China Isn’t Socialist

Huaxi Village -

Quick quiz, just two questions:

  1. What’s the opposite of “capitalism?”
  2. What’s the opposite of “socialism?”
    (Hint: They are not opposites of one another.)

That realization came as a surprise to me the other day. I suppose I always knew they weren’t opposites. I’d just forgotten.

I was listening to All Things Considered on the way home Tuesday, and I caught their feature on rural China, which has been running all week. This particular installment was on Huaxi village in Jiangsu province, an interesting story of a centrally planned model for economic prosperity.

There were two comments that put me over the edge. One is from Wu Hao, a local who had studied abroad and returned to the village in order to run one of the textile factories. In heavily accented English he said, “I feel so happy because I make a good salary. Everything is okay.” (I’m pretty sure that’s what he said; it was a heavy accent.)
The other is from his uncle, Wu Xie En, the current party secretary and BMOC. Via translator: “Huaxi is a small place. If all we did was farm, at best we’d just be able to feed and clothe ourselves. We wouldn’t be able to get rich.

Now back to the quiz. Here are the answers. Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

One week left, and I couldn’t be more in the mood! Our shopping is done (sans one small gift), Samantha is in the church Christmas program tomorrow night, cookies are half eaten, etc, etc, etc. Since the house is decorated, I thought I’d decorate the blog as well.

Hope God is meeting each of you as we Advent toward Christmas morning.

Katrina: Prayer & Action Gathering

Aaron has emailed this to some as well as posting it on his blog. I can’t make it, but I want to expand the invite to any others who might be able to.

A Gathering for Prayer and Action for Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Thursday, September 8th, 7:00 PM @ St. Elizabeth’s in Norwood

Come for prayer, reflection, meditation, conversation, decisions, and action (link)

Directions the St. Elizabeth’s are available at the Vineyard Central website.

As a virtual prayer and action item, Kerri and I have registered at, offering space in our home.

A Response: Does Prayer Change God’s Mind? (A Poetic Interlude)

Let me share this wonderful song from the late Rich Mullins. His last album was released posthumously as a two disc set. The first disc consists of acoustic demos recorded by Rich on a portable tape player in an old country church. The second is a tribute album; each of the demos has been fully produced and recorded by other artists. Personally, I recommend the demos over the tributes almost universally.

Do you who live in heaven

hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth,

who are afraid of being left by those we love

and who get hardened in the hurt?

Do you remember when you lived down here

where we all scraped

to find the faith to ask for daily bread?

Did you forget about us

after you had flown away?

Well, I memorized every word you said;

still I’m so scared, I’m holding my breath,

for you’re up there just playing hard to get.

Do you who live in radiance

hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin?

We have a love that’s not as patient as yours was,

still we do love now and then?

Did you ever know loneliness? Did you ever know need?

Do you remember just how long a night can get

when you are barely holding on and your friends fall asleep

and don’t see the blood that’s running in your sweat?

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted,

while you’re up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows.

And I know you feel our pain.

And I know that it would not hurt you less

even if it could be explained.

And I know that I am only lashing out

at the one who loves me most.

And after I have figured this song out

what I really need to know

is if you who live in eternity

hear the prayers of those of us who live in time?

We can’t see what’s ahead and we

cannot get free from what we’ve left behind.

I’m reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears,

all these words of shame and doubt, blame and regret.

I can’t see how you’re leading me unless you’ve led me here

to where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.

You said you’ve been here all along. I guess

It’s just your ways and you are

just plain hard to get.

Hard To Get from the album “The Jesus Demos” by Rich Mullins. ( /Amazon link)


Does Prayer Change God’s Mind: Part 1

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind: Part 2

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind: A Poetic Interlude

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind: Part 3

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind: Part 4 (Last)

Mincha – Whose Gift to Whom?

Let me direct you to this post from the Velveteen Rabbi, who blogs about a discovery in the Jewish daily prayers (services) and their names:

I recently learned a new Hebrew word: mincha, gift or offering. It’s also the name of one of the three daily services: ma’ariv (evening), shacharit (morning), and mincha (afternoon).

There is a similar tradition in Christianity known as the Daily Office or Divine Hours. Over the last couple months I’ve been drawn to it, something about its formality, its intentionality, its history, and its poetic pattern, resonating within me. I don’t yet have an old-fashioned paper and ink copy of the liturgy, so I’ve been using the one provided at the Ann Arbor Vineyard’s website. (It has a wonderful introduction as well, for those who are interested.)

Though I am drawn to the idea, I’m finding the practice difficult. I have ready access to the liturgy during the day, yet the simple act of stopping, stopping to perform the liturgy, eludes me. It doesn’t take a huge chunk of time or a monumental effort. It just takes a moment of decision.

So the Rabbi has me thinking. Mincha = gift. I like that attitude toward the Daily office, but it begs two questions. Who is the gift from, and to whom is it being given?

Is it my gift to God? It is a gift of my time and effort, my “good intentions” to borrow the Rabbi’s words?

Or, it is God’s gift to me (via the historic proxy of the church)? Is it a gift of interruption, meant to refocus and re-center me in my otherwise scattered day?

If you’ve read other posts of mine, you probably know how I’d answer this set of questions.

Year C – Proper 7

Psalm 42:8b – at night [the LORD's] song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

The Lord is a kind father to me, his child. At night he sings a sweet lullibye, comforting me in the disquiet hours of darkness, the hours when fears and doubts overtake my mind. He sings softly as he pulls me to his chest, stilling my restless limbs, easing the troubles that rampage thru my mind. He sings softly until, at last, I sleep.

Identify Me

search me
identify me
whisper gently into me ear
telling me again whose i am
cup my heart in your hands
allowing the warmth of your
spirit to flow thru me
marking me from head to toe
identifying me as yours
search me and identify me