Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Let Us Now Praise a Famous Man

Word of author's Brian Doyle's death circulated this weekend.  I and my family love Brian Doyle.  When I announced his death to my family all of us mourned.  His writing impacted every one of us from the way I include stories in my sermons, to great words he had for my lovely bride he signed in Grace Notes, to the stories I tell my kids at night (all rules are off), even to the way I talk to my dog (as a more cognizant animal). 

I saw him once a couple years back in Chicago; it was great.  He shared the most unusual writing prompts: describe the first time you kissed someone, when was the last time you hit someone, describe your favorite flower, tell me about the great sin you committed.  Oh those are some great prompts...

Doyle wrote this poem for the memory of Henri Nouwen, I offer it for Doyle as well. 

Poem for Henri Nouwen by Brian Doyle in Epiphanies & Elegies

The way he leaped up suddenly from the table
To make a point with the whole wild exclamation
Point of his body and the day his arm swirled
And swung and whirled and dance cheerfully
Around his cheerful face as he spoke and the way
As soon as he sat down he leapt up again to agree
Utterly and wholly from the bone of his being
With what you said rather than find the certain
Hole in what you said but then leaping off rom
What you said he would say something so new &
True and clear and refreshing and you wished you
Carried a notebook just for Henri but pausing to
Keep track of the swoop and zest of his thought
Would ruin the whole joy and verve of the thing
Which was a thing never before in the world and
Never again which was the sort of thing that gave
Henri a bubbling childish brilliant genius holy joy
Which was pretty much the point of Henri,
And what we miss most.

Brian Doyle, rest eternal.  thanks for catching (nutritious) stories and sharing them with us...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Let's Set a Record

So the last part of June and first part July the American Baptist Churches, USA will hold their biennial meeting.  This is a meeting of lots of American Baptists (clergy, missionaries, denomination staff, seminary staff, church delegates, institution folk, & etc.)  It is an enjoyable time. 

The last two were held in Overland Park, KS.  I understand why the venue was chosen but it felt like a fun desert to me.  You couldn't walk anywhere, poor bus service, and no bike share programs to be found.  This year, however, the meeting is in Portland!

Several months ago I began dreaming of a way to get clergy on bikes.  I thought what if we broke a record: most clergy on bikes.  I started researching and guess what: there are no clergy and bikes records!  So I filled out an application, paid my $5 Value Added Tax, and submitted my plans to the Guinness Book of World Records for a new record.  They said it would take several weeks, I haven't heard back yet; it has been several weeks.  But I am still hopeful.  Even if Guinness doesn't get back to me there are several other record books I have applied, they have accepted my record. 

Next came logistics: how am I going to get at least 250 bikes for clergy?  I asked some friends at NiceRide (Minneapolis/St. Paul's amazing bikeshare program) if they had any ideas.  Boy (and Girl) did they.  They put in contact with the person who is in charge of the bikeshare program in Portland: Biketown.  I got in touch with Biketown and sure enough they were game!

So the word started to spread and clergy began to get excited, but then a funny thing happened: non-clergy wanted to participate as well.  So the invitation was expanded to include both clergy and non-clergy.  So the record will be most clergy and most Baptists (religious group) riding bikes. 

It just so happens the stars were aligned for this event to take place: either other mainline denominations are not meeting this year or if they are they are meeting they are not meeting in a city that has a strong bike sharing program or if they are meeting in a city with a strong bike share program they do not have enough time to organize such an event (thus, why I have been so coy about this project).  But here is the fun part: I want this record to be broken.  I want the Lutherans or the Methodist to smash our record.  I want clergy and non-clergy riding bikes, getting healthy, exploring their communities, saving the planet, seeking economic and racial justice, gaining courage and putting a smile on their face.  Because the world needs courageous and joyous people right now.  But the Divine help us if the Southern Baptists find out about this record setting attempt; they have enough institutional might to overcome all of my obstacles...  They will crush the record, sanctify the bikes & then funk bike riding up for years to come. But who know maybe riding a bike will soften 'em up a bit. 

I hope you can join us for this record setting event, Friday June 30 8:30am - Portland, OR. 

here is the link to the actual press release, just in case you think I'm making all this up.