Wednesday, November 30, 2005

convergence: persuasion and poverty

Two nights ago, Brian McLaren made an insightful comment about how many people have sought to effect change in this country by appealing to legislators and the courts rather than other means such as persuasion or civil disobedience, the marks of great historical movements around the world.

Last night John Edwards gave a talk at Trinity University about how poverty is the greatest moral issue of this generation, and he appealed with very persuasive words, stories, and charisma to those of us who were present to see this issue as the test of American character and leadership for a watching world. He is trying to start a movement no less significant than the ones my parents' generation started in the 60s that radically improved civil rights for minorities and lifted millions out of poverty.

Sen. Edwards made the oft-cited observation that poverty is not racially neutral in the US--in fact, according to a study he cited, the average net worth of an African-American is $6K, Latinos $8K, while for whites it is almost $80K!! He also made several specific suggestions for policy changes that would not only support the efforts of the poor to find and keep work, but also change the complexion of our communities. He argued that if we truly believe that all people have equal inherent worth, we cannot allow the poor to live segregated from the rest of society. So, he proposed that instead of building separate Section 8 housing, we ought to allow people to use those housing vouchers to move into existing middle class communities. I don't actually know the current rules for Section 8 vouchers, but this to me seems like a logical yet radical step in the process of addressing the problem of poverty, which, as I have written in this space before, is often profoundly relational.

Sen. Edwards made another point worth repeating, which is that many of us (including me) sometimes make the mistake of seeing our help for the poor simply as charity rather than justice. Charity might be the appropriate word in a few situations, but if for people who are able and willing to work to be unable to provide for their families because their wages are too low is simply unjust and should not be tolerated.

I agree, and I hope the people who heard Edwards speak listened and will respond.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

amahoro: a prayer for peace

for the small boy with a sign
standing where cars stop and go
“homeless please help”
amahoro, amahoro

where rains come crashing down
and sliding mud kills those below
in a jungle far away
amahoro, amahoro

when a virus takes the parents
of African children with nowhere to go
they have less than nothing
amahoro, amahoro

where a heavy heart weeps alone
so burdened by sorrow
where has hope gone?
amahoro, amahoro

for the calloused hands trembling
after years of hard labor
yet no rest for the weary
amahoro, amahoro

for an untouchable people
the “lowest of low”
unaware of their value
amahoro, amahoro


Disarming, visionary, thoughtful. Those are the words I would use to describe Brian McLaren after sitting next to him at dinner last night and listening to him speak later at Viva Books. He’s a prominent and controversial face of a conversation/movement within the Christian church (and quickly expanding outside of it) called Emergent—and the author of several books that I very much resonated with when I read them last year.

The goals and vision of Emergent are diverse and wide-ranging, but one thing the people in the Emergent conversation seem to have in common is their desire to see the church (that is, the body of people who proclaim Christ) achieve its potential and purpose as the instrument through which God demonstrates His love and grace to the entire world. Some people pursue this aim through the formation of new “churches” that look nothing like the “institutional church” or the “seeker sensitive” church—but are more like intentional communities that embrace a form of monasticism characterized by contemporary forms of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Others pursue this aim by developing “new” forms of worship that are experiential and contemplative within existing church structures. Others are drawn to the idea of the “missional church”, a concept widely embraced by the Emergent conversation and seek to bring this intentional outward focus into their communities. And still others see the Emergent conversation as an opportunity to dialogue with and learn from different streams within the Christian faith (Orthodox, Anabaptist, Catholic, Calvinist, etc) in order to increase unity in the body of Christ across the liberal/conservative divide that often polarizes people these days.

Even as I try to encapsulate what I have learned about Emergent over the last year, I confess my inability to paint a complete landscape of this “thing”, whatever it is. I think the quality that cuts across the Emergent folks I know is the willingness to ask questions. For some, asking questions is dangerous, for we all like certainty. Yet there is very little that is truly certain in the world or in our faith. (That is, after all, why it is called faith.) There is a real sense of appreciation for mystery among the folks I know in the Emergent realm, and I am grateful for what I have learned from them because of their approach to ambiguity and devotion to knowing and following Christ, wherever He leads.

