Saturday, April 26, 2008

Breach of Peace (Freedom Riders)

I'm excited to find out about Breach of Peace, a new book and website by author author Eric Etheridge about the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders.
a photo-history told in images old and new. The book features new portraits of 80 Riders and the mug shots of all 328 Riders arrested in Jackson that year, along with excerpts of interviews with the featured Riders.

Eric Etheridge, now living in NYC, grew up in Mississippi and is a former editor at
Rolling Stone, The New York Observer and Harper's.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Faith is...

A cup of suffering. Not certainty, or assurance but commitment to drink it anyway, a passion for what you believe deep down to be the right way. It's got nothing to do with what is definite. Everything to do with giving your heart to right living, the cost of justice, the sacrifice of love. That is faith.

Roddy Hamilton from “Faith is...” series at Abbotsford Parish Church Aug. 2007

I have so appreciated the worship resources from Roddy Hamilton. This piece just seemed to fit with the flow right now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nikki beat me to it

At "home" in Albany, GA (first 2 weeks of March) the projects were nonstop. I live so far away (in Colorado) and can't get back to help my mom very often, so we have to get lots done when we can. This was to be a working visit. Thankfully, T. did tasks under the house and on the roof as well as plumbing and electrical jobs. I painted, shopped for lighting and plumbing fixtures, rugs, etc., bought and set up a computer, did a little yard work and painted some more (until I got a respiratory infection that sent me to the local emergency clinic.) While the paint dried one day I took a break and set out to find what I had read about in the local paper on a previous visit. At that time I saw that Nikki Giovanni (poet, activist, and professor) had been in town speaking at the civil rights museum. I didn't know we had a civil rights museum! I've had a book of poetry by Nikki Giovanni since 1980, but was surprised to think she was in Albany for an event. I missed it, but I promised myself I would find out about this museum when I came back to Albany.

This time T. was with me and we drove around some of the areas east and south of downtown, near Albany State, near the Flint river, near the new civic center, past the old cemetery where the coffins floated in the flood of '94. We didn't see any museum. Finally closer to downtown again we drove down Whitney. There on the corner was Shiloh Church, and across the street, the old Mt. Zion Church. The former Mt. Zion Baptist now houses the Albany Civil Rights Museum. There is a brick sign out front telling us we are at the right place. But is it the right time? No one's around and the doors are shut, but the hours posted on the door say it should be open. T. was brave enough to knock and a somewhat surprised young woman unlocked the door and let us in. I said we would like to look around. She said there was a $4 charge per person. I glanced around the room and didn't see many of what I would call exhibits, but said "Okay, sure." As she walked with us she stopped at each panel where documents, photos and newspaper clipppings were displayed and recited a brief history related to each.

I was struck by the photos of Danny Lyon, a northern white civil rights worker who was the first official photographer of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). I can only imagine how displeased the local white authorities must have been to have him documenting the things happening here in the early '60s. It was a volatile situation and the protests that occurred here revealed how deeply ingrained segregation was. As in Memphis, the more I saw and read, the heavier I felt. Here were local people (while I was living safely across town!) who were involved in a great struggle, fearing for their lives at times, beaten or jailed at times. I recognized the names of whites and blacks in some of the news articles displayed. These names and events were being explained from a very different perspective than what I had heard at the time they occurred and after. My parents had protected me from something they thought I couldn't understand as a young child, just as my friends' parents had protected them. We heard only minimal information about the turmoil that eventually resulted in the removal of "white only" signs on public bathrooms, bus seats, and doctors' waiting rooms.

to follow: more about the turmoil

Friday, April 11, 2008


Tony Jones at the Tattered Cover in Denver last night. Tony was in town for the Emerging Church for the Existing Church event. He discussed his new book, The New Christians, and had help with a dramatic reading from Mark Scandrette and Doug Pagitt. Afterward many of us went across the street to hang out for conversation.

