Prisoners Fight Fires: Is This the New Slave Labor?

The Star Tribune had a very positive article in the paper:

“More than 3,000 trained prisoners are earning $1 an hour, and time shaved off their sentences, for helping fight California’s wildfires.”

The article was extremely positive, interviewing an inmate and how he’s benefited from the experience, as well as well as the department of corrections who point out that it’s “saving state taxpayers an estimated $80 million per year.”
What’s not discussed or addressed, is whether or not the very act of prison labor is ethical. I don’t know if I’ve written about this before, but John Perkins mentioned it a few times at CCDA and it renewed my passion to talk about it.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world with 1.6 million of our citizen’s in prison. It also so happens a disproportionate amount of those prisoners are minorities, you need only look at those exonerated to realize that prejudice and injustices in the system has placed many innocent people in prison as well.

Prison’s are becoming privatized and prisoners are being used to provide sweatshop labor to produce millions of dollars worth of goods for little to no benefit of their own. There is something wrong with that.
We’ve traded a system of blatant slavery for one that fits into our parameters of ‘justice’ and appears on the forefront as appropriate. It is not.


YouTubesday: Random Interestingness

I came across a very interesting video on a new friend‘s blog the other day, and I wanted to post it for YouTubesday. However, It didn’t really relate to anything I’ve been talking about and I don’t have other videos to go along with it. So, in an effort to be completely un-unified and chaotic, here is a short collection of five videos, with no relation to each other or this post necessarily.

Recommendations and NaNoWriMo

I don’t have anything profound to say today (like most days I guess). I did want to mention a few things I’ve been reading lately. But, first if you weren’t aware of my ‘Required Readings‘ page, you should check that out. It’s not complete, but basically I’m trying to construct a list of books, movies and sermons that would be part of my required reading list for Trying To Follow 101. The goal is for the list not to be overwhelming long, so it’s a work in progress. Anything you think I should add?

I’ve actually gotten myself on a roll reading books, which I hope to continue. I finished With Justice for All by Jonathan Perkins last week, which I would highly recommend if you know nothing of the CCDA philosophy. I also just finished Freakonomics, which I found extremely interesting and entertaining. I’m almost done with Divided by Faith which sheds light on the racial divide in the evangelical church. I had started reading the third Harry Potter book, but stopped because I think it falls into the ‘Redemptive Violence’ category that I’m trying to avoid for at least a year. Not sure what’s next on my list just yet.

And finally, I have a big decision to make. Thursday starts the month of November, which is also known as National Novel Writing Month. Each year a large group of people attempt to write their own 50,000 word novel. I’ve always wanted to write a book, though fiction seems difficult I also think I’d really enjoy doing it. Inspired by Zach’s writing last year, I’d like to give it a shot. However, it would probably mean I write little to nothing on the blog for that month. It’s a busy month, but I might be able to pull it off. I’m thinking I’d write a fiction story about what I think a church really following the teachings of Christ in the USA would look like. I think I’d also write it in a public space (maybe a google document) so others can read it as I go. Or, I guess I could just write it as blog posts each day (would that be overwhelming?).

That’s about it from here. I’d love to hear your input.

Q&A with Momma T

Q: How do you find rich people then?

A: I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely
inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I
don’t say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I
find that poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more
difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

Devotional: Storing Up Treasures

I wanted to lend a little more context to this passage that I have seen as we read through the sermon on the mount. The passage I’m talking about is:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:18-21

First of all you have to notice it’s a dichotomy. “Do Not…But…” If Jesus wanted to put a disclaimer in I think he would have, and if he wanted to say you could do both at the same time (treasures on earth and in heaven) he would have said it differently.
But, I’m still a little skeptical so some more context will help.

Jesus has already said some life changing, paradigm shifting, wealth challenging, irrational (by our logic), sacrifice-requiring types of stuff. And remember this is all in the same sermon…


“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. -Matt 5:42”


Love your Enemies and pray for those who persecute you. -Matt 5:44


“But when you give to the needy…” -Matt 6:3


Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…But woe to you who are rich, for your have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” -Luke 6:20,24,25


Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. -Luke 6:31


But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” -Luke 6:35

So, just to recap, you’ve got Jesus telling folks to give to anyone who asks, he even tells us to lend to our enemies (talk about an unwise investment). He exhorts you and I that are riches will be our only comfort, and points us to the poor who have been given the kingdom. This is the Jesus who says do not store up treasure on earth.
My bike has been stolen multiple times and every time I think of this passage, and I have to question whether I was storing up treasure on earth were at thieve DID break in and steal.

Oh, and just in case you think Jesus might not really be saying “Do not store up treasures on earth” read the next passage. In case your thinking, but obviously Jesus doesn’t want us to be irrational and not store up for this or that…


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Questions about Missions

I figured rather then write, I wanted to ask some questions. I’ve had a discussion recently concerning short term missions and I wanted to hear some of my readers opinions. I’m curious what everyones take is on the issue of short term missions, global missions, western missionaries, etc. So, here are my questions:1. What do you think about short term missions? Do they do more harm then good, or vice versa?

2. Have you heard of indigenous missionaries? If so, what do you think of them?

3. On a Biblical level, what do you think a typical (U.S.) Christian’s role is as it relates to the ‘Great Commission’?

4. Do you think ‘Western’ Missionaries bring more ‘colonizing’ then they do ‘evangilizing’?

I know these might be leading questions in some ways, but I wanted to give an indication of the angle I’m looking at them from. Feel free to disagree with any or all, or critique the premise. I’d just love to hear your thoughts.

Any questions for me?