All posts tagged “Guardian

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Repaso: Mayan apocalypse, LatAm’s economy, faith predictions, Alabama & immigration, Anne Lamott on writing, 16th century social media

1. Mayans weigh in on the end of the world
We’ve all heard about the supposed ancient Mayan prediction that the end of the world would come in 2012. Kevin Rushby with the Guardian has an interesting piece taking a look at the Mayans of today, and how rumors of an impending apocalypse have been greatly exaggerated. Rushby focuses largely on the Mayan religious landscape, including a look at the historical roots of their religious syncretism born out of a survival instinct:

The Mayans have had to survive for a long time as underdogs and they have done it by accommodation. When the Spanish came in 1523, plotting total cultural destruction, the indigenous people (Mayan is a catch-all term for several related languages and peoples) responded with guile. Images of Catholic saints were stuffed with old Mayan gods; parts of temples were incorporated into churches; at Nuestra Señora de la Merced in Antigua Guatemala you can see how Mayan masons carved symbols of maize and hummingbirds into the church facade.

2. The rise of Latin America’s economy
Al Jazeera English has a 25-minute feature on Latin America and how it has fared remarkably well in the midst of our current global economic woes. The show touches on mining in Peru and the rise of middle-class consumerism in Brazil. It’s encouraging to see much of the region rising out of poverty, but obviously the situation is not 100% rosy, and it will be interesting to see how these trends shape the region in non-economic terms:

3. Faith/religion trends for 2012
CNN’s Belief blog asked 15 faith leaders to offer their predictions for the coming year. Among them is Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, representing Latinos/Hispanics in the US:

America’s evangelical community will have its hands full addressing both a presidential election and offering a biblical response to “end of days” Mayan prophecies surrounding 2012. With the economy emerging as the primary issue for the November election, America’s born-again community will have an opportunity to contextualize an alternative narrative to the polarizing elements from both the right and the left by reconciling the righteousness message of Billy Graham with the justice platform of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By offering compassionate, truth-filled solutions and focusing on the message of grace, love, reconciliation and healing, evangelicals will demonstrate that the greatest agenda stems neither from the donkey nor the elephant but rather from the lamb.

4. Churches and the problem with “welcoming the stranger”
The Los Angeles Times has a lengthy feature on one particular Southern Baptist Church in Alabama, which is seeking to navigate the difficult tension between anti-immigrant legislation in the state and its responsibilities as a faith community. The Get Religion blog also has an interesting analysis on the piece’s coverage of the religious angle in the story.

5. Anne Lamott on writing
Legendary writer and memoirist Anne Lamott had an essay in Sunset a couple of years ago (HT Michael Hyatt) with her best tips for writers, including how we use our time:

I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.

6. 95 theses & 140 characters
The Economist has a fascinating take on Martin Luther and how earlier forms of “social media” had a lot to do with the success of the Reformation:

It is a familiar-sounding tale: after decades of simmering discontent a new form of media gives opponents of an authoritarian regime a way to express their views, register their solidarity and co-ordinate their actions. The protesters’ message spreads virally through social networks, making it impossible to suppress and highlighting the extent of public support for revolution. The combination of improved publishing technology and social networks is a catalyst for social change where previous efforts had failed. That’s what happened in the Arab spring. It’s also what happened during the Reformation, nearly 500 years ago, when Martin Luther and his allies took the new media of their day—pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts—and circulated them through social networks to promote their message of religious reform.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: Datadirect.com]

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Repaso: Tackling poverty with photography, Arcade Fire’s biblical themes, MLK’s influence, and sustainable farming


1. Tackling poverty with photography
The Guardian has a really cool photo essay from former war photographer Nancy McGirr who has helped kids living in Guatemala City’s slums to photograph their experiences in an effort to break the cycle of poverty.

2. Arcade Fire’s Sermon on the Mount
Michael Gilmour, an English and biblical literature professor from Canada writing for the Huffington Post, has an interesting take on Arcade Fire’s “imaginative blend of social commentary with an informed and creative reading of biblical literature,” focusing on their fantastic latest record:

The most explicit reference to the Bible in The Suburbs is the warning not to “trust a millionaire quoting the Sermon on the Mount” (“City With No Children”). On one level, the phrase simply indicates things are not what they appear, but I suggest there is more going on with this conspicuous naming of a biblical text. It seems to me that ideas in the Sermon on the Mount lurk in the background of many of the album’s songs, not just the one referring to it by name. If we read that ancient homily (Matthew 5-7, with parallels in Luke) while listening to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, we find it informs their lyrical narratives in subtle ways. This is an example of lyricists using biblical intertexts for artistic, not confessional purposes.

3. MLK’s impact on conservatives
Martin Luther King Jr. has never particularly been a poster boy for conservative Christianity, but Jay Sekulow and Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice try to make the case for it on the Washington Post’s “Religious Right Now” blog:

With Dr. King, and his life back in the news, it’s important to realize that for many Christian conservatives, he has served as a powerful role model in the fight to protect the rights of the individual. And, that challenge is as equally important today as it was 50 years ago during Dr. King’s days.

4. Back to the Start
This is a really original animated short from Chipotle, featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay’s “The Scientist”. Here’s the blurb:

Coldplay’s haunting classic ‘The Scientist’ is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled, “Back to the Start.” The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

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Guatemala and the global food crisis

Photo courtesy of Agros International (www.agros.org)

There’s been a lot of recent news about rising food prices and many outlets are providing commentary and speculation on what it all means for the world’s poor. The Guardian has some notable coverage, including an interactive map with reporting from nine places in the world where food costs are having an impact. One of those places is my country of birth:

Developing countries such as Guatemala are on the frontline. Half of all the nation’s children under five are malnourished – one the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Yet the country has food in abundance. It is the fifth largest exporter of sugar, coffee and bananas. Its rural areas are witnessing a palm oil rush as international traders seek to cash in on demand for biofuels created by US and EU mandates and subsidies. But despite being a leading agro-exporter, half of Guatemala’s 14 million people live in extreme poverty, on less than $2 a day. And the indicators are getting worse. The money to be made from the food chain here, as in most poor countries, has been captured by elites and transnational corporations, leaving half the population excluded.

The piece cites research from Oxfam, which recently launched its GROW campaign for food justice. It’s an interesting initiative addressing a quite significant issue, so please check it out. Here’s the launch video: