Why Tapestry Setups the Way We Setup – Part #2 The Chairs

Yesterday I started a short series of posts concerning how Tapestry sets up for our Sunday morning worship gatherings. The post yesterday was about the coffee & snack table, something that probably seems an afterthought, but I believe is integral to who we are trying to be. Today I will write concerning the way we set up our chairs.

Rublev’s “Icon of the Trinity”

Let’s use the model of Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity again. Just in case you have forgotten from yesterday what the icon looks like I’ve posted it to the right. Rublev painted the Trinity as the Three being One in a conversation around a table. The Trinity is nigh impossible to describe because it is the mystery of our faith. God is a relationship in and of Himself. He is One in union of Three. I can’t give you a perfect example because this paradox of faith is outside of creation as the Creator is outside of creation. In yesterday’s post I described the desire to setup our worship gatherings similar to this icon (i.e. a divine conversation of love). The way we set up our chairs should reflect that divine conversation.

The hope is for our gathering to be a conversation in our singing, our prayer, and our message. This conversation is why we don’t use the gym stage. I’m not personally opposed to stages if they help the conversation, which they can  do sometimes. If somehow a stage helps the leaders to be more a part of the group, more easily seen or heard in leading, that’s a great thing. It is just that usually stages do the exact opposite, they separate the ones leading from the ones being led. In such cases the stage says “these are the important people.” So Tapestry skips the stage and when I am speaking at other places I try to skip the stage in those places too. Thus we are on the floor in the midst of a slightly widened “C”.

The chairs need to kind of start to engulf whoever is leading us at the moment. My personal hope is that this partial engulfing will help to counteract the fact that we need a few voices to be amplified during the gathering. The microphones are  necessary evil. They help whoever is leading our music (Eric, Heidi, Sarah, Elizabeth, or others) to better lead us. They help me or whoever else is speaking to be better heard in our gym (I have a tendency to kick into a conspiratorial whisper every now and then). Unfortunately they also have the effect of making it seem as though a few voices are the only ones that matter.  Like stages microphones can send then message that “this is the person whose voice matters”. When that is the case it isn’t a conversation but a monologue. So we try to make sure the mic’d people are in the midst of everyone else. They are leading us, not separate from us.

If I had my druthers, we would set up each week’s gathering in the round. What this means is that our chairs would literally setup in a circle where we are facing each other. We would sing with everyone facing each other. I would speak with all of us facing each other. We would pray with all of us facing each other. The times we have done setup in the round it is basically like we are sitting at a round table. The reason that we don’t do this is because, while I love it, being in the round pretty much freaked out most everyone else. I was such a fan of it till a few threads pointed out that if it freaked them out, people who already loved Tapestry, just imagine what it did to someone who was walking in for the very first time. It was also pointed out that the only seats that we typically open when we setup in the round were the front seats and that was not cool for a guest. We try to have the back row free for guests (I just realized that I need to stress this again because it has been awhile since the last time I emphasized this). Hopefully one day I will convince everyone that in the round is the best for the conversation and thus it is super cool.

Tomorrow I will end this short series of posts.


Immigration 101

I’m posting Pam‘s and my friend Scott Hick’s Facebook post regarding immigration history and some of the racist thought that has often guided these acts here on my blog primarily so I will know where it is for later. I would recommend reading it, liking it, and sharing it over on his Facebook page.

Here are Scott’s words:

Immigration History 101

Many Americans believe in an immigration mythology that you can simply get on a boat or plane and come to America. They think that immigration even today is like Fievel in An American Tail.

I recently talked to a magistrate, which means she has a law degree and is highly educated, and she was dumbfounded to learn that you can’t just get on a plane and come. Her question, “Are you telling me that say, a professional in Finland can’t just decide he wants to come to America and get on a plane and do that?” The answer under our immigration laws is an emphatic NO. So what is our history?

Until the 1880s there were no Federal laws restricting immigration. You really could just get on a boat and go to America.

But in 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This law was explicitly based on racism and was designed to stop any new immigration from China.

In 1907, the U.S. had what has been called the Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan which essentially was an agreement by Japan to end immigration to the U.S.

As racism became more and more entrenched in our laws (i.e. Jim Crow), it fed into distrust and hostility to immigrants as well.

In 1924 (which was also one of the high points of KKK activity in the U.S.), the nativists achieved their crowning victory. Congress passed the 1924 Immigration Act. (This followed on the heels of the 1921 Emergency Quota Act) This Act strictly limited immigration. And, it did so on racist grounds. It accomplished its goal by establishing a strict quota, and limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States as of the 1890 census. In so doing, the Congress was deliberately trying to exclude people they viewed as undesirable. The law was squarely aimed at making immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe excluded. This hit especially hard at Italians, Slavs and Eastern European Jews. In addition, it severely restricted the immigration of Africans and completely banned the immigration of Arabs and Asians.

According to the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian the purpose of the act was “to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity”.

These quotas survived until the Immigration Act of 1965. This act did away with some of the worst racist features and instead established a system based on reuniting immigrant families and attracting skilled labor to the United States. However, the system set in place then, which continues to now, still had an annual quota for much of family reunification. (And, the per country limits still apply within these categories, which is why there are extensive waiting lists to legally come even when you have an eligible sponsor) And, by that time, 40 years had passed with no immigration from much of the world. By definition then, there was no one already here from much of the world who could file for family to come and be reunified.

This is why the Diversity Visa Lottery was created. The idea was to allow people to come from countries who traditionally had low numbers of immigrants. So each year, 50,000 of the most educated people in these countries, (a high school degree or equivalent is required, which in much of the world the vast majority of the population could never dream of obtaining that much education) are allowed the chance to file an application to be considered to come.

The current administration wants to abolish much of the 1965 Act on family reunification and also wants to abolish the Diversity Visa. It tells us that this will Make America Great Again.

(I am a lawyer who has focused his practice on immigration law since 1995.)