Saturday, June 03, 2006

touching on the fears

Walter Wink, one of my all-time favorite theologians, once wrote something like, "Pay attention to your dreams; they reveal more about ourselves than we might think."

Over the past few weeks, I have had some of the most intense dreams I have ever had. It almost seems as though my deepest, deepest fears are being played out in my mind, one at a time, in what seems to be a three-part series. In one sense, I am profoundly fascinated by how the human mind/sub-conscious works. In another sense, I am profoundly shaken and scared about who I really am, in light of my fears.

Dream One: This dream theme has recurred several times over the past few weeks (months?). The plot has been different, but the idea remains the same: I am in a position where I am about to be violently attacked, sometimes with a knife, sometimes with a gun, sometimes with a bat/rod. Sometimes the attacker is just one person, sometimes it is a group of people. In my dreams -- and it is difficult for me to be honest about this -- I always fight back, trying to outsmart the attacker(s) and trying to get away alive.

The scary thing, for me, is that this dream feels too real -- but it's not so much the attackers who cause me to wake up in a cold sweat, but the fact that, at my core, I am violent and am interested purely in my own survival. When I wake up from these dreams, I can feel that realness, and I can't escape the fact that, if I were faced with a situation where I was about to be attacked, I would react in the exact same way that I do in my dreams.

You, the reader, may be thinking: That's natural; there is nothing wrong with a survival instinct and, in fact, it is oftentimes foolish for one to put one's self in harm's way. To which I would reply: No doubt. Yet, that is not who I want to be. I do not want my most basic reactions to come from a concern for self-preservation. Instead, I want to dig my heart-roots into the fertile soil of Truth, into a deeper humanity, so that, when the time comes for me to face the bullet or the knife or the bar, transformation might occur, even if not in the immediate moment. I want to be able to stare the attacker back into God's mothering arms -- back into that powerful, yet safe, grasp.

That is what I want.

But right now, I am scared (and aware) that that is not who I am.

Dream Two: This dream came right after the series of dreams mentioned above. In Dream Two, I see myself in relationship with others -- particularly those closest to me, those whom I care a lot about and love beyond words. In this dream (which occured two nights ago), I am with one of those people, and, as we communicate back and forth, I quickly get frustrated -- even angry -- because I allow myself to be defined by my past instincts, thoughts, feelings, and reactions. In other words, who I was in the past was setting up, in my mind, expectations of who I will be in the future, and I was trapping myself in my own expectations, unable to break free and be the person who I really wanted to be.

This, too, I have realized, is one of my deepest fears: That my ego and my pride will overpower me from breaking into a better me -- that I will not have the courage to acknowledge my faults and my vulnerabilities so that I might take one more step closer to becoming more whole and more human. At my most basic level, I am terrified of exploring the unknown and putting faith in the mystery, even when I can feel that the known and the un-mysterious are no longer serving their purpose and are, in fact, crushing my potential as a child of God.

Dream Three: I had this dream last night and, like the other two, it shook me into a cold sweat and trembled me in ways I did not want to be trembled. The dream was this: I went walking by the garden at Mound and Carpenter -- the garden where I spend most of my time when I'm working with City Farm... the garden that continually occupies my thoughts and my visions. As I walked by the garden, I looked and saw that everything -- every aspect of the plot -- had been erased. All the plants that the kids and I had spent so much time nurturing into the ground, all the seeds that we had planted, all the string and the rocks and the artsy/creative stuff that we did with the lot -- everything had been erased. And all that was left was a level field of dirt.

All I could do was yell once I saw what had happened. I yelled and yelled and yelled. I was so angry, and, thinking I knew who did it, I went to their house and cursed them out. My anger bubbled inside, and my words came out red hot. "How dare they! How dare they erase all that hard work and all that effort!"

As I was yelling in my dream, my cell phone started ringing (in reality). Confused, I woke up, went to the phone, and saw my friend Christopher calling... at 4:59AM! As By the time I was cognizant enough to realize what was happening, my phone stopped ringing, and I went back to bed. And when I got back to bed, all I remember thinking was, "It was only a dream... the garden is fine... it was only a dream," as if I needed to convince myself that I could stop yelling and could let go of my anger -- that none of it really happened.

This third dream represented my third deepest fear: That, without my work, I am nothing.

