Category Archives: Memphis

Every time I go to Memphis…

I turn on Mike Fleming. He’s our local “conservative” radio host here in town. He’s not very articulate, but he’s often funny (mostly because he’s not very articulate). Anyway, today, as I made my approach into Memphis on I 40, Mike was on and he was talking about the latest scandal in Memphis politics. I couldn’t quite understand what was going on by listening to Mike, but I asked my Dad and he explained it to me.

MLGW is our utility company here in Memphis. At one time, our utility company was one of the most respected in the nation. However, several years ago, Mayor Herenton, or as we call him “King Willie”, decided to put a good friend, Joseph Lee, in charge of MLGW. Many questioned this decision, some charging Herenton with cronyism. Soon after, Memphis Light Gas and Water began having some financial issues.

Well today’s issue is that certain high ups in the Memphis Government, one with the last name of Ford (Yep, think Harold Ford Jr, John Ford, Harold Ford Sr, Ophelia Ford) who happens to be the city council person in charge of oversight for MLGW, hasn’t paid a utility bill in something like 3 years. Joseph Lee offered his resignation, but our wonderful mayor wouldn’t accept it. Basically, there was a list of certain people who didn’t have to pay their utility bills, namely powerful politicians in the city.

The scary thing is, this doesn’t suprise anyone.

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My Sunday

Today was full of important conversations, time with friends, good food, and amazing community.

This morning, Carrie and I went to Otter Creek. We had planned on going to class for what would have been the first time in two years for me, but plans changed when my new kitten refused to go to bed and kept me awake until 2 in the morning. Class at 8:45 + 45 minute drive to church – two and a half hours of sleep that I had planned on getting = No class for Justin. I still love the kitten though. I’ll post pictures of her tomorrow night.

Anyway, church this morning. A man came forward and confessed that he had been having affairs for some amount of time. I have never been in a church where something like that was confessed in some amount of detail. Normal ‘confession’ at modern churches entails acknowledging wrongdoing without actually saying what happened. This guy said from the beginning, “I have to tell you in some detail what I did or this confession won’t mean a thing”. He was very forthright and apologetic, but also hopeful that Christ would change his heart and he was greatful for the forgiveness he had all ready received from his family. I didn’t even know this guy or the situation, but I started crying today. In a body of 1000 people, there can still be relationship and community, even if you’ve never met a person before in your life.

I went to lunch with Allen Gillespie, the admissions guy (sorry Allen, don’t know your title) at Pepperdine University. He emailed me and mentioned he was going to be in town and he wanted to see if we could have lunch and bounce some ideas off of each other. He’s been reading my blog for some time now, and he has some great ideas about the future. Let’s just say it involves people under the age of 30, the internet, and weekly or monthly columns. We ate lunch at Corky’s. Pulled pork BBQ is stellar. Corky’s makes me miss Memphis.

Carrie went home and studied this afternoon while I sat in my apartment and played with the kitten. I also worked on some music. I am thinking about sitting down and working some stuff out. I’d like to put out a new cd at some point in the near future. I know I have an album in me somewhere. Its just going to take me sitting down and writing with a purpose to get it out there.

Tonight, we had small group at Jessee Eppley’s house. We’re discussing “Life Together” by the one and only Deitrich Bonhoeffer. This week’s discusion was on Chapter 1, entitled ‘Community’. We had an hour and a half of stimulating discussion about how a Christian community is supposed to function. Where lines are drawn in what is acceptable in the community. One of my favorite thoughts for the night was from Carrie’s brother Jon. Discussing God’s plan for us he said that the interesting thing is God created community for us, and told us to be moral. And the only way we can discern morality is through community interpretation of scriptures. However, the quote of the evening came, when I asked about community and disfellowship. Jamie Hooten began talking about how people tend to church hop to places who will accept whatever behavior didn’t jive with the previous community. He said you go from a church of Christ, to a Baptist church, then to a methodist church. To which I added, “then a Unitarian church”. Jon then chimed in and said “I’d like to know what you have to do to get kicked out of the Unitarian church”.

I don’t think its as funny in type. Anyway, it made us all laugh.

But today was a great Sunday. Any day that commences with my feeling more intelligent than I did when I awoke is always a good day.

Saying Goodbye to Memphis and hello to ?

This is my first night in my new apartment. I’ll be heading to North Carolina tomorrow and will be gone through the weekend. Then I will spend 4 more days in Memphis and come back here for good.

