There Are No Unsacred Places

My pastor, Bob Henry, read this wonderful blog post this morning at Silverton Friends Church. The post is called "The Hill" and it was written by Mike Huber, pastor of West Hills Friends, a Quaker meeting in Portland. The blog post reminds me of something Wendell Berry wrote in a poem called "How To Be a Poet (to remind myself)":There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.The apostle Paul says followers of Jesus are ambassadors of reconciliation. That reconciliation work extends to - and is perhaps even rooted in - our particular places. Thus, … [Read more...]

The Taste of the Place

The Pines Vineyard

One of the keys to understanding Slow Church is captured in the seventeenth-century French phrase le goût de terroir, which can be translated “the taste of the place.”Carlo Petrini, co-founder of the Slow Food movement, writes often about terroir as “the combination of natural factors (soil, water, slope, height above sea level, vegetation, microclimate) and human ones (tradition and practice and cultivation) that gives a unique character to each small agricultural locality and the food grown, raised, made, and cooked there.” Thus, a Pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley takes on the t … [Read more...]

Brief Remarks at a Tree Dedication

Osakazuki

The arts and craft college where I work sits on an 11-acre wooded campus in Portland’s west hills. It’s a beautiful campus, built on the site of an old filbert orchard, and it bewitches almost everyone who visits.  A few years ago, the college put in two new beautiful, architecturally-significant buildings. Both buildings have been submitted for Silver LEED Certification. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the old filbert orchard was destroyed during construction. (This was not part of the master plan.) Many faculty, staff, students, and alumni were understandably devastated at the loss … [Read more...]

Peak Oil and the Local Church

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At last weekend's Inhabit Conference in Seattle, I had the opportunity to co-facilitate (with Brandon Rhodes) a conversation on "peak oil and place." It was a lively and fascinating discussion. Near the end I asked a question that I also want to pose here.Cheap fossil fuel energy has underwritten modernity and more than a century of America's rapid economic growth. But the world's oil resources are going into irreversible decline, and gas prices are through the roof. For this reason and others (climate change, high food prices, high debt levels), we seem to have reached "the end of … [Read more...]

Learning Contentment (from Thomas Merton and Liberty Hyde Bailey)

Bailey-WNW

This is the second in my promised series of reflections on Liberty Hyde Bailey’s poetry.[ Bailey's collection of poems Wind and Weather, has just been released by The Englewood Review of Books as a bargain-priced Kindle ebook.  It's well worth it! ]Read the first post in the series here: Cultivating Wonder.Wind and WeatherPassengers on the cosmic sea We know not whence nor whither, -- 'Tis happiness enough to be Complete with wind and weather.This first and title poem in this collection of Bailey's poetry reflects the importance of contentment (and particularly with t … [Read more...]

Liberty Hyde Bailey Poetry Reflections

Bailey-WNW

One of the great gifts of my writing retreat at the Convent in Cincinnati last week (here's a glimpse inside the Convent's own story of stability, written by one of my fellow retreatants) was the realization of how important Liberty Hyde Bailey's work, and especially his poetry, has been in framing the concept of Slow Church in my head and in the life I share in community with others at Englewood Christian Church.Liberty Hyde Bailey was one of the most prominent American botanists of the early twentieth century, who taught at the university that would become Michigan State and then later … [Read more...]

Inhabit Conference

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One of the key convictions of Slow Church is that God's plan for reconciling all creation involves not only gathering a people, but gathering people in particular places that span the globe. The language of Englewood Christian Church's covenant (where Chris is a member) puts it this way: the church community is "a manifestation of the Body of Christ in a particular place."Happily, there is a vibrant conversation happening in the church now about the importance of placedness. Christianity Today's This Is Our City project is one example. So is Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove's essential book, The Wi … [Read more...]


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