Tuesday, December 26, 2006

how to dehumanize a population in one easy step

Instead of calling them people, follow CNN's lead from this headline about a fuel line explosion that may have killed as many as a thousand people.

Hundreds of fuel scavengers die in blast

Not people, humans, residents, Nigerians, etc. "Fuel scavengers". Obviously unworthy of notice or mourning.

the parable of the silky

Once there was a boy. Since the day he was born he had treasured a 1 x 1 square of blue silk cloth he called his silky. He loved his silky. It traveled with him everywhere he went. There was no sleeping without it. It had been torn and repaired. It was stained from years of meals and playing and who knows what else. It was truly a beautiful, cherished part of the boy's life.
Then one day when the boy was five years old the unthinkable happened. Silky disappeared. It had happened before. Silky would hide somewhere for most of a day or a night. It would spend the night at a grandparent's house. Once it had stayed gone for 48 hours and had been replaced in a fit of parental desperation by a far inferior substitute. Initially, the boy and his parents were sure this was just another of those random disappearances. Then silky stayed gone. Pockets were searched, nothing. The house was turned upside down, nothing. It was cleaned and searched from top to bottom, nothing. Cars were scoured, nothing. Tears were beginning to fall (not only by the boy). In desperation, parking lots where the family had traveled on the day of the disappearance were searched. Phone calls were made to stores hoping for a miraculous discovery in the lost and found - nothing.
Hours turned into days became weeks. The boy bravely turned to the substitute silky and managed to convince himself it was the real thing. Parents couldn't do it. Prayers were prayed. Surely God cared enough about the boy and his silky to reunite them. But nothing happened. Silky stayed gone. Sure that it had been lost in a parking lot, the parents began to resolve themselves to a world without the treasured friend.
But. . .
Christmas morning (of course it was Christmas morning), the boy wanted to run outside with his dad and brother to check out a new toy. A fuzzy pullover was grabbed out of the closet to cover some of his pjs against the north wind, but he couldn't get it on. Taking it to his dad to get help, he poked his hand into an arm hole. As he pushed through, something was in the way. Pushing harder, a piece of blue silk emerged from the arm hole. No, THE piece of blue silk emerged from the arm hole. In a mad rush to take off the fuzzy 3 weeks earlier, silky had been caught in the sleeve. Now it was home.
The family was called together to rejoice. More tears, these of joy, were shed. Other family members were called to celebrate. That which was lost had been found. The words "Christmas miracle" were heard spoken more than once. A thankful dad whispered a quiet "Thank you" to the God who does care about five-year old boys and their precious things.

The look on his face when that thing came through the arm hole made it worth the whole ordeal - almost.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

do they know it's Christmas time yet?

In 1984 Britain's biggest names in music came together as "Band Aid" (I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time) to perform the song "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?". The song was intended to raise awareness and money for famine in Ethiopia. And it did. Between Band Aid and USA for Africa (circa 1985), a ton of food and money went to those starving in Africa.
So I heard the song yesterday in a store and couldn't help thinking about how little things have changed in 20+ years. There is still drought and famine in Africa. Not to mention war, AIDS, Malaria, corruption, and 1000 other things that make living there an untenable proposition for millions of people. And money is pouring in. The Clinton Global Initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Millenium Project, on and on and on I could go. And some things get a little better, but still - the need is vast.
So I ask myself (often) what would happen if people who call themselves Christian took seriously the command of Jesus to take care of the poor? What if instead of shoeboxes once a year (not that there is anything wrong with the shoeboxes), a church somewhere decided to buy vaccinations for the children of a village? What if the American Church stopped spending money on being comfortable and started spending it on "the least of these" that God so loves? I have Evangelical friends (really, I do) who tell me that Jesus said we will always have the poor with us so it is futile to pour too much energy and resources toward trying to alleviate poverty. Funny, my version doesn't say "the poor you will always have with you - so screw them". Maybe Jesus was referring to the problems of greed and a lack of compassion that will inevitably lead to people being poor. Hmmmm.
K and I watched "An Inconvenient Truth" the other night. One of the things Al Gore says in it is that the reason political types don't acknowledge the truth of the science behind global warming is that if they do, they'll have to do something about it. I think the same can be said of the Church and extreme poverty. We turn our eyes away and offer tokens to assuage our guilt over what we know we ought to be doing.
All of this to say - do something. There is a difference that still needs to be made.

For further inspiration - I give you the Band Aid video from 1984. Bonus points if you can name anyone other than Bono.

Feed the World

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

music geek humor

This is a stand up bit about how not fun it is to play Pachabel's Canon in D on the cello that moves into a rant about how all music contains the same chords. It starts slow if you aren't a music geek, but the last couple of minutes are worth it. Enjoy.

God bless youtube.