All posts tagged “undocumented

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Repaso: Easterly on institutions; Springsteen’s latest; Christianity in the Americas; interview; famous last words; FLW’s unbuilt projects; Half the Sky film

1. Easterly on the roots of hardship
Bill Easterly, economics professor at NYU, has a review of a new book on development economics in the Wall Street Journal, emphasizing the critical role healthy and inclusive institutions play in overcoming poverty. In what he says here (and particularly the part where I’ve added italics), I see this as a huge challenge for Latin America:

The arrival of “Why Nations Fail” is thus a hugely welcome event, since economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson take on the big questions and in doing so present a substantial alternative to the dominant thinking about global poverty. For Messrs. Acemoglu and Robinson, it is institutions that determine the fate of nations. Success comes, the authors say, when political and economic institutions are “inclusive” and pluralistic, creating incentives for everyone to invest in the future. Nations fail when institutions are “extractive,” protecting the political and economic power of only a small elite that takes income from everyone else.

2. Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball”
Last weekend my buddy Matty (who’s also a remarkable singer-songwriter and music guru in general) let me know I ought to check out The Boss’s new record, Wrecking Ball. “I got a sneaky feeling you’d really like it,” he texted. I got it and he’s right: it’s great. Here’s what Roger Nelson at had to say about it:

Originally written as acoustic folk tunes, Springsteen took this collection of songs to producer Ron Aniello, who pushed them into new sonic territory. Using samples, drum loops, trumpets, choirs and the guitar solos of Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Wrecking Ball has a glossy and varied musical texture. Lyrically, it stands in a direct line with Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad, but this collection is an eclectic-electric mash-up of gospel, blues, Irish stomps, protest songs, big-stadium rock anthems and even a little rap. What was conceived in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger is transformed into a post-modern pastiche.

3. Christianity in the Americas
In December, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life published the latest data on the size and distribution of the Christian population in the Americas. There’s a cool  interactive map and a couple of charts, in case you’re a nerd like me when it comes to these kinds of things.

4. Mexico’s evangelical shift
Speaking of Christianity in the Americas, PRI’s The World took a look at the changing religious demographics of Mexico, with a visit to the town of Zongozotla in the central highlands:

It was once unheard of in Mexico to consider not being Catholic. But here in Zongozotla, where different faiths are gaining ground, spiritual shifts are possible—and underway. And while some members of the Catholic Church stress that change is needed to compete with the evangelical presence, it’s unclear whether Catholicism’s centuries-old traditions and hierarchies will be flexible to reverse its losses here.

5. Evangelicals on the rise in Latin America
How about one more while we’re at it? This is from Al Jazeera English, ahead of the Pope’s visit to Mexico and Cuba. This piece by Chris Arsenault provides some helpful background on the history of religion in the region, including Pope John Paul II’s visit, the liberation theology movement during the Cold War years, and recently, the rise of evangelical churches throughout Latin America.

6. Interview with undocumented student
In case you missed it last week, here is part one and part two of my interview for with Ricardo, an undocumented college student here in Phoenix.

7. Last words in Texas
Texas, as well all know, sends a lot of people to death row. Of the 1289 people who have been executed in the United States since 1976, over a third of them — 481 — have been in Texas. Another 317 are on death row in that state. Whatever you think of the merits of capital punishment, GOOD has an infographic with the most common last words said by death row inmates.

8. Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt projects
Katie and I recently got to see the FLW exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. It was really interesting, and while it’s cool that he lived in this area and some of his projects were built here, I really don’t know why I never visited Fallingwater when I lived in Pennsylvania. At any rate, we were both curious about the fact that so many of the renderings on display were for unbuilt projects. Lo and behold, the polis blog (a Repaso favorite, as you may have noticed) has a post taking a look at three of Wright’s unbuilt projects.

9. Half the Sky: The Movie
I’m looking forward to watching the Half the Sky documentary when it airs on PBS this October. I read the book a couple of years ago, and had this to say about it. Here’s the trailer for the film, laden with celebrities.

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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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:]

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Repaso: The legacy of Newbigin, Gerson on prudential politics, gospel of immigration, and radical cartography

1. The lasting legacy of Lesslie Newbigin
Michael Goheen writes for Q Ideas about the contributions Lesslie Newbigin made to Western Christianity and our understanding of mission:

It is a peculiarity of Western culture to isolate the domain of religion from the rest of life. Religion, he said, is a “set of beliefs, experiences, and practices that seek to grasp and express the ultimate nature of things, that which gives shape and meaning to life, that which claims final loyalty.” Thus religion includes the comprehensive worldviews that shape Western culture, like the modern scientific worldview in both its Marxist and its liberal-democratic-capitalist expressions. If the Western church is to be faithful to the gospel and its mission, we will need to work hard to understand the religious beliefs of our culture in order to extricate ourselves from idolatry.

