The Least, First

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Darfur and East Iowa

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My friend Dan writes that he and his son are hiking in an Iowa City event to get shelter for Darfur refugees. Date is May 19. An $80 sponsorship buys an all-season tent for a family of five.

Tired of waiting for governments to do something? People change the world. Take a hike. Details here:


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Written by Monte

April 23, 2007 at 5:52 pm

When atheists come to church (sermon of July 5)

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C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

Last week, Jesus, pushing through a crowd, was secretly touched by a woman who’ d been bleeding for 12 years; her bleeding stopped.  She who’d been untouchable by the rules of the day touched him; she was then well, and he became untouchable.  She gets well. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

And then he touched a 12 year old girl who had recently died. He was now “unclean” twice-over (touching a dead body made him so a second time), but the girl was alive.   She gets life. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

Magnificent.

And the next thing that happens is that Jesus, the now-famous, compassionate, but scandalously irreligious traveling teacher, goes home to Nazareth. And while he’s been amazing everyone, at Nazareth, Jesus is amazed.

What could possibly amaze Jesus? Read the rest of this entry »

Political reform and spiritual transformation

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This map, posted at My Clipmarks aroused considerable conversation, eventually taking a direction I hadn’t considered. Deep in the discussion, an excellent clipper named Righthand posted this comment:

There is also the personal level. You need to be a real generous Christian to want your fellow man to be your equal.*

Ding-ding! Thoughtful comment alert! Here’s the clip:

clipped from www.censusscope.org

 

Nationally, 12.4 percent of residents are considered to be in poverty. “In Poverty” means that a given person falls below the poverty threshold assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau. Please see our chart topic on Poverty for a discussion of poverty thresholds.

Examination of the map shows, however, that this 12.4 percent is a misleading representation of poverty status across the United States. Poverty is considerably more prevalent in the southern states. In a clear majority of counties in the South, the proportion of persons in poverty is higher than the national rate.

  blog it

And a response to the comment?

Alarmingly true. And the point of our faith would be “to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.” In response to a weasel’s question: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the Good Samaritan story – in which the only good guy is a despised, supposedly heretical foreigner who takes care of someone who’s a foreigner to him, asking nothing in return.

And is this not the real issue behind the endless debates on poverty, healthcare, immigration, and war? We don’t want to lose our stuff. We’re more concerned that the poor live like us than we are that they eat. We’re more concerned that the “right” people take care of the sick than we are that the sick are cared for. We want what our international neighbors have. We don’t want them to have what we have.

We don’t love them as we love ourselves. I wonder if that’s why ongoing spiritual transformation is so important—without love, political reform (of the left or the right) becomes merely self-serving. When our hearts are broken—for Darfur, for south L.A., for Mexicans in poverty—the endless philosophical evasions (And who is my neighbor? or, Shouldn’t private enterprise be the one who … ?) might be swept away by a torrent of more genuine passion for people.

Break my heart, O God.

Think so?

*His comment’s not intended to mean only Christians would want equality; he’s making the case that the run -of – the- mill Christian heart may not be big enough to do so.


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Written by Monte

February 7, 2008 at 3:53 pm

White evangelical voters: poverty no. 1 moral issue

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The Great AwakeningI had always been a skeptic of the church of personal peace and prosperity … of righteous people standing in a holy huddle while the world rages outside the stained glass. But I’ve learned that there are many people of the cloth who are also in the world, and from debt cancellation to the fight against AIDS and for human rights, they are on the march. – Bono

Change is indeed in the air. As voters head to the polls (I write this on Super Tuesday, 2-5-08, in the USA), the main moral issue on the minds of white evangelicals is now poverty! That homecoming is nothing short of astonishing.

clipped from blog.beliefnet.com
[New York Times] columnist Nicholas Kristof quotes The Great Awakening, where Jim Wallis says, “Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty.” Kristof then adds that, according to a CBS News poll, this year white evangelicals consider the fight against poverty to be the top moral issue, displacing abortion to a distant second.
Kristoff quotes CARE’s Helene Gayle about evangelicals’ work against global poverty: they “have made some incredible contributions … We don’t give them credit for the changes they’ve made.” Similarly, Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp said, “Many evangelical leaders have been key to taking the climate issue across the cultural divide.”
Kristof concludes, “In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves, you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians.”
  blog it
More of Rick Warren’s story:

I could see this shift in action a few weeks ago in Davos at the World Economic Forum. I got to see Rick Warren in action, motivating business and political leaders to put poverty, disease, and peace-making higher on their agenda. Kristof tells a story about Warren, who for many years didn’t pay much attention to these issues of social justice and compassion. Then, during a 2003 visit to Africa, Rick came into a ramshackle tent where a little church was caring for 25 AIDS orphans.

Rick said, “I realized they were doing more for the poor than my entire megachurch. … It was like a knife in the heart.” Kristof recounts how Rick turned this heartbreak into action: mobilizing his church to constructive action in 68 countries, recruiting 7,500 members to pay their own way to serve poor people around the world – experiencing a transformation in their own values and priorities in the process.

Mm-mm. That’s renewal: hearts moved toward the priorities of Jesus.

OK, God:  Show me my place in it!


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Written by Monte

February 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Despite Many Challenges World Faces Brighter Future

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There’s remarkable achievement happening against the world’s ailments! Click the link for the full story from Yahoo Singapore.

clipped from sg.news.yahoo.com

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – – Despite daunting challenges posed by global warming, water, energy, unemployment and terrorism, the world faces a brighter future with fewer wars, higher life expectancy and improved literacy, according to a report released Monday.

“Although great human tragedies like Iraq and Darfur dominate the news, the vast majority of the world is living in peace, conflicts actually decreased over the past decade,” says the 2007 State of the Future report.
“At this rate world poverty will be cut by more than half between 2000 and 2015, meeting the UN Millenium Development Goal for poverty reduction except in sub-Saharan Africa”, it added.
On the negative side, it pointed to hikes in CO2 emissions, terrorism, corruption, global warming and unemployment and a decrease in percentage of voting populations.
The income of the richest 225 people in the world equals that of the poorest 2.7 billion or 40 percent of the global population, the report said.

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And by the way, you’re welcome to enjoy my other newsclips at Clipmarks.com. I got this one courtesy of Debbyski, a clipper who digs up something intriguing every day. Clipmarks offers just the high points (<1000 characters) from stories around the world. Find clippers whose interests match your own, and you’ll learn a lot in a hurry! Start your own Clipmarks file, and you’ll have a place to save and sort all you find on the web.


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Written by Monte

September 12, 2007 at 10:32 am