December 19, 2008

Protesting the Jailing of a Muslim Woman in GA

Earlier this week in Georgia, a Muslim woman was jailed in Douglasville for refusing to remove her head scarf. In response to this incident of religious discrimination, a group of us from Candler decided to hold a small peaceful protest outside the Municipal Court. I think we got their attention.

ACT: Contact the Mayor of Douglasville to express your concern about Ms. Valentine's expression of religion freedom being violated.

September 8, 2008

Facebook in Reality

Facebook--changing the definition of friendship:)

Snippets...

As reported in the Emory Wheel, the shuttle drivers have their first union contract and received their first ever paid holiday on Labor Day. It is sad that we can be so oblivious to the conditions of workers in our community.

John Deer, a Catholic priest and peacemaker recently suggested "The Only Diet for a Peacemaker Is a Vegetarian Diet." But if you're not ready for that perhaps you could just eat less meat. The top UN climate scientist has suggested that people should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming.




Daily Show: Republican Hypocrisy

This entire episode had me laughing hysterically. In the segment Stewart shows back to back clips of conservative politicians and media issuing contradictory statements.

September 7, 2008

C. Hitchens Waterboarded

After personally experiencing waterboarding, Christopher Hitchens concludes, "If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture." (Vanity Fair)

Healthcare Ad & Campaign

Healthcare for America NOW! is a bold new campaign advocating for a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all?
ACT: Sign up and donate.

Music: Derek Webb

Is voting for who you like the lesser of two evils? If so, is it an action worth doing?

Film: Ordinary Radicals

From Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw's Jesus for President tour comes the documentary, Ordinary Radicals. As they write in the book, "This is not the old-time religion of going to heaven; this is about bringing heaven to the world."

July 8, 2008

Snippets:

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has scored another labor victory. "Burger King has agreed to pay an additional net penny per pound for Florida tomatoes to increase wages for the Florida farm workers who harvest tomatoes."

In West Virginian people will be able to get more bang for their buck when they shop for food. The state has now cut the food tax in half.

Because of Democratic Senator Jim Webb and others, a new GI Bill was passed and signed into law. The legislation provides substantially better benefits because the old GI bill was outdated.

The US Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo prisoners have the right to challenge their detention at the US military base in civilian courts.

Despite improvements in domestic nutrition programs, the recently passed Farm Bill failed to reform farm subsidies. Thanks for trying President Bush.

The House passed an updated and compromised FISA bill. The debate over telecom immunity will continue in the Senate today.

A report released by the human rights group, Physicians for Human Rights, reveals that former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured.

In her new book and this interview, Professor M. Gigi Durham discusses the corporate media's sexual objectification of girls and how to help young women fight regressive media messages.

Chris Satullo suggests "we deserve no Fourth this year" in his newspaper column.

The Office: Japanese

AIPAC Pandering

In this clip Stewart claims that a real debate about Israel is only acceptable in Israel. Based on my experience in the US and in Israel I would say his comments are fairly accurate.

With regard to Obama's pandering at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he did at least offer some suggestions to Israel.
“Israel can,” he said, “ease the freedom of movement for Palestinians, improve economic conditions in the West Bank, and to refrain from building new settlements — as it agreed to with the [President George W.] Bush administration at Annapolis.” Inter Press Service

If Obama is elected, I hope that he will be able to critique the harsh violence of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

July 7, 2008

Short Film: Strangers

"Strangers depicts the unlikely duo of a young Arabic and a Jewish man who must put aside their fears and predisposed hatred toward one another when confronted with an even greater threat, a gang of skinheads.

This short film by Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv really sheds some perspective on tensions between Arabs and Israelis, considering how both still face an incredible amount of prejudice and violence in Europe and elsewhere throughout the world." Alternet

Film: Promises

Before I left for the Middle East I watched the documentary, Promises. The film taught me a great deal about Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It also caused me me laugh, despair, and hope.

You are welcome to borrow the film from me

Cluster Bomb Treaty

In May over 100 nations approved a cluster bomb treaty ban.
For more on the story & on who didn't sign the treaty watch this video.

Dangerous Ground is a commercial that depicts what life would be like if Westerners could not walk on the ground due to landmines and unexploded cluster bombs.

ACT: Ask all the presidential candidates to commit to sign the global cluster bomb ban.

