"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
Friday, January 30, 2004 I was standing outside Blueberry Hill on Wednesday night, freezing my toes (etc.) off for my chance to see John Edwards for 45 seconds and I got into a conversation with a woman next to me.
We were talking about the different candidates and what was important to us and for both of us the most important issue was foreign relations. I mentioned to her the work we at ECM have been doing on AIDS in Africa and her response was agreeing how important that was and how Washington needs to do more about it. I agreed, and said back, "yeah ... but not just Washington, we ALL do."
She had never thought about that.
Until recently, I had never thought of it, either.
Until recently, foreign relations, huge affronts to human deceny, security and justice like AIDS in Africa seemed like things that our government needed to do more about but nothing that I could really do anything about. People like Blair Henneke, David Gibson, Steve Scharre, Jen Coil, James Sarpei, Mackinnon Webster, Kristian Kaufmann, Jen Claypool and so many others within our community and without have taught me differently.
My sabbatical project (in addition to spending lots of time with my family) is called: "The Gospel and a Globalized World: Connecting Local Ministry to the World Arena." Thiis blog is a part of that project. If you keep reading, you'll learn as I learn. I'll tell stories and share some FYIs and "did you knows". I'll float ideas of how we can break down the "what can I do about it" at the local level and I would love to hear your thoughts and responses, so email me at MKinman@juno.com or just use the shout out feature (when it's working, which has been pretty hit-or-miss recently).
For those of you who are ECMers or former ECMers, this sabbatical is not just for my benefit, it's for all of us.
Right now, I'm reading a new book "Black Death: AIDS in Africa" by Susan Hunter. It's proving to be a phenomenal primer on the issue for someone like me who is just starting to learn. Listening to Jen Coil talk about her work with AIDS orphans in Tanzania has opened my eyes even further to that problem. Listening to Kristian talk and reading the stuff in Ron Suskind's book about Paul O'Neil's passion for having universal access to potable water (did you know that we could guarantee everyone in Ghana access to potable water for only $25 million? That's the amount of money Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez makes as salary in one year!!!).
Mostly, as I learn more, as I have questions, as I have goofy ideas, I'm going to share them with you ... and I'm also going to share them with Schroedter. Because if we can raise our children to know and care about children halfway around the globe and realize that we're all in it together, then there really is hope.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004 I'm really going to Ghana!
Not that I have the plane tickets bought or anything, but I've been hashing it all out with James Sarpei and it's really going to happen ... I've even downloaded the VISA forms from the embassy.
I'll be working a lot with doing HIV/AIDS prevention training for youth ... but I'll also be traveling all over the country (it's only about as big as Oregon) meeting, living, working and worshipping with all sorts of people. I'll be taking a digital video camera and my computer with me so I can record what is going on and burn it into CDs/DVDs that they can use for trainings and that we can use for education/fundraising back here.
It's hard to believe that in 4 1/2 months I'll be in Africa!
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 On Monday, U2 lead singer Bono was in Atlanta to receive one of the King Center's highest honors, the Salute to Greatness award.
I invite you to read the whole article about the evening at http://u2log.com/archive/002703.shtml, but I wanted to send you this quote (forwarded to me by my good friend, the Rev. Beth Maynard). If you didn't know it, among Bono's many gifts is that he is one of the world's great preachers. You can feel the Holy Spirit pulsing through his words.
If you're like me, with the political fighting in our nation and in our church, this is an easy week to just get mad. I am grateful to Beth for forwarding these words to me ... they remind me of the great opportunity and joyful responsibility we have to be the people of God. They remind me of what is truly important ... and that all the things that have made me angry this week just don't matter if we can keep our eyes on that prize.
Here is part of what Bono said:
"Dr. King used to like to tell the story of the prophet Jeremiah,"Bono began. "Jeremiah, he said, looked out and saw evil people often profiting, and the good and righteous people often suffering. Jeremiah wondered at the injustices in life and asked, 'Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?'And Dr. King went on , 'Our slave forefathers came along. They too knew about the injustices in life. But they did an amazing thing. They took Jeremiah's question mark and straightened it into an exclamation point and in one of their spirituals they could sing, There IS a balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole. There IS a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.' "
"Sometimes he says it, sometimes he sings it. It's an important tune,"Bono continued."Today, four decades on, at an AIDS clinic in Zambia or Uganda or Ethiopia, there is a dying woman who is asking her God the same question. Is there a balm in Gilead? she asks. Well, God hears her, but do we? Because we too know the answer. The answer is NO. There is no balm in Gilead. There is no balm in Gilead. We've got the medicine and the money and the same love for justice that guided Dr. King. If we apply these things -all of them-and we begin to be worthy of his example, and take another step in our long journey of equality, we're going to get there.
