Monday, December 17, 2007

i can't remember where i ran across this...


i originally ran across this on my good friend Matthias' blog. he's a kindred spirit.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

justice in real life

sorry about the delay in posts. i've been away with the guys from my house without my laptop the last several days.

i live in a house with 7 other guys. they're all undergrads at Malone College and i bought this house and invited them to move in with me for a year to think about what it means to live intentionally together. there's three main thrusts to the house in my mind: community, leadership, and justice.

one of the things that i've found as i've pursued this is that intentional living requires an awful lot of intentionality. this might seem somewhat obvious, but when you move in with a bunch of guys and you all agreed to intentional community as the precept behind why you joined forces, it's a bit of a surprise to find that it doesn't happen naturally. you have to work for it.

one of the things that we didn't really talk about beforehand with everyone was that justice was going to be a theme. however, justice has been a theme of my life in the past year and, as one giving leadership to the house, it sort of goes with the territory. my apologies to anyone who didn't want to learn about justice.

so we've spent time in Bible studies talking about AIDS and poverty and the environment. not your average Bible study topics, maybe.

they all finished they're exams on thursday and so we got away for a few days to a house up on Lake Erie and holed up and played video games and ate junk food and generally were lazy. it was great. but on Friday night i pulled us all together to talk for take a gander at where we were, where we'd come, and where we wanted to go.

i won't go into all the details, because this isn't the time or place, but it was an intensely good conversation. challenging, thoughtful, provocative, encouraging. all of these things. we spent a lot of time talking about ways that we had failed each other and the house. and thinking about how we could lift each other up more effectively.

and in some ways, this was the most effective "justice" conversation we've had all semester. because justice in theory isn't really justice at all. to sit around and talk about justice is fine, but it's not full. it's interesting that micah 6:8, the ultimate justice verse in the Bible, says "act justly," right? and so in this conversation we had, we enacted justice toward each other. we righted wrongs and we established (or began to establish) paths that will lead us in walking in righteousness with each other. only time will tell the fullness of this just living we began a conversation about. but it at least is a trailhead to the path.

what are the ways that you pursue justice in your life in untraditional paths?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

celebrity defeating apathy

for the last few days the media has been immensely concerned with the influence of celebrities, particularly as it relates to the political process. will Oprah really get more votes for Obama? should Oprah get more votes for Obama?

in the midst of that melee comes this interview by USA Today with George Clooney, who's interested in politics from a different angle. Clooney isn't campaigning for a specific candidate, but is instead focusing his celebrity on a cause. the interview, found here, has some interesting thoughts and quotes, including...

"People can march and pat each other on the back, and concerts will happen, and the simple truth is there's still the exact same issues going on."

"It certainly reminds you to be ridiculously happy with your life. Once you see people suffering in the way these people are suffering, you feel very guilty about not suffering at all."

if you haven't been watching the news recently, several other celebrities have been brining a lot of attention to justice related issues including...
-Brad Pitt in New Orleans with an innovative and caring project
-Don Cheadle, also championing Darfur, recently authored a book
-Al Gore, who recently picked up his Nobel Peace Prize and had some worthwhile things to say
-Natalie Portman, who just released a mix CD with the proceeds going to FINCA, a charity that supports developing world entrepreneurs

Sunday, December 9, 2007

the stuff on stuff...

here's an article from CNews about this site...didn't realize it was only a week old. that means that if you regularly read my blog, you've been on the cutting edge recently!

click here for the article

the orginal post:


it's a tough thing. especially around Christmas when it's hard not to think about what you want to get for people and what you hope that they'll get for you.

materialism may not seem, at first glance, to be a justice issue. i'm convinced, however, that it's intricately tied to justice issues because things & stuff (the scientific components of materialism) don't just appear from nothing. they appear as the result of an intricate process that involves tons of people we don't know and through the use (and misuse) of the planet that we live on.

this video brilliantly (and, at times, humorously) illustrates that. i'm greatly interested in your some ways, parts of this seem overstated & to have an agenda, but at the very least, it's provocative enough that it ought to cause each of us to do a bit of a double take. i know there's some questions this raised that i haven't really thought about before.

and this was all sparked by a very short blog by seth godin that asked the question "how long has it been since you went an entire day without buying anything at all?" maybe you'll answer that question while you comment on the video as well.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Senator Patrick Leahy had this to say the other day, in response to questions about the cut in funds for the Millennium Challenge Corporation's budget, an American run, Africa-based relief organization:

“Do we cut maternal health?” he asked. “AIDS? Malaria? Do we cut refugees? The only thing that’s got a blank check is the war in Iraq.”

