D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: mcsweeneys

put not your trust in princes

as everyone is bloggin' and tweetin' about voting, i am going to link you to a column i wrote last year:

Four years ago, when filling out my ballot for president of the United States, I carefully penciled in the name “Jesus.” My husband did the same. Everybody was super annoyed at us. But this year, I will probably do it again. I’m young and rash and poor enough where this doesn’t seem to matter all that much. When it comes to voting for presidents, for lobbying for change, to making a difference!—there are some of us who are starting to look far outside of the political system. We take our cues from Jesus: who cares about strengthening our borders or cheaper oil or people “stealing” jobs? When God is your king it takes all the fun out of being patriotic, of having a small gospel, of tightening the boundaries of what makes us a citizen.

you can read the entire column here.

this year, more than in the past, i have struggled with what to do in terms of voting. i moved to a new state which is already decided in who it will elect president. i don't know enough about local politics yet to be as involved as i would like to be. i finally am meeting some of my neighbors and i asked one of them who they would vote for, if they were granted citizenship. she looked at me, threw up her hands, and said: "who can say?"

but for those who did/are voting, i pray that it is a day filled with gratitude for the privilege, and community in our democracy. if you vote for Obama, or Romney, or even Jesus, i pray you have a blessed day.

and that you go live it out.

coping mechanisms

Transition is hard on everyone. We were in the car yesterday, on the way to partake of some deliciousness at the food carts (pizza, fried pie). The baby is screaming at the top of her lungs, crying, inconsolable. Snacks, stuffed bunnies, water, hands to hold--nothing is helping. The food carts are far away. My husband puts on some Ke$ha, sings along at the top of his lungs. I pull out my book (the Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, which I am savoring) trying to immerse myself in reflections on the Psalms while around me the cacophony of sound is truly deafening. We are all trying to cope, in our own ways, right now.

My husband looks over at me, over the crying, the Ke$ha, the calm words in my hand. "This is kind of funny," he says, meaning the ways we are all coping. "You should put this on your blog or something".


My new post at McSweeney's is up (also, can I just geek out for a moment and say that Jesse Eisenberg is also writing for McSweeney's and his piece came out today too? So in my dream world that makes us writer friends/bffs. And yes, it is that Jesse Eisenberg).

Nostalgia is such a tricky thing. I knew I would have to write about it at some point, I just never knew it would be so much about me. In my grad school I actually had to take a couple of Seminary classes, and one was on World Religions (and friends, I have taken soooooo many World Religions classes that I was pretty miffed I had to do another one). But this class turned out to be great, where we actually listened to experts from various religions come and share themselves with us (imagine that!). The class also focused on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as a model to explore all modern religious conflict. I wrote a paper on how nostalgia has been used to convert people on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict into violent forms of nationalism. It was a wordy, researched-based piece, but the results stuck with me. Telling stories matters. We need to make sure the stories we are telling ourselves do not revolve just around our shared history, but the stories of the work God has done in us.

I also found that one of the best ways to subvert violent, nostalgia-based rhetoric was to focus on telling the stories of those not in the majority of power: mainly, the women and the children. This is something I think we all can do, right where we are. All of us have the means to interact with those on the fringes of power, and to help tell those stories. This is one of the ways we can lesson violence, and stop allowing ourselves to be convinced that we are the only right thinkers in the world.

So, what stories are you compelled to seek out and to tell?


My new post at McSweeney's is up here. I can't believe I only have 3 more to go! This makes me want to cry, just a little. Also, I just read a blog post from a woman who lived in Haiti for a year or two. It is on the whole short-term missions debacle, which I have tried to stay out of for some time now. However, I think she makes a few good points. One, is that we defend our trips overseas because they meant something to us, and we ignore the fact that we are disempowering people all the time (not to mention ignoring missionaries who plead that we just send support/supplies). The other idea is that we don't expect people to care about the poor unless we drop them in the midst of the poor. Is this true or not? I know that I was only awakened from my entitled American stupor as a result of direct friendships with people of a lower socio-economic status. I want to believe that people can care without having to smell the death and desperation of true poverty, but maybe this isn't true.

In any case, just because there are no easy answers on this one doesn't mean it isn't worth wrestling. I greatly identified with the post because every single bloody day of my life I am wondering what I am doing: am I creating more barriers or breaking them down? And honestly, I don't know what the tally is right now. I just know I am supposed to keep going, one step at a time.

Writing as Process

Hey! I am currently feeling sick as a dog yet somehow needing to entertain my toddler all day--who knew that sick days when you grow up are truly like the Worst Days Ever? I think we will be watching many movies today, which should thrill the child. On a separate note, I have some stuff up at a couple of different places.

