All posts tagged “immigrant

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Repaso: Pastoring immigrants; Cuban dissident eulogized; the Internet’s formative power; evangelicalism in Brazil; mining’s impact on health; reducing poverty in Central America

1. Pastoral responsibility in immigrant-sending countries
M. Daniel Carroll R., an Old Testament scholar at Denver Seminary and author of Christians at the Border (which I’m thinking I ought to re-read and review soon), shares some reflections on immigration after returning from a recent trip to Guatemala where he participated in discussions about the role of churches and pastors in countries that traditionally send immigrants. This snippet has huge implications:

There is an appreciation of the fact that migration is a global phenomenon that is substantially rooted in global economics and labor demands. Migration can only be slowed if there are jobs and suitable environments in the sending countries. These are sociopolitical and economic challenges for each country, but they also are pastoral and theological challenges to the churches: What is the role of Christians and the churches to make these countries a more human place? How to make believers aware of how God is interested in every dimension of human life and how Christian mission should impact these, too.

2. Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá eulogized
Yoani Sanchez, a prominent blogger in Cuba, eulogizes her fellow dissident Oswaldo Payá, who died in a car accident last weekend (HT Brian Dijkema):

No one should die before reaching their dreams of freedom. With the death of Oswaldo Payá (1952 – 2012), Cuba has suffered a dramatic loss for its present and an irreplaceable loss for its future. It was not just an exemplary man, a loving father and a fervent Catholic who stop breathing yesterday, Sunday, but also an irreplaceable citizen for our nation. His tenacity shone forth since I was a teenager, when he chose not to hide the scapulars — as so many others did — and instead publicly acknowledged his faith.

3. How the Internet changes how we discuss things
Jake Belder had a post this week quoting Alastair Roberts on the ways the Internet has changed how we discuss things. He offers six thought-provoking suggestions, which get me thinking again of Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps, and long before him, the pioneering work of Marshall McLuhan (of “the medium is the message” fame).

4. Evangelicalism in Brazil
In last week’s Repaso I included a story about the recent “March for Jesus” in Brazil. Felipe Pena at Americas Quarterly has a nice summary of evangelicalism in the country, based on a recent report and touching on various aspects of Brazilian life. All in all, it helps to put the march in proper context:

[I]n many countries, Evangelicalism is most popular among those who are starting to break out of poverty. In Brazil, however, many of the poor have discovered in Evangelicalism a sense of collective identity. For those Brazilians marginalized by society, Evangelicalism is a framework within which they can reassert their rights.

5. Mining’s impact on health in Guatemala
Allan Lissner, who provided the excellent photos that accompanied my 2010 cover story on mining in Guatemala, has a new photo essay on his website about a recent health tribunal in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, the town at the center of the mining controversy in Guatemala.

6. Reducing poverty in Central America
The Center for Global Development, a D.C.-based think tank focused on solutions to global poverty, has a new report called Competitiveness in Central America: The Road to Sustained Growth and Poverty Reduction, which outlines what donors and the private sector can do to help Central America, offering recommendations in five main areas. Here’s a teaser blurb:

Central American countries have made a lot of progress in the past decade stabilizing their economies and improving their business climates. By doing so, they have weathered the most recent crises relatively well, but they are still host to certain vulnerabilities and weakness: per-capita growth rates lag behind the rest of Latin America; poverty and inequality rates remain worrisomely high; and some signs are emerging that macroeconomic and democratic stability are weakening.

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: David Rochkind, “Train headed north with potential migrants to the US in southern Mexico” via]

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Repaso: The future of aid; US military in Latin America; GOP & Hispanics; 100 best employers; faith-work issues; and Accord Network videos

1. The future of aid
Reuters AlertNet has a really cool multimedia feature running right now with stories, videos, polls, infographics and more exploring the future of humanitarian aid. I could spend hours exploring everything there.

