Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Capitalism and art

One of the books I've read recently for school has this to say:

". . . as American culture remains openly and pervasively religious, its devotion to the Gross National Product is clear; witness the relentless spread of consumer goods; the obsession with self-image, wealth, and comfort; and especially the use of things sacred - sexuality, beauty, and language - to promote sales.  Indeed, the blessings of an Infinite God and the infinitely expanding availability of nice things are considered proofs of one another in American culture.  The artist-as-prophet cannot help but prophesy.  But it does no good.  The astonishing ability of capitalism's market strategies to defuse, aestheticize, and then enlist even the most critical extremes of avant-garde or prophetic critiques into the market's ambitions has become clear by now.  Both the avant-garde and the prophet are passe."

I've hung out recently with college students of a socialist persuasion, which has helped me break out of taking capitalism for granted.  It isn't so obvious all the time just how pervasively we (especially in the church of North America) have been sucked into a market mindset.

The Kingdom of God operates on a different economy, though, and I find myself hungry to find ways to re-order my life around it.

posted by Steve at 6:09 AM
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Monday, October 30, 2006

My way of being active in local politics

This past weekend, Michelle and I got a knock on our front door. It was a casually dressed guy wearing a baseball cap. He introduced himself as our incumbent State Representative, and asked if we had any questions about the upcoming election, etc. He also made an off-hand remark about how he and his colleagues were filling our mailbox with advertisements each day during this time of year. He left us by encouraging us to e-mail him with any questions we might have, and he would respond within a day.

He was successful in getting us to think about the amount of junk mail we receive every year during election season. Now, we faithfully recycle as much as we can, including these ads, but still, we think it creates tons and tons of waste.

So, I took this kind gentleman up on his offer. Here's what I just e-mailed him:

Dear ___________________,

Thank you for being kind enough to stop by our home this past weekend. I appreciate the efforts.

While we spoke, you made reference to the amount of advertisement that you and your colleagues are filling our mailboxes with these days. While I understand that you have a campaign to run, and advertising is an important part of your strategy, my wife and I are concerned about the amount of wasted paper generated during each and every election cycle. For example, in addition to three pieces of mail for other candidates, we received TWO mailers for your campaign today. This does not seem environmentally healthy. I'd be curious to know what the negative environmental impact of each year's elections makes.

Again, I appreciate your efforts, and your encouragement for people to e-mail you with questions and concerns. I just thought this might be worth your consideration.


Steve Lewis

posted by Steve at 6:26 PM
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I sat in a coffee shop this past Friday morning, waiting for an appointment.  I had a few minutes to kill, so I pulled out a book I'm reading for school.  I literally could not get through a sentence because of the chaos going on in my head.  I don't know how many times I directed my eyes back to the same sentence.  Every time I tried, a different distraction, a different item on my task list, a different situation that I need to deal with jumped to my attention.  For a couple minutes there, I couldn't even focus on my distractions because I would get distracted by other distractions.

I found myself just saying the words to myself, "I need a Sabbath."

I don't need to bore myself or you, dear reader, with the particulars of what's going on.  I only know a handful of people who wouldn't describe themselves as busy, so I won't go complaining.  But I do need Sabbath.

The paradox, of course, is that in order to really engage Sabbath, I have to take all these overdue tasks and put them off even further.  I know one thing I don't want, and that's to wreck the concept and value of it by putting Sabbath on my task list.

There's a lot of really good stuff going on - stuff I eagerly anticipate.  But, oh yes, it's got me running.

So to those few of you who check in on me here for updates, I ask for a little grace for not having posted much of late.  I won't say that I'll try harder.  I'll just say that Sabbath needs to take priority. 

posted by Steve at 5:58 AM
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Monday, October 16, 2006

A weekend away, and a confession

On Friday I completed a 20 year process . . . mostly a trivial one, but hey, that's the kind of guy I am.  The result?  I have now driven every mile of Interstate 5, from the US/Mexico border to the US/Canada border.  I went to Vancouver, B.C. for a college student conference, which was a lot of fun.  Vancouver's a great city - super international and compelling.  It's also a fabulous city for coffee, so you know I checked out that whole scene.  Twice I found myself enjoying Caffe Artigiano.  Mmmmmm.  Unfortunately, Michelle wasn't able to join me for the trip, so I'll have to bring her along some time soon.

