Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Week Schedule

Maundy Thursday - 7p @ Keystone Church, Battson Hall

Good Friday - 7p @ Keystone Church, Learning Center

Holy Saturday Vigil - 7a-7p @ wherever you find yourself for the time slot you chose. Didn't choose a time slot? Contact Brandon for more info (brandon.duran@keystoneseattle.org)

Easter Sunday - 10:30a @ Keystone Church

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Mental Health Chaplaincy Presents: Companionship Workshop

Learn more at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Logo!

We're pretty excited about the new logo designed by Kim Morgan.

Kim Morgan began her education at Brigham Young University. She is currently a senior in the graphic design program at The Art Institute of Seattle and will graduate in September of 2010. Kim wanted the logo to emphasize the inclusiveness and supportive character of the church.

Some interesting aspects to the logo:

-The image is comprised of various forms of the "keystone" shape. The individual shapes could symbolize the people of Keystone Church, who each bring their unique gifts to the community.
-The rough edges of the image could symbolize that our community is a work in progress. We are ever learning, growing, and being shaped.
-The open borders could symbolize the inclusive nature of the community
-The green could point to new life or reflect our "green goals"

What do you see?

You can view more of Kim Morgan's work at:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Isn't There Another Way?


The good guys beat the bad guys.

That's about the extent of the spoiler.

Now, as far as the rest of the film goes I only have one thing to add to the continuing conversation on this record breaking production.

It's too bad the film wasn't more creative.

Avatar knocks you over with its wildly beautiful world of Pandora. From the flora to the fauna and all the little bugs in between, the film presents you with a delightful immersion into a colorful and believable world. The native humanoid species to Pandora, the Na'vi, portray a rich, harmonious culture. Pandora becomes not only a world but a world-view that seems so appealing, at least until conflict arises.

Then the creativity ceases.

The final act of the film boils down to all out war between the resource ravenous, heartless corporate baddies and the sensitive, balanced, life affirming (at least when it's not the life of a baddie) goodies.

And in the end the message is one we've heard before. Killing the bad guys makes everything alright. After nearly two hours of exploring the Na'vi culture which seemed to be offering something different, we're brought back to the same tired solution, the myth of redemptive violence.

I was thinking of this film this past week as 2 Corinthians 5:18 was bouncing around in my brain. "God gave us the ministry of reconciliation."

Avatar seems to pick up on the sense of disconnect we can all feel with its portrayal of the Na'vi who can effortlessly connect with each other, past loved ones, and all of creation. Just not with their enemies apparently.

The verse gave me hope that there can be another way to respond to conflict and the separation it brings. There can be another way beyond fight or flight.

Perhaps it was a bit much to hope that a Hollywood film could illustrate this third way. Fortunately, the church has plenty of examples. My most recent favorite is found in Shane Claiborne's book, "Jesus for President." (No, he is not actually advocating for Jesus to run for office). Enjoy it. May it inspire you as you seek to embody God's ministry of reconciliation.

"One time Kassim (age 11) and I (Shane) were walking to the post office...We were walking down a narrow side street and some teenage guys started to follow us. You could just feel the mischief brewing, and the group grew from two young men to four to eight, until there was a little mob of sorts. They started calling out some names, throwing rocks and sticks, trying to stir up trouble. It's always hard on the spot like that to know what Jesus would do. I told Kassim, 'Let's go say hi.' he looked at me skeptically. We turned back and walked toward them, knowing full well that if we had run, we probably would have made it to the post office. 'Hey, I'm Shane. And this is my friend Kassim. We live around the corner,' I said with my hand out. They weren't really sure what to do with that. A couple of them shook my hand and introduced themselves. Others snickered. One or two refused the handshake. We said, 'Nice to meet you guys,' and headed back on our walk.

With the wind taken out of their sails a bit, they regrouped and continued to build momentum toward a brawl. They ran after us, throwing some rocks and bottles, and I noticed two of them now carried broomsticks from the trash. We picked up the pace a bit, and then I looked at Kassim and said, 'No, don't run.' We turned back, and before we know it one of them had clocked Kassim on the side of the head with a stick. I said firmly, 'Why would you do that? We haven't done anything to hurt you.' They laughed. Then they started hitting me with a broomstick until it broke over my back. At this point I decided to bust out a can of holy anger. I looked them in the eyes and said as forcefully as I could, 'You are created in the image of God...every single one of you. And you are made for something better than this. Kassim and I are followers of Jesus, but we love you no matter what you do to us.' That wasn't exactly what they expected or hoped for. They looked at each other, startled a bit. For the first time they were quiet. And then they scurried off in every direction." (-Jesus for President, pages 264-265)

Posted by Brandon

Friday, March 12, 2010

Keystone Goes Nationwide

To those of you kind souls who listened to the radio show, thank you.

