Taken at Dadaab, largest refugee camp in the world
via Nick Kristof, New York Times
To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. —
- Nelson Mandela (thanks to @Sojourner5)
Let’s use our freedom to advocate for the 27 million who don’t yet have it!
Remembering Derrion Albert -
Taking some time to remember Derrion Albert, the Chicago honors student who was beaten to death on his way home from school two years ago today.
Read on UrbanFaith.com.
The arts are never a mere copy of life. They are always a distillation of some aspect of reality. All artists use techniques of highlighting, omission, selectivity, exaggeration, arrangement and juxtaposition to heighten our perception of some aspect of life… The arts, in short, are based on a grand paradox. They are imaginary constructions that “distort” reality in order to increase our awareness of it. In the words of Pablo Picasso, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Or as Samuel Johnson put it, works of fiction “are not mistaken for realities, but … bring realities to mind.” The truth that the arts are particularly adept at capturing is enduring, elemental human experience. — Leland Ryken, from The Creative Arts (via kellyjhagen)
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV
Today is National Back to Church Sunday -
What are your ideas on how to invite friends and family to church? What lessons have you learned from your experiences? What is the right way to share our Christian faith without being pushy or timid?
Visit the National Back to Church Sunday website and read the article on UrbanFaith.com by clicking the headline of this post.
Anonymous asked: Did you know that Rick Perry made over half a million dollars on a land sale in which the buyer was an arms dealer who supplied the perpetrators of the Rawandan Genocide? The Appraiser who over valued the land was given a post on UT board of regents by Perry.
No, I hadn’t heard about that, thanks for telling me about it. I looked it up and found these articles from The Dallas Morning News about Perry’s $1.5 million land sale to alleged arms dealer Alan Moffatt: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20100724-Murky-land-deals-mark-Gov-6084.ece
For those interested, here’s a quick excerpt about how this connects to the Rwandan genocide from the first article:
“In the 1990s, Moffatt owned Peak Aviation, a now-defunct company that the British government investigated in connection with arms shipments to Africa for use in the Rwandan genocide. The tribal conflict may have claimed about 800,000 lives.
Moffatt said in an interview that he met twice with British customs investigators but was never charged with a crime. He said the arms shipments that his company made to Africa were legitimate government-to-government deliveries.”
Of course, what isn’t mentioned is that the Rwandan government supplied the militia that executed the genocide, so this point is irrelevant. Putting weapons in the hands of the Interahamwe is not okay. (As an aside, the genocide was much more than a “tribal conflict,” which suggests that both sides were fighting each other, when in reality the genocide meant extremists Hutus were targeting Tutsis and the Hutu moderates who supported them.)
It looks like Perry appointed attorney Colleen McHugh to the UT board of regents after she appealed the appraisal (resulting in lower taxes for Perry). I think that’s slightly different than what you said (she was appealing to lower the value of the land for tax purposes). But is that what you were referring to, or did you mean something else?
This was in the media when The Dallas Morning News reported it in July 2010 but hasn’t really been discussed much since then, from what I can find. Anyone else find more information?
Got a question? Click “Ask me anything.”
Feeding the Poor Through Pay-As-You-Can -
My first story in Christianity Today magazine appeared in the August issue. It’s about community cafes, or restaurants where you pay what you can afford, and how they lend people a little extra help when things get tough.
Kathy had been out of the job market for about 25 years—instead staying home with her three children—when everything fell apart. The 50-something resident of Edison, in north-central New Jersey, had worked part-time as a file clerk to help pay for her three daughters’ college tuition. But she left that job after her father died and her husband suffered a heart attack. Then her husband left, leaving Kathy without an income to provide for her children.
“It’s a little scary,” says Kathy, who asked that her full name not be used. “The rug was pulled out from under my feet.”
Kathy isn’t alone. In some communities surrounding Edison, 27 percent of the population lives below the national poverty level.
For Kathy and many others, a church in nearby Highland Park offers a unique solution. A Better World Café, one of a handful of “pay-as-you-can” restaurants in the United States, provides clients with good meals and job training, among other things.
Finish reading on ChristianityToday.com or in the August print edition.
Finish reading on ChristianityToday.com or in the August print edition.
Rwanda Revisited: Where was God? -
My Rwanda reflection for UrbanFaith went up today. Since I got back from Rwanda, I’ve been trying to find the words to capture the magnitude of what happened in this country 17 years ago. Nothing comes close. Genocide is so far beyond words, but these words are all I have to offer:
The most beautiful place in the world is a valley in Gikongoro, Rwanda. Everywhere you look, you see hills full of palm trees and winding red paths. The light of a setting sun graces the hills with a golden hue. You cannot imagine a place more perfect, more pristine.
And yet that word, pristine, would be the wrong one. These hills are not unspoiled beauty, because they were once tainted by blood. This valley is home to the Murambi Technical School where 45,000 Tutsi people were massacred during the 1994 genocide.
Read the rest on UrbanFaith.com.
Cam, Lauren and me at the Hotel des Mille Collines (a.k.a Hotel Rwanda) a couple of days before we left
Leaving Rwanda, Thoughts from the Plane: Posted from my Rwanda journal, 7/30-7/31
Sitting on the plane headed back to the U.S., it’s hard to believe that the month went so fast, that I’ve already left Rwanda, that when I get off the plane again I won’t see the rolling red hills for as far as I can see. I will miss Rwanda. I’ll miss walking up the red hills, I’ll miss the refreshing landscape by Lake Kivu, I’ll miss seeing Rwandan kids playing soccer, I’ll miss exploring new places with friends, I’ll miss the beautifully temperate weather, and in a strange way, I’ll even miss being called muzungu as I walk down the street, struggling to negotiate a cab fare, and the street vendors calling, “Sister, would you like a map of Rwanda?”
This has been such an incredible experience. I miss my family, but in a strange way I don’t want to go home. I feel like there’s so much more left to explore in Rwanda—another culture, another world. I want to walk up and down the red hills and listen, watch, soak up the atmosphere.
As I leave Rwanda, there are many moments that I’ll always carry with me, from the light-hearted times to the heavier ones. I know I’ll never be able to listen to OneRepublic’s “Apologize” again without thinking of Zac and Cam belting out the song with fervor in front of the karaoke bar — bringing to mind the hilarity of the moment, but also the cloud of Murambi and Nyamata that was still wrapped around my heart that weekend. I know the knowledge of genocide that I carry will probably come back to haunt me in nightmares—but such momentary fear is insignificant compared to the pain of people who actually lived through this. I know that finding even the most beautiful landscapes in the U.S. will never compare to living in the thousand hills of Rwanda. I know I’ll never forget the faces of the two street children I saw every other day near our apartments in Kacyiru. Nor will I forget sitting in silence with Jessica outside the Murambi Genocide Memorial and trying to process something that seemed too horrible to be real, while listening to the voices of children playing in a village down the path. I know that these next few months back in the U.S. might mean more lessons in learning to grow and change, in figuring out who I am and what it means to be me after learning about genocide.
I’m not really sure what will happen from here on out. There’s a lot that I want to do, but part of what this coming year is going to be, is finding out where I fit and where I’m headed. We’ll see what happens, I guess.