Are you tired of talking about racism?

The Building Bridges team, co-led by Jamieson Clay and myself, hosted a video/discussion series using "Race: The Power of an Illusion" (California Newsreel).

“I am so tired of talking about race,” said Pastor Jason Perry to the other 40 people gathered at Living Springs last Saturday morning, “but I am committed to keep talking—that’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make—because it is, essentially, the message of the Gospel. We have been given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17–19), and if we as a church cannot demonstrate that reconciliation, how will the world ever know?”

Those comments from Pastor Jason came toward the end of an hour of discussion about a 45-minute video we had just watched together, Episode 2 of Race: The Power of an Illusion. (See last week’s blog for more details.) And, actually, Pastor Jason had spent eight hours the previous day at a denominational meeting about diversity in the church. As a black pastor in a predominantly white denomination, he has every reason to feel tired.

But I’ve heard the same sentiment from white people at Living Springs, though for different reasons. “Why do we have to keep on talking about this?,” they wonder. “We’re already diverse. We already get it.”

So I appreciated Pastor Jason’s reminder that diversity is not just a social justice issue or a political issue. It’s a Kingdom issue. We are never finished with it. The people who “get it” need to keep sharing with the people who don’t, because there are always people who don’t, and even the ones who think they do, often don’t.

Sure it’s a sacrifice. Sometimes the conversation is tiresome, and sometimes hope is thin, but that only underscores the importance of being in community with each other—for we all get tired at different points along the way. When one is discouraged, another may be getting a second wind! (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

In case you weren’t at the event, the video below shows a few glimpses of the fellowship we shared:

What about you? Are you tired of talking about racism? Or would you be willing to engage in conversation like this?

Diversity: art and illusion

This past Sunday, my church unveiled three new works of art by Toni Ruppert, a series based on three words: Faith, Family, and Worship.

The dedication ceremony was simple—lasting no more than 10 minutes between our morning services. But it was packed with meaning, and I’m only now beginning to unpack it.

My church, Living Springs, is a diverse collection of people. We represent a broad spectrum of ages, cultures, abilities, income levels, religious backgrounds, spiritual gifts, and family situations. This diversity is the fruit of a long-time commitment to being “intentionally inclusive” (one of our core values). Last Sunday, being so close to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, gave us opportunity to celebrate our cultural diversity in particular, and the unveiling of Toni’s paintings was a special part of that celebration. You can see Toni’s work in the video below:

But the art of diversity is not just a one-day celebration at Living Springs. It’s a journey, an adventure, a fragile, hope-filled, daily decision. For example, this Saturday, January 23, Living Springs will offer itself as a safe place to explore the topic of racism. Blacks, whites, Latinos, and other ethnicities from Glenwood, Homewood, Lansing, South Holland, Chicago Heights, and surrounding communities will gather to view the first installment of “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” a powerful video series produced by California Newsreel.

This is not the first time Living Springs has shown this video series and invited different cultures to dialogue about it together. Two years ago approximately 40 people came out on three Monday nights to view and discuss it. More recently, last November, Living Springs hosted a day-long “Joining the Multi-Cultural Journey” workshop, at which clips from “Race” were shown. In one case, a white man felt the need to ask forgiveness; in the other, a white man walked out, offended.

What will happen this Saturday, I’m not sure. I hold no illusions about the art of diversity! But I’m glad to be part of a church that is willing to keep learning and keep inviting others to share life’s colorful, complicated journey.

If you are familiar with Toni Ruppert’s art, I’d love it if you would post a comment below about what her three new Living Springs pieces say to you.

And if you attend the video/discussion event this Saturday, I’d love it if you would come back to this blog and post your opinion about the interactions. Is Living Springs really a safe place to talk honestly about race? Or are we promoting an illusion?

Review: I love my new Flip Video!

When Amazon had a “Deal of the Day” on the Flip MinoHD Camcorder, I bought myself one for Christmas. I had been reading about the Flip for almost a year and had always wanted one. I just wasn’t sure how much I would actually use it. But at $119.00, I could resist no longer, and clicked “Add to Shopping Cart.”

I’m glad I did! The Flip is so simple, it’s ridiculous. I’m not sure it even comes with a manual because I have not yet needed to look anything up. It’s small enough to carry around in a coat pocket, and it’s convenient enough to operate with one hand.

Recording my dogs enjoying the first significant snowfall of the season gave me an opportunity to discover how seamlessly the Flip integrates with iMovie on my Mac. I imported my video clips into a new iMovie “Event,” organized them into  “Project,” applied a theme, added a soundtrack, and uploaded the finished product to YouTube—all in one evening. View it here and see what you think!

Now, I don’t know if the Flip MinoHD Camcorder is as delightful to use on a PC as it is on a Mac, but if you are looking for a small, simple camera at a decent price, it’s hard to beat the Flip. And if you’re looking for an outlet for your creative energy, iMovie has a lot to offer. I found that after spending a lot of time writing, it was nice to have a project that let me manipulate images and music.

My upgraded Flip Slide HD, customized at www.theflip.com.

UPDATE: I STILL LOVE MY FLIP VIDEO, BUT I’VE UPGRADED

Since this original post, I have upgraded to the Flip Slide HD, which I love even more than my original Flip! (I know, that’s hard to imagine, but it’s true.) What prompted me to upgrade was the video I tried to shoot at the 2010 Taste of Reconciliation—in a big room that was kind of dark, it was difficult to get clear footage. The Flip Slide offers 2x Digital Zoom, and the video quality is 720p HD/30 fps. Another key feature is that I can now record for 4 hours, not just 1. When you order directly from theflip.com, you can customize the design of your camera, which is kind of fun. I chose to keep my design pretty basic, since when I’m shooting video in sensitive situations, I don’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself. And when I’m videoing conversations with people, I don’t want to draw a lot of attention to my camera; I would rather people forget that they’re being taped.

The Flip Slide is a little thicker than my previous flip, so it’s a pretty snug fit in the camera bag I use. If I had to do it all over again, I might choose the Flip MinoHD, which has some features I like, although it maxes out at 2 hours of record time.

I’m guessing that a lot of people buy camcorders so they can record the funny things their kids do, or their family’s various involvements in sports, theater, church, and social celebrations. I’ve been using mine to record activities at church, outings with my dogs, and the occasional seminar I lead. But give me some input here—what other life events should I be recording?

Samples of my Flip in action