D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: consumerism

Thanksgiving (part 2)

This summer while doing research for a book review I stumbled upon one of the most famous documentaries of the last decade, called A Harvest of Shame. My husband and I watched, astonished at how powerful and intense it was. The documentary also made me rush back to re-read one of my top five books ever, Children in Crisis by Robert Coles. In it, he has an entire section devoted to migrant children (and their parents). Here is a (long) quote from that section:  

“Somehow, then, we come to terms with them, the wretched of the American earth. We do so each in his or her own way. We ignore them. We shun them. We claim ignorance of them. We declare ourselves helpless before their problems. We say they deserve what they get, or they don’t deserve better—if only they would go demand it. We say things are complicated, hard to change, stubbornly unyielding. We say progress is coming, has even come now, will come in the future. We say (in a pinch) that yes, it is awful—but so have others found life: awful mean, harsh, cruel, and a lot of other words. And finally we say yes, it is awful—but so awful that those who live under such circumstances are redeemed, not later in heaven, as many of them believe, but right here on earth, where they become by virtue of extreme hardship a kind of elect . . . I have many times extolled these [migrant] children and their people—extolled them all almost to heaven, where I suppose I also believe they will eventually and at last get their reward, and where, by the way, they will be out of my way, out of my mind, which balks at speaking what it nevertheless must be said about how utterly, perhaps unspeakably devastating a migrant life can be for children." (201)

The conditions chronicled in Harvest of Shame remain virtually unchanged--we just have a different population working the fields now. As a season of feasting and abundance is nigh upon us, this is an excellent time to consider where our good fortunes are made. Can we put down our religious language and lofty idealism and consider the human cost of our broken world?

I can think of nothing better to do with your time (today, tomorrow, or on that most horrid day known colloquially as "Black Friday") as watching this documentary. Gather your friends and family and watch it together. And think about how the kingdom can come, and even now is coming, here on earth.

Here is the video:



[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJTVF_dya7E]




I wrote more about this documentary for Red Letter Christians. Go on over to read it.










party crasher

I have a long history of stumbling into crazy experiences (i.e., miracles). I have had people give me laptops (Apple laptops!), buy me tickets to the Justice Conference, furnish and decorate my baby's nursery when we were in the hospital trying to survive. After I wrote this post for Deeper Story, I was feeling a little frustrated. We truly DO NOT KNOW what is going on in our lives. And it feels horrible, this here-but-not-here, the endless waiting, the mourning and rejoicing for things that aren't for certain. So I did an old-school evangelical move and got my Bible and sprawled out on the floor with my face in the carpet. I let out all my frustration, detailed everything I felt like God had told me about our future and I didn't understand why things weren't lining up. I want bells and whistles, God! I am making tiny steps towards following you! Tell me what is going on!

Well, then I got bored.

So I went and checked my e-mail. There, I found a free code for Donald Miller's Storyline Conference. I shrugged my shoulders, got a ticket, and continued about my day. It turns out that code was only meant for certain pastors at a certain Blue-Like-Jazz famous church, but when all the dust settled the organizers were cool and said I could come for free. Cue me singing the Amy Grant "Providence" song. Over and over and over again.

Based off the promotional literature, I was skeptical of Storyline. No offense, D Miller, but it all sorta sounds like corporate mumbo-jumbo (vision casting, living a good story). Also, I have been disappointed by enough of my young adult obsessions to know that Mr. Miller isn't God, nor is he even the same person he was when he wrote Blue Like Jazz. He is human, he is flawed, he might have turned into a salesman.

So I went with a mixture of excitement and cynicism (you know, the usual). And I was blown away.


I don't know how much I can write about the conference without it sounding weird or corporate or like white-people-having-an-existential-crisis. But basically, the conference asks you to assess your life and come up with concrete ways to live a better story. You do this by evaluating your past (good and negative turns, and finding redemption in the bad) and narrowing your focus on what roles/ambitions you want. The key here is that your ambitions must be greater than yourself; God is in the business of saving many lives--not making you happy.


What I loved most was the emphasis on how consumerism and the American dream create really boring stories. Nobody cares about these stories. Nobody is saved by these stories. But this is what we are inundated with, all the time. Great stories involve risk and failure and actual concrete adventures. People who are living out these stories are not shopping at Target or watching TV or reading escapist literature. They are out there, writing their own grand adventures.


It was interesting for me to attend this conference a few weeks after I quit my job. It gave me insight into my future and I am still reeling at how practical it all was. I walked away with a spring in my step, firm in my resolve to create some change (and move forward some important plot points) in my own story. I also felt extremely encouraged, and validated on a very deep level for many of the choices I have already made. And I will be changing things in the future, some of which I will write more about in the near future. But if anyone, anyone has found themselves in a situation like I am in, I would encourage them to pursue something like Storyline.


Ah, providence. The past two days have been eye-opening for me. The conference itself is a catalyst for change, for those that are willing to risk it. It is a recipe for failure, in many ways. It is also an outline for kingdom living, for entering into a story that is all about saving many lives.

And this, my friends, is what I want my story to be.


Happy Birthday to Me

I have a long history of having an identity crisis on my birthday. The hubs asked me very politely several days ago not to do this. I agreed, if only because I have had a few too many of those lately, and could use a break. In reality, this has been a banner year for some confirmations of things (column gigs and various magazine articles and copious amounts of constructive/positive feedback). I became a real teacher. I became the mom of a toddler. I was a pretty good wife.

But none of that really matters, because that is not truly who I am.

And I couldn't tell you even if I knew: all I know is this very second. The way God likes it when I sigh and squirm and then sit quietly on my own little carpet-square of a story.

For my birthday I got 2 books (one on adoption, one on the upside down kingdom) a worship CD, and a funky necklace made by women raising money for overseas adoption. A very, very tiny part of me thought: but what about an H&M giftcard? Glittery Toms? Chocolate bon bons? (PS: this is why the hubs hates birthdays: I declare myself free from consumerism and then pout when he doesn't buy me stuff). But I realized (and I am not saying this lightly) that I really didn't want anymore stuff. Plus, it is so cute that the hubs believes me when I say I want to want less. And what we do gift, I want it to be about something more.

So thanks to my husband for believing me, and believing in me. I am excited for my 28th year, mostly because I get to spend it with him.

Oh, and this one:


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