Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday's for A New Way to Be Human: Brick City

The Friday posts are inspired by my Lenten reading, a book by N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Easter. In the book, the author concludes that if we are not thinking in whole terms about the meaning of Resurrection, we water it down to only have significance for eternal life, as in later life. While that is still good news, what does Resurrection mean for the here and now life? Thinking only in half terms about the magnificent gesture of our God in raising Jesus as the first-born of Creation has ill-forming consequences on us. The finished work of Christ -- birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension -- and the gift of His Spirit in us gives us a new way to be human in the here and now life.
"If you are to shape your world in following Christ, you are called, prayerfully, to discern where in your discipline the human project is showing signs of exile and humbly and boldly to act symbolically in ways that declare that the powers have been defeated, that the kingdom has come in Jesus the Jewish Messiah, that the new way of being human has been unveiled, and to be prepared to tell the story that explains what these symbols are all about."
That phrase new way to be human has perched itself in a high branch of my imagination and will not shake loose. One way I'd like to wrestle more with what the phrase means is to transform my Friday regular posts of new finds into sharing stories of new ways to be human.

Reality television has earned some pretty harsh criticism, and, rightfully so, in my opinion.  Occasionally though, the method suits the message and I think that the Sundance Channel's documentary-style television series Brick City is one of those rare examples.

After a couple of girlfriends and I scared ourselves by getting almost hopelessly lost in the middle of Newark on our way to NYC a few months back,  I might have noticed news articles or talk show interviews with Newark's innovative, optimistic and energetic mayor Cory Booker.  But I doubt it.  In the format of a television series, sitting together with  my kids and husband absorbing the unexpected story of Newark's rally against same-old same-old poverty, gangs, joblessness, fatherlessness, run-down schools, [fill in the blank with the expected inner city blight.]  Somehow,  people are beginning to think and behave in new ways to meet the familiar problems with new energy and creativity.

Watching, with my family, inspires us to think about poverty and city-living in new ways.  To participate with optimism which is grounded in faith the Jesus we follow.  To live as innovators and not the status quo.  To be involved and not tsk- tsking from the safety of our family room enclave.

Learning the story of the hard-fought renewal for Newark is kind of like part b to the chapter we began when we moved a few years ago from a little suburban neighborhood to our home in the middle of a larger town.  We don't know right now if the next chapter continues in this neighborhood or another city.  Either way, we affirm the good work of hopeful, creative, active participants in the work of bringing hope, health and healing to the least of these in our cities.

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