Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Word became flesh..

If you've ever been to the North Hills part of Raleigh, it's pretty amazing. I remember back in the fall of 2003 it was a stand-alone JC Penny's (the remnants of an old mall), and it wasn't anything that special. Fast forward 6 years later and suddenly that area of town has it's own culture and vibe. It's been dubbed as Midtown Raleigh, or just simply North Hills. On a side note, it's quite fascinating to see the efforts to divide Raleigh into areas of town, and then to use those new names in conversations. Almost as if we're trying to convey how big of a city Raleigh is. But on a lighter note, it is pretty sweet. Even though I would never shop at any of the stores there.

I interned at this civil engineering firm (The John R. McAdams Co.) in the summer of 2006. They are one of the key firms that helped to design the new addition that is going up on the other side of Six Forks Rd. And back then we were actually working on stuff for this particular project. So I feel as if I somehow played a part in making this new addition to North Hills possible. Actually, if anybody that works at John R. McAdams read that they would laugh pretty hard, but let me dream for a second.

Since those days, I've taken an interest in learning more about housing laws and about biblical housing justice. Not at all the same, but being exposed to commercial development was a gateway to residential development. I'm still reading Making Housing Happen, but I stumbled upon this article this past weekend. It's pretty interesting, it's about inclusionary zoning in Raleigh. I honestly don't know much about the Independent Weekly in Raleigh/Durham (as far as it's credentials), but it always seems to have stories that I wish got press in the regular paper.

Being a first time home buyer, my eyes have been a bit more open with it comes to evaluating a neighborhood or a community. I've always had this 'not in my city' mentality when it comes to areas of concentrated poverty and race. That stuff was only present in the BIG cities. But it's amazing at how quickly the dynamics of a neighborhood change, especially in Raleigh. Things as miniscule as fences, creeks, cemetaries, or even tree lines provide barriers between the affluent and the not so affluent parts of town.

I remember a couple years ago reading some books by John Perkins and Bob Lupton and they talked about how it's easy to get people on board with wanting to help the poor and help then to get out of poverty. But once you get on the subject of living among the poor and 'moving into the neighborhood' things get real tense.

However, if we take the words, attitude, and example from Jesus seriously.. maybe that idea won't seem so radical. As Bob Lupton beautifully puts it, programs are a poor substitute for what neighbors do best. Jesus didn't just sit on his butt, he moved into the neighborhood. I mean seriously, lucky for us right?

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-11, NIV

"The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood." John 1:14, The Message

It's easy to write these thoughts down but it's incredibly hard to figure out what they mean and how to put it into practice. These thoughts and more have been stewing in my head for quite some time. More to come..