"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

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    Listed on Blogwise
  • Friday, December 31, 2004

    It's not a final peace accord, but it is the greatest step of hope that has happened in this region for a LONG time ... and it is a concrete structure for peace.

    Read about it at BBC World.
    Mike at 12/31/2004 01:03:00 PM

    Thursday, December 30, 2004
    On the House of Bishops and Deputies listserve, there has been a debate about whether America and Americans are generous or stingy -- a debate sparked by the fact that while we give the most money in foreign of any nation we give the smallest percentage of our GNP (0.13) of any of the wealthy nations of the world. And all this with the backdrop of the devastation in SE Asia.

    And it got me thinking ...are we stingy? I really think the answer is yes ... and no ... and in many ways "wrong question." And that's where it's a tough question for us.

    I've always considered myself a generous person. When I was in Ghana this past summer, I lived with an amazing guy, James Sarpei, who had founded an NGO that did great work - HIV/AIDS prevention, care for PLWHA, capacity building, etc -- and was always living hand-to-mouth. He has sunk all his own personal finances into the NGO, and still while I was there they were in danger of having their electricity cut off if a grant didn't come through.

    One morning, a young man came to the house from the fishing village where James had grown up. His fishing net had been torn to shreds by some metal wreckage in the bay ... if he didn't get a new net his family faced starvation. James always brought me into these conversations because he knew that I needed to sit face to face with people like this in my wealth and in their poverty and wrestle with what to do.

    So I'm sitting there, and I'm doing the mental math about how much I can afford to give him .. leaving enough money for my own expenses and to do the travel I wanted to do when my wife came over in a couple weeks. And while I wrestled with how much I could afford to give him, James walked over to the cigar box on his shelf where he kept the family's money, opened it, took the entire stack of bills inside, and handed it to the young man.

    I was sent into a mental tailspin. I was at the same time amazed by what James had just done, embarrassed at what comparatively little I was prepared to do, and not sure what to do next. I ended up doubling what I had planned on giving -- more out of shame than anything else -- and that gave enough money to buy the net.

    So ... was I stingy? Well, yes, there's no way to rationalize my way out of that one. But then I also know I have a generous heart. I know I give a lot of myself.

    But here's what I learned. Yes, I am generous. But I am generous on MY terms. I am generous and giving when it doesn't push me to extreme sacrifice. I am generous and giving when I can still have enough left over to maintain my standard of living.

    Here's the problem. Christ calls me to be generous on HIS terms. Christ calls me to love him more than anything ... more than my wealth, more than my standard of living ... more than everything. And in loving him, Christ calls me to trust him.

    And that's what it's all about, really. It's not about generous or stingy ... it's about do we trust God, do we trust Christ. Before the baptismal covenant there's a series of three renunciations and three adhesions. The renunciations are about rejecting the forces of evil that draw us from the love of God, and the adhesions are about taking on Christ.

    In those adhesions we pledge to turn to Christ and accept him as our savior, put our full trust in his grace and love, and follow and obey him as our Lord. That's the catch. It's that pesky "full trust" thing.

    After the young man left, I asked James how he could give all that money when his NGO was in such bad shape. He said simply "it's what God would have me do." And you know, the grant came through, the lights stayed on and his own family still got fed.

    I believe the American people are at the heart generous people. I believe we give greatly ... but like just about everything else, we do it on our own terms. Our poverty is not in generosity but in trust.

    It's not an uncommon poverty. The first commandment is all about it. We make ourselves into our own God when we don't trust the one who creates, redeems and sustains us.

    So those who say that we are stingy -- yeah, they're right ... there's no way around it. And those that say that we are generous -- well, they're right, too.

    But I think that argument misses the point. What we need to work on, what we need to pray for, what we need to learn from our sisters and brothers of faith around the world is not about stinginess or generosity but about trust and discipleship.

    For me as a Christian, that means when I get the ERD appeal in my inbox, I need to not think about how much I can afford to give ... I need to ask the question of Christ "what would you have me do?" And as I receive an answer ... and usually I know the right answer because it makes me really nervous ... to have the courage to say "I will, with God's help."
    Mike at 12/30/2004 06:35:00 PM

    Wednesday, December 29, 2004
    Over the past several days, I've been reading (and conversing through comments) with an amazing young woman from Delhi, India named Neha Viswanathan who has an amazing (and prolific) blog . She has also been moved in recent days to work pretty tirelessly on a blog effort for tsunami information and relief. . Check out both sites. Read her prose and poetry and the great stuff she quotes. This is a committed and passionate person with a voice worth listening to.

