Intro to Watsonopolis

Watsonopolis is a place where the Watson family posts their writing, reflections, images and videos.

Most of the stuff we post are our own thoughts, wonderings, and stories that emerge from our lives, our living, the world around us and the world within us.

You'll find us reflecting on our travels, our faith, justice, and what it means for us to live well in 21st century America. 

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Why Christmas is in December

For several weeks now I've been thinking about Christmas being in December and the New Year starting in the middle of winter.  This very American-centric notion is certainly not new with me or even new to me. I remember reading years ago some writer reflecting on these similar thoughts.  But, somehow, the idea has struck me again this year.  

I'm glad that Christmas is in December.  And I'm glad the calendar changes during some of the harsher weather days of the winter.  And I like that you plant bulbs and order seeds in the winter.  

Its like a hope-filled protest.  Even though things are dead all around.  Even though the ground is indeed hard as iron, we celebrate.  We plant flowers that won't bloom for months and on New Year's Eve we throw a large outdoor party in Times Square and in all the Times Squares around the country.  And because these things are in the middle of winter, there is a brilliance to them that I fear would be lost if these holidays surround the changing of a season.  

I'm grateful for the holidays.  They help me face the cold and gray with hope and with a party.


Christmas Party Sing a Long!

The two man-children had a little Christmas performance last week.  Like the throngs of other doting parents, I was there, video camera in hand and was able to capture the moving performance.  These boys are naturals I tell you!

Watson boy's Christmas program ~ 2010 from Matthew Watson on Vimeo.


Casting Out Demons

Last month, I traveled with three friends to India.  We stayed in and around Delhi for 10 days.  This is the first, of what I hope to be a couple of reflections on that trip.

“The young man is demon possessed”.  That’s what the pastor said to me when I asked him what was going on.  Three hours prior, I entered the room where we were to worship and immediately noticed the young twenty-something.  Over the course of the service the congregation would swell to nearly 200, but when we first arrived, the crowd was small so he stuck out.  He had what I thought was either a nervous tick or odd way of worshiping.  Turns out I was wrong on both accounts.

Towards the conclusion of the amazing north Indian worship service a feverish concert of prayer ensued; which is when the exorcism publicly began.  First, the women surrounded the demoniac who started screaming, moaning and contorting violently on the ground.  Following the women, other ministers and evangelists of the church began praying over him pressing the Lord for his deliverance.  Waves of groans and growls echoed in the cinderblock apartment that served as the church until they finally subsided to a low hum.  “They will pray and fast and then begin again.  He’ll be healed soon”, the pastor said rather matter of factly.  Then, with out missing a beat he says, “Are you ready for lunch?”

I stepped over the young-man-in-healing as my shoes were located on the other side of his sprawled, mildly grunting body.  I slipped the shoes on, keeping a steady eye on him lest he jump up, beat me and send me out of the church naked.

Over lunch that day, and over the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking about demon possession; about the ways the Evil One slips into our lives and stakes a claim.  I’ve also been thinking about the ways that freedom and healing come.  It would be easy to focus only on the dramatic, on the otherwise extraordinary events surrounding the young Indian’s liberation from demonic forces.  But what might such an event look like at Living Hope, in my life or in my neighborhood?

If I were completely consumed by materialism and my money was the focus of my life, could one not say, I’m demon possessed?  And If someone in my small group said to me, “Sell your possessions, give it to the poor and follow me” would I not moan?  Would my back not stiffen as did the young Indians?  And if a gospel-er said to me, “Your job has become your idol, repent and follow Jesus” would I not growl and fight?  If I went to one of the addicts in my neighborhood and prayed for the demon drug to exit their body, might they not fall face first into my yard?

They might would.  Because it is not true that Indians living in the rural outskirts of Delhi are somehow more demon possession prone than those in well manicured Memphis suburbs.  Rather our possession may be more subtle, more discreet, more ‘culturally appropriate’ yet still as demonic.

