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even though i’m a couple of days late, i’ve been thinking about dr. martin luther king’s life and legacy. i downloaded a podcast of his “i have a dream” speech. you can find it here. it’s amazing how powerful his words remain today, even for a worn-out cynic like me.

i have been thinking about racial equality and justice in america. on some levels, especially at the legislative/political level, things have gotten much better. out-and-out racism is on the decline (although recent anti-immigration laws might reverse that trend) in that sense.

however, i think racial prejudice usually affects people in a more subtle, personal way. i was born and raised in michigan, and although my town was diverse for the midwest, it was predominantly white. one day, when i was about sixteen, a group of friends and acquaintances went bowling. two of my friends began arguing – something about someone owing money (always a touchy subject among friends and family). at one point, frustrations boiled over and one boy shouted at the other, “don’t try to jew me out of that money!”

the other boy stood there, stunned. after a moment, he collected himself and told the other kid how that offended him, because his own ethnic/religious background was jewish.

now, one would hope for an apology and a quick reconciliation. unfortunately, the other, very white, boy became incensed. “how dare you accuse me of racism! that’s just a phrase people say. it doesn’t mean anything. you’re being too sensitive. just shut up and take it…”

i’m not sure if i was afraid that the others would turn against me (“oh, now the korean kid is getting into it”), or just too timid in general, but i stood there watching — silently.

i know that some people will not listen to reason. that even if one approaches them in a calm, rational, humble manner that they will still lash out with their racism. but, i hope that i’ve learned something from this. that i won’t be restricted to defending “my own” but that i will stand in solidarity with all of God’s people — to speak truth to injustice and to live out the dream of God for unity.

a couple of years ago, i led a group of high school students to lewisham, england (just outside of london) for a two-week mission trip. it was, to say the least, an interesting experience – a group of korean-americans bringing the gospel back to post-christian england, partnered with a predominantly african/west-indian/british church.

surprisingly, i enjoyed the food during our stay. we had been warned during our orientation that we might be eating lots of bland, boiled, mashed things. luckily (providentially?), the majority of our host church members were not anglos but of west indian descent- so we enjoyed spicy jerk chicken and other west indian delicacies throughout our stay. one of the most pleasing discoveries i made while in lewisham was that, in the uk, mcdonald’s still serves fried apple pies.

this brings us to the present day. lately, maybe because of all the outlawing of trans-fats, i have really been wanting to eat a fried apple pie. unfortunately, most mcdonald’s franchises here in the states switched over to the baked format years ago. it might be marginally healthier, but it is significantly less tasty. while the caramel apple empanada from taco bell is pretty good, it still isn’t quite the same.

this jonesing took me to the web. i googled “mcdonalds fried apple pie” and was delighted to find the “mcdonald’s fried apple pie locater.” seriously. after a couple of dead-ends (i started calling different locations around san diego) i finally hit the jackpot with the mcdonald’s at horton plaza in downtown sd.

getting there was a whole different story. the trip downtown was relatively simple, but getting into horton plaza was very confusing. luckily (providentially?), i found street parking right across from the mall and entered the stairwell in the parking structure. all the signs indicated i should enter the plaza at level four — but the stairwell would only take me to odd numbered floors. at my own peril (because of the apparent road rally going on inside), i crossed through the interior of the parking structure to another stairwell — which was fenced off before level four. confused, i re-entered the parking structure. i stopped a security guard to ask for directions and, happily, caught a ride with him to the entrance in the horton plaza security golf cart.

after briskly walking around the floor level of the mall a couple of times, i stopped by the concierge to ask for directions to the mcdonald’s. if you’re going to visit, it’s way up on the fourth floor. and there’s no direct staircase/escalator to get there. after taking every staircase in the plaza, i finally reached the mcdonald’s.

sometimes, there is a letdown after anticipating something so much and working so hard to get there. ah, but the fried apple pie is just as good as i remember it. perhaps therein lies its appeal to me — not only does it provide scalding hot fried deliciosity, but it evokes my childhood.

i don’t mean to be smarmy or flippant, but this year i want to seek God in this way — earnestly, with great desire, still journeying toward the goal even if i get lost, remembering His goodness in the past and savoring His sweetness today. all of this from my fried apple pie quest.

just in time for the holidays, a wave of wii-related injuries!

maybe it’s the combination of the thrill of being one of the lucky few to purchase a wii and the lack of sleep from waiting in line all night at the local best buy to purchase one but, in any case, people have been knocking themselves out (quite literally) as they have engaged the wii. check out wii have a problem for stories and photos…

i think my personal favorite is this guy. he has this multi-layered expression – kind of smiling through the pain, kind of frowning (perhaps because of the cause of his injury). as it turns out, wii have a problem reports, “He fractured his clavicle playing a Wii homerun derby. That’s gotta be a first.” i know some people will do a little pete townshend-esque windmilling and scissor kicking while playing guitar hero, but this is pretty radical commitment to the game.

