Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Christians & A Possible Woman President

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
Russell Moore comments on how Christians might view the possibility of a woman president:
"In 2008, Christians were faced with the real prospect of a woman president (Hillary Clinton) or vice president (Sarah Palin). Some (though very few) complementarian Christians wondered whether this could be right, while critics of traditionalist interpretations wondered how consistent it was for Christians to elect a woman to national office when they wouldn’t vote for her to serve as pastor of a local church.

...Unfortunately, American evangelicals have too often longed for a secular authority to serve as a spiritual leader, and political professionals have been all too willing to exploit this by teaching candidates to parrot evangelical-sounding phrases and “testimonies.” In such cases, political leaders become totem-like for evangelicals. An attack on a candidate who identifies with “us” is an attack on “us” or, worse, on Jesus. That’s unhealthy, regardless of whether the politician is male or female.

In the case of evangelical over-identification with political partisanship, though, there can be a subtle shifting in what it means to define a woman’s life, or a man’s, as a “success.” There is quite a bit of inconsistency in evangelical complementarians talking about a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet. 3) while cheering Ann Coulter’s latest sarcastic barbs.

I’m not all that worried about the gender of our political candidates, precisely because, relatively speaking, the political arena just isn’t all that important when compared to the church. What is important is the way our political passions often shift the way we view the mission of the church, and even what we expect in our homes."
To read Dr. Moore's complete post please click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Children Can Thrive In Public Schools

Christian parents have a variety of options these days for educating their children. From homeschooling to private schools to charter schools to public schools, I am of the persuasion that there is no "one size fits all" approach to schooling options for Christian parents. We must each seek the Lord on what would be the best approach for our family and trust Him with how He leads us.

For our family, my wife and I have chosen to send our children to public schools. We have been pleased with their teachers, the education they have received and the environment in which they are able to receive their formal education. We know that for some families public schools may not be the best choice but for ours we believe it is.

Tim Challies has written a wonderful review of a new book, Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David & Kelli Pritchard with Dean Merrill. The purpose of the book is to help guide parents that have children in public schools on how to make their children's experience the best possible. Challies says this:
"What the Pritchards do is simple: they allow us into their home and family, telling us why they made the decision to public school and then showing us how they have gone about it. It’s not like they public school out of ignorance. To the contrary, they do what they do out of conviction that this is the way they can best raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. That word “fear” is important to them. Following Proverbs, they say that the fear of the Lord “is the foundation on which all learning, all knowledge-gathering, all schooling should be built.” To do that, they focus on instructing their children from their earliest days in loving the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength; on learning unconditional obedience to their parents; and on attaining self-control. With these values being instilled in their children, they are ready to guide them through their education.

The most valuable lesson of all, at least in my view, is that public schooling is a family affair. The decision to place children in the public education system is a decision to have the whole family involved in this system. They say, “We should not think in terms of sending our child off by himself to ‘the mission field.’ We go there together. This is a family expedition. When we show up each August to enroll our kids for another school year, we are enrolling our family into the life of this institution. This is a joint venture.” This means that mom and dad are involved not just with the children, but with the school and teachers and leaders.

A second valuable lesson is that is the lesson that all parents are homeschoolers. The Pritchards make it clear that public schooling still calls for the parents to teach their children and to be involved in all that they learn. No good parent can abdicate all of the children’s education to other people.

There are many other lessons, of course. Some of them are broad in application while others are more specific. What I appreciate, though, is that all have come out of the testing ground of their own family. Through it all the Pritchards show their unshakeable belief in the sovereignty of God, their trust in his promises and their heartfelt desire to honor him in all things."
Having our children involved in the public school system can be a wonderful opportunity for Christian parents and families. But so, too, can other schooling options. Raising children in today's society is no easy task but I believe we can trust God to care for children no matter where they receive their formal education.

To read the complete post by Tim Challies please click here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Embracing Change Or Defending The Status Quo?

Photo Credit: ginnerobot
Change is inevitable but that doesn't make it any easier when we are going through it. The organization that I worked for is in the process of a major change as we will be changing our name in early 2012. Though we feel like this change is needed in order to be more effective in our mission, there has been a vocal minority that has wanted to stick with the status quo.

Whether what we are doing is working or not is irrelevant to those that are fiercely committed to maintaining the status quo. They like things they way they are and want them to stay that way forever. But change sometimes is necessary and can be life-giving. There is typically a sense of loss that we experience when going through a major change but we still need to go through it in order to experience a better reality on the other side.

Seth Godin offers some pointed questions in considering if we might be a person that is too committed to the status quo:
  • Consider the cost of switching before you consider the benefits?
  • Highlight the pain to a few instead of the benefits for the many?
  • Exaggerate how good things are now in order to reduce your fear of change?
  • Undercut the credibility, authority or experience of people behind the change?
  • Grab onto the rare thing that could go wrong instead of amplifying the likely thing that will go right?
  • Focus on short-term costs instead of long-term benefits, because the short-term is more vivid for you?
  • Fight to retain benefits and status earned only through tenure and longevity?
  • Embrace an instinct to accept consistent ongoing costs instead of swallowing a one-time expense?
  • Slow implementation and decision making down instead of speeding it up?
  • Embrace sunk costs?
  • Imagine that your competition is going to be as afraid of change as you are? Even the competition that hasn't entered the market yet and has nothing to lose...
  • Emphasize emergency preparation and the expense of a chronic and degenerative condition?
Is there a change that you need to make in order to be more like the person that God wants you to be?  Is there something you need to do differently in an area of your leadership that will help you better realize the dreams God has placed on your heart?  Change for the sake of change is not necessarily the answer. But change in order to bring a better tomorrow is something to embrace.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

College Students & Binge Drinking: A Deadly Combination

Photo Credit: Tristen.Pelton
For many young people, alcohol use and college life go together like peanut butter and jelly. But for an increasing number of students, what may feel like innocent fun for the purpose of socializing can lead to unintended consequences.

A freshmen student at the University of Central Florida (UCF) near my home in Orlando passed away this weekend after spending at least part of the evening drinking at a fraternity party. Authorities do not yet know if alcohol was a contributing factor in the death of 18-year-old Ann Hefferin, but her death points the spotlight on a major area of concern for our nation's college campuses.

From the Orlando Sentinel:
"Like many college campuses, UCF tries to prevent alcohol abuse through a variety of alcohol-education programs. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education recognized UCF's programs as a national model, university officials said.

All freshmen are required to complete a two-hour, online course that covers alcohol-related topics such as how to call for help if a friend appears drunk and how to refuse a drink. The college's Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Programming office also gives regular presentations in classes, student organization meetings and residence halls.

The first week of school is the time of the riskiest drinking, said Scott T. Walters, professor of behavioral sciences at University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health. Walters co-authored a recent study that found incoming college freshmen to be at the highest risk for excessive drinking.

The study, published this month in Addictive Behaviors, surveyed 76,882 students from more than 258 colleges, for the eight weeks prior to college starting and five weeks after. The summer before college, kids' drinking increases some, and students tend not to be as careful about their drinking. But the turning point was the first week of school, which Walters called "gap week."

