Latent Possibilities

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm Over Here Now

I now blog over at Thanks!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Place at the Table ~ Session 4

Session 4: The Meaning of Abundance

In Day 11’s reading, Chris uses the category of slavery to describe our situation. In what ways are we slaves?

Then Chris turns this idea of slavery on its head and suggests with Paul that our true Master is God. We are meant to be slaves of the “Eternal One,” as The Voice translation puts it. What do you think about this paradox of being a slave to the one who has liberated us from all other masters?

The reading for Day 13 starts with a quote from Blaise Pascal: “All of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room.” Can you relate? Why do we have so much trouble with this?

Day 14’s reading is all about living out of weakness rather than strength. He writes, “I dread the taste of failure or a missed opportunity. . . . One of the reasons we despise weakness in ourselves is that it forces us to rely on one another and God to find the strength to move forward.” Jesus began his movement by inviting his followers to embrace a voluntary poverty. His followers were “armed with vulnerability.” How can we make a regular habit of being in touch with our weaknesses and relying on God and others to move forward?

The readings this week end with a focus on remembering the countless times God has rescued us, just as he rescued the Israelites, and giving thanks. Again and again God parts the waters of our sin, and we walk on the dry land of his grace. How can we orient our hearts toward remembering and thanksgiving?

Video: The Things We Trust
In this film Chris says the feast is a symbol for the kingdom of God, and yet so often we eat with the TV on or otherwise fail to eat together in a way that expresses humility and thanks for how God has provided. How can we revise our table manners in a way that is suitable to those who are receiving provision from the hand of God?

Many of us have 401Ks or investments or retirement accounts. Think about Anna in this Compassion project. What is her retirement plan? In what do we trust, and in what should we trust?

Saturday, March 03, 2012

A Place at the Table ~ Session 3

Session 3: The Meaning of Abundance

Quotes from this week’s readings, with questions:

“If entitlement is like a disease to a healthy spiritual life, then gratitude is the proven vaccine.” What has your relationship with gratitude been like on this fast? When have you been grateful? When have you found yourself falling short of gratitude?

“Too often we understand sin as doing ‘bad things,’ when the truth is that our actions are only the fruit of our sin.” If this is true, what are the implications for how we deal with our sin?

“When work and material goods become our gods, we are the only ones to blame. This time of fasting is about repentance, and now is as good a time as any.” What does repentance look like? Have you given in to temptation on this fast? How did you respond?

“Our true affections will be exposed on this journey. . . . Do you see the chaos created when you love anything more than you love God?” What are you learning about your true affections?

“Some commands in Scripture are so clear that when we talk about them, we ought to speak with a confidence that pushes back the powers of evil and brings comfort to the oppressed. . . . When it comes to justice, we speak on behalf of God, and we should do it forcefully.” What do you think Chris is getting at with this quote?

Video: The Meaning of Abundance

When you see the images of these children in Ecuador eating food, what thoughts go through your mind?

Chris refers to the expansion of our tables. What does he have in mind? How can we see this happen with our own tables?

“We have one big problem in the world: some of us have too much, and some of us have too little.” Chris goes on to say that God expected us to even things out, that his people would be the ones to level the playing field. If all of us had enough, what are some ways the world would look different than it does now?

A Place at the Table ~ Session 2

Session 2: Things Sacred and Holy

The readings this week focused on liberation from Pharaoh, exodus, faith over fear, using power for the weak, mission (“the work we were made to do”), and triumphing over self-doubt.

“You don’t have to mindlessly obey the mad impulses that master you. You are free indeed.” We don’t need to share what our “mad impulses” are, but most of us, if we’re honest, recognize that we have them. How do you think this journey can help to be free of these?

“Don’t misunderstand me: seeking power as its own reward is literally a fool’s errand. But using the considerable power every Westerner already enjoys for the sake of the poor is both righteous and life-changin—for us and for the poor.” Have you ever thought of yourself as having considerable power in the world? How can we, like Moses, use the power God has given us to help ourselves and others experience freedom from slavery?

“God used Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, and Nina Simone to lead her people out of oppression and into a better day through her music and her work in the civil rights movement. God also intends to use each of us.” Do you relate to Moses’ and Nina’s struggle with self-doubt? How can we overcome it?

Video: “Things Sacred and Holy”

What does the phrase “on earth as in heaven” mean?

