Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Little brown dress

Would you -- could you -- wear the same thing every day for a year?

This person did. And I'm fascinated by it:

So, here's the deal - I made this dress and I wore it every day for a year. I made one small, personal attempt to confront consumerism by refusing to change my dress for 365 days.

In this performance, I challenged myself to reject the economic system that pushes over-consumption, and the bill of goods that has been sold, especially to women, about what makes a person good, attractive and interesting. Clothes are a big part of this image, and the expectation in time, effort, and financial investment is immense.
She blogs all about her experience and insights over the course of the year, and as I read I found myself secretly wishing I could wear the same thing every day, realizing that it's not realistic in my world -- but then thinking, ok, what IS realistic? Ten items of clothing? Fifteen? Yeah, maybe, actually. Twenty? That's still a LOT less than what's in my closet right now. And it's also a lot more than most people in most countries in the world own.

Anyway, I have approximately one million more thoughts related to this topic. The idea of simplicity, of simplifying life, seems to be popping up every time I turn around -- in movies, music, and friends' homes.

So this post is kind of just a teaser. More thoughts on this later.

Everybody hurts

Without going into personal detail, can I just acknowledge something here?

Sometimes I hurt. Sometimes I hurt a little, sometimes a lot.

Don't worry, I am fine. But the past couple of weeks have not been fine. That's just kind of how life works sometimes. I'm coming out on the other side of this one, amazingly intact, and starting to have some pain replaced by wisdom and insight and even peace. But a part of me -- call it the emo part? -- still wants to acknowledge it, to say, this is how I felt. Not, this is how I fixed it, or this is what I learned, or this is who helped me -- but simply, I felt this. I am a real person having a real human experience, and this is how it feels sometimes. And I know I'm not the only one who feels it.

And so, in the spirit of teen angst, this song from my teen years is for all of us.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting my stuff done

I'm having one of those days.

Four in a row, actually.

In fact ... posting this video to my blog is a shining example of my amazing non-productive productivity ...

Friday, February 6, 2009

My dad and the untold story of black mormons

I saw a moving film (for the second time) on Saturday night called "Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons."

It does a beautiful job of covering, as one of the producers, Darius Gray, put it afterwards, both the the bitter and the sweet. I felt somehow healed by it, not just in terms of racial reconciliation but also in terms of reconciling my faith. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to see it -- whatever your race or religion.
Check out some extended clips from it here.

Coincidentally, I also received a short memoir from my dad this week on the same topic. I was excited to get this piece of family history -- I'd never heard all the details before. Like my dad, I am proud of the progress my country and my church have made over the past several decades. Thanks, Dad, for recording and sending this!

"In light of the recent inauguration of President Obama, our first black president, I thought it would be fun to share a set of cultural experiences I had in South Georgia.

"In 1979, I was living with my growing family in South Georgia. Just one year after the revelation on blacks receiving the priesthood, our small branch of the Church, in Americus, Georgia, was the only integrated church in the County, with 50% black population. I was a counselor in the branch presidency, and we were having trouble getting white members to accept black members attending church with whites, refusing to sit anywhere near them, and certainly not on the same pew!

"I had a black home teaching companion named Willie, and after home teaching the relief society president, I learned from the elder’s quorum president that I was never to bring Willie with me to her house again. Not letting us in the house the first time, she had let us visit with her on her old southern porch. Next time, I was informed, she would not be so kind.

"At work, I was teaching multi-cultural training, with a 50% black and 50% woman workforce. The white men didn’t like us “HR black lovers” too much, because of this training, and said it was totally unnecessary, since they had been raised by black mammies, and therefore got along with their black brothers quite well.

"On the home front, the white man who built my house came by one night, under the cloak of darkness, to tell me that if I sold my house to a black man, which I was considering doing, he, the builder would be run out of town and it would destroy his business.

"One day, Sister Stevenson, a black member of our branch asked my wife Vicki and me to sing at her son’s funeral. Her son had been killed in a drive-by shooting. So Vicki and I went to the funeral at a small, one-room church out in the country. The church looked like an isolated wooden shack, with a red dirt parking lot, and a single picture of Martin Luther King hung from the white walls inside.

"When it was our turn to sing, there was no piano for the accompanist we had brought, so we proceeded to sing Oh My Father “acapella.” In the middle of the first verse we realized the crowd of black family members was beginning to sing with us, clapping and swaying to the beat. So, yes, you guessed it, we went the distance with all the verses with black choir accompaniment. Vicki and I adapted to the southern singen style, and found ourselves exhilarated by the spiritual experience we were having together.

"After the funeral, and at the luncheon, most of those black family members and friends hugged us and told us how much they liked the song, accepting us as members and friends of the family. I was deeply moved by this experience as our hearts were touched by their kindness and love. I have often wondered since then, when and how we might begin to be as loving and Christian as this community of black people. 30 years later, I take great joy in seeing how much progress the Church and our nation have made.