Hannah's Lunchbox

Kevin was one of several incredible lay persons who joined me and 29 other seminarians in our Middle East Travel Seminar.

His family was recently featured on CNN and the Today Show for their project, Hannah's Lunchbox. I hope you will be inspired and challenged like I was by their story. I refer to it in my column.

Music: Nick Cannon

One day at the United Methodist General Conference I attended a luncheon that featured a former abortion clinic owner. As the speaker told horrors stories from her experiences and spoke passionately against abortion I was moved. But I was also disturbed as she basically characterized all pro-choice advocates as being pro-abortion. I came away believing even more strongly that the extremism on both sides of the abortion debate is detrimental.

I believe I am apart of the moderate majority that is pro-life, but against the criminalization of abortion. If we are to effectively reduce abortions in America, we must find ways for persons who are pro-life and pro-choice to work together.

Nick Cannon's song below is a powerful testimony of his own personal experience with the issue. While you may not agree with the message he is conveying, I hope you'll take a listen.

Cartoon: Democrats


Quote: Bobby Kennedy

40 years ago Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. May his words continue to inspire us to do what is right, even when the work is difficult and seems insignificant.

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
University of Cape Town, June 6th, 1966

New Social Creeds

The United Methodist Church (UMC), the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), and the National Council of Churches (NCC) have all written new social creeds.

I am proud to be a United Methodist because we retained the previous social creed and set the new social creed to music. This will hopefully enable the social creed to be used regularly in worship services.

Social Sin

What can one family do to help end poverty and hunger in Africa? They can do a lot if they sell their house and give away half the money. That is exactly what Hannah’s family eventually did through their project, Hannah’s Lunchbox. In a video about the project Hannah explains what got things started: “There are always homeless men sitting at [that stoplight] holding up signs and begging for food. And right in front of us there was a Mercedes. And I looked at the guy in the Mercedes and I said, “You know, if that guy didn’t have such a nice car, the man over here could have a meal.””
Hannah's words reminded me of the quote I came across in college that challenged me immensely: “Live simply that others may simply live.” This quote makes a claim that individual life choices affect the livelihood of other people. For me it also makes a value judgment that says, there is something not right about living beyond the necessities of life while others lack the necessities to live. This realization dawned on me in my experiences with the poor in Peru. Hannah realized it through serving the poor at a food bank in Atlanta and because of the disparity she saw between a man begging for food and a man driving a Mercedes.

To understand that we play a role in affecting disparities is to recognize how our individual decisions directly and indirectly impact other people. From there we can accept responsibility for the welfare of others. My faith tradition teaches me that all persons are my neighbor and my brother or sister. When our actions, even inadvertently, cause harm to our friends, the beggar downtown, or the struggling widow around the world, I believe we sin. That does not necessarily mean we are bad people, but it recognizes that because of our interconnectedness--what we do matters.

This is also true because we are apart of and participate in a variety of systems and institutions. In 18th century England one of those systems was slavery. In the 1791 pamphlet, An Address to the People of Great Britain, the author argues that if persons “purchase the commodity” of sugar they “participate in the crime." The same logic applies our financial support of governments, churches, and corporations. If governments, churches, or corporations we support engage in practices that oppress, exploit, and/or harm others, (which they often do) we too bear part of the responsibility, and thus part of the guilt. If we are silent or complicit in the harm that the institutions cause we all even more to confess to God and to our community.

I am define sin as that which distances us from God and/or our neighbor. The “that” which I refer to can be either an act or a condition, both of which feed off of the other. Social sin occurs when we fail to love our neighbor as a community or fail to love our neighbor through our participation in institutions that cause harm. Often this takes places because of naivet’e or apathy. These sins of omission are also apart of social sin. On a practical level I think the fact that Hannah saw a homeless man is an indictment of the man with the Mercedes and the community.
I do not know whether Hannah or her family were ever thinking about sin. However they decided to live differently and to give up their former ways. Their personal decision to reside in a significantly smaller house will have a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of African people. Their willingness to sacrifice for something greater than themselves inspires me to do even more to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

May 10, 2008

Colbert in Space

Stephen goes intergalactic when he makes contact with a Hero floating in space. Enjoy the delayed laughter.

Myanmar Cyclone

Myanmar is finally accepting more aid to help the victims.
This isn't getting nearly the press the 2004 Tsunami did. One article suggested the death toll might even surpass that of the Tsunami.

