Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Movement To Rediscover Native American Cuisine

Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine
Newsweek's Paul Wachter writes about Apache-Navajo chef Nephi Craig and his mission to introduce traditional Native American cuisine to a broader audience. He writes:
"Nephi Craig graduated from culinary school in 2000 and began a promising career. In a few years, he was working his way up the stations at Mary Elaine’s, Arizona’s only five-star French restaurant, led by James Beard Award–winning chef Bradford Thompson. “I was getting a great French, classical training, but something was missing,” says Craig, who is 33. “The French tradition isn’t my tradition, and I wanted to cook in the tradition of my people: Apaches and Navajos.” 
It’s an early Tuesday morning in late July, and Craig is driving his 10-year-old son, Ari, and me around the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, which is nestled in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. Craig, whose mother is Apache and whose late father was Navajo, likes punk rock and skateboarding and is quick to laugh. Though he was born in Whiteriver (the reservation’s largest community) and spent most of his youth there—he also lived for several years on a Navajo reservation—he never thought he’d spend his adulthood here. He went to culinary school in Scottsdale and then spent three years cooking at an affluent country club in the northern part of the city before joining Mary Elaine’s. 
“The French tradition isn’t my tradition,” he says, “and I wanted to cook in the tradition of my people: Apaches and Navajos. At Mary Elaine’s, we’d use a lot of local ingredients—rabbit, venison, squash, and corn—that I recognized as part of indigenous culinary history but were prepared in the French style,” he says. “And as I got better as a chef, I began to think about using my skills to showcase my own peoples’ culinary ways.” 
But he had a lot of learning to do. “Even growing up on the reservation, I got the same two-page social-studies version of our indigenous history,” he says. “You know, the pilgrims and stuff.” After leaving Mary Elaine’s, he began to devote himself to rediscovering indigenous food. He traveled widely, hosting private dinners and conferences, and seeking out other Native American chefs as well as academics who had researched the cuisine of his ancestors. And when, in 2009, he learned of an opening at the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Sunrise Park Resort, “it was,” he says, “the right time to bring my ideas back home.” 
Craig was eventually appointed executive chef at the resort. His restaurant serves mostly standard American fare. But guests can also book seats at his chef’s table—and it’s there, as well as through a group he founded called the Native American Culinary Association, that Craig is acting on his dream: to restore and reinvent the largely forgotten cuisine of his forebearers.
A Search on the Zagat website for New York City lists 554 Italian restaurants, 191 French establishments, and 179 Japanese restaurants. There are 10 Ethiopian restaurants. But there isn’t a single Native American restaurant listed. There’s no culinary nod to the Lenape Indians who inhabited Manhattan long before Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali. 
“American dining is based on our immigrant population, not our Native population,” says Lois Ellen Frank, a half–Kiowa Indian chef-scholar who wrote Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations. Ask an American today for his or her conception of Native American cuisine, and you’ll likely be met with some mumbling about Thanksgiving. 
Before the Colonial era, Apaches relied for food on a “triptych of hunting, gathering, and raiding,” explained Thomas Mails in The People Called Apache. Mails was writing specifically about the Mescalero Apaches of New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, but the same can be said of White Mountain Apaches. Acorns, seeds, and nuts were staple foods in their largely plant-based diet, which also included rabbits, birds, raccoons, fish, and other native animals. Food was local. 
“If you lived in the Pacific Northwest, you would know the six types of salmon and know how to harvest them, but if you were a Navajo Indian on the Midwestern plains, you never would have seen one,” Frank says. Early European contact and trade introduced new foods, which many Native American chefs today also consider part of their peoples’ authentic culinary tradition. “It’s fair to talk about Navajo sheep even though sheep were imported to the Americas, just as we now consider the tomato to be an authentic and indispensable part of Italian cuisine even though it came from Mexico,” Frank says.
To read the rest of the article please click here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering The March On Washington 50 Years Later

It was fifty years ago today that one of the most pivotal events in the history of the United States took place. "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" occurred on August 28, 1963 and gathered approximately 250,000 people together who believed in the inherent equality and dignity of all human beings. The reverberations from this event are still being felt today.

