Posted by: Mark Nielsen | March 1, 2012

On Conversion, Women In Jail, and Doing Justice

Downtown Chicago Building Roundup: North

Downtown Chicago Building Roundup: North (Photo credit: Gravitywave)

“The process of conversion begins with genuine openness to change–to be open to the possibility that just as natural life evolves, so our spiritual life is evolving…. Each time you consent to an enhancement of faith, your world changes and all your relationships have to be adjusted to the new perspective and the new light that has been given you. Our relationship to ourselves, to Jesus Christ, to our neighbor, to the Church–to God–all change. It is the end of the world we have previously known and lived in.”

Fr. Thomas Keating

Source: Contemplative Outreach News (Winter 1988)
This message originally received through a daily devotional service called inward/outward.

Today’s _Generous Justice_ devotional assist:

Instead of a direct interaction with the Timothy Keller book text (which is good, but I’m pressed for time today, thus unable to write a fresh, book-focused blog post…)

Below find a practical March 2012 and beyond planning guide for some specific ways of learning about work with underpriveleged or incarcerated women, or on urban community development issues, or criminal justice system reform, or end-of-life and pastoral care issues, or peacemaking.

Some of you may know that my home church (Redeemer Park Ridge/Chicago) has been moving into several areas of prison ministry of late. For myself, meeting and praying with inmates has been meaningful and humbling, and I look forward to increasing both general awareness and my own involvement. The Scriptures themselves –both Old Testament and New– are rife with situations where God shows mercy for prisoners and people caught in the downward spiral of poverty and desperate criminal activity.

Meanwhile, I just happily discovered a new personal/creative connection on this, among some old contacts within the social justice/arts communities (specifically actress/producer Lisa Wagner-Carolla, who I met thru some Mennonite and Catholic networks).

The “Coming Soon” activity (see below) is related to ministry with incarcerated women in Chicago, presented by the Wagner-founded Still Point Theatre Collective.

The show/event listed below is next weekend in Oak Park at Madison Street Theater. I don’t have direct experience w/ the host theater, but among the likely show attendees, this may be a chance to meet other social-justice-minded Christians from the Chicago metro area (especially Oak Park/Austin, near where my church’s new Galewood neighborhood site is moving in soon).

Not sure which I will choose from among next week’s three performances, but I will definitely try to make it to one. Write me if interested in hearing more, or in exploring other art/justice/faith partnerships like this. Other performances of either “Sisters Rising” or “Strong Women” are also likely on the way after next week… I just don’t have the data right now.

Still Point homepage:

  • Note 1: Persephone Project is a related ongoing ministry working with incarcerated women in and around Chicago. Might be worth a look as well. Link/info provided at the above Still Point site.
  • Note 2: Not directly relevant to prison ministry, but Still Point also does other touring shows about Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day, and about pastoral care/HIV/hospice/end-of-life issues from a faith perspective. If your own work tends in these other areas, check out their offerings.

Tilling the Fields,
Mark Nielsen

** *** **

Fri Mar 9th 2012 7:30,
plus Sat. 3/10 -4pm AND Sat. 3/10 -7:30pm

Sisters Rising
The concept for this group came from several conversations between Lisa Wagner-Carollo, Still Point Theater founder, and Annalise Raziq, one of the Persephone Project facilitators, about the joys and challenges of working with incarcerated women.

Click Here for more info

Madison Street Theatre
1010 Madison Street, Oak Park, IL 60302 (703) 524 1892


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