Pictures of Turkey

Near Riot on the Bus

Arms raised, passionate shouting, wild gesticulation, eyes widening and me in the middle. I am on the bus and a fight is about to break out. More raised voices, shouts of women and new men standing; I am in the middle.

The tension collapses. The din dissipates. Smiles wave backwards through the bus. I am pulled to an empty seat as the driver looks away.

I didn’t have the right fare. The bus driver had been telling me to go back to the station. The other riders revolted until he abdicated and I took a seat.

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The Most Interesting Bar in Istanbul, Or Not

I should have known. Everyone in the bar looked like they knew each other. But to my credit, it was an odd bar. It was long and thin. The right wall, as you walked towards the back, was lined entirely with books. It was not clear if they were for sale. It was not clear if there was a bartender.

After a few minutes, it did not become clear that there was a bartender but, there was a person who gave me beer in exchange for 9 lira. I sat down with my laptop. And as one often does at around 9 p.m. Eastern European Standard Time on a street that follows like a tedious argument over a hill in Istanbul, I became thoroughly engrossed in a recent Pew Forum report on the changing demographics of American Christianity.

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Turkey Update and Portland Recap

In about a week, I’ll be at a farm whose name translates only as “squirrel” in the village of Yaka Koy off the coast of southern Turkey with a farmer named Cem who was a cyclist and former touring Scottish/Irish folk musician before deciding to dedicate his life to sustainable agriculture.

About a week ago, I was pulling three pig carcasses off the back of a pickup truck on a farm outside of Portland learning how to break down the meat into “primals” and “sub-primals” with a butcher named Zephaniah while two blonde twin boys ran around the barn wearing nothing but their muck boots.

The week in between, I spent cleaning our sheep pen, working on a new fencing system for the flock and hoping I didn’t pick up any poison ivy while helping my brother clear fence lines back to their approximate place in the 1950’s while minding federal restrictions concerning wetlands.

On the side, I’ve started taking a look at religion trends for the online journal, Religion Dispatches. If you are interested in a quick take on the recent 245 page Pew Forum research report on global religion trends you can check out my thoughts here.

In sum, I can say with confidence, I highly recommend the long way home.*

My month in Portland confirmed all my greatest suspicions:

  1. Portlandia is a documentary.
  2. It is possible to build an entire economy off of micro-breweries.
  3. Always be nice to homeless people because they may, in fact, be the owner of one of those successful micro-breweries. It’s the Portland version of “entertaining angels unaware.”

I was hosted by Adam and Sarah Phillips who are starting a worshipping community called Christ Church Portland. They can always use the support and you can learn more about what they are doing and how to support them here.

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My agricultural education was provided by Zephaniah Shephard, the owner and head butcher of Proletariat Butchery. Proletariat is full carcass butcher shop which means when we would work through a few hundred pounds worth of animal, less than two pounds would end up being thrown away.

At a typical grocery store you are paying for both the meat you are consuming and the meat that is being thrown away at the end of the week. But Zeph cuts everything to order. While that is an extra investment of time, it also means you aren’t paying for waste.

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While a strong commitment to using as much of the animal as possible is unique today, that has only been the case for a few generations. These practices, until relatively recently, were the norm. Making full use of a pig head still seems like good sense to my grandmother while it remains at the cutting edge of hip foodie scenes.

This short documentary probably says it best:

More updates to come from the Aegean coast!

*While all are invited to enjoy my use of Supertramp videos, this link goes out especially to Michael King.

What The Bachelor Didn’t Teach You about Farming

Three Things to Ponder About Food

Last week I traveled back to my alma mater, North Park University, to participate in a panel discussion about food. Dr. Norman Wirzba, of Duke Divinity and author of Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating was the keynote speaker and Ericka Elion, formerly of Bread for the World and my friend Ryan Anderson at the Delta Institute all joined in the conversation.

Many thanks to Karl Clifton-Soderstrom for the invite and University Ministries for hosting.

Here are the notes for my talk.

Farmersonly.com or You Don’t Need to Win The Bachelor to Have a Relationship with a Farmer

You are in relationship with a farmer. In fact, lots of them. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have been frequenting farmersonly.com or the winner of the most recent season of The Bachelor. What this means is that you, like every other human, eats food. And that food is raised, grown, picked or collected by someone.

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How to Leave DC

The best way to get out of DC from where I was, is to take New Hampshire Avenue. I had lived and worked in the city for six and a half years. Not a lot of time by the standards of old cities like Boston, New York or Chicago whose residents might look at you with suspicion in certain neighborhoods if you were unable to claim generations of family residency. But for a city as transient as DC, an election cycle is as a generation, and while I was not yet a senior citizen of the District, I was no longer a newcomer.

The start of New Hampshire Avenue was not at my doorstep. To get to this main path out of the city required a few turns, some in the wrong direction. While the geographic location of my apartment was fixed, its relationship to the neighborhoods of the city was ambiguous and in flux. The neighborhood was alternately called “just west of Howard University,” “a little bit south of Columbia Heights,” “just north of U Street” or from a few struggling real estate agents desperate for a rebrand, you would hear the foreign and unfamiliar sounding, “Pleasant Plains.” It had been an ideal apartment for the previous seven months even though the space was small and shared with four others. Rent was cheap and between regular trips back to the family farm in New Hampshire or work trips across the country, there were months that I was gone more than I was there. It had been a time of transition, of always being aware of exactly where I was located while still seeking to define and name my relations to the world and places around me.

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