Pacifist Fight Club

Last Saturday I joined a ragtag bunch of Jesus followers for the first Pacifist Fight Club.  What started as a joke between Keith Giles and Chase Andre somehow led to 25 people wrestling about how to follow Jesus, especially when it comes to non violence and poverty.  We brought chili and chips and all our questions to the table.  While we did not figure it all out, we did walk away inspired to keep fighting for peace and comforted that we are not alone in our questions and struggle. 

The invitation to Pacifist Fight Club came at a time in my life when I was battling.  My prayer life felt like the frontlines of a war.   I felt attacked and exhausted, yet empowered and strong. It felt like Jesus and I were getting things done in the spiritual realm.  I hid behind him and fought for my life.  I stood with a shield of faith held up for my friends.  I came out swinging with the Word of God.  My prayers felt productive and mighty.  I ran into the presence of God excited for the fight.  I really like fighting with Jesus in this way.  I saw him working things out in life's circumstances and found I could rest and trust.  So when the invitation to Pacifist Fight Club came I was intrigued.  What does it look like to fight for peace?  How do I stand with a Warrior Savior who has said, "blessed are the peacemakers" and "turn the other cheek"?

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Catching Up- an update

So I've been MIA from my blog for a few months. To get back on track I thought I would give an update on some of the stories I've shared in the past.  Here is what has been going on in our neighborhood, I'll give you the good news first:

  • We are celebrating with my friend who I wrote about being simaltaneously detained by ICE and recognized by the City Council for our her community service.      After a two year legal process she was able to obtain a U visa to live and work in the US.  She is studying for her GED and looking for jobs.  She continues to be one of our strongest neighborhood leaders.           
  •  The family who wason the brink of getting their legal documents was not able to get their long term employer to sign the papers and their case fell out of the process.  My neighbor left that job after 21 years with the company that refused to acknowledge his contribution.  It has been hard finding another job and last week his wife called to ask me for help with the rent.   They continue to struggle and have missed their window of opportunity to legalize their status.
  •  While I haven't had any calls from neighbors hiding in closets, I had dinner with a neighbor this week who is renting a closet to live in for $150 a month.  She is working but the hours are sparse and her work is far from her house.  The gas prices are taking a toll.  The other night she told me, "At this point, living here is like how it was in Guatemala- day to day survival."  She is exhausted.
  • Tomorrow I'm heading out to UYWI's Reload LA with a group from Mika CDC.  Roman's sisters will be going with us since they both have joined their mother as leaders in the Neighborhood Action Committee.   Roman was a neighbor was passed away in the desert almost two years ago.  While grieving their brother's death has not been easy, I see a focus and clarity in each of the girls that was not there before.  It is like they want their lives to count for something.  They have both delved into their studies and participation in the community.  I am inspired by how they have harnessed their grief to serve others.  
  • The friend I visit in jail got moved upstate to prison.   I have been approved to visit him but have not made the trip yet.  He has not written in a long time and feel badly that I haven't gone to visit.  I must do that soon.
  • And finally, my dog Layla had an unfortunate mishap at the groomer and was shaved almost completely.  She moped around for a few days completely depressed as if she could tell how ridiculous she looks.    
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So Much to Fix- Let's Get Started

It has been one of those weeks.  Everything around me seems to need fixing.  First the shower backed up and then my car broke down.  My bike had a flat and the gaping hole in my front yard reminded me of the patio that still needed to be put together.  I spent Saturday morning figuring out the car situation and checking in on the plumber's ETA.  Then some friends came over to help lay pavers for the new patio.  Over coffee and egg sandwiches we fixed the big hole one brick at a time.  With so much still broken around me it felt good to get one thing taken care of, to have one thing fixed.

As we look around the situation in our country it is easy to see that many things are broken.  When it comes to immigration one quickly notices that a lot is severely broken.  Wouldn't it feel good to even get one thiing fixed? This coming week we as a nation have the opportunity to fix at least one thing for thousands of young people.  The Dream Act is being considered as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill.  Senators will be voting this week.  The Dream Act is a bill that provides a conditional path to citizenship for young people who were educated and raised in the United States and yet have no way of legally working.  Currently there are around 65,000 "Dreamers" living in the US.  These students go to college or serve in our military and desperately want to fully participate as Americans. 

