Beautiful Weather, Stuffy Noses and Oprah

This is mostly a personal update. The weather has finally been beautifully nice up here, but the kiddo and I have been sick the whole time so we haven’t gone outside to enjoy it. Today, hopefully, we finally will. The sickness is mostly to blame for the lack of substantive postings, as well as some fun games of Scrabulous.

But, the real news is this. My friends, Daniel and Amanda, community members from Nashville, are going to be on the Oprah show today. So, find your TV mid-afternoon and enjoy. It’s channel 4 at 4pm here in Minneapolis. Check your local listings.


They’ve already got some great pictures and quotes on the Oprah website for you to check out.

Newlywed Freegans

Freeganism and Christian Values

YouTubesday: Skid Row Kids and Saved For Compassion

YouTubesday is going to be slim today, mainly because I have three videos I’d strongly encourage you to watch, and they are a little bit longer then most.

GOOD Magazine has been making some amazing videos. Particularly this one fits well with much of the topics on this blog, it’s about Skid Row in LA. There are two videos here, the first an intro to Skid Row, the second, particularly about kids on the street. If you have to watch just one, watch the second one below.

Kids on Skid Row

(ht. gathering and compassion)

If that was the intro, this is the conclusion. This video is about 15 minutes, but well worth a listen. Shaun Groves is a musician from Nashville who sees his music opportunity mostly as a channel through which to promote sponsoring kids through Compassion International. It’s awesome to see his unwavering commitment. And he keeps a pretty quality blog too. Here’s a little mini sermon called Saved For…

Book Review: The Other Side of the River, by Alex Kotlowitz

I read The Other Side of the River this week. It was a really good book, recommended by my friend Jennie. It’s written by Alex Kotlowitz the author of There Are No Children Here, which I read in 2003 before serving in Atlanta with AmeriCorps. Both of the books where excellent.

I’m not sure exactly how to review The Other Side of the River since it’s basically a story. It’s Non-fiction, regarding a real life incident and it follows interviews and research done by the author. Here’s the back cover synopsis:

Separated by the St. Joseph River, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor are two Michigan towns that are geographically close, yet in every sense worlds apart. St. Joseph is a prosperous lakeshore community, 95 percent white, while Benton Harbor is impoverished and 92 percent black. When the body of Eric McGinnis, a black teenage boy from Benton Harbor, is found in the river, relations between the two communities grow increasingly strained as long-held misperceptions and attitudes surface. As family, friends, and the police struggle to find out how McGinnis died. Alex Kotlowitz uncovers layers of both evidence and opinion, and demonstrates that in many ways, the truth is shaped by which side of the river you call home.

What I thought about long and hard while reading and after finishing was who I might recommend a book like this to. Reading the Afterword of the book, it was really encouraging to see that through the telling of this story and the different perspectives, the people (real life people) seemed to recognize the division there was between the towns and have begun making slow steps toward understanding. But, I wonder if this book, those who are affected and challenged by it (both readers and those personally involved in that town), are mostly those who were already open to the questions and challenges that the book raises.

What I mean is, those who find that this book and others like it challenge their stereotypes and open their eyes to the racism that exist in their society and even in their own lives, are those who are already open and willing to have those things challenged. For those who aren’t open to the challenges, I wonder if a book like this simply reinforces their stereotypes because they ignore the parts that would challenge them and focus their attention and memory on the parts that reinforce the stereotypes they already believe. The jury is still out on that one.

This book takes place in the 90’s, it is not decades old. The attitudes of the people, the racial divisions, the misunderstandings, these are not new occurrences or even all that rare in the United States. When we live, continually isolated geographically from people who are culturally different from us, there is an extremely high probability we will misunderstand each other.

Economy Stimulating Giving Spree (Coming This May!)

Alright folks, the Giving Spree is on it’s way. Here’s the basic idea: Take your rebate check that you receive in May and do follow the purpose of spending it to stimulate the economy, but do it in a unique way, give it to meet the needs of others! Here’s some ideas:

  • If your a teacher, or care about students, books and supplies for kids that need it.
  • If you care about the environment purchase CFL light bulbs and give them away to people.
  • or Purchase fair trade cloth bags and give them to people at the grocery check out.
  • Take a homeless person asking for food out to a fancy restaurant, and order dessert.
  • Host a Pizza Party in the park where lots of homeless people hang out.
  • Buy Fair trade chocolate bars and give them away to people at a bus stop.
  • What’s your idea?