Every hour of this relief operation is precious to saving lives.
ACT: Please donate to one of the relief organizations.

Climate Change PSA

Al Gore continues to impress me with the leadership and momentum he has provided to fight global warming. If he can bring together Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson, then I think we just might be able to care for creation.
Learn more at http://www.wecansolveit.org/

May 9, 2008

50 Shots: Sean Bell

In November of 2006 Sean Bell was shot and killed by NY detectives.
Recently three police officers who were indicted were acquitted.

Al Sharpton is leading protests calling for justice.
While I understand the need for Obama to distance himself from “angry black men,” his silence at injustice disturbs me.

This excellent video from Max Blumenthal takes us to the streets of Queens, where New Yorkers vent their rage against the Sean Bell verdict.
(Warning: graphic language)

US Planned Torture

ABC News has uncovered that the Whitehouse planned “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture). Video report. (CrooksandLiars)

As always, Jon Stewart reveals American hypocrisy with truth and humor.


On a related note, Amnesty International has just released another video showing American torture.

Puppy Mills

Oprah did a great special about Lisa Ling's investigation of puppy mills.
One of the saddest moments was watching a rescued dog struggle to walk on the floor since it had spent its entire life in a wire cage.

I found this moving and informative video on YouTube.
ACT: Please consider a donation to Main Line Animal Rescue

Loving Your Mugger

NPR recently featured a unique and inspiring story called "A Victim Treats His Mugger Right."

You can read or listen to it here.
(Thanks Jen)

FAA Inspectors

You know your government is screwed up when the very agencies meant to put safety over profit, put profit over safety.

FAA whistleblowers testified to congress that the "agency views the airlines as its "customers" instead of companies to be regulated."

You can learn more in this CNN video report.

SD Hogfarm Protest

"The Yankton Sioux Tribe of Marty, South Dakota is fighting Longview Corporation's construction of a hog facility on non-Indian fee land within the reservation, which will produce over 70,000 pigs annually. In two weeks since April 15th, 38 Tribal members were arrested by state law enforcement while peacefully blocking construction on a BIA road. Most tribal members are opposed to the construction and are unaware of any consultation with the tribe for environmental permits. One Native American was injured when a skid loader rammed into him as he and others blocked the earth moving equipment. Tribal members are protesting at the site seven days a week and report that construction is also still occuring seven days a week, even on Sunday. The people are praying that their attorneys will be successful at seeking an injunction to prevent the further construction of the hog farm." (REZNET)

Healthcare Systems

PBS Frontline had a great show examining different healthcare systems.
While perhaps no system is perfect, it is clear that American can improve.

Watch a preview below and the full show, Sick Around the World here.

MLK Assassination

Watching CNN's special on MLK, "Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination," was saddening and disturbing. America misses you Dr. King.

Did you know that the FBI sent King the note below?

"King, look into your heart. You know, you are a complete fraud and a greater liability to all of us Negroes. White people in this country have enough frauds of their own but I am sure they don’t have one at this time that is anywhere near your equal. You are no clergyman and you know it. I repeat that you are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that….King, like all frauds your end is approaching. You could have been our greatest leader….But you are done. Your honorary degrees, your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done….The American public, the church organizations that have been helping–Protestants, Catholics and Jews will know you for what you are–an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done.
King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significance). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation."

Film: Jailing Immigrants

Some haunting stories have come out recently about the treatment of detained immigrants. Clouded in secrecy, many immigrants have been caused harm or denied basic care.

"Some non-U.S. citizens detained by the government for violating immigration laws are kept in rat-infested, cramped detention centers, fed noxious food and denied basic hygiene items such as clean socks and underpants." (NPR)
One story from the New York Times is about the death of Boubacar Bah, a tailor from W. Africa. After Mr. Bah overstayed his tourist visa, he was taken into a private immigration detention center. As the result of a possible accident and staff negligence, Mr. Bah died. The details of what happened are very disturbing.

-At 8:00am Mr. Bah collapsed and hit the back of his head on the floor. Intracranial bleeding begins.
-Assuming Mr. Bah was faking his injury, he was written up and put in solitary confinement for yelling and regurgitating on the floor.
-He was locked up all day.
-At 7:10pm a guard noted that “he began to breathe heavily and started foaming slightly at the mouth.”
-The nurse notified by the guard rejected his request to come check on Mr. Bah.
-At 8:00pm it was suggested that Mr. Bah receive a mental health exam in the morning.
-At 10:30pm the nurse noted Mr. Bah’s condition: “unresponsive on the floor incontinent with foamy brown vomitus noted around the mouth.”
-“Just before 11, someone at the jail called 911.
-A few days later Mr Bah died in a hospital.

