Category Archives: Out and About in Bend

An effort in village practice…

Dear community of Bend,
In an effort to begin uniting communities within Bend in ways that support sustainability and partnering in life.village practice, I am attempting to begin two community “services.”

One will be a tool.appliance library
which will be focused on giving good use to the tools and appliances that we own and sharing them with each other. This way those who are not able to afford certain items, or are simply in need of a one-time use item can contact you and borrow your available item.

If you are interested in this please send me the following information:

  • Name and phone number and email
  • Items you are willing to enter into the “library” (vacuum, washing and drying machines, lawn mower, coffee pot, garden hose, etc… the list can be as wide of variety as you are willing to offer)

The second “service” is a ability.service library. The focus here will be on individuals or families offering what they like to do as something they are willing to “trade” or offer to the community. As we develop a substantial number of people interested, people will be able to trade one service or action for another. We will create a database of services that are offered by the community that people can access if they have a need.

If this is something that you are interested in please send me the following:

  • Name and phone number and email
  • Services or activities that you are willing to offer (cooking bread or meals, making kombucha, beer brewing, cleaning, physical labor, yard work, car work, bike work, babysitting, massage, making clothing, etc… this list can be as wide of variety as you are able to creatively imagine)

Mandala Yoga community (myc) and myself (through bridgeWorks, the non-profit i work for) will be the hub.connecting pieces to make the exchanges happen or send people in the right direction. If the list gets big enough, I will send out the information to all the leaders of the various communities so that each of us has a list of who is offering what.

My hope with this “service” is to give people the opportunity to connect with each other in relational ways and not feel the need to pay money for things they need. Also, my hope is that we might use what we have rather than feel the need to go out and buy something that we will only use a couple of times. It will be up to those involved in the interaction to settle on a trade that will be of value.

Please let me know as soon as you can as to what you are willing to offer.

Hope for sustainable community and closer connections,



Ritual disillusionment versus ritual religion

[Within initiation rituals, there was] a strong quality of disillusionment, so the initiate would never confuse the ritual with the necessary and painful reality of death. This sounds very risky, I am sure, but when I see what Catholics have done with the Mass and what Protestants have done with the Bible, I recognize how easy it is to make the medium the message. Catholics go to Mass repeatedly since we are slow learners and slow transformers, but Jesus did it only once. Protestants argue about the Bible, doctrines, and moralisms instead of following Jesus into new and risky places. The new para-churches love religious entertainment instead of loving peace or justice. Warlike heads of state can normally be assured of Christans’ total support – all in poor Jesus’s name. We all prefer our rituals to anything real or risky. Without some kind of disillusionment of forms, religion invariably becomes idolatry of forms. (Richard Rohr – Adam’s Return)

I really am constantly surprised at what we often spend our time talking (or debating) about. Our priorities, it seems, are so often, at least in my evangelical circles, about “right” belief and “right” behavior (most likely to the exclusion of all others)… sometimes also it seems that we get also very carried away with operating within the system and maintaining the denomination, the building, or the policies that were decided on by a committee a long time ago.

I heard a homeless guy yesterday telling my friend Taffy (who runs Bend’s Community Center) that one of the homeless centers in town won’t provide services unless the individuals are Christian. Granted, it might be more like they require that residents get involved in a Christian program, but nevertheless, still quite a bummer. Theology and “salvation” intentions getting in the way of helping people who really need it. Taffy’s response was, “Well that doesn’t really seem all that fair, now, does it? Requiring that you believe a certain thing in order to get help.”

We just get so caught up in maintaining what we have worked so hard to build up… that the thing (the system) gets more important than the people. I think we really could use a healthy dose of disillusionment to bring us down to the level of our community and our relationships.

City Church and things changing in Bend

**Edit:I have made some changes to the following post and comments as I realize it is terribly bad form to begin naming churches in negative ways. I never want to slam churches and what they are trying to do.

Please know that I apologize for the deliberate naming. My feelings don’t change, but better to not name.

Also, in no way am I trying to link City Church with anything else that other churches are doing. My comments are my own and not belonging to City church as a whole.** With that said:

I gotta say I’m proud. Proud of my good friend, Kevin Wright, one of the pastors at the community I am getting involved at, City Church, here in Bend, OR. He has just recently been on the program, The Story, on public broadcasting.

Here’s the LINK for the audio.

City Church | Bend OR

This all reminds me of a post I put up a few months back, about the inevitable division that I see happening within Christianity and within Bend as well. It’s a painful time we are facing right now and going to be facing soon. My thinking in the fall of 2008, was that here in Bend we would see a number of individuals really get raked across the coals because they are trying to think and do Christianity outside the box of traditional Christianity. I had no idea that it would happen so soon.

