As before, ""This week I am attending workshops in Tempe, Arizona, on topics related to leadership and ministry in Native Christian Churches. (Saying "Native American Churches" means another thing.) Here are a few random thoughts from today." Previous ruminations: Day One, and Two, and Three.

1. In the workshops I often am the only white person. Other participants tend to make remarks that assume that everyone in the room is tribal. "On our reservations . . .", "Our people", etc. I'm not offended. But it is educational to be a minority once in a while. Everyone should try it. (fyi, I'm a blue-eyed white boy with greying reddish-brown hair and a ruddy complexion)

2. Afternoons I've been in the session on Meth and Youth Gangs. Even the remote rez's are seeing gang recruitment and meth abuse. You can run but you can't hide. The toxic aspects of the dominant culture are corroding every corner of our country. There are no simple answers because there are no simple explanations. But, nothing will get better without involvement. If our lives are work, play, sleep, without community involvement, we are doomed. The government cannot save us from this one, though there are ways in which it might help.

3. One former gang member in the workshop said that gangs now are using the internet to recruit, including myspace.

4. One motivation to join a gang is the need to belong, to have a family. The former gang member I mentioned above said that he needed someone to want him, to appreciate him. He found this in a gang. He also said that though he would not have said it this way at the time, he also needed discipline in his life and the gang gave him discipline, a structure with its own rewards and punishments.

5. To end on a more positive note. This former gang member was not the leader of the workshop. He was an attendee from an Indian Presbyterian church on the West Coast. God's grace had changed his life. He and his wife brought their infant son along with them. Both were abused as children, and are determined to break the chain between their generation and the baby's. Things do not always go from bad to worse. Sometimes they go from bad to better. God bless.