Archives For Phoenix

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1. Phoenix ends chronic veteran homelessness
When Arizona makes national news, it’s not always for particularly happy reasons. But this time there’s some news worth celebrating. The city of Phoenix has announced it has now ended chronic homelessness among veterans—something that many considered impossible to accomplish, which no other city has managed to do. Kudos to Mayor Greg Stanton, who has led the charge, while continually giving credit to the many partners—from government, nonprofits, and businesses—who have worked together to achieve this. Eugene Scott reported on it for the Arizona Republic before national outlets like MSNBC and The Atlantic—not to mention the White House—picked it up.

2. Josh Garrels on NPR
Katie and I still have Love & War & The Sea In Between by Josh Garrels in our car CD changer, slot three, after a solid two and a half years (alongside the equally enduring self-titled masterpiece from Bon Iver in slot four). In any case, it was great to see NPR giving Garrels some love this week:

The music I make doesn’t tend to go there all that often, like, just in awe of God… More my music, I would say, is trying to peel back layers and find out where is God in the midst of this city that I live in, and this marriage I’m in, and these things that are going wrong and these things that are going right. Does that make sense?

3. 2013 Kantzer Lectures
Nicholas Wolterstorff gave three lectures at the Carl F.H. Henry Center. Video and brief summaries for each are available. Here they are: The God We Worship: A Liturgical Theology, God as Worthy of Worship, and God as One Who Listens and Speaks. Thanks to Jason Goroncy for sharing them on his blog.

4. The Blind Boys
Last week Religion & Ethics Newsweekly had a segment on the Blind Boys of Alabama and the spiritual dimensions of their latest album, which was produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Lead vocalist Jimmy Carter (not the 39th President) says, “We feel that we were called by God to do this work.”

[Image via an0nym0n0us]

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1. Phoenix’s disconnected youth
Eugene Scott (@Eugene_Scott), a reporter for the Arizona Republic who participated in our Common Good PHX event back in April, has written an important report on the alarming number of youth in the Phoenix who are out of school and unemployed:

Nationally, one in seven young adults does not work or attend school. In metro Phoenix, it’s one in five. Experts say the reasons Phoenix has a higher disconnection rate vary — from students who come from communities that don’t place a high value on a diploma or lack educational options, to a weak economy where youths and young adults struggle to find work. Disconnected youths and young adults are more likely to lean on the government for services, such as welfare and health care, costing taxpayers. And they can hamper economic development as companies look to locate in areas with skilled workers.

2. Farmer’s markets, block parties… and institutions
On Monday, This Is Our City published an award-winning essay by Brandon Rhodes (@BrandonDRhodes) on how a local church is practicing “a long obedience” in downtown Tacoma, Washington. It’s a great essay, emphasizing the “local, highly ordinary gospel witness of Zoe Livable Church.”  And it sparked some great (dare I say edifying?) conversations from folks in various quarters about the extent to which great things like farmer’s markets, block parties, and yarnbombs can truly transform a city and help it flourish. Most notably, Jamie Smith (@james_ka_smith) says cities need Christians who practice micro acts of creativity, sacrifice, and faithfulness, but macro engagement matters too:

I read stories like Rhodes’ within earshot of the city of Detroit which now stands as a colossal disaster of municipal government. I have no doubt that yarnbombs on Woodward Avenue bring a furtive beauty to bombed out areas of an abandoned city—like the dove bearing fresh olives leaves as a sign and signal that the flood of judgment is receding. But farmer’s markets won’t rescue the city. Good government will. Those of us seeking to follow the Prince of Peace can’t abandon the call to bend governing to look more like it rests upon his shoulders.

3. Beyond eclectic Christianity
A good word from Kevin White on the value of being rooted in a Christian tradition with theological particularity as a basis for engaging with other views:

I mean to say that a robust, positive theology has to stand on something rather than nothing. If theology is to be more than a nerdy pastime, a proxy for power games or cultural dueling, or the basis of endless abstract disputes, then we each need to stand within a particular theology, following the example of particular sub-apostolic teachers, and correctable at first resort by a particular range of teachers in light of Holy Scriptures.

4. Another Self Portrait
NPR Music’s “First Listen” is streaming a full 45 minutes of material from Bob Dylan’s new collection of 53 – yes, 53 – previously unreleased songs from the late 60s and early 70s, the Self Portrait and New Morning era. This probably wasn’t Dylan’s finest moment, but if you’re a devoted fan, you’ll love at least some of these new songs.

5. Everything Will Change
Another music video from Derek Webb’s new record, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry & I Love You (which I blogged about the other day).

[Image via tinadhillon.com]

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1. Phoenix, then and now (simultaneously)
This week I stumbled upon TRUPHX, a blog curated by people committed to celebrating what’s good in Phoenix and the locals who make it so. Curious how the Phoenix of yesteryear compared with the city today, Hector Primero dug up old photos and then went around town taking pictures of what those places look like today. He then photoshopped them together, and the results are a truly fascinating way of seeing how the city has changed.

