Impacting Documentaries. Learn. Live.

I’m hoping to get a movie series going at our house that will encourage us and other’s onward toward action about important issues we might not currently know about.
I really hope the movie series will be endorsed by Mosaic where I attend on Sunday’s as well as getting the word out a few other places, but we’ll see what happens.

For now, I’m trying to pick some movies. Here’s a long list of ones I’m interested in showing. I’d like to just pick ten so I can do it on a every other week basis for about 20 weeks.

  1. An Inconvenient Truth
  2. Crash (Widescreen Edition)
  3. Sometimes In April
  4. Hotel Rwanda
  5. Tough Guise
  6. The Corporation
  7. The Boys of Baraka
  8. Born into Brothels
  9. North Country (Widescreen Edition)
  10. Killing Us Softly
  11. Life And Debt
  12. POV: Lost Boys of Sudan
  13. 30 Days - Season 1
  14. Bowling for Columbine
  15. Why We Fight
  16. Fahrenheit 9/11
  17. Another World Is Possible: Volume 2 - Poverty
  18. Another World Is Possible: Volume 1 - War
  19. Another World Is Possible: Volume 3 - Creation
  20. Murderball
  21. Fast Food Nation
  22. Chavez: Inside the Coup
  23. Super Size Me
  24. Color of Fear
  25. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

What would be your ten from that list? Or do you have other suggestions?

Live “a dollar above” the Poverty Line

This was a discussion that started with some friends of mine at Wheaton College our senior year. If your interested in some of the history of the discussion here are some links: My first post on it, Nate’s follow up month’s later (including a lot of discussion in the comments), Another Nate post and discussion, finally here is a related post by me from March.
You can skip those and I’m going to write my thoughts on it below, hopefully touching on everything of importance from the previous discussion.

2006 HHS Poverty Guidelines

Persons in
Family or Household
48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $ 9,800 $12,250 $11,270
2 13,200 16,500 15,180
3 16,600 20,750 19,090
4 20,000 25,000 23,000
5 23,400 29,250 26,910
6 26,800 33,500 30,820
7 30,200 37,750 34,730
8 33,600 42,000 38,640
For each additional
person, add
 3,400  4,250  3,910

SOURCE:  Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 15, January 24,
2006, pp. 3848-3849

An important clarification needs to be made about what I’m about to suggest. This is not an attempt at sainthood, or some “holier than thou” type of living, rather it is meant to be very simple and practical. As a member of the human family, and more specifically as a Christian, I think there are certain guidelines by which we should try and live our lives. As a society we already have some standards in place through governmental force (speeding) and simple public consensus (think making noise during a movie, cutting in a line, etc). The idea of living a dollar above the poverty line is simply another attempt at putting before us some sort of standard to live by.

The choice of the national poverty line was a simple one. Though we didn’t all actually discuss the choice of the national poverty line, it is the guideline we as a society have accepted as the indicator of poverty. It is a simple line, if your annual income is below that amount you are considered “in poverty” and you are eligible for certain help. If you have one dollar above that amount in your annual income you are NOT poor and we as a society agree you have the financial resources you need.

As a Christian I think there is a good case for us to not take more then we need (maybe like the manna in the desert), and to use what we have been given to contribute to the needs of those around us. That being said, we should probably be thinking about a guideline for ourselves to determine how much meets our “needs.” In a society of more wealth and resources then we’ve ever imagined, it’s hard to even admit that there might be a line below “whatever you can afford” by which we should live. I believe we as a church should be having this discussion together. And I believe that the national poverty line is a good guideline to start with.

So, I believe strongly that effective immediately, we should begin to try and live by the standard of one dollar above the poverty line. For my wife and I that means $13,201 a year. A monthly budget of about $1000.
Mindy and I have made series efforts throughout our marriage to make lifestyle changes to live within that amount. We’ve had roommates for a number of reasons, but one of them being the financial necessity of staying within our budget. We thought through and planned out a budget we try to stay within to make that budget possible. In all our attempts though, we still fall far short.

First, if you include the cost of Mindy’s college tuition, we are no where near a $1000 a month budget. The reality is anyone living at our nation’s poverty line will have a difficult time moving past that if they can’t afford an education. We also couldn’t have simply purchased a decent car last fall when ours broke down. Though we’ve made an effort to adjust our budget to accommodate the cost of the car, and a couple plane tickets home for Christmas, the reality is that if we truly didn’t have more then a poverty line income, we couldn’t make those large purchases when we needed to.