2. Gerson on prudential politics
Michael Gerson writes for Capital Commentary about competing political priorities and the choices facing GOP voters especially:

[N]early every political choice involves the weighing of competing priorities—freedom and the common good. This is the reason that prudence is the highest of political virtues. And prudence is exactly what some political ideologies lack. Socialism places an unbalanced emphasis on equality above all else—resulting in the routine violation of individual rights. Libertarianism places an unbalanced emphasis on autonomy above all else—resulting in a nation without airport security and food safety laws. Raising a single, pure, simple principle in politics can be powerful—but it is almost always dangerous. Complexity is the nature of politics. It is also the sign of a serious political thinker or candidate.

3. The gospel of immigration
Dr. Russell Moore, from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, urges us to remember the personhood of immigrants – documented or otherwise:

I’m amazed when I hear evangelical Christians speak of undocumented immigrants in this country with disdain as “those people” who are “draining our health care and welfare resources.” It’s horrifying to hear those identified with the Gospel speak, whatever their position on the issues, with mean-spirited disdain for the immigrants themselves. While evangelicals, like other Americans, might disagree on the political specifics of achieving a just and compassionate immigration policy, our rhetoric must be informed by more than politics, but instead by Gospel and mission.

4. Radical cartography
I find this kind of stuff fascinating: a Yale professor named Bill Rankin created a map of Chicago that shows racial and ethnic segregation in the city. It is here. Below is a spin-off map of Detroit from another guy named Eric Fisher. That one is here. If you click on the links you can see info on the various color designations.

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The President’s immigration speech

Photo courtesy of The White House

Yesterday in El Paso, President Obama gave a speech on “building a 21st century immigration system.” Although immigration reform is a divisive issue for some, seemingly everyone agrees that the status quo isn’t working. So I’m glad that Obama is bringing the issue back into focus, and while there’s not much indication this will happen, I sure hope it may signal a new beginning for constructive, healthy, bi-partisan debate that will lead to real results that work both for our immigrant families and for our country as a whole.

For thoughtful, Christian perspectives on the immigration debate, I’d recommend two books:

Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang, both with World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible by M. Daniel Carroll R., a Guatemalan-American seminary professor and author.

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We’re all dreamers, one way or another

While Congress succeeded late last year in doing nothing about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and as we now turn our collective gaze wherever the pundits deem best, please remember that the problem is far from resolved. Back when immigration reform was a topic that was fervently discussed in the public square (as recently as December), civility was rare. Truth was routinely sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism with folks on both sides of the aisle lobbing bombs of ego and emotion back and forth. Many of us fell victim to this in one way or another, at times apparently unaware of the irony that we don’t actually know any immigrants personally — undocumented or not — though they live in our neighborhoods and attend our churches and schools.

For those of us who are Christians, we’re compelled to consider what it means to welcome the stranger, and no, I wouldn’t say the answers are easy. But I do think the questions — and their solutions — matter. They matter a great deal because behind the debates, behind the fear, behind the anger, behind the hate-filled rhetoric flying every which way, are twelve million real living, breathing, dreaming, fearing, imperfect people. And if you read the Bible, you almost begin to suspect that all people matter, and that even if there are consequences for our actions, maybe all of us have more in common than we care to believe. We may even have a great deal in common with undocumented immigrants, pilgrims as we are in a strange, and at times hostile, land.

So if there’s one thing I wish all of us held onto as we consider our very broken immigration system and its possible remedies, it’s empathy. Empathy literally means identifying or vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another person. For some of us, it would be a good exercise to put ourselves in the shoes of the tobacco-chewing, shot-gun toting rancher in southern Arizona who fears for the safety of his family and the future of his country. Others would do well to consider the desperation that would lead a husband and father, at great personal expense and risk of life, to travel day and night, exposed to all the elements of nature and humanity, in a last-ditch effort just to be able to provide for his kids. Behind stereotypes are people who don’t always fit their stereotypes.

With all of that in mind, I invite you to check out, which features a short film called “A New Dream� that helps us get inside the hearts and minds of one family: an undocumented couple and their two citizen sons. The trailer is below, and on the website you’ll discover a bunch of resources and ideas for digging deeper. As we consider the question of undocumented immigrants, may God grant us the grace, wisdom and courage to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.

An Introduction to from on Vimeo.