"The real kicker were the number of youths who answered yes to questions regarding intent to get drunk," said Walters, author of "Talking to College Students About Alcohol." "Many more answered yes to questions about whether they planned to drink shots, play drinking games, or intentionally get drunk." Drinking tends to taper after the first few weeks.

He cites a new freedom and minimal supervision as factors in binge drinking, particularly in the early weeks. "Parents are gone; courses have no demands. Kids are at loose ends, and they fall through the cracks. They are trying to socialize and make friends and think alcohol will help," he said.

What would help, he says, is a better hand-off. "Parents should stay around. There should be more supervision, or maybe schools should make academic requirements happen up front, instead of having a blow-off week." He also encourages parents to stay in touch with their students, especially at first. "Get to know your student's friends, space and schedule."

Drinking during adolescence has been on the rise in the United States for years, said Mark Goldman, professor of psychology at University of South Florida. "Fifty percent of young people have had their first drink before their 15th birthday. What happens in college happens against a background of a high level of drinking that's been going on anyway," Goldman said.
For college students seeking to fit into a new environment, impressing others through one's drinking prowess can seem like a wise thing to do. But binge drinking and constant partying will never completely satisfy those looking for belonging and acceptance. If you find that you are often getting drunk but still remaining thirsty, please read this article from EveryStudent.com on how to "Quench Your Real Thirst."

To read the complete article about the tragic death of Ann Hefferin please click here.

To learn more about the number of people that are affected by the consequences of excessive alcohol use by college students please click here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Number of Hispanic College Students Jumps 24% since '09

Photo Credit: cityyear
From the Orlando Sentinel:
"The number of young Hispanics attending two- and four-year colleges has reached an all-time high of 1.8 million, with Latino enrollment increasing 24 percent between 2009 and 2010, a study released today by the Pew Hispanic Center showed.

As a result, Hispanics outnumbered young blacks on campuses for the first time, although African-American enrollment has posted steady gains for several years now.

The tremendous growth in the Hispanic population is only one reason behind the gain, according to the study, which was based on census data. The Hispanic college-age population — defined in the study as those between 18 and 24 — grew in the same period by 7 percent, yet college enrollment grew much faster.

Researchers found that the sluggish economy has served as an incentive for young Hispanics to attend college because there are so few job options for them after high school.

Another contributing factor, the study pointed out, is that the high school graduation rate for Latinos has improved, climbing during the same period from 70 percent to 73 percent.

At 16 percent of the total U.S. population, Hispanics are the nation's biggest minority group, according to census data."
To read the complete article please click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Americans Leaving The Church, Study Says

Photo Credit: eye2eye
From NewsOne.com:
"Despite the prominence of religious believers in politics and culture, America has shrinking congregations, growing dissatisfaction with religious leaders and more people who do not think about faith, according to a new study by a Duke University expert.

In “American Religion: Contemporary Trends,” author Mark Chaves argues that over the last generation or so, religious belief in the U.S. has experienced a “softening” that effects everything from whether people go to worship services regularly to whom they marry. Far more people are willing to say they don’t belong to any religious tradition today than in the past, and signs of religious vitality may be camouflaging stagnation or decline.

“Reasonable people can disagree over whether the big picture story is one of essential stability or whether it’s one of slow decline,” said Chaves. “Unambiguously, though, there’s no increase.”

Chaves, who directs the National Congregations Study, used data from that research and from four decades’ worth of General Social Survey results to draw what he aims to be an overview of contemporary American religion. The study will be published this week.

Today, as many as 20 percent of all Americans say they don’t belong to any religious group, Chaves found, compared with around 3 percent in the 1950s. Yet, those people aren’t necessarily atheists, agnostics or others. Instead, about 92 percent of Americans still profess belief in God, they just don’t use religion as part of their identity.

“It used to be that even the most marginally active people wouldn’t say they have no religion, they’d say `I’m Catholic’ or `I’m Baptist’ or `I’m Methodist’ or whatever,” Chaves said. “That’s not the case today.”

Even signs of robust religious faith may not be what they appear, Chaves found. The strength of religious conservatives in politics, for example, has coincided with a growing disillusionment about faith’s role in the public square. Chaves found that between 1991 and 2008, the percentage of Americans who strongly agreed that religious leaders should stay out of politics rose from 20 percent to 44 percent.

At the same time, those who remain devout have become more conservative. In the mid-1970s, knowing that someone attended church regularly wouldn’t reveal much about their political leanings; today, regular churchgoers are far more likely to be Republicans than Democrats.

“It’s not random who’s leaving churches,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who studies American Christianity and wrote the 2010 book “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“As Christians affiliated more through the Republican Party, liberal, marginal churchgoers became offended and left,” she said.

The notion of decline misses important developments like the enthusiastic devotion of Christian immigrants, argues Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

“Much of our immigration is coming from countries where Christianity is blossoming,” he said. “I think God’s doing some great things in African-American churches and among Hispanic immigrants.”

Anderson thinks the change is better described as a shift than a decline, as people become more willing to leave the denominations or faiths in which they were raised and look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment.

Wright also believes that a decline might be overstating the case, and says polarization is a better description. He recently plotted survey data over the last 25 years recording what Americans say about the importance of religion in their lives. Those who say it’s extremely important have grown slightly, along with those who say it’s not at all important. But the number of people who said it was “somewhat” important dropped from 36 percent to 22 percent in about 20 years.

“Forty or 50 years ago, it was almost a form of deviance not to be religious,” he said. “When you take away that external form of motivation, people either drop away or they find their own kind of motivation.”
To read the complete article please click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Is True For The Class Of 2015?

Photo Credit: StudyGroupAlex
Each year around this time Beloit College releases what they call the Mindset List -- a list of important facts and events which influence the worldview and perspective that this year's college freshmen class brings with them.

This year's list, which is made up for the graduating class of 2015, represents those students who were born in 1993. You can read the complete list here but I've included some entries below that I found particularly interesting:
There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.

The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.

There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.

As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.

Amazon has never been just a river in South America.

Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you're talking about LeBron James.

O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.

John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.

“Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short.

Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.

Dial-up is soooooooooo last century!

Their older siblings have told them about the days when Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera were Mouseketeers.

Music has always been available via free downloads.

They pressured their parents to take them to Taco Bell or Burger King to get free pogs.

No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Day.

Charter schools have always been an alternative.

They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.

Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during primetime.

Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild card entry in the playoffs.

They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.

“PC” has come to mean Personal Computer, not Political Correctness.
The world that today's college freshman has grown up in is not the same world that the freshmen of 10, 20 or 50 years ago experienced. These things must be kept in mind in order to effectively reach out to this generation of up-and-coming leaders.

How One Church Is Blessing Their City

Photo Credit: nmiller1996
"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." ~ Jeremiah 29:7

If your church had to close its doors, would anyone outside of your congregation notice? So much of our church activity can be focused on our own needs in order to be a blessing to our own families and friends but a church with God's heart for all people will seek to be a blessing to their community and world. One church in northeastern Ohio is doing just that.