Visited with Lilly Lewin who has been a favorite of mine from blogland. Lilly creates worship/prayer experiences for churches, retreats, etc. She was also speaking at the emerging/existing conference. I got to hear about the worship time, "you're invited to the table", that she helped curate the night before. It was based on scriptures about Jesus and conversations around the table with his followers at various times. Sounded very interesting with video, some teaching, lectio divina, live drama, and stations to engage with.

I also enjoyed a conversation with Anthony, from Ottowa, who is about to facilitate a group in Seattle, doing some teaching for their leadership and members. He will be challenging them on the subject of racial reconciliation. He said some things which I really want to think about relating to church/emergent church/African-American tradition and church experience.

p.s. coming up--my civil rights tour will continue through GA and AL

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sweet eclectic music surprise - house of soul

Was at Jazz@Jack's last night for a performance of At the Table. I was alerted to it on a blog that said, "Making use of great music, video and personal testimony, At the Table remembers the kitchen table experience that MLK had when he says he heard the voice of God and Christ came to him." Although they did not present At the Table last night, we did hear some amazing selections from it by Dave LeMieux and House of Soul. This was undoubtedly some of the finest live music I have heard in Denver. Dave LeMieux is an excellent singer-songwriter and bandleader. From their website:
With a heart for worship and an appreciation for good music, Dave LeMieux & House of Soul bring their own expression of funk, soul, swing, Gospel, jazz and fun to God music.

...toe-tappin’ and head-noddin’ rhythms to celebrate and share the joy, freedom and intimacy found in worship, and to simply have a funky good time.

They deserve to brag about how tight the band is and how talented the vocalists are, but they don't. The standards they perform come across as fresh and dynamic as the original music. I was blown away by a riveting and moving sax solo by Matt White on We Shall Overcome, theme song of the civil rights movement of the 60's. Chris Lang was superb on saxophones, flute, and harmonica. No song was disappointing from the 2 sets we heard. In fact, when we were not nodding our heads with the music, we were catching each other's eye and shaking our heads in amazement at how good this group was. This was nothing short of church, as faith was openly spoken of and the gospel message was woven throughout. This was music you could definitely enter into on different levels.

Curiously, there was a deja vu aspect to last night. I have had several dreams (back as far as 20+ yrs. ago) about church in music clubs and jazz clubs specifically. So, for me this was "dream church" literally!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

3 impressive voices

Today I was glued to my car radio as Bob Edwards (formerly of NPR, now of XM Radio) interviewed 3 people who knew Dr. King and were involved in the civil rights struggle of the 60's and beyond. These Memphis residents talked about the sanitation workers strike which brought King to Memphis and about their continued efforts after his assassination. Just wanted to pass this on as worth hearing. You can download the podcast and it starts streaming immediately.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

More of Memphis

Sadly, I didn't have a chance to discover my inner Elvis, as Graceland's brochure invites me to do. Graceland was not the only thing we had to pass up. There's much more to Memphis than we could see in a morning. A list of other options can be seen here. I am looking forward to returning. Besides Beale St. (see photo above), the art museum, the Underground Railroad museum, and Sun Recording Studio, the place I wanted to visit was Stax Museum of American Soul Music. With taglines of "one seriously cool museum" and "nothing against the Louvre, but you can't dance to DaVinci", you know it's gotta be a hip place. I would rather discover my inner Aretha or Mavis Staples any day. The Elvis thang is alive and well, though. For a live, yes, live, view of Graceland check here. I found that you can sign up to receive interesting facts about Elvis Presley and the latest Elvis news emailed to you on a regular basis. Stay in-the-know with an exclusive online celebrity newsletter for the ultimate Elvis fan. What news would this be?? That Elvis is about to go on tour? Don't laugh-- until you check this out: "Elvis Presley In Concert (formerly known as Elvis-The Concert), the astounding production that reunites former Elvis bandmates live on stage with a state of the art video-projected Elvis, continues its historic and critically acclaimed world tour. In 1998, Elvis-The Concert was designated a Guinness World Record as the first live tour headlined by a performer who is no longer living." Just one of the tidbits found on