Who was I once the garden work was erased? I was someone who could do nothing but yell and scream and get angry, because the garden represented (represents?) everything I ever cared about and loved and fought for and sacrificed for. Without that garden, without that proof that I am doing something, my fear was/is that I am nothing.

Three fears, in three dreams, three nights in a row. Only God knows what tonight will bring.

Thank you for seeing me into my next stage of growth.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the observer effect is good theology

In physics, the observer effect (often mistaken for Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle) points to the fact that the very act of observation has a direct effect on that which is being observed, meaning that true objectivity is impossible. For instance, when viewing something in a microscope (which requires the use of light), the object being observed will be affected by the light radiation, even if on a sub-atomic level.

Drawing this principle out further, we can conclude that one cannot exist in the world without somehow (and continuously) affecting that world. To exist is to affect.

What does this mean for theology?

I would argue (and I'm drawing on concepts promulgated by one of my teachers, Dr. Jim Perkinson, among others) that religious fundamentalism -- and, specifically, biblical literalism -- is impossible given the observer effect. One cannot read the Bible objectively and draw from the Bible objective principles. Instead, biblical study is always a subjective process, with the individual reader always bringing to the study her/his own criterion by which s/he interprets what is read.

This is a very liberating concept, for it frees us into the realization that God's revelation is always a dialogical process. In other words, the Word of God, though it may exist on its own (which cannot be proven or disproven), cannot be discovered and understood without us first affecting it through the lens of our experience (which explains why there is such a large difference in people's understanding of the Word of God -- from those, like Christopher Columbus, using God to justify the genocide of Native Americans to those, like Gandhi, using God to inform a nonviolent movement against British colonialism).

The task for us, then, is to recognize that we cannot help but affect God's revelation and that we have a responsibility to seriously engage in dialogue with God (and with each other) in determining how that revelation will come into being.

If I understand God to be Love, then I will recognize God revealing God's self in acts of love, and I will demonstrate my acceptance of that revelation and that understanding of God by reciprocating love. In the end then, my loving further reveals a loving God.

On the other hand, if I understand God to be vengeful, I will recognize God as the instigator of natural disasters and war and famine and disease, and I will demonstrate my acceptance of that revelation by acting in ways that pronounce vengence. My vengence, in turn, will serve to reveal a vengeful god.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

because jesus was killed

Two misconceptions that are killing the Church:
1) The belief that Jesus died on the cross;
2) The belief that Jesus was innocent.

Two corrections that can breathe new life into the Church:
1) Jesus was killed, and the same powers and ideologies and mentalities and systems that put Jesus on the cross are alive and well today;
2) Jesus was absolutely guilty under Roman imperialistic law, for he threatened to undo the very fabric of society with his hard, hard love. And that crime was punishable by death.

Friday, April 07, 2006

expectation is the force to fight against

In my study over the past five years of nonviolent movements and nonviolent strategies for social transformation, as well as from my study of Walter Wink's The Powers That Be, I have reached the following conclusion: In order for true reconciliation and transformation to occur, expectations must be challenged and denied.

In other words, if we want to change the world, we have to do the unexpected. Over and over again.

Our lives are ordered by our expectations. I expect to get up in the morning, to eat breakfast, to go to work, to go to class, and to not have anything happen between these events.

Whenever something happens to me that I don't see coming, I am confused by it, and I am forced to deal with it, even if only to write it off as "a strange occurence."

Politicians expect protests. They expect rallies. They expect marches and people screaming in the streets. I hate to say it, but these types of actions aren't going to do a damn thing to transform the world and bring about reconciliation (though, perhaps, they might be effective in creating the type of pressure necessary to stop a current political trend, if the rallies themselves are unexpected, as in the case of Ukrainian citizens per their 2004 election).

The mistake that activists are making, I think, is that rallies and marches have become organizing principles and, hence, are treated as ends in themselves. This creates a situation where activists are trapped in their own expectations.

What has become of this type of organizing (i.e., organizing that is focused on creating more rallies and more marches) is the erroneous belief that large numbers of people are required to bring about transformation.

I want to stand firmly against this belief. Instead, I would like to argue that one person, acting in an unexpected way, can be (but is not necessarily) more powerful and more effective than a million people doing what is expected (like marching in an anti-war rally).

