and perhaps it is—if not in terms of an exact event, definitely the story of how humans foolishly make room for sin time and time again. However, neither change nor changeability were sin. So even though much changes after the man and the woman's encounter with the talking snake, the creation saga says nothing to suggest that before this point the world was static and sterile, unchangeable and unchanging. To the contrary, the way the stories are told, life was full of promise and possibility, action and adaptability. God would make a move (God created); then humanity would make a move (humanity named): Creator initiating, creation responding, creation initiating, Creator responding: round and round it goes. And if the creation stories are given their due, these moves had likely been happening for some time: all creation growing, learning, evolving, changing.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the creation saga is that no matter how poor humanity's choices are Elohim chooses to come with them. They never endure the consequences of their short-comings alone. In fact, Elohim never takes back her initial judgment that, as far as she is concerned, humanity is "good". The man and the woman's choices and misconceptions haven't changed Elohim's mind; the man and the woman just misplace their God-given imaginations for that good. I guess it's true: what we don't use, we lose. But that's not to say it has to be lost forever.

So Eden becomes unwelcoming or uninhabitable. The man and the woman are forced out into the wilderness to make their way in the world, and where is God? Right there coaching them through it.

I can imagine Elohim initiating a conversation that goes something like, "So where are we going?"
"What do you mean 'we?'"
"I'm going with you, of course."
"But your place is there, back in the garden, back in paradise."
"Says who? . . . Finish the story!