Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2009 at 2:06 am


after the first piece in GIMP, in which the dancers stand directly before you in their brokenness and beauty, lawrence carter-long begins the second piece with the stem of a joke, “so three cripples walk into a bar.”

carter-long fails to complete the joke and so trusts the audience to make the connection* between three objects of the joke and the three individuals with disabilities in the crew. look at us, he slyly suggests, as we struggle through the violence, soak up the intimacy, shrivel in alienation and strive before your very eyes.

look at us, carter-long demands, in all of our brokenness, boldness and beauty.

look at us, he telegraphs with his distinctive gait, but don’t forget that we’ve been watching you too.

and though our observations could be full of bitterness and our jokes could easily objectify three able bodied assholes, i think you are beautiful. i look at you in all of your beauty, i see the risks you take and i cannot help but be changed.

i suspect that christian homiletics** are the last thing on carter-long’s mind when, objectified under the stranger’s eye he refuses to reduce the object before him to anything less than beauty. but i think christian preachers*** can learn so much from his self-awareness, refusal of reciprocity and his proclamation of beauty.

lawrence, i echo your assertion that “this has changed me…it has been an honor and privilege to have the time to stop and really look at you.”

* a connection i failed to make, by the way, until i read the globe’s review
** a five dollar seminary word for preaching
*** of which i, in my off-work hours anyway, am one


In Uncategorized on April 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

blessed are the acehnese

check out this fascinating story about muslim refugees who were abandoned at sea by the rich and have been embraced by the desperately poor.

the poor acehnese hosts have put in more than all the others, for out of their poverty they have put in all they have to live on.

i suspect that the kingdom of God belongs to these acehnese.

ht: nytimes; lk. 6:20; jam. 2:5

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2009 at 11:33 pm

An Open Invite to Cohort and Cavort* with Gordon Students

On Tuesday, April 21 from 7 to 9 pm several members of Boston’s Emergent Cohort will be attending a debate at Gordon College (255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, MA; the debate is taking place in the Ken Olsen Science Center which is pictured on the left and located, um, somewhere on campus; if you’re taking the rail you’ll need to stop on the Beverly Depot, North Beverly or Montserrat station on the Newburyport/Rockport line and get a ride from someone like me). Sounds exiting, I know…but wait, there’s more!

The question being considered at the debate is “whether the movement commonly designated ’emergent’ church or ’emerging’ church bears witness to the positive flourishing of Christianity in our time.” This is a huge conversation taking place within evangelicalism (we always like to foster an internecine feud or two to keep us from the real work of mission:), so I’m excited to hear what the students say.

Since Emergent is more of a conversation than a proposition or ecclesial practice, after the debate a number of us are heading over to the Salem Beer Works (278 Derby Street, Salem, MA – easily accessible from the Salem stop on the Newburyport/Rockport Line) around 9:45 to discuss this topic at greater length.

I hope that a number of you are able to join us for the debate and/or the beers and pseudo cohort gathering after. If you’re going to attend, please RSVP so that I can keep an eye out for you. If you have questions about this event, please shoot me an email at gentry13ATgmailDOTcom. If you are looking for a couple of home remedies for prostatitis, I can share a few of those as well.

Be Well,


* Single seminarians, don’t get the wrong idea.

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Ordinary Resurrection

Although my blogging fast was successful, I had a mostly busy, ambiguous, unholy Lent. I entered the season with every intention to enter the desert in order to conduct a “fearless moral inventory” and I ended the season relieved that I wasn’t slated to preach the resurrection. I don’t know quite what to make of that.

Fortunately, early last week I received the proclamation I was so hesitant to offer.

Shortly after arriving at my satellite office (also known as the Beverly Public Library) I ran into Jandelle*, an enthusiastic, uber-intelligent young adult who had attended the Beverly Bootstraps Homework Helpers Club I helped sponsor years ago. Although Janelle has the intellect and intrinsic dignity of Michelle Obama, she hails from a challenging family background and a neighborhood that most would consider less than ideal. Her background, along with the fact that I had witnessed a brutish twenty-something bullying her in a parking lot a couple of years ago, left me worried that she would fail to fulfill her potential.

So it was with a little hesitancy that I asked Jandelle what college she was planning on attending next fall.

Immediately she smiled and said: “I’ve already received acceptance letters from UMass Amherest, BU, BC and St. Mary’s, but my first choice is Columbia and I should be hearing back from them within the week.”

Somehow I avoided tears as I congratulated Jandelle and wished her good luck. Then, as quickly as she appeared, she was gone.

When Jesus proclaims a blessing on the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of God, I believe him. For that reason among others I consider it a privilege to empower, and be empowered by, people throughout my workday.

However, in the darker moments, working in social services feels an awful lot like servicing poverty and one is tempted to wonder if all of the hours, dollars and prayers contributed is going to do a damn bit of good.

For that reason, I treasure moments of ordinary resurrection like these. Jandelle’s story serves as a powerful reminder that God is always in the business of bringing life out of death and if I had been slated to proclaim the resurrection yesterday morning her story would have been my text.

* Not her real name.

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