It kinda freaks me out.

This place that I’m sitting in right now, sans pants due to its taking 4 hours to cool down after the AC had been off for days, is my home. My house in Memphis is no longer my home… at least not in the same way in which its been. This apartment will be the first place that Carrie and I live. We’ll tell our kids about our first apartment, and how the floor was not flat and how the bathroom was barely big enough for one person, how our hippy neighbors downstairs are really awesome people, and on and on with other memories that haven’t been made yet.

I won’t be a Memphian any longer. I guess I haven’t been for quite sometime, though, whenever I come in on I 40 and pass the Memphis Welcome Center (which is on the wrong side of the interstate) I can’t help thinking about all of me that is defined by this place. The geography, the politics, the culture, the architecture… the PEOPLE; as much as I trash talk Memphis, there is a lot I’m going to miss about it. There’s a lot of Me in Memphis (pun intended).

I can’t help thinking that I didn’t do enough to leave a mark on this city. I went to power hour sometimes, did workcamp, I voted, but this city that, despite what I say, has treated me well and raised me well; I haven’t given much back. I regret that.

Anyway, I can always visit, and I’m sure that even as things change, it will still hold a place in my heart.

MLK

On Sunday, Carrie and I drove downtown to look at some condos in a redevelopment area. I’m really excited about New Urbanism, and I hope Carrie and I can afford to live in one someday. I think the opportunities for ministry will be great.

While we were downtown, we happened to be near the Lorraine Motel, home of the National Civil Rights Museum and the assasination point of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was interesting, especially, since I’ve lived in Memphis for 21 years and somehow have never made it to this historical landmark. I didn’t even know exactly where it was until yesterday.

Kinda funny that a public school kid in Memphis, TN never took a trip there, huh?

I’m working on a post for tomorrow about why we shouldn’t use the government in order to try and further the Kingdom.

Memphis’s Downward Spiral

The city of Memphis is in crisis mode.

Since January 1, 2006, there have been over 90 homicides in the city limits. Many of the victims have been teenagers. Disbelief and dispair are two prevelant emotions as a city attempts to figure out what went wrong.

What went wrong in the City of Memphis began long before this year. We’re finally beginning to see the results of years of entitlements from the government, political promises, and the resulting breakdown of the African American family.

The welfare system in this country became a replacement for the black father. Things were hard, and men had trouble providing for their families… but they were struggling and doing it. But in the 40s-60s along comes big brother government to take care of the black family. Suddenly, the black father’s manhood is one upped by a check in the mail. He’s no longer needed at home, and that does numbers on the male psyche.

We are providers. That’s how we’re genetically coded. Its dehumanizing to be dependent on a government. Thus began the destruction of the black family.

When fathers started leaving, children lack an important part of their development. Discipline is lacking. Neighborhoods decline. Gangs step into the place that father’s should have filled. Drug abuse is rampant. Things get bad.

When crime gets bad in a city… people start moving away. White flight its called. I don’t know that its a matter of race so much as it is a matter of safety. Is it wrong? I don’t know. I’m entrusted with the protection of my family, so I’m not going to move into an area of town that we might get shot by a stray bullet.

So people are moving out of Memphis. Due to that, the tax revenue is plunging, which means fewer services and police officers, which means more crime and less aesthetics, which means more people leave. The downward spiral.

What are we supposed to do?

Moving out: For good this time

This time its final.

I know, I thought that the Summer of 2005 would be my last in Memphis, yet here I am, sitting at an office a mere 7 miles from my house, working a desk job. So when I say that this is my last time living with my family, I’m sure it doesn’t hold much weight. However, this time its certain.

The apartment I’m moving into is the one I will share with Carrie when we get married next June. A year from now, my family will be moving from Memphis to Nashville as well… so the city that has been my home for 21 years will no longer be my home, nor the home of my parents. Of course, while this is kinda sad, there are some high points as well.

First off… I WILL BE MARRIED! And not only will I be married, but I’ll be married to the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known, both inside and out. Second, my family will be much closer than they are now. Granted, Memphis isn’t too far away from Nashville, but the 3.5 hour journey from the boro back home is a little cumbersome. Its not a long enough drive to stop, but its long enough where the last thirty minutes start to drive you nuts.

Third, did I mention I’ll be married?

Anyway, in the next month I’ll be saying my goodbyes to a city with which I have a love hate relationship. I’ll probably blog about that pretty soon.