It's good to know that we can drop billions into a war we created but can't deem it worthwhile for a world issue.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Google goodness

Google has long been acknowledged for their creative approach to technology. A creative approach that has found them incredible success. With that success came a lot of money. And with that money, believe it or not, has come a desire to give back. Google has become one of the more philanthropic businesses around and this article interviews the head of, the charitable arm of the technology giant.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the next morning...

three days until World AIDS Day...

if you read regularly or subscribe to this site (and i know there's a couple of you), you may have noticed that my efforts to blog on AIDS issues throughout the month have significantly declined in the last few days. it's largely due to last week. over Thanksgiving weekend, between Wed & Sun, i logged something over 40 hours working on World AIDS Day. i packed it in around family time and turkey meals. i missed meals four days in a row and skipped out on sleep most of two nights.

and so when i walked off the stage on Sunday and the video had been completed, the website was up and runnning, and i'd finished presenting to both services in Green, i was tired. i didn't want to think about AIDS anymore. all the i'd been working toward and pushing toward for the last month was finished and now i just wanted to sit and see what the response was.

it reminded me of the gulf between myself and the person who lives with the reality of AIDS every day. who misses their mother or father. who doesn't have the strength to get out of bed. who cares for the grandchildren, because there is no one else to do it.

their fight doesn't finish on December 1st. they can't take a couple comp. days for working over vacation. they'll wake up to it the next morning whether they want to or not. or they won't wake up. and some child will have to raise themselves and become one more added to the millions of AIDS orphans.

but this is also why i care about these things. because i can't NOT care. there's too much at stake. some may think i may appear idealistic and foolishly hopeful, spending my passions on world issues that i can barely influence, let alone solve. but i don't care. because it'll be worth it for the few i am able to influence. and i AM foolishly idealistic. and i love it. we can, i believe, really enact global change of gigantic proportions in the next generation. but it's not going to happen with me sitting on the couch.

and so i take a deep breath and plunge back it...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

so this Saturday, as you've assuredly sorted out by now, is World AIDS Day. the church that i work at, The Chapel, has given me quite a bit of freedom to promote WAD as part of my work there, including time in the services, passing out awareness ribbons, etc. kudos, Chapel.

this year, they've allowed me to take this one step further by creating a website. my brother's company, In The Round Productions, did all the site design and launch, and i provided all the content (text, resources, pictures, etc). a few years ago there's no way i would have been able to do this, but over the years i've stumbled across quite a few resources and it's exciting to be able to put them all out there in one place for other people to use.

so i hope that you'll stop in on sometime this week and spend some time praying, learning, and figuring out how to live love to AIDS victims all over the world.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

one week till World AIDS Day...
a special announcement later today on here.

but for now, please take a moment to visit and post a prayer as your sign of solidarity with World AIDS Day. this site will be going public through a variety of means in the near future, but for now you can sneak in before everyone else has the chance.

please invite your friends to do likewise.

Friday, November 23, 2007


i'm going to be posting about a special resource for World AIDS Day in the next couple days (there's only 7 days left). it's been what's been taking all my time (thus the fewer posts recently). so check back soon for special announcement (Sunday at the lastest...hopefully sooner).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

UN significantly revises AIDS estimates

9 days until World AIDS Day
Each day of the month leading up to World AIDS Day, I'll be posting some sort of resource, thoughts or action for you to use.

The UN has long been accused of inflating the number of AIDS infections in order to try and get more funding, public support, etc. Their most recent report, released just yesterday, helps to deflate some of those accusations by...deflating the number of infections reported.

Most significantly, they've dropped the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS from over 40 million to 33.3 million. And they attribute this not to better containment of the virus but instead to better methods of gathering data.

You can read more about this at The Economist.

or by taking a look at the UN Report Press Release.

So this is good news, in a weird way. Not good news that we've had bad information the last few years. But good news that we're figuring out better ways to research and good news that ultimately fewer people have AIDS, need treated, or can spread it to others.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wal Mart = green ?

most people know that Wal-Mart equals green when it comes to money. as the largest single retailer in the world, they've redefined what retail looks like, from pricing to distribution. but they've long been derided for their lack of social conscience. these accusations cover a number of fronts, from care for workers to environmental friendliness to the promotion of materialism to the use of poor working facilities abroad.

in October 2005, Wal-Mart's CEO, Lee Scott, set three gigantic goals in the way of addressing environmental friendliness concerns, and just last week released their first report documenting their progress in this area. CNN has full article here.

though i have been (and will continue to be) a staunch advocate against Wal-Mart, i have to admit that i find the goals set in '05 admirable and the honesty of the report refreshing. they didn't try to say they've solved all the problems.

that being said, i find this quote near the end of the article compelling:

"Our overall argument is that even if Wal-Mart achieved all of its stated goals, the company's business model is inherently unsustainable," said Sarah Anderson from the Institute for Policy Studies.


oh...and 11 days until World AIDS Day. more on that later...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

just living

thanks to a little shout out from marko, i've had a few extra visitors for the last couple days. for those of you who are new, i thought i'd give you a bit of an idea about what this blog is all about.

primarily, this blog is about justice issues. you'll find all sorts of resources that i've come across in the last few years, organized by topic, listed on your right. for a little bit of an explanation, check out my first post from this summer, where i talk about my inspiration for starting this blog.