We are the balm in Gilead. You are. I am. David Anderson is. Louie Crew is. Robert Duncan is. Susan Russell is. Frank Griswold is. Peter Akinola is. Millions of faithful and searching people in our pews and millions more who wouldn't be caught dead in them are.
We've got the medicene and the money and the same love for justice that guided Dr. King.
And if we apply these things -- all of them -- and we begin to be worthy of his example, and take another step in our long journey of equality, we ARE -- with God's help -- going to get there.
| Mike at 1/21/2004 01:17:00 PM
Tuesday, January 20, 2004 I have been a Dean supporter for quite some time. I have been disappointed in the last week and a half that he has turned negative on his opponents -- and I think that backfired on him big time last time in Iowa. The biggest problem he has is the same energy and unscriptedness that is a plus for him and that is one of the reasons I like him is also what alienates him from many people.
That said, I think "electability" -- which is what is being used against Dean -- is being defined all wrong. I think this election -- for better or worse -- will be more of a referendum on the Bush presidency than anything else. The last election showed that we are a polarized nation. In previous elections, it has been all about who can claim the "movable middle". It's not that way this time. There really isn't as much of a movable middle to speak of. Bush's presidency has been very polarizing ... even more so than Clinton's. Democrats aren't going to cross over and vote for Bush ... even if Al Sharpton were the candidate ... any more than Republicans are going to cross over and vote for a Democrat ... even one as mildly Democratic as Wes Clark. The election will be won or lost based on the candidates ability to bring new people into the process ... to mobilize their existing bases and expand them.
That is exactly what Dean did early on ... before he felt forced to go negative after undergoing 3 weeks of pounding from Kerry and Gephardt. To the credit of Kerry, Clark and Edwards, they have followed Dean's lead and been able to bring new people into the process, too (at least in Iowa). It was VERY interesting that a huge number of caucus-goers last night were first-timers and that the majority of them went for Kerry. That's good news for the party, whomever is the nominee.
I support Dean because I try to be a person of the Gospel, and as such, I think we need to not just be concerned with our self-interest but to first look out for the poor in this country and around the world. As such, I believe the 3 biggest issues this country faces are our role in the world (not just war, but HIV/AIDS, and other huge foreign policy issues), health care and race. I believe Dean's ideas and record are superior to Kerry's, Edwards' and Clark's on all three of these fronts. I think either one of them can beat Bush ... if the party truly rallies around the right candidate. Before last night, I didn't think Kerry and Edwards could ... and, frankly, I still have doubts about Kerry (if I were a betting man, I would put down $20 on John Edwards right now ... and I like Edwards, so I don't think it would be bad at all if he won).
Still, I'm nervous. I want to watch very closely the next week what happens in New Hampshire. I'm hoping the new underdog Dean returns to what it was that got him to be a front-runner in the first place. I have a sneaking feeling that John Edwards has stolen that role from him.
A lot will depend on how Dean is able to fight the "angry man" image. If you have listened closely to him, he's not nutty-angry, he's passionate in a way that sometimes comes out sharply. There's a big difference. But it's much easier and a much better sale for the media to paint a candidate simply as the "angry guy." Simple characterization sells. That's why Kerry and Gephart did it, too.
Howard Dean is the first candidate since Paul Tsongas in 1992 that I have worked for and the only candidate for president I have ever given money to. I'm not a blind Deaniac, but I am a strong supporter.
Oh, and I think every American citizen should read Ron Suskind's new book "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, The White House, and the education of Paul O'Neill" It's eye-opening to say the least. And despite the administration's attempts to portray him otherwise, Paul O'Neill is not a wild, unstable radical. He is one of the most influential and well-respected conservative voices of the past 40 years. He's also a strong Episcopalian (of whom a mutual friend, George Werner, speaks incredibly highly about as a man of integrity), and has stood up -- as a conservative Republican -- for the same Gospel values that have me supporting Howard Dean.
The book clearly shows that this election is not about liberal vs. conservative as it has been traditionally understood. People of Gospel values can be liberal or conservative because they differ on how to realize those values. Although I have no doubt that our president is a person of considerable faith, the true powers in this administration are running an agenda (steamrolling more like it) that values things that are decidedly contrary to the Gospel. And people are literally dying because of it ... not just in Iraq, but all over the world.
This election looks more important every day. Check out www.deanforamerica.com and decide for yourself.
| Mike at 1/20/2004 12:02:00 PM
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."