The truest beauty in this is that the way towards freedom is the same for us as it was for the young man.  It is the gospel of Christ that was going to free him from the demons that tormented his soul and it is the gospel that will liberate us.  The bondages of sin can have 1,000 different faces.  Freedom, on the other hand, has just One.  And that is good news.


Playing in Dirt

Last month the lady and I took the wild ones camping.  I'm sure there's a lot to say, but sometimes images do say it better.  After a remarkably fun family weekend lost in the woods, while the mom and me packed up the camp site, this is how the boys spent their final moments of fun before heading home.


The last 125 days

There really isn't a good way for me to try and summarize the last four months, just as there isn't a good way for me to explain why I haven't posted since May.  We have had some amazing stories - events that require reflection and stories that should be told.  But somewhere in between the living of them, we just moved on to the next one.  So rather than try and relay events from the summer, here are some things that I learned and those I learned them from. 

1.  Hometown heroes aren't always heroes in their hometown

Someone that has had a deep and profound impact on Lisa and I is the work and ministry of Dr. John & Vera Mae Perkins.  I've written about them before, so I won't recap here except to say that their lives are testimonies to the best parts of who we can be as people and what it means to faithfully follow Jesus.  John Perkins has been named one of Christianity's most influential people, he's written books that are read world wide, he's in history books, he speaks at colleges nation wide, entire wings of college buildings are named after him - in other words, he's sort of a big deal.  The thing is, in his hometown of Jackson, MS, there's still a ton of folks who may not know who he is.  Lisa and I traveled to Jackson for Dr. John & Vera Mae's 50 yr. anniversary of ministry (and JP's 80th birthday).  It was a great celebration, and folks flew into the Jackson airport, literally, from all over the country.  Former governors, civil rights workers, college professors, ministers from everywhere were there.  We sat at a table with a young woman from Jackson who told us, "I didn't know Dr. Perkins was so well known".  We chuckled.  

2. My family is amazing...hilarious, but amazing

About every three years I make the pilgrimage to Love County Oklahoma for my family's annual family reunion.  I love my family reunion.  I always have.  I have never, ever had a bad experience there.  I always leave more proud of who I am and who I'm related to.  And I always leave with amazing stories about my kin folk.  More and more, the older I get, the more amazed I am that I'm related to this family.  We are different.  And I love that.  But it is remarkable really.  Nevertheless, despite the differences that seem to grow over time, there is still the memory that the cousin I seem so different from now, is still the same cousin I swam across the pond with year after childhood year.  The center holds because despite how I change moving forward, there is a past that refuses to change.  Sometimes that's a bad thing, but for me, with this family, its a very, very good thing. 


3.  I love California

Texas is God's country.  You will never get me to say anything to the contrary.  Memphis has style, swagger and sass like no other, and I love it tons.  But, man I like me some California.  I know my California friends will hate to know this, but me and the mrs. slipped into an out of California without telling anyone in the middle of the summer for a quick get away.  And somewhere in between the Sierra Nevada camp outs, the In n Out burgers and the streets of San Francisco I was reminded again what a magical place California can be.

4.  Those who embody hope in the midst of chaos are my heroes.

I know this is the second 'hero' reference, but here's what I'm learning.  I'm drawn to those who, in the middle of a crisis, incarnate a hope and a faith that perseveres.  Samuel Kargbo is a fellow DMin student that I met in Ghana.  Samuel pastors a church in Freetown Sierra Leone.  If you've seen Blood Diamonds, you've seen part of Samuel's story.  He lived through the civil war and pastored in Freetown through it.  He had invitations to flee the country, other pastors inviting him to Guinea and pastor in safety.  Samuel turned them down every time, choosing instead to pastor his people through the violence and remind them that peace prevails and love is the best response.  Samuel stayed with us for a several days.  Together we shared stories, considered the future and prayed for God's kingdom to come in Freetown and in my community.  Two days after he left, Nathan asked me when Pastor Samuel was coming back.  "Soon I hope, son". Because those are the kinds of heroes I want my boys to grow up around.

Of course there's other stories; my family visiting us in Memphis, camping adventures on the Mississippi River and a family trip to Chicago.  But these snippets and the lessons learned from them will have to do for now.  

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