The basic structure, you Do. Not. Break.

Quite a few years ago, I got to sit in on a Masterclass for a jazz band. The leader kept saying snippets of advice to the band, so I jotted them down. The more I listened, the more I heard universal wisdom in the phrases.

At the time, I was involved in a lot of worship planning and creating learning environments. Now, I am primarily involved in creating virtual space for community. These jazz masterclass tenets hold up either way.

I invite you to read through this list and consider how each may apply to some aspect of creating community in which you are a part:

“Don’t be afraid to come IN when you are at the entrance.”

“This is OUR music. You are part of an ensemble. Listen for yourself in the whole.”

“The more silence you put in your music, the better the music sounds.”

“Help the audience know when something new is happening.”

“If you are one of the loud people, maybe play closer to your stand, or back it down a little.”

“Not every note gets the same attention. Make sure the melody is singing when they get the chance.”

“Hit the back wall with your sound. You set the mood for everyone else to join in.”

“[Jazz] is like a rubber band, you can pull it any way you like, but the basic structure you Do. Not. Break.”

 

Applied Math

Today I was bopping around on the webs and came across this super cool TED talk by Ron Eglash. He discusses the fractals in African architecture. If you have 17 minutes, I recommend it highly.

Aside from the interesting new thoughts of the video, I am left thinking how amazing it is when we are truly engaged in learning.

I have never loved math. It has been a struggle for me all through life. Yet here I am, hanging on every word of this mathematician…because he connected math with stories, with people’s lives.

I believe that in every subject there is a way to find the spark, the passion, that makes us want to jump in with both feet. I’ll have more to write about that later, but for today I am sleepy.

Religious Needs of Young People

Summed up in one line:

"Young people have a deep interest in religious matters"

“Young people have a deep interest in religious matters” from Young People in the Liberal Church by Stephen Fritchman

True. Young people (or any age people) DO have interest in “religious matters”. They may not have interest in Sunday School, or unnecessary meetings, or  sitting and listening without getting to participate.

SO if it’s as plain as this picture suggests, why are we having conferences, books, and summits devoted to figuring out the sharp decline in church involvement? There’s a difference between religious matters and static religion.

Religious matters are the ideas and values that connect us and help us understand our lives. The questions and life events that we can only understand when we explore them in community.

Perhaps we can shift the conversation away from discovering the perfect structures or program to entice people back to church? Maybe our conversation can be more about our common concerns and what binds us together.

After the Rockers

SO here’s the thing.

Being a religious educator, I see in every conversation a spark of an idea for connecting people with the spirit.  Whether discussing Dr. Who, McNuggets, sex, or which couch to buy….all topics are explorations of values. Far from being tiring, it is energizing to find connections among people, interests, faith, and action. No news there, right?

The talking is fun, but after the conversations finish there is work to be done…and sometimes I am challenged by the first steps of making the theoretical real. The phrase, “Talk is cheap” comes to mind. So does that make action expensive?  Nah.

One of the lovely realities of this time is that conversations need not be in close physical proximity to be meaningful, productive, and deeply connective. I can continue to throw ideas around with colleagues and friends, adding in the tools of shared documents, drawing in other like minded folks to the project as we go- something that can’t happen while chatting on an island porch.

I adore modern communication tools.

Which is a long introduction to say that tomorrow I am beginning this massive, important, totally exciting project. Stay tuned and watch your inbox.