In Texas some women have been raped at a detention center.

In the midst of all the inhumanity, a film like The Visitor, reminds us that we are not so different and that we all deserve to be treated with respect.

Updates:

Death Penalty
With the Supreme Court ruling allowing lethal injection and Georgia's decision to execute William Lynd, the death penalty is back in motion in America. Nevertheless momentum towards abolition continues.

Zimbabwe
Election officials in Zimbabwe announced that no candidate received 50% of the vote and thus there is not a winner yet. The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has just agreed to a runoff election.

Second Chance Act
President Bush has signed the Second Chance Act, making rehabilitation a central goal of the federal justice system.

Burger King
"Farm worker advocates sought to present more than 80,000 signatures to Burger King officials urging the fast-food giant to...help boost the wages of Florida tomato pickers and improve working conditions in the fields." "During a Senate hearing on the issue earlier this month, lawmakers called for an investigation into Florida tomato picker conditions."

Animals
"Last week, the Colorado legislature passed landmark legislation to phase out gestation crates and veal crates. When Governor Bill Ritter signs the bill -- which he says he'll do -- Colorado will be the fourth state to prohibit gestation crates and the second to prohibit veal crates."

WMC Peace Award
Sister Helen Prejean, spokesperson and advocate against the death penalty has received the 2008 World Methodist Peace Award.

Gen.Conf. Sexuality

I had the privilege of being able to attend the 2008 United Methodist General Conference. One of the major issues discussed was human sexuality. The church’s current stance states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. This position has excluded some persons from marriage and ordination.


While I struggle with these issues, I have found myself increasingly sympathetic to persons excluded from the church and to their claims that God has called and gifted them. When petitions came forward in 04 and 08 to change the language in a way that would allow us to agree to disagree, I was supportive of the change.

The heart of this year’s petition to the Social Principles read as follows, “We know that all are God's children and of sacred worth; yet we have been, and remain, divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality. Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness.”

This petition passed the committee but was killed on the floor as dinner approached and precious time was wasted on amendments. With no debate on the actual petition itself, the minority report, which basically maintained the church’s original position, passed 527 votes to 423.

Again and again in my own experience and in the testimonies of others, journeys towards new perspectives on inclusivity take place within the context of personal relationships. When you do not know a gay person it is much easier to exclude them. But when you become friends with someone whom you see God actively at work in and through the totality of their identity, denying their calling to ministry becomes a bit more difficult.

Eventually I believe we will see changes made in the church. While protests and hermeneutical debates may play a role, I believe people are most commonly and most effectively transformed through encountering the Spirit of God moving in persons whom they might not have chosen. May God’s Spirit guide us.

April 6, 2008

YouTube Awards

The 2007 winners of the YouTube Video Awards have been decided.
One of my favorites is sure to pick you up if you're having a bad day.
Laughing Baby is the winner of the Adorable category.

SNL: Obama & Race

Hillary may have Tina Fey's support, but Tracy Morgan is behind Obama.
His comments on race and racism are spot on and hilarious.

Obama's Speech

If you haven't seen Obama's speech on race yet I urge you to watch it.
It is worth all 38 minutes of your time.

I believe his articulation and explanation of the frustrations held by different people groups can help improve our nation and our world.

I've got more to say about his comments in my editorial.
For the video and the transcript click here.

April 5, 2008

Fox News Porn

Originally I wasn't going to use this video from Brave New Films,
but after seeing the trashy coverage on Fox about Eliot Spitzer's lady friend I decided that more people need to know how obscene Fox News can be.
"News on Fox looks like a video game, full of bluster, blondes and blaring graphics." (Time Magazine)
Warning: This video is pretty graphic, but it's all from Fox News.
ACT: Contact Fox and their advertisers and tell them that you're sick of this crap.