    She suggests donating a day's salary to tsunami relief, and even references a cool and handy website that shows you how to figure it. She convinced me ... I checked the chart and clicked over to the Episcopal Relief and Development website and made my donation. Why don't you do the same?

    Mike at 12/29/2004 06:07:00 PM

    Thursday, December 23, 2004

    I've got two boys ... a two year old and a six year old -- Hayden and Schroedter.

    Like most parents, I live under the false assumption that the English I am speaking and the English they are hearing is the same language! I can tell them something. I can tell it to them with great urgency. I can tell it to them crouching down to their level, making sure they are looking me in the eye. I can tell it softly, lovingly, sharply, with great exasperation, with wonderful analogies that I am just sure will hit home with them and with such brevity and clarity that there is no way they can possibly miss what I'm getting at.

    They will even nod their heads and say "yes, I heard you" ... and Schroedter will even parrot my own words back to me.

    ...and then ten minutes later, Schroedter is once again running through the dining room and Hayden is sitting in front of the open refrigerator shouting "Eggs!" with great glee as he takes them out of the carton, throws them on the floor and watches the dog gobble up the raw goo inside.

    Of course, I really don't think it's that they don't understand the language I'm speaking. They may even really want to heed my words. But whether it's forgetfulness or willful disobedience, the desire they have to do whatever it is they shouldn't be doing at that moment trumps any knowledge they have that they shouldn't be doing it.

    Even though it's weird to talk about it in this term ... well, it's sin. It's part of our broken nature as human beings. When it's manifested in children careening around the dining room table or a toddler making a floor omelet, even though it's exasperating, I can laugh, shake my head and try again.

    The problem is, even though we grow up, we never really grow out of our brokenness. It's why we need Jesus ... why we need God entering into our brokenness in the most intimate way possible -- taking God's best shot at speaking a language that we can understand, pulling out all his best analogies and parables, talking to us softly, lovingly, sharply, and sometimes with great exasperation. As Linus says, "that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

    And still, we don't listen. It's like we don't hear or understand. We may even really want to heed Christ's words ... but whether it's forgetfulness or willful disobedience, our desire to do whatever it is we shouldn't be doing from moment to moment trumps any knowledge we have that we shouldn't be doing it.

    It's sin. It's part of our broken nature as human beings. And getting beyond it is so, so hard. We have Christ to show us the way through it ... but we have our baptism to bind us to the task and to bind us to each other in doing it -- because there is no way we can do it on our own.

    Mary Miller, a friend of mine and colleague on the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, sent me an editorial from the New York Times this morning. It's full of words we've all heard before ... words about what Christ tells us in very plain language that we should be about -- feeding the hungry, healing the sick, laying down our lives for our sisters and brothers, walking the self-sacrificial way of the cross. Words that we all hear but somehow in our brokenness manage to ignore.

    Words like this:

    "Almost a third of the way into (the U.N. Millennium Development Goals program), the latest available figures show that the percentage of United States income going to poor countries remains near rock bottom: 0.14 percent (out of a promised 0.7 percent). Britain is at 0.34 percent, and France at 0.41 percent. (Norway and Sweden, to no one's surprise, are already exceeding the goal, at 0.92 percent and 0.79 percent.)"

    "We learned this week that in the last two months, the Bush administration has reduced its contributions to global food aid programs aimed at helping hungry nations become self-sufficient, and it has told charities like Save the Children and Catholic Relief Services that it won't honor earlier promises. Instead, administration officials said that most of the country's emergency food aid would go to places where there were immediate crises."

    "The administration has cited the federal budget deficit as the reason for its cutback in donations to help the hungry feed themselves. In fact, the amount involved is a pittance within the federal budget when compared with our $412 billion deficit, which has been fueled by war and tax cuts. The administration can conjure up $87 billion for the fighting in Iraq, but can it really not come up with more than $15.6 billion - our overall spending on development assistance in 2002 - to help stop an 8-year-old AIDS orphan in Cameroon from drinking sewer water or to buy a mosquito net for an infant in Sierra Leone?"

    This isn't aimed at slamming the current administration ... God knows all administrations -- Democrat and Republican -- have fallen way short of what we should be doing. It's about us being the children who can't obey ... only it's not funny and it's not cute.

    It's killing people, and it's costing us our souls.

    CNN reported that in 2003, Americans charged $97.9 billion on credit and debit cards over the holidays. That's not total spending, just how much we charged. This year, it's expected to rocket way over $100 billion. Conservatively, we charge seven times more on Christmas gifts than we spend helping the poorest people in the world.

