Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lament and Hope for the Gulf of Mexico

We'd like to dedicate our song, "Of Lament and Hope," to the recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The juxtaposition of images of overwhelming pollution and massive cleanup efforts reminded us of Psalm 13. It's a psalm of deep lament and resilient hope. The beauty of this psalm is that it doesn't offer empty platitudes or easy blame. It simply names the pain honestly and then looks forward in hopeful expectation. In that way, Psalm 13 is like a good blues song. It acknowledges the tough stuff, but manages to find the hope in life anyway. And that is what the Gulf needs right now. May hope begin to emerge out of the sludge for all the plants, fish, birds, animals, and people affected by this disaster.

"Of Lament and Hope"

How long, O God
Will you keep me waiting here?
How long, O God
Til You recognize my tears?
How long will I bear grief in my soul,
Carry this sorrow night and day?
How long til I am whole?

God, look at me.
Don’t turn Your face away.
God, answer me,
Before darkness overtakes.
Before my path is overcome,
And all that oppose me rejoice.
How long will you be gone?

But as for me, I trust in Your love.
I rejoice in the help that You give.
To You I sing for Your goodness to me;
In You I trust, in You I live
In You I trust, in You I live
In You I live

Earthkeeping Quote

"If current trends continue, we will not. And that is qualitatively and epochally true. If religion does not speak to this, it is an obsolete distraction." - Daniel Maguire

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Caring for God's Oil-Soaked Creation

On April 20th, 2010 there was an oil well blowout that caused an explosion on drilling platform which killed 11 people and injured 17 others. Since the explosion, 5,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil have been gushing into Gulf of Mexico. BP, the company that owns the operation, has been unable to stop the disaster. Meanwhile, plants, animals, and entire ecosystems are at risk. Plus, the impact is now spilling onto the coastline. People are losing jobs, sources of food, beauty of nature, etc. As stewards of God's Creation (Genesis 1-2, Psalm 8), we need to find a way to stop this emergency and help to avoid these situations from happening again. Conserving our planet is one of the most important moral issues of our day. Dr. James Cone has a great article about caring for the earth here. And below is a video of Rev. Jim Wallis, one of Obama's advisors, talking about the moral implications of cleaning up the oil spill and finding cleaner energy sources. The silver lining in this situation is that a conversation about environmental conservation and corporate accountability is unfolding in the public eye. The hope is that change and transformation will emerge from these conversations.

There are many ways to help. Click here to advocate for a comprehensive climate bill. Text the word "WILDLIFE" to 20222 to donate $10 to the World Wildlife Fund's recovery effort. Or click here to explore other ways to work for recovery.

Props to all the people, organizations, and churches who are helping with the recovery efforts. Despite this major disaster, real hope is emerging.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Way We're Working Isn't Working

Tony Schwartz started the Energy Project in order to help people be more effective at work - and happier in life. It turns out that we're working so hard that we're hardly working. Yup, our work isn't working. Only 20% of people report feeling fully engaged at work. Most people feel disengaged. The reason? We work too much. The productivity myth is untrue and unrealistic. Schwartz says that human beings aren't machines that can work continuously for long periods of time. People need to move between periods of high focus and intermittent rest. So Schwartz suggests the 90 minute solution. In this strategy, people work 90 minutes and then take a brief break - and then repeat this cycle throughout the day. Instead of relying on caffeine, sugar, and stress to keep us going, we should rely on rest, relaxation, and renewal. As Schwartz says: "The more hours we work and the longer we go without renewal, the less productive and more reactive we become." Seems simple enough. All we have to do is work less and relax more. But this idea is counter-cultural in our Google-shaped world, where we're connected and working 24-7. The challenge is clear: We need to unplug from our electronics and our workstations from time to time and recharge ourselves in real and healthy ways. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Talk to a friend. Read something you enjoy. The list goes on and on. The important thing is to do something you enjoy that can rest your mind and restore your energy. If we're happier at work, we'll be happier at home - and at play. So, go ahead, work less and live more. Your boss will thank you. And so will your family.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Resurrecting Jim Crow in Arizona

Just days after Arizona passed a law to legalize racial profiling, they have passed a law that bans ethnic studies. Apparently it's okay to study a European American perspective, but not other perspectives. Huh. If it's called a miracle when God resurrected Jesus, what's it called when Arizona resurrects Jim Crow? Just askin'. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is Your Worship Service This Cool?

