Trick AND Treat: A Social Experiment
October 31, 2008, 3:28 pm
Filed under: campus ministry, social action, the purple door

1031081115 We at The Purple Door seem to have developed a bit of a Halloween tradition.  For the third straight year, we went out to the UW campus to do our Trick AND Treat social experiment.  It’s a super simple, but fun approach to helping people think outside of themselves, and pay quality attention to others.  In years past here’s what we’ve done.  We set up a table on campus, with a big banner that says “FREE CANDY” on it.  We’re supplied with several cases of full-sized candy bars.  Most students are highly skeptical of course – wouldn’t you be?  We have to convince people that the candy really is free, but once we do, the fun begins.  We tell them, “O.k. there actually is a catch, but it’s a fun one.  We’re not going to give you one candy bar, we’re going to give you two.  One is for you to enjoy for yourself, but we’d like you to take the second candy bar, and give it away to someone you don’t know.  Pay attention to how you feel, how it makes the other person feel, and just pay attention to those around you.”  The previous couple of years have been really great – it’s priceless to watch the students’ facial transitions as we explain things to them – first skepticism, then confusion, then amusement, then laughter and excitement.

For this year’s version, we decided to put a political twist on it, since we’re just a few days away from the big presidential election, and people can’t stop thinking and talking about it anyway.  Instead of asking students to give the candy to someone they don’t know, we asked them to take one candy bar for themselves, and give the second one away to someone who is supporting a presidential candidate other than the one they’re supporting.  We didn’t ask who people planned to vote for, and definitely didn’t advocate for any candidates.  When students asked why we were doing this, we’d simply tell them that we think it’s important to value conversations with people, even when we might disagree with them.  Maybe we don’t see eye to eye, but can we at least decide that we’re going to disagree well?

Obviously, this is a silly little thing, but we think it’s important to do things like this, just to get people communicating with each other, and thinking differently.  If nothing else, we’ve had some fun with people, and been able to encourage them.  All in all, we gave away right around 260 candy bars today.  Perhaps some day we’ll come up with something that won’t get the dentists and dieticians of the world miffed at us!


Happy Halloween from your friends at The Purple Door
October 31, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: the purple door


Tweet of the week
October 31, 2008, 7:43 am
Filed under: friends, politics, twitter

Lots of the clever and pseudo-clever bloggers out there have themes they post on – “Music Monday,” “Top 3 Tuesday,” “Phriday Photo,” etc.  I don’t have the creative energy to maintain something like that week in, week out.  But if I did, I think I’d do a “Tweet of the Week” . . . or perhaps I’d call it “Tweek” for short.  This would just be my favorite post by someone I follow on Twitter.  I know, a lot of you don’t do Twitter, which is fine – I’m not trying to convert you (but if you are on Twitter and want to look me up, here I am).  For the uninitiated, a post on Twitter is referred to as a “tweet,” and must be 140 characters or less.  So here’s my favorite tweet of the week:

From my friend, Eliacin (Twitter here, blog here):

reflecting on the imagery that is painted in how different the levels of enthusiasm are among Xians btween Easter & Election day 

Emergent Village Shifts
October 30, 2008, 12:56 pm
Filed under: emerging church

For the record, I’ll probably hate myself later for even blogging about this, but here goes anyway . . . Yeah, so this morning, like many others, found this letter on the Emergent Village blog, which discusses some changes in focus and direction for the organization.  They plan to “decentralize” their organization, phase out the employment of their National Coordinator, and focus on helping facilitate regional cohorts, etc.

I’ve not read any of the comments on the EV blog, or any other commentary on this.  I’m sure lots of smart people are saying lots of smart things about this.  Me?  I must say I greet this news with essentially the same ambivalence that I greet any other news that comes out of EV.  Here are my opinions, in no ranked order of importance:

1. The phasing out of the National Coordinator position is a good thing.  I never actually thought that position was necessary in the first place.  For an organization that has always billed itself as a group of “friends” and a “conversation,” I never could figure out the need for a coordinator.  I have tons of conversations all the time with lots of different people in the so-called emerging church, and never needed a coordinator for that.  No conversation I’ve ever had in my life has needed a press release to announce its presence.

2. I don’t think EV should have ever “centralized” in the first place, so their efforts to decentralize don’t particularly impress me.  Again, in my opinion, the hiring of a National Coordinator, and the centralizing of an organizational identity may have been helpful in a few limited ways.  But it also served to give the critics of this movement all the ammunition that they needed to justify their misunderstanding of what the emerging church really is – a scattered, but like-minded band of Jesus followers who are trying to strip down a lot of Christendom baggage in order to pursue the missio Dei in their local communities.  The identity of EV gave critics the impression that “this is what the emerging/emergent church stands for.”  That was never the case, but it’s not hard to see how the critics arrived at that position.

3.  Emergent Village has been better for the outgoing National Coordinator than he has been for EV.  Book sales, speaking engagements, big fish in small pond status.  Never terribly impressive to me.

4. Emergent Village is STILL not the voice of the emerging church movement.  It’s always been A voice, but never THE voice. 

Maybe now that EV has seen fit to give us all the “permission” we can go back to what we were before the machine was started – a scattered, but like-minded band of Jesus followers, who intuitively know how to connect with each other through blogs, meetups, conferences, phone calls, and old-fashioned friendships.

To wrap things up, I realize that what I’ve written here is awfully crabby sounding and negative.  Those are just my opinions, but I promise, I’m not cranky about any of them.  The truth is, I really believe that everyone that’s served at EV, including the National Coordinator, love Jesus, and are driven to make things in the post-Christendom world better.  I appreciate their efforts, even if I’ve found some of them to be misguided. 

I also reserve the right to be wrong in some of my opinions.  It’s possible that once I take the time to surf the blogosphere for commentary on this stuff, I’ll be enlightened by one of the smart people, and come back here with an apology.  It’s not like that’s never happened before.

Nickelsville Benefit Concert
October 29, 2008, 11:07 am
Filed under: fundraising, music, Seattle, social action


Giving people what they don’t want (yet)
October 25, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: books

In a world where people believe they are not hungry, we must not offer food, but rather an aroma that helps them desire the food that we cannot provide.


Peter Rollins, How (Not) to Speak of God, p. 37

Make Something Day!!
October 24, 2008, 6:41 am
Filed under: culture, friends, social action

Join Me for Make Something Day 

I’m super excited to pass the word along to you, dear readers that the Make Something Day website is now live.

The Ecclesia Collective out of San Diego has been doing this for the past few years, with increasing amounts of attention, so they’ve taken their project to another level.  Make Something Day is sort of an extension of the Adbusters Buy Nothing Day . Make Something Day aims at something better:

We believe that giving is a central part of being human. So, we replaced the negative with something positive: Make Something Day. Go ahead and give gifts this holiday season. As they say, giving is better than receiving. But that doesn’t mean buying something is. So, we encourage folks to avoid shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead, stay home, put a log on the fire and try making something for someone.

Even for those of us who don’t think we’re creative, there are ideas and stories on the site that give us ways of participating.  Join in, won’t you?  Spread the word, join the Facebook group, share it on your own blog.