D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: media

more links than you can shake a sprained foot at

well. it is saturday. i had great plans for today. they involved roaming around basilicas and sitting still in the quiet; they involved coffee shops in the most crowded neighborhood in the land between chicago and los angeles; it involved escaping my charming and exhausting responsibilities as mother, wife, apprentice, new neighbor. but then i went and hurt my foot (humble brag alert: running 5 miles in below-freezing weather), to the degree in which i cannot stand on it. so now i am sitting on my bed, ice on the foot, alternating between common prayer, scripture reading, journaling, praying, checking fb, and catching up on online life. it ain't no monastery but thanks to lovely friends i have enough toast and jam, coffee and cookies, personalized mugs and journals to last me (that's right. i received even MORE special prezzies from fantastical internet--and real life--friends!).

so. while i can't imagine anyone has the annoyance luxury like me of being a pampered invalid, perhaps you have a few moments to spare? because i have some things to tell you about.

first: a conversation worth delving into is the discussion on how to tell stories. for anyone involved in working/living/interacting with people from marginalized communities (insert whatever word you use), there has got to be some ground rules. how much do we share? what is exploitative, what is redemptive? i don't believe the answer is to sit on our hands and be quiet, but historically we have not done a good job of empowering people to tell their own experiences. this TED talk (introduced to me by the blog of the lovely Rachel Pieh Jones) does a beautiful job of describing the danger of telling a single story. well worth your time to watch if you have ever wrestled through these questions.

second: i am sort of obsessed with the nanowrimo phenomenon. do people really do this? do "legitimate" writers do this? i don't want to sound snobbish, but is it only the realm of those writing sci-fi? please tell me everything you know about it. i am inordinately invested, because out of nowhere last week i got hit with this fantastic idea for a novel (and trust me, i have NEVER wanted to write fiction before). is this month-long experiment in production a waste of time? i want to know.

third: folk music is the best for writing, no? i have been really into the barr brothers (still), and recently fell in love with sandra mckracken (her children's music makes me teary, but is not available on spotify. but check out the album The Builder and the Architect). what are you listening to? that christmas song sufjan wrote about unicorns?

fourth: i am starting to fall down the rabbit hole of reading Sharon Astyk. described as a female Wendall Berry, Astyk writes about the realities of our excessive lifestyles. in her book, she has introduced me to phrases like "peak oil" and "post-depletion worlds". at first terrifying, this ain't your normal climate change/the end of the world is nigh book. instead, it talks about our homes as the gateways of escaping our excessive economy, which dangers us and more importantly (in my book) our poor neighbors. she writes that living well on less is not only possible, it is our only option. the implications of this are stunning, especially as i find myself in such an urban environment. how are my lifestyle choices today going to effect my neighbor tomorrow? so many of these conversations seem to end up with just a bunch of isolated do-gooders, the rest of us carrying on as normal. i am interested in solutions for the most vulnerable; this seems like kingdom stuff here.


there is nothing good on television. there is nothing good in the movies. everything has gone to rot. should i just stay in and read my Brueggemann sermons every night? a girl has got to put her hair down every once in awhile. this is where i need your help. what is actually worth watching?


i am finally, sluggishly, starting to feel political. and i don't really like that feeling, since it can tend to harness such unnecessary and misdirected anger. i am much more drawn to the slow process of being involved in cultural and community change. but that stuff ain't sexy, is it? one thing i have been reading over and over again is psalm 146, which i hear-by christen as the "election day psalm". read it, won't you? and let's just all agree that the princes of our world are pretty lame, and thank goodness the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

whoo. that is a lot of information. and i asked you a couple of questions somewhere in there. so hit me up. i can't go anywhere for the rest of the day.

Media Week: Guest Blog

Sure, sitting too close to the TV screen will make you cross-eyed, but not turning it on for a week will make your mind melt, which is what I have decided so far. This is D's husband, writing. She graciously allowed me to write a guest blog, because media week has been a million times more impactful for me than any of the other weeks have been. Basically, through removing media this week, it made me realize exactly what role it plays in my life. Actually, I realized it within 48 hours. So I think: that was all we needed to do, we can go back to watching TV (and playing video games, if you are me, which for the record, I only do when I work until late and need a way to wind down).

