All posts tagged “USA Today

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Repaso: Remembering Rich Mullins, FoxNews & Lady Gaga in Lancaster, Jewish-evangelical cooperation, Latin American trends, and more

Last week’s Repaso was a day late and a little on the light side, but I think I’ve made up for it here. This week, a dizzying array of cool stuff. Ten items, in fact. Please enjoy, and comment with any thoughts.

1. Remembering Rich Mullins
Veteran Christian singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson has a reflection for The Rabbit Room about the late great Rich Mullins, who passed away 14 years ago this week. Rich’s record A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Raggamuffin Band is in my all-time top five albums. It is sheer magic.

We rounded the bend at sunset and there before us stood those craggy Tetons, all gray stone with white snow tucked into the fissures. The clouds were gold with sunlight and long, misty fingers of rain dangled from them, caressing the peaks and the aspen- and fir-covered shoulders of the range. Who else but Rich Mullins could write music that would adequately suit a scene like that? I demanded the iPod, selected A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band, and we drove the next forty-five minutes without speaking. We weren’t speaking because we were being spoken to.

2. Eugene Peterson interview in Leadership Journal
Katie is reading Eugene Peterson’s new memoir The Pastor, and I’m getting more and more excited to read it too with each little excerpt she reads to me. In this interview I was reminded of so many of the reasons I love Peterson. For example, this:

My task as pastor was to show how the Bible got lived. Of course it’s important to show that the Bible is true, but we have theologians and apologists for that. I just accepted the fact it was true and didn’t bother much about that. I needed to be a witness to people in my congregation that everything in the Bible is livable and to try to avoid abstractions about big truths, big doctrines. I wanted to know how these ideas got lived in the immediate circumstances of people’s lives at work, in the town, and in the family. The role of the pastor is to embody the gospel. And of course to get it embodied, which you can only do with individuals, not in the abstract. And so that’s why, for me, a small congregation was so essential. It enabled me to know the people I was preaching to, teaching, and praying with.

3. FoxNews visits Lancaster
If we needed any “fair and balanced” convincing that Lancaster really is a hip destination (if Lady Gaga’s visit didn’t do it for you), here you go! My roommate’s mom even gets a shout-out for good measure.

It’s a Saturday afternoon in the Prince Street Cafe, a coffee-and-sandwich spot in Lancaster, Pa. A couple in their 20s canoodle on a plush leather couch by the fireplace. A 30-something in thick, black-framed glasses punches away on a laptop between bites of a green salad topped with quinoa, and a college-age girl with a brunette pixie doodles in her sketchpad. It comes as a bit of a surprise, then, when you wander upstairs to artist Julia Swartz’s gallery and find a series of portraits depicting local Amish men-straw hats, serious-looking black suits, and all. Here at the Prince Street Cafe, it’s easy to forget you’re in Amish Country.

4. Plastic school in Guatemala
I blogged about this school in Guatemala built using discarded bottles back in April, and this is a cool update from GOOD:

A plastic school might sound like it’s better suited for Barbies than for people, but the technology—developed by the Guatemalan nonprofit Pura Vida—is actually quite clever and allows for schools to be built for less than $10,000. The plastic bottles are stuffed with trash, tucked between supportive chicken wire, and coated in layers of concrete to form walls between the framing. The bottles make up the insulation, while more structurally sound materials like wood posts are used for the framing.

5. A Jewish view on evangelicals
USA Today has an op-ed by Mark I. Pinsky on “the truth” about evangelicals:

If, as Jews, we replace the old caricature of hayseed fundamentalist mobs carrying torches and pitchforks with one of dark conspirators trying to worm their way back into political power at the highest levels, we run the risk of accusing them of doing to others what we are doing to them: demonizing. We didn’t like it when people said we had horns and tails, ate the blood of Christian children and poisoned the wells of Europe with plague, much less conspired to rule the world through our Protocols. “Evangelicals in the main want the same kind of common-sense solutions and moral integrity as other Americans,” [Rev. Joel] Hunter says. “We do not want to use political means for our faith’s advancement; we just want to vote our values and leave it at that.”

6. Entrepreneurs more likely to pray
A few of my friends working at the intersections of business and faith tweeted or shared this story. Interesting findings:

Entrepreneurs behave just like most Americans when it comes to religion — but with one spiritual twist. They’re significantly more likely to pray several times a day or to meditate, says sociologist Kevin Dougherty, a co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey. The survey can’t answer whether prayerful, peaceful folks are more likely to take a business risk or whether the stress of a start-up drives folks to their knees or to the lotus position, Dougherty says.