Tent Cities in LA

American media have covered the mortgage crisis fairly extensively.
However, this short clip from BBC News reminds me again why they are better.
(Crooks and Liars)

Save the Seals

The hunt for 275,000 seals has begun again in Canada.
While crushing their skulls is supposed to cause immediate death,
many seals suffer multiple blows and some die slowly.
ACT: Sign the Pledge to boycott Canadian seafood.
ACT: Donate to the Humane Society to support their work.

Victim of Torture

"An innocent man held as a terror detainee for years tells Scott Pelley, in his first U.S. television interview, how Americans tortured him in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo Bay." (60 Minutes)

Even after authorities believed he was innocent, he was held another 3 1/2 years when new charges were fabricated.


Winter Soldier

Iraq Veterans Against the War recently sponsored Winter Soldier.
Barely covered by the mainstream media, Winter Soldier was an event for U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to share eyewitness accounts.



And I realized that I was supposed to be guarding my unit from this detainee, and at that point I realized I was guarding the detainee from my unit.” (Mike Prysner)

Wal-Mart vs Debbie

Thanks to CNN, Wake Up WalMart, and others, bad publicity and public outcry caused Wal-Mart to change their policy towards Debbie Shank and withdraw their lawsuit.

Music & Film: War

Bill Moyers interviewed Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro about their documentary, Body of War. The film depicts the story of Iraq war veteran Tomas Young. Young was shot and paralyzed less than a week into his tour of duty. Watch clips of the movie and the interview here. (Thanks Cody)

Inspired by Tomas Young's story, Eddie Vedder wrote "No More."
It's included in Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran, a two-CD compilation featuring songs handpicked by Young. Sale proceeds from the record will benefit Iraq Veterans Against the War.


Below is the trailer for the film.


Healthcare Proposals

"The proposals put forward by the current Democratic candidates for president, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, will improve the situation...But the major problems will remain unresolved, including the problems the candidates have referred to during their campaigns. People will still experience incomplete coverage, and many millions will continue to be uninsured and underinsured." (Vicente Navarro)
ACT: Tell Congress to support single payer healthcare.

Zimbabwe's Election

The opposition party in Zimbabwe was stopped by police from filing a petition with the high court to have the election results released.
Now Mugabe's party has "demanded a recount and a postponement of any announcement of the final tally."
ACT: Pray for peace.

Updates

A US federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence imposed on Mumia Abu-Jamal.

"The court said Abu-Jamal's conviction for murdering a Philadelphia police officer should stand, but that he should have a new sentencing hearing."
(BBC News)

ACT: Sign the petition to save Mumia.

Troy Davis was almost executed in July. In March the Georgia Supreme Court turned down an appeal for a new trial for Troy Davis.

ACT: Contact the GA State Board of Pardons and Paroles


Glenn Edward Chapman was released from a NC prison after a judge found that investigators covered up evidence showing his innocence. Chapman was on death row for 15 years.

The Supreme Court has ruled against Bush's attempts to abide by the World Court. Several dozen Mexican citizens who had been sentenced to death in the United States had not been given the assistance from Mexican diplomats that they were entitled to receive under an international treaty. (Thanks for trying George)

In case there is still some confusion about the link between Al-Qaeda & Iraq, a Pentagon-sponsored study has confirmed that there was no link.
Darn lies that got us into this war.


The voices of the people have been heard. The House's version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill that was passed does not include telecom immunity.

Events

SD Bread for the World Workshops
April 7, 7-9pm @ Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Spearfish
April 8, 7-9pm @ Morrison Commons, Augustana, Sioux Falls

Interfaith Worker Justice
Seminary Summer Internship
June 8th-August 15th (Apply Now)

N.T. Wright
April 23, 7:30pm @ White Hall 208, Emory University

United Methodist General Conference

Fort Worth, TX April 23-May 2 (website)

Angry Preachers Part I

After watching Obama's speech on race I was eager to see the media's reaction. I couldn't help myself to see what Fox News was saying. While several guests and reporters had positive things to say, generally the people were clueless about the nature of prophetic preaching and annoyingly critical of Obama's speech and his associations with Rev. Wright. Even Fox 's own Chris Wallace criticized the continuous Obama bashing. (Thanks Cody)

As I thought about my own reaction to the speech I found myself impressed and inspired. His words were words that needed to be spoken and they are words that need to be heard. It wasn't a perfect speech however, and one shortcoming was the sharp distinction he made between Rev. Wright's generation being angry and following generations being hopeful. (Thanks Kim)

Obama claimed that Wright was mistaken because he was angry, distorted reality, and "spoke as if society was static." Part of Obama's comments resonated with me: "That anger is not always productive...[it] prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change." I've seen that anger, not just in Rev. Wright or other African-American preachers, but in conservative and liberal white preachers, and in people.