Speaking of Michelle, after I posted about my ambivalence regarding the whole (RED) campaign the other day, I got an e-mail from her (while I was in Vancouver).  Here's a direct quote:

Are you close to shopping?  You should go to The Gap and buy us some new (RED) T-shirts- I actually want a red one.  You've heard of this right?  Bono is brilliant . . .

Clearly she hadn't read my post.  Pretty funny. 

So, to come clean, I did, in fact, find myself near a GAP store, and I did go in, and I did buy a (RED) t-shirt for Michelle.  There you go - I'm still a big bundle of contradictions.

posted by Steve at 8:31 AM
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Friday, October 13, 2006

What's in a name? How 'bout a URL?

Pretty funny - Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp. has had their website overwhelmed and crashed by new visitors.  Why would millions of people be flocking to a manufacturing company's site?  Well, since Google announced Monday that they've acquired YouTube, people have been trying to check it out - where?  www.utube.com .  So close, and yet so far, eh?

posted by Steve at 5:35 AM
link | 1 comments

Not so sure about this one

Wow, so Oprah and Bono have teamed up to promote consumerism shopping with a cause. [read more here] New clothing lines, and a special version of the iPod are going on sale to benefit HIV/AIDS work in Africa. While I admire the marketing savvy and desire to engage people where they are, pumping up consumerism in order to do has me feeling ambivalent.

Kinda makes me want to pass along the notice I got yesterday from Adbusters about this yea'rs Buy Nothing Day - on November 23.

posted by Steve at 5:08 AM
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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The strange energy of the truth

While I will say that this doesn't happen nearly as often as would be healthy, I recently got my bell rung. Someone very close to me said a one or two sentence piece of truth - not something hugely profound or anything, but spot on and serious. My reaction to that (so far) has been several hours worth of depression and soul searching, eerily mixed with an energy and drive to do something about it. I can't say where things will end up, but it's just very interesting to me how the wound of a well-placed, well-delivered statement of truth can both devastate and empower at the same time.

posted by Steve at 10:56 AM
link | 3 comments

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gotta love Seattle

O.k., so it's pretty much a no-brainer that Seattle is a liberal city, one that cares about the environment.  No big shocker, then, that recycling is a big deal here.  The thing that's funny to me, though, is that one of the most recycling oriented people I've met here is a homeless guy that comes around at the end of each week's free lunch we do for the college students - we give him leftover food.  Like other homeless folks, this guy goes dumpster diving daily - but he actually does it in order to pull cardboard, paper, aluminum, and glass out of the garbage.  Good man.

posted by Steve at 3:35 PM
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Globalization and American Ignorance

As I read more about the economic, cultural, and religious aspects of globalization, I really struggle with the degree to which the western world in general, and the U.S. in particular seem to be perpetrating gross injustice on the rest of the world. Our "free democratic," and especially our economic decisions as individuals are contributing to some horrible things.

Growing up in school I remember learning about the World War II era, and the rise of Hitler in Germany. I was flabergasted to think that a whole nation of smart, enlightened people could be so sucked in to a perverse message that they would condone the extermination of millions within their own borders.

Now I'm thinking that I'm one of those smart, enlightened people who has not just condoned, but participated in injustice. As a good consuming citizen of this country, I've worn my clothing, eaten my food, driven my car, and entertained myself endlessly on the backs of people who are simply just fighting to survive in this world.

At this point, I don't even know where or how to begin resolving this stuff. But I hope that this gnawing dissatisfaction in me doesn't go away.

posted by Steve at 5:50 AM
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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at SpiritFarmer.com. When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me: spiritfarmer@gmail.com

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

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