7. Nicaragua and the Ortega family
One of my favorite places to go for news and commentary on Latin America is the Central American Politics Blog by Mike, a professor at the University of Scranton right here in Pennsylvania. He shared this video from Univision about how Daniel Ortega’s family and the Sandinista party have taken control of the Nicaraguan media, and by extension, have ensured they will be in control after November’s elections and for the foreseeable future.

8. Social networks in Latin America
Stephanie Garlow, who runs GlobalPost’s Latin America blog, has some interesting info on social media popularity in the region:

There’s a whole wide world of social networks out there, and Latin America isn’t missing out on the party.
More than 95 percent of internet users in Latin America now use social networks, up 16 percent from a year ago, according to a study by internet analysts comScore.

9. Jewish support for immigration reform
M. Daniel Carroll R., a Guatemalan-American professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary and author of the important book Christians at the Border, has a blog post on the increasing participation of the Jewish community in working for immigration reform and their reasons for involvement:

As I have spoken to these Jews about their reasons for joining the “cause,” two primary reasons have been given me. One is that their own history for many centuries as a people has been one of migration and persecution, so it is fitting that they come alongside of other immigrants. Second, they have a long experience with discrimination, caricatures, and hate speech, and they are seeing that phenomena surface now against immigrants. They feel that they cannot defend their own rights if they do not speak out for others, who are experiencing the same thing.

10. Andy Kristian’s micro-finance video
I’m meeting with my friend Andy this morning to discuss a cool project he’s working on. This is some rough (but beautiful!) footage he put together during a recent trip to Northern Uganda. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

Short video on Micro-finance from andy kristian on Vimeo.

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Repaso: Machu Picchu at 100, new monastics, Fourth of July, St. Francis & a dust storm

Machu Picchu, 100 years later

There’s a good deal of fanfare surrounding the 100 year anniversary of the “discovery” of Machu Picchu in Peru… though, of course, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that local farmers had found it earlier and their ancestors had built the thing hundreds of years before that. But nonetheless, it’s great to see it celebrated. It’s a place I’d really love to visit someday.

New monastics in USA Today
The new monasticism movement got some publicity in USA Today recently, which may or may not be deserved, depending on who you ask, but it’s a small Christian movement worth watching:

They aren’t a commune, but they live in community. They are motivated by faith, but they attend different churches. They want to help the homeless, so they bought an apartment complex. They are new monastics, dedicated to helping the poor, sharing resources and caring for creation… New monasticism focuses on leading a communal life of Christian fellowship and engagement with the “other America” — the homeless, immigrants, prisoners and the poor. While new monasticism does not demand personal poverty, it does typically mean sharing resources. It also attempts to break away from consumerism. These communities are located all over the country, normally in poor areas of a city, with an intention to engage the community in revitalization.

Joe Scarborough’s op-ed in Politico
The host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and former Republican representative had a thoughtful, optimistic op-ed for the Fourth:

After the miracle of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington came the killings of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and King himself. That overlapped the ugliness of Vietnam, which overlapped the ugliness of Watergate. Then came the Pardon, Malaise, Iran-Contra, the Shutdown, Impeachment and the election of 2000. Then 9/11, Enron, Iraq, WMD’s, Katrina, Lehman Brothers and scores of other events that could have sapped our nation’s strength. But regardless of the latest ramblings from the America-is-in-Decline crowd, I assure you that we will be just fine. As Walter Russell Mead recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, the United States of America is better positioned to excel in the 21st Century than any nation on earth. And why should that surprise anyone?

Enjoying America for What It Is
While we’re at it, here’s another good reflection for the Fourth, this one by Gideon Strauss from the Center for Public Justice. It shouldn’t be controversial, but probably is in some circles:

I want to make the case for loving America as an ordinary country. Not just-another-country: America is blessed with better-than-most laws and governments and for the time being has greater-than-most international responsibilities. But America is not a unique or even a special country with regard to its relationship with God. America is not to God as Israel was to God from Abraham to Jesus, and it is not to God as the church is to God now.