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Fear and Loathing--Period

 

 

Hunter S. Thompson wrote a series of articles in 1971 in Rolling Stone that eventually were turned into the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. One of the more memorable quotes, in my opinion, is as follows:

Hunter ThompsonHallucinations are bad enough. But after a while you learn to cope with things like seeing your dead grandmother crawling up your leg with a knife in her teeth. Most acid fanciers can handle this sort of thing. But nobody can handle that other trip—the possibility that any freak with $1.98 can walk into Circus-Circus and suddenly appear in the sky over downtown Las Vegas twelve times the size of God, howling anything that comes into his head. No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.
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Communicating Post Colonialism within Immigration Reform

This week, Congress is taking legal action against the now infamous Arizona law passed a few months ago. At the same time, a Washington Post poll reveals that most Americans actually support the new law in Arizona. Proponets ot the law assert that Arizona is doing nothing but enforcing what has already been on the books; moreover, they are protecting a border that has gone unchecked. While still others call the new law racist and part of an ongoing trail of racial profiling. What do we make of all this? How can this “debate” even be a debate? Are we not just protecting our borders and keeping Americans safe? Isn’t it in our best interest to keep those “bad people” out of the country? Well, these are all important issues—no doubt. However, there is a mask which covers the ugly countenance that most are unaware is happening. For example, in the 1980’s Danilo Blandon—known for his drug trading and arms dealing—was given full citizenship in the U.S. by the C.I.A. in return for trading guns for crack cocaine in our inner cities.[1] That is just one of many examples where this perceived “protection” has failed us as Americans. In addition there are thousands of websites and documents supporting the Bin Ladin family being given shelter and a “safe exit” after the 9/11 attacks.
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A Guide to Arizona’s Immigration Law (Senate Bill 1070) for Non-Profit Christian Organizations

A Guide to Arizona’s Immigration Law (Senate Bill 1070) for Non-Profit Christian Organizations

Given the mandatory reporting of all suspected illegal immigrants to the state of Arizona, the State has received a flood of e-mails and phone calls asking for clarification on this law and its ramifications for non-profit Christian organizations.  The State has put together this helpful guide to assist you in assessing the suspiciousness of the people you minister to.

A quick list of suspicious attributes:

Black hair.  Remember, not all illegal immigrants are Latino.  Some are Chinese.  But if you see someone with black hair, it’s a safe bet that they are suspicious and should be reported.

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Obvious (or not) Wounds

When I was in second grade handball was all the rage.  We played it with big red rubber balls against backboards on the playground.  One day I was playing against Amy Watson, a third grader, and she went for it- hit an ace, leaving the ball very low to the ground.  I was not about to be shown up by a “big kid” so I launched myself toward the ball as if I were sliding into home plate.  I slid right across the asphalt on my nose.  I stood up in pain, half embarrassed, half proud of my all out attempt.  Turning to Amy Watson, I asked, “Is there a mark?”  Looking straight at me she replied, “No, I don’t see anything.”  Unconvinced I ran to the bathroom to see for myself.  There down the whole length of my nose was a huge scrape.  All the skin was gone.  “How could she not see that,” I thought.

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Time to See and Know

My family is not big marchers.  My parents never took me to a protest.  I think they look at big rallies as a giant collective fit and there was no patience for throwing fits at our house.  The more noise you made, the more likely you were to be ignored by my parents.  This background shapes my view as I think about the March for America in Washington DC this weekend. 

In my parents’ house, throwing a fit wasn’t necessary because they paid attention to their children.  If we needed something, it was provided.  If we wanted something, we could simply ask for it and discuss our desire.  My parents knew us.  They saw us. They valued and considered us.  They recognized the way we each contributed to our family.

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Faces of Reform: Immigration

Roman was a pretty average student at the after school teen center where we met nine years ago.  He was timid but he liked to joke around. As neighbors, I still saw him after graduation.  He worked here and there and was always trying to keep his sister on track. 

At the community center, church volunteers are great about helping kids with their homework.  Volunteers coach kids in soccer.  They teach Bible studies and put on Vacation Bible Schools.  Our volunteers truly want good things for our students.  They plan field trips and college visits.  They take kids to the theater and sporting events to expose them to culture and our community. 

 

People love to be a part of seeing an immigrant kid be the first one in his family to go to college.

How Long Must We Sing This Song

I just crammed $5 into a box with a kid's photo on it. We just found out he died so all my neighbors are chipping in to cover the cost of the funeral. There is no way any of us could give a substantial sum but all together it is a big help to the family.

This morning I drove Karina, my neighbor with a broken arm, to the police station to pick up a police report and file a claim with the city. Last week she accidently rode her bike into a ditch on our street where the city was doing some construction and broke her arm. It was dark. There were no cones up. The ditch was in front of a driveway. The police took a report and confiscated her bike. They are holding it for evidence. She needs surgery for her arm so she collected $2000 from family and friends. She can't work, which means she loses income. She has a bit of insurance but it doesn't cover emergency visits or orthopedic surgery so we went to ask the city to help with the expenses. The supervisor was very nice, but he was sweatin' it. It will take forever to get any money from the contractor's insurance he told me. Every time I turn on the radio or open a blog, it is teeming with debates on health care reform but today the debates seemed silly in light of my neighbor's urgency.

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