30 December 2008

24 December 2008

ethiopia
coffee ceremony in a mountain village












07 December 2008

last night, i sat alone in the oshwal auditorium in nairobi, surrounded by strangers:

and the glory of the lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see together; for the mouth of the lord has spoken it.

we all listened. we heard. the gospel preached in music and word and glory. there is something mystic in the repetition of the chorus. you can fall into meditation, and there comes the moment you understand. when the knowledge, the truth, makes the leap across the synapses, and changes you. there is physical power, energy beyond atomic, in the words themselves. or maybe in the spirit.

and he shall purify
and he shall purify
and he shall purify
and he shall purify

jonathan opinya sang about darkness. i could hear the knowledge of darkness in his voice. the knowledge with which we are all born. the longing for light, for something true. and when the chorus began:

his name shall be called
wonderful
counselor
the mighty god
the everlasting father
the prince of peace

i felt it. i smiled in spite of myself, almost laughed in the joy of the promise. even the drums couldnt keep in their exultation.

and the angel told the shepherds, fear not. (for they were sore afraid.) they must have known the hopelessness of their estate. the joy in the good news for them, was a savior. they knew they needed a savior. that they must be saved--saved from the hell built with their own hands, from the shackles and slavery of sin and fear.

but, praise God! there were good tidings of great joy.

rejoice, oh daughter of zion.
rejoice greatly.

there was the moment. the halleluiah chorus. we all stood, a few at first, some awkwardly, glancing around the faces watching until the entire room was standing.
we all stood together, like king george II, singing.

hallelujah! for the lord god omnipotent reigneth.
the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our lord, and of his christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
hallelujah.

it was a moment of glory. strangers, united in joy and glory and truth for a moment in measureable time. i don’t need einstein's theory to tell me that that moment will last for ever, and ever. as all moments do. everything is eternal.

and this morning, i feasted on the same Christ. the Christ whose kingdom has come, and who shall reign for ever, and ever.

and i realize more each year how much i need that sacred meal. i need to feel the ground beneath my knees, i need to hear the sound of the breaking bread, “his body, broken for you” i need to let the sweet taste of the wine linger in my mouth “his blood, spilled for you” as we give thanks together. i need to hear the priest, speaking the very truth, words of life, foundations of the earth, over me. amen. amen. amen.

christ has died
christ is risen
christ will come again.

04 December 2008

i think the lack of blogging, writing, is mental laziness. or perhaps insecurity. there are so many people here, on the internet, these days. and--i care what you think of me.

but i want an account, a history. something true, and transparent for this chapter.
i wrote awhile back that this life (this life) is a testimony of god's faithfulness. it is more true every day.

so, as a preface, this is where i am:

i am living in nairobi. there is too much empty space in my flat. i spend a lot of time on the fire escape. and, when the music and moment overtake me, i dance in the hall.

i am settling into a strange pattern of life: weeks of airplanes, motels, unfamiliar currencies, unfamiliar faces, strange stories and strangers, joy.
then home is a chaos of exhaustion, loneliness, gluttony, insomnia, emotion and work.
then, again. and again.



all my hope must be entirely in his faithfulness. i have none.





30 November 2008

thomas merton, conjectures of a guilty bystander

Magnificent lines from Barth:
"Everyone who has to contend with unbelief should be advised that he ought not to take his own unbelief too seriously. Only faith is to be taken seriously; and if we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, that suffices for the devil to have lost his game.”

-Dogmatics in Outline

This is one of the great intuitions of Protestantism. And, of course, from a critically Catholic viewpoint, one can find fault with it: but why? To say, "only faith is to be taken seriously" can be understood in the light of that Christian--and Catholic--humility which puts all its trust in God. Our "good works" are necessary, but they are not to be "taken seriously." The Catholic dogma of justification never told anyone that he had to take his good works seriously in the sense of trusting completely in his own righteousness, for to take one's good works seriously is to be a pharisee. Only faith is to be taken seriously because only the mercy of God is serious. And if we put too much emphasis on the seriousness of what we do, we not only make the judgment of God the most serious reality in our life, but we are in fact judged: we are judged as men who have taken seriously something other that His infinite mercy. He who takes mercy seriously will hardly sin seriously. He who takes his own works seriously will not be kept, by that seriousness, from sin. It is pseudo-seriousness. It is not good enough.

