Josh Experiments: Challenging Excess, Eating on $1 a Day

Josh BrownExperiments in living that step us out of our normal life experience can be invaluable tools. I think they are the sorts of things that begin to help us question our current lifestyle. One Josh writes:

It’s a shame that as a culture we are so used to excess that we don’t even recognize it anymore.

And it’s a shame that I’ll probably wrestle with this decision for another month. The entire time talking about ethics and Jesus and taking the moral high road. Feel good about myself. And then break down and buy it.

I’m a hypocrite.

It’s an honest struggle and these words connect with a lot of us, as they are things we rarely even dare to think out loud or acknowledge. For Josh, it’s this sort of pondering that led him to give up this. I am so happy to see Josh make a decision like this because I really believe it will free him up to focus on and be willing to challenge other areas of his life and choices. I am excited about were this new freedom and balance will take him.


Another Josh, contemplated this:

I remember reading somewhere a few years ago about someone who tried to eat off of a dollar a day in order to gain some type of understanding of what (I’ll say a majority again) of the world’s population goes through in regards to that key element of survival, eating. I don’t remember much about the article, but I began wondering if I could do that. Wondering led to doing some calculating and strategic thinking, which led to this post. Day 1 of $1 a day. I have four weeks of training left. My goal right now, is to make it through the next four weeks on $1 a day for food, (Monday through Friday, I go home on the weekends, and will try to keep it up, but won’t make my wife and kids go through it too). That doesn’t mean I won’t eat food that has been provided for me without cost to myself, (for example, we have a snack table everyday at our training session that is free, but more on that in another post), and I still have a few leftover groceries from last week that will help me for a few days.

In his first entry a few days later he chronicles what he’s been eating thus far, including a excessive snack table at his training, and concludes:

I make light of this, mostly because of the ridiculousness of excess. I am grateful for my friends and their willingness to share. (I’d like to add here that I have not yet solicited any food.) I have been truly blown away at how much more we eat than we really need to. I also realize that hanging out with others who are not trying to live off of $1 a day, has benefited me. I am well aware that living amongst others in a similar predicament would have different results. I have other observations and other thoughts that I will continue to process and post later.

I really appreciate both of these guys and the way they are willing to challenge their current lifestyles. I don’t have any notion that by eating on $1 a day Josh knows the experience of those in the rest of the world, but one can appreciate his attempt to try and connect on some level, most of us rarely even go there. As always, I assure you Josh will have some valuable insights from his experience and I do believe his eating habits and lifestyle choices will be better for it.

Update: The Jena Six Need Your Voice!

UPDATE (7/28/09): Two years later, here is the results of the Jena Six trial. Mostly a victory.

I mentioned the Jena Six when they first appeared in the news and that post has had more hits this summer then any other. A lot of people are interested in what’s going on, and I felt the need to update you, by way mostly of quotes from other blogs and news outlets. First, if you know nothing about the Jena Six, this short news clip should catch you up.

Watch Part Two here.Here’s the most recent news, via While Seated:

Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena Six to face trial, was found guilty of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same on June 28th. A comprehensive look at the case, the trial and the verdict was published on July 2nd at friendsofjustice. Plus, Democracy Now did a full story.

Jack and Jill Politics also gave a comprehensive look at the situation, including interviews with the parents of the victim in the case.

There are a lot of ways to get involved. The Daily Kos has a list of representatives to call and the link below has multiple Actions for you to partake in.

Action Updates

Flashback: Why the Sermon?

A while ago I wrote a series called considering church, and discussed the Sermon:

I’ll be honest I like listening to a good sermon every now and then. I could list a few of my favorites for you; at some point maybe I’ll even provide links to mp3’s of sermon’s that really moved me. There is also a good bit of Biblical support for sermons. Jesus seemed to like to sermonize it up every so often; my personal favorite is the “Sermon on the Mount.” Paul had quite a few lengthy sermons, and the first thing Peter does once he has the Holy Spirit is give a sermon. The word “Preach” shows up in the NIV 123 times (according to Biblegateway). Paul even goes off about the Rights of an Apostle in I Corinthians 9 (which is probably where we get our justification for having a paid pastor). The idea of a weekly meeting for a sermon probably comes from one of my favorite passages Acts 2:42-47.

So by now your probably thinking my goal was to answer the question presented in the title: Why the Sermon? Your maybe even a little bit convinced, or you’ve at least added some Bible verses to support it. So if that’s all you wanted, stop now and read no further.