At first, I figured out that TV helped me shut off my mind, which I viewed as a good thing, because without TV my brain runs on and on and on - about injustice, about group therapy techniques, about how to become an spoken word rock musician, about the books I'm reading, which, within the last week have included childhood trauma, pacifism, the Kingdom of God, just war theory, adoption, and therapy. Even when I try to unwind with some fiction, Hermione ends up ruining my mental shut off time by bring up S.P.E.W. which then makes me think about all the injustices that plague both Hogwarts and our muggle world, whether it's against elves or humans.

So I decided that TV is healthy because without it, I think too much and I don't know how to rest. I need TV to rest my noggin, and so in the clinical opinion of this counseling intern, I am deeming watching TV very healthy.

Since I came to that conclusion, a few days have gone by and I have primarily focused on an upcoming counseling class titled "Trauma through the Lens of Attachment," and I have to read The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's NotebookI haven't even gotten to the chapter of which the title is named, but I have read five chapters so far, each with multiple stories of violence against children, and I will not tell you at all what they are about, because then you would be as sad as I feel right now. And to be honest, it would be easier to sit with these children in a session than to read about it, because sitting with the traumatized allows you to attend to and focus on them, and one may even get to witness the beauty of resilience; but when you read it in a book, or read this in the newspaper, you are forced not only to attend to the victim, but to equally attend to the perpetrator -- you are forced to face depth of brokenness that exists in humanity. In fact, it is the violators that make it more difficult for me to have hope - I can hope for recovery for those who have undergone the most heinous crimes, but what about those who commit violence without remorse? It can be downright spirit-crushing.

Then the other stressors in my life are primarily responding to that brokenness; I need to prepare for my oral exam so I can graduate with a master's in counseling so I can help people (which is actually, in itself a flawed statement that I don't have time to address here); I need to  put together a resume to see if non-profit organizations will take us; I need to respond to the pile of emails from ministry organizations that we might partner with.

So these days, I feel that my brain capacity is filled with (a) emotionally responding to the pain of the world and (b) practically responding to the pain of the world. And in this moment, all I want to do is hear Liz Lemon say, "What the what?" and I am seriously thinking that I definitely deserve some TV.

But then it occurred to me that if I alternate between feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and feeling the numbness of watching Liz Lemon make witty one-liners, I am missing something big. The weight of the injustice and pain in the world can drive us to TV (or drinking, or other ways to separate ourselves from reality), or it can drive us to God. And I've been asking myself this week what exactly it means to rest with God, because up until now, I always think being quiet in prayer is just about waiting for God to tell me what to do next, which usually adds more stress rather than less. And I know that God created the Sabbath, but Jesus taught us that doing good and relieving suffering is not exempt from the Sabbath, so I just feel kind of confused. If there is endless suffering in the world, how can we ever have a sabbath in good conscience?

And I think this is part of what resting with God is, turning to him in the moment you want to numb yourself (and by the way, in the mental health world, we identify this as landing on some spectrum of dissociation, just so you know). I respond through the mind-numbing way all the time, usually courtesy of hulu.com.

So tonight, rather than playing video games or watching TV, since I couldn't do either of those things, I decided to just sit (well, just sit in some warm bath water with candles lit) and read out of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary RadicalsOf course, I also did a little free-style praying as well. But basically, I prayed for the kids in my childhood trauma book, not only them specifically, but the demographic they represent (including many teenagers I interact with on a regular basis), and it was really relieving. more relieving than ignoring my emotions and watching Parks & Rec. Even though I felt that I was caring more and not less, nor was I shutting off my brain, I felt invigorated rather than drained because I felt connected to the Holy Spirit as I joined Him in grief over injustice, and at the same time it was also so relieving that He is much more powerful than I.

