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Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

Jeromy, MonachusBellator, and I all got together yesterday with our families for the first of three meetings we are having around Advent Conspiracy.  We’re looking at how we can redeem the way we participate in Christmas.  Americans alone spend 540 billion on Christmas and the worlds clean water problem could be solved for 10 billion.  Something’s wrong there and we’re just not happy about it.

And during our meeting my wife pulled out a catalog from Samaritans Purse, an organization that is really being creative in ways of supporting third world problems.  Families can purchase real tangible needs for families in poverty.

$100 – One Emergency Shelter

$750 – One Well

$7,500 – One House

$20,000 – One School

$25,000 – One Medical Hospital

$75,000 – One Church Building

To steal a line from Jeromy, “What is wrong with this picture?”

Why would a church cost three times as much as a hospital?  Why would it cost almost four times as much as a school and ten times as much as a house.  We’re talking walls and a roof here.  Why not build an outdoor amphitheater with a tent, or as Jeromy said build ten houses and teach people the priesthood of all believers. I couldn’t help wonder if we’re teaching third world countries the same expectations that we have about our concept of church.

And I couldn’t help wonder which one of these items Jesus would have chosen.  I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

But I just don’t get it.

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Order Vs. Chaos

In the movie Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader says to his son Luke, “Join me and we can bring order to the galaxy.”  There have been moments in my life when I have begged God to step and bring order to the universe.  And for some reason He just doesn’t.  He allows the chaos.

When I heard that line it struck me for some reason.  There is something about order that seems to feel right, at least in principle. Order implies the world is working right, that things are aligning and people aren’t hurting each other.  Order implies justice and control over people.  Order feels good because it means you likely won’t hurt me.  It means I can go to the store and not have to worry about getting shot or robbed.  It implies peace to a certain extent.

Yet for some reason God doesn’t choose to establish a controlled order in the universe.  He allows chaos.  He doesn’t take control over everything.  He allows people like Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong-il, and Omar al-Bashir. He allows pain and suffering to occur.

And it is in the face of these people, what could be considered the worst of mankind that we’re left with the same question Darth Vader presents to Luke.  “Join me and we can bring order to this planet.”  Taking these men down seems right.  But in doing so, we’re left with the question of which side we’re joining.  Is control and order really the answer?  Is force really the most restorative pathway?

Because once I join the effort to control, I then approve of its measure.  If I approve of the killing of these people, to remove what seems like the chaos of the universe, I approve of the removal of me the moment I create chaos.  And that line of order becomes entirely subjective on any side.  It can be moved at any time based upon whim and circumstance, or as the men above choose. And what eventually occurs is a culture based in fear, not freedom.  The order that was supposed to happen occurs, if only for a select group of people.  As long as we’re on the good side, we’re safe.  But step over the line and we’re at risk.

And then there is love.  I keep thinking of the moments Jesus is standing in front of Herod and dying on the cross.  He could have assumed control and brought order to the world.  But to do so would be to go against love.  Instead he established a world based in chaos that allows people to harm each other.  But more importantly, he provides the ability to transcend that chaos through love by the power of His Spirit.  It’s a culture based in the exact opposite, in freedom not in fear.

The sad thing is, it’s just easier to live in control than it is in love.  It’s just easier to establish a law that keeps you from stealing from me than it is to practice and teach love, which accomplishes the same measure by choice.  Love is the narrow path.  It requires taking one, or two, or a hundred on the cheek.  But when we do, when we choose love and live in the chaos, we become love.

And that’s what I want to be.

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Believe it or not, only two questions about global poverty have been asked in the history of modern presidential debates, going back to Kennedy-Nixon in 1960. That’s less than 1% of all questions asked.

You can help change that.  One is launching a new campaign to get “Just ONE Question” about the fight against global poverty asked at the 2008 presidential debates.  If you would like to help, and I would encourage you to help, please follow the link and sign the petition.

This is your opportunity to take a small step that would have huge repercussions.

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Quotes From Gandhi

When I was in college I had the privilege of reading extensively about the life of Gandhi.  The man was brilliant.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes I found while doing some research.  And what is interesting is that much of what he said, if you put the name of Jesus in front of it, you’d think it was Jesus.  I particularly like his ideas on freedom, which have shades of grace underlining them.

Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Hate the sin, love the sinner.

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.

Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.

I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.

I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy.

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.

I think it would be a good idea. when asked what he thought of Western civilization

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I’m not naive enough to think I can change the lives of a billion people, but I can be a small part of a large group of people attempting to address the issue.

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I wrote this post a year and a half ago when I first started blogging. I’m reposting it as a follow on to today’s earlier post. One is still the best campaign out there for fighting poverty.

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Yesterday I was in line to get a cup of coffee and I saw a man with a bunch of rubber bracelets. You know the kind Lance Armstrong started with his Livestrong campaign. I thought Livestrong was a brilliant idea. Then everyone had them. They were everywhere, which is simply a testimony to how great the idea was.

I even got one. It said “courage” on it. I actually got it from Taco Bell for 25 cents from a vending machine. My son, who is four always gets two quarters when we go to Taco Bell and he didn’t have a clue what it was. He just knew it wasn’t the Ninja guy he wanted. So he gave it to me. I wore it for a while because I like what it meant. I liked being reminded of the idea of courage. Unfortunately it was cheap (what do you expect for a quarter) and broke after about a month. I threw it away and didn’t think about it for a while.

And then a good friend of mine gave me a ONE bracelet. I believe in the One Campaign and what they are doing for social justice and fighting poverty. The ONE bracelets are made really well and they are white. I put it on and that was that.

So yesterday when I saw this guy in line I began to think of why I wear the bracelet. It has now been over 9 months that I’ve had it on and I have thought about the question before. Did I wear it because I wanted to make people aware of ONE.org? Yeah, a little. Did I wear it because it makes a cool statement about who I am? Not really. Did I wear it because it looks cool and everyone is doing it? No.

I wear it because it reminds me that we are part of the human race. We are God’s creation first, connected together. I am called to love and be loved in community. The bracelet reminds me of that. It reminds me to remember those less fortunate than myself. It reminds me to love my neighbor and to be part of the solution.

That’s why I wear the bracelet.

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So I’m watching this commercial for a company that provides “cash” loans that you “call” to use their services. It’s a stupid commercial but it was live on my DVR so I had to sit through it. And then the fine print comes up. And it says,

“The APR for a typical loan of $2,600 is 99.25%.”

That’s right folks. 99.25%. That highway robbery. And you know who is going to call on stuff like this? The poor, the elderly, the widow. That’s right, the people who can’t afford to pay for it but who are so desperate they have no other option.

I get pissed when I see this crap.

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