Apr 24 2009

Spring in Atlanta: Festivals and Gardens!!!

(music from the Atlanta Dogwood Festival)

There is nothing like springtime gardening and festivals in Atlanta. Winter (well, whatever winter we have—I’m from Chicago. I’m just sayin’). Everything is green, the rains have come, the flowers, dogwoods, and azaleas are blooming, and there is so much to do outside and inside around the city. Last weekend for me was about two great festivals –the Dogwood Festival and the Atlanta Film Festival– and some gardening.

Last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was the 73rd Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival. The Dogwood (pictured left in pink, though most dogwood flowers are white) is the unofficial state flower of Georgia (the Cherokee Rose is the Official State Flower; the State Seashell, in case you were wondering, is the Knobbed Whelk). The Festival was back in Piedmont Park this year, after a drought-induced hiatus to the Lenox Mall Parking Lot last year. The weather was gorgeous! I went on Friday, played Frisbee, and walked around to some of the more than 250 artist booths, which were really spectacular. I’m a woodworker, and I was very impressed with the number and quality of wood turning, carving, and furniture booths. I might have to get one for next year…. In 2006, the Artist Market was ranked #16 out of the Top 200 Shows in the Country by Sunshine Artist’s Magazine.

Last weekend was the best weekend so far this year for gardening. On Saturday, before the Atlanta Film Festival, I went to pick up a pick-up truck-full of horse manure! I know, it might sound kinda gross, but this stuff is all natural, totally organic, and better than gold to gardeners and farmers! You can use manure as a top-dressing, mixed into soil directly (do this at least 2-4 months ahead of any planting), or thrown in your compost bin. And it was FREE!

I went to Vogt Riding Academy, located about a mile from the Emory campus. My friend Colin and I had the truck filled in 20 minutes, and they had TONS of free manure. Just go by anytime they’re open (8-5 M-F; 8-3ish on Sat), and they’re happy to help out. They’ll even load your truck for you for free (you should tip the guy five bucks, in my opinion) if you go earlier in the day. Loaded up with horse apples, Colin and I grabbed a cup of coffee at a coffee shop, where they gave us free used coffee grounds for the garden.

We saw Farmer D’s organic garden shop across the street, so we went over and bought some vegetables and herbs to go into the ground. The workers there were friendly and knowledgeable and Farmer D’s website is fantastic. For instance, they’ve got a great video on the process and benefits of composting.

Lastly, The Atlanta Film Festival (AFF) was fantastic. I only caught the Drama Shorts, but there were 183 films total being screened between April 16-25. Since 1977 the AFF has screened early films from directors such as Steven Spielberg, Victor Nunez, Spike Lee, Julie Dash and Robert Rodriguez. The Drama Shorts that I saw were all good, and several were great. They were between 12 and 19 minutes long. I can say that I had previously seen less than five short films in my life. But the shorts were powerful and unlike most Hollywood movies. Three of the six were filmed in Atlanta, with many of the actors, directors, and production people sitting in the theater with me! I particularly like Magellan, the story of a bright and awkward young boy living in a smokestack in Atlanta with his artist father. The festival website says:

Magellan, a scrawny seventh-grade outcast, has a precarious friendship with the popular but insecure girl he walks to and from school with everyday, but that friendship ends at the school boundaries until one day Magellan gathers the courage to ask her to the Spring Dance.

Check out the trailer on the website and go see the movie! It was fantastic! The rest of the The AFF website is very interactive, and most of the films have trailers and/or comments sections. Check out the rest of the Drama Shorts below for descriptions, reviews, and trailers.

Between You And Me | Micah Stansell

Flying Lessons | Janet Grillo

Magellan | Sebastian Davis

Miracle Fish | Luke Doolan

The Capgras Tide | Adam Hutchings

Wheels | Tracy Martin

So the festivals, gardening, and spring have arrived in Atlanta. Sometimes all on the same weekend. You can see why it’s my favorite time of the year!!!

Apr 10 2009

Quaker Service at Candler

A Quaker Meeting in Candler’s Cannon Chapel

Diversity is something that is celebrated at Candler. Diversity is something sewn into the basic fibers of the Christian faith. Christianity emerged from a complex mix of cultures, languages, religions, ethnicities. It was a Jewish Sect, from a Greco-Roman world, spread among fellow Jews and Gentiles alike, in Greek and Aramaic language. The New Testament itself talks about the multifaceted nature of the Church from the very beginning, with Peter, Paul, and James not always on the same page as to what it means to be followers of Jesus (Acts 15). By the way, a great introduction to the diverse cultural and religious context of the New Testament and early Christian church is Candler professor Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation. Minneapolis; Augsburg Fortress, 1999. pp.1-91.

As a student here, I was exposed to many different theological perspectives, and had pleasant conversations and heated debates—inside and outside the classroom—with people from various ends of various spectrums. Worship is another place where diversity at Candler is celebrated. Last week the Candler community got together for a first in our chapel: we had a Quaker Meeting/worship service. Dr. John Snarey, (pictured right, blue shirt) Candler professor of human development and ethics and a Quaker, relates that students have held Quaker meetings in the past, but never in the chapel.