Monday, November 28, 2005


my pastor shannon preached an incredibly stirring and convicting sermon yesterday. it might have been heavier fare than some folks might have been expecting on the first sunday of advent, but i thought he was right on the money. his text was isaiah 42:1-4, where God's chosen servant is described as a bringer of "justice to the nations"--yet "a bruised reed he will not break"--a prophetic word about the loving compassion that would characterize Jesus' justice-bringing on the earth.

the bulk of his sermon was spent identifying the ways in which our lives of affluence do not reflect God's concern for justice--for we eat our fill and go the mall, and forget about the rest of the world: Darfur, Pakistan, India, Iraq. The juxtaposition of our wealth with Christ's poverty, our apathy with Christ's passion, our callousness with Christ's compassion was piercing, to say the least.

i was inspired and convicted, but i am not so sure about the people sitting behind me that morning. the first words i heard one of them speak as i stood up were, "so, how are your decorations changing this year?"

juxtaposition, indeed.

the last 4 days

Giving thanks at a feast-filled table
Filled with sadness over the needs of the globe
Making Advent wreaths with kids of all ages
Turning the pages of Vanier and Loeb

Cats purring with delight
Tuna cans stacked high to recycle
Celebrity Taboo into the night
Neighborhood rides on my bicycle

Watching the Horns overcome their fears
Sorting and shredding papers from years ago—
Which to keep and which to throw
A production of Rent moves me to tears

Telling my story in Español
Enchiladas and theology at El Mirador
Mixing pumpkin and spice cake in a large bowl
Trying to stifle my false need for more

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

my gratitude casserole

In honor of Thanksgiving.

Ingredients: sunshine, bike rides, Vanier, colored leaves, gingerbread lattes, Dios, sweaters, Keane, road trips, couch, Sojourners, poetry, hikes, español, banana bread, Emergent/SA, fajitas, Madhatter’s, swimming, West Wing, babies, Viva, letters, porch, CWS, blankets, chicken lasagna, Barack, core group, salsa, Caedmon’s Call, hugs, symphony

Instructions: Mix ingredients well. Give thanks. Enjoy with friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

i'm practically a socialist.

or so this website says.
You are a

Social Liberal
(68% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

the u.n. & the media

In the avalanche of bad news released by the United Nations this week about AIDS, poverty, and world hunger, a ray of light in this report highlighting the effectiveness breastfeeding has had in saving millions of children’s lives.

Almost as disturbing as the news in these reports is how they were buried in nearly all of our country’s major newspapers. A quick perusal of 20 of the U.S.’s dailies today yielded only 2 (Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle) where a link to any of these stories/reports even made the homepage.

Monday, November 21, 2005

elvish it is

in Middle Earth, that is. Elvish

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

a vital blend

Great article in Sojourners Magazine about congregations that are "blending ancient traditions and contemporary action".

hope & fear

in whispered praise
in cover of night
you risk your life
to lift up the King
while in pure sunlight
i walk in freedom
Yet my [silence] is [deafening]

your courage makes you willing
to face death for Truth

“give me liberty or give me death”
cried my forefathers
and they prevailed
for their vision gave them hope
and courage

yet what fear engulfs us now
for we know not liberty

at the brink of the chasm between
hope and fear
a moment of truth
a Socratic examination of the heart
a step of faith across the chasm

will He catch me when I fall?

And yet even if He does not—do I not still believe?

May hope rise with the morning sun
bringing word of unfailing love
and perfect freedom from


Geometric shapes of many colors
Float before my eyes
The mosaic of Truth
Written upon my heart and in the skies

Love of my heart
Living inside of me
Would You interpret this mosaic
Pieces still remain a mystery

esperanza para hoy

Espero que mi corazon es abierta a la vida
que Dios quiere para mi todos los dias.
Que no tenia miedo cuando la vida es dificil o incluye problemas. Quiero aceptar todo que Dios dame.
Porque yo se que todo de Dios es
Completamente bien.

Cristo, mi esperanza hoy y siempre.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

finding freedom

Freedom is a big theme in my life these I pay attention when I find quotes about it.
"People reach greater maturity as they find the freedom to be themselves and to claim, accept, and love their own personal story, with all its brokenness and beauty." -Jean Vanier, in Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John

a paradox

As disillusioned as I am with democracy, I still cannot help myself from reading books about the subject. (Once a political scientist, always a political scientist, I guess). Cornel West's book Democracy Matters (Winning the Fight Against Imperialism) addresses a crisis facing our country--the supremacy of wealth and power over moral principles in determining the actions of our country--and suggests the remedies for this crisis (Socratic questioning, prophetic voices, and tragicomic hope). But before he gets there, he points out a fundamental paradox in the American identity, which I find revealing.
"It [the U.S.] gallantly emerged as a fragile democractic experiment over and against an oppressive British empire--and aided by the French and Dutch empires--even while harboring its own imperial visions of westward expansion, with more than 20% of its population consisting of enslaved Africans. In short, we are a nation of rebels who nonetheless re-created in our own new nation many of the oppressions we had rebelled against."
I guess it's really true--history never stops repeating itself.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"pomo" to "poco"?

