So much to talk about after attending a creation care conference led by Doug Kaufman, Mark McReynolds and colleagues in downtown Los Angeles on the shores of the tiny lake in Echo Park (next door to Aimee Semple McPherson’s Temple.) And, perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s so much to process this week from the chaotic state of the nation. Here are a few things that get mentioned more frequently in our conversations.
1. The nuclear family was a mistake. David Brooks writes the March cover story in The Atlantic with a very insightful critique of the individualism and idolatry of the nuclear family model as contrasted with the extended family of our historic past, or the joint family of Asia and Africa. We need the support, wisdom, balancing feedback of vertical generations and horizontal relatives to maintain a healthier collective to nurture and guide family life. The nuclear family is no longer the norm nor should it remain an ideal, Brooks says. All of us who have worked cross culturally can cite numerous examples in support of his thesis.
2. MCC borderlands learning tour. Colateral learning takes place when a pilgrim comes home from Tucson, Arizona, and across the border for immersion with immigrants. We wait while stories too painful to tell slowly emerge, hard realities become clear and our blurred vision clears. This is only a hint of what is to come as climate change creates wide migrations from uninhabitable homelands to places with water and foliage. As anthropologist Don Jacobs, whom we lost this month, often said, “Those with ears to hear can hear the sound of marching feet of peoples on the move in the hope of survival.”
3. Climate change retreat. Reflections on gathering with Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference leaders for a three-day retreat in Echo Park to face what we now know about climate change color most thoughts and shape many conversations since the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 event. “Act like there is no tomorrow,” one leader said. “Act now, or there is no tomorrow,” another corrected. There are disciples of Jonah walking the streets of Ninevah crying a warning, but the church has only begun to speak full voice. “Climate change is a crisis for which the church was born,” Bill McKibben was quoted as saying. We moved from optimism to hope—“hope is living in a new way.” Essential books added to our list: Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything; Peter Kalmus, Being the Change; Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction; Paul Hawken, Drawdown; Nancy Sleeth, Go Green, $ave Green; Todd Wynward, Rewilding the Way; Jonathan Safran Foer, We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast. Pray. Listen. Care. Converse. Act.
4. Hope for awareness of sex-ploitation. We saw the docu-drama Bombshell yesterday and marveled that the grey white male hierarchy failed to protect the predator from a few courageous women. Today we are suffering with The Assistant, which is a brilliant expose of abusive systems, corporate enablers and the people in between held hostage until all are complicit in the predator’s actions. (Overheard, male voice from behind as credits roll, “What was that all about?”) What could be more obvious to women who work with males in power (eerily similar to the case in New York where the jury is deliberating today.) Justice is a long time coming for so many, but for 51% of the population who hold up half the sky?
5. Dutch baby with peaches. When we pick up our granddaughter from middle school on Tuesdays, her choice is to open a can of peaches and help Grammy make a ballooning Dutch Baby pancake with carmelized peaches hidden beneath the golden dome in the deep cast-iron skillet. We sit around the table for breakfast at 3 p.m., squeeze on freshly squeezed lemon and a bit of butter, and laugh over our stories and love.
David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.