"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded.
And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager

With Ya, my Ga tutor in Mallam
The Rev. Mike Kinman
Executive Director
Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation
Age: 38

Check out Forsyth School ...
where Robin teaches and
the boys attend.

Since you're already blowing time surfing,
why not do some cool stuff

  • Watch the Make Poverty History videos
  • Watch Sara McLachlan's "World on Fire" video
  • Take a seat at Oxfam America's Hunger Banquet
  • Look at the "Eight Ways to Change The World" photo exhibition
  • See how rich you are on the Global Rich List
  • Make a promise to do something cool -- and get people to do it with you
  • Use your computer to fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases

    While you're at it, do these things
  • Join the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History
  • Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network
  • Join Amnesty International
  • Subscribe to Sojourners Online newsletter about faith, politics and culture
  • Sign the Micah Call and join other Christians in the fight against poverty
  • Subscribe to a great new magazine about women and children transforming our world

    People who show us What One Person Can Do
  • Liza Koerner (Teaching soccer and doing mission work in Costa Rica)
  • Erica Trapps (Raising money so Tanzanian children can go to school -- check out her photo gallery)

    What's happening in Sudan might
    surprise (and shock) you

  • Episcopal Diocese of Lui
  • South Sudanese Friends International
  • The Sudan Tribune
  • SudanReeves -- research, analysis and advocacy
  • Save Darfur
  • Darfur: a genocide we can stop

    For your daily fix on the irreverent...
  • Jesus of the Week
  • The Onion

    Interesting People Who Are Great To Read
  • Beth Maynard's excellent U2 sermons blog
  • Global Voices Online
  • Neha Viswanathan - poetry, commentary, humor, reflections

    Some interesting organizations and programs
  • Borgen Project - poverty reduction through political accountability
  • CARE
  • Center of Concern
  • DATA: Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa (Bono's site)
  • El Circulo de Mujeres/Circle of Women
  • Engineering Ministries International
  • Episcopal Peace Fellowship
  • Episcopal Relief and Development
  • FreshMinistries
  • Global Campaign Against Poverty
  • Global Ministries
  • Global Work Ethic Fund -- Promoting philanthropy and fundraising in developing and transition countries.
  • Karen Emergency Relief Fund
  • Magdalene House
  • The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
  • Natural Capitalism
  • NetMarkAid - Humanitarian Entrepreneurs
  • North American Association for the Diaconate
  • Peace Child International
  • People Building Peace
  • Project Honduras
  • Results - Creating political will to end hunger
  • St. Paul's Institute
  • Stop Global AIDS
  • TakingITGlobal -- connecting youth for action in local and global communities
  • Tanzania Educational AIDS Mission
  • TEAR (Transformation, Empowerment, Advocacy, Relief) - An Australian Christian anti-poverty movement
  • Working For Change
  • Xigi.net -- an open-source tool to aid discovery in the capital markets that fund good.

    Some Episcopal churches and dioceses doing cool things
  • Companions of Swaziland - Diocese of Iowa's Companion Relationship
  • International Development Missions -- St. Paul's Church, Sparks, NV
  • The Malaria Villages Project - St. Paul's Church, West Whiteland, PA

    Must-read books and websites about them
  • What Can One Person Do: faith to heal a broken world -- Sabina Alkire & Edmund Newell
  • The End of Poverty -- Jeffrey Sachs

    Learn more about things you really should know more about
  • UN Millenium Development Goals
  • The Millennium Campaign
  • AIDS Matters - a resource for global AIDS professionals
  • Christian Aid's in-depth report: "Millennium Lottery: Who lives and who dies in an age of third world debt?"
  • Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Poverty Mapping
  • Solutions for a water-short world
  • Transparency International: The global coalition against corruption
  • UNICEF's State of The World's Children report 2005

    General cool and/or goofy stuff
  • Alicebot chat robot
  • Bono Quotes -- but what's really wild is that it's from a page on Boycottliberalism.com!
  • Buffy Slanguage
  • Big Bunny