Is anger an appropriate emotion for preachers to preach with or for Christians to feel? I am angry that police shot and killed an old woman in Atlanta. I am angry that children are raped and bought as sex slaves. I am angry that we spend trillions on war while people die of hunger. When these feelings of anger are combined with the "belief that society can change" things are gonna happen. I believe Obama was mistaken to basically suggest that young people don't have anything to be angry about and that anger contradicts hope. There is much to be angry at and anger can prevent people from being apathetic. When that anger is combined with the willingness to do what is right, progress can occur. Augustine writes, “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage. Anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

My critique of Obama's comments does not mean that I support or reject Rev. Wright's comments. But I do understand Wright's remarks and I believe the anger behind them is legitimate. I will return later to the prophetic nature of his comments and their tactfulness and appropriateness. For now, the lingering question in my mind is this: Is what we say and do grounded in love?

March 8, 2008

Haka (Past)

New Zealand vs Scotland in Rugby

Cartoon: Oppressors


Torture Talk

This video makes me want to laugh and cry.
Seriously, how did things get to be so screwed up?

March 7, 2008

SNL Hillary

While I'll lean towards Obama, I have to admit that Hillary has grown on me.

This clip from SNL's "Weekend Update," takes a new look at Clinton's perceived weaknesses.

Confronting a Killer

In confonting her sister's killer, Whitney Davis brought me to tears.
Watch her courage as she struggles with grief, hate, forgiveness, and anger.
For more on the details of the case click here.

Beef Recall

Some of you may have heard about that massive meat recall.
In case you were wondering what prompted it, watch this video.
ACT: Contact Congress to stop the slaughtering of injured cattle.

Stop Horse Slaughter

TX and IL recently closed the last three horse slaughtering facilities.
But horses are still being taken to Mexico and Canada to be killed.
ACT: Tell Congress you don't want horses to be slaughtered.

Peace in Kenya

After nearly 1500 persons were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, Kenya's leaders appear to have reached a peace agreement.

ACT: Pray that Kenya's peace and unity will be lasting.

Mental Health Parity

The late Senator Paul Wellstone fought for health insurance coverage of mental illnesses.
His dream has cleared a major hurdle in becoming realized:
the House of Representatives passed the "Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act."

Union Victories

After three months, the WGA has ended their strike. Their new contract ensures that they receive a portion of the revenue from online television shows and movies.

Shuttle drivers at Emory also scored a victory in voting unanimously to join a union.

They hope to see positive changes in "salary, health benefits, pension options and overall treatment. " (Angela Holloway)

Film: The People Speak

Some of you may be familiar with Howard Zinn.
This is a project he's working on to bring to film the voices of those that are often silenced or forgotten.

Events

Winter Jam Tour (Details)
March 15, 6:00pm @ Philips Arena
$10 @ the Door (Newsong, Skillet, Barlow Girl)

Hunger Justice Leaders (Bread for the World)
All-expense paid leadership training
June 14-17 in Washington, DC.
Apply by March 15th

Candlelight Vigil sponsored by HealthSTAT
March 25, 7:00PM @ Grady Hospital
“Cover the Uninsured Week”

Urban Mission Conference
April 1-2 @ McAfee School of Theology
$19 for Students (Schedule & Registration)

Vegetarian 4 Jesus

During my first year in college I decided to become a vegetarian for Jesus. That’s not what I said, but it’s essentially what I did. As I rediscovered Jesus in the life of John Wesley and the faces of the poor, loving God and loving my neighbor took on new meaning and new primacy in my life.

It was in the midst of this new creation being brought to life in me that I decided to become a vegetarian: a week at first, and now going on six years (minus those soups that weren’t supposed to have ham or bacon).
In recent months we have seen several animal rights issues being raised. And the consensus, or at least the majority opinion is that we shouldn’t hurt whales with our sonar, we shouldn’t slaughter sick and injured cattle, we shouldn’t slaughter horses, and we shouldn’t allow dog fighting.



