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6.30.2009

Dreaded Preacher Shakes Flakey Quakes

POMO preacher Shane Claiborne preached at FGC this week. It made the Roanoke News.

"We've got a little bit of an identity crisis," he told the group. "We have so much to say with our mouths and so little to do with our lives."

Christians "need a rummage sale," Claiborne said. "We don't need to throw away the family photo album. But we need to get rid of some of the infomercial stuff."

Claiborne advocates working directly with the poor and needy and following Jesus' actions. Too often, he said, Christians focus on belief instead of love in action. He said he hopes to see in the next generation a Christian faith transformed.


read the rest here.


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6.28.2009

New Things


This is my granddaughter Nia.
She is having a bit of a conflicting instinct problem here.
She is almost seven months old and has gotten real interested in spoon food. She has been happily taking rice cereal mixed with breast milk for a few weeks. Mommy thought it was time to try some fruit.
Applesauce, pears and bananas have been tried. Nia reacts just like this with each one. She really wants the spoon. She opens her mouth. And each time is shocked, SHOCKED, at how weird that stuff tastes.

I am like this sometimes. I know I want to try something new.
I need to broaden my range. But it is just so freakin' DIFFERENT!
I shudder and grimace, and then I open my mouth again.

Nia will figure out food. I will figure things out too.

6.27.2009

Six of Sixty - part three

Continuing the celebration of "So There I Was ..."

Fresh Roads

So there I was ...

looking for fresh road. When I got my first motorcycle, one of the first things I did was go down to the State Department of Transportation and buy the big map of the county that I live in. It was several feet to a side and showed every road and alley within about 30 miles of my house. I started marking off each road as I covered it. Soon I had to purchase the maps for the five counties around my county and ride farther to get onto new pavement. Eventually my mega-map took up a whole wall of my house. After ten years and two bikes, I about had the State of Oregon covered; and Oregon is about 300 miles tall by 500 miles wide.

So around the turn of the century I was offered a preaching gig in Idaho and decided to take the opportunity to knock off some out of the way roads in the very far northeastern corner of the state.

Perhaps you do not understand why fresh road is so important. There is nothing that prevents the miracle in your back yard. There is nothing that slows down Sister Serendipity from meeting you at the corner grocery store if she is looking for you. The kingdom of Heaven is within you and can erupt at any time. However, the major inhibitor of that eruption is your own soul sleepiness. It is way too easy to get stuck on spiritual cruise control. Common intimacy encourages entropy.

The best way I know to break out of this is to find fresh road. I do it quite literally. Riding a road where I do not know what is around the next corner requires a level of awareness that makes me feel very lively. I have to pay attention. I cannot daydream. I know people who can find fresh road in a laboratory that they walk into every day for years. I know people who find fresh road on a blank piece of paper, or on the well-known strings of their favorite guitar.

Still, I like the wind. The unpredictability of the weather. So I was up in the country of Chief Joseph. His precious blue lake is still there. The Appaloosa descendents of his favorite ride live and eat this year’s grass. His spirit and the spirit of his people flow down off those mountains towards the Snake River. That’s where I was.

I reached the edge of the Snake after a long descent down the backside of the Wallowa Mountains on an unpaved road. I had been counting on a bridge over a dam on the map. The dam was there but it was no bridge. So like Joseph, I turned north towards Canada and several hundred miles out of my way. Unlike Joseph, my steed could not eat grass. But at least there was no cavalry at my back. My limits were the limits of a gas tank, not how far you could push the elders carrying the babies on their backs. I wasn’t worried, because although the ranch houses were few and far between at that point, I knew that the ranch people kept a fill of gas cans and kindness, and the worst I could face was a walk or a wait. I talked to God and to Joseph and to the Appies in the fields.

And just after I had switched my fuel valve over to “reserve” meaning that I had less than a quart of petrol left, I saw a boy. About twelve. Walking.

“Hi Lady.”