    Jesus says "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these members of my family, you did it to me." ... then proceeds to have some firey words for those who did not bother to tend to Christ in ways befitting discipleship.

    There's no debate here. No argument over what the passage really means. No argument over context. For all the parsing and interpreting of scripture we do, I challenge anyone to translate Matthew 25 in any other way than that we are supposed to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick and in prison.

    And that in doing so, we find our salvation -- we find and come most fully into God's presence.

    And that in not, we lose it -- and cause a chasm to form between us and the divine.

    On the latest U2 CD, there's a great song called "Miracle Drug". Part of the lyrics are:

    I am you and you are mine
    Love makes nonsense of space
    And time...will disappear
    Love and logic keep us clear
    Reason is on our side, love...

    The songs are in your eyes
    I see them when you smile
    I've seen enough of romantic love
    I'd give it up, yeah, I'd give it up
    For a miracle, a miracle drug, a miracle drug

    God I need your help tonight

    Beneath the noise
    Below the din
    I hear a voice
    It's whispering
    In science and in medicine
    "I was a stranger
    You took me in"

    When we read editorials like this, when we watch the news, when we look at all the problems in the world they can be absolutely paralyzing. It can seem like nothing can solve them short of a miracle so why try.

    Only we have the miracle ... it's called the incarnation. We ARE the miracle ... it's called the Body of Christ. We are the miracle drug. Christ working through us is the miracle drug. When we look across town and around the world at our sisters and brothers and say "I am you and you are mine" love does make nonsense of space and time. We have the resources. We have the money. We have the technology. We have the delivery systems. We have everything we need to heal this planet ... all we need is the will. All we need is a discipleship in Christ that compels us to heed the words he is speaking to us.

    I hesitate to write this ... and I recognize that most readers have stopped reading already. I hesitate because missives like this are easy to dismiss. It's words that either sound good or not ... but they are just words. Hell, the Gospel says it plainly enough and if we aren't listening to the Gospel, why should anyone listen to me!

    Except I believe. I believe in the power of Christ. I believe in the power of the Church to be Christ's body. But I also believe in the urgency -- the urgency to save a planet that is literally dying, the urgency of the American Church to maintain a fast-slipping-away air of integrity and relevancy in the face of that death and the urgency of us to let Christ work through us not just to save the world but our own souls.

    Earlier in the song, Bono sings:

    Freedom has a scent
    Like the top of a new born baby's head

    The top of a baby's head, that soft spot, is where the child is most vulnerable. Kiss and caress it, cover it with one of those little caps to keep it warm and the child will grow up knowing love. Strike it too hard and the child will die.

    Our freedom is in that newborn child this Christmas. Our everlasting belief and hope that no matter what has come before, God hasn't given up on us yet.

    But it's more than that. Our freedom is in what we do with that most vulnerable part ... with the 1 billion of our sisters and brothers who live in abject poverty. Will we kiss and caress and care for them? Or will we ignore them and strike them down? Will we as individuals, as congregations, as an Episcopal Church and as an Anglican Communion take up the challenge of discipleship and get on with the missio dei? Or will we pretend our Savior's words plainly spoken aren't as important as what we want to do.

    Will we preach this Gospel from our pulpits and around our dinner tables and take our people out of our homes and churches into the streets and around the world and live it? Or will we let another day, week, month and year pass. Let more people suffer and die. Let rock stars and NGOs continue to preach Christ's gospel more eloquently and powerfully than we the church have for years?

    This isn't Schroedter running through the dining room. This isn't Hayden being cute and making a mess on the kitchen floor. It's time for us to grow up. It's time for us to hear and heed. It's time for us to put aside our childish ways, brush up on our baptismal covenant, band together and really be that miracle drug that is the Body of Christ.

    Beneath the noise
    Below the din
    I hear a voice
    it's whispering

    "I was a stranger
    You took me in"

    Freedom has a scent
    Like the top of a new born baby's head

    The newborn child bears our freedom and our sin.

    Can we hear his voice?

    Will we heed it?

    Mike at 12/23/2004 10:59:00 AM

    Sunday, December 19, 2004

    So the big news this week is it looks like I'm going to the Sudan after Easter.

