"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
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Station V - Simon carries the cross

    Simon of Cyrene tends to be a romantic figure -- the man who swooped in and lifted the cross from Christ's shoulders for a time to save him at least for a time from the burden. It's a beautiful romantic image, and one that is open to all sorts of reflections about if or how we could shoulder Christ's burdens on that road.

    Problem is ... that's not the way it happened. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke at least) tell of Simon -- but of how he was compelled by the Roman soldiers to bear Jesus' cross.

    Simon was not a faithful follower carrying a burden that was an honor. He was just some guy a long, long way from home (Cyrene was in Northern Libya) who had the rotten luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Or was he?

    Compulsion usually isn't fun. And in the quirky, self-aggrandizing way we have written our national story, compulsion -- being forced to do something you don't want to do -- often seems unAmerican and anathema. That's because too often we confuse freedom with license ... a confusion that too easily lets us feel self-righteous resisting the opportunities for greatness that compulsion sometimes holds.

    Because it's not just Roman soldiers and strong-armed police officers who compel us. Compulsion is a condition of the heart and spirit as well. Compulsion can happen when we have seen, experienced, heard and felt things that will not let us rest. Things that haunt us. Things that make us give up that which we hold dear ... that compel us to do that which we would dearly rather not.

    And sometimes, those are our moments of greatness.

    In the bubble of middle-class-and-up American life, it's easy to live in a world of our own construction where real compulsion never enters in. We shut out those disturbing things that might make us re-evaluate and change, that might compel us to sacrifice and labor for other than our own gain.

    But when we get out of that bubble, even a little, and let the world into our hearts, compulsion enters in and with it the opportunity for greatness.

    Flying back from Ghana, I remember taking a stroll up and down the airplane aisle over the North Atlantic and realizing that I had a choice. I could either go back into my bubble when I got back to America or I could try to continue to live outside it. I could take the experience I had and the people I'd met and turn them into vacation slides ... or I could let them shape my life.

    That choice was no choice. If I were to honor not just what I had seen but the people I had called sister, brother and friend. If I were to honor them and live a life not just as a Christian but as a human being with any sense of integrity and decency, I was compelled to change my life, to spend my time differently. To take the tiny bit I was just beginning to learn ... and learn more ... and share.

    If there was one moment that set me on the road to where I am now -- as imperfectly as I have followed that path -- it was that one. It was not what I wanted. Barring that feeling of compulsion, I can't imagine it's what I would have done. But that feeling of compulsion was there. And it was what I had to do. And in doing it, God has gifted me with more joy that I could have possibly imagined.

    I can't imagine Simon was that thrilled carrying the cross that day. More likely, he cursed his rotten luck and probably said more than a few choice words under his breath to God that day.

    But if he was even a little bit open to it, I wonder if he didn't take something away from the experience. If being compelled to carry another's burden even for a little while didn't shape him in some quietly profound.

    We'll never know, of course, but I wonder. Because the heart of compulsion is losing control. And when we give up control -- amazing things can happen.

    Station VI - Veronica wipes the face of Christ

    In Simon, we have someone whose scriptural portrayal the Church romanticizes. In Veronica, we have someone whom scripture doesn't mention at all.

    The tale of Veronica wiping Jesus' tears is the stuff of legend -- of a 17th-century Roman Catholic encyclopedia of saints, to be precise. Veronica offers Jesus a kerchief to wipe his face, he takes it, and when he hands it back to her it bears the imprint of his face.

    The closest pop culture cognate to this event is when the coiner of "Have a Nice Day" offers Forrest Gump a T-shirt to wipe the mud off his face and when it is returned it bears the ubiquitous "smiley face" on it.

    I don't have a lot of time for stories like Veronica's. To me, they cheapen the stark and powerful and even tragically beautiful nature of reality with cheap sentimentality.

    I used to go to a lectionary Bible study group every Tuesday afternoon at St. Mark's. I should still go ... it's still on my calendar every week ... but it just keeps getting squeezed out (says unfortunate things about my priorities). Years ago in some conversation during that group, Dan Handschy, the uberintelligent rector of Advent Church in Crestwood started talking about the dangers of romanticizing poverty.

    And this part stuck with me. He started talking about not how painful poverty was. Not about how tragic or bad poverty was. But about what just a huge pain in the ass poverty was. He talked about a woman who had to catch three different buses just to get to a job that didn't even pay her enough to subsist and how because the city transit system was so bad, the buses didn't run on time and she wasted a lot of her day just sitting at bus stops.

    When we think of poverty, the images that most often come to mind are beggars or people who are just abjectly starving in place. But that's not the face of most poverty. Most poverty is people who are working really, really hard to get by -- only EVERYTHING is a thousand times more difficult than it is for me. The simplest tasks -- getting water, going to school, feeling safe -- might not be impossible, but they take amounts of energy that we can't possibly imagine.

    My guess is that there never was a Veronica. And I think the Way of the Cross is a lot better without her. Because I'll be there wasn't anyone there to wipe his face. I'll bet the sweat and tears got in his eyes and they stung and there was nothing anybody did about it. I'll bet there were a ton of little things that lots of people could have done to make even that hideous journey a little easier and I'll bet not one person did them.

    If I'm to believe that Christ resides in the poorest of the poor ... and that the Way of the Cross is in solidarity with them ... how could it have been any other way?
    Read other blogs on the Via Crucis Blog Grid.
    Mike at 4/11/2006 10:40:00 PM

    While the Christian symbolism is a little lost on me (There's only so much I know..), this post was brilliant for its articulation.

    Well - Suppose a poor woman did walk away with Jesus's face on a piece of cloth - and decided to set up a centre for Religious Tourism - (highly hypothetical) - it provides for an economy around that centre - provides for avenues of livelihood.. and what not..

    (thinking aloud!)
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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