Blonde hair, freckles, big toothy smile, Huck Finn.

“Son, I need some gasoline and I need it pretty soon. How much trouble am I in?”

“Well, I wouldn’t know about trouble, but if you take that next gravel road up there, you can cut through to the road that goes to the place where my dad drinks his coffee and Mrs. Wright, she has a pump in the back – you might have to ask.”

“Thanks. Really, I mean it. Do you need a ride son?”

“No, ma’am, my Ma would switch my butt if I got caught takin’ a ride with no helmet. Ma’s pretty strict about the helmets. I don’t have far to go.”

“Sorry I don’t have a spare, son. You take care.”

“Bye Lady – oh, and the pie’s really good – have the peach if she has any left.”

The peach pie was fabulous. The shortcut got me there in less than ten miles. Mrs. Wright did indeed have a small reserve of gasoline. I described the boy to Mrs. Wright and the ranchers taking their coffee. I was hoping to speak a good word about him and his manners to someone who knew him. Maybe leave him a small reward – though I doubted any adult would convey a reward to a boy for just being neighborly – they would expect such.

Mrs. Wright and all the ranchers were of one mind that there was no boy of that description or even of that age, living on any ranch within 40 miles of that diner. They said they knew by name every child within that distance. I believed them.

I did another hundred miles of fresh road that day. Wide awake.

That road from the town of Joseph, Oregon down to the Snake is now paved, though I wouldn’t recommend it except at high summer. You can visit the old Chief’s grave up at Wallowa Lake; if you do, greet him for me.




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One Of My Favorite Mornings

The last of the strawberries, the middle of the raspberries and the beginning of the blueberries, all from the backyard, on a morning that is sunny, warm, not humid and perfectly comfy to sit in the yard and have breakfast. This is why I live in Oregon!

6.22.2009

Six of Sixty - number 2


I am celebrating the arrival of "So There I Was...",
the book, by re-posting here six of the sixty columns
that make up "So There I Was ..."
Ordering info is here

From Section Two - "Quakers, not just for breakfast anymore"

The Standard Jesus Stuff

So there I was ...

at a truck stop, stocking up on a warm breakfast to keep me going through a long day of motorcycle riding. My ride is a Kawasaki Vulcan 750 named Rocinante, or Rosie, or just “The Holy Kaw.” When I am out on the road my mode of transport is obvious, even when she is parked outside because I am always wearing leathers and there is a full-face helmet on the counter next to me. I usually take a seat at the counter because the leathers don’t bend so good, and it’s a pain to get in and out of them.

I always mind my own business, but that never seems to prevent other people from minding my business with me. A big trucker plants himself next to me. The correlation between truckers and bikers is significantly high.

“Hey, pretty lady, where you riding to today?”

They never seem to be able to leave the solo female biker thing alone. But I take no offense. I give a brief itinerary. Weather is discussed -- I never discount weather info from a trucker.

“So, whatcha do when you aren’t ridin’?”

“I’m a Quaker preacher.”

This always stops them for a moment. Silence ensues, which is appropriate since Quakers often worship in silence. The next question is often,

“I thought you guys were all dead.”

We are often confused with the Shakers – an 18th century sect that did not believe in procreation and hence mostly died out. Quakers have been around since 1652, have had women preachers all that time, and, for good or ill, we do have children.

“Nope, we’re still going strong.”

“And you ride motorcycles?”

Confusion with the Amish is next. Quakers have no conscience against technology per se.

“Yep, and cars and airplanes and everything.”

“Hunh” I can see the confusion generalizing. I decide to volunteer a bit of information.

“And, we don’t look like the Quaker Oats guy anymore.”

“I can see that – but you are eating the oatmeal.”

“Oh yes, we are very religious about the oatmeal.”


Actually, Quakers have never produced, sold, or had any official connection with commercial oatmeal production. Those guys are trading off of our good name. I think we should get a discount, but we don’t. However, sometimes I just can’t resist messing with the heads of random truckers.