S.P.A.N. Ministries, based in Tallmadge, Ohio, recently sought to bless the community in which the church resides. S.P.A.N., which stands for Shepherd's Pasture for All Nations, is led by and comprised of a number of women and men who were involved with our Impact chapter at Kent State University. TallmadgeExpress.com tells their story:
"After an Aug. 14 service at the Northeast Avenue church, about 80 members of the SPAN congregation went to Little Caesar's on Tallmadge Circle and packed the pizza shop for about an hour.

"It was great," said Little Caesar's Co-owner Jason Zieman. "It was probably the busiest we've been on a Sunday afternoon in quite some time."

Zieman said he and other workers came in that day just to handle the rush. At one time, a line of customers stretched out the door.

[Kurran] Bishop said he was pleased with the movement's maiden run.

"It was a pretty good turnout for being our first go at it," he said. "That was just our trial run, so we hope to make it bigger."

Bishop said he got the idea for the program from an Akron church whose congregation visited a local grocery store with the goal of clearing the shelves.

"So we thought, 'What can we do to kind of bless businesses in the area on a smaller scale?'" he said. "We wanted to help out business that could use a little bit of a jolt."

Bishop has decided to target smaller local restaurants, which he feels would likely benefit the most from a modest-sized group.

The bigger picture of the "Blessing in the City" movement, he said, is to convey the church cares by giving back to the city.

"We can't just stay inside the four walls of the church to do that," he said. "We have to get out in the community and do these things."
When a church seeks to be a blessing to the community around them its members become tangible demonstrations of God's love to those who are hurting and in need. I'm proud of the way that S.P.A.N. is living this out.

To read the complete article on S.P.A.N.'s "Blessing in the City" movement please click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brennan Manning On Devotion To God

Photo Credit: Xesc
From Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel:
"For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Jesus Christ knows no shadow of alteration or change. When Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened," He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged, and disheartened along the way. These words are a touching testimony to the genuine humanness of Jesus. He had no romantic notion of the cost of discipleship. He knew that following Him was as unsentimental as duty, as demanding as love."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Church's Dirty Little Secret: Christians & Porn

Photo Credit: Ayelie
From CNN.com:
"He is a good Christian, Michael is telling his two therapists. He goes to church most Sundays. He’s a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

“But when I would leave on business trips,” he says, “I knew I was going to get to be someone else. Prostitutes, porn - I took anything I wanted.”

Sitting on a comfortable, worn couch, Michael glances out the window and sees a reflection of himself set against the parking lot of this suburban Atlanta office building. He fidgets, runs his fingers over his closely cropped blond hair and straightens his green tennis polo. He clears his throat.

Above his head hangs a poster covered in words describing feelings - angry, anxious, sad. On it is a big yellow cross. Therapists Richard Blankenship and Mark Richardson wear solemn but empathetic expressions. Certified counselors and Christian ministers, they tell him they know how to listen and nod for him to continue.

“I’ve had a record of purity since March when I confessed to my wife,” says Michael, whose name has been changed by CNN.com to protect his privacy. “No porn, no masturbation.”

“Awesome,” Richardson says, leaning forward in his chair. “God knows you’re trying.”

This is Michael’s second week at “Faithful and True – Atlanta” a 16-week counseling program that, like dozens of others like it around the country, combines traditional psychotherapy with the Bible in an attempt to treat addictive behavior.

Blankenship, a devout Christian who once struggled with sexual abuse, says his own ordeal has helped him to treat and “graduate” nearly 500 Christian men and women with similar addictions in the last five years. He says he has helped people achieve what he calls “sobriety,” which means resisting porn and lustful thoughts.

Though controversial in secular circles, much of the evangelical Christian world has been cheering this relatively new kind of therapy. Many believers, including many Christian leaders, consider it a powerful tool for fighting what they say is one of the modern church’s biggest problems: porn addiction."
To read the complete article please click here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My All-Time Michigan Wolverine Football Team

I'm a big fan of all-time lists and a big fan of the Michigan Wolverines, so I figured I would collect my suggestions of an all-time greatest Wolverine football team. In attempting to select a team such as this, there will inevitably be a number of deserving players who don't make the cut. Also, keep in mind that I didn't take into account success in the NFL (hence, no Tom Brady), but only rewarded accomplishments while in college, including placement on All-American teams, other post-season honors, recognition as a team captain and overall productivity.

I realize I'm a bit biased towards players that I've watched (1980's - present) but I think this is a fairly good team based on the research I've done.  To help demonstrate how I determined this team's roster, I've listed each individual's accomplishments that led them to be selected on the team.

[Note: List was last updated before the 2011 season.]

THE FIRST TEAM

Offense
Quarterback – Bennie Friedman (2x All-American in '25 & '26, Big Ten MVP)

Running Backs -
Tom Harmon (Heisman & Big Ten MVP in '40, 2x All-American in '39 & '40),
Willie Heston (2x All-American in 1903 & 1904, 72 TD's)

Wide Receivers –
Anthony Carter (3x All-American in '80-'82, Big Ten MVP, 161 Rec., 3076 Rec. Yds., 40 TD's),
Desmond Howard (Heisman, All-American, & Big Ten MVP in '91, 2146 Rec Yards, 35 TD's)

Tight End – Bennie Oosterbaan (3x All-American in '25-'27)

Center – Charles Bernard (2x All-American in '32 & '33)

Tackles –  
Jake Long (2x All-American, Big Ten Off. Lineman of Year in '06 & '07),
Greg Skrepenak (2x All-American in '90 & '91, Big Ten Off. Lineman of Year in '91)

Guards –
Albert Benbrook (2x All-American in 1909 & 1910),
Steve Hutchinson (2x All-American in '99 & '00, Big Ten Off. Lineman of Year in '00, 4x All-Big Ten 1st Team)

Defense

Ends –
LaMarr Woodley (All-American, Lombardi Winner in '06, 24 Sacks),
Brandon Graham (All-American & Big Ten MVP in '09, 29.5 Sacks)

Tackles –
Mark Messner (All-American in '87 & '88, 36 Sacks),
Chris Hutchinson (All-American & Big Ten Def. Lineman of Year in '92, 24 Sacks)

Linebackers –
Ron Simpkins (All-American in '79, 516 Tackles),
Erick Anderson (All-American & Big Ten Def. MVP in '91, 428 Tackles, 60 Sacks)
Jarrett Irons (All-American in '96, 2x Team Captain, 453 Tackles, 66 Sacks)

Cornerbacks –
Charles Woodson (Heisman in '97, 2x All-American & Big Ten Def. MVP in '96 & '97,  18 INT's)
Marlin Jackson (All-American in '02 & '04, 9 INT's, 195 Tackles)

Safeties –
Tripp Welbourne (2x All-American in '89 & '90, 9 INT's, 238 Tackles),
Tom Curtis (All-American in '69, 25 INT's)

