Tag Archives: Geez-Magazine

Displace Me: In Solidarity with IDP’s in Uganda

Invisible ChildrenI decided if there was one word to describe the event I attend last night it was: Cool. I mean cool in the trendy sort of way too, but I realized maybe that’s okay, at least for now. I drove out with some house mates to a field in Hendersonville, TN to participate in an event called Displace Me, put on by Invisible Children.
Here is a summary of the event: 500 people showed up at a field (60,000+ total in 15 cities across the USA), we bring cardboard to make a home with, a box of crackers and a water bottle. Throughout the night we hear video testimonies of people from the camps and we ourselves build homes to sleep in for the night, get our food from ration stations and write letters to political leaders asking them to respond to the situation in Uganda. A video was also shot to be shown on the Senate floor this week to encourage them to action. It was a protest of sorts, a stand of solidarity and a trendy event (this last part made me uncomfortable).
The folks at Invisible Children are doing good things. They are marketing an end to a war in a way that has never been done. It’s catch and cool and it makes you want to be involved, and the end results are that people are fed, educated, and violence is ended; that’s a beautiful thing. I wonder though, how long our attention spans will be, and how serious we are about fixing the problems and willing to change our lives to do so. The event I went to was full of college kids, fired up about making a difference, may that passion carry them through adulthood and the rest of their lives.

I have hope that some will, but cynicism that it will be too few to even notice. I wonder if all our fanfare is really just for us, because it’s more fresh then boy bands and football games. There’s a tension in me. I went to the event to support others in their statements, rather then give way to my cynical attitude, but I still wonder whose right. I feel a tension between joining the folks at Invisible Children, and joining the folks at Geez Magazine:

At that point in history doing good rose dramatically in popularity. It was cool to care. Hollywood strode awkwardly off the red carpet into a one-US-dollar-a-day village. Rock ‘n roll walked streets that had no names. Smart stars drove smart cars. It was a good era for smooth-talking doomsday sayers and drop-dead gorgeous do-gooders.

Benevolence became a brand. It was marketable. It sold. It increased one’s cultural stock value. It went well with sunglasses by . . . whoever made the hot shit sunglasses in those days. It flowed seamlessly into the show script of Entertainment Tonight. You weren’t a star if you didn’t have a cause. It was a new era.

Philanthropy practically became a sport. Gates dropped $30 billion on good causes, and Warren Buffet put in $31 billion. The big boys bought race horses, or football teams and set up charitable foundations. Goodwill was in the air.

Every corporation on earth adopted sustainable development practices – triple/quadruple/quintuple bottom lines. They all won green awards from each other’s foundations and associations, and added “environmental responsibility” sections to their websites. Click.

Both hope and cynicism could hardly have wished for ground more fertile. But neither seemed like satisfying responses. Eventually, weary of salvation, Africa said no thanks.

And we started looking for a less popular way to care.


Creation Sunday: Love Your Neighbors

It’s Earth Day folks, an exciting and important day for us to sit back and remember Mother Earth needs to be loved and cared for too. So, besides running out and getting your free CFL Lightbulb from Home Depot, lowering your carbon emissions, and maybe planting a tree or flowers in your garden, let’s reflect a little on some of the Biblical mandate that compels us to care about the creation around us.

Creation Care Magazine has a great intro:

Despite our desire to be close to the natural world expressed through birdwatching, gardening, camping, and hiking, it is really the poorest of the poor who live in closest contact with the physical world. The environmental experience of poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa dealing with drought is direct. Poor people in America’s inner cities breathe polluted air and feel heat waves without the buffer of elaborate air-conditioning systems. Most good things in our economy are distributed unequally between rich and poor, and clean, healthy environments are no exception. Concern for the “least of these” (Matthew 25) moves us to care for the life-support system God created and which sustains them and us.

Creation SundayIn a globalized world, we need to think broadly about who our neighbor is. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that difference, distance, and geography matter very little in our call to express compassion and love. In an interconnected climate system, emissions from our cars and factories are “shared” with our neighbors around the planet (and have impacts that will last for hundreds of years). Pollution from foreign factories producing goods for the American market is being emitted on our behalf. Understanding the side-effects of how our global economy works helps us to understand that our compassion must similarly be without borders.

What if we began to realize that ‘Church’ and our ‘Christian’ life had more to do with how we live then just what we say we believe? What if our actions and choices on Sunday reflected the scripture and God’s love for his creation more? Is it odd for people to drive for miles from all over a city, to a central building pumping in climate adjusted temperatures, drinking coffee out of Styrofoam cups, all to sing songs about the beauty of God’s creation? That seems like a problem. Will Braun from Geez Magazine casts a vision of what Church might look like in High Efficiency Worship:

What if the cracks around our church windows are letting the holy spirit out as they let the wintry cold in? What if the energy-sucking light bulbs in our sanctuaries are casting an unholy glow on our otherwise holy scriptures?

The sacredness of our sanctuaries has something to do with the pipes, wires and ducts that connect them to the warming world outside. The figurative energy in the room – the good vibes, feelin’-the-spirit sort of energy – has something to do with the literal energy in the room; the energy that heats, cools, lights and amplifies. So maybe the text for next Sunday’s sermon should be the church’s monthly energy bill. That bill is a spiritual matter.

Since many church buildings are old and brutally inefficient, assessing enviro-spiritual impacts can quickly become overwhelming and paralyzing. But what if we just skipped the hand-wringing stage – just suspended guilt and went right on to the actual task of bringing our worship in line with the ecological and spiritual realities of our time? The warming earth doesn’t really have time for our guilt (or our SUV-maligning, Exxon-bashing self-righteousness either). This world needs all the sacredness it can get, so it’s time to make our sanctuaries as holy as they can be. (read the rest)

I didn’t, at first, choose biking because I liked it. I certainly didn’t buy CFL bulbs to save money, and my obsession with not wasting water wasn’t because I hated long warm showers. If we are to love our global neighbors, as scripture compels us to, if we are to stand in awe of God’s creation, which scripture is full of praises about, then today and every day should be celebrated as a chance to tend to the Creation God has placed us in. Amen for Creation Sunday.