Insight from Uganda Via the Vogts

I think Via the Vogts will become a regular series here on the blog. The Vogts, Chris and Rebecca, are two dear friends of mine who are spending a large part of this year in Uganda learning, growing and preparing to serve in a land far different then the one they came from. They’ve already sent a number of very long email updates sharing some of what they have been learning. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit and thought I’d just quote a tidbit from their latest email. They talked a lot about some of the superstitions of the Ugandan culture, and then they lent some insight into the USA world view:

As Americans it’s pretty easy for us to see how silly it is to believe that excrement turns into children. We know that feverish chills and convulsions are symptoms of malaria and isn’t some evil spirit within a person. We know that giving money and food (essentially what a
sacrifice is) to the “rain god” won’t really bring rain. It’s easy to see because we don’t believe in those things. However, when we talked about the American or Western worldview some of the things we believe are just as silly – especially to the Africans who don’t believe them.
They are a lot harder for us to see but dramatically affect each of us whether we realize it or not. I’m not going to bash Americans here, we get bashed enough by the rest of the world, however I do want to point out one thing. The center of human secularism, democracy, capitalism, even our military power all point to Man. Let me explain.
Our military power is used for what – to protect ME. MY ideals. MY money. MY children. Democracy – MY vote. MY rights. MY choice. Capitalism – If I pursue maximum gain then society will develop. MY land. MY money. MY profit. MY self-interest. The center of all this is ME. I am definitely NOT saying that I prefer oligarchy, anarchy, or communism and my Grandpa and Dad were in the military. There is a TON of good in these things, but that’s not the point. The fact that our society revolves around ME greatly influences us and who we are as Christians. It even affects our view of God. I’m not going to extrapolate it further…but it’s important to think about because
we are also in bondage to money, our image, job, etc and unless we discover the center, we won’t be truly free here on earth either.

Thanks Vogts for sharing your experience with us and helping us to grow and expand our world view here state-side.

If you think about it pray for the Vogts:

* View of God would be enlarged and our relationship with Him deepened
* Our marriage – it’s hard to find time alone together when living in such a deep community
* Our health – This is a very real request here as infection and disease are common

Where does your Recycling Go?

For those who live in Nashville, here’s a short little video explaining the recycling process.

I’m really excited that we’ve finally started recycling at Mosaic. I don’t know why we didn’t sooner. I guess I just figured digging the paper programs out of the trash after the service was easier then pushing my agenda.
I’ve also seen quite a few friends start recycling which has also been really encouraging. It’s one of those things that I think we should just be doing.

Recycling is Biblical: Part 1 and Part 2

5 Minutes of Darkness

I just heard about this great idea that a group in France is trying to promote. Today, February 1st, the French Friends of the Earth, has asked:

everybody in France to shut down all lights at February 1 between 19h55 and 20h00 (Paris time). 5 minutes in the dark to call attention of citizens, media and decision makers to the wasting of energy and the urgency to pass to the action. 5 minutes of respite for planet: that isn’t a long time, that does not cost anything, and that will show to the Presidential candidates that climatic change is a subject which must weigh in the political debate.
Why February 1? The next day a meeting is planned of the intergovernmental group of experts on the evolution of climate (GIEC) of the United Nations. This event will take place in France. (from houtlust)

I think this is a brilliant, easy, statement making idea. I’m not sure of a date, but it would be really neat to promote, through the blogosphere and elsewhere, a national 5 Minutes of Darkness in the USA. Sending a message to our neighbors, the congress, presidential candidates and the UN that we too care about conserving energy, fuel and consumption.

Now if only we had a cool logo…

Stories of Creative Non-Violence

My brother sent me this link to a news story you knew I would enjoy. It’s a great story for plenty of reasons:

  • The story shows a creative way of engaging one you might consider your “enemy”
  • Instead of the common first reaction of justice through police involvement, Pan chooses an alternative that results in a better outcome for both her and the thief
  • Usually our stories and news portrays criminals and enemies as robotic in their thinking, not human; This story shows even criminals are human, with real hurts and abilities to change

I’d love to continue to collect stories of non-violence here. So, if you find any other stories let me know and I’ll post them.
I posted another story a while back that showed pacifism at work.

A bit about News and Creative Communal Information

I’ve mentioned this before, but I figure it’s worth mentioning again. This week I had over five people email me links to news articles they thought I should read. I haven’t had a chance to get to them until now. I really like the idea of sharing news with others and I think it’s important that we value each others opinions enough to read them.
I subscribe to the blogs of every person that I know of personally, and I do my best to read what they write because I think it’s important to value and be interested in the opinions and thoughts of one another.

What Next: A Memoir Toward World PeaceBack in 2003 I read a book called, What Next? by Walter Mosley. It’s a great little book with some practical examples on ways to work towards a peaceful world. One thing Mosley mentions is the importance of staying informed. His suggestions for doing this is to start a reading group (this is before blogs became popular). Basically you find about 3-4 other people who are interested in collaborating. You might have a similar value system, but I don’t know that that is necessary nor necessarily ideal.
Basically within your reading group you’d each chose two or three magazines, news sources, blogs, etc. that your in charge of reading, and then bringing to the group the 2 or 3 most important pieces of news from those sources. This allows you to collectively stay informed on multiple issues and areas without spending your whole day reading up. It’s a good idea, and I think it’s actually being accomplished to some degree with blogs.

In addition to reading the blogs of friends, I find here and there, blogs of others of whom I value their way of thinking, their opinion on world issues and their awareness of the world. It’s those sources that I usually learn about world events and situations, even more so then traditional news media.
I read something once that said all Christians need a Bible and a Newspaper. The Bible is to know how to pray, the Newspaper is to know what to pray for.

How are you keeping up with what’s going on in the world?

Why Isn’t Church More Like a 12 Step Program?

Below is the 12 Step program (originally for alcoholics):

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

1. We admitted we were powerless over ________ – that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Mindy and Bryan were having a conversation a while back about the 12 Step Programs and how church would probably be a much more fruitful and beneficial activity if it functioned more like a 12 Step Program. If you read the steps above they seem like a perfect path for Christians, new or old in the faith, to begin their journey. Many come to faith not as alcoholics, but as chocoholics, shoppoholics, greedy, materialistic, selfish, self-righteous, adulterous, deceptive, pious, gas-guzzling, uncaring, you pick your vice.

Could you imagine if church services where less about one message for all gathered, and more about embracing each person on their journey of faith?
I wanted to start a “Pharisees Anonymous” group at our church that would meet about 45 minutes before the service started. Folks would come together, and acknowledge their shortcomings. We would confess to one another scriptures that we were aware of that we were struggling to follow, and we would encourage one another to continue to journey. No finger-pointing, no judgment, but not a lot of “feel happy” puff yourself up stuff either. I’m thankful I live in a community that does that, now I want to spread it to the church.

Anyone else interested in starting a 12 Steps group?

At Least Mindy has Great Handwriting


Doctors’ sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 people annually. It’s a shocking statistic, and, according to a July 2006 report from the National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), preventable medication mistakes also injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually. Many such errors result from unclear abbreviations and dosage indications and illegible writing on some of the 3.2 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. every year.

vandy nursing studentYou would think that thousands of deaths would be alarming enough to institute some sort of major changes into the medical field and prescription business. Anyone have any great ideas?

At least I know Mindy has great handwriting. When she’s a practitioner she won’t be killing people at the stroke of a pen.

(ht. Derek)