If your interested in participating then click the link below and sign the pledge. The hope is to use a pledge to build some momentum to the Giving Spree. You are free to give money away even if we don’t reach the pledge numbers, and your also free to give away all of your rebate check. But either way, sign the pledge!

Sign my pledge at PledgeBank

The description of the pledge reads:

Recognizing that the Economic Stimulus rebate checks we will receive in May sole purpose is to be spent to help stimulate the economy, we are willing to follow through, but not as expected.

In a prophetic statement against the rampant consumerist culture that we live in, as a declaration that more money and capitalism will not save us or our economy, and as a statement to those around us that we follow Christ’s teachings (Matt. 23) and the only true hope is through him,

We will take a large portion of these government issued checks and begin a ‘Giving Spree’ to meet the needs of those around us, pressing, important and immediate needs.

(if you think I should edit the text of the description in anyway, let me know.

Links: Voting, Britney, Campolo, Politics, Bono, Exxon and Immigrants

I’ve got a LOT of conversations that I’ve read and haven’t had time to really comment on or dialog about, too many to keep up, so I’ll just post them below like I have before. Hope you find one you enjoy. All bloggers and blogs that I would highly recommend…

Jesus: They call me Jesus. I come begging for help for my twelve friends. When we got off the plane, we asked for asylum. They were being persecuted in our homeland for following me. But the U.S. government officials didn’t believe us. Everyone but me is in expedited removal.. .they are all being sent back. I managed to slip away and came here to this church to ask for help.

Congregation: The United States has laws to keep terrorists out of our country. You are one of 13 Middle Eastern men. We heard about you. You meet in rented rooms, you go into the mountains for private meetings, no one knows where you get your money, and you travel by boat and meet with strangers. You are trying to organize the poor and the oppressed. The United States does not welcome Middle Eastern men, who meet in secret. You could very well be a terrorist. Expedited removal will make certain you can’t harm us. We are sorry, but you and the 12 other men will have to leave. It’s the law.

To Stimulate or Not to Stimulate; Economically Speaking

So, if you’ve checked the news lately you’ve heard about this $168 Billion dollar ‘Economic Stimulus’ package that is supposed to help revive the economy. I’m not an economics expert by any means, so I’m not really interested in discussing those details just yet. Basically, the plan will in effect mean that I’m going to get a nice fat check from the government in May, a gift with the express purpose of ‘stimulating’ the economy. And here is my dilemma.

My family operates on a budget. We’ve looked at our finances, decided what was an appropriate amount to try and live on, and that is what we live by. What we do with the excess usually falls into some pretty boring categories, like paying off our debt. From what I’ve read, if everyone took the stimulus checks and paid down their mortgages, paid off outstanding debts, etc. then the goal of the whole deal would not be reached, it would basically flop. I’m not sure if that’s the case or not, but I do think the point is to use the money to stimulate the economy, i.e. spend it.

So, I run into two dilemmas as I think about this money, and I’m curious of your input.

  1. Should we take this money and actually spend it on consumer goods? or just pay off debts?
  2. If we spend it on consumer goods, how should it be factored into our budget? Shopping spree? Or giving spree?

YouTubesday: Seva, Justice, Carbon Offset, Spoken Word, Beef, AI, and Mr. Bean

Great collection this week.

Be Part of the Problem (ht. Nathan)

An Example of what the church should look like, Seva Cafe (ht. Miller)

A great perspective on Carbon Offsets (12 minutes long) (ht. While Seated)

Amnesty International Channel Surfing (ht. Osocio)

Innovation in Saving the World, Play Pump (ht. Jeremy and Michael)

I just find this pretty cool (ht. Invisible Red)

Comic Relief with Mr. Bean (ht. Jeremy and Matt)

A good reason to pass on beef (ht. Will)

And finally, bringing break dancing to a whole new level. (ht. indiefeed)

Raw Milk? An Udderly Different Idea

(Sorry, I know that was lame).

I don’t have much to write on this topic, only that it came up and I’m doing a little investigating to learn more. Thanks for the tip from Erin. I’m a skim milk drinker, so this would be a major stretch, but the basic idea is getting unpasteurized milk, straight from the cow, free of all the crazy unknown chemicals they currently inject your milk with.

I’ve been trying to be more intentional about my thoughts about food. Why? I’m not sure, except that I think it’s an area that has a large impact on not just us, but our world. Though, I have know idea where I’m going with it. I’m not that interested in becoming a vegan, nor even a vegetarian to be honest.

This is short, because I’ve got a little kiddo to play with, but I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone had any thoughts.