this whole wii phenomenon is pretty post-modern. as our man leonard sweet notes, our digital culture is becoming increasingly “epic”… experiential, participatory, image-rich and connective. by getting gamers to move beyond button-mashing into simulating the game itself (which kind of begs the question, why not just play the actual game? but i digress…) nintendo has certainly upped their epic quotient.

it’s just a matter of time before some tech/trend-savvy churches incorporate the wii remote into their services… instead of virtually hitting a baseball, going bowling or using nunchakus faithful congregants can use their wii-motes to take virtual notes (left wii-mote is the note pad, the right one is the pen) or nod along at key points during the sermons.

we just moved to san diego. it’s a very lovely place, but we are still feeling pretty unsettled.

we are getting to know our new church community. the church we just left has been struggling through about two years of pretty intense conflict – two factions are warring over the church property and there were numerous court dates, injunctions, and restraining orders over the last several months. but for all of the insanity, we still miss the people with whom we journeyed together over the last couple of years.

one of the hardest transitions to make is for our daughter. since we left in the middle of the school year, she hasn’t been able to enroll in a new preschool program – and she loves school. even at church, it is a scary prospect to meet and get to know a whole new set of friends. i realized how difficult it was for her when she couldn’t sleep one recent saturday night. when i sat down to talk to her, she told me through her tears that she didn’t want to go to our new church, that it was hard making friends. more than any of the typical church nonsense, these are the things that make me wonder if ministry as a vocation is worth all of the sacrifices.

things are looking up, though. yesterday, our daughter had her first playdate with a friend – the senior pastor’s daughter. my wife was sharing about how much fun they had – they even baked cookies! our senior pastor’s daughter is quite energetic – a very adventurous sort, and almost two years older than our daughter. apparently, she was climbing over a playpen and our daughter followed (despite mommy’s warnings). in the process our daughter took a pretty nasty spill. after some tears and some hugs from mommy, she was fine.

later that day, when i sat down with our daughter, i tried to explain how important it is to be careful – especially when mommy tells her something is dangerous. i told her how sometimes people fall down on their heads, and then they can’t walk anymore – and sometimes, they can’t even use their arms.

my daughter’s eyes grew wide. her three-year old mind was processing the severity of this news, and she agreed to be more careful in the future. and then she looked at me and said, “jesus’ friend couldn’t walk, but then jesus made him feel better.”

it took me a minute to respond to her. i was so glad that my daughter remembered and believed her bible stories (she thinks it’s really funny, and kind of rude, that four friends made a hole in someone else’s roof to bring their friend to jesus) but worried about how to respond. i wanted to nurture her faith that jesus can do anything, but not give her an unrealistic expectation of how God works in the world (“yeah, go ahead and jump off that bridge – God will catch you”). this is something i’ve struggled with – how to believe in a God of miracles, signs and wonders without turning into a hopped-up televangelist…

i approached my answer in as delicate a way as i could, not wanting to mess up her faith. i explained that God is able to help hurting people, but that sometimes people still get hurt really bad. fortunately, i didn’t have to consult “when bad things happen to good people.” she agreed with me that the best thing would probably be just to be as careful as possible in the future.

i really enjoyed reading the irresistible revolution by shane claiborne. well, perhaps enjoyed is the wrong word. i “enjoy” films like tommy boy and big momma’s house, the clearance section at target, unplanned trips to best buy. reading the irresistible revolution was definitely unlike any of those experiences. i often felt a serious sense of discomfort – at the desperate situations shane and his friends encountered and at the realization that serving the poor might mean more than sending a check every month to world vision.

being a nerdy t-shirt collector, i had been meaning to buy a shirt that i once saw with the slogan “love your enemies.” today, i came across this design (to the left). it is being printed as part of a micro-business venture by the good folks at the simple way, a community of which shane is a part. here is a pretty neat story behind the shirt. according to their description, each shirt is “Printed on a recycled, blank t-shirt purchased at a local thriftstore. Colors and brands will vary but all will be good quality.” i think this diy approach is very encouraging as a model for other micro-enterprises – for example, this setup does not require elaborate distribution contracts or large printing facilities, which might be out of reach for many people. plus, it reminds of of the mid-90s diy punk scene, when bands self-released 7″ singles with hand-screens sleeves and printed their shirts on whatever they could buy from the thrift store.

there are other stories like this. perhaps you’ve heard of the folks over at to write love on her arms. they’re also proclaiming a hope beyond our current desperation, that rescue is possible. i love that shirts like this can be more than just an ad for a designer label or another cool band. i was wearing my twloha shirt when i took my family out to eat at the local red robin when one of the waiters asked me about it. he said he had seen lots of people at local concerts wearing the shirts and didn’t know what it was. i explained a bit of the story to him – the hope, rescue and redemption that is possible…

i have a friend in dc who left his very nice job at a law firm to follow his conviction to serve God wholeheartedly. he now works for the millenium challenge corporation, whose work is to build a “new compact for global development…in which development assistance would be provided to those countries that rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom.”

love is the movement. may we each discover and dance to the heartbeat of God.