D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: the kingdom of god

the now and not yet: some links that made me think

Sometimes, I just have to share what is going on in my brain.  I read articles, clean my house, prepare lesson plans, bake brownies; I absorb news of tragedies, then spend hours in the throes of potty training. I have my disorienting life, just like you. Except I am discovering more and more, that stories of peace affect me profoundly, giving me hope. Stories of violence bring me to my knees, my heart connected to them in some way or another. It's the kingdom of God: The now and not yet.

Here are some things that gave me pause this week.


The Not Yet:

Trading Privilege for Privation, by The NYtimes.

Not going to lie, this article sent me on a downward spiral. It profiles a South African couple who moved into the slums for a month in order to experience what it was like. The article focuses on much of the push back the couple received, which was both warranted and not. All in all, these issues are what we are needing to think through. It touches on two of the important topics of my heart: how we share our stories, and what it means to try and identify with the poor (and the constraints therein). After I read this I had to go have a real long time of prayer and reflection.

Also, my friend Rachel Pieh Jones had some excellent thoughts in response to the above article.


Whistling Vivaldi Won't Save You, by Slate

This is an extremely difficult and important article to read. Jonathan Ferrell was shot and killed by the police while he was trying to obtain medical care from a car accident he was in. The ramifications of this story ripple out in ways that affect all of us.


Somalia's Al-Shabab Claims Nairobi's West Lake Mall Attack, by the BBC

This one hits me hard and fierce and personal. I know people who live in Nairobi, both Kenyan and Somali. I work in communities that are actively targeted by Al-Shabab. I am angry at the violence, how it makes victims out of all of us--even the shooters.


The Now:

Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism

"Ultimately Gravity exists to help the women and children in red-light areas, refugee camps, sewers and slums who deserve better. Who can’t afford another painful loss or sad goodbye. Who don’t need young idealists to show up in their neighborhoods with promises of hope or freedom only to last a couple of years before they decide they want to go back to grad school or pour coffee 20 hours a week while figuring out what else they want to do with their privileged freedoms."

Yes. Trip to Omaha, anyone?

How Deep Is Your Incarnation?, by John Blase

This poem really moved me. I can't stop thinking about it. What does it say that I have no room in my imagination for a Jesus who got himself a reputation as being a glutton? Somebody who loved life a bit too much, in the eyes of the religious elite. This was a challenging meditation for me this week, but it brought me so much joy. Go read it.

Trader Joe's Ex-President to Turn Expired Food into Cheap Meals, by NPR

I just love stuff like this. Prophetic Imagination FTW!


A quote from Madeline L'Engle, from the daily devotional Glimpses of Grace:

"As I read the Old and New Testament's I am struck by the awareness therein of our lives being connected with cosmic powers, angels and archangels, heavenly principalities and powers, and the groaning of creation. It's too radical, too uncontrolled for many of us, so we build churches which are the safest possible places in which to escape God. We pin him down, far more painfully than when he was nailed to a cross., so that he is rational and comprehensible and like us, and even more unreal. And that won't do. That will not get me through death and danger and pain, nor life and freedom and joy."


A picture, which is worth a thousand words: (by Jim LePage, original found here)




And a promise from God which has given me inordinate amounts of comfort this week:

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:26-31


I am such a weak thing in this world; I have nothing to boast in that doesn't come from the one who loves with an everlasting love.








New Directions.

Hey guys! So . . . I updated the blog a bit. To be a bit more professional and all (many, many thanks to the hubs for helping).

With the new look comes a new slant on things as well:

I am not going to be writing on here as much.

Not like this is a big deal at all, but at Storyline I realized that I had no desire to be a big-time blogger (which, trust me, takes a LOT of work). I didn't want to build my brand or crank a bunch of posts out of my butt that I don't know anything about.

And I can't write about what is really going on in my every day life (the internets: the are rife with mean people!). All my funny stories about refugees or babies or husbands just aren't suitable for a public space.

But, I love to write. It is how I process things. I am starting to realize it is also how I come to my best epiphanies, about things both large and small. So, I am going to write--just not here.

