1. “Economic hitman” talks corporate social responsibility
John Perkins — not the one who started Christian Community Development Association, but the one who wrote “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” — was interviewed by Forbes.com, by and large a very pro-business outlet. The interview is on corporate social responsibility, or CSR, and how Perkins sees business changing. He had this to say about recent trends in Latin America in reaction to what has been business as usual:
These countries are not getting rid of the corporations, not nationalizing them, not driving them out – because they recognize that they need them – but saying to these corporations, “If you’re going to drill for oil here in Ecuador, or if you’re going to drill for gas here in Bolivia, or grow bananas in El Salvador, that’s okay, but you must share a larger percentage of the profits with our people. You’ve got to pay higher taxes, and you’ve got to pay higher wage rates. You must make sure that the people working on these projects are adequately compensated and that they’re not working as slaves to you. And you have to offer the same protections for our environment as those required in Alaska and other states.
2. Mark Hatfield: Christ’s call to service
The Center for Public Justice has reprinted an essay from 1977 by Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-OR), who died this week. I didn’t know much about Hatfield before this, to be honest, but this is a great essay on how Christian faith should shape political responsibility:
We must not suppose that Christ was a-political. On the contrary, His message could not have been addressed more pointedly to the social and political injustices and realities of His time. The Sermon on the Mount, for instance, contains four beatitudes which deal with giving comfort and hope to the oppressed, and four others which give encouragement and blessing to those who help the cause of the oppressed. The truth is that our Lord set forth a hope for social and political renewal, for achieving God’s purposes and standards of justice, which was far more radical in its dimensions than any of the movements of His time. That hope is rooted in a response to the good news of the kingdom of God, and involves, today as then, a total transformation of the way life is defined.
3. Justice and the pivotal moment
Charlie Peacock, longtime Nashville music guru, has a post at the Art House America blog about catching up with Bono when U2 recently came to town, and reflecting back on “the pivotal moment” in 2002 when American evangelicals first really started getting on board with justice issues, and HIV/AIDS in Africa in particular. Though I’d prefer to say my commitment to justice and development wasn’t because of a rock star, 2002-3 was a pivotal moment for me too, and yes, Bono had something to do with it. Here’s how Peacock describes that time:
Because the Spirit of Justice is never just blowing through one person or one town, all sorts of people simultaneously met and heard similar messages bouncing off God’s satellites. Grass roots and grass tops were all up in the mix. It was a strange mixture of people mobilizing across America and the planet to fight the worst of disease, hunger, and extreme poverty. Political enemies put down their blue/red rhetoric and championed help for Africa. Christians who previously groaned that AIDS is nothing but a sex problem became infected with the love that Christ has for the poor and inflicted. They turned and returned to a better way of being human — one that cares for all that God loves. Countries, institutions, and corporations released some of the brain trust and wealth they had stored up for themselves. They offered it for the good of people and planet. In short, for a moment in time, an ad hoc gathering of people sought justice and loved mercy, and those who named it as such woke each day to walk humbly with God.
4. Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing
For those who stay on top of social media discussions about faith, it may be obvious that I’m a bit behind on this one, but this post about evangelism by Carl Medearis, a Christian and “international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations” has been widely circulated and discussed over the past few weeks. This obviously has a lot to do with the post’s provocative title, but its 3,600+ comments show that it’s a topic people feel strongly about. One good response I came across is this one from Adam Jeskewith InterVarsity.
5. Help the poor, help the world
Byron Borger from the one-of-a-kind Hearts and Minds Books (not far from Lancaster) reviews two excellent books on Christian responses to poverty over at the Q Blog. I like to think I’m connected to both authors. The first is “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns, World Vision’s president. We met once, at a Christmas party at the DC office and along with my fellow interns we sang him a couple of Christmas carols. It was weird. Next is “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” by Ron Sider, one of my heroes, who heads up Evangelicals for Social Action, for which I’ve done some writing. We met briefly after he spoke at Eastern a couple of years ago. Both books are very worthwhile, and both authors are stand-up guys.
My friend Brandon, who is a youth pastor and much more in touch with pop culture than I am, has been getting into “planking” this summer — a trend that strikes me as both puzzling and painful. Well, as it happens, he and his planking made the front page of Lancaster’s paper yesterday. Whether this is proof of Brandon being cutting edge, or just a lack of real news in Lancaster, is up for debate, but it’s cool either way. Here’s my favorite quote:
“This will not be a lifelong passion,” he said.