What about unbelief, then: if faith is to be taken seriously, it follows that unbelief is also serious. No, because in taking faith seriously it is God who we take seriously, not ourselves, not our faith. I do not take faith seriously as something which i definitively possess, but I take seriously God Who gives me faith and renews that gift, by His mercy, at every moment, in spite of my unbelief. This I think is one of the central intuitions of evangelical Christianity, and it it something which we all must learn. It is something, too, which many Protestants have themselves forgotten, becoming instead obsessed with faith as it is in themselves, constantly watching themselves to see if faith is still there, which means turning faith into a good work and being justified, consequently, by works. "To believe is to be free and to trust in Him quite alone" and to be free from every other form of dependence and reliance. This is true freedom, and from it springs the capacity for every good work, for it removes all obstacles to love in our hearts.

26 November 2008

lusaka, zambia


the pastor of apostolic faith mission church (left) dances during sunday morning worship

22 November 2008

lusaka, zambia


cynthia has been sick since 2005. since her husband died, she and her son, duma, have lived in her mother's two room house in the city. her eyes are tired, and the doctors are unable to tell her what t is that makes her and her son cough and burn with fever. we visited and prayed with cynthia, her brother, mother, and son. pray for them all.

18 October 2008

a slice of life, from nairobi:

this afternoon, i took a walk down the street to get some grilled maize. on the way home, i noticed two girls following me. i greeted them, and one hurried to catch up. she looked at my maize, and declared, "you have maize!" i agreed. and we walked on. a few minutes later, she asked me if she could have it. i told her no, but offered to share some. so i walked on with two very surprised girls, and ate maize, each of us picking out kernels with our fingernails, giggling. when i made my turn toward home, the girls waited at the corner, shouting goodbye. as i neared my flat, i heard "holy, holy, holy." i stopped in the street for a few minutes to listen. when it was over, i walked toward the source of the hymn, and was surprised to find a small anglican church on my street. i walked in, met the pastor, thomas, and we talked for awhile. the small church was built in 1927. he invited me to tomorrow's service.

17 October 2008



nairobi, kenya

{korogosho christian center}

virginia makes a special treat for the children, bread with butter, and jam


recess at korogosho


teacher miss nazarene at korogosho


children in class at korogosho


students learn a trade at korogosho

{children in nairobi}


{baptist children's home}

cynthia




{street kids}


to be honest, i did not go to photograph the street kids today. i went to get to know them. but i feel i need to share this one photo, and story. this is jon. he is 15. his mother died in an accident in 2003, and his father died of sickness in 2006.
jon had been living with his uncle until january, when the post-election violence spread to his village. both jon and his uncle fled, and were separated. jon never found his uncle, or any other family. he has been living on the streets of downtown nairobi for 10 months now.

please pray for jon. pray that our father would have mercy on him, protect him from the many dangers of the streets, pray that he would have enough to eat tonight, and somewhere warm and safe to sleep. pray please that god might provide him with a home, and a family.



post scriptum: photographers, feel free to critique. my photography, of late, is no, no good.

05 October 2008

nairobi, kenya


first road trip: rift valley







04 October 2008

nairobi, kenya


monica and mary sell their fresh produce at the hawker's market

28 September 2008

davidsonville, maryland
(on my way to kenya.)

sunny and snuggles


david and casey



"no flash photography, please."
(half-hearted attempt.)


20 September 2008

memphis, tennessee
(reminiscing)
who am i?

"i am photographo. a french-russian exchange student who likes caviare sundaes and cadavers." (also, there is hangwoman.)