Firstly, I would like to offer a reminder that there aren't a large number of people determining the fate of our world right now, though it may seem as though the whole world is against "us." In fact, to use an illustration from The Wizard of Oz, sometimes it seems like there is just one guy behind the curtain who projects his voice and operates his machine in such a way so as to create the illusion that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, and the majority.

In short, a very few people -- albeit, extremely wealthy people -- have convinced us that they represent the majority of people on this planet. In our buying into this myth, we have effectively handed them our power.

Similarly, if a few people remain in control by deceiving the masses, then I want to assert that a few people can override their control by creating creative actions to reverse the deception and use it against the powers. In other words, a small group of people, when acting out of creativity and a sense of urgency, can create the illusion that they are the majority, even if they are unable to gain the majority's support right away.

And how can we do this? I would offer, by thinking in terms of doing something that is unexpected and creative. This, I think, should be the framework for progressive activists (and, especially, people of faith), even though it is extremely vague.

Monday, March 20, 2006

City Farm in the news!!

City Farm, the urban farming group I work with in Columbus, was in this week's Columbus Dispatch. Here's the article (I'm so proud!):

Church’s urban gardens yield more than vegetables
Friday, March 17, 2006
Dennis M . Mahoney

Old First Presbyterian Church isn’t what it used to be.

Founded in 1806, the congregation built its current church in 1907 on Bryden Road on the Near East Side. It had 650 members then, and farmland was all around.

Now, only about 15 people worship on a typical Sunday, and houses surround the church.

But the small congregation believes that today’s urban world doesn’t have to be a wasteland of steel and concrete, and it is doing something about it.

Through the church’s Four Seasons City Farms Project, tomatoes, peppers, kale, collards, carrots, eggplant, beets, lettuce, spinach, turnips, beans and a range of flowers are springing up in vacant lots around the area. It’s all grown organically.

Daniel Ingwersen, a church member nicknamed the "minister of agriculture" for helping to lead the community garden effort, said seeing vacant lots come to life creates hope for residents.

"Our goal is to transform the whole urban landscape," he said. "Not just on a visual level, but the way people come together in community, which is what church is all about."

The garden project began in 2003 on a church-owned lot next door, with help from some seed money, including $350 from the church. What is known as the Garden of Communion was designed by member Susan Weber.

Since then, Four Seasons has grown to include seven gardens in the Near East Side area, most on vacant lots rented from the city of Columbus. It also has a plot at Church of the Redeemer Moravian Church in Dublin.

Those who work the gardens share in the crops, and some are sold at seasonal markets in Clintonville and Bexley. Money generated is poured back into the program, including paying a few people for their work.

Some of the produce is enjoyed by church members and area residents at monthly potlucks and at the church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. A portion also is donated to food banks and other social concerns, such as Rebecca’s Place, a women’s shelter, Weber said.

Recently, Ingwersen received a "Give Back To Grow" award as national urban gardener of the year from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. for the Four Seasons project.

Four Seasons has been funded with several grants, including money from Scotts. But, Ingwersen said, the aim is to become self-sustaining.

Christopher Appel, a member who lives near Old First, said a long-term goal of Four Seasons is to establish gardens and hand them over to others in the area to tend. For instance, one family will be taking over a garden next door to its home, he said.

"The excitement about having something that you can call your own, and invest in and watch it grow and change and transform, I think really gets to the root of what really builds community from the inside out," Appel said.

"It’s like a baby that is starting to grow up a little bit."

Weber said another emphasis of the program is teaching people about healthy eating.

"There aren’t very many grocery stores in this neighbohoood, and a lot of the people don’t have cars," she said. "And so the opportunities for food are the convenience stores that don’t carry produce."

Weber said interest in the gardens comes slowly with neighbors. One reason is that many residents rent their homes and are transient; another is that some know little of gardening.

"Grandparents know because a lot of them are from somewhat of an agricultural background, or had parents who were farmers," she said.

"In the middle generation, sort of the 30s to the 50s, is the one where there hasn’t been any context of agriculture in their lives at all. And so there’s just sort of a blank."

Children who have worked in the gardens or attended potlucks have grown to like eating the vegetables, even the edible weeds.

"One of the things that struck me the most last summer was all these kids who will tell you, swear to you, they ate vegetables, and realizing that they’d never actually eaten vegetables before," said Suzanne Hayes, the church’s lay pastor.