Although a number of speakers and musicians were present at the March on Washington, history has shown that the most memorable aspect was the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered by a 34-year-old Baptist preacher by the name of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King's speech paints a picture of what it might look like for Americans to live together no longer divided by racial hatred but to gather at the table of brotherhood. It is generally regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history and it still sends chills down my spine whenever I hear it.

I've posted the entire "I Have a Dream" speech below for your viewing. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What Is True For The College Freshmen Of 2013?

Photo Credit: Sterling College
Each year at the start of the new school year, 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 2017, represents those students who were born in 1995.

You can read the complete list here but I've included some entries below that I found particularly interesting:
  • As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.
  • As their parents held them as infants, they may have wondered whether it was the baby or Windows 95 that had them more excited.
  • As kids they may well have seen Chicken Run but probably never got chicken pox.
  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
  • Gaga has never been baby talk.
  • They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
  • They have known only two presidents.
  • Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger.
  • PayPal has replaced a pen pal as a best friend on line.
  • Rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phone and Skype accounts than with getting a driver’s license and car.
  • A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.
  • Thanks to Megan's Law and Amber Alerts, parents have always had community support in keeping children safe.
  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
  • Java has never been just a cup of coffee.
  • Olympic fever has always erupted every two years.
  • In their first 18 years, they have watched the rise and fall of Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez.
  • As they slept safely in their cribs, the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber were doing their deadly work.
  • There has never been a national maximum speed on U.S. highways.
  • Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.
  • They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.
  • Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation in the cinematic universe.
  • A Wiki has always been a cooperative web application rather than a shuttle bus in Hawaii.
  • Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

40 Maps That Explain The World

Photo Credit:
Max Fisher of The Washington Post has created a sampling of forty different maps that demonstrate the differences in our world. The maps examine such things as religion, racial tolerance, economic realities, views on sexuality, population and languages spoken. Take a few moments to view the maps here and see the ways that people across the world are similar and which ways we are different.

(HT: Cody Lorance for the link.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Current Insights Into The Values Of U.S. Hispanics

Photo Credit: Bread for the World
From Barna:Hispanics:
"After significantly influencing the 2012 presidential election, Hispanics captured the attention of the nation’s leaders and media. Now, as the debate over the future of immigration continues, political liberals and conservatives alike may be surprised to learn about the values and priorities of today’s Hispanics in the U.S. 
Research from Barna: Hispanics, in partnership with the American Bible Society, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and OneHope, reveals that the faith and social values of Latinos may be more conservative than many cultural observers realize. As America’s fastest growing demographic segment, Hispanics demonstrate high commitments to the Christian faith and to traditional concepts of family. 
In fact, foreign-born Hispanics who currently reside in the U.S. are often more socially, spiritually, and politically conservative than are those Hispanics who are citizens. The implication is that the longer the Hispanic community experiences U.S. cultural norms, the less socially conservative its members become. In the broadest sense, this creates a fascinating paradox for policymakers and politicians: social conservatives stand to gain more allies by pushing for aggressive immigration reform, while liberals who advocate for reform are likely to find fewer allies on social and moral issues among foreign-born Hispanics who are given a path to citizenship. 
Given their relationship-driven culture, it is perhaps not surprising that Hispanics in the U.S. place high value on the traditional family. Three-quarters of all Latinos in the U.S. say that the traditional family is the main building block of a healthy community (78%). Seven out of 10 believe it is best for children to be raised by parents who are married to each other (69%). In addition, Latinos remain markedly committed to preserving the traditional family structure. Half say they are “very concerned” about the breakdown of Hispanic families. 
When it comes to typically hot-button social issues, homosexuality and abortion, most Hispanics embrace conservative points of view. On the issue of same-sex marriage, considered an important voting issue to many evangelical Christians, two-thirds of Hispanics say marriage should be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman (66%). And the majority of Hispanics in the U.S. (73%) believe that adoption or parenting are better choices than abortion for a woman who is not ready to be a mom."
To read the rest of the Barna report please click here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

1 Out of 5 Non-Christian North Americans Do Not Know Any Followers Of Christ

Photo Credit: Demo
A recent study from Gordon-Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity has found that a surprising 20% of all non-Christians in North America do not personally know anyone that identifies as a Christian.