I still wonder “Why the sermon?” If we are going to follow the Acts passage we should be meeting together daily, and also going to each others homes and eating together; we should be selling our possessions and sharing everything in common. And maybe our pastors should even be doing miraculous signs.
If we are going to hear out Paul’s words to the Corinthians then maybe we should also be advocating for more circuit preachers. Maybe we should stop the calls for money and just be giving it.

 Read the original post and comments here.

What if We (the USA) Left Everyone Else Alone?

Note: Remember, this is just an out loud brainstorm. I’m eager to engage in discussion, but please don’t come on too strong as this isn’t a statement of beliefs I hold strongly, just a “What if?” to make me think a little more.

USA FlagWith approval rates low and mumbles of impeachment here and there, there’s few people in support of the current President and maybe even fewer in support of the war. The main face of the USA that people around the globe see is either Bush on a TV somewhere or a military person stationed in their country. We have more military around the globe then many other countries combined.
On top of that, our benevolence in foreign aid mostly goes to buying military weapons for our allies, and the little that goes to actual humanitarian work doesn’t outweigh the illegitimate debt we require back from the same countries we are giving aid to.

So, I wonder, what if we just quit? In economics class I once heard the term “lifeboat” economics to describe the idea of us not helping other countries, that if we did help them our lifeboat would sink, so instead we just need to look out for our own, and keep our lifeboat to ourselves. I wonder sometimes, if that would be so bad.

What if all of our military worldwide, packed up and moved back to the states? What if any Multinational Corporation that did business in the USA had to move it’s factories (sweatshops) back into the borders? What if we gave up on holding illegitimate debt over the heads of third world countries? What if we stopped our environmental hazards and dumping on the rest of the world? What if we stopped giving aid and sending PeaceCorps volunteers?

Would the rest of the world survive without us? Would it all go up in flames and anarchy? I’ve wondered about it recently, and I’m currently leaning toward ‘the world is going to be okay.’ I’m starting to think we do more harm then good with our superpower and privilege. We definitely do some good, and for those out there doing good in the world on behalf of the USA, I don’t mean to take away from your work.

What do you think? Would the rest of the world survive without Washington’s watchful eye and strong hand to hold things together? Do they need us?

My Secret Goal is to have a 4.5 Acre Footprint

Global Footprint
I’m not special. I happen to be just one of the six billion people that live on this planet. Whether your religious or not, the way I see it, we are all part of the human family, one great big, interconnected, multi-generational, inter-cultural, spread out, and fairly dysfunctional family. But, I’m not special, I’m just one more member of the family. It’s only fair that I share equally with the rest of the family, this great big planet that we live on. Above is a picture of my ecological footprint. It’s an improvement from how I was living last year, but still double what I’d like it to be.

I know it’s not right to make laws about things like this, but I don’t see why we as people aren’t a little more shameful of the way that we live? I mean if I took the 4.5 acres that were for my brother and hogged his plus mine, and a little of my sisters land all to myself, just so I could eat as I please and travel as I wanted to. People would scoff at me. Why is it then that nobody will probably ever call me out on my choices regarding this?

(ht: Josh) By the way there is a great conversation in the comment’s section over at Josh’s blog.

How Big is your Eco-Footprint?

Video Wednesdays? Maybe.

Well, one thing I’ve done a lot more of lately is watching videos online. It’s about the most engaging thing to do late at night with a baby in one hand, the lights out and access to a mouse with the other. I’m finding video and the powers of technology are set to be an incredibly powerful tool in the years to come. Awareness can be raised about issues by anyone with access to a camera and a computer with the internet. I figure it would be nice for me to share some of the media I’ve come across, so you don’t have to waste your time browsing along. Possibly a weekly thing, I’ll try and post at least one or two videos I’ve come across that I found interesting and engaging. And, sometimes I’ll post one I just thought was funny. I might post some political bits, but just know, it’s only cause I found it interesting, not intending to brain wash you to one political side or the other, I don’t necessarily hold the same values or political leanings as the videos I’ll post links to. So, here’s a few for you to enjoy today.

Since we are advocates of breastfeeding around here, I thought this was an interesting PSA (Public Service Announcement) on the topic.

I’ve mentioned Shane Claiborne quite a few times on here recently, so maybe you won’t mind hearing him again. This video is actually put out by Zondervan, the publishers of Shane’s book and others. I’ll post some of their other videos later. For now I thought an audio piece of Shane’s book read by him might be worth a listen.

June Comment Love: New Mom and Baby Kit

Mother and ChildI’m not sure how much money was raised through Comment Love in the month of June, I do think it was close to $30, which is worth an applause for you. If you don’t know what Comment Love is, basically it’s an opportunity for you to raise (out of my pocket) $0.25 for every comment you make at Trying to Follow. Each month we’ll decide on a charity to give the money to and every comment will earn a quarter toward that cause (up to $40 normally).