2. New US military bases in Latin America
The Just the Facts blog (focused on Latin America and US foreign policy toward the region) has a Google Map showing all the new military bases the US built in Latin America in 2009-10, paid for with money from the counternarcotics budget. Seeking to curb the drug trade may be necessary, but given the region’s history (and US military involvement behind the scenes and otherwise), this is something worth keeping an eye on.

3. The GOP and the Hispanic vote
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and current brother of W, has an op-ed in the Washington Post, encouraging Republicans to consider how they might earn the Hispanic vote – something none of the GOP front-runners seem particularly interested in doing:

[W]e need to think of immigration reform as an economic issue, not just a border security issue. Numerous polls show that Hispanics agree with Republicans on the necessity of a secure border and enforceable and fair immigration laws to reduce illegal immigration and strengthen legal immigration. Hispanics recognize that Democrats have failed to deliver on immigration reform, having chosen to spend their political capital on other priorities. Republicans should reengage on this issue and reframe it.

4. 100 best companies to work for
Yesterday I went to hear Christopher J.H. Wright speak on the topic of “Saints in the Marketplace.” In a nutshell, he emphasized the fact that God created work, that he audits it, governs it, and redeems it. I’ll post full thoughts on the talk next week, but in the meantime, here are some great examples from Fortune of businesses that create great places to work. When thinking Christianly about business, this certainly isn’t the only indicator to look at, but it’s one worth highlighting and affirming for sure.

5. Faith-work distortions and possibilities
Lukas Naugle, who I recently met over a cup of coffee here in Phoenix to discuss business and the common good, has an essay in Comment about the integration of faith and business, and some of the common pitfalls of those trying to connect the two. It’s a great read, and a hugely important topic, specifically taking a look at two books on the subject.

[I]t can be tricky for an average businessperson to figure out how he or she should do business for the glory of God and the common good. Folks who run into this problem exist in many places—I have met them over coffee, investment pitches, and at conferences. Of course, there are some very positive stories and examples out there, but those who haven’t gained a full-orbed view of the integration of faith and business are still the majority, and they come in various shapes and sizes. Here are some of the faith-work Frankenstein’s monsters I’ve met.

6. Accord Network’s forum videos now online
The Accord Network, serving Christian groups working in the fields of relief and development, has posted videos from a number of the presentations at its Developing Excellence Forum, held last November in Baltimore. Main session speakers include Scott Todd (Compassion International, 58: Campaign), Peter Greer (HOPE International), and Tony Hall (former US ambassador). Additionally, videos from the Transformational Development Summit, sponsored by my friends at Eastern University, include Bryant Myers (Fuller Seminary, World Vision International), Stephan Baumann (World Relief), and others. It’s a wealth of good stuff.

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:]

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One Penny More

My next big writing project for PRISM (tentatively slated for the May/June 2012 issue) is one that I’m really looking forward to researching. I’ll be taking a look at the lives of migrant farmworkers in the US and at the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group with these (modest) aims:

a fair wage for the work we do, more respect on the part of our bosses and the industries where we work, better and cheaper housing, stronger laws and stronger enforcement against those who would violate workers’ rights, the right to organize on our jobs without fear of retaliation, and an end to involuntary servitude in the fields.

Here’s a video CIW produced for its One Penny More campaign:

If you’ve ever thought you deserved a raise for the work you do, you should be able to sympathize with the very modest request this campaign makes. Currently, a 32 lb bucket of tomatoes earns the worker 45 cents, a rate that has apparently remained flat for 30 years, while as we all know the cost of everything around us has risen exponentially. At the current rate, a worker would need to fill more than 16 buckets (at 32 lbs each) per hour just to reach minimum wage. That’s more than 500 lbs of tomatoes per hour, all day, every day.

All they’re asking for here is one more penny per pound of tomatoes, which seems to me like quite a modest demand.

