Follow My Friends in South Africa This Month

Rolling scenery of South Africa's breadbasket province, Mpumalanga

A group of dear friends and former seminary colleagues are in South Africa for approximately three weeks on a global justice journey. These trips are not mission trips in that they’re not doing service projects and recovery construction (awesome mission trips!) nor going specifically to convert people to a particular brand of Christianity (not my cup of tea!). Rather, these are on-the-ground ways to experience God’s creation of the interdependent global community and see the struggles for justice, liberation, and peace face-to-face. Through the travelers’ learnings, they return home changed people who might be more enlightened and spread the spark to others (now that’s evangelism). I wish I could go but the trip is out of my budget and time reach, unfortunately. I’m following along on their trip blog to learn about everything they’re experiencing and I anticipate I’ll be a little more than jealous if (and when!) they meet the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I went on one of these global justice trips in March, 2010 to El Salvador and

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“First Thing Monday” Begins Tomorrow.

First Thing Monday

Tomorrow sees the start of “First Thing Monday.” Right now, the intention is for the feature to be three things:

  • A weekly feature at The Life Mosaic.
  • A writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.
  • An exercise designed to require fifteen minutes of work.

This may fluctuate in the future but for now, anticipate the above recipe.

I enjoy writing prompts. I like receiving them in a class or group or seeking them out on my own and I enjoy offering them to other people in teaching, training, and other spaces like this blog. I think any writing prompt allows one to stretch his or her creative legs to walk to places he or she perhaps wouldn’t otherwise travel. Really, that’s “any” writing prompt. Even the bad ones, the cliche ones, even those can take someone to somewhere new if one is open to it. That said, here’s hoping the writing prompts I offer here aren’t “bad” and seldom dip into the “cliche” pool without intention.

One of the key reasons I enjoy writing prompts is

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Cringing Is No Way to Be Creative.

2013.01.06 Cringing Is No Way to Be Creative

I am giving myself permission to be brave: to succeed and celebrate, to fail and learn.

I sometimes get hesitant about my writing. It’s as if I anticipate the cringing I’ll do when I reflect on what I wrote a year or more later and can’t believe that’s what I thought or believed or felt and that’s how I articulated myself or thought it would be appropriate to be public about, and so on. This is the sort of anxiety I have struggled with in the past and it’s the sort of self-editing that can be just as stifling as healthy. Where is the middle ground between standing up for what I think and believe, right here, right now, and guarding myself from just plain screwing up? I suppose if any of us knew that all of the time, we’d be more than human.

Which we are not.

Read moreCringing Is No Way to Be Creative.

Four Videos on Being a Salad.

2013.01.06 Four Videos on Being a Salad

I came across a handful of videos about what it means to live in and live as a mosaic within “salad” terminology and thought I’d share them with you.

This professor, Dr. Magala, clearly defines and contrasts the melting pot and the salad. He points out the risks of the salad, that a group or groups can be made the scapegoat or discriminated against if they “stand out” too much. The video’s intended audience is student learners in entrepreneurial work but I think it gets the point across quickly and succinctly. Plus, the bit of humor at the end is classic.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ctb5s1sRwQ?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

On the other hand, there’s Rick Santorum’s

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A quick tour of blog features.

2013.01.02 A Quick Tour of Blog Features

If you’re new to subscribing to or reading blogs, I’d like to offer three quick tips for you:

First, for readers via mobile or feed you may see some posts that say “Continue reading…” This is a link that breaks up a post which is really long so readers can scroll through posts with a little more ease. Test it out:

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Melting Pot, No. Mosaic, Yes.

2013.01.02 Melting Pot No, Mosaic Yes

The term “Melting Pot” does not agree with me, or is it the other way around? The United States has long been called the melting pot of the world as immigrants from many walks of life descend upon the nation from all four corners of the globe. The idea is that as these persons of various cultures meet up in the US, identities are fused together into a new identity, a US identity, which emerges hot and ready to be molded from this melting pot. Unfortunately, that concept ends up marginalizing many real persons and holds up exclusivity as an ideal.

Essentially, calling the US a melting pot is to tell immigrants to abandon their cultural heritage for the dominant culture and, in the US of A, that means white culture. The lesser parts melt away and the best endures and that is what is to be poured out amongst the people and cast in their lives. Whether those who coined the term or those who continue to use it today understand these implications is

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I am a mosaic.

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There is excitement in being sure and unsure at the same time. To enjoy ritual and tradition while dipping a toe into waters creative and fresh. And to be in seeming contradiction on purpose, with intention, that is most exciting at all. That’s what it is to see one as living the life mosaic.

Around a year ago I read some material for a course on young adults and the church. Sociologists studying trends in and outside the church sought to answer to a big question: “What is young people’s relationship with the church?” Some churches congregations see many young adults but overall, many young adults simply don’t “do church.” That’s a subject for another time. Today I want to focus on some language these writers used to describe young adults.

  1. In You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church… and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group, he describes how his firm defines what is often referred to as Millennials or Gen Y as “Mosaics” because “it reflects their eclectic relationships, thinking styles, and learning formats,” and so on. Kinnaman further explains mosaics, amongst other details, also

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32nd Anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s Assassination

Today is the 32nd anniversary of the assassinatio of Monsignor Romero. The common lectionary comes in cycles so I understand the following connection as an amazing coincidence, yet I can’t help but take some prayerful time to consider the lectionary’s gospel passage for this Sunday, March 25, 2012, contains John 12:24, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth … Read more 32nd Anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s Assassination

Hypothetical Fatherhood #9 | New Similes for “Snug as a Bug in a Rug”

This post originally appeared at HypotheticalFatherhood.com, my 2011 side project as I prepared to become a father. Please click here to read more about the project, its migration to The Life Mosaic, and see the entire HF archive list.

If you’ve ever tried to get a newborn to calm down, you know that swaddling can be a key factor in helping your baby get comfortable and cute all at the same time. Observe:

Wrapping a baby in a tight, light blanket specifically for swaddling keeps it warm and cozy in a stance and overall feel reminiscent of being in the womb and they absolutely love it. This tightly-swaddled baby is often referred to as a “Baby Burrito” or, in my family which has some Chinese heritage, a “Baby Egg Roll.”

After swaddling a newborn, many parents, even the most stoic of fathers, may find it difficult not to tell their sweet child that they are indeed as “Snug as a Bug in a Rug!”

That catchy phrase certainly works, yet perhaps there are alternative similes that are more accurate and interesting…

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