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Repaso: Alternative justice, global evangelicalism, Guatemala’s geothermal jackpot, Mexico vs. Catholic Church, and more

1. Better Justice in Baltimore: A Community’s Approach to Crime
One of my professors from Eastern, Stan LeQuire, passed along a fascinating piece from the Solutions Journal about “community conferencing” for victims and offenders as an alternative justice system in Baltimore:

So why is community conferencing so successful? If there is a secret to its success, it has to do with our emotions. Community conferences allow—and even encourage—participants to express how they feel, something that our culture seems to discourage. It’s messy stuff, but our emotions motivate us more than our thoughts do. Just think…if someone gives a group a great intellectual solution to their problem, and they still walk out of the room hating each other, that solution will have no chance… In order for people to feel differently about a crime or conflict, they need to be able to address the incident on an emotional level before they can move forward. Community conferences provide a space and structure for people to do just that.

2. Global survey of evangelical leaders
During last fall’s Lausanne congress in Cape Town, the Pew Forum surveyed evangelical leaders from around the world and the report is now available. This is from the report’s introduction:

As the evangelical movement has grown and spread around the globe over the past century, it has become enormously diverse, ranging from Anglicans in Africa, to Baptists in Russia, to independent house churches in China, to Pentecostals in Latin America. And this diversity, in turn, gives rise to numerous questions. How much do evangelicals around the world have in common? What unites them? What divides them? Do leading evangelicals in the Global South see eye-to-eye with those in the Global North on what is essential to their faith, what is important but not essential and what is simply incompatible with evangelical Christianity?

3. Guatemala City’s geothermal jackpot
When I was maybe ten or so I climbed Pacaya, an active volcano in Guatemala, along with my dad, my brother and a group of friends. I remember eating my picnic lunch, watching lava flow down the side and having hot, tiny pellets of volcanic rock dropping around us. Now, according to GlobalPost (article and video) some folks are tapping into Pacaya for geothermal energy — a relatively clean type of alternative energy — to help power up Guatemala City:

The steam rising from the Pacaya volcano and the hills and rivers surrounding it on the outskirts of Guatemala’s captial city hints at a power source that could give the country the energy security it craves… But there are some barriers to entry for other companies hoping to join Guatemala’s geothermal race. The development of the geothermal fields is costly and risky – the plants themselves are also expensive to build and drilling doesn’t always turn up what’s expected. Despite those risks, Ormat plans to expand its operations in Guatemala.

4. Colombia’s best hope (PDF)
Adrienne Wiebe and Bonnie Klassen of Mennonite Central Committee have a good piece in The Ploughshares Monitor about the complexity of the ongoing volatile situation in Colombia and what ordinary Colombians are doing to work for peace. In the clash between government and military forces and rebel groups, they write,

The biggest losers are 45 million ordinary citizens, rural communities, and the environment. But it is with the ordinary citizens, the “losers,” that the best hopes and possibilities for peace in Colombia are emerging.

5. Mexico vs. the Catholic Church
There’s an interesting piece by Tim Padgett on Time Magazine’s Global Spin blog about a legal battle between Mexico’s Catholic Church and the country’s electoral tribunal, after the church hierarchy was sanctioned for making statements against political parties in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage. There are significant implications for both freedom of speech and freedom of religion in Mexico:

In its ruling, the [Federal Electoral Institute] tribunal insisted that it’s “protecting the secularism of the state.” But does a political proclamation by a religious group really threaten the secularism of a state? Does Mexico risk becoming Iran if it lets priests publicly criticize politicos? No. In reality, it’s the IFE judges, the PRD and other backers of Mexico’s outdated Religious Associations Law who may be undermining the country’s fledgling democracy.

6. The best 404 error message ever
Time Magazine’s Techland blog had a post about creative “404 error” messages, including one that’s actually a video. I was going to embed it here, but instead, click this link and see what you get.

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