i love theological shorthand. it seems like the further in you get to any topic, the more abbreviations people create that are only understandable if you've read widely in that area and have regular conversations with other people who think about the same stuff.

anyway, author and pastor brian mclaren recently spoke at fuller seminary where he presented the draft of paper arguing that the "church emerging" conversation ought to shift from discussing postmodernity to post-colonialism, in order to decrease the amount of "academic rooms where westernerns talk to other westerners about western things and ultimately reinforce western domination" (brian's words) and increase the discussion of practical concerns like violence, domination, injustice, and the misuse of power, a discussion best conducted not among westerners but collaborately with those in the global south in order to work out the implications of our faith in the context of a post-colonial world (wherein we must face the facts of how our colonialist mindset has made the west rich in resources gained primarily at the expense of the rest of the world). you can listen to the whole presentation (and the response of some seminary faculty) here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

democracy, capitalism, & global lament

From Newsweek:
"Democracy, it turns out, is not in and of itself enough to enfranchise the poorest or to knit fragmented societies together. Not even when linked with freer markets. Not even when tied to stirrings of growth, albeit sporadic growth. What's more, the frustrations of the Mar del Plata marchers—the latest wave in a backlash against globalization and the American-style capitalism it's associated with—is not limited to the streets of the Americas. Read your newspapers regardless of where you may live. Theirs is a global lament."
What? Democracy and Capitalism can't save us? Stop the presses!

i can still pass 8th grade math...

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

"worst place to be a woman"

We all know that it's tough being a woman in most places in Africa--the endless violence, poverty, and lack of equality between the genders. In a column in the NY Times Op-Ed pages today, Helene Cooper brought that home with her commentary on the recent elections in Liberia and the daily realities for women in Bukavu, Congo. She writes:
"Ever since the voting results started coming in a few days ago, showing what the Liberian women had done, I've been unable to get one image from Bukavu out of my mind. It is of an old woman, in her 30's. It was almost twilight when I saw her, walking up the hill out of the city as I drove in. She carried so many logs that her chest almost seemed to touch the ground, so stooped was her back. Still, she trudged on, up the hill toward her home. Her husband was walking just in front of her. He carried nothing. Nothing in his hand, nothing on his shoulder, nothing on his back. He kept looking back at her, telling her to hurry up. I want to go back to Bukavu to find that woman, and to tell her what just happened in Liberia. I want to tell her this: Your time will come, too."
But how long, O Lord? How long?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

pride & prejudice

"Was it Miss Bennett who was prejudiced, or Mr. Darcy who was too proud?" -Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail (he obviously got it all wrong--as anyone who has read the book knows, it is quite the opposite)
At the risk of offending Austen purists with the ampersand in my subject line and my frivolous movie reference, I want to commend the recent production of Pride and Prejudice that opened last Friday (btw, the performances were sold out all day...they actually moved the film to a bigger theater to accommodate the demand). At just over 2 hours, it was a witty, gutsy, and enjoyable interpretation (albeit condensed and lacking in 18th century subtlety--the humor is palpable) of Jane Austen's beloved novel.

Monday, November 14, 2005

seize the day

Do you know anyone who wakes up every morning thinking about how s/he can change the world? Erwin McManus says he does. Here, two of my favorite quotes from one of his books, Seizing Your Divine Moment.
Seizing your divine moment is not simply about opportunity; at the core it is about essence. It’s about the kind of life you live as a result of the person you are becoming. The challenges you are willing to face will rise in proportion to the character you are willing to develop.

And speaking of challenges:

God rarely shows you the problem so that you can tell someone else about it…He burdens the heart that He calls.