Second, the recognition of our inability to “survive” at the poverty line puts us in a compelling position to take political action. What that probably means is that you need to give your senator a call and tell them you believe the minimum wage and the poverty line should be raised. You should let your congress person know that you tried living near the poverty line and it just wasn’t possible without some extra help. And I guess if your not political, you could at least set-up an appointment with your pastor and tell them about the gap between those trying to survive and the places they can go to meet their needs. Forget politics for a second and we’ll come to the real meat of this post, the ability the church could have for good if we started living by a guideline that meets our needs and then meets the needs of others (rather then our own wants).

Can you imagine for a minute a church that adopted that sort of expectation for it’s members? In the same way many churches spend their efforts convincing their congregation that they should outlaw gay marriage, it would be refreshing and amazing to see pastors encouraging their congregations to radically change their current lifestyle. Imagine a church with doctors and school teachers, CEO’s and janitors all choosing to live at a standard that meets their needs and giving their extra resources to meet the needs of others. Shouldn’t we as Christian’s dictate our cost of living more as a group within the churches we attend than by the income we make?

This is meant to be an ongoing conversation. I haven’t set in stone this dollar amount as a standard for myself or others, but I believe their should be one. So let’s have the discussion, and let’s decide how we should live.

“Missions Cruise” an oxymoron?

Does this strike anyone else as an oxymoron? I went to Cancun once, and saw the real life that the people of that land live, so I recognize that there are plenty of people in the Bahamas that our in poverty, and have physical needs that should be met.
A cruise though? It seems to be quite in conflict with the idea of meeting the needs of the people. Seems like two steps forward, three steps back.
It’s also disappointing to see all the musician’s and speakers willing to join in this disgusting display of privilege. Starting at $695 per person, I wonder if anyone is going to be raising support for this mission trip from their church.

Anyone else remember this story?

h.t. cottage print works

let’s talk about race

From Reappropriate:

[referring to argument’s that say if someone didn’t intended to be racist, then it is not racist]
These types of responses emphasize the majority-centric view that most people have towards racism. When intent reigns supreme, then the problem with racism is not about the victim of the racist action, but the perpetrator and their intent. This outlook on racism only benefits the oppressor, who no longer has to consider the victims of his oppression. Not surprisingly, it is the same people who belong to the majority who perpetuate this self-interested treatment of racism.

Racism does not occur in a bubble, but exists as an ongoing history of racism in America. When Michael Richards made his “fork up the ass” joke at the Laugh Factory, the racism was not that Richards actually wanted to find a Black person and stick a fork up his ass, but because this paralleled a racist American history that included numerous instances of popularized lynchings. The fork metaphor (i.e., equating a Black person with a food item) futher referenced the characterization of lynchings as Bar-B-Q’s.

Similarly, Rosie O’Donnell’s use of “ching-chong”-ery occurred amidst a history of oppression against Asian Americans and Chinese Americans in this country, which had already included use of “ching chong” as a form of degrading and dehumanizing Chinese people.

You should definitly read the rest of this blog post at Reappropriate.

I do think we do make too big a deal of situation’s like Rosie and Michael Richard’s making insane and racist statements. Let me be clear, I believe these issues and situations are big deals and need to be addressed. I’m also grateful in an odd way, for such big celebrities to do such racist things, because unfortunately, it seems like that’s the only way most common folk end up talking about these things.

So, I think we need to make less a deal of racist comments by celebrities, and start making a big deal of the comments, jokes, and structural injustices around us that discriminate on race or gender.

Video Links (Warning, many use inappropriate and racist language):

What I’ve been up to… Homelessness Awareness

It’s been a busy week, really busy.
Mostly it had to do with my job, which I can’t really blab about here (I’m not in the FBI or anything, but it’s still confidential). It’s been stressful and tiring. So tiring in fact that when I had a day off on Friday I slept for 12 hours.
Mindy also just left town to go and be with her family in Minnesota. Her sister will be having a baby any day now.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with things since Mindy left also.

  • posted and sold some books on Amazon
  • Cleaned up around the house
  • Saw a film entitled The Invisible America about Nashville Homeless
  • Helped prepare food for the Homeless Memorial with Food Not Bombs
  • Attended the Homeless Memorial
  • Went Hiking and caving in a couple state parks.
  • Went to see the play Shelter at TSU, extremely moving show about Homelessness.
  • And today, I’m going to go to a church, play some soccer, and maybe find something else fun to do in the evening.

    More writing to come too, I promise.


just FYI, people seemed to be having trouble with the new theme so I reverted back to this old one, which I like at the moment.

I also updated to Firefox 2.0 which you should do as well.

It’s fabulous.