starting November 1, i began a month-long blog fest in preparation for World AIDS Day, which is every December 1st. i haven't posted every day, as was my goal, but i have posted a lot more than i did last year, when i attempted a similar feat on my xanga.

but this weekend, i've been thinking about justice from a bit of a different angle. normally i use this space to focus on "social justice" issues...poverty, slavery, AIDS, homelessness, etc. but as i've been sitting in the general sessions at the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, i feel as if God is challenging me to consider if i live justly in the rest of my life. Shane challenged me to consider if i find the passion for justice rooted in the Scriptures. Phyllis challenged me to not be so quick to stare down my nose at those who don't share my passions. Louie prodded me to consider if it's just, if it's acceptable to really be angry at God. and this morning Doug reminded me that envy is ennacting an injustice on others in its own way, by tearing them down instead of celebrating them.

i hope that God will continue to ignite my passions for justice...socially, personally, theologically, holistically. he sets such a profound example. i have hope of enacting justice in life only because of the unbelievable combo of mercy and justice he has indwelled this world with.

Friday, November 16, 2007

One Life Revolution

Marko took some time tonight at the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta, GA to take a glance back at when One Life Revolution, the youth movement of World Vision's AIDS mobilization began. It was very cool to hear him talk about all the things that have been done through youth groups catching a hold of the great responsibility we have to partner with our brothers and sister struggling from AIDS.

It also reminded me that One Life Revolution was a major catalyst (if not "the" catalyst...I can't remember) in getting me involved in AIDS issues. I received some of their material in the mail somehow and used my platform as a Camp Director to raise funds for us to donate to it. And then repeated it with my Jr. High small group at First Friends. And that started me down a path to where today AIDS is a huge part of my heart, a huge part of what I feel my calling is, a huge part of my passion. It's odd to think that such a tiny thing...a piece of mail that grabbed my heart, could influence my actions so much.

I pray that maybe some of my actions around World AIDS Day this year will do likewise in others. That maybe a post on this blog, a ribbon and the conversation that ensues, or reading a resource that I have linked from Facebook will somehow be a tool that the Holy Spirit uses to call someone else to spreadying His love to all of creation...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Brazil = Brilliant

Day 14:
Brazil has long been acknowledged as one of the leading countries at both developing and execution of strategy when it comes to the AIDS crisis. as the country with the 5th largest population in the world, they've been able to not only contain but even make progress against the spread of HIV in a number of significant ways. the BBC published a great little article about it today. take a glance if you have the chance.

Monday, November 12, 2007

World Vision's countdown

day 13:
World Vision is doing a similar countdown to mine.

except they have a budget and graphic designers and web developers and people on the ground and years and years of experience.

they've got a slight edge on me, i guess:

the church's failure

as part of my promotion of World AIDS Day i created an event on Facebook that people could join and invite others to join. someone got invited yesterday, apparently, and sent me the following message:

Dear Joel--

I received your invitation to your group today, and I think what you're doing is absolutely despicable. Not the celebration of World AIDS Day, of course, that is commendable and important, even if it isn't a genuine form of action / respect / or memorializing for those who are infected and those who are already gone. But to bastardize the one day in which the world actually recognizes what is going on with AIDS, and to exploit that day in order to spread the 'word' of a euro-centric God that has all too often been used to inculcate those who are HIV-positive and to obstruct effective prevention messages is entirely unforgiveable. That you only promote the religious 'relief organizations' of your friends as viable and deserving organs of our donations is sickening. There is extremely strong work going on in the world to prevent and treat HIV, and the best of it has nothing to do with salvation or bible-beating. The entanglement of the church with issues of public health and the delivery of state services in order to prolong and better the lives of citizens has only wasted enormous resources and obfuscated cofactors of poverty, inequality, racism, and colonialism under a veil of religious ignorance.

Lest you think that I'm just some heartless complainer, I've spent the last years of my life working in the field with HIV-positive mothers to prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child. I am now in a PhD program studying how political systems can be improved to better the delivery of HIV services. What I am deeply offended by is the use of the one day all of us have to mobilize and compel people about this issue to proselytize about god, particularly given the abysmal history that religion of almost all sects has had with the social treatment of this disease. Start a religiously-affiliated facebook group devoted to HIV when your religion HASN'T called HIV 'god's will' and actively disseminated libel amounting to human rights abuses against those who are sick. Then I'd be happy to join your 'cause.'

I don't care to join you in any argument on this. Please keep your requests, and your opinions, out of my inbox.

Thank you,

Wow. I was angry when I read this. Not at the person that wrote it, but that her charges directed at Christianity are largely true. It upsets me a lot that we've represented Christ so poorly in this area that these statements could not only be said of us but bear far too much weight. It breaks my heart that we have taken a Christ so loving and turned him into a Christ so condemning.

This was my response:

Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough care about this issue. I have no desire to engage you in an arguement, but would instead like to apologize, both for myself and the (universal) church that I'm a part of. We have, very poorly, represented the God that we believe in on this issue. That you would critisize us is both understandable and deserved.