The whole concept of McManus's book reminds me of an old Carolyn Arends song that I love. Some of the lyrics:
"Well one thing I've noticed wherever I wander/Everyone's got a dream he can follow or squander/You can do what you will with the days you are given/I'm trying to spend mine on the business of living"

Saturday, November 12, 2005

from sieve to cup

In a short but poignant moment in a conversation with my former roommate amy last night, I made the observation that I have ceased to be a sieve. To me, a sieve represents a vessel that is often poured into, but contains very little. In my life as a sieve, the gifts of love/hope/peace/joy ran right through, for there were so many holes, you see. Holes made by broken promises, disappointments, pain, sin, bitterness, anger. People poured beautiful gifts into my life, but they disappeared before I could even recognize or appreciate them--never mind share them with someone else.

Over time, however, I have begun to notice that these beautiful gifts no longer slip so readily out of my life--many of the holes in my heart have closed, have healed, through the tender work of God in my life. As these holes have mended, my life has begun to feel less like a sieve and more like a cup (albeit chipped and cracked in places)--and the beauty and abundance of God's love have filled this earthen vessel with warmth and affection that I now desire to pour out to others...truly with the Psalmist I affirm, "my cup runneth over."

Friday, November 11, 2005

justice and community

From Jean Vanier's Becoming Human:
"Justice means more than just following the law, not hurting people; it also means respecting and valuing each individual. Justice flows from the heart. If human beings are crying out for justice, if we are all deeply moved by deeds of injustice, do not our cries reveal our humanity? Our basic needs are the same as those of all other human beings..."
He continues,
"When we ally ourselves with the excluded in society, not only are we able to see people as people and to join them in their struggle for justice, to work for community and places of belonging, but we develop the critical tools for seeing what is wrong in our own society....wisdom grows when we cast a critical eye not only on ourselves but also on the group to which we belong. It is only then that we begin to want to work for change."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

my threadbare life

I love my couch. It’s the most comfortable piece of furniture in my apartment. I eat, read, watch TV, and even fall asleep on it. I inherited this couch from my friend Beth after we lived together several years ago. Her family owned it for 20 years before I did. It’s seen quite a bit over the years and has its share of stains and tears on the exterior blue textured fabric (so much so that I’ve flipped the cushions over—twice). Most of the things I own have similar hand-me-down qualities—scratches, missing pieces, discolorations.

I’ve grown quite happy with the imperfect domesticity that surrounds me—perhaps because I feel it complements me better than a picture-perfect Cindy Crawford inspired Room-to-Go ensemble ever could. I’m well aware of my own threadbare qualities, my flawed self, my inability to project a “put together” image for more than a few minutes at a time. It would be perpetuating an illusion were I to occupy a space that required Martha Stewart-like care.

I may not be able to confess in words all the ways I go astray, but there’s not enough pixie dust in the world to keep me from revealing who I am symbolically, through the place I call home.

talmudic wisdom

I ran into this quote from the Talmud today in a column by Rabbi Marc Gullman from Newsweek about his attempts to teach his young students the importance of purity.
"Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man’s rib: Not from his feet to be walked on. Not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité?

Some insightful comments from Washington Post columnists on the violence in France. From Jim Hoagland:
“France and its beautiful, troubled capital are proxies for all affluent nations that have elevated into an art form the habit of ignoring the world's poor, desperate and criminally inclined…Our collective neglect lumps them all together, and it helps make the disadvantaged become prey or accomplice for criminals and Islamist fanatics. In that sense, we are all French right now. It is not just Paris that is burning. It is Africa, and the Middle East, and parts of Asia and Latin America, that are burning and showering flames on the Paris ghettos. And on London, Madrid, New York, Bali and Casablanca.”
And from David Ignatius:
“The average (white) French person believes fiercely in the country's revolutionary traditions of liberty, equality and fraternity -- to the point of pretending that these virtues exist for everyone when they clearly don't. France's prized educational meritocracy -- a gulag of tests and exams that prepare the way for the best and brightest to enter elite national schools -- is in fact gamed by the existing elite.”
Throughout history, when the poor, marginalized, and discriminated against are denied a voice for long enough, they will rise up and demand to be heard. May France and the world hear the wake-up call and respond not only by listening, but by addressing the inequities that make liberty and fraternity impossible...and may the violence cease.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

my life, according to a quiz

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

s p r a w l

i hate sprawl. congested highways, 30+ minute commutes, cookie-cutter houses and yards, mini-malls, massive parking lots, gas consumption...ugh. i moved downtown 2 years ago to avoid all of that stuff. i learned today on Slate, however, that the urban sprawl phenomenon is not only not new, it's not even unique to the United States! i don't know if this should make me feel better or worse.

Monday, November 07, 2005

collision preventable?