The Very Resistible Revolution

Tonight, it’s Wednesday again, and for the past many weeks we are supposed to have a Book Study on the book by Shane Claiborne called the The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. It’s a great book, and it was instrumental in three of our community (meaning the people I live with: Daniel, Josh and Chris specifically) members decision to radically change their life and join our little community venture in Christ-like living.
Anyways, back to the book study. The book study is part of Josh and Daniel’s church, it was one of many community group options this fall at their rather large church. It started off great, with about 8-10 folks signed up to come (plus those already at our house), and for the first night most showed up. Some even showed up for the second night and a few stayed around to the third or fourth. But then things seemed to drastically drop off.
Maybe it was the decision’s to put down our books for a couple Wednesday evenings and help a women in the church’s neighborhood fix up her house that had been ransacked by area drug dealers. Maybe it was conversation about giving up your stuff, stopping our rampant consumerism, or loving Jesus by loving others to the point of real sacrifice. Maybe it was when Shane’s book started talking about war, or hanging out on the streets with homeless folks, or throwing money out on Wall Street to declare a jubilee.

Whatever it was, it’s caused us in the community to think a little about the decisions we’ve made. We’ve realized the revolution is extremely resistible. Not many people want to talk about a faith that requires more of us then we are willing to give. That includes me. It’s a lot easier for me to resist the revolution when I surround myself with others who will acknowledge with me that there is no revolution, or if there is we are already a part of it, without making much change in our lives.

All that to say, I’m quite thankful for my community, they are leading me into the revolution whether I try to resist or not. Is your community doing that for you?

Become a lender, make a dream come true.

I just gave a loan to this lady, NANCY PEREZ TORRES.

You can click on Nancy’s picture to read more about her, but basically I had the great opportunity to join with 4 or more other people in supporting Nancy’s entrepenuership business in Mexico that is run by her with the help of her husband and sons.

This wasn’t a handout, it was a loan, one I except to receive paid back in full in about 6 months or more. There is no interest on the loan, and there is the slight risk that the loan won’t be paid back. I guess that’s a risk you take when your loaning money, seems to have worked for the banks and credit card companies. Seriously though, it’s amazing that I can loan money I have available to someone to help their dream come true.

Now for some explanation. Kiva is a new micro-financing organization that is harnessing the power of the of the internet to help bring the basic service of bank loans to many around the world that don’t currently have that service available to them.
Think for a moment what you would do if you lived in a place without banks. What would you do with your money? Imagine not having access to loans. Most couldn’t drive the car they have, live in the house they do, or have the job and college education they’ve received without being given a loan.

Kiva is not a charity, but it is a great opportunity to bring justice and basic dignity to many in the world who have dreams and have lacked the resources to fulfill them. Kiva also has had a 100% return on their loans to hundreds of entrepenuers.

I learned about micro-financing in college and thought it was a brilliant concept, but one that couldn’t be entered on the very grass roots level for your average person in the U.S. trying to do something good. Now, Kiva has made that possible.

So, stop sitting on that $1000 you got in the bank! Start giving out some loans!

Goodbye bloglines, hello google reader and Spam

Another brief technical update for folks.
I decided to switch RSS readers today. There are a couple reasons for this.

  1. I don’t like having to log-in to multiple sites, and seeing as a use gmail when not at my home computer, using google reader seems like an easy step.
  2. Google reader has a number of nice features, easy starring, easy sharing and more. This will help me quickly browse the things I’m interested in reading and tag them to read at a later date. Hopefully thus saving time.
  3. Because of the sharing feature, I might stop letting list of “items to blog about” from piling up and instead just direct you to my shared items list for insight into the latest things I’m reading about. (Visit here)

Also on a technical note, some folks have been having problems commenting on posts on my site. There are a couple reasons for this.

  1. Do to the semi popularity of my blog, and mostly just because it is on the internet, it is susceptible to spam. Becuase of that I’ve implemented a few spam blockers to catch the 3105 and counting spam messages that have shown up on my blog.
  2. Some of you have been written off as spam. I’m sorry if that has happened and I’m trying to find a way to “whitelist” people so that we don’t run into that problem, but I haven’t found it yet.
  3. The other reason as some have noted for the commenting problems might be an incompatiblity with my new design. Just so everyone knows, I host this blog myself and do the coding and html on my own too (the design is usually borrowed from elsewhere). I’m not an expert and sometimes I don’t know how to make things compatible for everyone. For now your best option would be to: Get Firefox.

Please do me a big favor if you’ve had problems commenting and send me a message through the Contact button up top. I’d really appreciate it. I have visitors coming to this site everyday and I’d like to make it as user friendly as possible.