Since June involved a new Mom and Baby in my life, I thought I should spread the joy and excitement to another mom and baby through World Visions Gift Catalog. Here’s what your comments are donating to:

Many mothers in countries like Angola, Romania, and East Timor lack the basic supplies they need to properly care for their newborns. Your gift will give a child a safer and healthier start in life — and help his or her mother breathe easier. You’ll provide essentials such as a bassinet, diapers and diaper pins, a blanket, a storage container for clean water, a baby bathtub, and soap. Pregnant women attending prenatal classes will also be trained in hygiene and how to properly use these supplies.

The donation was a little more then what we raised, but I figure it’s worth it. I’m definitely thinking in baby mode now, which might influence future posts, and donations as well. Please continue to comment, and encourage conversation on all the topics we discuss here.

I had a poll going for were to donate and it was a dead tie between Kiva and World Vision, so will let it be the deciding factor for July. Vote Now:

I’m a Guest on the Nick and Josh Podcast

The Nick and Josh Podcast

Remember Josh, the guy I did the CRM (Corporate Responsibility Mondays) with a little while back? Well, him and his buddy Nick host a pretty popular podcast aimed at the “emerging” crowd. They’ve been on again off again, but always enjoyable, and with lot’s of interviews with “popular” folk. Anyways, Nick is heading to join an intentional community in Geneva called Shema, and is hoping to garner support through the podcast listeners, thus desiring to make the show a regular weekly event. Here’s were I come in.

As long as I can quit mumbling, I might have a chance at a regular monthly gig on the Nick and Josh Podcast, sort of a weekly exclusive were Josh and I will continue our conversations on Corporate Responsibility and discuss ways we are changing our lives to fall more in line with our values.

The first episode (that I’m in) mostly just involved us both chatting a little about what brought us to the point we are currently at and what we’d like to see happen through the podcast in the months to come. I’m not sure what it will end up like, maybe it will one day become the Nick and Josh (and some guy named Ariah) Podcast, but for now I’m happy with the honor of an occasional guest spot.

Enjoy the Show…

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Things that Made me Happy This Weekend

This won’t be a long post, nor will it be all-inclusive. There are a lot of things to be happy about, my beautiful wife, beautiful community, friends, food, family, the list goes on. Two, though I thought worth of touching on this late evening.

I might be biased, being a married person myself, but there is something very beautiful about weddings. I don’t think it’s the pretty dresses, fancy tux or sparklers, it’s something about the commitment being made. It’s true, are society (Christian and not) doesn’t seem to take the marriage commitment too seriously, with such a high divorce rate, but it shouldn’t diminish from those that make that commitment.

I’ve been married four years and 17 days. It’s not that long, so I don’t have grand experience or wisdom to speak from. I just know that life without the willingness or opportunity to commit to someone seems, well, selfish. Our friends, Curt and Beth were married this weekend, they committed their lives to one another and that is a powerful thing.

I can’t even begin to describe both the joy and heaviness I’ve felt spending time with my 11 day old child. It’s joy and awe to look at her and think that I have some how played a small role in her being here, and I will continue to play a role raising her. At the same time I feel a heaviness at the thought of the responsibility of raising another human being, teaching her, loving her, caring for her.  It’s a task I believe, with grace, I will be able to handle, but I pray I don’t lose sight of the seriousness of that task. I’m so grateful for a community of friends and family around me to support me in raising my daughter.

Flashback: What Would You Do if?

It’s the age old question of pacifist, last January I gave my spin on it:

It’s the typical question that get’s asked of anyone who declares themselves a “pacifist.”

What would you do if someone was attacking your family (loved ones)?

It’s the magic card up someones sleeve to stump that said pacifist into agreeing that sometimes violence, and war, is okay and necessary. I’ll be honest this was a difficult question to handle when I first started thinking about pacifism. What made it difficult was the passage we talked about previously, “Love your enemies…” What suddenly happened was that now both the attacker and the victim are my loved ones. It’s like having to change the question to:

What would you do if your wife was attacking your father?
(or pick the two people closest to you)

Now I’m not so sure killing the attacker would be my pat answer. If I love that person I certainly wouldn’t want their death. I love the victim though as well and I don’t want them to die, so the situation is now far more complex then the original question presented.

For me, this question simply confirms to me that thinking as a pacifist, or rather, thinking about what to do with ‘killing’ not being one of the options.

So, What would you do if…

See the discussion that ensued here.