Preaching St. Francis
Daniel Harrell at Patheos has a wonderful reflection on the significance of the life and example of St. Francis of Assisi, considering the perils of ministry in the 21st century:

Francis lived in an era, like so many, where greed and political power contaminated the church. Christianity became so entangled with culture that it lost all of its bite and ability to inspire anything more than jaded indifference from the pews. Into the midst of this Francis walked, radically committed to a simplicity and humility so stark and so engaging that people could not help want a piece of it. The gospel takes on irrepressible power whenever Christians actually live it out.

Dust storm hits Phoenix
This one goes out to my lovely fiancee Katie and the rest of the Phoenixians I know, whose fine city was swallowed in dust this week. I want to experience one of these someday. Or do I?

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Repaso: Social justice, culture wars, a Colombian circus and more

Can social justice tame our culture wars?
This is USA Today’s coverage of the recently launched “:58” campaign (which I blogged about here) and “the new evangelicals” movement, represented at the recent Q conference in Portland:

As the generational tides nudge this demographic closer to the front and center of American evangelicalism, it’s time for a refiguring of the equations by the many non-evangelicals nursing grudges about those pushy Jesus nuts — especially the progressive secularists who share these new evangelicals’ social justice commitments. Divided by religious belief, these groups are easily stereotyped as culture war enemies. They needn’t be. If anything, they’re common-good allies simply in need of an introduction.

Two reading lists on poverty and development
It’s not every day conservative Christian outlets provide suggested reading lists on economic development and holistic social action, so I want to share them here. One is from The Gospel Coalition and compiled by theologian Wayne Grudem. I added a comment on the post with a couple of thoughts. The second list is in WORLD Magazine and compiled by Amy Sherman, who I read in grad school. I’ve read some books on both lists, and while the lists are somewhat ideologically narrow and therefore incomplete, I’m glad these folks are encouraging Christians to begin understanding development and justice at a deeper level.

Colombian circus troupe
This fascinating audio slideshow from the BBC features Circocolombia, a circus troupe from Cali, a city notorious for its eponymous drug cartel. The troupe is touring Europe with a production called Urban, which combines music, dance and storytelling. I hope it makes its way to the US.

Latinos and the 2011 MLB All Star Game
The New York Times has an interesting piece on the upcoming baseball All Star Game to be held in Phoenix, and some of the concerns of Latino players in light of Arizona’s controversial immigration law:

Selig is putting his Latino players in the impossible position of having to choose between showing solidarity to their people or to the game that has enriched them even as they have enriched it.

Guatemala debuts women-only buses
I’ve known for a while that Cairo offers gender-specific mass transit options; now Guatemala City does too. They’ve been established because so many Guatemalans in the capital rely on mass transit, while there are a disturbingly high number of armed robberies and assaults of women on the normal buses.

Ex-Brazil president Lula on ending hunger
This op-ed in the Guardian from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is more or less a pitch for the candidate he nominated to head up the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, but is noteworthy because Brazil really has made some impressive strides towards ending hunger, both at home and abroad. Lula writes:

Brazil has been working internationally for a more balanced and socially equitable global order. Our approach is based on the construction of equal partnerships with developing countries worldwide.

Christians issue handbook on evangelism
I didn’t see this one coming, but on second thought, it’s probably long overdue. Leaders representing the global mainline Protestant, evangelical and Catholic churches got together and released a rule book on the dos and don’ts of mission and evangelism called Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct (pdf). The document asserts churches’ rights to evangelize, while denouncing “resorting to deception and coercive means.”

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What’s on the line in Brazil?

It was a big win for Latin America when Brazil got the nod to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, for reasons including pride and economics. But there’s cause for concern. The Brazilian Audit Court, which tracks how its government spends funds, cites “widespread problems in most of the 12 host cities,� according to USA Today. Airport infrastructure, bidding delays, and stadium construction are among the woes. Pelé, the retired soccer star and national hero, warns that Brazil runs the risk of embarrassment if things don’t improve. But there’s another concern that could put Brazil’s reputation on the line:

In Rio, authorities are facing accusations they are violating citizens’ human rights by forcing slum dwellers to move to make way for the construction of a transit system. Residents of three shantytowns recently filed a complaint with the Organization of American States, saying that the city is arbitrarily relocating them. Eventual pressure by the international body could lead to project changes and delays.

It would be great if Brazil can get its act together so the games can go on as planned, but it would be a step backwards if it did so at the expense of its own people.

[Photo credit: Daily Mail]