    Useful web tools
  • Gcast - make your own podcast
  • Podzinger - podcast search engine
  • Orb - streaming digital media

    July 2003August 2003November 2003January 2004February 2004March 2004April 2004May 2004June 2004July 2004August 2004September 2004October 2004November 2004December 2004January 2005February 2005March 2005April 2005May 2005June 2005July 2005August 2005September 2005October 2005November 2005January 2006February 2006March 2006April 2006June 2006July 2006August 2006September 2006October 2006November 2006December 2006January 2007February 2007March 2007April 2007May 2007September 2007October 2007December 2007February 2008July 2008December 2008April 2009

    Listed on Blogwise
  • Wednesday, November 24, 2004
    Got my copy of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb on Monday at midnight at Vintage Vinyl. It's been interesting reading all the reviews of the album that are out there ... and they vary widely. I think it's way too premature to look at it and say "this is terrible" or "this is their best album ever" (both of which I have read in reviews). I've found with a lot of artists -- U2 especially -- how good an album is emerges over time.

    Over first listen, I could tell you some songs I liked (Miracle Drug, Love and Peace or Else, Crumbs From Your Table, Fast Cars) and some that weren't really doing it for me (Sometimes you can't make it on your own, A man and a woman). But mostly, I figure I've got to live with it for awhile. That said ... here are some initial thoughts.

    *I'm really looking forward to the tour. The one thought I kept having, even with some of the songs I didn't like as much, is that this is an album that is going to perform really well live.

    *Muscially, the album feels really strong. That's part of why I think it will perform well live. And it's not just because it's got a lot of the echoing cadances of traditional U2 .. but because it branches out in some cool and effective ways (industrial guitar in "Love And Peace Or Else" and ethnic influences -- Latino and Middle Eastern -- in several places, but notably in "Fast Cars").

    *Knowing the backstories on some of the songs helps me appreciate them. I got the deluxe version, which has a DVD about 3 of the songs and also a book. Not steeped in U2 fanstuff, I didn't know that "Sometimes You Can't Make it on your own" was written for Bono's father's funeral ... hearing the backstory of that makes me like the song more. In fact, hearing the whole album in the context of his grieving his father's death adds another layer of depth to it.

    *The main problem with judging a U2 album is that you judge them against themselves -- which is a really high bar. I found myself wanting every song to be incredibly deep lyrically and amazing musically. You're just not going to find any album like that. Even great albums have songs that are good not great and that kind of cleanse the pallate as you move through it. My hunch is that this album will be among my favorites but probably not my favorite. Truth is, an average U2 album is still much better than the majority of what is out there.

    Right now, Fast Cars is definitely my favorite song on the album -- wierd thing about it is that I keep reading reviews that refer to Yahweh as the last song on the album. Is Fast Cars not on every version? Is it not always last? If it's a bonus track, it's a great one.
    Mike at 11/24/2004 03:02:00 PM

    Monday, November 22, 2004
    Best news of the day is the marquee on Vintage Vinyl that says "New U2 ... Monday at Midnight". I know, I know ... it's been on MTV.com for a week or so. Call me a purist, I just like going to the record store at midnight, buying the CD and then listening to it twice ... once through and then once reading the liner notes. Kind of like the difference between reading the news online and cracking open a real, paper-and-ink newspaper over a cup of coffee in the morning. Anyway ... I'll hear it in 10 more hours.

    Had diocesan convention this weekend. Terry Parsons, who is the national church officer for stewardship, was the keynoter and was dynamite. We have a desparate need to get our act together with stewardship ... not just from a financial standpoint (though that is true), but just from a spiritual formation standpoint. She was able to be in-your-face about it in a way that was sufficiently disarming that people heard it and even got excited about it.

    Also we had a great Global Reconciliation Commission workshop ... used Sarah McLachlan's Worlds on Fire video (streamed from the website ) and heard great stories from people who had been to Sudan, Ghana, Nicaragua and Uganda as well as lots of practical ways individuals and congregations can get involved in global mission and international development. Got invitations from two congregations to come talk about All Souls Liberian Episcopal Church in Buduburam.

