Archive for January, 2010

Vince Campbell

Here are three youtube clips of great commentary on the early church – specifically the divisions that emerged from different cultural perspectives and cultural philosophies.  The video is from a workshop he and Soong Chan Rah led at this year’s CCDA (which I was unfortunately unable to attend).

Vince is currently a PhD student at Catholic University, studying the early African church.

Thoughts?

Seven Myths of Disaster Relief

Via Christianity Today

News of the December 26 tsunami was almost immediately followed by news of donation scams, inefficient relief efforts, and good intentions gone awry. Longtime World Vision relief director Rich Moseanko sent out a list, condensed here, to help donors understand what’s really needed after a major catastrophe.

1. Americans can help by collecting blankets, shoes, and clothing. The cost of shipping these items—let alone the time it takes to sort, pack, and ship them—is prohibitive. Since they are often manufactured for export to the U.S. in the very countries that need relief, it is far more efficient to purchase them locally. Cash is better.

2. Food and medicines must be airlifted to the disaster site. Food is virtually always available within a day’s drive of the disaster site. Purchasing the food locally is more cost-efficient, and ensures that the food is appropriate to local customs and tastes. Medicines are often available within the country, too. India, for example, has a large pharmaceutical industry. Because medicines are high-value, low-weight commodities, in some cases they can and must be airlifted in to save lives.

3. If I send cash, my help won’t get there. Reputable agencies send the vast majority of cash donations to the disaster site; the rest goes for administration, operating expenses, and monitoring the efficiency of their own operations. Donors have a right and a responsibility to ask aid groups how they will be using those donations, and what will be done with donations raised in excess of the need.

4. Developing countries depend on foreign expertise. While specialized assistance is always welcome, most relief and recovery efforts are carried out by local aid groups, police, firefighters, and neighbors before international teams ever arrive.

5. Relief needs are so intense that almost anyone can fly to the scene to help. Volunteers without skills necessary in disaster relief can do more harm than good, and siphon off critical logistics and translation services. Hiring qualified disaster survivors is much more cost-efficient and provides much-needed employment.

6. Insurance and governments can cover losses. The vast majority of the world’s population has never heard of an insurance policy, and those who have usually can’t purchase one. Poor countries don’t have a safety net like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) in the United States: They can barely meet ongoing social service needs. Disaster survivors must bear their costs alone.

7. People are helpless in the face of natural disasters. The United States and Canada are proof that tougher building codes, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness can save lives. Even in poor countries, communities are taking steps to mitigate the loss of life in future emergencies.

Words of a King

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”

“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love”.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

How White is your resume?

It is often joked that minorities are more likely to be hired because institutions want/need diversity, but the reality is research still shows that a White male with the same qualifications as a Black male is more likely to be hired for the same job. This bias specifically applies to resumes. “Ethnic” names and connections with Ethnic organizations (Latino United Fund, NAACP, HBCUs etc.) are seen as damaging for non-White applicants in corporate America. Thus, many Black candidates have chosen to remove or change information in order to “Whiten” their resume.

I cannot help but think of my own life experiences when I have felt as if it is necessary to assimilate to fit in and be accepted with White people in my school, college, neighborhoods and churches. Even if I did not assimilate, I let inconsiderate racial (and often political) comments go because I did not want to be the angry Black person that disagreed with everything. What is more dangerous is that I did not feel comfortable expressing my racial point of view, be it religious, social, political etc. (not all points of view are based on race, but race often mediates points of view).  I knew that the only way to be “in” with the majority and the folks in power was to not rock the boat and to be as much like them that I could – even if I was not honest to them or myself.

This is not solely an ethnic-minority issue.  Folks with Southern accents (notice the plural, there are a variety of Southern accents) are perceived as dumb or slow and females have their own set of roadblocks to overcome. The issue is one of culture. In this case, the acceptance of racial difference and the culture of those differences.

To a degree, it is understood that applicants must adapt to a professional culture. An applicant cannot interview in baggy jeans and a South Pole sweater (and one’s boss should view their employee or applicant differently if he or she sees them in the store with baggy jeans and a South Pole sweater), but when individuals feel as if they must augment or hide their legal name, educational background and ethnic identity we must classify this as ethnocentric and racist.

Nevertheless, even those who make it and are hired are often stuck. NPR  also posted a story on Blacks not advancing to high positions within corporations. Even institutions that “celebrate diversity” and have a diverse staff often fail to mentor ethnic-minorities and women into places of senior leadership. Although U.S. companies of various ilks may appear diverse, their leadership is generally ethnically homogeneous.

We have gone far, but we still have a long way to go.

Rugby and Reconcilation

Invictus may not be as popular as this year’s bigger holiday releases, but its poignant themes of justice and peace are both entertaining and redemptive.

Clint Eastwood’s Invictus has generated lots of buzz as a potential Oscar contender, and rightly so. But it’s unfortunate that bigger films like Avatar and Sherlock Holmes are drawing more attention from audiences, because Invictus presents a story that’s both entertaining and transformative.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island’s maximum-security prison after 27 years as a political prisoner whose only crime was resisting South Africa’s unjust apartheid laws. In 1994, Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa. In 1995, he began to reconcile his country through peace, justice, selflessness, and rugby.

Director Eastwood utilizes the superb talents of Morgan Freeman (Nelson Mandela) and Matt Damon (Francois Pienaar) to adapt John Carlin’s book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation to the silver screen.

Make no mistake — Invictus is an inspirational sports film. Those hoping for an epic history of Nelson Mandela’s trials and triumphs in office or a deep commentary on South Africa in 1995 will be disappointed. The film paints a decent background of South Africa in the mid-1990s and Eastwood and Freeman intentionally refrain from painting an idyllic picture of Mandela, but these are supportive elements for a story about reconciliation and the power of humility.

Noticing the brokenness of his country, Mandela views the South African national rugby union team, the Springboks, as an opportunity to promote a unified national pride. Mandela understands that the Afrikaners (White South Africans) are afraid of his administration and fear exile from a country that has become their home. Instead of exploiting his new position as an office of domination and vengeance, Mandela acts humbly and selflessly. Mandela calls the nation to seek peace not by changing their colors or the name of the Springboks. Rather, he asks his fellow Black citizens, who spent years viewing the Springboks as a symbol of apartheid, to embrace the team as their own.

The title “Invictus” (Latin for inconquerable) comes from the poem by William Ernest Henley. Mandela drew strength from Henley’s triumphant text while in prison, and he sends a handwritten copy of the poem to Pienaar to inspire him to lead South Africa’s team to the world championship. The eventual national embrace of the team transforms a symbol of division, racism, and hatred into a symbol of a “Rainbow Nation” growing towards reconciliation.

finish reading at Urban Faith.com

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