Whatever you think about Al Gore, the man is as environmentally astute as they come. He wrote a book back in 1993 called Earth in the Balance, which I read in high school. Even though he’s out of the political limelight these days, he’s still calling us to account for the ways we are triggering a collision between our civilization and the planet.

Below, excerpts from his recent piece on
“[T]he relationship between humankind and the Earth has been utterly transformed. To begin with, we have quadrupled the population of our planet in the past hundred years. And secondly, the power of the technologies now at our disposal vastly magnifies the impact each individual can have on the natural world. Multiply that by six and a half billion people, and then stir into that toxic mixture a mind-set and an attitude that say it's OK to ignore scientific evidence -- that we don't have to take responsibility for the future consequences of present actions -- and you get this violent and destructive collision between our civilization and the Earth.

But there is no time to wait. In the 1930s, Winston Churchill also wrote of those leaders who refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences."

This is a moral moment. This is not ultimately about any scientific debate or political dialogue. Ultimately it is about who we are as human beings.

We have everything we need to face this urgent challenge. All it takes is political will. And in our democracy, political will is a renewable resource.”

I hope it is.

faith + life = risk

It’s amazing sometimes how people that don’t even know you (or each other) speak into your life in the same way.

Two weeks ago my pastor Rich gave a sermon entitled “Just Jump In” as part of the annual stewardship season series. He began with a hilarious illustration from his youth of encountering the high diving board for the first time, and how his fear almost deprived him of the exhilarating experience of jumping. Once his knees stopped knocking and he gathered his courage to take the plunge, he was so excited that he couldn’t wait to do it again.

This past Saturday I was in Dallas, listening to Dan Kimball and Marcus Goodloe talk about the challenge of accepting God’s call and being willing to go wherever he leads. Dan shared a personal story of letting go of a relationship and trusting God to meet his needs. Marcus passionately articulated the need for disciples of Christ to truly listen to God in the way that the prophet Samuel did early in his life, to hear what God desires for us in our lives.

Last night I had dinner with my friend Susie who expressed admiration when I told how I was led away from my intended career path in law into the realm of community development and service, and how I accepted that change without fear or hesitation. I was humbled by the way that simple story encouraged my friend. We talked about how difficult it can be to change course after making plans, even if we feel like God is showing us the way.

Then, this morning in my email box came this profound thought from the mouth of Martin Luther (via Bruderhof Daily Dig):
Discipleship is not limited to what you can understand – it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own understanding, and I will help you to comprehend. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. In this way Abraham went forth from his father, not knowing where he was going. That is the way of the cross. You cannot find it in yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire – that is the road you must take. It is to this path that I call you, and in this sense that you must be my disciple.
I frequently feel I do not know where I am going. Even when I have specific plans (like going to Nicaragua for 3 years), I still have this abiding sense that I have no idea where my life is going. But I am listening…willing to jump…willing to take the road as a blind child in faith.

Friday, November 04, 2005

on hospitality

I live in a small apartment with a couch, a coffeetable, a fireplace, and lots of books. There’s not a lot of seating, nor is there a dinner table (not enough space for one, really). The porch that graces the front of my fourplex is actually larger than my living room, and subsequently becomes the location of choice when I have people over. Which is not that often, though I did host a lively New Year’s Eve party last winter—I have a great view of the downtown fireworks from my front yard (I use the term “yard” loosely).

Given my living situation, I’ve never considered myself to be one with the “gift” of hospitality. Yet in this book I am reading (Schools for Conversion), the author of one essay suggests that hospitality is not meant to be considered a “spiritual gift”, but a command to all Christians. The challenge is seeing hospitality as more than inviting people into your home and sharing your food with them. True hospitality is about being welcoming, creating a sense of comfort and belonging for people who are “strangers” or “aliens” to us. We can do that in word or deed, at home, work, or the middle of the street.