My goal of creating this group is in no way to use World AIDS Day as a chance to proselytize, but instead to help my friends and people within churches to see the huge ways in which we've missed the boat on this issue.

One of the things that I've done in the last few years that I've been involved with this is posted the outrageous quotes that some church leaders have made about this issue (such as it being "God's will") and called on us to seek forgiveness for being so foolishly ignorant about this issue.

I also want you to understand that I'm not some far removed idiot (though also not nearly as closely or importantly involved as it sounds you are in addressing AIDS). I work with a group of people that are partnering with two villages in Mozambique (which I have travelled to) to address AIDS and other issues in a holistic way that doesn't try to push people into a "white man's religion," but instead hopes to help address the myriad and challenging array of problems that are facing this generation.

The reason why I chose the organizations that I did was because they're organizations that I believe are addressing this a way that my friends can relate to. I do regularly support other, non-religious organizations, such as DATA and the Red campaign. Also, I regularly try to educate people about the role of the UN, the Millennium Goals, and UNGASS.

Again, I'm sorry that this offended you, and I hope that this helps explain it some.

Joel Daniel

Sunday, November 11, 2007

promises, II

day 11...
it's a sunday again, so time to look at more promises from God that relate to AIDS issues...

did you know that November is National Adoption Month? i had no idea until this morning when i was sitting in the noon service at The Chapel and they opened up the service by showing a special video highlighting this fact. it also brought to attention the staggering number of orphans there are in the world today.

according to, did you know that more than 15 million children have been orphaned by AIDS? they have a fairly detailed breakdown of where and how and forecasts at:

the Bible makes it pretty clear that orphans matter to God. for example, James 1:27 says this:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

wow. this verse alone would seem to indicate the import of being involved in a crisis that's creating such a disproportionate amount of orphans. not to mention God's continual care throughout the Scriptures for the weak and down-trodden.

so...what in the world am i going to do about it....

well...for the moment, i'm going to go donate some rice (

Saturday, November 10, 2007

a different angle...

day 10...

so this isn't directly related, though it sort of is.

found a very cool site today that helps you expand your vocabulary. while at the same time providing food for people who need it.

try it out. it's interesting. and worthwhile. highest i've scored is level 40 (check the faq for scoring explanation). and in the process i've given away a lot of rice.

food and AIDS are tied together in the sense that countries that are part of the developing world usually have a whole host of symptons, including AIDS, poverty, hunger, medical, economy, etc problems that work as a vicious cycle, never allowing a critical mass of the population to establish themselves in such a way as to bring about substantive, sustainable change. that's why when we partner with people, we must think of it in a wholistic way, that addresses the breadth of their physical needs, the depth of their spiritual needs, and that acknowledges that all parties bring knowledge to the table and that we'll all walk away as better people in better situations if we're willing to learn.

enjoy expanding your vocabulary!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

defining & history

day 8
Each day of the month leading up to World AIDS Day, I'll be posting some sort of resource, thoughts or action for you to use.

Quote of the day:
"It's a very human virus, a very human epidemic. It touches right to the heart of our existence," says Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS. "When you think of it, that in let's say 25 years, about 70 million people have become infected with this virus, probably coming from one [transmission] ... it's mind blowing."
-from Frontline's Age of AIDS

some oft-asked questions:

HIV/AIDS: what's the difference?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune defenses and ultimately causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) if left untreated. By weakening the immune system, HIV opens the doors for a variety of other health issues to develop. When the immune system is weakened significantly, AIDS is the result.

you can find a more complete explanation here

I've heard it called a "pandemic". What's the difference between a "pandemic" and an "epidemic"?
An epidemic is a virus that affects a specific group of people. A pandemic is also a virus, and is both contagious and widespread.

an official definition can be found here

Where did HIV come from?
The latest research, coming out just this past May, extends the knowledge about the origin of HIV. HIV is a developed form of a disease found in chimpanzees in Cameroon, originally transmitted through usage as food (contracted possibly by hunters or slaves). This probably happened sometime in the 1930's. From there it was spread in a variety of ways, with the first cases in the US and France being determined to be a distinct health issue in 1981. By the time that the first case was diagnosed in the US, hundreds of thousands of people were already infected by the time the first case was officially diagnosed in Africa, millions were infected.

The Frontline video has an excellent summary of this history. also has a good description.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

PBS = swell

day 6:

missed yesterday. sorry.

but today's resource is so great, it makes up for it.

last year PBS did a special on Frontline on "The Age of AIDS." they've made the entire 4 hour program available for viewing online, as well as creating a central hub of resources, research, and information. this resource is hands down the best overview of AIDS that i have found online. hope you'll take some time to learn from it...