Christina Repoley, (pictured above right, orange shirt) a first-year student at Candler, planned the Quaker Meeting service at Candler. It was attended by roughly 35 people, and featured a capella singing, a brief introduction to Quakers, and a proper meeting. For Quakers, there are traditionally no clergy members, so no one “in charge” of a Meeting. George Fox (1624-91), an Englishman and one of the founders of what became known as the Quakers, or the Society of Friends, spoke of the “Christ within” everyone. Fox reasoned none are set above any others, and each member of the community has the spirit of Christ within them. Meetings take place in silence until someone in the community is lead by the Spirit to share with the rest of the meeting. Sometimes many people share, sometimes no one shares. Sometimes people share for several minutes, sometimes the words are very brief.

According to Candler professor Brooks Holifield, early Quakers’ “aim was …to recapitulate the experience of the same Spirit who had moved the first Christians.” “Their worship—which alternated between devout silence and ecstatic outcry—game them the name Quaker” (Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003: pp 320-327).

Quakers today are sometimes confused with Amish, who are a religious group of the Anabaptist tradition. Quakers today don’t tend to look like the guy on the Quaker Oats box. Quakers were known for their opposition to slavery—many abolitionists were Quakers—and today are often involved in pro-peace movements. Along with Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren, Quakers are a historic peace church, meaning they believe that Jesus advocated non-violence and that violence on behalf on governments is contrary to Christian teachings and morality. The American Friends Service Committee is a national Quaker organization, with offices all across the country, that advocates for non-violence, justice, and reconciliation, and human rights.

Candler’s Quaker service featured four people sharing during the 30 minutes of otherwise silent time. I personally loved the service, but I have a special place in my heart for the contemplative side of religious practice. It is a time of listening to that “still small voice” (I Kings 19: 11-12) of God that is drowned out in so much of our busyness. I appreciated the time to sit with my mind, to let it wander, and to bring it back, letting it wander, and bringing it back until it settled down a bit. It was kind of like letting a child run around and tire herself out before resting.

As a United Methodist, I appreciate John Wesley’s idea of the Quadrilateral. The concept of the Quadrilateral is that individual Christians (and institutions, denominations, churches, etc) have four sources of authority from which they draw: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. We all use these different sources, and all of have a different combination of these four. Whereas some Christians place priority in Scripture or Tradition over Experience, for instance, Quakers hold Experience as the primary source of God’s revelation. Holifield mentions that early Quakers revered the Scriptures as the inspired word of God, but believed that God continues to speak to each individual, and this ongoing revelation is primary: “In dealing with the relationship between the Inner Light and scripture, for example, early Quakers could both cite the Bible as an authority and insist that it remained subordinate to the Spirit within” (Theology, 321).

Quakers are one of the Christian voices here at Candler. Come visit with us, worship with us. We’ll probably worship in your tradition, whichever one you come from, and you’ll worship in the traditions of others. Our Quaker service reminded me to listen, to stop talking, to stop thinking, and just listen. I saw an apros pro bumper sticker to this point: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” A time for speaking and words, yes, and a time for silence and listening, too.

Apr 3 2009

Candler Mustache Society

Kerr Ramsey, 2nd year MDiv student, looking dapper, and a little frightening

In February of 2009, The Candler Mustache Society (CMS) held its second annual FebruHairy event. This February, 17 Candler men (and one Emory PhD student in Microbiology, who probably could talk about mustaches on the follicular level) grew mustaches in order to raise money and awareness for concerns around Domestic Violence. According to organizers Brett Harris and Elizabeth Wilson, the CMS expanded upon last year’s successful FebruHairy events with 6 additional mustachioed men, along with 4 women in supporting roles—t-shirt-making, organizing—basically most of the work besides the facial-hair-growing! The group set out to raise $1500 for the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence , a local non-profit that provides services and programs for victims of domestic Violence. The CMS ended up raising over $2000—nearly doubled from last year!—for the WRCDV through T-shirt sales and donations for sponsoring a mustache-grower.

In addition to the successful fundraising, the CMS sponsored a lunch gathering of over 65 people to promote domestic violence awareness in the community. The group also hosted a current Candler student, who shared her personal survivor story of domestic violence and how she overcame abuse.

And to cap off FebruHairy was the ‘Stache Bash, where Taylor Hammett, 2nd Year MDiv student (pictured above right), was named Mustache King for raising the most money overall ($275). Great job, Candler Mustache Society! What a creative and fun way to raise money and awareness for what is a very serious issue in all communities.

Special thanks to Joe Martinez(pictured below), himself a mustachioed man and a freelance photographer here in Atlanta, for the ‘stache shots of Kerr, Taylor, and Dan. Check out Joe’s blog.

Trina Jackson, sporting a fake support-’stache

Dan Dixon, 2nd year MDiv student, looking…???