Special Teams

Placekicker - Remy Hamilton (All-American in '94, 63 FG's, 280 Pts.)
Punter - Monte Robbins (43.1 Yds/Punt, Longest Punt of 82 Yards)
Returnman - Steve Breaston (24.6 Yds/KR, 12.6 Yds/PR, 5 Return TD's)

Coach
Bo Schembechler (194 Wins, 13 Big Ten Titles, 6x Big Ten Coach of Year)

THE SECOND TEAM

Offense

Quarterback - Rick Leach (All-American in '78, 3x All-Big Ten in '76-'78, 82 Total TD's)

Running Backs –
Tyrone Wheatley (3x All-Big Ten in '92'-94, Big Ten MVP in '92, 4287 Rushing Yds, 54 Total TD's),
Mike Hart (3x All-Big Ten in '04, '06, '07, 5040 Rushing Yds, 43 Total TD's)

Wide Receivers –
Braylon Edwards (All-American & Big Ten MVP in '04, 252 Rec., 3541 Rec. Yds, 39 TD's),
Amani Toomer (2x All-Big Ten in '94 & '95, 143 Rec., 2657 Rec Yds, 18 TD's)

Tight End – Ron Kramer (All-American in '55 & '56, 880 Yds., 8 TD's)

Center – Germany Schulz (All-American in 1907)

Tackles –
Dan Dierdorf (All-American in '70, 2x All-Big Ten in '69 & '70),
Jumbo Elliott (2x All-American in '86 & '87)

Guards –
Mark Donahue (2x All-American in '76 & '77),
Reggie McKenzie (All-American in '71)

Defense

Ends –
Curtis Greer (All-American in '79, 2x All-Big Ten in '78 & '79, 313 Tackles) ,
Mike Mallory (2x All-Big Ten in '84 & '85, 321 Tackles)

Tackles –
Mike Hammerstein (All-American in '85, 161 Tackles, 16 Sacks),
Rob Renes (All-American in '99, 151 Tackles, 5 Sacks)

Linebackers –
Sam Sword (All-Big Ten in '97, 370 Tackles, 5 Sacks),
Larry Foote (All-American & Big Ten Def. MVP in '01, 212 Tackles, 11 Sacks)
Steve Morrison (All-Big Ten in '94, 315 Tackles)

Cornerbacks –
Leon Hall (All-American in '06, 12 INT's),
Ty Law (All-American in '94, 2x All-Big Ten in '93 & '94, 8 INT's)

Safeties –
Dave Brown (2x All-American in '73 & '74, 212 Tackles, 9 INT's),
Brad Cochran (All-American in '85, 189 Tackles, 12 INT's)

Special Teams

Placekicker - Garrett Rivas (All-Big Ten in '06, 64 FG's, 354 Pts.)
Punter - Zoltan Mesko (2x All-Big Ten in '08 & '09, 42.5 Yds/Punt, Long Punt of 68 Yds)
Returnman - Derrick Alexander (All-American in '92, 23.4 Yds/KR, 12.7 Yds/PR, 4 Ret. TD's)

Coach
Fielding Yost (6 National Championships, 10 Big Ten Titles, 165 Wins)

You can check out Motown Sports Revival for a list from several years ago of the 100 greatest Michigan players ever and look at a listing of Michigan's All-Americans here.

Here is another site that lists a number of top Michigan players over the years at each position.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Changing The World...One Cookie At A Time

Photo Credit & Cake Creation: Lori Crocker
Our good friends, Jane & John Hursh, are making a difference in the world through a creative way to bless those in need. The Hursh's are taking Jane's love and talent for baking and turning that into a way to help others. Their business, jane's short & sweet, gives all of its profits to improving the lives of others in some of the most difficult places of our world.

Jane shares:
"The irony is not lost on us that it is with sweet products that we are turning around bitter circumstances. With your purchases of jane's, you are joining us as we come alongside local and international organizations to bring tangible and life-transforming hope where there is human trafficking, abuse, lack of educational opportunities and non-existent medical care."
To purchase your order of Jane's shortbread, biscotti or granola, please visit her website here. Trust me...they are delicious.

To get an insider's perspective on jane's short & sweet, check out this recent television interview:


Find more inspiring video, audio, and images at Growing Bolder.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are Black Colleges Racist?

Photo Credit: Roundup Russy
In this era of increasing ethnic diversity within the United States, there are some that question whether Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU's) are still needed. To be more direct, some detractors of HBCU's question whether they are actually racist in nature. They argue, for example, how would it be received if there were colleges that identified themselves as "White Colleges & Universities?"

I've argued before here about why I feel there continues to be a need for HBCU's for those that choose to pursue higher education in that setting. I've also provided some facts here about HBCU's that might be of interest to you.

Because I've written at length about this before, I won't go into the reasons about my thinking on the place of HBCU's within modern America but it is interesting to note that many feel that HBCU's are somehow more exclusive to non-blacks than major state schools are to people of color. Having had the privilege of visiting a number of the country's top HBCU's, I know from firsthand experience that though in the minority, I have always been welcomed and treated with courtesy and respect during my time on HBCU campuses.

The Wall Street Journal has written a good article detailing the efforts of HBCU's to recruit non-black students. Nsenga Burton, of TheRoot.com, comments:
"Some black colleges are stepping up recruiting at mostly white or Hispanic high schools and community colleges. Delaware State University is bringing 100 Chinese students to its Dover campus this fall for cultural and language training. Other colleges are showcasing unique programs. Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens promotes its chorale, which backed Queen Latifah in the 2010 Super Bowl, for example.

Even top-ranked black schools such as Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta, are recruiting more aggressively in the face of intensifying competition for top African-American students.

About 82% of students at the nation's 105 black colleges are African-American, a percentage that has been fairly constant over the past 30 years, according to a data analysis for this column by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a New York nonprofit. Increases in Hispanic and Asian students have offset declines in whites, partly because of cuts in federal- and state-scholarship programs that encouraged white students to attend historically black colleges, says the fund's president, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. He predicts growth in white, Hispanic and Asian enrollment, as black colleges cast a wider net.

We're glad the Wall Street Journal has discovered what is commonly known on HBCU campuses, there is racial, religious, gender and cultural diversity on them. Recruiting outside of your core group makes sense especially since Blacks have many more options than before. Further with the elimination of affirmative-action programs and massive cuts in funding at mainstream universities, it stands to reason that more whites and Hispanics would be seeking education elsewhere. Yes, affirmative-action helped white students too. Some graduate and professional programs at HBCUs have been extremely diverse for decades now. It's no surprise that colleges and universities that have always valued diverse populations would reach out to non-black populations in the interest of continuing this tradition and survival."
Even though our nation's college campuses are becoming more ethnically diverse each year, American ethnic minority students are still outnumbered by white students at most of our nation's top schools. Yes, African Americans still comprise the majority of students at HBCU's, but the efforts of HBCU's to recruit and include students of other ethnicities is similar to the efforts of most major state schools to include students of color.  Because of their history, HBCU's are readily identified as institutions primarily created for African Americans students but this designation makes them no more exclusive than any other state college where whites are the overwhelming majority.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What A Coffee Purchase Teaches Us About Humility & Leadership

Photo Credit: Center for American Progress
It is doubtful that Ambassador Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China, anticipated the news that would be generated by his purchase of an airport Starbucks coffee but it has caught the attention of those he serves.