"The quality is so different from the things that they’re able to get and that we’re able to grow. It’s just so much better that they realize, ‘Oh, wow, we do like vegetables.’ "

Member Billie Barkley said she didn’t think she could bring herself to eat some of the organic fare at the church’s potlucks, which included flowers such as vitamin-C-rich nasturtiums.

"But then after awhile, I started eating that stuff," Barkley said. "Susan (Weber) introduced dishes, and they were delicious. And you find out that it’s good for you.

"And those nasturtiums. I’d never eaten nasturtiums. And so I think it’s been an education for all of us, a real education. It’s been a blessing to have that garden."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Chicago is hiding from me

As I was reading through my emails earlier this evening, I came across a message from someone working with the League in Columbus. The message said: "Good news from Chicago," and it linked to a story about a massive rally that was held here yesterday.

According to the link, between 300,000 and 500,000 people were marching in the streets of downtown, protesting U.S. House Resolution 4437, the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act." 300,000 to 500,000 people! That's about a sixth of the population of Chicago... and I didn't know anything about the rally. And, what's worse, I had to hear about it from SOMEONE IN COLUMBUS!

O Chicago, you frustrate me so!

I have really tried to give Chicago a chance. Really, I have. I go out to explore on different days, at different times, around different parts of the city, and everytime I do this, I find absolutely nothing that I am interested in (with the exception of the Soul Vegetarian restaurant on the southside and a really amazing southside Presbyterian church that has a greenhouse built into the sanctuary). In fact, I have come to really dislike Chicago. Sure, part of that dislike is just me going into withdrawl from not being in Columbus, but part of it is also the fact that there is really nothing here that I find appealing.

And then one of the largest demonstrations ever to take place in the midwest happens within its city limits, and I don't even know a thing about it. How can this be??

People tell me that Chicago is such a great place. If that's the case, then the city is hiding from me.

(Oh, and one more rant: The Chicago Public Library system is archaic. And they won't let people check out, or even listen to, anything in their music collection... it's reserved for music students only.)

(Okay, two more rants: I'm not too impressed with their urban farming programs, either. I would have never guessed that Columbus is so far ahead of the game.)

(By the way, I don't want to give the wrong impression -- I'm glad I'm here, but I am anxious to get back to Columbus.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?"

(Isaiah 58)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Paralysis of Analysis

(Okay, so I'm just going to start off by saying that this post is dedicated to Nick, Mike, Amy, Omar, and Ramsey, as well as anyone else from the Time For Peace fellowship. We have shared some deep, paralyzing discussions together, so you'll know what I'm talking about with this.)

When I first saw this cartoon, I thought it was hilarious (thanks, Nick, for the link). Then I thought, wow, that's a little too revealing of my own intellectual and spiritual dysfunctions.

It's that question: "Do you really need that." That question haunts me, stalks me, and, often, renders me useless to society. Yes, I, as someone who is all too aware of the effects my actions/choices/ideas/thoughts/words/etc. have on this world, suffer from what Dr. King called the "paralysis of analysis." In other words, in an effort to minimize the amount of resources and energy I expend through daily living (i.e., in order to live in a way that meets my basic needs, yet makes it possible for everyone else in the world to meet their needs), I, often, am caught in situations where my choices leave me in a Catch-22. I try to live into what I feel is the Christian imperative to "be the change I wish to see in the world," yet I do this, sometimes, at the risk of my own well-being.

In short, I am paralyzed by my own conscience in a world that, all too often, seems entrapped by immoral and unjust forces.

Here's an example: It's cold in my room. I would feel more comfortable if I turned on the space heater, but I know that doing so will use a lot of energy, which, in turn, will add to the CO2 emissions (via the coal-burning electric companies), which, in turn, will contribute to global warming. It's sounds like a stupid quarrel, I know... but, deep down inside, the quarrel makes perfect sense (theologically, spiritually, intellectually, etc.). Furthermore, I think that the personal and social call of justice necessitates such inner struggles, which leads me to conclude that part of "being the change" is, occasionally, being paralyzed by one's own analysis.

However, that line of thinking does nothing to alleviate the occasional reaction of "This sucks!" Analysis does suck. Living just on a need-level does suck. It sucks trying to track down fair trade, sweatshop-free clothing while it seems like everyone else just goes to Wal-Mart to get their shirts and shoes.