Abby Stocker of Christianity Today reports on the study:
"The biggest factor in explaining why so many North American non-Christians don't know Christians is immigration, [Missiologist Todd M.] Johnson said. The U.S. attracts more Buddhist, atheist, and agnostic immigrants than any other country in the world. It ranks second for Hindu and Jewish immigrants, and seventh for Muslim immigrants. 
But immigrants are also keeping the percentage of those who don't know a Christian from going higher. That's because the U.S. also attracts more Christian immigrants than any other country. And the region that sends the most immigrants to the U.S. is (by far) Latin America, where 90 percent of non-Christians know Christians. (In the CSGC study, Mexico was categorized as Latin America, not North America. As per U.N. categorization, North American countries included Greenland, Bermuda, Saint Pierre & Miquelon, Canada, and the U.S.) 
Migrants move into enclaves and don't venture out. But even Christians who live close to Chinatowns and Little Italys don't often venture in, Johnson said. 
Separation between religious groups isn't limited to the United States and Canada. But North America has a unique opportunity to connect across religious lines, he said. 
"The United States is a very strategic place for people to interact," he said. "It's ironic in a place with all the freedoms to interact that people don't do it. In light of the deficit of contact, what better thing could happen than to have a bunch of people move into your neighborhood and build houses of worship?"
To read more of Stocker's article please click here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Some Evangelicals In The 'Messy Middle' When It Comes To Gay Marriage

Photo Credit: Chris Freeland
From Jeff Kunerth of The Orlando Sentinel:
"A new Baylor University study has found a growing segment of evangelicals who, while opposing homosexuality, are no longer strongly against gay rights. 
Dubbed the "Messy Middle," these evangelicals may have a voice in the gay marriage debate, the Baylor researchers said. 
"As a moral issue, we predict that the opposition to gay civil rights will not have the same staying power as the abortion debate," said study co-author Brandon Martinez, a sociology researcher in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. 
The recent apology to the gay community by Exodus International -- an evangelical parachurch ministry that had long championed the "gay cure" movement -- and its disbanding shortly after that are evidence of the shift within the evangelical community, says Lydia Bean, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at Baylor. Exodus International's leader stated that the group's previous worldview was "neither honoring our fellow human beings, nor biblical." 
In their study -- "How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence toward Gays and Lesbians" -- researchers found that 24 percent of evangelicals fit into the ambivalent category, supporting gay civil unions even though they are morally opposed to homosexuality. 
"We've known that moderate and ambivalent evangelicals are there, but now they are actually starting to have a voice and beginning to be more political," Martinez said. 
The "Messy Middle" -- which researchers refer to as "Ambivalent Evangelicals" -- has differing views from evangelical "Gay Right Opponents," who oppose civil unions, and also from "Cultural Progressives," who support homosexual behavior and civil unions. 
But when it comes to religion, "The Ambivalents have the same level of belief, church attendance, prayer life, Bible reading and friends in church as Gay Rights Opponents do," Bean said. "They're enmeshed, not peripheral. You have these people in the pews and serving as Sunday School teachers who are supportive of civil unions."
For more information on the Baylor University study please click here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

40% of White Americans, 25% of Ethnic Minorities Have No Cross-Racial Friendships