Locke, the first Chinese American governor in U.S. history when he held that office for the state of Washington from 1997-2005, caught the media's attention when he was recently photographed at the Seattle-Tacoma airport carrying his own backpack and attempting to purchase a coffee through the use of a coupon. You can see the photo here.

For those of us that are Americans, we may not understand what the fuss is all about but for the citizens of China, the country that he relates to as a representative of the United States, it has caused a stir. Look at what Chen Weihua, a writer for the China Daily, has to say on the matter:
"To many Americans, there was probably nothing unusual about this. But to most Chinese people, the scene was so unusual it almost defied belief.

How could someone who holds the rank of an ambassador to a big country not have someone to carry his luggage, and not use a chauffeured limousine. In China even a township chief, which is not really that high up in the hierarchy, will have a chauffeur and a secretary to carry his bag.

Watching this episode, many Chinese people might start to wonder if the people at the US embassy in Beijing in charge of arranging Locke's reception would keep their jobs.

I am sure they did given another photo of Locke that was circulated by netizens [active members of online communities]. It features Locke, with the same backpack he was carrying at the airport, apparently trying to buy a cup of Starbucks coffee with a coupon at the Seattle airport. When the coupon wasn't accepted, he paid with his credit card.

"Why was there no one to buy a coffee for the boss?" many Chinese netizens asked."
Ambassador Locke demonstrates an important lesson for us in humility and in leadership. When appointed to a position of public service, the expectation is that we would serve our constituents. All too often, however, the roles get reversed and those of us in leadership positions ask others to serve us.

As great as the example that Ambassador Locke has shown us, Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of what it means to be a servant leader. From John 13:
"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. ..."You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
There are many ways that a leader can be described but one of the best ways is as one who serves others.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Both/And Qualities Of Christianity

Photo Credit: Salvatore lovene
From Carolyn Arends:
"A lifetime of evangelical thinking has primed me for either/or questions,breeding a deep distrust of both/and propositions. After all, one of the distinguishing features of Christianity is its insistence that there is one way to God. A wariness of pluralistic worldviews is completely warranted. But if I'm not careful, that insistence can mutate into creating artificial schisms that fly in the face of a God who desires to make us whole in radical ways.

When we fall for false dualities, we end up arguing over whether the gospel is concerned with ministering to the poor or proclaiming the Word. We believe our theology must emphasize either a free gift of grace or a call to holy living. In a myriad of areas, we polarize, dichotomize, and greatly minimize the life God has for us.

...Most of us would like our faith to reduce tension. But, according to Jesus (who told us to be anxious for nothing but always alert, to be last in order to be first, to be weak to be strong, and to lose our lives to find them), tension is required."
To read the complete post please click here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Should We Use Native American Sports Mascots?

Photo Credit: BGSU86
I want you to take a good look at the image to the left. What comes to your mind when you look at that? If you're from Cleveland, it may remind you of a baseball team that you follow. But if you are of Native American descent, this image likely doesn't bring up pleasant feelings.

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the use of Native images in American sports, whether at the professional, collegiate, high school or other levels. If you're like most people, you probably haven't given much thought to it. You've grown up in a society that generally accepts the use of the term Redskins for an NFL team and Atlanta Brave fans doing the "tomahawk chop" at games. So is the move to ban Native American sports mascots just another attempt at political correctness or is it something more than that?

One university, the University of North Dakota, looks to be currently in the final stages of a process to change their name. CNN.com reports:
"The University of North Dakota is one step closer to retiring its nickname and mascot, but changing the school's 90-year-old Native American moniker -- the Fighting Sioux -- has not been without complications.
The school faces a Monday deadline to comply with the NCAA's policy on mascots "deemed hostile or abusive toward Native Americans."
School officials were in the process of coming up with a new name and mascot this year until North Dakota legislators passed a law ordering them to stop, according to UND spokesman Peter Johnson.
The rock and the hard place the school finds itself between marks the last gasp of a decades-long fight not just in North Dakota, but in all of college sports -- the climax (or nadir, depending on some people's perspective) of a nostalgia-imbued resistance to political correctness on the playing field."
I am generally opposed to the use of Native images and mascots for sports teams. These names and images have typically been born out of the tragic history of this nation and continue to perpetuate stereotypes and remind the First Nations people of this land of their mistreatment over the centuries. The argument is often made that the use of these names and images honor the original inhabitants of what is now known as the United States. Sadly, when white people put on "war paint", wear ceremonial headdresses, and do chants at sporting events without any knowledge or appreciation of the culture that these things come from, it comes off as much more of a mocking of that culture than anything honorable.

Although I do believe that in rare cases this is possible (I'll get to that in a minute), there are likely other ways that would serve to honor American Indians more than the caricatures that are often connected to our sports teams. Barbara Munson, of the Oneida Nation, offers some other suggestions:
Indian people do not pay tribute to one another by the use of logos, portraits or statues.
The following are some ways that we exhibit honor:
1. In most cultures to receive an eagle feather is a great honor, and often such a feather also carries great responsibility.
2. An honor song at a Pow-Wow or other ceremony is a way of honoring a person or a group.
3. We honor our elders and leaders by asking them to share knowledge and experience with us or to lead us in prayer. We defer to elders. They go first in many ways in our cultures.
4. We honor our young by not doing things to them that would keep them from becoming who and what they are intended to be.
5. We honor one another by listening and not interrupting.
6. We honor those we love by giving them our time and attention.
7. Sometimes we honor people through gentle joking.
8. We honor others by giving to them freely what they need or what belongs to them already because they love it more or could use it better than we do.
I understand that sports hold a special place in American culture. We are committed to our teams and our loyalty runs deep. We have years worth of paraphernalia connected to our teams and are hesitant to make changes to the names and images of the teams we love. Having grown up in the state of Michigan, I am well familiar with the influence that Native culture has had on current American society. The use of Native names is very common within the state and my college alma mater, Central Michigan University, is known as the Chippewas, a Native tribe that is one of the largest First Nations people groups within North America.

But I am supportive of the use of the Chippewas moniker for CMU. Does this make me a hypocrite? Well, not necessarily. Although I am generally in disagreement of the use of Native names and images in connection with sports teams, CMU is a bit of a unique situation. When I was a student there in the early nineties the university was in the midst of a major review of whether they would keep the Chippewa name or not. It was during a time when other major schools nearby (e.g. Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan, etc.) were changing their names and it appeared that Central would follow suit.

But at the end of this review it was decided to keep the name. Why? Because in this case, there is a Chippewa tribal reservation just minutes from the university and CMU and the tribe have a strong relationship. In this instance, the tribe felt that the school did honor their people with the use of that name since 1) It was not a derogatory name (e.g. Redskins) and 2) The school agreed to do away with all Native imagery in connection with their athletic teams.