17 September 2008

memphis, tennessee


3116 family portrait

08 September 2008

atlanta, georgia

mom and dad (version 2.0)

07 September 2008

atlanta, georgia

06 September 2008

atlanta, georgia



ryan academy winter solstice feis
(irish dancing)

03 September 2008

a litany:

One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
All: Have mercy on us
One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
All: Free us from the bondage of sin and death
One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.

One: For the victims of war
All: Have mercy
One: Women, men and children
All: Have mercy
One: The maimed and the crippled
All: Have mercy
One: The abandoned and the homeless
All: Have mercy
One: the imprisoned and the tortured
All: Have mercy
One: The widowed and the orphaned
All: Have mercy
One: The bleeding and the dying
All: Have mercy
One: The weary and the desperate
All: Have mercy
One: The lost and the forsaken
All: Have mercy

One: O God -- Have mercy on us sinners
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our scorched and blackened earth
All: Forgive us
One: For the scandal of billions wasted in war
All: Forgive us
One: For our arms makers and arms dealers
All: Forgive us
One: For our Caesars and Herods
All: Forgive us
One: For the violence that is rooted in our hearts
All: Forgive us





One: For the times we turn others into enemies
All: Forgive us
One: Deliver us, O God
All: Guide our feet into the way of peace
One: Hear our prayer.
All: Grant us peace.

One: From the arrogance of power
All: Deliver us
One: From the myth of redemptive violence
All: Deliver us
One: From the tyranny of greed
All: Deliver us
One: From the ugliness of racism
All: Deliver us
One: From the cancer of hatred
All: Deliver us
One: From the seduction of wealth
All: Deliver us
One: From the addiction of control
All: Deliver us
One: From the idolatry of nationalism
All: Deliver us
One: From the paralysis of cynicism
All: Deliver us
One: From the violence of apathy
All: Deliver us
One: From the ghettos of poverty
All: Deliver us
One: From the ghettos of wealth
All: Deliver us
One: From a lack of imagination
All: Deliver us
One: Deliver us, O God
All: Guide our feet into the way of peace
One: We will not conform to the patterns of this world
All: Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds
One: With the help of God’s grace
All: Let us resist evil wherever we find it

One: With the waging of war
All: We will not comply
One: With the legalization of murder
All: We will not comply
One: With the slaughter of innocents
All: We will not comply
One: With laws that betray human life
All: We will not comply
One: With the destruction of community
All: We will not comply
One: With the pointing finger and malicious talk
All: We will not comply
One: With the idea that happiness must be purchased
All: We will not comply
One: With the ravaging of the earth
All: We will not comply
One: With principalities and powers that oppress
All: We will not comply
One: With the destruction of peoples
All: We will not comply
One: With the raping of women
All: We will not comply
One: With governments that kill
All: We will not comply
One: With the theology of empire
All: We will not comply
One: With the business of militarism
All: We will not comply
One: With the hoarding of riches
All: We will not comply
One: With the dissemination of fear
All: We will not comply

One: Today we pledge our ultimate allegiance… to the Kingdom of God
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To a peace that is not like Rome’s
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Gospel of enemy love
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Kingdom of the poor and broken
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To a King that loves his enemies so much he died for them


All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the transnational Church that transcends the artificial borders of nations
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the refugee of Nazareth
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the homeless rabbi who had no place to lay his head
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the cross rather than the sword
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the banner of love above any flag
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the one who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the one who rides a donkey rather than a war-horse
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the revolution that sets both oppressed and oppressors free
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Way that leads to life
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Slaughtered Lamb
All: We pledge allegiance
One: And together we proclaim his praises, from the margins of the empire to the centers of wealth and power
All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb
One: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb
All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb






Jesus For President Litany of Resistance

28 August 2008

for all the people who think this girl is me.


this girl is not me.


this is a young girl from afghanistan.


this is me with a young girl from afghanistan.

not the same person.

27 August 2008

afghanistan









24 August 2008

dubai, u.a.e


47°C in the sand dunes