Photo Credit: Mike Baird
From Lindsay Dunsmuir of Reuters:
"About 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll. 
The figures highlight how segregated the United States remains in the wake of a debate on race sparked by last month's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of unarmed black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. President Barack Obama weighed in after the verdict, calling for Americans to do some "soul searching" on whether they harbor racial prejudice. 
There are regions and groups where mixing with people of other races is more common, especially in the Hispanic community where only a tenth do not have friends of a different race. About half of Hispanics who have a spouse or partner are in a relationship with non-Hispanics, compared to one tenth of whites and blacks in relationships. 
Looking at a broader circle of acquaintances to include coworkers as well as friends and relatives, 30 percent of Americans are not mixing with others of a different race, the poll showed. 
Respondent Kevin Shaw, 49, has experienced both integration and racial homogeny. He grew up in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, and attended a mixed high school where he was one of only two white teenagers on the mostly black football team. His wife, Bobbi, is Hispanic. They met in high school and have been married for 27 years. 
Eleven years ago, they moved to a predominantly white neighborhood in the suburb of Liberty. "Soon after we moved in, my mother-in-law came to visit and a neighbor asked if she was my maid. It was just a matter of ignorance," he said. In the time he has lived there the neighborhood has become less blinkered, helped by the arrival of younger families. He also puts prevailing attitudes down to environment. "A lot of it comes down to where you grow up," he said. 
As a group, Pacific states - including California, the most populous in the nation - are the most diverse when it comes to love and friendship. By contrast, the South has the lowest percentage of people with more than five acquaintances from races that don't reflect their own.
Some of this is down to precedent. "This country has a pretty long history of restriction on inter-racial contact and for whites and blacks, even though it's in the past, there are still echoes of this," said Ann Morning, an associate professor in the department of sociology at New York University. "Hispanics and Asian Americans have traditionally had less strict lines about integrating."
In his comments two weeks ago, President Obama expressed optimism about the future, saying his daughters' experiences show younger generations have fewer issues with race. "It doesn't mean we're in a post-racial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated. But...they're better than we are, they're better than we were, on these issues," he said."
To see the rest of this report please click here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What Majority Culture People Need To Ask When Involved in Social Justice Activism

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan
For those of us from the majority culture that are involved in issues of social justice, it is important that we examine our motivations for why we seek to advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. Without even realizing it, we can possibly do the right things for the wrong reasons.

Over on the Ethnic Space blog, Daniel Fan offers three questions for us to consider in our social justice involvement. He says this:
"Justice is a potentially simple concept, but the transition from theory to practice can be extremely complicated and fraught with danger. It is entirely possible to enact injustice or oppression while attempting to do justice
Here are three simple questions you can ask in order to quickly analyze any social justice pitch:
  • Whose story is being told?
  • Who is telling the story?
  • If they are different people or parties, why is one telling the other’s story? 
The first question is used to determine the propriety of story. We are narratives: humanity was spoken into existence. There is no more innate resource to us than our own stories. 
The second question is employed to determine the identity of the story teller. Who is getting the most airtime? Who’s doing the talking? Whose voice are we hearing most of the time? Is the narrative autobiographical or someone interpreting the story for the audience? 
I ask the final question because this is where imperialism, theft, co-option, paternalism, and condescension tend to be revealed. “Being a voice for the voiceless” is a common theme within the American social justice meta-narrative. But as Brittany Ouchida succinctly summarizes: “The oppressed do not need voice; they need an audience.” No one is inherently voiceless, but the first act of oppressions like colonialism is usually to silence their subjects. 
Speaking for someone, particularly without their permission, frequently and easily becomes its own form of oppression. There are laws that protect against the misuse of a famous person’s image or likeness for commercial endorsement. Unfortunately, the impoverished rarely have the monetary resources to sue for life-rights-&-likeness violations in US courts.  Use Johnny Depp’s face to sell your lemonade? Get sued. Use an “anonymous” third-world toddler’s face to pimp your charity? Get funded. All people are made in Creator’s image. To put our image before and over someone else’s is equal parts blasphemy and idolatry. 
It’s true that we in the West have the technology and infrastructure to project messages to the rest of the world. But do we have to be that message at the same time? Power can be and often is accumulated. It can be, but is rarely given away. Does it really take a white man to travel to Africa to voice an African’s story? Why can’t the people of Africa tell their own stories? We can be camera operators and post-production, but do we have to be screenwriter, star and director as well? And whose narrative does it become when the camera spends most of its time on the white man who is making the film?"
As a white man seeking to make a positive difference in the lives of those on the margins of our world, Fan's questions are a sobering and needed reminder for me.