The dissolving of Oasis I didn’t see coming so soon. I think sometimes we try and soften the impact by letting people know what we think in small doses or doing what we can to change our language to help others digest it better. My thinking is that the same people are going to be effected. It can happen all at once or we can prolong the pain and stretch it out.

Another friend of mine just had a very frustrating and saddening dismissal from his church. This church here in town let him go as there was apparently too many students thinking for themselves and asking questions. At a time when the students were more excited than ever about following Jesus and my friend was more fulfilled than ever in youth ministry, they decided not to renew his contract. He was to be done in two weeks. After many rumors, much incomplete information given, and church politics, my friend and his wife could use some prayer.

So all this has happened in the first two months of 2009. What’s next? I am kind of glad that I am able to do what I am most passionate about independently of the overarching perceptions and pedestals of a church hierarchy. While it is so difficult to imagine, at this point in life, that I will not be paid to do ministry… there is a bit of freedom there. I am called to be a spiritual leader, no a professional pastor-person. We need more spiritual leaders (who actually are not always liked and are not always paid). The spiritual leaders among us need to realize that this must be our first priority and MUST not be compromised.

So yah, 2009 is going to be hard. I imagine many of us trying to do new things will be challenged to our limits. I would give things about a year and hope that in 2010 there will begin to be fashioned a very strong and authentic community expression. We will come together again. Keep listening…


Here I am blogging, writing for online magazines, twittering (natebettger), facebooking, texting, cell phoning, emailing… while in the meantime reading stuff like the following from Richard Rohr (Adam’s Return):

Lifestyle and relatedness is more important than words, or as Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” We may reach out through the media and technology or through our written or spoken message, but we finally transform and initiate each other through who we are. Transformed people tend to transform people. In fact, we tend to be able to lead people only as far as we ourselves have gone.

It is relationships that change us much more than ideas. We cannot really do something until we have seen someone else do it; it cannot yet enter our mind as a possibility,. You do not know what patience is until you have met one truly patient person. You do not know what love is until you have observed how a loving person loves. What power we have for one another! For good an fro for ill. Thus rites of passage were communal rites, led by elders and father figures, and not sermons or a series of questions and answers – very low-risk encounters and forms of education, which the churches have relied upon for centuries.

It’s challenging to me, as I feel like these new media communication technologies can be so helpful for staying connected. Yet at the same time, I know my own tendency to neglect the one (more important) thing in an effort to stay up with the other. This is where my eyes often start aching in and my head starts pounding. I feel as though I need to stop my face to face conversations to answer that text, respond to that email, or check the latest facebook status. My presence is spoiled with someone and what is really going on in their life because I need to talk about the latest widget or external application for my online utilities.

My challenge is to focus first on what’s happening within myself and my present world that I am in. Rather than getting lost with my computer and headphones at the coffee shop, I hope I can see that the person sitting next to me is clearly hurting or the woman behind the counter is stressed out. I will only be able to transform and effect the place I currently find myself in by being present and transforming myself. This must be my highest priority. The media is merely a means.

a request on the behalf of the “becoming-men” of bend

In lieu of my over-exposure to my computer in the recent weeks as I work on publications, emails, scheduling etc… I am now in the business of posting quotes from others and things I wrote elsewhere.

So this is an email I sent to a number of men that have reached out to me in the last year and a half. It is a vision I have… for men AND for women. I, however, can only handle the men side of things and will be looking for women to hand the vision over to. Together we will begin to restore the “village-culture” of community once more.

I have thought long and hard on what I want to write to you here. Many months of sitting with this… praying with this… and after a conference this last weekend the pieces began falling into place for me. This is why I am writing.

I have sent this to you because I know you have been involved either with men’s work in the past, or simply because I myself have experienced you to be an “elder” that has such a significant amount of wisdom to offer my generation of becoming men. Before red flags of commitments that can’t be made begin to flash in your mind, please hear me out.

We need you… and by we, I mean the young 21-35 year old men in Bend who are both trying to sink in roots and also those who are just here for a short time. We are to be the leaders of our neighborhoods and our cities… and many of us are confused about what it means to be men in this world. So many of us are in positions of significant leadership, or have it in us to be there soon, but we need you to vouch for us… and not just that, but to shepherd us into those places.

I only write this because I know how significant you all are to us. I have spent the last 5 years of my young age of 28 seeking out men for myself to show me the way and know how important this is. But if left up to the young men to find their “shepherd.kings,” it will never be more than an exception to the norm. We need you to pursue us.

So here is what I am thinking… I am only at the beginning of developing a strategy of how we can make these necessary connections happen… but I want to know if you are interested. I can promise you that you could make a significant difference in this city even in giving two hours a month to one of us. If it is in your heart to do it, we could transform this city with one or two hours a week.

Please send me a note back and let me know if you would be willing to gather with other “city elders” to talk about what we can do together.
Nate Bettger