What criteria determines which animals we can kill for our benefit? How do we decide which animals are lucky enough to be worth saving and which animals are unworthy of life? As a Christian, I cannot make such distinctions, except in cases where human life is at stake or the quality of animal life is at stake.

For me to follow Jesus, to walk in the way of love, to love God and neighbor also means being loving. As I seek to be a loving person, to kill or eat animals runs in contradiction to my identity. Though the wolves, lambs, cattle, bears, children, and snakes do not yet live in the harmony that Isaiah depicts, I will try to do what I can to live into that new creation.

February 11, 2008

Dog vs. Balloons

Cartoon: Details

How much time do you waste on the details?
I'm not sure I even want to know. (Link)



February 10, 2008

Gloves Off

These two clips highlight the ridiculousness of our media. While news can probably never be purely objective, I think American news companies could learn a few things from BBC News.

The Race Card

While I think Stewart may have downplayed Clinton’s comment somewhat, his critique of the media’s exploitation and distortion of the comment is dead-on.

MLK & LBJ

Responding to Clinton’s comment about King’s dream, Bill Moyers and Jim Wallis shed some light on how that dream came to be realized. Video below. (Transcript)

“But it was King, not Johnson, who had painted a vivid picture for the world to see that changed the winds of public opinion and made a voting rights act now possible." (Jim Wallis)

Music: Yes We Can

This simple and repetitive song keeps inviting me to replay it.
Even if Obama wins, I'm sure there could be a "No We Didn't" remake someday.
Nevertheless, I'm optimistic and I'm hopeful--YES WE CAN!

Gaza's Supply Run

“The streets were packed, and people were bringing into Gaza everything from soap and cigarettes to goats, chickens, medicine, mattresses and car paint.” International Herald Tribune

As I read about the wall breaches into Egypt I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the persons coming to the US illegally are also doing supply runs for their families.

Gun Legislation

Despite strong support from many Virginia Tech survivors, a bill requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows failed to pass the state’s Senate.

ACT: Support the Brady Campaign’s efforts to close this loophole through Congress.


Letter to Martin

Reflecting on his annual “A Letter to Martin,” Bishop Woodie White told me that “We are not where we want to be, and we are not where what we should be, but thank God we are not where we used to be!”

As we push forward in all causes, I pray we'll never forget where we used to be.

Quote: Torture

Senator Ted Kennedy: "Would waterboarding be torture if it was done to you?"
US Attorney General Michael Mukasey: "I would feel it was."
(Yahoo News)

Events

United Methodist Day of Love and Justice
February 11, 10:00am-1:00pm @ GA Capital (Details)

More Jesus

I recently emailed a few people about my spiritually moving experience at the most recent PsalmWriters event. As I compared that experience of contemporary & traditional, personal piety & social justice, with my experiences at seminary--I found myself wanting more Jesus from Candler. The other night my cup was overflowing; at Candler my spiritual vitality is usually sucked out of me. It's not that extreme, but you know what I mean.

During the last couple of years I have tried to hold evangelism and social action together. I'm apart of the Candler Evangelical Society and the Social Concerns Network. But at Candler it seems like Jesus only represents why we should care about the poor and work for justice. When it comes to Jesus being someone who we should tell the world about and someone who is intimate with humanity, liberals cover their ears and cringe.

As evangelicals broaden their social agenda, I wonder if more liberal institutions might get left in the dust. Nicholas Kristof recently wrote, “Today, many evangelicals are powerful internationalists and humanitarians — and liberals haven’t awakened to the transformation.” (NY Times) In an article about his new book, Jim Wallis, one of the catalysts of this transformation, argues that “the evangelical community is changing dramatically to include issues such as poverty and pandemic diseases, environmental care and climate change, trafficking and human rights, genocide, war and peace.”

I realize Candler does do many things, after all we hosted Jim Wallis last year. And its students are making a difference in Atlanta and in the world; but isn’t there much more we could be doing? Might a greater evangelical witness, an emphasis on personal holiness, and more Jesus in our seminary result in more faithful Christians leading more faithful ministries?

January 6, 2008

JibJab 2007 Review

Cartoon: Bush Library

Waiting for the Guards

This short video from Amnesty International reenacts a CIA-approved "stress position." If it looks simple, imagine being forced to do it for hours in secret prisons. The Justice Department is currently investigating interrogation tapes that were destroyed.