Just as the veil was torn so heaven could break loose, some things need to be destroyed in our own lives so that God can dwell fully within us. What needs to be destroyed in our lives?

Where do we see heaving breaking loose on earth?

People have fought and continue to fight for a place that they believe will bring them close to God. As Christians we believe God is in us. We don’t look for God in a temple; we recognize we are his living stones that make the temple. What are the implications for how we live and interact with the world around us?

At the same time, there are places in our lives or things that we do that help us experience God as more real or in a special way. What are these places and practices for you?

Sabbath reading?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Class Handout ~ A Place at the Table

This Sunday I'm beginning to facilitate a class on A Place at the Table by Chris Seay. I figured I would make the handout available here in case it's useful to anyone else. Sorry for the length!

A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor
Chris Seay
Grace Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, 2012
February 19, 29, March 4, 11, 18, 25

February 19: Beginning...

My hope for this series is that it will help us deepen our relationships—with God, the poor, each other, and ourselves. The basic idea of this experience is simple: for 40 days, change the way you eat and/or drink (however you like) in a way that helps you live in solidarity with the poor. Then give the money you save to the poor.

Resources to Get Started

A Place at the Table (book). The book begins with a foreword and introduction and four short chapters. (Note, in particular, chapter 3, which lists practical suggestions for fasting.) The rest of the book is 40 daily readings, which we can begin reading on Ash Wednesday.

A Place at the Table (DVD). We’ll be watching all the sessions in this class.

Facebook page. This is a great place to share any stories with others throughout the country that are on the journey.

The author’s website,, provides some useful resources:
· Daily Videos ~ Chris traveled to Haiti, Ecuador, Ethiopia, and Jerusalem and filmed 40 brief (2- to 3-minute) devotional videos. Start on Ash Wednesday and watch one every day (except Sundays).
· Food lists by country. See under “Resources.” Also, see attached.
· Information about two worthwhile charities, Compassion International and Living Water International. It’s a good idea, I think, to have in mind where you plan to send the money you save on groceries.
· Also, the sermon files on the site provide some additional, rich devotional thoughts.

Three blogs recently posted clips of Chris talking about this journey:

Video: “Beginning…”
What does Jesus’ intentional pursuit of weakness mean for us, some of the most privileged (powerful) people on the planet?

Some Things to Keep in Mind as We Begin
· Make this fast your own. Don’t compare yourself to others. Decide what works best for you and press on.
· Think ahead of time about how you will feast on Sundays. The first feast day reading (p. 66) has some great suggestions.
· Ask your family whether they would like to join you, even in just a small way (like, for example, by adding rice to each evening meal).
· Consider keeping a journal during this experience even if you jot down just a few thoughts a day or week. Write down quotes from the book that resonate with you. God is likely to teach you a few things during this time, and it would be nice to capture them on paper. Revisit earlier notes or entries regularly throughout the fast.
· Don’t be afraid to mark up the book!
· Schedule a lunch or other meal with a friend at least once a week during these forty days. This could be someone who is fasting too or not. You should be able to stick to your fast even in restaurants. The idea is that companionship on this journey will be helpful. Don’t go it alone.

Bible Quotes on the Poor

We all have heard that the Bible says a lot about the poor, but do we know what it actually says? Below is a smattering of references.

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."
-Proverbs 21:13

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
-Proverbs 31:8-9

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
-Matthew 6:24

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'"
-Matthew 19:23-24

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'"
-Matthew 25:41-45

"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished."
-Proverbs 17:5

"He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty."
-Proverbs 22:16

"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
-Matthew 19:21

"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."
-Proverbs 28:27

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
-1 Timothy 6:9-10

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
-1 Timothy 6:17-19

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."
-Ezekiel 16:49

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
-Proverbs 14:31

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."
-Proverbs 22:9

"A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished."
-Proverbs 28:20

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern."
-Proverbs 29:7

"Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them."
-Proverbs 22:22-23

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless."
-Ecclesiastes 5:10

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have."
-Hebrews 13:5

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done."
-Proverbs 19:17

Suggested Staple Foods for All Compassion International Countries

This is not a comprehensive list, but is meant to give you an idea of the basic foods a person in poverty might have access to. For more information or recipe ideas, here are some links

Online resources:
(search for cuisine by each country)