I wanted to share just one brief part of my experience. Mr. Medved was very pleasant personally. On the radio he repeated used the tactic of putting words in my mouth. What he said was so overblown that I found it kind of funny.

Something like, “We’ll be right back with Rev. Rich Gamble who believes that men with clubs should take the lunch money of school children to pay for pointless government programs.” (he never said that, that’s just my overblown version of his shtick). And then he would cut to commercial.

The problem was that some of the authors of the angry emails I received heard only Mr. Medved’s version of me and didn’t hear my words at all.

The biggest thing that seems to reverberate about the inner ears of the irate e-mailers is my desire to use force to take their money and give it to the government. Even though I thought was pretty clear that opposed all forms of domination (I used that word just for you guys)and violence.

When did tax policy become equated with force?

I would have loved to have had the time to delve into that issue more. Do these folks think that taxes should be voluntary? That brings to mind a very interesting world.

• Firemen collecting donations in their boots at street corners, not for hungry kids but for their salaries and health insurance payments. Or maybe they would just ask for payment in advance from people whose houses were blazing.
• The Marines could start baking cookies and go into competition with the girl scouts to pay for their uniforms and Humvees.
• Maybe we could get more donations using plaques, “this aircraft carrier was donated by your friends at Foxy News”
• Coin operated stop lights. It only goes green if you pay a dollar.
• We could have toll sidewalks, and streets.
• Policemen would have to hand out tickets and hope for tips to pay their salaries.
• Prisons could send you a picture each month of the prisoner you sponsored to help pay to keep behind bars.

The Christian Community in Acts voluntarily shared their possessions with those who had needs. They did not assess taxes. No force was needed because people freely gave. It was a model of compassion; not government, but it was a vision of what an alternative world not based on the me-and-mine-first thinking of the Domination System.

Certainly we should give all we can to set an example. But what happens when people do not freely give enough to ensure that there are homes enough and food enough and health care and education for all in a world ruled by the logic of domination? Should we as Christians advocate for taxes to support programs for the poor? Or should we shrug in the direction of great need wring our hands and say that we wouldn’t want anyone to be penalized for not paying a share to support people in need?

As I understand the call of our faith, the first mandate is deal with the needs of those in the greatest need first. Taxes should not be levied against people of very limited means (which is the problem with a sales tax) but for those in our nation who can afford it, taxes are a way to provide for the real needs of those who can't afford it. Another call of our faith then is to struggle with our elected officials to prioritize human needs in the budgets of our governments.

Taxes should also be used to save the wealthy from their addiction to wealth. The Bible has a lot to say about the wealthy being on the wrong side of God's justice. And the prophets have a lot to say about the coming destruction of nations which allow great wealth and great poverty to co-exist.

Concentrations of wealth eventually turn democracies into tyrannies. It is good social policy to tax wealthy people and corporations and share that wealth with those who are in need. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis said: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Taxation will be a big issue in the next year or so, as our state wrestles with a regressive and revenue limiting tax structure.

Stay tuned.

Rev. Gamble on the Michael Medved Show

In case you missed Thursday's broadcast here it is (sans commercials). Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Keystone Goes Nationwide!

Listen in Thursday the 11th as Rev. Rich Gamble is a guest on the Michael Medved show (AM 770) in the 1p hour.

Rich has been invited in response to his op-ed piece about the WA budget. You can check out the article published last week in the Seattle Times through the link below.


While the budget is of great concern I'll be listening for a "Domination System" reference or two.

posted by Brandon

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's a Crime to Deny Health Care

Keystone members joined in a rally organized by Health Care for America Now!, Washington CAN!, and others outside of Regence Blue Shield's Seattle offices today.

The effort was in response to the insurance company's 54% raise in rates in the individual market and 31% raise in rates in the small-group market since 2007.

Participants in the rally created a "crime scene" of chalk outlines and yellow tape to represent the atrocity of those who have died from treatable illnesses because they were denied health care.

As the legislature in DC continues to debate the legislation the community gathered today wanted to send a message that the need for health care reform is dire and urgent.

For more photos and videos of today's rally check out:

For more information on today's rally in Seattle check out:

For more on what's being done nationally check out:

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Here is the link to the editorial by Rich printed in the Seattle Times today.

Sermon Citizens of Heaven

Lent 2 Year C 2/28/2010
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35
Citizens of Heaven
By Rich Gamble

If there is one overarching theme in the lectionary readings for today it is conflict. For any of us who believe that participating in a life of faith is all about avoiding conflict, the passages today help set us straight.

In the reading from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is warned by the Pharisees, a religious class with whom he has had many conflicts, that Herod, a political leader is out to kill him. Is it that the Pharisees are truly interested in Jesus’ safety or are they just trying to scare him out of town? In either case there are layers of conflict here.

Jesus isn’t troubled by Herod. He is on the move towards Jerusalem and Herod isn’t going to slow him down. In Jerusalem he expects even greater conflict. He is going as a prophet to the city that he describes as the place that murders prophets.