I will be writing about the current great adventures in my life at my old blog (some of you are already privy to it--you lucky people!). If you would like to be informed of the random happenings of babies/refugees, please let me know. Even if I don't know you in real-life, I would be honored if you wanted to read along on our crazy ride. E-mail me at dlmmcsweeneys[at]gmail[dot]com for details. Seriously, don't be shy. We have some crazy things coming up in the future (a move across the country!) and we will need all the support we can get.

Secondly, I am going to work on writing a book. I don't know what this looks like. All I know is: I like to write (well, as Donald Miller says, I like to have written). What had become crystal clear is the fact that I want to write really, really well. And blogging safe and tame things (that I really don't know anything about) is not going to help me at all.


So, there you have it. I will still be here periodically, so feel free to check in. But the winds are changing. I know what has been given to me to do.

And I want to do it well.

The Weak Things of the World

Two thing happened yesterday that left me confused, disoriented, and depressed: One, This American Life retracted the Apple Story by Mike Daisy. This was a podcast which talked about Daisy going to factories in China that made Apple products and exposing the less-than-ideal conditions. There are some serious fabrications in the story, so it is being pulled. I am bummed because this was the most popular podcast ever of TAL, and it spurred Apple to change come of their policies in light of all the (negative) attention. I thought it was amazing because it helped break down that third "wall" of activism: we will care about anything until you start to ask us to change our lives drastically. Because it was such an impactful story, I am sad to know that it was built on some distortions.

Two, one of the main dudes over at Invisible Children was arrested for some not-nice things yesterday (think MASSIVE public meltdown). There seems to be some elements of a break with reality to his behavior. In light of all the attention (both positive and negative) that Kony2012 has been getting lately, this is just another element that distracts from the reality of the situation. I am sad, for everyone involved.

I am emotionally involved in both of these stories: I love Mac products, but I am wary of the capitalist systems that have some of the very poor create products for the very rich. Invisible Children really impacted me when I saw it several years ago. I was eventually rubbed the wrong way by the intense hipster-ness of the founders, but that doesn't mean their cause is not a just one. More importantly, my sister and her husband have spent a lot of time in Sudan/Uganda/the Congo working with child soldiers that were abducted by the LRA. Kids who are floundering in orphanages, kids with severe mental health issues, kids who never got to be kids. When you hear those stories, you just can't believe it is still going on. 20 years later.

The world can seem so hopelessly broken sometimes. What is the strangest thing of all is how we like to kick the people who are actually in the trenches, or being the whistle blowers of the trenches. And sure, sometimes those whistle blowers are attention-seekers, braggarts, insecure, broken people. And when they fall, we shake our heads and continue to do nothing ourselves about these situations.

I have recently realized that I tend to disqualify people quite easily from ministering in the kingdom of God: too bossy, too busy, too entrenched in life. But the whole narrative of the gospel is about using the weak to confound the wise. To use the weaker vessels, the bruised reeds, the socially hopeless and the sinner in need of a savior. God does not disqualify people like I do. He uses them, while I sit on the sidelines and make mental notes. And he gently asks me to stop, and to come and join him in the messy business of bringing the kingdom. There isn't enough time to be depressed, or judgmental, or to even wallow in very much introspection. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Jesus for President

I'm excited for Lent to start tomorrow, and looking forward to doing without so that others can have more. In my column that went up today I explore how the concept of the Kingdom of God came to be the defining element of the gospel for my husband and me. We were (and continue to be) heavily influenced by Shane Claiborne and his writings.


Read it here, and let me know what you think!



Luke 9:62

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

This is hitting me hard. How many times have I looked back? How many times have I thought about different paths taken, how I could make my life more comfortable, safe, easy?

My immediate thought is to say: I am unfit.

My next thought is: thank goodness Christ loves to use the weak and the broken.

Take a look at the rest of that passage in Luke. Nothing is more sharp than the tongue of Christ, promising hardship and truth and a place in the kingdom. And the chance to bring it here and now.

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