PBS Frontline: The Age of AIDS

Sunday, November 4, 2007

promises, promises

day 4:
the slogan for World AIDS Day until 2010 is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise." The promises referred to by the event organizers are those made by people and countries. The promises we respond to, as God's people, are those God has given us in scripture and that are etched throughout the history of the church. Promises to relieve the burden of the oppressed and bring healing to those broken and diseased.

each Sunday during my month of AIDS blogging i'm going to take a few moments to reflect on a few of these promises and to consider what God is calling us to.

if anyone has material possesions and sees
his brother in need, but has no pity on him,
how can the love of God be in him?
dear children, let us not love with word or
in tongue, but with action and in truth.

>>1 john 3.17-18

i have so much crap. i own a house now first of all (or the bank does...however you want to view it). and it's full of all sorts of things. clothes and tools and files and furniture and so much stuff i don't even know what all of it is. and all the same i still have a list of things i wish i had.

giving away everything i have doesn't give me a heart for those with less. but it allows me see. my vision can be cluttered with all sorts of belongings. but clear it away and i can see others. see not only their need, but their hopes and dreams. and together we can pursue those dreams because i'm no longer encumbered by all of my junk.

what do you think? how does your stuff impede your compassion?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

how does AIDS work?

day 3:
last year in preparation for our church's push on World AIDS Day i did a lot of research on how HIV/AIDS goes about destroying peoples immune systems. the following few links provide what i think are the best overviews:

easy explanation with illustrations:

more complex explanation with animation:

Friday, November 2, 2007

an international movement

Day 2
Each day of the month leading up to World AIDS Day, I'll be posting some sort of resource, thoughts or action for you to use.

World AIDS Day began in 1988 as has since ballooned into an internationally recognized and observed awareness day. Up until 2004 it was run by UNAIDS (who I'll have more info on in future posts) at which point it was handed over to the World AIDS Campaign (WAC). They settled on the theme "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise." which will remain the theme until 2010.

The WAC has a variety of resources and networks available on their website. If you'd like to host an event at your school, church or neighborhood, you can receive posters, a CD-Rom of resources, and web promotion/networking all through their site for free.

I'm out of internet access for the next two days, so I'll post again on Saturday night (hopefully)...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

World AIDS Day...the one month countdown

last year i tried to post on my xanga site (wow...i'd forgotten that it was that recent that i used xanga) every day in the month prior to World AIDS Day to help educate and bring awareness to World AIDS Day.

i didn't succeed every day, but i did learn a lot in the process.

so this year, i'm taking another stab at it. i think i'll do better. though i'm going to be without internet access for the next two days, i think, so we may be off to a rough start.

World AIDS Day: December 1st, 2007

today you can...
-join the event on facebook (which has a handy list of ways to participate in the coming weeks)
-start thinking about how you want to participate (maybe using the above mentioned handy list)

more to come in the coming days...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Last Saturday I heard my first Christmas song of 2007. In October. I complained so loudly that my friends were embarassed. But that's another story.

Apparently Christmas is just around the corner. And so in that holiday spirit I offer this article from Crave, cnet's blog:

It's not very long and definitely worth the read. The things we spend our money on are telling of where our lives live.


Sometimes people ask me if peace would actually work. It's not our natural inclination to be kind, to turn the other cheek, to return evil with good. Surely peace is not sustainable they suggest. But have we actually ever tried? Every year America spends billions of dollars (yes...literally billions. over 100 billion in the last year on Iraq alone) on war and its supplies. Peace has never had that kind of payroll. It's had the poverty of Ghandi. The passion of Martin Luther King Jr. But it's never had the profits of our Fortune 500's or the taxes of our goverments leveraged in its favor.

This Christmas I want more than eye-candy. I want some hope. Some hope that I could offer peace and happiness to my neighbor. And my enemy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

technology for the global south...

my title for this post reminds me that i want to do a post on the things we call the other parts of the world...and the merits and downsides of the various names (third world, global south, developing countries, etc). if you have a name, drop me a comment about it and i'll include some research and thoughts on it in the post...

now onto this post...
cnet recently posted an interesting photo piece highlighting technologies that are helping to bring better quality of life in underdeveloped areas. take a gander and then stop back here and comment on which one you found the most interesting. the interesting thing about this to me is that some of these are really simple ideas. what other simple ideas are out there that we could cooperate on to partner with those who need them?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rich Mullins

here's a great article on Rich Mullins, who died unexpectedly 10 years ago. Rich lived justice before it became the next big thing. these thoughts are well put.

some favorite quotes (and my addendums):

"His typical concert uniform was jeans (with holes in the knees) and a t-shirt. No shoes. No socks. In fact, he was known for sneaking onto the stage before being introduced, because the glowing introductions always made him uncomfortable."
-i actually had the chance to see Rich in concert before he died, and this was absolutely true.
-i wish i was more uncomfortable with glowing introductions. i know i'm supposed to be humble and thus uncomfortable with them, but instead i rather enjoy them. pride...ugh.

"He didn’t know what his music and career were worth, and didn’t want to know."

