Hi. I’m Michael. I’m married with two daughters and one child on the way. In a former life, I taught English and history at a classical Christian school but now work with refugees in the Dallas area, teaching them English and advocating for them. I like (not necessarily in this order) keeping things simple by avoiding busy schedules; spending time with my family; reading a variety of things (literature, poetry, works of spiritual/contemplative theology, blogs); watching and playing basketball (Go Mavs!); thinking about what makes for good comedy; exploring the connection between prayer and poetry; and exploring and learning from other cultures.
I post mainly about why the church is called to works of mercy; the delights and challenges of cross-cultural ministry; the intersection of the contemplative life with the active life; the need to move from the head to the heart for spiritual formation; biblical and theological topics that interest me; and lastly, why poets provide us with a deeper and richer understanding of experience than the one propagated by the pundits, politicians, and problem-solvers of our society.
You can follow me on Twitter, if you want.
A note about the title of this blog: I once lived and worked in Ethiopia and came up with this *clever* title, Notes from a Poor Country, for a memoir I would write (am still writing?) about my time there, while also using the same title for a blog chronicling my time in that beautiful country. In the end, I wasn’t very successful at maintaining the blog and I deleted it from the interwebs.
When I thought about starting a blog after moving back to the States, I considered others titles other than Notes from a Poor Country since, well, I was no longer living in a “poor” country. But since then I’ve realized–and this is nothing original–that we here in the West are just as poor as the people living in the developing world–and maybe poorer. We are wealthy in the ways that really don’t matter in the long run, and so, Notes from a Poor Country still seems apropos on this side of the world as well. I’m still jotting down observations and scribbling passing thoughts on loose bits of paper here and there just as I did in Ethiopia. And likewise, I’m still living and working in a poor country: only now, it’s the “poverty of spirituality,” as Mother Teresa once called it, that I live around.
But this is a poverty that I too participate in since I am, after all, Western–and not only Western but Uber-Western (American). As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am as fragmented and individualistic as the next person and have to accept that fact in order to experience any growth. In that sense, Notes from a Poor Country functions in a symbolic way as well, in that regardless of where I find myself geographically, I must remain awake to, and embrace, the poverty I carry around within me and learn to let the Spirit do the rest.
“Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor, not to those who serve the poor! We can only truly experience the presence of God, meet Jesus, receive the good news, in and through our own poverty because the kingdom of God belongs to the poor” – Jean Vanier