Tag Archives: america

The Shame Of The Nation By Jonathan Kozol

Keeping on the topic of education for a little bit, I thought I’d share a video with Jonathan Kozol, an amazing author who has for years tried to make known the inequalities of the public education system known. This 9 minute interview with Mr. Kozol helps give some quick insight and understanding to what his books discuss in further detail.

Why this Matters.
A lot of people, especially many in the church, applaud our country as being of ‘Land of Opportunity’ and we celebrate it’s freedom and equality. We are not however a country of free and equal opportunity. Our education system has been grossly unequal ever since the days of slavery, keeping and oppressing generations from ever having the opportunity to a fair chance at rising up. The Bible is filled with verses concerning justice from oppression, like in Isaiah:

10:1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,

2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,

If you believe this is authoritative, then your church should be doing something about the injustice of the land that you live in. If you don’t believe the Bible as fact, then at least tuck this verse away to challenge Christians that you meet to actually follow the Bible they claim they follow.

Free The Slaves: Today, Not History

Slavery is not legal anywhere but happens Everywhere. Today, there are nearly 27 million slaves in the world, more then at any other time in history.

Months ago I read a National Geographic magazine that had a large article, complete with photographs, about modern day slavery that exist in our world. 27 million people in slavery and this article wasn’t even the cover feature, that was reserved for the Zebras.
Mindy had the foresight to cut the pictures out of the magazine and post them on the walls of our bathroom where we would see them often and not be able to put out of our mind the reality of injustice our neighbors face.

Even in the United States, there are an estimated 10,000 enslaved workers here. If you have five minutes, watch this short video from Dr. Kevin Bales about Slavery in the United States

The ending as you can see has an important lesson on the role of each of us in knowing and loving our neighbors. Responding to the injustices that we see right around us, and intentionally placing ourselves in a way that we will know and be aware of those injustices when they occur.

Check out Free The Slaves and Get Involved.

Geez Magazine: How a Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong

The recent issue of Geez Magazine was one I was really looking forward to. Geez is a fresh perspective on faith and each issue has challenged me to consider a different perspective and a new way of thinking. The latest issue: Let’s Get Evangelical, was exciting for me because I was hoping to see an articulate take on Christianity and “Evangelicalism” that would help me put some of my own thoughts into words.
Overall the articles were good, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for. Geez seems a little more on the skeptic fringe then I thought they would be. However, I was just reading the last article in the magazine, and I got through the first paragraph and realized it deserved a post.

Here’s Bill McKibben on How a Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong:

Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation’s educational decline, but it probably doesn’t matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin’s wisdom not biblical; it’s counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans–most American Christians–are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up. Asking Christians what Christ taught isn’t a trick. When we say we are a Christian nation–and, overwhelmingly, we do–it means something. People who go to church absorb lessons there and make real decisions based on those lessons; increasingly, these lessons inform their politics. (One poll found that 11 percent of U.S. churchgoers were urged by their clergy to vote in a particular way in the 2004 election, up from 6 percent in 2000.) When George Bush says that Jesus Christ is his favorite philosopher, he may or may not be sincere, but he is reflecting the sincere beliefs of the vast majority of Americans. And therein is the paradox. America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior. That paradox–more important, perhaps, than the much touted ability of French women to stay thin on a diet of chocolate and cheese–illuminates the hollow at the core of our boastful, careening culture.

Read the Whole Article (Previously published)

What’s your take?

Whose giving thanks?

I usually wait till after the holiday passes before I go into a critical assessment of the festivities. I figured this year would be a good chance to try and encourage folks to consider things before the holiday rolls around.
I’ll start by saying that I plan on driving home and spending time and eating a big meal with my family on Thursday. Whether that’s mainly because of the convenience of us all having that time off, or because of our devout acknowledgement of the historical events is up for debate.

I guess when I think about the historical implications of a holiday like Thanksgiving I’m much more disturbed then I am thankful for it. The idea of the pilgrims and native people of this land sitting down together in peace and sharing a meal is a beautiful and wonderful thing, I just worry it ignores so much more of the history.
You see if my history book is correct (they must have torn out this section in my middle school), the atrocities of that time far out weigh any peaceful meal together. Massacares, forced removal, slavery, genocide, stolen land; this is the overwhelming story of the “settling” of this land. Stolen land. Stolen land.

To this day we live on stolen land. Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday for me, because I think it’s celebration without regard for the terrible injustices, is one of the deep wounds of our society that has never healed. You live on stolen land.

I know for me sitting at my family’s table on Thursday, I won’t be able to solve the problem, or right the wrong of the land. I can however acknowledge, and I can be diligent in thinking of ways to return, to make amends, to right wrongs.

I live on stolen land.

Ahmadinejad’s Letter to Bush

I received this email a while ago about a letter from the President of Iran to President Bush. It was interesting, but I didn’t think much of it except that it was just a forward someone had written themselves, not a factual letter from the real Iran President.
Well, it turns out the Washington Post believes it’s real, so I’m going with them on this one. It’s a long, but easy to read letter and I would strongly encourage you to do so.

Read the Complete letter here.

Below are some excerpts:

After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people — who had been immensely traumatized by the attacks — some Western media only intensified the climate of fear and insecurity — some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?

The question here is “what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?”

As Your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty. Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these problems exist — to a larger or lesser extent — in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign — paid from the public treasury — be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?

Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?

Do you think present policies can continue?

If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production, development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between disputing states, and extinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts, were would the world be today? Would not your government and people be justifiably proud?

Would not your administration’s political and economic standing have been stronger?

And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American government?

Commuter USA: what our lives are becoming.

I ran across this article while looking at something else on Newsweek and some of the statistics and stories shocked me. “The Long and Grinding Road” is all about the great rise in commuting that has been happening in our country, even while gas prices go up.

As we’re pushed to the edge of civilization by runaway home prices and a longing for wide-open spaces, the daily rat race is turning into a marathon. “Extreme commuters” who travel more than 90 minutes to work, one way, are the fastest-growing group of commuters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

They give some other reasons behind the rise in commuting, but more shocking then that was all the acknowledgements of how taxing and harmful the long commutes are:

Robert Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” found that every 10 minutes added to your commute decreases by 10 percent the time you dedicate to your family and community.

The result of all these drivers behaving badly: more crashes. A federal study released last week found that 80 percent of crashes are caused by “driver inattention,” up from a previous estimate of 25 percent.

The longer the commute, the more likely the commuter will suffer bouts of road rage, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and ulcers, says Dr. John H. Casada, a specialist in road stress. And Georgia Tech researchers found that every 30 minutes spent driving increases your risk of becoming obese by 3 percent.

Drivers today eat an average of 32 meals a year in their car, according to the researcher NPD Group. And one in four restaurant meals is now ordered from the car.

And then they go into all the new advances that fast food, car manufacturers and others are making to appeal to your commuting needs.
I took the brief survey Newsweek has about my commute and found the over all results surprising. 50% of the people surveyed spend over $40 a week on commuting cost. 65% of those surveyed commute over 15 miles (I think that’s one way) and spend over 30 minutes in their car. I guess I spend about the same amount of time on my bike, so maybe I’ve got to watch out for some of these things too.