I’ve had many stimulating conversations at the workshops held the last several days at the Engagement Scholarship Conference. But the really mind blowing realization over the last two days is that I am seeing things in my discipline unseeable by my strongest mentors. I am questioning their insights and I am realizing they fall short of where we need to be if we together are to achieve human flourishing. But I am seeing these things because of the wonderful job they did building the step on which I stand. And in seeing these things, I now realize in a new way my life’s work — to quickly shore up the tentative step I now am on. Even as I do so, my students are already using it to see things I cannot. As my mentors did, I need to encourage my students to begin constructing the next tread in our stairway. This is a good thing. This is a thing worth giving one’s life for.
A colleague, Aiko Takazawa, was telling me about a wonderful new services she had discovered — printing posters on fabric. In researching it further, I came across a post regarding different fabric poster options on the American Society for Cell Biology website.
Following their recommendations, I placed my order with Spoonflower.com September 10th. The poster arrived today, September 22, and I’m very pleased with the results, especially given the price of $21.60 (I also paid $15 for express shipping since I wanted leeway in case it didn’t work out well).
The performance knit option is very pleasant to the touch in addition to being very functional. Given Spoonflower is a fabric shop more generally, perhaps next time I’ll get extra in a repeating pattern so that I can also wear my poster. But for this coming month, I’m very glad I don’t have to carry a poster tube with me as I travel internationally to present.
This morning I laid in bed listening to passersby walking or biking down our street commenting on our garden. A few minutes later I was walking through the garden assessing the impact of the overnight rains. I pulled a few weeds to feed to the livestock and ended up chatting for a while with the custodian from our building at work just happened to be biking by. When your garden is mostly just off the street, garden tasks are often intertwined with neighborhood tasks.
Backyard gardens, backyard chickens, backyard grilling, backyard pools. A couple of Sundays ago Ana Caughey reported back to Twin City Bible Church about her first experience joining us on the youth mission trip to East St. Louis. She commented on how she noticed the folks in East St. Louis spend their leisure time on their front porches and visiting with neighbors. We often spend our time in our backyards with our immediate family but closed off from our neighbors.
Gated communities are exclusive neighborhoods with carefully controlled access. Something about them has always been off-putting to me. They seem the opposite of how I understand Jesus lived in the world, and as a follower, seem the opposite of how I should live in the world. But is it possible that we’ve made the backyard a more palatable, but still problematic, equivalent?
I’ve had a phrase running through my mind recently about how there isn’t wealth without commonwealth. But for the life of me I couldn’t place where I had come across that phrase. Finally, this morning I found a reference to a sermon by Martin Luther King, Jr. titled “The man who was a fool.” Sure enough, it was the most recent sermon I had read out of the book Strength to Love, compiled by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 and most recently published by Fortress Press.
The sermon is based on Luke 12:16-20, a parable about a rich young man who decides to build up more barns to store his surplus grain so that he can relax, eat, drink, and be merry. Perhaps half way through the sermon, Martin Luther King, Jr. says (emphasis mine):
The rich man was a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on others. His soliloquy contains approximately sixty words, yet “I” and “my” occur twelve times. He has said “I” and “my” so often that he had lost the capacity to say “we” and “our.” A victim of the cancerous disease of egotism, he failed to realize that wealth always comes as a result of the commonwealth. He talked as though he could plough the fields and build the barns alone. He failed to realize that he was the heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labour to which both the living and the dead had contributed. When an individual or a nation overlooks this interdependence, we find a tragic foolishness.
And so it is…