    It's a diocesan trip, and Bishop Smith is going (Debbie, his wife, went two years ago ... on the trip with Sarah Stanage) along with me and six others -- three of whom are ECM students or alum (Emily Bloemker, Tina Grant and Reynolds Whalen). It's a 10-day trip, including travel ... which is pretty short, but that's all the Bishop's calendar will allow. We'll fly into Nairobi, stay at a Methodist guest house there, then take a Cessna across the border into Sudan, where we'll stay in the Diocese of Lui for four full days and parts of two others before making the trek back.

    One of the things I know from talking with Sarah and others who have gone to Sudan is that there are ways it makes the trip to Ghana like a bike ride through Forest Park. Ghana is in really good shape for sub-Saharan Africa ... and, needless to say, Sudan is not. There is great hope there will be a formal peace agreement by the time we go, or at least the current truce will still be holding. The poverty is extreme ... and it manifests itself most noticably in lack of water (knew growing up in the desert would come in handy someday).

    It's incredibly exciting ... and pretty unbelievable, too. We're looking at setting up a companion relationship with the Diocese of Lui, so this trip is important in relationship-building. It's also important for our community really making this kind of international mission work part of our corporate identity. We're already in talking stages of an ECM trip to Ghana in January, 2006 to work with the people at All Souls in Buduburam, CENCOSAD and the Anglican church there. Just in talking it up, we've got 4-6 students really interested, so that's even more exciting ... makes it feel less like just my thing and more like a direction in which we're all being called.

    In other frequent flier news, it looks like I might be going to China for a couple weeks this summer. You might know that I'm on the Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns (or, the ECUSASCAIPJC), and we travel each triennium to places that are going to be the points of emphasis in our work. China is one of those places that has all the things we are concerned with -- a rising HIV/AIDS problem, serious issues with empowerment of women and access to primary education, a looming water crisis ... as well as a very slow development of religious freedom. We're going to build relationships with the church as it exists there right now in hopes that we can work together more as China opens up.

    My hope is that Robin will come with me and then we (along with one of my friends on the Commission and his spouse) will do some travel of our own once the official visit is over (on our nickel, of course). The only real thing standing in the way of Robin coming over is child care for the kids, so we're working on that.

    So ... it's possible that, after having never been anywhere other than U.S., northern Mexico and England I will, in 18 months, have been to Ghana twice (for a total of 2 months), the Sudan and China. Didn't see this coming with my life!

    Happy Advent 4, everyone.

    Mike at 12/19/2004 03:12:00 PM

    Sunday, December 12, 2004
    Don't you worry about your mind
    Don't you worry about your mind

    You should worry about the day
    That the pain it goes away
    You know I miss mine sometimes

    Three years ago tonight, Julia McNeely died.

    If you're at all familiar with our community, you know the story. If you're really, really fortunate, you knew Julia. Young, amazing, wonderful -- like so many of our students -- and taken from us on earth hydroplaning on a lonely road in rural Mississippi.

    Many times ... not always ... but many times, God gives us a gift in the middle of tragedy. It's the gift of clarity. In those days, weeks and even months after Julia died all of a sudden we knew what was important and what wasn't.

    What wasn't was all the busyness that fills our lives.

    What was was each other, love, friends, family, sharing life and lives.

    But then life returns to normal for most of us ... or at least our definition of normal shifts and we get used to whatever it ends up being. And with it, we forget.

    We forget what seemed so obvious then. We forget how to distinguish between what's important and what's REALLY important. We remember. We grieve occasionally. We even continue to draw inspiration. But the clarity usually goes away.

    I remember a conversation I had with Rabbi Hyim Shafner after the car wreck that killed his friend and almost killed him. He talked of the clarity he had and how he was most afraid of the day that it went away ... that he forgot this glimpse of wisdom that God was giving him.

    Don't you worry about your mind
    Don't you worry about your mind

    You should worry about the day
    That the pain it goes away
    You know I miss mine sometimes

    It's really too bad that U2 decided to make Fast Cars the bonus track on the deluxe editions of their new CD ... 'cause I think it's just one of the most brilliant songs on the whole disc. It's about the process of grief and the ways we try to anesthesize ourselves with everything under the sun to fill the space that someone used to fill.

    But in the middle of it are these lines. Don't worry about losing your mind. Don't worry about surviving the pain. Worry about the day that the pain goes away.

    You know, I miss mine sometime.

    I don't know if I've ever seen life as clearly as I did when Julia died. I don't know if what I was doing ever felt more important or more real. I don't know if I ever felt more human and yet at the same time more aware of the divine reality that permeates and extends beyond our humanity.

    There was something real about that pain. Something that so obviously connected me to all that mattered in life.