"And when a sheltered Southern Baptist boy starts reading Catholics and Anglicans and other suspicious thinkers, the Gospel gets a whole lot bigger."
-some of the biggest things I've come to understand about God rest far away from the right-wing conservative evangelical upbringing I had. surely some really good things came from that, too, but much of what has shaped me is from "suspicious thinkers."

"He grew up Quaker."
- : )

"We were strangers, but I feel like we were companions during a very formative time in my life."

One thing not particularly highlighted in the article that struck me about Rich was his authentic voice. only Rich, it seems, could write "Awesome God", while at the same time penning lyrics to "Hold Me, Jesus" that include "sometime life just don't make sense at all" or to "Hard To Get" which is possibly the most honest song/psalm since David stopped writing.

sometimes i like to think that he went out just the way that he wanted to...

"when i leave, i want to go out like Elijah,
with a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
and when i look back on the stars
it'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
and it won't break my heart to say goodbye"

me too, Rich. me too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

long overdue

I know I'm way overdue on posting and for that I apologize. I'm in the middle of a rough stretch, schedule-wise. Hopefully next week will start looking normal again.

Until then, Wednesday, September 19th is "Talk Like A Pirate Day," so shiver me timbers and spread some justice-lovin' piratey talk, ya landlubbers! Arrrrr.

Seriously...good things will commence again next week. Or I'm a short-bearded scaliwag. Arrrrrr.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Things We Study

Apparently men prefer hot women:

For men, kissing is all about the sex:

honestly...people are dying from starvation, from war, from AIDS....and this is what we spend our time researching. ugh.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jim Carrey and Aung San Suu Kyi

This has just hit mainstream media outlets pretty heavy:

Read the article at CNN here

What do you know about this situation? What does it say about our country, our national mentality, ourselves that we could not know about this? That we have not done anything about it?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One tall stack of cash...

The richest man in India, worth roughly $28 billion, is building a $1 billion dollar house to live in the center of Mumbai, which also happens to house Asia's largest slum (6.5 million people).

Apparently I'm not the only one who finds this innappropriate:

"In a modern, democratic society, business must realize its wider social responsibility. The time has come for the better off sections of our society - not just in organized industry but in all walks of life - to understand the need to make our growth process more inclusive; to eschew conspicuous consumption; to save more and waste less; to care for those who are less privileged and less well off; to be role models of probity, moderation and charity"
-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Read the full article on the quote and the tower.

But what really turns this on its head for me is realizing that as much as this outrageous display of oppulence is a travesty to me, wouldn't my $4 mocha be a similar display to someone who earns $4 in a week (such as the 1/3 of the world's population that lives on less than a dollar a day). So then where does the line get drawn? What does simple living really look like?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

being the church versus having church

So I'm a little bitter because this was originally my idea and someone else apparently stole it. I have an email to prove it (the idea part...not the stealing part). But I'm working on getting over that.

Seriously, though, this is (insert extremely positive adjective here). It strikes me as odd that many churches wouldn't even consider doing this because it would be too out of the ordinary, or they were afraid their people wouldn't participate, or it would interrupt their sermon series, or they would lose a week of "income." Part of me wants to know why this is even news. Shouldn't people be accustomed to church being a group of like-minded people who serve in Jesus' name? And yet, it seems as if people were surprised, both within the church and outside of the church by the response and even the idea.

If we would be less concerned about having church and be more concerned about being the church, I think we would find ourself more closely aligned with what Christ had in mind when he initially formed his body.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

a "bad" neighborhood

How does our vocabulary affect our actions? Change our behaviors? Mold our living?

When we were in Boston the other week, I often heard people mention things about "bad neighborhoods." Comments like "we should be careful," or "it feels kind of scary," or "is this safe."

(Before I go any further, let me mention that safety is right at the top of my priority list as a Jr. High youth pastor. So don't think that I'm ignoring safety in the following comments.)

I was driving through one such neighborhood by myself one evening, going to pick up a group of our students from a house. All the warnings were ringing in the back of my head. And then it struck me. The houses I was driving in front of...people lived in them. The people I was passing on their sidewalks...they were real. People considered this neighborhood home. It was where they woke up in the morning. It was a place they couldn't "avoid after dark." It was streets on which their dreams began and, yes, sometimes ended. It was where they were involved in mundane things like brushing their teeth and hoping that some girl likes them. Where they paid bills and came home from work to.

I live in a bubble. One where I get to choose when I want to be "safe" or not and how "safe" I want to be. The lives that these people may be experiencing are significantly different than mine...I watched a drug deal go down as I drove further on. But God's love isn't somehow different for these people. And, in some sense, I don't think he particularly cares about how safe I feel, but more about how much I'll embrace that love. Embrace that love by embracing others. I was struck that I don't think Christ would view a city as "safe" neighborhoods and "unsafe" neighborhoods...but more as a load of people love on. And it's hard to embrace someone fromo a distance.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

4 months from now

is World AIDS Day (December 1st, 2007).