2. Taking responsibility in Haiti
The Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health have jointly published a report on the responsibility of the U.N. for the cholera epidemic in Haiti, “one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history.” Though details about the outbreak’s origins are pretty clear, and while the U.N. has called for efforts to combat the spread of cholera, it still hasn’t accepted responsibility for causing the epidemic in the first place. It may not be light weekend reading, but reports like these are essential for the sake of accountability.

3. Beyond economic solutions to poverty
The editorial team at Shared Justice has introduced a new series on poverty and opportunity. The first piece looks at the relational, spiritual, social, and institutional aspects of poverty, and considers what this kind of a holistic understanding means for us:

Our work as Christians extends beyond church walls when we reach out to foster healthy friendships with neighbors—many of whom may be lacking healthy social connections. These efforts encourage the healing of broken relationships that perpetuate poverty. Whatever other directions we take in seeking to alleviate poverty, we must never abandon our primary task: attesting to Scripture’s fuller vision of flourishing that encompasses the wholeness of our humanity in right relationship with God.

4. Krista Tippett, public listener
My friend Katelyn Beaty (@katelynbeaty) recently interviewed Krista Tippett (@kristatippett), host of On Being (formerly Speaking Of Faith) about “the ministry of listening,” among other things. I especially loved this part:

I’m interested in recovering the idea of public theology. Ten years ago, when you would talk about Niebuhr, people would say, “Well, who is the Niebuhr of our day? It’s all fine and good to talk about how great Niebuhr was, but we don’t have Niebuhrs anymore. Whom can we point to?” There can’t be any more Niebuhrs. I don’t even know if we could have a Martin Luther King now. The change makers are dispersed and plural; they’re in local communities, and they’re not all white Protestant guys. Public theology is very different. We have to look for it a little bit more. It’s not just going to declare itself and be anointed on the cover of Time. But that’s good, because it puts all of us back in the equation, both to be leaders and to seek out the people who we want to have that authority.

5. Eye of the Hurricane
Here’s the latest video from Derek Webb’s (@derekwebb) new album, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I Love You. It’s a great stripped down, acoustic version of the recording.

[Image: Corner of 1st St and Washington St, Phoenix (then and now) by Hector Primero via truphx.tumblr.com]

As we prepare for Common Good PHX, to be held next Friday and Saturday at Christ Church Anglican in Phoenix, I thought it would be nice to do a video interview with Andy Crouch, our main speaker for the event. Being the generous guy that he is, Andy agreed.

In this video, Andy discusses:

  • What Christianity Today‘s This Is Our City project is and how it came about
  • What piques his interest about the city of Phoenix
  • What we mean when we talk about “the common good” and “the flourishing of our city”
  • What he’ll be sharing with us at Common Good PHX

There’s still time to register if you haven’t done so already. Registration is still $15, but the price goes up on Monday, so reserve your seat soon! To register and to learn more about the event, visit www.commongoodphx.com.

 

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If I were to ask you to name a handful of United States cities roughly synonymous with the word flourishing, Phoenix probably wouldn’t be at the top of your list. It’s really hot, after all, with a lot of sand. Points of interest tend to be really spread out. Between numerous unremarkable buildings you’ll find a great deal of concrete. People who move here tend to move on fairly quickly. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

So it’s particularly audacious of us to talk about – much less work for – “the flourishing of our city.” But that’s precisely what we aim to do, in some small way, through Common Good PHX.

A word about that audacity: my generation wants to change the world, including a desire to revitalize our cities. One of our glaring problems, however, is that we live nearly entirely lost in the moment, with a fuzzy vision of our hoped-for future, and almost no concern whatsoever for the past.

If we want to understand the city in which we live, and if we want to help chart a better course forward, we need to understand what got us to where we are today. Jon Talton – aka “Rogue Columnist” – has written a fascinating three-part series called “Phoenix 101: What killed downtown.” It’s a grim title, I know, but the series serves as an important history lesson.

Part one begins with the founding of the township in 1870 and chronicles the city’s development up to 1940. Part two takes us through the ‘40s to the early ‘70s. And the series concludes by bringing us up to date.

“When you see downtown Phoenix today,” Talton advises, “Be kind. No other major city suffered the combination of bad luck, poor timing, lack of planning, vision and moneyed stewards, as well as outright civic vandalism.”

You’ll have to read the whole series to see what he means by that, but that quote paints a vivid picture in itself. While times and circumstances may change, Phoenix as we know it in 2013 is built on the foundation laid for us in generations past, for better and for worse.

At Common Good PHX, to be held at Christ Church Anglican on April 12-13, Andy Crouch will lead us through the story of culture, the work of culture, and the hope of culture, stirring our imaginations to consider how we can serve the common good of Phoenix through our vocations. We’ll grapple honestly with some of our city’s pressing challenges, but we’ll also celebrate the ways in which Christians from all walks of life are making “common-good decisions” in their daily lives.

The story of our city continues to unfold. As Talton puts it, “Bad fortune, worse policy, poor timing, civic vandalism and indifference did their best to kill [downtown Phoenix]. They failed.”

In other words, “the flourishing of our city” isn’t out of the question just yet. We hope you’ll join us for Common Good PHX as we consider what we can cultivate and create so that Phoenix might one day be known as a city that flourishes.