Repaso: ‘Mother of Exiles’, Latino Christians, Native American kids, art and imagination, gold mining, and gun smuggling

1. Give me your tired, your poor…
The Statue of Liberty turns 125 today, and a New York Times blog post has the fascinating story of how it became an enduring immigrant-beckoning symbol:

Emma Lazarus’s poem only belatedly became synonymous with the Statute of Liberty, whose 125th birthday as a gift from France will be celebrated on Friday by the National Park Service. Lazarus’s “New Colossus,” with its memorable appeal to “give me your tired, your poor,” was commissioned for a fund-raising campaign by artists and writers to pay for the statue’s pedestal. But while the poem was critically acclaimed — the poet James Russell Lowell wrote that he liked it “much better than I like the Statue itself” because it “gives its subject a raison d’être which it wanted before quite as much as it wants a pedestal” — it was not even mentioned at the dedication ceremony.

2. “Latinos are saving American Christianity”
NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty had an interesting report for Morning Edition on the rise of evangelical and Pentecostal churches among Latinos in the US, focusing on one Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago:

It’s a truism that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. But the people streaming into New Life’s sanctuary are black, white and Asian, as well as Hispanic. Most, like de Jesus, are second-generation Latinos. And three of four services are in English. Indeed, much of the church’s growth is fueled by Hispanic-Americans shedding the faith of their parents. De Jesus says he can spot them every time.

3. Foster care (or kidnapping?) of Native American kids
Thanks to my friend Jared Hankee for sharing the link to an NPR investigative series on foster care and adoption issues in South Dakota involving Native American children. It seems like a very sad situation and a very complicated issue, but one worth learning about:

“Cousins are disappearing; family members are disappearing,” said Peter Lengkeek, a Crow Creek Tribal Council member. “It’s kidnapping. That’s how we see it.” State officials say they have to do what’s in the best interest of the child, but the state does have a financial incentive to remove the children. The state receives thousands of dollars from the federal government for every child it takes from a family, and in some cases the state gets even more money if the child is Native American. The result is that South Dakota is now removing children at a rate higher than the vast majority of other states in the country. Native American families feel the brunt of this. Their children make up less than 15 percent of the child population, yet they make up more than half of the children in foster care.

4. Cultivating the imagination
Earlier this week I blogged about being related to Eugene Peterson. I’ve linked to interviews and articles about him before (here, here, and here). But I just think he’s worth listening to, so here we go again, this time in an interview with Response about art and imagination in the life of a pastor:

From artists I learned never to look at just the surface of a person, but to look for the interior life, to consider what I know of their past. An exterior is never just an exterior. In our culture, we’re trained to focus on the exterior, for instance, through advertising and publicity. Being present to a person long enough to start sensing that they’re never just themselves, they’re their parents, their grandparents, their kids, their neighbors – all of that becomes part of their story. Artists help me do that, because they are attuned to the interior life. I think it’s interesting that Karl Barth, the theologian who has influenced me most, was mostly influenced by Mozart. Mozart was a theme in his life. I think he learned a lot about writing theology by listening to Mozart.

5. “Fly-by-night” gold mining (and resistance) in Guatemala
Mike Allison, a professor at the University of Scranton and one of the best bloggers on Central American politics, passed along a link to a paper on the expansion of the gold mining industry in Guatemala which I hadn’t seen before. It was published in the Bulletin of Latin American Research; here’s the abstract:

Over the past two decades, the gold mining industry has increased its activity in Latin America. Growing contestation and conflict around gold mining projects have accompanied this shift. This article draws from the case of Guatemala, where metal exploration has grown by 1,000 per cent since 1998, to illustrate how the proliferation of small ‘junior’ firms – together with neoliberal investment policies and suitability of mineralisation – set the stage for fly-by-night gold mining and, therefore, intense resistance from host communities to mineral development.

6. Tell Obama to help stop gun smuggling to Mexico
We all know about the terrible violence that’s been consuming Mexico in recent years — 40,000 killed in five years — but for many of us, our concern stops with keeping it from spilling across the border into the US. It’s time to deal with the fact that the vast majority of weapons used in drug-related crimes in Mexico come from north of the Rio Grande. The Washington Office on Latin America is urging President Obama to take concrete steps to stop it. Please sign the petition here.