    And ... in a really cool development ... in the middle of convention I get a call from Eddie Jennings, who is the seminarian at All Souls. They were at a vestry meeting and were thinking of us and really wanted to make sure we hadn't forgotten about them. We're starting to get the fundraising wheels rolling for them (thank you Tom and Leine McNeely!!!), so I hope to have a fund transfer to them by Christmas. You can donate by sending a check made out to Diocese of Missouri with All Souls in the memo line ... send it to me at

    Rockwell House
    7023 Forsyth
    St. Louis, MO 63105

    Didn't get re-elected as a general convention deputy, which was kind of a bummer. Our student ... an amazing freshman named Reynolds Whalen ... didn't get elected either, but he finished 6th, so if someone drops out he gets to go as first alternate.

    Hayden is home sick today with some derrivative of hoof and mouth disease (not really, but it sounds like it) that he caught at the nursery. Good news is he should be OK by the time family starts arriving tomorrow night.

    More later. Love you all.
    Mike at 11/22/2004 01:51:00 PM

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004
    Haven't posted in a long time because so much has been going on. Not stuff I can really talk about on a public blog because of various confidentiality issues. Nobody dead. Nobody in the hospital. Just a serious event for our community to deal with ... which we are dealing with in different ways and with remarkable and inspirational resilience. Sorry to be so vague. Contact me personally if you want the details.

    But I want to write about something else, something that has me really excited that though I'm sure it has been written about many times in U2fandom and in U2blogdom, well, I haven't written about it yet. It's about the first song off How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb ... Vertigo.

    The first couple times I heard it, I thought it was a cool song but nothing too, too special. Sounded more like a really good, hard dance number and I liked the music.

    Then, one morning a week or two ago, I was getting dressed and the video came on VH1 ... and it got to the place where Bono is leaning over Edge's shoulder in silouhette saying "all this, all this can be yours" when it finally hit me what was going on in this song ... and it's absolutely brilliant.

    You've got to be careful with art saying "this is what it's about" because you never know what was in the mind of the artist unless he or she tells you and also art takes on a life of its own once its created. So I'll say that this is what I see in it.

    I see an absolutely brilliant autobiographical work about the band's struggle (and, to a large extent the struggle, period) with the heights of fame and power. It's the perfect introduction to the new album because the last album left them back at the top of the music world and at the same time with Bono as a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize. The critical issue is that fame and fortune and all that comes with it are value neutral ... it's what you do with it, it's the choices you make of whom you worship in the midst of all that fame and fortune offer that are what's important.

    And though it's about the struggle of one small band, it also is about the struggle each of us faces as Americans and that our nation faces as the lone remaining superpower.

    The whole thing hit me not just with those words from Bono to Edge, but the way he was standing, whispering in his ear. The pose was familiar and it hit me instantly who it was ... it was Bono playing the quasi-devil character Macphisto from the mid-90s. And the words were the words of Satan to Christ in Matthew 4:9 "All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me." And where did Satan say these things to Jesus ... on the top of a very high mountain showing him all the kingdoms of the world. And what is one of the reactions people have to being up on very high places -- vertigo, a spinning disorientation.

    So many of you are probably saying "DUH!" But I'm kinda slow about these things, so it had taken me almost a month of hearing the song to finally put these things together, but when I did I started to look at the rest of the song in a different light. From the opening (uno, dos, tres, catorce) being itself a statement of excess to things that seem to be specifically about the challenges the band faces as a result of its fame. The temptations of the adulation crowds give the performer, the temptation to be worshipped, to believe that you are God.

    Lights go down
    It's dark
    The jungle is your head
    Can't rule your heart
    I'm feeling so much stronger
    Than I thought
    Your eyes are wide
    And though your soul
    it can't be bought
    your mind can wander

    The temptation to sell out and produce music for the purpose of keeping them on top (with a humorous self-stab at their inability to dance at least not tempting them to be like N'Sync and the others). Then there's the "Jesus round the neck" lyric which has a great double-meaning of turning Jesus into costume jewelry and at the same time choking him.

