A conversation with… Rudy Carrasco

Today’s interview is with Rudy Carrasco (official bio) of Harambee Christian Family Center and Urban Onramps. Along with Andrew Jones and Karen Ward, I think that Rudy’s weblog was among the first emerging church blogs online and it is one of my favorites. Many people have questioned me about why I link to him as we often link to opposite viewpoints about the same news stories but even though we disagree, I find Rudy to be well thought out and worth reading. It also reminds me that there are some really smart and cool people that disagree with what I write as well. Rudy is also a frequent Yahoo! Instant Messenger partner and owner of an amazing Apple iSight webcam.

What’s your age and occupation? How long have you lived there? Where > did you come from, and where do you live now?

I’m 36 and I’m the executive director of the Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena, California. I’ve lived within a one-block radius of my current house since 1990 (14 years). I was born in East Los Angeles and have lived in a number of Southern California cities before settling in Pasadena.

What is the best part about living in Los Angeles? What is the worst?

The best part of Los Angeles is that it is the destination place for the entire world. From the South (Latin America) from the West (Asian countries) and internally (across the country) people just keep coming and they won’t stop. This is the place where you can remake yourself, regardless of your past. It’s the American Dream in hyperdrive.

The worst part of living in Los Angeles is the dang traffic on the freeways. If you get caught at the wrong time of day you are in for a 2.5 hour trip that should have taken 45 minutes. It’s a shame because there are tremendous places and people scattered around L.A. (and they are scattered – this is the opposite of Manhattan, which is a vertical city – this is a horizontal city).

Time travel question: What era, day or event in the church’s history would you like to have experienced?

I would have liked to have been at the Council of Nicea, to see how they put together the Nicene Creed. I also would have liked to have been in the room when they were choosing the 27 books of the New Testament.

It is Tuesday at nine p.m. — where can we find you and what are you up to?

My son went to bed at 8ish, and my wife and I have just finished watching some goofy sitcom, American Idol, or Survivor. At that hour I often check my email and do some blogging.

Chatting with Rudy via Yahoo! I.M. and wifi
Of all of the gadgets you own, which is your favorite?

This 12 inch Powerbook is something else, I tell ya.

What’s the best book you have read in the last year? What made it worthwhile?

I keep reading and re-reading my P.J. O’Rourke books. They would be offensive to many of my peers in the emerging church, but who cares. He makes me laugh. Hard. My wife tells me to quit laughing, I’m shaking the bed. The other night I read a truly hilarious piece that I would NEVER EVER EVER share with my peers. It’s just too offensive, beyond Dave Chapelle offensive. But when O’Rourke is not blinding you with his offensiveness, he’s dishing out tremendous observations on human nature. Recommended.

If you could say one thing to the emerging church that you think we need to rethink, what would it be?

We are pretty close to enshrining our own orthodoxies, and we are unaware of it. I’ll leave that vague. But I’m seeing some resistance to modification that is beginning to disturb me. Our reaction is becoming codified. Still vague, I know. But I’m gonna leave it there.

Where is the church getting it right in regards to urban ministry, what’s is it getting it wrong?

We need to approach urban ministry like it’s a war, World War II, say. There are folks on the front lines, slugging it out. And then there are reinforcements. But the reinforcement folks don’t quite recognize that they need to figure out how to not only strengthen the frontliners in a temporary manner, they need to buttress them for the long haul. Now, I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about something completely different, about longevity. So, for example, there are small churches in the hood that have been around for decades. How can we help strengthen them, even while we do our own thing? (And believe me, I’m all for doing your own thing; I do my own thing all the time.) But at the end of the day, those long-standing institutions will still be in the hood after all the exciting trips and visitor and evangelistic events and service projects and immersion have ended. They are the ones who need to be strong and stronger. And most urban plunge folks fail to recognize this. The degree to which Christians recognize that it’s critical that an urban ministry have a long-term impact, that’s the degree to which we actually get things accomplished. We have friends who have decided to give and serve over an extended period of time, regardless of how things are going, and they are the ones seeing the long-term fruit.

How is globalization changing urban communities? Is there anything the church can be doing to ease the change?

I don’t think many folks understand how globalization affects them. I mean, it’s not like you can show someone a pound of globalization. It affects many folks now in that they have a new bogeyman to blame – outsourcing of jobs due to globalization. But one of the key benefits of globalization, the spread of new ideas and techniques, is accessed by those who look for it or seek it. There are some who do, and many who don’t.

The rest of the interviews can be found here.