“So what are y’all about?”

“Oh, you know, the standard Jesus stuff -- being good to folks even when they aren’t good to you, taking care of the poor, keeping it simple, telling it like it is.”

“Hunh”

“OK, we don’t really care so much about the oatmeal. Cream of Wheat is perfectly acceptable.” (Caught by my own preaching once again.)

“You know, I always thought Jesus would make a good biker.”

“Me too, buddy, me too.”




6.20.2009

Six of Sixty

The books are here!

I am going to celebrate by re-posting here six of the sixty columns that make up "So There I Was ..."
These are my favorites.

Ordering info is here

So there I was ...

driving away from my house on a busy Monday morning. My “To Do” list was stacked like planes coming into O’Hare. My head was in air traffic control mode, oblivious to everything but the blips on my personal radar.

I slowed to a not-quite-full-legal stop at the corner of My Street and Major Arterial. The bank was cleared for landing and the post-office was on final approach. Then that still small voice I have learned to listen to piped up with an urgent request.

“Peggy, could you please attend to the train coming into Grand Central Station on track number Four? – it’s coming in a little fast.”

“Whaaa?”

I applied full brake and looked about. All seemed normal in the sleepy residential neighborhood. Then I saw her: the little choo-choo on track number Four. She was about two years old – maybe – riding a big wheel along Major Arterial. She was blonde, female, (probably) and peddling along at good speed, about a block and a half away. With no adult anywhere in sight. I parked. She peddled towards me, crossed the next side street at below bumper height, and kept coming. She never looked sideways or back. I got out and met her on the sidewalk. She applied her Fred Flintstones and came to a stop at my toes.

“Hi baby.”

She looked up at me and put her thumb in her mouth.

“Baby, where’s Mommy?”

Tot unplugged thumb and looked over her shoulder.

“Let’s go find Mommy, ok?”

“Otay.” she chirped.

Executing a crisp three-point Big Wheel turn, Cindy Lou Who applied speed and proceeded in the direction of her origin. I followed at a brisk walking pace.

We went three full city blocks, crossing two side streets, this time with me as crossing guard, and then she made a right turn. I was about to call 911 when a door opened at the end of the block and a blonde woman popped out her head and called, “Haley?”

I continued to Haley’s house. I informed Mom of where I had contacted Haley. Mom thanked me and was about to start scolding Haley. As a card-carrying member and journeywoman of the International Union of Mothers, I felt the need to interrupt and make the lesson explicit.

“I could have as easily picked her up and put her in my car.” I said gently.

Mom looked a little stunned.

“It’s not Haley’s job to keep Haley safe.” I said even more gently.

Mom scooped Haley up in her arms and nodded.

“Have a good day. Bye, Haley.”

“Bye-Bye.” chirped the tot.

I returned to my car and to my radar.

This was not an unusual occurrence in my life. My children could tell you how young they were when they noticed that their mother seemed to be “on call” to the universe. My therapist might tell you that I have rescuing tendencies. I prefer to say that I practice the Spiritual Discipline of Attendance. The Biblical mandate for this is the story Jesus told about the guy in the ditch. Of course, it is more formally known as “The Story of the Guy Who Helped the Guy in the Ditch,” but you know the story. It’s all about looking off your own radar and showing up where you are needed when you are needed and then taking action.

Here are the requirements of the Spiritual Discipline of Attendance:

You must attend.

You must be able to be present and mindful; aware of your surroundings. You must be able to observe without seeking to simply fit what you observe into your ready-made boxes

You must attend at two levels. You must be able to have one ear and eye on the world and one ear and eye on the Divine. You must be willing to take input from the Divine. This is what makes it a spiritual discipline and not merely paying attention – which is not a bad thing – but is different.

You must attend with the expectation of use.

You must show up for life willing to take action. You accept the fact that in any given situation you may be the person most capable of attendance.

You must attend with minimum fear. Sometimes all you have to offer is a non-anxious presence. Sometimes you may be called upon to be resilient in the face of actual threat. Fear kills love and a lot of other things.

You must attend with hope. Ditch people can’t always dredge up their own. You must carry a supply of this at all times.

You must attend with Faith. (See above) Sometimes people have to be able to believe in you before they can believe in anything else. It takes courage and integrity to put yourself out there. If you try and attend without faith in yourself, and in a power greater than yourself, you will incinerate quickly.

You must attend with Love. (See above) It is advisable to carry as much of this as possible, and to stock up at every opportunity. You cannot top the tank too often.

You must attend without entanglement. You must have a healthy sense of self in order to keep yourself out of the ditch. Never think that you are too cool to fall into a ditch. Ditches are sneaky. You must not attempt to do for people what they can and should do for themselves. The guy who helped the guy in the ditch was able to do some very personal attendance, and then he delegated.

Now, finally, to make the lesson explicit, this is not an optional discipline. Evil also attends, with diligence and willingness. Evil carries a stockpile of strife, malice, and despair. Evil wants you to think that it is bold and fearless, but evil is actually reckless out of necessity because evil is afraid, very, very afraid. Afraid, among other things, that we will all learn to attend.

The Story of the Guy Who Helped the Guy in the Ditch is found in the book of Luke, the 10th chapter, in the Christian New Testament.



6.17.2009

Freedom Friends Church Quilt Auction



Name of Quilt: Everything But the Kitchen Sink
Pieced by Evelyn Kenagy
Hand Quilted by the Albany Oregon Mennonite Church Women
Size: 92" x 103

This heirloom quality quilt has been donated to Freedom Friends Church to sell for the benefit of the church.

It is Queen sized and was made in 2008.

It includes both a nine-patch and a star pattern; it has a pieced border and a matching binding. The colored fabrics are reproductions of antique patterns. The hand quilting is an intricate varied pattern and is remarkably even and tight. There are hundreds and hundreds of hours of loving women's work in this quilt.

This heirloom quality quilt would make a fabulous wedding or graduation present, or a nice addition to a serious quilt collection.

The quilt is valued conservatively at $800.00

More pictures available at church website and even more by e-mail

Auction Rules:

Make a bid by e-mail at info@freedomfriends.org. Include with your bid your full name, address and a contact phone number.

We will post the opening bid here when we have one. We will post the current bid on a regular basis.

The bidding will stay open for the summer, or until the Ministry and Oversight Committee of FFC decides to end it. We reserve the right to reject any bid, or to withdraw the quilt from sale if Ministry and Oversight feels that the value of the quilt is not being reflected in the bids.


Friends of Freedom Friends are kindly asked to link to this post - thanks

6.06.2009

Now Taking Orders!



Sixty columns about God, freedom, motorcycles, invincibility, love, lies, Quakers and a female preacher

I will be shipping copies of "So There I Was" within the month. The book is going to come in at about 270 pages. It will include sections on 12 spiritual disciplines for the 21st Century, Quakers, motorcycle theology, Post modern theology and many of my personal stories from my 2006-2008 United Press International religion columnist gig.

For the nest few weeks I will be re-posting the top six columns. I wrote 100 columns for UPI and have written a few more since then. I have pulled most of the Africa columns out into another volume "So There I Was ... in Africa" which I hope to have out before Christmas.

It will cost $20.00 US ( plus 3 for postage), but I will make a volume discount and sell two for $35 (+4 pstg) or 3 for $50 (+$5 pstg). All orders will be shipped Media Mail. You may use the Paypal button on this page, but make sure you also send me an email with your mailing address (peggysengerparsonsATgmail.com) You may also mail a check to Peggy Parsons, 710 Thompson NE, Salem Or, 97301. Write to me for info on out of US/CAN postage. Thank you in advance for all the support, and may God use this effort to make the Kingdom manifest.