January 5, 2008

Film: Rendition

For the Hollywood version of how we're treating suspected terrorists watch Rendition in February. If you're looking for facts, watch the Frontline documentary, Extraordinary Rendition. (Thanks Cody) Click here for more information about extraordinary rendition.

NJ Ends Death Penalty

After passing both houses by a slight majority, Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation to end the death penalty in New Jersey. "It's time New Jersey got out of the execution business," Democratic Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo said. "Capital punishment is costly, discriminatory, immoral and barbaric. We're a better state than one that puts people to death." (MSNBC)

Hopefully this will provide some energy to build the national movement towards abolition in the United States. There is also momentum building globally as can be seen in the "United Nations General Assembly nonbinding global moratorium on the death penalty that was approved in December.

Quote: Desmond Tutu

"Whoever imagined that you would hear from the United States and from Britain the same arguments for detention without trial that were used by the apartheid government."
Desmond Tutu

Cigna vs. Nataline

Nataline Sarkisyan, age 17, died just hours after Cigna reversed its decision not to pay for a liver transplant. Her story of tragedy and injustice and the stories of so many Americans should inspire us to fix our broken healthcare system. Michael Moore may be a crazy nut to some people, but his film SiCKO was of vital importance in this struggle. Change is going to happen.

Telecom Immunity

Chris Dodd has been the leading force to ensure that the phone companies do not receive immunity for assisting the government in illegally spying on Americans.
ACT: Email your Senator or call a member of the Sen. Judiciary Committee.

FCC Consolidation

Despite public outcry during their community meetings, the negative effect on small businesses and minorities, the FCC voted 3-2 to loosen rules on big media.
ACT: Tell congress to overturn the vote.

Best Democrat

Just before the Iowa caucus Michael Moore published an article on which democratic presidential candidate is best, based on the issues.

I guess if I didn't have reservations about a candidate, they would probably never get elected. Whoever does get the nomination will probably get elected in 2008; I just hope that they do not completely sell out to corporations and the military.

Updates

Children's Healthcare
After vetoing SCHIP twice, President Bush has extended children's health insurance for another year. Efforts to expand the program will have to resume next year.

Farm Bill
The Senate has passed a version of the farm bill. There are some modest improvements, but farm subsidies have remained largely in tact. To Bush's credit, he is threatening a veto because it does not cut subsidies enough. Evidently this is connected to cases pending against the US with the WTO.

Events

Interfaith Children’s Movement of Metropolitan Atlanta (ICMma)
January 8, 6:30pm @ Druid Hills UMC

Georgia Progressive Summit
January 11-13 @ Clark University
View the schedule online

A-Bomb Exhibit & Survivor Talk
January 12, 3:00pm/4:00pm @ 11:11 Teahouse
753 Edgewood Ave NE, Atlanta

Invisible Chapel Screening (GALEO)
January 15, 7:00pm @ Agnes Scott>Evans Hall

Atlanta King March
January 21, 1:00pm @ Peachtree & Baker

God Loves That Guy

In the midst of finals I was impacted greatly by two events that occurred. First was the debate in the New Jersey Assembly over the death penalty. Glued to my uncomfortable computer chair, I excitingly watched the live streaming video of the legislators debating the merits of the death penalty. While I am extremely pleased to see this accomplishment in New Jersey and in America, I am still troubled by the words of one of the speakers. Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow kept insisting that the the men on death row were monsters and not even worthy to be called human.

The second event that has stuck with me is an Andrew Peterson Christmas concert I attended. Featuring several musicians, Andy Gullahorn played a song called "That Guy." Not only was this song different than just another Christian song about falling in love with Jesus, this song had a hard message. The lyrics challenge people to love like God loves, including the guy who blows himself up, the guy who commits adultery and suicide, and themselves.

It wasn't until a few days later when everything sort of hit me. From the comments from the legislator, the debate over water-boarding and torture, to my frustration with my president--God loves all of those people and we are to love like that. We are to love the suicide bomber and the B-1 bomber pilot, the abortion clinic doctor and the abortion clinic bomber; we are to love all people because that is what Christ taught and because everyone is created in the image of God. Can you hear the words of Raul Julia, playing Oscar Romero, yelling in prison at the torturers, "WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS! WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS!" Sometimes I think God may be shouting, "THOSE ARE MY CHILDREN! STOP HURTING THEM!"

I hope you'll watch my video below featuring Andy Gullahorn's song.