Because of the tribal approval that is given to the university, CMU was one of the few exceptions that the NCAA gave a few years ago when it banned the use of Native names for its members. Although this issue continues to be discussed, it is still an accepted part of the university. As a student, I was enriched by the Chippewa culture that was part of the university life and took advantage of the opportunity to learn about a culture other than my own.

I'm thankful that I am an alum of an institution that is one of the few cases that actually honors First Nations people in connection with their athletic teams. In other cases, I would like to challenge you to stop supporting institutions that continue to encourage the use of negative stereotypes and images in connection with their teams. It is not a matter of political correctness... it's a matter of doing the right thing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Starbucks, Bill Hybels & Responding Like Jesus

Photo Credit: Robert the Noid
Bill Hybels is one of America's most well-known pastors and is the leader of one of the country's largest congregations, Willow Creek Community Church. Willow Creek, located just outside of Chicago, hosts a Global Leadership Summit each year that attracts thousands in person and many more through satellite and other forms of technology.

The Summit has attracted a bit of attention this year due to the withdrawal of invited speaker Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. Schultz's withdrawal came as a result of an online petition that urged him to drop out of the Summit due to what some feel is Willow Creek's "anti-gay" position.

Faced with a variety of options on how he could have responded, Pastor Hybels answered Mr. Schultz in a manner that is quite befitting of one that follows Jesus Christ. Please watch this video to see how Bill Hybels chose to address the situation:



I hope that Pastor Hybels is able to begin a dialogue with some gay and lesbian leaders as a result of his Christ-like response to this situation. God's love is available for all and I'm grateful that a prominent Christian leader such as Bill Hybels is making that known.

(h/t to Ragamuffin Soul for the video link)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why You Don't Want To Be Primarily Known For What You're Against

Photo Credit: 4lfie
It is a sobering reality that in many segments of our society Christians are known more for what we are against than for what we are for. Our public demonstrations against various sins and groups that we believe to be enemies of God have left many with the impression that we Christians are simply a bunch of angry zealots with nothing better to do than to demonize others.

In a convicting and telling post, Byron Yawn outlines the reasons why we probably don't want to be known as the "angry prophet." Yawn says this:
"Of the many things I’ve learned about pastoral ministry over these years one stands out among the most helpful: There is a real danger in consistently defining yourself and your ministry by what you are against."
He then goes on to list ten dangers of defining yourself by what you're against. Though primarily directed at pastors, his admonitions could apply to any of us. Here they are:
1. You’ll forget to talk about what’s good… especially about Jesus.

2. You’ll begin to take yourself too seriously.

3. You’ll begin to preach the same sermon from every passage.

4. You’ll foster mean people.

5. You’ll eventually assemble an audience of self-congratulatory clones.

6. You’ll take all correction personally and as an unpardonable offense against “God’s man.”

7. You’ll make a terrible shepherd.

8. You’ll become the type of person you warn others about.

9. You’ll thrive on controversy.

10. People will stop listening.
Jesus instructed us that we would be primarily known as followers of Him by the love we show to one another. That doesn't mean we never seek to speak truth but it does mean that the truth we speak is motivated by love and not condemnation.

You can read Yawn's complete post here.

(h/t to Tim Challies for the link)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Report Says Young People Do Not View U.S. As Post-Racial

Photo Credit: Mighty mighty bigmac
From theGrio.com:
"Is racism interpersonal or systemic? If you were born after 1980, you may very well believe the former. A new report from the Applied Research Center takes a fresh look at the racial attitudes of the Millenials, as they're called, that up-and-coming generation of people ages 18 to 30. And their thoughts on race, like all matters of race in America, are a complicated mixed bag.

Most of all, in the age of Obama, this study throws cold water on the notion that we live in a post-racial, colorblind society -- that the president is the fulfillment of Dr. King's dream and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. In other words, race actually still matters.

In one sense, the results of the study are encouraging. A majority of young people understand that race continues to play a significant role in education, the criminal justice system, immigration, employment and other sectors of society.

For example, only 10 percent believe race is not a factor in the criminal justice system. "Why is it that over 90 percent of prison inmates are people of color? Rates of black men in prison versus rates of black men in college -- obviously, there's something going on that's wrong," said Margarita, 22, a Filipina-American and part-time program coordinator who participated in the study.

"The whole war on drugs is a war on black and brown folks. So what happens to a white person with a drug problem, right? Rich celebrities in rehab on television vs. people I know who face jail time for marijuana charges."

However, this is not to say that all Millenials, the nation's largest and most diverse generation of all time, think alike. Among members of the focus group -- which included blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans and whites between 18 and 25 years -- young people of color were able to make more of a connection between race and disparities in opportunity and resources. Many whites, on the other hand, had more of a problem connecting the dots."
To read the complete article please click here.

(h/t to News One for the link)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Plumbing And Philosophy

Photo Credit: naoyafujii
From John W. Gardner:
"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."
- Taken from Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Worldwide Religious Persecution On The Rise

Photo Credit: shashish
From CNN.com:
"Nearly a third of the world's people live in nations where practicing religion freely is becoming increasingly difficult, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life said government restrictions and religiously motivated hostility rose significantly between mid-2006 and mid-2009, when the research was conducted.

Only 1% of the world's population lives in countries where the trend was the opposite.

"The increasing levels of social hostilities is a definite trend that needs to be watched carefully," said Brian Grim, the primary researcher for the study.

Grim said the Pew Center's report on 198 countries found those that were already restrictive or abusive in the previous report continued their decline. Those that were tolerant became more so. The study found that 101 governments used force against religious groups or individuals.

He said Christians and Muslims, who make up more than half of the world's population, were harassed in the most number of countries, though that did not reflect the intensity of the persecution.

The Middle East and North Africa had the largest proportion of nations where curbs on religion went up, the study found. Nearly a third of those nations imposed greater restrictions. It was particularly bad in Egypt, the study said."
According to the Conference on the Persecution of Christians, religious persecution affects over 100 million Christians each year and, although people of all faiths face persecution, three out of every four religion-based hate crimes that lead to death are directed towards Christians.

To read the complete CNN.com article please click here.

Monday, August 08, 2011

How A Small Minority Can Change The World

Photo Credit: garryknight
It has been said that it only takes a small group of committed individuals to start a movement that can change the world. There is now some research that seems to back this up.

From Emily Sohn on Discovery.com:
"To change the beliefs of an entire community, only 10 percent of the population needs to become convinced of a new or different opinion, suggests a new study done at the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At that tipping point, the idea can spread through social networks and alter behaviors on a large scale.

The research is still in its early stages, and it's uncertain if the results will apply to all kinds of beliefs, particularly in tense political situations.

But the findings do provide insight into how opinions spread through communities. The model may also help experts more effectively quell misconceptions and influence the choices people make about public health behaviors and related issues.

"This is really a starting point to understand how you can cause fast change in a population," said Sameet Sreenivasan, a statistical physicist and one of the co-authors of the study which included two graduate students and three senior faculty.

"The real world has a lot more complexity, obviously," he added. "But one of the things you can take away is that if you want to cause a fast change, there is an upper bound to how many people really need to commit."
To read the rest of the article please click here.

(h/t to Phil Cooke for the link)

A Lesson On Forgiveness From Rwanda

Photo Courtesy of Blessed Madugba
One of the greatest human tragedies of recent memory was the genocide that occurred in Rwanda. During a hundred day period in the spring and summer of 1994, an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during a conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. The number killed was a staggering 20% of the population of the country.

Amazingly, the tribal differences that led to the genocide of 1994 did not always exist. At one time, the members of these two tribes were actually considered the same people with a shared language, culture and values. During the Belgian colonialist period of the mid-1800's, the people of Rwanda were divided into two different tribes based on their personal wealth. Those with more became Tutsi and those with less became Hutu. This separation of one people into two separate peoples treated unequally led to a struggle for power over the years that eventually led to the mass killings that took place in the 1990's.

A friend of mine, Blessed Madugba, recently spent some time in Rwanda and met with survivors of the genocide with the hope of bringing some healing to this troubled country. Blessed is Nigerian and his own tribe, the Ibo, experienced a similar atrocity at the hands of Nigerian government in the late 1960's when millions were killed. Possessing an empathy that few of us possess, Blessed shares:
"The absolute highlight of my trip is the meeting I had with the local pastors and Christian leaders. There’s a serious lack of unity among the Christian leaders and pastors. This contributed greatly to instigate some Hutu pastors & priests in joining the mass killings of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, including Tutsi members of their own churches.

Even after the genocide there’s still strong bitterness, hurt and distrust among them. But by God’s grace a number of them honored my invitation to meet, talk and dialogue. I patiently listened to them share their grievances, bitterness, frustrations and challenges, as well as their philosophy of ministry.

I admonished and exhorted them, and underscored the importance of unity among them and amongst the body of Christ for the work of God to advance and flourish in Rwanda. I challenged them to begin a Pastor’s Monthly Prayer Meeting, where they will take turns hosting it among their different Churches. They are to gather for prayer, fellowship, worship and sharing to encourage one another every month.

They all embraced the idea and immediately chose the next meeting date, time and location. I’ve talked with our Coordinator, Pastor Dennis, in Rwanda a number of times, and he excitedly told me that they have met three times and each time more pastors join as the word about their gathering spreads. I was told that a fresh fire and hunger for unity has been ignited among them, and they want to know when I’m coming back with a team. It was quite humbling to see how God touched and moved the hearts of these people and their willingness to come together, to eat and fellowship. The Lord worked through your prayers."
Even in the midst of massive injustice, as with what took place in Rwanda, forgiveness is the starting point for lasting healing and reconciliation. Our sins have lasting consequences that have the potential to affect generations to come. The people of Rwanda will continue to deal with the sins of their fathers, just as we in America continue to reap the consequences of the sins of our forefathers. But healing is possible and I'm grateful for those like Blessed that are helping that to take place in one portion of the world.

To learn more about Blessed's ministry, Hallomai International, click here.

To read more about the history of the conflict in Rwanda click here or check out the award-winning movie, Hotel Rwanda.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Five Things Needed For A Lifetime of Christian Service

As a part of our ministry to college students with Campus Crusade for Christ, our hope is that young people would trust God to work through them by personally experiencing being part of God's mission while they are on the university campus.  But, not only that, our desire is that they would serve God beyond college for a lifetime of service wherever He might lead them.  We believe that Christians who are filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit can be used by God in great ways, no matter what their vocation or where they live or what stage of life they may find themselves.

Check out this video on the "Five Things": 1) A kingdom vision, 2) A plan, 3) A coach, 4) A team and 5) Ongoing equipping.


The 5 Things from CCCNEHQ on Vimeo.

[The 5 things for a successful ministry audio from the 2011 Boston Winter Conference, by Holly Sheldon. Art by Ed Flemming. Produced by David Rice.]

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Perspective On Immigration From The Old Testament

Photo Credit: Edu-Tourist
One of the most pressing issues within contemporary society is the topic of immigration. This important subject is not just something for our government to consider but it is fitting for the Church to decide on how we will engage this matter. It is easy to simply view this concern through political lenses but those of us that are Christians must primarily look at this through a biblical grid.

For a thoughtful approach to considering how we can think about this matter, I recommend M. Daniel Carroll R.'s book, Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible. Carroll takes a balanced and insightful study on immigration and offers a compelling argument on how we can look to the Scriptures to shape our opinions on this pressing issue. Within the book, he examines the history of Hispanic immigration in the United States, looks at immigration as discussed in both the Old and New Testaments and sets forth some suggestions on how we can address this issue in modern times.

Within his overview of immigration as viewed in the Old Testament, Carroll adroitly brings a humanity to why people leave their homeland for another:
"The Old Testament is full of accounts of people on the move or who have settled in other places. Many reasons are given for this movement, and these migrations - whether of individuals or of large groups - span centuries. They are part of the fabric of biblical history - and ours. This realization offers a lesson to the majority culture. Migrations are a recurring phenomenon. According, Hispanic immigration to the United States is but another chapter in the very long book of the annals of humankind. That being the case, one can step back and try to appreciate why people, then and now, are compelled to go to another place.

The text gives a human face to the migrants. They are tested and discriminated against; they want to have a home and provide for their families; they worship God; they work at different jobs, some not by their own choice; others are gifted in special ways, rise to positions of authority, and do marvelous things for the country in which they live; some long to return to their homeland while others choose to stay in their new country; and they wrestle with how to coordinate their backgrounds with the different culture that surround them - the issues of language, customs, faith, politics, economics, and laws. These are also flawed individuals. They sin; they are imperfect in all kinds of ways.

In other words, the Bible offers the reader very realistic scenes and situations and amazingly true-to-life characters. These immigrants and refugees are people above all else, people caught up in the trials, tribulations, and joys of life. It is everyday life, but the text teaches that these lives are set against a much bigger canvas. These people are part of the plan of God for the unfolding of world history. Consequently, the majority culture must evaluate its reaction to immigrants. The Old Testament recounts compassionate actions of some as well as the cruelty of others toward foreigners. Herein are examples, good and bad, to be followed and avoided."
Some good thoughts to ponder...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An Epidemic Of Suicide Among Native American Youth

Photo Credit: Kami Jo
Lorna Thackeray of the Billings Gazette reports on the disturbing rates of suicide of Native American youth:
"All the reasons that put young people at risk of suicide in the country at large are amplified on Indian reservations.

Indian children are more likely to be abused, see their mothers being abused and live in a household where someone is controlled by drugs or alcohol. They have the highest rates of emotional and physical neglect and are more likely to be exposed to trauma.

“The unfortunate and often forgotten reality is that there is an epidemic of violence and harm directed toward this very vulnerable population,” Dolores Subia BigFoot, director of the Indian Country Trauma Center at the University of Oklahoma, testified a before the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs during hearings on the Indian Youth Suicide Prevention Act of 2009.