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!

Eugene H. Peterson, my relative

I’ve long been a fan of Eugene H. Peterson. Most people know him as “The Message guy”, for better or worse, but for decades he’s been writing rich, stirring books on what he calls “spiritual theology.” A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, a book on Christian discipleship with a title re-appropriated from Nietzsche, of all people, is one worth reading again and again. That’s just one of some 30 books he’s written. But it was his work as a pastor in suburban Baltimore for nearly 30 years that has defined his life vocationally. That’s the subject of his new book, The Pastor: A Memoir. It’s a wonderful book for anyone who is a pastor, has a pastor, or has opinions about pastors. That’s most of us.

Peterson’s writing is what endeared him to me in the first place, but I must admit there was an added element of intrigue when I discovered that Eugene H. Peterson’s middle name is Hoiland. Then I learned that he was born in Stanwood, a small town in Washington state where my grandfather Theol Hoiland served as a pastor and where my dad lived for a bit as a kid. Peterson’s new memoir fills in some more blanks in our shared family tree. Though Peterson’s father was Swedish, his mother was Norwegian, and her maiden name was Hoiland. Her parents, Eugene’s maternal grandparents, arrived in the United States in the early 1900s, coming from Stavanger, the part of Norway where my ancestors also originated. The Hoilands of Stavanger: Eugene’s ancestors and mine.

So what specifically does Peterson have to say about these Hoilands? Well, he refers to two of them in detail: his grandfather Andre and his uncle Sven. Andre came to the US by himself in 1900 to work in a steel mill in Pittsburgh, before returning to get his wife and nine kids and bring them to settle in Montana, where he worked making sidewalks. Legend has it that when the Hoilands settled in Montana, they brought along a Norwegian troll named Skogen, which is a bit odd. But not as strange as the story of Sven, one of Andre’s sons and Eugene’s mother’s favorite older brother. Sven, as it happens, was shot and killed by his wife after he beat her and told her to solicit herself. He had been a drunkard, an adulterer and a thief, and had been married a mere six weeks.

Peterson heard these stories — good ones from his mother, bad ones from everyone else — and wondered what to make of it all. But as he reflected back on those stories, he realized that the contradictory legacy of Uncle Sven helped form him as the pastor he would eventually become:

The contradictions in Sven, the affectionate and playful big brother set alongside the abusive and violent husband, worked themselves into my adolescent imagination. Did one cancel the other? Was there any way to get the playful brother and the abusive husband into the same story?

He set out to write a novel based on the complex character of Sven, though it never amounted to much:

But the effort to accommodate the ambiguities of the moral and spiritual life did. I had no idea as I was plotting this novel that I was developing a pastoral imagination adequate for entering into the complexities of good and evil, sin and salvation, that make up much of the daily life of a congregation. When I finally did become a pastor, I was surprised at how thoroughly Sven had inoculated me against “one answer” systems of spiritual care: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong” is the warning posted by H.L. Mencken.

Thanks to Sven, I was being prepared to understand a congregation as a gathering of people that requires a context as large as the Bible itself if we are to deal with the ambiguities of life in the actual circumstances in which people live them. If the life of David that comprised prayer and adultery and murder could be written and told as a gospel story, no one in my congregation would be written off. For me, my congregation would become a work-in-progress — a novel in which everyone and everything is connected in a salvation story in which Jesus has the last word. No reductions to stereotype: not my grandmother’s desperate reduction of her son to a death-bed repentance, not my mother’s affectionate reduction of her brother to a fun-loving, devil-may-care naif, not the jury’s legal reduction of Sven to a drunken wife abuser, not the detached reduction by a psychiatrist of Sven to a narcissistic sociopath.

I’m proud to be related to Eugene Hoiland Peterson. I’m not proud to be related to Sven. But like it or not, I’m related to both. All of us are, one way or another.