Or, rather, it can suck, if one gets trapped into thinking that ethical living is an end in itself.

I must admit that there are times when I reduce my life (and, consequently, my faith) to a series of ethical choices; and, in such times, I find myself getting depressed, saddened, and, ultimately, paralyzed.

Yet, in these times, I have always been redeemed by the grace of God and have, consequently, been able to turn away from my service to morality and toward my service to God and God's promise of the coming kin-dom and the establishment of the Beloved Community. In other words, I remember that my striving to "be the change" is my direct response to the grace and to the very real freedom I have received through God (in Christ).

Again, morality is a response, not a goal.

That said, I would like to argue that being paralyzed by our analysis is not something we can (or should) avoid. In fact, it is a necessary part of grace-filled living. However, I believe that, when we live in a state of true freedom (i.e., when we realize that our lives do not have to be dictated and/or controlled by the Powers That Be), we are able to cope with the paralysis of analysis, move past it, and, ultimately, "keep on keepin' on."

True freedom is being able to say that I do not depend on Wal-Mart for my survival. True freedom is being able to say that I do not need to use fossil fuels in order to feel fulfilled. True freedom is being able to say that I do not (in the case of the cartoon above) need to play billiards in order to be happy. True freedom is not being afraid, as Jesus said, of those who can "kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul" (Matt. 10:28). True freedom is believing there is a better way, and living into that belief.

Without true freedom, morality becomes an end in itself, and the paralysis that results from that morality just plain "sucks."

With true freedom, morality becomes a natural response, and the "paralysis of analysis" serves as a reminder that "the gate is narrow and the way is hard" (Matt. 7:14), but that, ultimately, the path leads to life.

Riding the Rails

I just moved to Chicago, where I will be spending the next three and a half months participating in the S.C.U.P.E. (Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education) program. This is part of my Masters of Divinity program, and I'm looking forward to working with the amazing professors of S.C.U.P.E. and taking their amazing classes. My first class, which starts this Friday, is "Urban Principalities and the Spirit of the City," and it is being taught by a minister from Detroit who did numerous civil disobedience actions with Fr. Daniel Berrigan, including an action where they clipped an opening in a fence at an air force base, walked down the runway while reciting an Easter liturgy, and attempted to disassemble missiles at the site. (This was during the Vietnam War.)

Anyway, I'm here in Chicago now, looking forward to starting the program. I've been here exactly a week, and, between my sporadic work schedule (I'm interning at an American Baptist Church), I've made several attempts at exploring the city. These attempts, at first, involved me walking a few miles both west and east from where I'm living. That got boring pretty quickly (though there are public libraries within two miles in both directions, providing a contingent destination plan in case my senseless wandering becomes overly dissonant with my continual strive to be oriented toward a purpose for my life).

I have now resorted to hopping on the "L" (short for "elevated train," for those of you not familiar with Chicago lingo) and riding it for the sake of... well, riding it. I am probably the biggest public transportation geek in the world -- not only do I bask in the environmental glory of mass transit, but I also find public transportation (and, particularly, the "L") a great way to view and get immersed in the culture and dynamics of the city.

Where else can you take a tour of the city for $2? Where else can you go to be in the same place with people of all shapes, sizes, colors, classes (except, for the most part, upper class folks), beliefs, ages, etc.? I guess I have never thought about it before, but public transportation (and, specifically, train and subway systems) is really the most diverse environment that most people will ever experience. Hey, wait a second... that's pretty remarkable to think about. There's a lot of potential there...

Granted, I've found that the rails aren't always that diverse. Most of the college kids, yuppies, punks, and hippies come on near the campuses and get off around the gentrified-but-hip neighborhoods. Most of the middle class European American folks get on at the suburban and/or gentrified neighborhood stops and get off around downtown. Once the "L" hits the southside (around 47th) and the westside, almost everyone on the train is African American. And the Latina/o American, Mexican American, and Asian American folks, I've found, tend to get on and off on the northside (but closer to downtown), though the boundaries aren't always that clear.

Okay, so this post, like my neighborhood exploration, has no clear destination or objective. That said, it is thematically justifiable for me to just stop writing right here. But, because I like suspense, I will stop writing right ---------

Friday, December 30, 2005


(Beginning note: If any entries on this blog ever seem ugly, naive, explicit, or broken... that's good, because it probably means that I'm actually being honest with myself and with my thoughts/feelings. But, still, I realize that such entries have the potential to harm. In that case, please read, or re-read, this post.)

