Wednesday, January 30, 2008
One of my friends at Hosea is going back into the military. I asked him why he would do it. The path he's taking guarantees that he'll see combat in the Middle East (for the second time). He said that it was so his father would look at him with respect. He's homeless right now, and he says he can't get a job. I asked him "What if you had to kill someone?" He said, "When it comes down to that, it's a choice between me and the other guy, and I'm going to be the one going home at the end of the day."
I can't help but believe that there are things going on in Iraq that are being suppressed. I don't believe that Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident, just like the My Lai massacre wasn't an isolated incident. I've learned this from interviews and speeches from former and AWOL soldiers. In March, a Winter Soldiers public investigation is taking place in Washington to expose the realities of the Iraq War. I hope that it doesn't just get shoved into a 3 inch blurb in the National News section.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Some of my time is taken up by volunteering. It only works out to about 6 hours out of my total week, but it's dark by the time I'm done at this point in the year, so I feel like I should be done for the night. But honestly, I would feel like I was doing nothing for the world if I didn't spend those six hours giving my time and trying to get to know teens. I'm trying to start a love revolution here, and the days just keep getting shorter.
I'm finally starting to feel that American Way time crunch. Just how IS a person supposed to work full-time and still change the world in other ways? How are relationships supposed to function in an era of leaving one job to work another across town? How do families with young children even survive? I don't marvel at it; I think it's dysfunctional. But how do you argue with the way things are? I always thought that people who had to "pencil in" quiet time were complete basket cases whose lives were too busy. Now I put my schedule into my cell phone calendar. How can a person hear a still small voice above the sounds of other things demanding attention?
This is why I relished those 5-10 minutes of "open worship" at Friends Church. Once a week, I breathed. Usually, there was just enough time to break through feeling guilty for letting another week go by without a conscious attempt to listen to the Spirit before the sermon would begin. Maybe I should have gone to the Friends Meeting, where it's all open worship. Excuse me, I'm going to go breathe.
Holman Bibles for the Poor
Once in awhile something comes along that is truly appalling. Today’s rant is inspired by a full-page magazine ad for Holman Bible Outreach International. The middle third of the page is a photograph of an obviously impoverished, partially clothed, very young child, standing barefoot in a gutter, poking at the garbage on the ground with a plastic fork. The big headline at the top of the page reads, “We publish BIBLES for people who can’t afford SHOES” (emphasis theirs).
wow. Where do I start? What is this little child going to do with a Bible? He or she is too young to read and probably will never get an education. Do they expect people who can’t afford shoes to be excited about getting a book they can’t read? Maybe they could find some string and tie the bibles to their feet? They can’t eat bibles, and this child is obviously hungry. They can’t seek shelter in a bible, though it’s obvious this child has no place to live. There is an adult sleeping on the sidewalk in the background. How do people who read and study and translate the bible come to the conclusion that all those verses in the bible about God’s concern for the poor mean the poor need bibles?? Do they honestly think that, lacking food, clothing, shelter, and education, that what the desperately poor of the world really need most are bibles??
The small print says in part, “From the streets of Bangkok to the back roads of rural America, people are hungering for the bread of life. And we’re bringing it to them with bibles and scripture portions…”
I looked up Matthew 25 in the Holman Standard Version online. The words of Jesus there do NOT say, ‘When I was hungry, you published me a bible. When I was thirsty, you published me a bible. When I was naked, you published me a bible. When I was sick, you published me a bible.’
I was startled to see this ad in Creation Care magazine - an excellent publication for Christians who care about the environment that was gifted to us from a friend. The Holman ad seems very out-of-place here. Even if I did not already dislike the Holman translation because of its history on the gender translation issue, this ad alone would ensure I never purchased one.