So why is he going? Often our faith gets all mystical here but I hold to a more direct understanding of Jesus’ motivation. Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish world. It is the place where the Temple sits, the heart of their religion. It is the capitol city of the nation, the heart of their political identity. It is the seat of commerce, the center of learning, the storehouse of records, and the upper rung of the judicial system.

Jerusalem is Israel’s heart and Israel’s heart is firmly in the hands of the Domination System, that system of values and beliefs opposed to God’s domination free order. The center of the liberating faith of Moses has been consumed by the forces of greed and fear and violence. The leaders have led the people in the wrong direction, a direction which will eventually lead them to their doom. And so Jesus is heading towards the heart of darkness, the center of his world, the place where the forces arrayed against the will of God are most concentrated and potent.

In the passage from Philippians, Paul lays out the conflict:
“For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The conflict is between those whose minds are set on earthly things and those whose citizenship is in heaven. These two parties are so divergent in their understanding of reality that Paul says of the opposition that their glory is their shame. The thing that they are most proud of is the thing that should be most embarrassing for them.

This conflict isn’t between two parties vying for the same goals but it is a conflict so profound that they have utterly and completely divergent value systems.

In the movie the Matrix, there is this wonderful scene in which the hero awakens to reality. He thought that he was living a normal life as a computer programmer but then he falls in with a renegade group. The leader of this group offered him a choice, two pills take the blue pill and go back to way things were, take the red pill and see things as they really are. The hero chooses the red pill and becomes aware of the true nature of reality. That true nature was that he was being deceived. The world as he knew it was a giant fabrication and in truth he was nothing more than a source of energy for a world run by machines.

In the movie, the moment that he became aware of this reality he ceased to be useful to the machines and so he is disconnected and flushed down the drain. But waiting there on the other side are others who have awakened and to them he is not waste product to be flushed but a new life. The imagery shifts from toilet to baptism.

In the evocative imagery of the movie maker’s art, we are shown two worlds sharing the same planet. Humans live in each. But these two worlds are diametrically opposed to each other. They are in conflict in such a fundamental way that there cannot be any middle ground between them.

This is what Paul is getting at in this passage from Philippians.

Paul speaks of one group as being focused on “earthly” things and the other as being citizens of heaven.

Often the church has painted heaven as that place with God arrived at by the faithful departed. But note here that Paul speaks of heaven as the place from which their savior is to come.

Ok so what does all of this mean for us?

Well one thing that these texts tell us is that conflict is part of the nature of living a life faithful to this particular God. Moses was led into conflict with Pharaoh, the prophets were led into conflict with political and economic elite of their day, Jesus was in conflict with religious leaders and political leaders and economic leaders. He was in conflict with the Jewish leadership and he was ultimately tried and executed by the Roman Empire. Paul’s churches were in conflict with unbelievers and those who believed in a different interpretation of what it meant to be Christian, and Paul too is eventually put to death by the empire of Rome.

Our conflict is ultimately with the domination system but since that system governs human civilization it means that we are called to be in conflict with our fellow human beings on a whole host of issues.

Politics, economics, social systems, religion, everywhere we turn, we run into human beings who are operating under the influence of the Domination System.

And the things the System values: wealth, the power to dominate, fame these things are not only things which believers do not seek but they are sources of shame.

What are we to do with this understanding?

We have two choices:
1. We can choose the blue pill and accept the fundamental values of the world around us. Within that choice we can be conservatives or liberals. We can be fundamentalists or atheists or anything in between. But fundamentally we stay rooted in the desires and dreams of the world around us. Or…
2. We can take the red pill and enter into a world in which there is no desire to dominate, no dream of wealth, no longing for luxury, and no willingness to sacrifice others for our security or ease.

The red pill world for us places us in profound opposition to most of the leaders of our religion, virtually all of the leaders of our government and economy, with our families, co-workers, teachers, and friends. This choice will place us in conflict with the dreams and desires planted in us as children and nurtured in us for most of our lives.

Conflict? Yes we enter conflict when we truly choose the path of Christ.

But this conflict is good for us and the world. This conflict helps us chart a path of liberation for ourselves and it helps show others that there is a real alternative.

It is in the very heart of this conflict that we find our hope.

As we have seen in the meltdown, the logic of our economic system holds the germ of its own destruction. As we have seen in our nation’s inability check the power of banks, or insurance companies, or defense contractors our political system suffers from the same terminal weakness.

Paul’s words: “Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.” seems more visible today then they did a decade ago.

But in our faith, Paul’s words were a call to a hope filled path. Jesus’ path though it led to Jerusalem and death was also the path of life and hope.

Conflict with the forces of violence and greed are part of the path of our faith but in the choice to live in a different reality the victory is already won. And that is good news.