This conference has been kicking my butt.
I don't mean the 14 million hour work days, i mean the content.
Yesterday I attended a breakout session on Terrorism with Dr. Oladapoe who actually was a professor at Truett in 2001 when I first started there although I never had him in class. Then I went to a session about Starlight Ministries, an organization that ministers to exotic dancers (read: strippers). It was amazing. The woman asked us who the "least of these" are in our lives. Then she made us do this intense illustration about things we treasure in our lives. I won't tell you all about it, because I plan on using it someday on a Wednesday night or at a Bible study. Suffice it to say, it sombered us, angered us, saddened us and humbled us. I would love to start a ministery here in Austin that seeks to tell women in clubs like that that they are valuable to God and worth more than what someone will pay for them.
Today I attened another breakout on change: the process of change, how to help people get over or begin to start the process of dealing with addictions. The leader stuck nametags on us that read "slut," "smoker," "manwhore," "junkie," "drunk," etc. Her point was of course that people always are more than the labels we give them. As Carlyle Marnie says in his book, Priests to Each Other, it is not what we do that defines who we are, it is simply our being, our humanity. So we are not "potheads," we are people who smoke pot and need help breaking the cycle. We are not "tramps," we are women who dance for money who need redemption from what led them to that point. It was really interesting.
I was a "slacker" addicted to sleeping pills in her illustration. We also had a "bitch" who's boyfriend abused her. At the end of the session, I reminded that girl to take off her nametag if she walks into the office. Her "name" might have traumatized some of our secretaries as it's probably traumatizing my grandma right now.
So it's been a really interested conference so far on Social Justice. Suzii Paynter spoke this morning for the devotional and was of course fabulous. She'll speak again tonight at Worship.
I'll keep you posted...