You can read the rest of his challenging post here.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Joni Eareckson Tada & Needing A Battlefield Jesus

Photo Credit: Rachel James
I am currently reading  A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada. In case you are not familiar with her, Joni became a quadriplegic in her late teens as a result of a diving accident in 1967. A committed follower of Jesus, she has become a noted artist, author and speaker and has been a tireless advocate for those with disabilities through her Joni and Friends ministry.

In A Place of Healing, she invites readers into her struggles that she has experienced late in life as a result of her physical challenges. Although I'm just a few chapters into the book, I'm finding her vulnerability refreshing. She is a living testament of how God can use suffering in the life of a believer to positively impact the lives of others.

In the first chapter, Joni shares how dealing with her disability all of these years has affected how she views Jesus. She says this:
"Here at our ministry we refuse to present a picture of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” a portrait that tugs at your sentiments or pulls at your heartstrings. That’s because we deal with so many people who suffer, and when you’re hurting hard, you’re neither helped nor inspired by a syrupy picture of the Lord, like those sugary, sentimental images many of us grew up with. 
You know what I mean? Jesus with His hair parted down the middle, surrounded by cherubic children and bluebirds. Come on. Admit it: When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, when you feel like Morton’s salt is being poured into your wounded soul, you don’t want a thin, pale, emotional Jesus who relates only to lambs and birds and babies. You want a warrior Jesus. You want a battlefield Jesus. You want His rigorous and robust gospel to command your sensibilities to stand at attention. 
To be honest, many of the sentimental hymns and gospel songs of our heritage don’t do much to hone that image. One of the favorite words of hymn writers in days gone by was sweet. It’s a term that doesn’t have the edge on it that it once did. When you’re in a dark place, when lions surround you, when you need strong help to rescue you from impossibility, you don’t want “sweet.” You don’t want faded pastels and honeyed softness. You want mighty. You want the strong arm and unshakable grip of God who will not let you go—no matter what. 
For instance, I absolutely love that beautiful old hymn (a great favorite of my parents) “I Come to the Garden Alone.” Remember the verse that says, “He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet, the birds hush their singing”? It’s a nice sentiment, and I’m aware that a thought like that can provide comfort. But it’s really just a reinforcement of a romanticized nineteenth-century image. We have gilded the real Jesus with so much “dew on the roses” that many people have lost touch with Him—or simply turned away. 
Why do some people gravitate to a sentimental picture? Well, think about it: A sugar-coated Christ requires nothing from us—neither conviction nor commitment. Why? Because it’s an image that lacks truth and power. We have to try to change that picture. And the only way to do it is to think about the resurrection. Sure, romanticists try to color the resurrection with lilies and songbirds, but lay aside the emotions and think of the facts for a moment: A man, stone-cold dead—a cadaver of gray, cold flesh, really—rose up from His slab and walked out of His grave. Friend, that’s almost frightening. There’s nothing sugar-coated about it. And the powerful thing is that it accurately describes what Jesus did. That reality has power; it’s truth that grips you. 
Some people believe Jesus came to do sweet, pleasant things, like turning bad people into nice people. Not so. As someone once said, our Lord and Savior came to turn dead people into living ones—and there’s nothing sentimental about that. At different times in my life I’ve enjoyed the old pictures of Jesus cradling cute lambs or walking around with blow-dried hair, clad in a white robe looking like it just arrived from the dry cleaner. But these days, these warfare days, those old images just don’t cut it for me. I need a battlefield Jesus at my side down here in the dangerous, often messy trenches of daily life. I need Jesus the rescuer, ready to wade through pain, death, and hell itself to find me, grasp my hand, and bring me safely through. 
There will be a time very soon, I hope, when I will once again enjoy the casual stroll through the garden with Him, admiring the dew drops on the roses. But for right now, if I am to “endure hardship … like a good soldier” as 2 Timothy 2:3 mandates, I need a comrade in arms, a strong commander to take charge of my private war. And that is exactly who He is, and what He has done."
As one who has suffered in ways that few of us can relate with, Joni offers a compelling picture of a Savior that can withstand any attacks that may come our way. That's the kind of Jesus that I would like to know.