    You know, I miss mine sometime.

    So it's the third anniversary of Julia's death. Tomorrow is the real anniversary ... of when we all found out. Of that terrible day into night at Rockwell House where we held onto each other and God for dear life.

    Tonight we'll gather by the fireplace at Rockwell House ... just like Johnny and Julia and I did a few days before she died. We'll gather to remember. The group that does this gets smaller every year. Really, Johnny and Rory and I are the only ones left who really knew her well at all.

    But as I reflect on Julia's' life ... and especially finally visiting the Africa she loved, I've reflected on it a lot this year ... I realize that the strongest connection to what is REALLY important, the strongest connection to the love of God that permeates life and is stronger than death is not mourning her death but being inspired by her life.

    Three years have passed. I've gotten used to not talking to "somebody in a body" the way we used to talk. I don't have her picture in my pocket. I no longer spend time "documenting every detail, every conversation."

    For me, that clarity exists not when I try to recreate the feelings around her death but when I remember her life. When I realize the chain of events that led me to Buduburam and All Souls started with Julia kneeling down to talk to a street child in Nairobi. When I remember the ways that, at her best, she always seemed to remember and remind me of what was REALLY important.

    And that's the real and lasting gift. The first gift was Julia. The second gift was the clarity that God gave us in the terrible aftermath of her death. The third gift is the continuing inspiration and clarity God continues to give me through her memory -- and through the lives of so many wonderful people that God has seen fit to bring into my life.

    In this season of Advent, of light breaking into the darkness and the darkness not being able to overcome it, there is no greater reminder to me of God's enduring presence with us and in us. There is no greater reminder to me of what my life can be ... of what is really important.

    Mike at 12/12/2004 01:19:00 PM

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    Last week, I was with the boys at one of the newer mega-malls in St. Louis. It was morning and the usual pre-Christmas bustle was starting to heat up. There was a Santa Claus sitting amidst a mountain of Coca-Cola crates. There were tons of stores selling, well, I'd say more stuff than you can possibly imagine, except we've all been there. And most of it is just pretty much useless crap.

    One feature of this mall is giant video screens suspended over the walkways that play music videos. And this particular morning as people were beginning to run around in their pre-Christmas consumer hysteria, the screens were playing a video from the early 80s ... a little number from the Band Aid group that put on Live Aid called "Do they know it's Christmas?"

    Most of you probably know the song. It was written about people starving in Ethiopia in the 80s ... and since then with the advent of the AIDS pandemic things have gotten worse, not better. It goes like this:

    It's Christmastime
    There's no need to be afraid
    At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
    And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
    Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

    But say a prayer

    Pray for the other ones
    At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
    There's a world outside your window
    And it's a world of dread and fear
    Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
    And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
    chimes of doom
    Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you

    And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
    The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
    (Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
    No rain nor rivers flow
    Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

    (Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
    (Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
    Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

    Feed the world
    Let them know it's Christmastime again

    I really like the song, but this Christmas it has more meaning for me because there are real names, faces and relationships attached to it. But that's not what hit me about it this time. It was the juxtaposition of this song playing on the big video screens and all these people running around in a buying frenzy.

    For probably a minute, I was literally paralyzed. I just couldn't deal with the disconnect. Wasn't anyone listening to this song? And, of course, I was there at that mall, too ... plopping down $50 on a deposit for Schroedter's birthday party at the glow-in-the-dark golf place.

    But then I was hit by the even deeper irony. Deeper than this song and mad shopping resting side by side. The irony is that that people I met in Africa DO know it's Christmas. They know it better than we do. They aren't caught up in the frenzy of consumerism ... they're celebrating the incarnation of Christ.

    Do they know it's Christmastime at all? You bet. The question is ... do we?

    You might have noticed something new on the left side of the blog. It's an appeal to give to the people of All Souls Liberian Episcopal Church and Child Development Center in Buduburam, Ghana. This is a community of Episcopal Liberian refugees who do more good with practically no resources than I have ever seen. They know it's Christmas. They put their whole trust in God's grace and love, but they also need us to be part of God honoring that trust.

    I'm asking you to take a minute and click on the Network for Good link on the left or right below. Click on it and make a donation to this amazing group of people living far from home with almost nothing to their names except an undying hope and faith (the donation goes to the Diocese of Missouri ... make sure you put "Liberian Refugees" in the memo line). Click and make a donation not so they can know it's Christmas ... but so you can.

    Blessings to you all this holy season of Advent and always.

    Mike at 12/07/2004 11:06:00 PM

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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