There is a battle going on to see who is the coolest kid on the block. And we're not talking about junior high. We're talking about worship teams. You know, the worship teams with the rock band, hipster worship leader, and smooth-talking-yet-informal preacher. Sometimes these teams try just a little to hard. It can be sadly comical and predictable. Watch this amazing video and you'll see what we mean!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Social Justice Is Central To All Faiths

Glenn Beck tried to say that social justice is bad. He clearly wants to make social justice into a partisan issue. But it's not. Social justice is about people, not partisanship. And that is one of the many reasons that all faiths affirm social justice as core to their practice. Props to Faith For Justice for this great video:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Thank you to all the mothers who put up with morning sickness, back aches, leg pains, etc. in order to bring babies into the world. Thank you to all the mothers who love and support their children. Thank you to all the adoptive mothers who expand their familes and love through open and closed adoptions. Thank you to all the foster care mothers who care for children who need better homes and role models. Thank you to all the mothering women who act as "community moms" for many children. Thank you to all the mothers who successfully find a healthy work-family-fun balance. Thank you to all the mothers who budget the time to engage in hobbies and other fun activities for yourself. Thank you to all the lesbian mothers who raise their children with love and grace despite the judgements and injustices from society. Thank you to all the grandmothers who guide and support new mothers. Thank you to all the grandmothers who love and play with their grandchildren. Thank you to all the mothers and grandmothers who have positive relationships with their children and/or with one another. Thank you to Anna Jarvis who started this national day to honor mothers in 1909. Thank you to all the mothers who do these things and more.

Pray for all the mothers who have been unable to have their own children. Pray for all the mothers who have experienced miscarriage. Pray for all the mothers who have lost their mothers. Pray for the mothers who made the choice to support their children by entering them into an adoption program. Pray for all the mothers who have lost their children to disease, murder, war, etc. Pray for all the mothers who have to work many extra hours in order to pay the bills. Pray for all the lesbian mothers who are told that they cannot be mothers. Pray for all the mothers who have unfairly lost custody of their children. Pray for all the mothers who have had to sacrifice too much of their own life for the happiness of everyone else. Pray for all the grandmothers who have lost their grandchilden for any reason. Pray for all the grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren for any reason. Pray for all the mothers and grandmothers who don't have positive relationships with their children and/or with one another. Pray for all the mothers who struggle with these things and more.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Song Dedication for Arizona's SB 1070

We'd like to dedicate a song to Arizona’s disturbing bill, SB 1070. It's a tune by Ozomatli called "(Who Discovered) America?" Here are the lyrics and video:

I heard her story from across the sea,
There was never one as fair, lovely as she.
With mocha skin and eyes of green,
With all the kindness and
grace of a queen.
I set sail into a cold, dark sky.
I had to see this
beauty with my own eyes.
I crossed the ocean in a tiny ship
With her image in my mind and her name on my lips. I said:

Ah, America.
eh, ah.

I found her standing upon the shore.
She was everything I dreamed of and so much more.
I felt a love that I've never known
And I knew I had to make her my own.
She was light of the night. She was dark as the night.
I fell under her spell, couldn't tell right from wrong. I said:

Ah, America.
Ah, eh, ah.

She breathed new life inside of me.
A whole new world she gave to me.
Surrendered all she had to me,
Even silver and gold.
All she asked was my soul.

I never thought she could break my heart
but all her contradictions are tearing me apart.
The secret she hides.
The beauty she flaunts
She'll stop at nothing just to get what she wants

Obviously, this song is about immigration - and the troubles immigrants face. Jesus, too, was an undocumented migrant who faced difficulties in a new land. Click here to read more. Or click here to take action on immigration reform.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Arizona’s SB 1070 is a Social and Racial Sin

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." - Statue of Liberty

"You are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt." - Deuteronomy 10:19

"Imagine being a Native American and hearing Americans talk about Immigration. Talk about illegal immigration." - Brian McLaren

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that, some have entertained angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

"It was called 'nation-building' when European Americans moved to the US, but it's called 'illegal immigration' when Latin Americans move here." - Sara Klosterboer

"Advocates of Free Market Capitalism call the flow of money 'profit,' while they call the flow of people 'illegal.' I guess deregulation has it's limits even for people who support deregulation." - Brian Brandsmeier

"When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." - Leviticus 19:33-34

"Nothing can be done to restore Native American lands or history. Many traditions have been lost to colonialism. But we still have the capacity to find new solutions that rely on inclusion and respect. A great place to start is by including First Nation people's perspectives and needs in the economic and immigration policy debates." - Marta Donayre

"I am convinced [the Gospel of] Matthew included the flight to Egypt by Jesus and his family to show that Jesus' own story was part of the ancient story of Israel. They, too, fled to Egypt, suffered persecution, were redeemed by God, and then were empowered to live lives in solidarity with sojourners and aliens wherever they encountered them. Likewise disciples of Jesus throughout history pick up the same ministry of solidarity with displaced people. Jesus was an illegal alien and that ought to shape how we enter the current debate." - Shaun Casey

"Arizona’s SB 1070 must be named as a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation. This is not just about Arizona, but about all of us, and about what kind of country we want to be. It’s time to stand up to this new strategy of “deportation by attrition,” which I heard for the first time today in Arizona. It is a policy of deliberate political cruelty, and it should be remembered that “attrition” is a term of war. Arizona is deciding whether to wage war on the body of Christ. We should say that if you come after one part of the body, you come after all of us." - Jim Wallis

Click here to take action on immigration reform.