(A Place of Healing is currently available on Kindle for only $2.51. You may want to snatch it up while the price is still low.)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

1 In 5 U.S. Residents Speak A Language Other Than English At Home

Photo Credit: Ryan Ozawa
A report recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau provides insight to the growing number of U.S. families that speak a language other than English while at home. Interestingly, the report shows "that more than half (58 percent) of U.S. residents 5 and older who speak a language other than English at home also speak English "very well."

Other findings from the report:
"The report shows that the percent speaking English "less than very well" grew from 8.1 percent in 2000 to 8.7 percent in 2007, but stayed at 8.7 percent in 2011. The percent speaking a language other than English at home went from 17.9 percent in 2000 to 19.7 percent in 2007, while continuing upward to 20.8 percent in 2011. 
"This study provides evidence of the growing role of languages other than English in the national fabric," said Camille Ryan, a statistician in the Census Bureau's Education and Social Stratification Branch and the report's author. "Yet, at the same time that more people are speaking languages other than English at home, the percentage of people speaking English proficiently has remained steady." 
Of the 60.6 million people who spoke a language other than English at home in 2011, almost two-thirds (37.6 million) spoke Spanish. Reflecting the overall trend, the percentage speaking Spanish at home grew from 12.0 percent in 2005 to 12.9 percent in 2011. In contrast to the overall trend, however, the percent who spoke Spanish at home but spoke English "less than very well" declined from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent over the period. 
The recent increase in non-English speakers continues a trend dating back three decades. Between 1980 and 2010, the number of people speaking a language other than English climbed 158 percent, compared with 38 percent for the overall population 5 and older. The seven-fold increase in Vietnamese speakers was the highest percentage jump among 17 of the most common languages, while Spanish speakers posted the largest numerical gain (25.9 million). In contrast, the number speaking Italian, German, Polish, Yiddish and Greek declined over the period. 
Other highlights: 
  • In addition to English and Spanish, there were six languages in 2011 spoken at home by at least 1 million people: Chinese (2.9 million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), German (1.1 million) and Korean (1.1 million).
  • The prevalence of people speaking non-English languages at home varied widely across states, from 44 percent of the population in California to 2 percent in West Virginia.
  • Laredo, Texas, led all metro areas with 92 percent of residents age 5 and older speaking a language other than English at home.
  • Metro and micro areas in the West, South and Northeast tended to have higher levels of people speaking non-English languages at home. Those in the Midwest tended to have lower levels, with the exception of Illinois.
  • Of Spanish speakers, 45 percent of foreign-born naturalized citizens spoke English "very well" compared with 23 percent of foreign-born non-citizens. Those who were native-born, had at least a bachelor's degree or were not in poverty were more likely to speak English "very well."
  • Eighty percent or more of French and German speakers spoke English "very well." In contrast, less than 50 percent of those who spoke Korean, Chinese or Vietnamese spoke English "very well". The rate for Spanish speakers was 56 percent."
To look at the complete report, including visual maps illustrating which languages are spoken throughout the United States, please click here.

(HT: Buzzfeed)

Monday, August 05, 2013

In Love’s Service, Only Wounded Soldiers Can Serve

Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz
From Brennan Manning's Abba's Child:
"God not only forgives and forgets our shameful deeds but even turns their darkness into light. All things work together for those who love God, “even,” Augustine of Hippo added, “our sins.” 
Thornton Wilder’s one-act play “The Angel That Troubled the Waters,” based on John 5:1-4, dramatizes the power of the pool of Bethesda to heal whenever an angel stirred its waters. 
A physician comes periodically to the pool hoping to be the first in line and longing to be healed of his melancholy. The angel finally appears but blocks the physician just as he is ready to step into the water. The angel tells the physician to draw back, for this moment is not for him. The physician pleads for help in a broken voice, but the angel insists that healing is not intended for him. 
The dialogue continues — and then comes the prophetic word from the angel: “Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.” 
Later, the man who enters the pool first and is healed rejoices in his good fortune and turning to the physician says: “Please come with me. It is only an hour to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I do not understand him and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour.... There is also my daughter: since her child died, she sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us but she will listen to you.” 
Christians who remain in hiding continue to live the lie. We deny the reality of our sin. In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others. We cling to our bad feelings and beat ourselves with the past when what we should do is let go. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, guilt is an idol. But when we dare to live as forgiven men and women, we join the wounded healers and draw closer to Jesus."