Now this might seem like a long time. But I suppose it depends on what you want to do with it. If you want to wear a ribbon and say a prayer, check back here on November 30 for a reminder. But if you want to mobilize those around you to love, act, care, respond to this international crisis, it's probably an appropriate time to start dreaming, planning, and begin being proactive.

You might wonder where you can even begin. Well, here's some good beginnings...

Start by watching The Age of AIDS, a brilliant documentary put together by PBS that is able to be viewed in its entirety online. While long (clocking in at right around 4 hours), it is broken up into nice little 15 minute-ish chunks that you could watch on a lunch break or before you go to work or go to bed every day. Not only will you walk away with a much greater grasp of the HIV/AIDS dilemna from all angles, but it also might educate your path of response.

Next, check out the World AIDS Campaign home online, which has a host of resources and highlights the theme for this year's day: leadership.

If you desire to address the topic from a Christian worldview, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a great place to start looking for religiously themed resources and inspiration, as is Saddleback Church's efforts in this area, including a well-resourced Summit on HIV/AIDS issues at the end of November.

That's probably a good enough start for the moment. As we get closer, I'll continue to put more resources, thoughts, and discussion starters up here to spur on our thought. If you're looking for more ideas on what to do, drop me an email or leave a comment and I'll get in touch...with other online resources, with ideas from things I've tried in the past, with connections to other people pursuing this day of awareness.

Monday, July 30, 2007

In the news...

A few of the top headlines in major American media sources in the past week:

--Michael Vick, star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, being under investigation for involvement in a dog-fighting ring.
--Lindsey Lohan, a sought after young actress, getting arrested for the second time in two months for DUI.
--The proceeds from OJ Simpson's "confession" book have been handed over to the Goldman family by a federal bankruptcy court.
--The Tour de France being seriously marred by a serries of dropouts and kickouts because of doping by major competitors
--"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" sells 8.3 million copies in the US on its first day of all time record.

Other things happening in the world that somehow we don't know about:

--Flooding in China leaves 650 people dead and destroy 450,000 homes, affecting some 119 million people.
--The British Army leaves Northern Ireland after 38 years, showing the progress of the peace process.
--1/3 of Iraqi's are in need of immediate emergency assistance, according to Oxfam.
--In a Lord of War-esque fashion, the US agrees to dealing 60 billion worth of arms to Israel and a handful of key Arab allies in the Middle East.

Before I get lost in a tangent on that last article (I'll save it for another post), this is a piece of the picture of why we never really do much/care much in America. It's hard to care when you don't know.

What ways do you combat ignorance when reading the news? I've made it a goal to...
-Read the news regularly. Even if it's discouraging, it's important to be informed.
-Use a variety of sources. My top three are (which is the weakest of the three on covering world news), the BBC, and Google news (which is well designed in you can thoroughly customize it so it has more world news stories, or a section on news about AIDS or slavery or whatever justice issue you most want to pursue).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

justice at work in Boston

so a couple weeks ago I was hanging out with 7th graders in North Carolina, and now I'm in Boston with 8th graders. The Boston Metro did a nifty little article outlining a bit of what our trip is about...take a look.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


As a follow up to the last post, Renee Montagne was kind enough to interview John Edwards on NPR's Morning Edition and ask him some of the questions we were considering here. (I didn't realize my readership had expanded so handily ; )

Take a look here for an online version. You can either read or listen to it at the link.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Poverty and Politics

John Edwards has built his presidential campaign on the issue of poverty, publishing books (Ending Poverty in America), centering speeches around the issue as far back as June 2006, making it a main push on his website (, and this week launching three-day whirlwind "Road to One America" tour to "help end poverty in America."

While giving more attention to this issue than any of the other candidates, Edwards has created his own controversy through extravagant spending (whether on haircuts or houses), causing some to question whether the elimination poverty is really his passion or just politics. CNN presented an interesting article on their website yesterday, taking a closer look at his campaign trail this week.

So how do we mix politics and poverty? How do you justify spending millions of dollars on a national preliminary campaign that at the end will lead to an even more expensive national campaign, while famillies are struggling to make it by on several thousand dollars for a year? And what does it mean to "end poverty in 30 years" as Edwards aims to do? I am intrigued by his story, by his passions, by his personality, but am also hesitant.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

enacting some Justice in North Carolina...

sorry i haven't been posting...i'm busy working with 45 7th graders in North Carolina, putting in a septic system for some folks that could really use it. i'll be back and ready to attack probably early next week. and i've had a lot of thoughts i've been mulling over, so i'm looking forward to getting some stuff up on here...

Friday, July 6, 2007

veritas forum

I've heard of the veritas forum before. Malone College, the school I graduated from a few years back (and stay actively involved with as a member of the CCO), held a similar sort of idea, except we called them World View Forums. The basic gist was gathering a few experts of varying world views and having them explore their divergent opinions together, venturing through a variety of topics. During my time at Malone, we looked at just war & pacifism (something I hope to explore on this blog sooner or later), Buddhism, sexuality, Hinduism, Judaism, materialism, and more.