This command is a challenge to me and my standard modus operandi in life. This morning as I walked out my front door, I glanced at the small white index card taped to its surface. On it were written these words:
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt...” (Deut 10:17-19)
Lord, help me follow in your footsteps by lovingly welcoming everyone I encounter today.

embracing insecurity

in the words of jean vanier...
"It's a sad secret of Jesus, is that he's hidden in a very special way in the poor, and in the broken, and in the suffering. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, the smallest of my brethren, the most broken of my brethren, you've done unto me. When I was in prison you visited me, when I was sick you visited me, when I was hungry, thirsty you gave me to drink and to eat, when I was a stranger you welcomed me, when I was naked you clothed me. The mystery that Jesus is hidden in the poorest and the weakest. But then also the mystery that he is hidden in the poverty of my own being, that he is hidden in my poverty. To believe that he is hidden in the poorest, but to believe also that he is hidden in the poverty of my own being. At one moment Jesus taking a little child, and maybe it was a child with a handicap we don't know, but he said: Whoever welcomes one of these little ones in my name, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the Father--that God is hidden in the face of that little child, that that little child is Jesus. There again, there is fear in our hearts, because if this is true, if Jesus is hidden in the hearts of the smallest and the weakest and the suffering, if he's hidden in my poverty, well then its a revolution. It's a revolution. The poor are at the heart of the church, the poor are at the heart of humanity. They are not meant to be pushed aside. And of course this revolution means a completely disordering of the order. It's the breaking down of the fortress of prejudice, it's bringing humanity into one, it's breaking down the walls, and of course all these walls that have been created are the walls of security. It's the security of prejudice: I know who I am and I'm powerful. But in some way Jesus is breaking all this down to bring us into the insecurity of communion, the insecurity of love, the insecurity where God is present and calling us all forth. . . "

and dostoevsky, via the bruderhof daily dig:
"Everywhere in these days people have, in their mockery, ceased to understand that the true security is to be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort. But this terrible state of affairs must inevitably have an end, and all will suddenly understand how unnaturally they are separated from one another."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

what can (mike) brown do for you?

Apparently nothing. The former FEMA director's emails were just released. Below, an excerpt from an MSNBC story:

On Aug. 31, FEMA official Marty Bahamonde sent Brown a desperate e-mail from New Orleans, calling the situation “past critical.” Describing patients in temporary emergency shelters, Bahamonde wrote, “Estimates are many will die within hours.”

He also wrote, “We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.”

Brown’s reply to the e-mail was: “Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?”
I can think of a few things.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

color by number

From an article in the 10/31/05 Christian Science Monitor:

98 - Percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs who are white.
95 - Percentage of Fortune 500 top earners who are white.
40 - Percentage of minority women who feel excluded and constrained by the need to "act white."
More than 1/3 - Portion of minority men who feel similarly limited by "style compliance."
1/4 - Portion of businesswomen who worry they're perceived as "affirmative action" employees.
Almost 1/3 - Portion of minority female executives who are concerned that their speaking style labels them as lacking leadership potential.

And some people say racism is no longer a problem in America...

narnia is near

In anticipation of the cinematic release of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on 12/9, First Presbyterian Church is hosting a 4 week course exploring C.S. Lewis' beloved classic. The trailer for the upcoming film can be viewed here.

November 9 (6:45pm-7:45pm)
Finding the Wardrobe (chapters 1–4)
November 16 (6:45pm-7:45pm)
Choosing Sides (chapters 5–8)
November 30 (6:45pm-7:45pm)
Aslan is Nearer (chapters 9–12)
December 7 (6:45pm-7:45pm)
Deep Magic (chapters 13–17)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

redemptive relationships (part 2)

Perhaps it’s easy to see how redemptive relationships can be for the poor. Like threading a needle with a camel, though, it may be hard for the nonpoor to recognize the importance of relationships with the poor. We are so conditioned to see ourselves as self-sufficient and sophisticated—what in the world do we need to learn from the poor?

In the words of friends with whom I have shared experiences overseas in communities of poor people: “humility”—“generosity”—“hospitality”—“kindness”—“slowing down”—“acceptance”—“patience”—“joy”. These are all worthwhile lessons…but there is so much more.

There is a strong temptation for the nonpoor is to glorify poverty as a state of opportunity to learn about simplicity and priorities. This is a tragic and costly mistake. For as long as our experience with poverty leads us to think only that the poor have figured out how to live richly, we will be unable to see the pain beneath the coping mechanisms poor communities have developed to survive. We need to enter into the stories of the poor to learn that there is a complex blend of joy and pain, laughter and tears, strength and suffering, love and longing in their individual and corporate life.

We need to learn about our common humanity, our common need, our common struggle. We need to learn about being a loving neighbor—the 2nd highest priority for all of Christ’s disciples—one that flows out of the 1st priority—loving God. We need to learn compassion for those who are suffering on the margins. We need to learn to hate injustice and oppression the way God does. We need to learn to rely on God and not ourselves.