“American Indian/Alaska Native children and youth experience an increase risk of multiple victimizations,” she said. “Their capacity to function and to regroup before the next emotional or physical assault diminished with each missed opportunity to intervene. These youth often make the decision to take their own lives because they feel a lack of safety in their environment. Our youth are in desperate need of safe homes, safe families and safe communities.”

...Weakening of those bonds and loss of culture and spirituality are among the reasons young people cannot find their way, she said.

Others describe historical and cultural trauma that remains ingrained in the Native American psyche. Colonization and racism and the abrupt end to traditional life still reverberate in new generations, said Clayton Small, a Cheyenne, who works in a nonprofit suicide prevention program.

Generational trauma weighs heaviest on the male population, he said. They commit suicide at a far higher rate than female Native Americans.

“In Indian Country the role of our men has been significantly altered,” Small said. “Then throw in poverty and violence and it descends into drug and alcohol abuse.”

He said one out of three Native American males end up incarcerated at some time during their lives, in part because their cases are brought in the relatively unforgiving federal system. With a criminal record, employment is nearly impossible to find and they suffer the indignity of not being able to support their families, Small said.

“We have to teach kids that they don't have to continue this cycle,” he said. “We have to teach them to cope with the stress and trauma they see every day.”
One organization that is seeking to stem this tide is Nations, a movement that seeks to develop leaders on the college campus by honoring Native American students and faculty by restoring their lives and culture with Jesus Christ. Nations embraces and honors First Nations people while recognizing that there is one true Creator who desires to restore what has been lost by placing his Son Jesus Christ at the center of American Indian life and culture. To learn more about this important organization, click here.

To read the rest of the Gazette article please click here.

(h/t to Racialicious for the link)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Maybe Being An Evangelical Isn't So Bad After All

Photo Credit: jeremy.wilburn
The evangelical Christian movement has been around for centuries but it has only been in recent decades that the definition of what it means to be an evangelical has changed within mainstream culture. Originally, the definition of an evangelical had nothing to do with political affiliation. To be an evangelical meant:
1. You were committed to the Bible as an authority in your life.
2. You believed in the need for a "born again" experience through faith in Christ.
3. You emphasized the necessity of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for personal salvation.
4. You regularly talked with others about how they could have a relationship with Christ.
In recent years within the United States, the term "evangelical" has become, for many people, synonymous with a politically conservative Christian who votes Republican. While it may be true that many evangelicals may vote along these lines, not all of us do. It's unfortunate that the definition of an evangelical has come to mean more about politics when the most important thing about us is our faith.

Nicholas Kristof, a writer for The New York Times, has written a splendid piece about how we evangelicals are often unfairly characterized as all being like the more extreme members of our community. Using the recently deceased John Stott as an example, he says this:
"Centuries ago, serious religious study was extraordinarily demanding and rigorous; in contrast, anyone could declare himself a scientist and go in the business of, say, alchemy. These days, it’s the reverse. A Ph.D. in chemistry is a rigorous degree, while a preacher can explain the Bible on television without mastering Hebrew or Greek — or even showing interest in the nuances of the original texts.

Those self-appointed evangelical leaders come across as hypocrites, monetizing Jesus rather than emulating him. Some seem homophobic, and many who claim to be “pro-life” seem little concerned with human life post-uterus. Those are the preachers who won headlines and disdain.

But in reporting on poverty, disease and oppression, I’ve seen so many others. Evangelicals are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics, similar in many ways) who truly live their faith.

I’m not particularly religious myself, but I stand in awe of those I’ve seen risking their lives in this way — and it sickens me to see that faith mocked at New York cocktail parties.

Why does all this matter?

Because religious people and secular people alike do fantastic work on humanitarian issues — but they often don’t work together because of mutual suspicions. If we could bridge this “God gulf,” we would make far more progress on the world’s ills."
I appreciate Mr. Kristof's candor in acknowledging that evangelicals are often unfairly stereotyped within popular culture and that there is more to us than how we vote politically. Contrary to popular opinion, evangelicals as a whole are some of the most courageous leaders within our society as it pertains to providing for the poor, sending aid to other countries and caring for orphans. Yes, we are unusually committed to the tenets of our faith in Christ but it is because of this unusual commitment that we seek to actively live out our faith as people that emulate the Nazarene carpenter.

You can read Kristof's complete post here.

(h/t to Scot McKnight for the link)

How One College Student Received A Lesson On Race

Photo Credit: howzey
It is nearly twenty years to the day that I first stepped onto campus as a university freshman. I remember experiencing a mixture of emotions marked by excitement, fear, anticipation and nervousness. One of the feelings that I didn't have, though, was wondering if I would see anyone that looked like me. On a campus that was overwhelmingly white, nearly all my classmates and almost all my professors looked like me.

In four and a half years of college, I never once had a class where I wasn't in the majority. For many students of color, however, their experience is anything but similar to mine. Alana Mohamed, a current college student, writes of her experience on what it was like for her to attend a predominately white, northeastern school as an ethnic minority. Here are some of her thoughts
"Maybe I’m na├»ve, but when I stepped on the campus of my New England public university, I was dumbstruck by the whiteness of it all. I was literally the only person of color in a sea of white people. This had never happened to me before. I grew up in New York City and had never been to a school that was predominantly white. As such, I was partial to the color-blind politics of the day. This is not to say that I never experienced racism, but I was lucky enough to discount the few times I had encountered racism as the statistical outliers of my life. However, I was surprised to learn that my peers at university had rarely come in contact with people of color and often times lacked any sort of tact when dealing with people of color.

...The scariest sort of situation was dealing with hostile, purposeful racism. At the beginning of the year, when people didn’t know I had a Muslim last name, or that my father was Muslim, I heard a student loudly decry, “F****** Muslim scum, f****** ruining our country. Motherf******,” at a party further down my hall. I also heard cheers, egging him on. I was in my room at the time and couldn’t see who had said it. And quite frankly, I was too terrified to go see. When it comes to direct confrontations, I draw the line at putting myself in dangerous situations. I wish I would have told my RA [Resident Hall Assistant], but I was too scared of stirring up trouble so early in the year. As a consequence, I often felt unsafe and alienated from many of the kids on my floor."
Not only can the college campus seem intimidating to many ethnic minority students who are just venturing into a mostly white context for the first time in their lives but it can be downright scary. Unfortunately, Alana's experiences are all too common as I've had numerous students share with me similar encounters they had while adjusting to this very new environment.

This is just one reason why it is so important that there is spiritual assistance available for each and every student no matter what their background or how they define themselves culturally. Each person is created in the image of God and is worthy of love, respect and acceptance. I'm grateful that I'm part of a community of caring individuals that is actively reaching out to the over 7,000,000 American ethnic minority and international students currently studying on college campuses across the U.S. To learn more about some of the ministries that Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) offers on campuses throughout the country, please click here.

To read the rest of Alana's story on the Racialicious blog please click here. (WARNING: There is some strong language found at this link.)