Friday, August 02, 2013

Local Pastors Seek Healing In Wake Of Trayvon Martin Trial

Photo Credit: Werth Media
Less than a week after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, rallies were held throughout the United States calling for 'Justice for Trayvon.' Although a Sanford, Florida jury did not find Zimmerman guilty in Trayvon's death, millions of Americans feel that justice has not been realized in the case.

In the aftermath of the shooting of Trayvon and its subsequent trial, a number of issues connected to this tragedy have been the focus of intense media coverage. Although many consider the era in which we currently live to be "post racial", the death of Trayvon has re-ignited national discussions on gun control, racial profiling, homicide rates of young black men and the differing views of the criminal justice system which exist within the white and black communities.

If we have learned anything from the events surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, it is that we do not all view the world the same way. Even within the Christian community, self-professed followers of Jesus Christ do not agree on who was at fault in Trayvon's death nor what justice looks like in the midst of the Zimmerman's acquittal.

However, a small group of Central Florida pastors, along with some other Christian leaders from other parts of the country, are seeking to listen to one another in order to help facilitate healing both in Sanford and in the rest of the country. Jeff Kunerth of The Orlando Sentinel provides insight:
"A group of black and white Sanford-area pastors united by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin reconvened Wednesday for a racial-reconciliation forum they hope will spread nationwide. They hope Sanford, which did not experience violence after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, will provide a model for other cities. 
"I contend that Sanford, Florida, will be the place people will point to and say, 'These people have learned how to do it,'" said Raleigh Washington, president of the Denver-based Promise Keepers. 
About 30 ministers — including pastors from Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington — attended the forum at Charisma Media in Lake Mary with hopes of launching a national Reconciliation and Relationship Initiative. The group drafted The Sanford Declaration, which could be used for multiracial forums in other cities.

"Our real vision is to encourage this kind of dialogue all over the country," said Steve Strang, CEO of Charisma Media, who has scheduled a news conference today to announce the group's plans for the nationwide initiative. The press conference will be at 10:30 a.m. outside First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 700 S. Elm Ave., Sanford.

Key to The Sanford Declaration is a commitment to form friendships, fellowships and relationships between pastors that transcend race and culture. Several of the pastors said that without the death of Trayvon Martin, they never would have become close friends with ministers of a different race. 
"A horrible tragedy has brought us together, has slapped us upright and said there's a history here," said Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood. "The inertia of history can only be interrupted by relationships." 
However, the Rev. Harry Rucker, pastor of First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, argued that Sanford remains essentially unchanged despite the closer ties between black and white ministers. 
"We're united, we're together, but racism still exists," Rucker said."
In light of the many ways that black and white Christians can often misunderstand one another, dialogue and relationship building across racial lines are a great place to start the healing process. When we enter into the world of another with the intent to understand where they are coming from (and not simply to just let our opinions be heard), trust and reconciliation can begin to take place. Our distrust of one another often occurs because we simply don't know each other. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said the following:
"We often hate each other because we fear each other; we fear each other because we don’t know each other; we don’t know each other because we can not communicate; we can not communicate because we are separated."
Christians of differing persuasions coming together for dialogue can help facilitate the healing in a racially divided community and nation. It doesn't mean we all have to act the same or think alike... or even agree with one another. But in order to be unified within the family of God, we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and listen to those different from us. I pray that this tragedy may become a catalyst for lasting unity among Christians in Central Florida...and beyond.

To read complete coverage from The Orlando Sentinel on Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, please click here.