    The night is full of holes
    Those bullets rip the sky
    Of ink with gold
    They twinkle as the boys play rock and roll
    They know that they can't dance
    At least they know

    I can sell the beat
    I'm askin' for the cheque
    Girl with crimson nails
    Has Jesus 'round the neck
    Swinging to the music
    Swinging to the music

    And then in the midst of the chorus is the presence of God:

    I'm at a place called Vertigo (¿Dónde está?)
    It's everything I wish I didn't know
    But you give me something I can feel

    The vertigo fills the jungle of your head with spinning confusion, but God cuts through to the heart in a way that contrasts, that gives us something we can feel.

    Then there is the temptation, which has a great edge of fear to it:

    All this, all this can be yours
    All of this, all of this can be yours
    All this, all of this can be yours
    Just give me what I want
    And no one gets hurt

    and finally, the crescendo of where listening to the voice of God, the voice that cuts through to the heart, where that voice leads you in the midst of being so high and Godlike yourself:

    Hello, Hello
    I'm at a place called Vertigo
    Lights go down and all I know
    Is that you give me something I can feel
    You're teaching me ...aaahhh
    Your love is teaching me ...aaaah
    How to kneel

    In the midst of all the spinning confusion and wondering what is real, of all the conflicting voices and temptation, the constant is God and God always puts us in a posture of humility ... of having the perspective to recognize who God is and who God isn't.

    The root of all sin is idolatry ... putting something or someone or (most often) ourselves in the place of God. As the psalmist says, "the fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom" ... that's not fear like in a slasher movie, but awe and the perspective of who and how big God is and who and how small we are. The realization that even though we may be being treated as gods by the world, we are all still in the presence of the infinite.

    Even though this seems to be a personal song about what the band is going through, I think it touches a lot of chords for us as individuals as we deal with these same issues of power. More than that, though I think it strikes a deep chord with us as a nation that stands on perhaps the highest ground that any nation has stood on since the Roman Empire.

    Power can be dizzying. We as a nation -- especially under the current administration -- have begun to identify ourselves as agents of the divine and nearly as the divine itself. Certainly, we have identified ourself as the force of absolute good in the cosmic battle of good vs. evil, which at the very least is theologically problematic!

    So the questions are for us: Will we use our power to gain more power for ourselves, to "stay on top"? As I traveled even just a little bit this summer, I saw plenty of things that frankly I wish I didn't know. Things about how the U.S. government and U.S.-based multinational corporations are perpetuating cycles of poverty and violence. How will we as a nation respond to this?

    Certainly, we are at a point in this history where we can hear the voice saying to us "all this, all this can be yours". And so far, our response has been "just give me what I want and no one gets hurt" ... though, of course, plenty of people have gotten hurt.

    There is a real challenge for all of us in this song. There's a challenge for us as a nation and a challenge for us Americans as globally overprivileged individuals. Will we strive to use our power to acquire more power, acting in our own self-interest? Or will we let God's love, a love that recognizes that the highest love is to give up one's life for another, a love that who, "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross." (Phillippians 2:6-8). Will we forsake a false "mandate of Christ" that is about manifest destiny to be transformed into the image of Christ, which is about the cross?

    And so it comes down to one question:

    Will God's love teach us how to kneel?

    It's not reaching to far to say that how we answer that question will determine not only the fate of our nation but of our planet.
    Mike at 11/09/2004 11:04:00 AM

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    Episcopalians for
    Global Reconciliation

    EGR is an organization resourcing a grassroots movement of spiritual transformation in the Episcopal Church to end extreme poverty on this planet.

    The structure for this movement is the Millennium Development Goals -- 8 goals committed to by all member nations of the UN and a unique partnership of governments and civil society to:

    *End extreme poverty
    *Achieve universal
    primary education

    *Promote gender equalty
    *Improve maternal health
    *Reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
    *Promote environmental sustainability
    *Build a global partnership for development

    EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.

    Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.

    "Christ's example is being demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy, which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here. If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't, it will be irrelevant."
    - Bono


    What I'm Reading
    Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
    by Doris Kearns Goodwin