Saturday, June 07, 2008


as i settled into the library this morning i promised myself that if i worked really hard i could take a half-hour off to watch hillary's long awaited concession speech that was scheduled for noon e.s.t.

in order to earn my incentive, i worked hard until 11:55 pm, quickly gathered my stuff and mall-walked home...only to sit in front of my computer and stare at an empty podium for 37 minutes.

it's now 12:38 pm and she still has not taken the stage. after experiencing her remarkable ability to delay* the inevitable over the past month i guess i shouldn't be surprised.

so long, loser. you might want to keep a closer eye on those caucuses next time.

* that will probably be financed by obama's contributors.

Friday, June 06, 2008

do unto others...

the kid who pulled this lamentable, yet laughable stunt was planning to walk onto the team at gordon college.* however, on account of this one simple lapse of judgment, coach travis mcclanahan and president lawrence weill and the gordon college staff have decided to keep the kid from his humble, yet heartfelt dream.

i don't mean to be presumptuous, coach and president weill, but don't y'all have better things to do with your time than creating barriers for walk-on athletes? the kid is already going to be paying 10k more a year than an undergrad liberal arts education is worth. i humbly recommend that you return to your administrative duties, have a heart and "LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY!"

* which, for those of you who don't know, is an evangelical liberal arts school that employs a couple of my friends and is located about 7 minutes from the house.

ht: deadspin
mid-day time waster: edit those lyrics

earlier this week, in the most emphatic tones, mrs. clinton suggested, "i know what people are wondering, WHAT DOES HILLARY WANT?" although i don't know everything hillary might want, i suspect that she would love for us to pen a celebratory ode that marks the end of her campaign.

for that reason, i've been working feverishly to produce a piece that is worthy of hillary's epic defeat. right now i've got some of the lyrics down, but i need your help editing and suggesting revisions. the song's title is bridesmaid and it will be sung to the tune of wilco's muzzle of bees. thanks in advance for your help!

there's a failed democratic candidate
desperate for vp
she's always a bridesmaid
if you know what i mean

her furies shriek, some say they're barking
denver! or at least vp
some fems so frightened
of so-called misogyny

the scepter slips 'tween pantsuit knees
silently and suitably
whispering racial entendre
from the heights of glass ceiling
she cries misogyny

i'm assuming you got the message
produced by machine
the crackers dig her chili
if you know what that means

scepter slips 'tween pantsuit knees
silently and suitably
whispering racial entendre
she cries misogyny

red bill blows through
sweat hand upon knee
half of it's you, half is me
half of it's you, half is me

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

the poor are our least until we pass that class

in the late summer of 2000, when i decided not to extend my time at l'arche so that i could continue with the regularly scheduled programming of seminary, melvin, one of the core members of the community and the undisputed patriarch of the house cornered me with the following question:

why do you have to leave?

after a brief moment of thought i remembered henri's dictum that "the poor are our teachers" and i attempted to build upon this wisdom by simply telling melvin that he had taught me so much about life, persistence and love. although i was indeed moving back to my country to attend graduate school, i promised melvin that i would take his lessons with me and would live a better life in light of his wisdom.

without missing a beat, melvin frowned and said: people are always leaving. and i have so much more to teach!

to that response, i had no retort. i simply told melvin that i would miss him greatly and would visit regularly (which i had the privilege of doing for another 2 years). after that we tromped down to community dinner and i soon set my course for a failed seminary career.

if i could go back and re-do that conversation with an inkling of understanding about life as it has turned out to be, i hope i would have the courage to tell melvin the truth. if i could indeed sack up in such an instance, i would look melvin in the eyes and say something like this:

"melvin, i'm sorry that you are going to miss me, but i can't stay. i have a full life in front of me and i need to validate my existence by trying to scrape together some sort of personal success. i have loved being here melvin, and your friendship means the world to me. however, educated people such as myself don't invest their lives in practical, day-to-day, incarnational acts of one-on-one service to others. instead, we need to increase our influence by empowering younger leaders and playing a more strategic role in ensuring that our shared dreams of community and justice become a reality. melvin, as much as i love greenwood house and as much as i have learned from you, from my perspective there is simply no percentage in remaining at l'arche for the time being. by the way, i've heard sven is making his curry again tonight. let's hurry down to dinner so that we don't miss out!"

as much as i love henri, i know enough about him to realize that while becoming a part of l'arche changed him on a deeply fundamental level he never seemed fully able to identify with the poor in spirit at richmond hill. i have no intention of denigrating henri's service and i know a number of people who were deeply blessed by his ministry at daybreak. however, i also realize that henri was never able to fully set aside his jet-setting, sojourning ways to stay at l'arche for any truly extended period of time. moreover, when difficulty beset his personal life he didn't have to work through all of his issues within the context of the community, but could retreat for up to six months at a time in order to take a personal sabbatical, write or simply visit friends.

as i reflect upon my time at l'arche, my current role within the rectangle community and henri's significant example, i cannot help but worry that my education, ambition and perhaps even my vocation will limit my ability to identify with the poor in spirit and accompany them in a manner that is genuine and not self-serving. i don't want to build a career upon the backs of people with disabilities, but would like to walk beside them, assist them, be assisted by them, advocate for them, and receive the blessing of their advocacy, in a truly mutual way.

i'm not necessarily saying that i will ultimately fail to experience this deep mutuality with those at the center of the community. however, when i reflect upon my participation in the lives of the l'arche as well as the rectangle community up until this point and ponder the path that uncle henri has walked before me, i realize how allusive such mutuality can be.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


on a day crammed into the fourth grade, i offended my friend kari with some opinion or other. back then, much like now, i didn't much care when i offended someone by saying something i sincerely meant. but kari was a loyal, occasionally cute and always eager to please sidekick, so i apologized and tried to make it up to her.

a couple of days later, at one of those tacky school carnivals that are designed to snake money from babes, kari went over to the "jewelry" booth, picked out a lime green foot charm and had the shaky handed merchant engrave "to jeff: the foot in the mouth award," right down the arch. although i was a little shaky on my metaphors at the time, when kari awarded me with the trinket i knew enough to be incredibly embarrassed. with a two dollar shard she cut to my greatest contradiction.

when people read about God's questionable decision to "create man in His own image" i'm sure the story resonates with them in any number of ways. undoubtedly some see this part of the story as a proof text for yet another pro-life pronouncement, others see it as an endowment of rationality, still others consider it the initial spark of our species' creativity. but when i read it, or at least when i've read it lately, i hear in this text a connection between the God who speaks creation into being and my calling to somehow create with the written and spoken word.

some days i believe, sense, suspect that the kol YHWH or breath of God is coursing through me as i encourage a friend, convince a store manager that she can transform a life by offering my client an entry-level job or, in a stammering and stuttering way, attempt to explain to the pixie what her love and partnership means to me. however, on the other days that are most days, i realize that my mouth is a loose canon that has splintered many a foredeck of friend or foe and, far too often, has misfired, malfunctioned and damn near destroyed its operator.

it seems to me that these gifts that we have been given - to create with our words, to shape with our hands, to unravel the infinite mysteries of the cosmos with our minds - are a blessed curse that are more likely to destroy us than they are to inspire our creativity. for this reason, as i ponder the likelihood of becoming a full-time shill for a fragile non-profit and/or an untraceable God, i am terrified. i fear, that at the end of a life invested in such a manner, i will speak more death than life into being and, as a result, will be pinned with a pendant similar in type, if not in gravity, to the one kari awarded so long ago.

and yet, i am determined to stumble forth. for even in the midst of my terror, i have just enough trust in the Spirit and faith in intangible grace, to continue on the path set before me.