I don't know how to introduce myself, except to say this:

I love hearing people speak from their heart.

I love when people envision something and then do it.

I love vision in general.

I love eating food that I helped grow.

I love turning abandoned lots into community gardens.

I love grandmothers who send their grandkids down to the garden to help out.

I love watching kids figure things out.

I love elders who realize they're elders and who do something with their wisdom.

I love everything about Cornel West.

I love it when people tell me how they really feel, even when it hurts like hell when they do.

I love when I can work up the courage to say "hi" to people I don't know.

I love leaving doors unlocked.

I love potlucks.
Mmmm... I really love potlucks.

I love walking on the bus and listening to folks around me.

I love it when bus drivers know the folks on the bus and treat them like family.

I love that I had Rev. Ross as my first minister, that I had Dr. Mary Sawyer and Dr. Robert Baum as professors, that I have people like Bob, Suzanne, Bev, Mary, Daniel, and Susan who treat me like their son.

I love how my mom hugs me and then lets me go, how she prays, how she appreciates family and welcomes others in.

I love how my dad always reminds me to speak from my heart, how he encourages me to trust my feelings and to follow them into the Unknown, how he talks about God, faith, life, and love.

I love how my sister takes photographs of things no one else notices (and then gives me a copy of the photos), how she wrote "be the change" for her cell phone welcome message, how she has an original sense of humor, how she finds ways to keep loving even when everything and everyone seems against her.

I love theology, especially when I can arrange words "just right" in order to express the fullness of what I encounter in God.

I love thinking about what God thinks about.

I love the story of Jesus and the tradition and ideas that developed from that story, and I love that I can say that I love these things, even in the face of all the harm that has been done by Christians throughout history, because I know that there is still something there that is beautiful and true and liberating.

I love thinking about God as a Trinity -- as the One who remains transcendant and immutable, yet who walks alongside us in a vulnerable and real way, and who, through it all, intimately empowers us and moves in us in a way that is transformative.

I love, I love, I LOVE the story of Mary, mother of Jesus.

I love hearing the "Shema" during Jewish services.

I love that Muslims awaken to the sound of "Allahu akbar" ("God is great").

I love reading about Gandhi, and I love that he was the one who brought me back to Christianity.

I love the Catholic Worker community.

I love clapping to hymns and singing with feeling.

I love listening to Sweet Honey in the Rock, Michael Franti, and Bernice Johnson Reagon, and I love that their singing makes me want to fight for freedom and justice.

I love listening to Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and Common, and I love how they use every word, sound, and break-beat to pierce darkness and bleed out love, grace, justice, and truth.

I love Capacity open mics and the fact that they're creating something beautiful right down the block.

I love Columbus and the entire lower eastside.

I love City Farms and the fact that there are seven amazing gardens within just a few blocks of where I live.

I love the view of downtown Columbus at night, especially going south on Third Street, crossing over I-670.

I love going out in the country at night and seeing the stars, and I love realizing how small I really am in comparison.

I love working for justice and working to transform things that are wrong.

I love being inspired to do things that aren't traditional or expected, and I love knowing that those inspirations come from God.

I love when my stereotypes and misconceptions get proven wrong.

I love creative tension and cognitive dissonance.

I love hearing people talk about God, especially when they speak with a language that is intimate and real.

I love breaking bread with Republicans and Democrats in the same room.

I love being able to understand where people are coming from, even if I don't agree with them.

I love giving sermons, especially in churches that have been deemed "spiritually dead" or "conservative"... it makes it easier for me to realize that I have nothing to lose, and it allows me to really let go.

I love watching Dr. King's last speech, especially when I feel powerless and empty, and I love that it makes me cry tears of joy every time. And I really love that Dr. King didn't want to speak that night (he was sick and there was a bad storm), but he did anyway... and without notes.

I love being in awe of something.

I love hearing Saul Williams recite poetry, and I love that he pushes me to a new level and to new understandings every time I listen to him.

I love reading "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran (especially the chapter "On Love"), and I love that he held onto the draft of that book for seven years so that he could make sure every word he wrote was the best he had to offer.

I love my friends, and I love that they feel like family.