First, my new column for McSweeney's is up here. Just to let you know: it isn't very good. I guess everyone needs a throw-away column, and this one was mine. This is what happens when I try to be funny.

Secondly, my new post is up at A Deeper Story. This one was very cathartic for me to write, and as I was telling my sister about it she is the one who said: wow, can you say "self-fulfilling prophecy"?. I had never thought of it like that. I really truly believe in all the gifts (one of my parents speaks in tongues, one does not) but I could never really deal with how that culture made it all very personal--to the point that it took away from an actually relationship with Jesus (for me, at least). I am now at a point in my life where I desperately want to be open to the Spirit, and that starts by combatting some of the lies (prophecies) that have been spoken over me. I am looking forward to the fire growing.

New Column: Women's Work

New Column: Women's Work

Hey. My new column at Mcsweeneys is up. 

I want to be clear that I am not upset or against men or any of that nonsense. I just have had to struggle with some issues in my life. I just hate to see people barred from using the gifts they have been given by God by the people of God. I just recently realized that not a single theological book I read (either as a part of a course or on my own studies) at my Bible college was written by a women. At the time, it didn't even register. Now, it just breaks my heart.

There is no one reason for this, of course. It is a complicated issue. I would like to believe it is because all the cool girls are out there bringing the kingdom. We just need more of them to write their stories down. 

Read More

baking cakes for teenage weddings

My new column at Mcsweeneys is up. It was a hard one to write, because it was a hard thing to experience.

What I didn't add in the piece is the fact that this was the last time I have seen her; Hali (not her real name, obviously) moved to the East Coast the next day. She was supposed to come visit here in June, but she is 8 months pregnant and won't be able to come out.

I don't write very much anymore about living where we live (low-income housing, refugees for neighbors) because it doesn't seem safe. But I will say that there are many, many sad things going on all the time. Some times I can shove it down, and other times I can't. I have been grateful for this column-writing-experience because it has forced me to look at the situation square in the eye. And, no surprise here, I have been found wanting.

The girls in the refugee community get it the worst. They come here, are educated up to their eyeballs both by the schools and the media that they should "follow their hearts" and "believe in themselves". They catch ahold of these ephemeral promises and hold on tight, until suddenly they can't. Their culture catches up when they turn a marrying age and demands they go back and live life the way it always was. Except this time, the girls know that there are different paths out there. Just not for them.

In many ways, it seems like the worst of both worlds. And there isn't anything I can do about it, really. Just stay a friend. Keep the channels of communication open. Try and be nice to the men in the community for once, and influence them for good.

And, of course: pray. Pray. Pray, without ceasing.

Mutuality: Not Just a Buzzword!

So, part of my angst after the Justice conference spilled out into my newest column. It feels good to have written it down, and to have a reminder of what my expectation vs. reality often is. But as I was writing, I started to get mired in all that is not right, I could feel the sad stories start to eclipse the hope. Then, the soul-crushing guilt comes rolling in, telling me I am not doing enough, that the good years are behind, that the future is always in flux, never in solid relationship.


And then, two nights ago, we left the door unlocked and the refugee kids creep in, looking for a friend, content to just sit and play for awhile.

Yesterday, we go to our neighbors house to have chai and delicious Nepali food, to sit and talk about babies and the sunshine and possible small business ideas.

Last night, a former student of mine, a sweet, nearly toothless Vietnamese man, brought bags and bags of food to school for me. This is the second time in a month; he never says much. Just smiles and shoves the beautiful, ornate, smelly food in my hands and walks away, takes the bus back to his house.


And all of this is so unexpected. Nobody wants anything from me. They want to be friends. I know this sounds strange, but this might be the weirdest part of my life right now. I feel uncomfortable with my friendship, like I must offer something more in order to be worthwhile. English class, small business opportunities, a play group. But my friends and neighbors just smile and nod politely and go back to cooking me food (I am racking up a delicious food debt so high there is no hope of ever paying it back--I must cut my losses right now and declare grace in the realm of cooking hospitality).

In a season of questions, I am being blessed by the people I thought somehow needed my help. It is blowing my mind, this mutuality, this risk in only being friends.



new column


New column is up: on baptism, friendship, the importance of story, and the incredible life of my friend Abdi. This was such a good opportunity to remember his life, and to really spend some time in missing him. This happened several years ago, but it feels like today.


I have been reading a lot lately about living in solidarity with the poor. It's amazing how unreachable that sounds, until you actually become invested in people who are so very different from you. It has been a gift to be able to look back and see how intertwined and enmeshed my life has become, heartbreaks and triumphs and all, with some of the very least of these.


Powered by Squarespace. Background image by Kmayfield