Rice, chicken, beef, eggs, lentils, garlic, ginger, onions

Potatoes, carrots, corn, rice, beans, chicken, fish, bananas, plantains, lettuce

Rice, black beans, pasta, chicken, potato, kale, banana, citrus fruits, onions, garlic

Burkina Faso
Millet, rice, corn, peanuts, potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, okra, fresh green vegetables, eggs, fish, mangoes

Rice, red beans, chicken, corn, potatoes, avocados, bananas

Dominican Republic
Rice, black beans, bananas, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, chicken, citrus fruits, sugarcane

Rice, potatoes, chicken, cheese soup / potato soup, avocado, corn tortillas, fish

El Salvador
Corn, black beans, corn tortillas, tomatoes, chicken, white cheese, bananas

Injera (spongy bread made from teff flour), lentils, onions, garlic, beef or goat, chickpeas, chilies

Black beans, corn, tortillas, rice, eggs, white cheese, chicken, tamales, corn chips, taquitos (rolled tacos with meat), tomatoes, avocados, onions, bananas, oranges

Cassava, rice, sweet potatoes, plantains & bananas, okra, spinach or other stewed greens, tomatoes, onions, fish, chicken, peanuts, corn, millet,

Rice, black and red beans, corn, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, pumpkin or other squash, mango, coconut, sugarcane, chicken, goat

Rice, black or red beans, tamales, corn. corn tortillas, cabbage. Basic soup of chicken stock.

Rice, potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, chicken, fish, vegetables, lentils, garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Lots of spices!

Rice, vegetables, fish, bananas, coconut, mangoes

Corn meal porridge, flat bread, rice, corn, onions, tomatoes, collard greens, beef, goat, potatoes, chicken, passion fruit, milk

Corn, corn tortillas, tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, pinto or black beans, onion, chilies, chicken, pork, avocado, mango, papaya
Corn, black or red beans, corn tortillas, chicken, eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, bananas, avocado

Potatoes, pumpkin, rice, beef, pork, corn

Rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, bananas, coconut, bread, fish, chicken, watermelon

Bananas, red beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, eggs, chicken, beef, bananas, oranges, mangoes

Cornmeal porridge, chicken, goat, corn, peanuts, fish, stewed greens

Corn porridge, okra, spinach, sweet potatoes, peanuts, goat, fish, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, banana, watermelon

Rice, beef, chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fish

Corn, rice, sweet potatoes, beans, banana, peanuts, chicken

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Two Most Important Questions in the Universe

A colleague and I have been reading through The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. In it he refers to what he calls are the two most important questions in the universe. Below are the questions and my own answers. What are yours?

1. What do you really want to get out of life?
I want to make decisions that help me live into my best self.

2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?
I can offer a unique perspective marked by sensitiviy, creativity, and love.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Intentional Consuming

Some people talk a lot about the dangers of “consumerism,” while others think it is the road to a healthy economy. The first group often contrasts the “consumer” with the “creator,” and the latter group often contrasts a boldness to buy with a fear of terror.

A middle way might be that of intentional consuming. Let’s be honest, a lot of consuming diminishes instead of nourishing us. What if we committed here and now to consume only in ways that built us up? What if we left whatever glitzy gadget we wanted on the shelf but spent some significant money on a class or program that nurtured us?

Such a perspective affirms both our consumer- and our creator-oriented nature.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


So I have these idea bursts now and again—ok, if I’m honest, every two weeks or so.

For example, I was having lunch with a colleague who was talking about how it’s important to have good relationships in business, of course, but it’s also important to demonstrate that you’re technologically savvy, that you’re with it, that you’re up on things.

That got me thinking about how badly I’ve been wanting an iPad but don’t want to dip into our savings to buy one. So I took a few mental steps back and thought, “OK, how can I come up with $500 or so, $500 that I normally would not have?” I thought about taking on a freelance project, but honestly I’m already strapped for time.

And then the burst came. I have a triathlon-level bicycle that’s been hanging in my garage for five years. I bought it for $1200 ten years ago. Suffice to say it’ll be on ebay in a few days.

Now that’s not crazy brilliant or anything, but it’s likely to land an iPad in my hands without my having dipped into my savings account.

So lately I’ve been thinking, How can I have these bursts more often? Is it possible for them to become a daily phenomenon rather than a biweekly one?