Anyway, I stumbled across the Veritas Forum the other day, thanks to my friend Scott Calgaro (yeah, the bio is rather, umm, short, but that austere look ought to convince you of his importance), and found that they have a fantastic collection of their discussions that you can view or listen to online. AND a number of them deal with social justice issues. AND, even better, they have them nicely catalogued so that you can see all the ones associated with this particular topic. AND, finally, because I'm so kind, I've included the link here for your enjoyment. So...enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2007


Thanks to the relentess promotion of a handful of tireless workers (like those who put together Invisible Children, or Don Cheadle and his new book on the topic), Sudan is starting to be a topic that more people are aware of.

On a side note, one of the reasons why I don't think Sudan got a lot of press early on was because most of us have no idea where it is. We assume it's just some small African country, so we don't give it a second thought, not realizing that first of all, size doesn't matter (and neither does location), and even if it did, Sudan's actually 200,000 + square miles larger than Alaska.


Here's a great resource I stumbled across the other day (can't remember how, now), that gives a great, interactive explanation of the crisis in Sudan. Take a look when you have some time...

Washington Post Special Report

Saturday, June 30, 2007

attacked from all sides

I just got my quarterly Journal of Student Ministries and it just so happens that the entire issue is centered on this issue of justice. I'm sure it will give me even more to think about when I get the chance to sit down and read it. I've been busy today with house work and getting ready for a presentation I'm doing tomorrow. So hopefully tomorrow or Monday I'll get back to here and be able to respond to the some of the thoughts left below and add some more resources and another post on some other items I've been pondering.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Buffett Blast...

Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, chided the US government's tax system recently at a political fundraiser. Apparently, though he's worth about $52 billion, he only had to pay 17.7% on the $42 million he made last year, as opposed to his secretary, who cashed in $60,000 last year (see full article here). Politics aside (and that perhaps he ought to pay his secretary more), Buffett had these wise word to say:

" If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”

Wow. That's pretty rich. Take a minute and click here to find out where you rank in the echelons of prosperity. What are you doing today to think about the rest of the world?


Thursday, June 28, 2007

ultra urbanization

The UN reported on Wednesday that by next year, over half of the world's population will live in urban areas, representing some 3.3 billion people. (you can check out the UN's report on this by clicking here). This site has a plethora of resources for understanding the extent and impact of urbanization.

So why does urbanization matter? There's a lot of positive and negative to it. on the good side, urbanization allows for a concentration and centralization of resources. Because more people live close together, the resources of those people can be pooled together in a more apt way, allowing for a greater variety of goods, services, and aid. For example, hospitals, fire departments, and post offices can serve more people when those people are in closer proximity. Good and services that would not be sustainable in rural areas can be dreamed and consequently created in urban areas.

However, urbanization also usually leads to the disintegration of the family unit and/or fabric of community found in rural areas. This is a bit of a generalization, in the sense that it's not true in every case. It does merit consideration, though. Rural areas tend to be more supportive of the family unity: you might have several generations of a family living together, pursuing life together. In cities, families tend to split generationally, if not in other ways as well. Urbanization seems to too often lead to individualization. This doesn't have to be the case, though. How can we make a greater effort to engage in community-driven activities within an environment that would split us? How can we pursue people of personal prosperity? Though city-life may lead us to more easily create a personalized existence, the call of justice ought to challenge us to engage in creative thought that considers our proximity to others and our impact upon their lives.

justice is...

What exactly?

A hot topic? A passing fad? A glimmer of hope? A radical calling?

Recently i've been drawn to justice. In my early years, growing up, justice was one of those attributes of God that seemed more painful than exciting. Like the green vegetables at the dinner table of God...i don't really want it, but if it means i get some heaven at the end, i'll put up with it. i think this was mostly because when i thought of justice i thought of God judging. and, in the massive wisdom of a human being, i didn't see why he got to judge folks and i didn't.

What i didn't grasp then was that when i judge, it's usually degrading to others. But when God judges it's freeing. His justice seeks to set the world to rights, to return it to the natural state in which he created it. And this is the definition of justice i've settled upon: returning the world to what it should be. Christ, thus, was a pretty big deal in all of this, because it somehow allows us to see the world aright again. It's like we've been standing tilt-headed for years and he comes along and sets things straight (and gets rid of that massive krick in the neck that had given us such a sour look on the world).

But as i've explored justice, i've been surprised by a number of my lack of knowledge about it (and, for that matter, why it took me so long to stumble upon a more compelling understanding of this astonishingly good attribute), by the church's often lack of care (we're too busy "loving" and "preaching the Gospel" it seems to be overly concerned with justice), and by it's burgeoning popularity, particularly in my generation.

So, as most twenty-somethings, i decided the best way to tackle the problem was to start a blog. Ok...perhaps not the best idea, but one of several ways i plan on pursuing this character trait. i have a blog already, but it's too scattered to handle this important idea. So here we are. i don't just want to know of justice. i want to be justice.