Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Change Is Our Only Constant

The DTS staff team that almost was.

We’d invested a lot of time in building trust and relationship – praying, sharing, and worshipping together. A diverse but tight-knit team made up of Mexican, American, Canadian, Columbian, and German friends/coworkers. Laughter and conversation came easily, and anticipation for the imminent DTS – barely ten days away – ran high.

What we couldn’t foresee was a flurry of last-minute student cancellations, rendering the DTS unsustainable. The remaining students were redirected to Ensenada, and the team – left hanging in mid-air, vision-wise – disbanded and was absorbed into other roles in Tijuana.

If, indeed, change is our only constant, then one of my favorite phrases in español – “Siempre flexible” (always flexible) – probably applies.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You Had To Be There (Perspective)

This is the border fence between Tijuana, Baja Norte (United States of Mexico) and San Diego, California (United States of America).

The beauty of the Pacific Ocean shimmers just off-shore, but that does little to detract from the grim image of crosses dangling from the border fence.

Each cross represents a Mexican life lost in the attempt to find a better life north of Tijuana.

Discussing the Mexican/US border isn’t for the faint of heart. Highly-charged emotional landmines abound on every side, barely below the surface. And if you raise questions, you quickly find that answers very much depend on which side of the fence you’re (literally) on.

The issues of border security and national autonomy are complex, entrenched in a long history of colonialism, Manifest Destiny, racism, and war. The mute witness of the crosses is a grim reminder of how deadly serious things are.

Is the border fence just common-sense protection against (insert worst fear here)? Or is it the moral equivalent of the Cold Wars Berlin Wall? Which is worse: shooting people for trying to get out (Berlin), or get in (San Diego)?

I know there’s no easy solution. But I see these crosses at least two or times per week, and it gives me pause every time.

Living on the Tijuana side of the fence is an eye-opening worldview challenge.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fuse is Burning

First voice: “Are you sure?”

Second voice: “Yeah, we’re good. Do it.”

First voice: “Maybe it’s not the right time. Are you sure about this?”

Second voice: “What’s to be ‘sure’ about? I’m tired of twiddling my thumbs. Go on – fire it up.”

First voice: “I dunno, man. This is the point of no return …”

Third voice: “Aw, c’mon, guys, enough with the procrastinating!  Light the dang fuse already — and take cover!”

(sizzling sound followed by a pregnant pause lasting 0.5 seconds)

Robbymac is back! Weeks of online silence, instigated and abetted by a deluge of technical back-end glitches … fortunately, I have friends in high places: Subversive Influence’s very own Brother Maynard, aka Brent Toderash.

So, lets just dive in, shall we?

Now that I can wander about greater blogdom again and catch up, I notice Sir Brian of McLaren has written yet another book, A New Kind of Christianity. Early reviews suggest its a classic case of ... 

  1. the GOOD: Brian is finally coming clean about what he really believes. His trajectory’s gotten clearer over the past five or six years, but it’s nice to have the smoke finally clear.
  2. the BAD: It’s not historic, orthodox Christianity – not much of a shock for many of us, but it’s high time all the cards were laid on the table.
  3. the UGLY: Some of the heresy-hunters were right, after all. Not their attitudes (condescending), tactics (sleazy), or factual research (shoddy at best, GBA at worst), but isn’t it ironic that, flaws and all, they called it?

In a funny way, it’s like greater blogdom heaved a sigh of relief. People who’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with the trajectory of Emergent™ are free to move on and create new things, untethered to what the “Big Three” (McLaren, Pagitt, & Jones) are pushing.

The quest to be Biblically faithful and culturally engaged hasn’t changed, but freedom from an increasingly pomo-dogmatic Emergent™ status quo is a significant step forward.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pandemic of Fear

A few years ago, Michael Crichton wrote State of Fear, a thought-provoking book on global warming. Whether or not you agree with his assessment of climate change activists, the book is a fascinating look at how suspicion, apprehension, and dread are so easily spread.

I thought of Crichton’s book recently as I observe the media-fuelled paranoia surrounding Mexico. Tijuana has long been a favorite foreign media target whenever they need a good head-shakin,’ finger-waggin’ shock story. Drug cartels, army intervention, thousands of drug-related deaths, torture, be-headings … It’s a shock-jock gold mine.

And this year … a swine flu epidemic/pandemic. It’s serious, but I cant help but notice the grossly divergent ways the media’s been covering the story. According to the WHO, Mexico has 26 confirmed cases and seven deaths. They recommend neither travel restrictions nor border closures.

Contrast this with Canada’s CTV network: they’re reporting 149 Mexican deaths, the same number alleged by CNN. Both networks are advising their audiences to avoid traveling to Mexico.

I’m not denying that Tijuana has a violent underbelly, nor am I suggesting swine flu isnt serious. These are trying times for Mexico. But I wonder if the most devastating threat we’re facing is a media-fueled pandemic of conspiracy theories and fear.

Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • All West Coast dwellers should flee inland to avoid the “Big One” – an earthquake that will send most of California, the Pacific Northwest, and lower mainland British Columbia to Davey Jones’ Locker, while the survivors surf to the Midwest.
  • Oh, yeah, except that we’d then be living in Tornado Alley (USA) or Flood Plain Central (Canada). Make sure your insurance is paid up.
  • Americans are fanatics about guns; you never know whether the guy behind you in the check-out line at Stuff-Mart got up on the grumpy side of bed and brought a concealed handgun along. And may God have mercy on your soul if hes a Postal Worker …
  • Canada has socialized medicine, and you know what that can lead to … (Correct answer: Healthcare for all.)
  • Does anyone have any left-over stockpiles from Y2K?
  • And so on, and so on …

If anything counts as a bona fide pandemic, perhaps it’s the proliferation of conspiracy theories and geopolitical stereotypes.