It seems that there is a wonderful awakening beginning to emerge from N. American churches who used to be ignorant and apathetic to the plight of the poor, but who are beginning to come alive with a passionate, active response to global and local poverty. I pray that this is not a passing fad, but a renewal that will grow and spread among God’s people. And I honestly pray that the well-intentioned folks behind this Holman ad will adopt a more holistic understanding of what it means to bring the bread of life to the world’s impoverished people.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I really want to live in a house with a bunch of people and be able to offer spare rooms to homeless people that I know, but I can't do that when I rent because it's generally not allowed. So someday I'll have to look into buying a house. I don't know the first thing about buying a house. I don't have any credit because I've never had a credit card, so I don't think I can get a house loan. How does a person even buy a $100k-$200k house? Do they take out a loan and cut a hugeass check or pay in installments? What the hell is a mortgage?
The style was created in South Central LA, where broken families, drugs, gangs, and violence are an everyday reality. What really got to me is the way the leaders of the clown groups and krump groups took on younger dancers as their own families when they had none to love and care for them. One clown, Tommy the Clown, would get on their cases about hanging around gangs, getting into drugs, or even not doing their homework, and they respected him enough to follow through with it. He also wouldn't let them dance with him if they didn't keep themselves in line. It was all so positive and meaningful and no doubt has really saved lives from gang violence and drug addiction. And it's something I admire, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
At church today, we went through a chart that compared the "rules of the game" for poverty, middle class, and rich culture. One of the first things listed was "possessions." Under "poverty" possessions meant people, relationships. I definitely saw that in this movie. When there was no security for life or money, the clown groups and families cared for each other like it held their cells together. Will I ever be able to understand or fulfill that for others? My middle-class family was pretty unaffectionate. My parents emphasized independence. As a result, it takes me a long time to feel like I can depend on someone or like I want them to depend on me. I don't want to resign to the idea that I'll never love like the family I had didn't. If the love of God is in my heart, than the love of people can surely be in there as well. If God has the power to change lives of drug dealers into hip-hop clowns, God can change an icy teachers' daughter into someone who loves like breathing.
Monday, January 14, 2008
I figure I'm solely responsible for global warming with all the frivolous driving that I do by myself. Really, who needs to go to Fred Meyers at 10:30 at night for tweezers? I just moved to a place where I can walk to work, which is fantastic, but I still have to drive 2-3 days a week because of time constraints on where I have to be right after work. I think I could attempt to force flexibility into at least one of those days. There's also a busline close to my house, and I want to commit to riding on Thursdays when I have weekly activities that I could easily get to by bus.
I just moved, and in moving, rediscovered how much JUNK I have that I don't use. I need a garage sale real bad. Some friends recently said that they need to do the same, so I hope we can do it together when the weather gets nice. It causes me a lot of anxiety to know that I have lots of stuff and some people have nothing. My best friend from high school has reduced his possessions to a backpack of stuff and I'm extremely jealous. He's not even a Christian, much less a Quaker! I've got a long way to go.
My eating/buying habits
I have a moral crisis every time I go to the grocery store. Is it local? Is it organic? Can I afford it? Do I just really really really want some chocolate right now? I've stopped eating candy for the most part because I found out how bad it was for me, but there's a bigger picture than just the chemicals that get into my body through my food. There's the environment and workers of the world to think about. Am I making my food and clothing purchases in love of myself or in respect of others and God's creation? I think I should. I also want to start growing my own herbs for cooking and tea. Yum.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
When I vote in an American election, am I isolating Christian brothers and sisters in other countries? Do I make a bad Christian anarchist because I submit to this government? Am I not putting my faith in God and his people to be independent hands of Christ? On the other hand, if I don't vote, am I doing a disservice to the people that could be helped in America by government programs on account of my vote? Going further, is it my Christian duty to encourage people to vote a certain way because it will serve poor people or foster children or elders, which I believe Christ would have done?
Jesus didn't live in a society where most of the people he talked with would have had the option of voting. He just said to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and God what is God's. Is this democracy thing something that Christians are supposed to get involved in? I've tried to stay informed on political events. In 2004, I started to be a talk radio junkie, and I still am. But should I be? In 2004, a friend called out her fellow Christians and said that if we put the effort that we spent on politics into serving Christ, how much the world could change. That's been bugging me.