Monday, September 21, 2009

International Peace Day

In honor of International Peace Day, here's a fun yet practical video,


And, here's a cookie recipe thrown in, and the cookies are called, what else but, World Peace Cookies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Everyday Justice: A Review

Martin Luther King Jr. writes in From Where Do We Go From Here, “All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. ...We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge which is provided for us by a Pacific islander. We reach for a soap that is created by a European. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese or cocoa by a west African. Before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world....We are inevitably our brother's keeper, because we are our brother's brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Julie Clawson addresses exactly what Martin Luther King Jr. speaks of here in her new book, Everyday Justice. Clawson’s book brings thoughtful reflection and awareness to some of the most profound and obscure breaches of justice that plague the world today. Some of the topics Clawson includes are the injustices found in coffee, clothing, and cocoa production, the car industry and the impact of oil consumption upon the environment, and even the rampant amount of waste created by a consumer society. The target audience of the book is the Christian living in America. Clawson claims that the Christian, who desires to follow the lessons of Christ and the principles of social justice within Christianity, must start to become aware and take responsibility for how consumption choices contributes and sets the stage for many of the human rights atrocities in the world today. But the book is not just for the Christian, it’s for the socially and ethically conscious individual who wants to take, as Clawson says, small steps toward a better world. It suggests small steps toward a future free of exploitation. It suggests small steps toward building a better future.

Given the controversial nature of some of the topics addressed in this book, some may criticize Clawson for not addressing all sides of every issue (the global warming debate, or the relative merits of fair trade, for instance). But given the limited scope of the book (only 206 pages) and the audience intended, it seems that Clawson’s purpose is not to argue every issue in minute detail, but instead to give practical advice for ordinary people. With every chapter, Clawson lays out the issue and provides practical real life scenarios, vignettes which she calls “Everyday Practitioner”, highlighting the individual inner conflict as well as specific “everyday” ways readers can make a difference. At the end of each chapter, she also provides recommendations of books, films and websites to look to for further information . On the chapter of Waste, she even gives a photography website that depicts a pictorial display of the impact of trash.

In conclusion, Clawson opens and closes the book with the directive, “Don’t Panic”. Yes, today’s global issues of injustice are vast and complicated but while there is no end all immediate solution, Clawson helps provide ways the individual, you and me, can play a role in helping to alleviate the injustice. Whether that is supporting the local farmer in buying local produce, recycling or buying fair trade coffee and chocolate products, the action provides a message that injustice is not tolerated. In many of Martin Luther King’s speeches, he often quoted from his book, Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, “Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet...we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have to do this. We must learn to live together as brothers. Or we all will perish as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in the inescapable network of mutuality” Picking up Clawson’s book will help make the brotherhood of man one step closer to becoming a reality. Here is a direct link link off Amazon for purchase, click on me

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stages of Love

As I try to get adjusted to a new schedule and changes in life, and quite frankly feeling pretty disoriented right now, I remember back to something I learned this past summer from my CPE friend Dale. The way out of human suffering and thus being close to the divine nature of God (reaching the house of God) is done in the following ways according to the Buddhist:

Metta - Loving Kindness
Karuna - Compassion
Mudita - Joy (Need to be joyful...only bringing joy to others)
Upeksha - Equanimity

These things are called in Buddhism, the Brahma Viharas, or the Houses (Abodes) of God, the Divine. Dale explained that it's a subjective reality that does not exist separate from humanity. It's another way of seeing life. Something to think about.

As a silly aside, the juxtaposition of my life right now and this concept reminds me of the classic musical scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head. Okay, maybe it's a stretch but nevertheless, a classic childhood favorite and who can doubt that Paul Newman does not bring shared joy :-).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome to the New

I have not blogged for what seemed like weeks. Fresh start today. Today is the first day of the new semester. New classes, new experiences....and drag, what comes with it all, getting used to a whole new schedule. It also includes new discipline. With classes, working two campus jobs and a church internship, I enter overwhelmed but not daunted. Albeit, a part of me is holding my feet a bit firm not wanting to go any further, digging them into the dirt, afraid of getting too close to the edge of the precipice....What happens if I fall! The new is scary. This past Sunday, my home church had a blessing for me as I start my church internship this school year at another church. I brought my friend Lindsay with me. (As myself, it was her last Sunday to go where ever she wanted before she started her SPM requirement, so I was honored that she came to my church with me.) Lindsay and I met two years ago when we attended our seminary orientation. Even though I commuted my first year and she lived on campus, we maintained the connection we started at orientation. Our friendship grew and changed (cemented) this past year when I moved onto campus and went to school full time. She is very dear and like a sister (even our dogs are dear friends). When I met her, I was in a completely new venture. I was just trusting God. I had no idea about what the future may hold. Entering my third year of seminary, I remember how God gave me the gift of her friendship and how that gift blossomed. Totally unexpected. I enter the new, trusting God will take me to the unexpected and yet things will continue to come together...change, adapt and blossom. And, as one of my professors wrote me recently, I will thrive in the new. And, as in the prayer that I received this past Sunday, with God's grace, I will be equal to the challenge. Welcome to the new. I just heard a bird outside my bedroom window signaling in a new day...and so it begins.