Out of Common Prayer, I prayed the compline prayer which is the last prayer of the day. Part of it goes like this:

This is what we are about: we plant seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects are beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

You guys know that D is a radical, but so you know, -- me, not so much. In fact, two weeks ago I prayed that God would give me love for the poor and the disenfranchised because I pretty much didn't care. And over this past weekend, the Holy Spirit moved my heart in this way, and pointed out to me that there were demographics of people that I had simply given up on, which is not the way He sees things. And I think part of learning to care is learning to rest in God (and maybe not in TV as much). We might be afraid that if we care, if we really give it our all, we will care too much and our we will be crushed under the weight of stress, powerlessness and hopelessness. Basically, I trust the writers of Friday Night Lights to bring redemption and justice to the town of Dillon, Texas more than I trust God to bring the same to my neighborhood and community, and thus I am more invested in those characters than I am in the people I see every day. But through this TV- and videogame-less week which I have resented every step of the way, I've learned that rest is not just about shutting off our brains, but it's about hope, it's about trusting that God is still working, even when while we ourselves take a moment to catch our breath.

(And also, maybe we kind of broke the lent rules today because it was D's birthday). Edit: ok, by that my husband means we watched 15 minutes of Parks and Rec before my baby woke up very very very early from her nap. It's the birthday rule, OK????? Also, isn't my husband the coolest?

The Great Lent Experiment (AKA our own "mutiny against excess") Week 3: Media

In case you missed it, I wrote about possessions week here.

I never thought I would be one of those people. You know, those who watch current shows on TV. Like, watch an episode every week. I used to be really busy and then watch an entire season of some show on the rare weekend I had a chance. And for some reason, I watched more movies.

Now, TV is the way the hubs and I relax at night. We work alternating nights and the baby wakes up real early, so we usually watch one 20 minute episode of something nearly every night. I don't know how it happened, it just did.

I have always admired people who did "kill your TV" week or month or year, but it never crossed my mind that I should do that. But then I gave up Facebook (for all intents and purposes) and that was not even a big deal. Out of all the weeks, this one seems like the one I most DON'T want to surrender. So I am sure I need it, badly.

We over here are giving up all TV/movies/facebook/twitter/pinterest. Even the baby, who has become alarmingly hooked on Elmo (I really don't know how I am going to cook dinner without that 20 minute reprieve during the "witching hour". Which makes me realize that this is getting ridiculous). We will still listen to music (and the occasional podcast? I dunno. You guys need to act as my counsel and tell me if you think that is media). I am still going to read my blogs via googlereader, but only once in the morning.

I am excited to read more books. I am currently reading Interrupted  by Jen Hatmaker and The Barefoot Church  by her husband, Brandon. I am re-reading The irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne, because we all need a little inspiration for creativity. I am also reading Still  by Lauren Winner (the jury is still out on that one) and maaaaaybe am re-reading the Hunger Games in anticipation of the movie. Maybe. Plus, the ol' Bible and Common Prayer: a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. And a bunch of Christian parenting books.


Before I get too enmeshed with all the reading and the brain-spinning that happens as a result of reading, let me just say that so far Lent has been a season for actively seeking the voice of God. And listening. And waiting. And receiving--just not in the ways that I would expect. But it has been very encouraging to experience that His voice is all around, and sometimes we just need to take some small, sacrificial steps in order to hear it. And I expect that from this week as well.

Ok, after all that ranting, here is the breakdown for this next week:

Week three: Media: We are a culture that loves to be entertained. How much more space for others (and God) can we create by shutting off all of our devices for a week? This will be a great chance to practice old-fashioned community and hospitality. Fill up the silence with good things: worship music, good books, coffee with friends, or just hanging out with your family.

Practical Fasts: Commit to a week without media: no facebook, twitter, pinterest, television (hulu) or movies. Limit cell phone and e-mail usage

Prayer: Use this week to focus on communicating with God, allowing silence and a space for listening in your relationship. Use your downtime to get together with other Lenten observers and pray together in true community!

How was week 2? What are you doing for week 3? Let me know!

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