Saturday, August 27, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (8/27/16)

Photo Credit: chefmaggio
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

Like Families and Soccer Teams: Church and Parachurch by Brian Strider (The Gospel Coalition)
"Working for a parachurch ministry, on the other hand, is more like playing for a soccer team. Team members are selected, and then they gather to play soccer. They don't gather to receive math tutoring, to brush their teeth, or to care for the elderly. They gather for one purpose and for a limited season: to play soccer. But a family is different. It's broader and deeper. Whether you're adopted or born into one, your family is responsible for your entire nurture, growth, and education. Your family is the group of people you live with and learn to love. The relationships are permanent and all-defining. Though you might be disappointed if your soccer league dissolved, you'd be devastated if your family disappeared."
Wind during river fest sends 1,500 floaters to Canada by Nicole Hayden (USA Today)

My hometown of Port Huron, Michigan made the national news this past week when a large number of people floating on the St. Clair River ended up on the Canadian side of the US/Canada border. Here's the story of what happened.

American Students Are Still Segregated by Income, Race by Kenrya Rankin (Colorlines)
"Fully half of American children live in high-poverty school districts—where more than 75 percent of students quality for free or reduced-price lunch—which leaves them more vulnerable to health crises, violence and subpar facilities. Frequently, these impoverished districts border affluent areas where students are bolstered by the funding that comes from higher property taxes. For “Fault Lines: America’s Most Segregating School District Borders,” researchers analyzed 33,500 individual school district boundaries to see just how economically segregated districts are."
The real history of Native American team names by Erik Brady (USA Today)
"Most damning, Native American children were often taken from their families and sent to boarding schools under an assimilation policy that amounted to cultural genocide. Its motto: “Kill the Indian and save the man.” Students were told not to speak their languages, even to each other. Their long hair was cut short. They were taught reading, writing, arithmetic and — in a form of state-sponsored religion — Christianity. “All of this was taking place outside the view of the average American,” Gover says. “At that time, someone living in Philadelphia — or, more tellingly, in Cleveland or Boston — might conclude there are no Indians anymore. They are gone. And, in fact, that was the objective of federal policy. … So there were a lot of very powerful forces at work to deny Native American people of agency over their own identities and their very lives. And that’s when the mascots emerged.”"
Orlando Health, Florida Hospital won't bill Pulse shooting victims by Kate Santich and Christal Hayes (Orlando Sentinel)

The city of Orlando experienced a horrific tragedy earlier this summer when 49 people were murdered by a gunman at the Pulse nightclub. Since then there have been countless examples of people that have cared for and reached out to the victims, as well their families. Now, millions of dollars in hospitals bills will be forgiven. Bravo to Orlando Health and Florida Hospital.

MTV Decoded Answers The Question ‘Are Hispanic People White?’

Many people are confused about who is considered to be Hispanic or Latino and why these terms are not necessarily interchangeable. In this video, Franchesca Ramsey and Kat Lazo of MTV News 'Decoded' series explain how to understand the racial and ethnic identity of Hispanics and Latinos.

Friday, August 26, 2016

What Is True For The College Freshmen Of 2016?

Photo Credit: thinkglobalschool
Each year at the start of the new school year Beloit College releases what they call the Mindset List -- a list of important facts, events and people 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 2020, represents those students who were born in 1998. As you can see, this year's list highlights advances in technology, significant world events, and the many ways that today's college students experience the world differently from their parents.

You can read the complete list here but I've included some entries below that I found particularly interesting:

  • There has always been a digital swap meet called eBay.
  • Vladimir Putin has always been calling the shots at the Kremlin.
  • The Sandy Hook tragedy is their Columbine.
  • Cloning has always been a mundane laboratory procedure.
  • The United States has always been at war.
  • Serena Williams has always been winning Grand Slam singles titles.
  • They have never had to watch or listen to programs at a scheduled time. 
  • Each year they've been alive the U.S. population has grown by more than one million Latinos. 
  • If you want to reach them, you’d better send a text—emails are oft ignored.
  • They disagree with their parents as to which was the “first” Star Wars episode.
  • NFL coaches have always had the opportunity to throw a red flag and question the ref.
  • They have no memory of Bob Dole promoting Viagra.
  • A Bush and a Clinton have always been campaigning for something big.
  • While chads were hanging in Florida, they were potty training in all 50 states. 
  • Deceased men have always been able to procreate.
  • They have never seen billboard ads for cigarettes.
  • There have always been iMacs on desks.
  • Michael J. Fox has always spoken publicly about having Parkinson's disease.
Please remember to pray for the 21 million U.S. college students that are starting classes over the next few weeks. They are part of a changing world...and they also have the opportunity to influence how the world changes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How To Help A Self-Admitted Prejudiced Person Change

Photo Credit: memotions
One of the biggest challenges we face in our own personal development is dealing with the prejudice we hold in our hearts towards those that are different than us.

Along with that, we also grapple with the knowledge that discussing these issues leads to the possibility of being accused a racist, which is potentially one of the greatest fears that well-meaning white people have.

For those of us that desire to deal with the uneasy places within our hearts, the tension of coming to grips with our prejudice AND the uncertainty of sharing about these dark places inside of us can leave many of us in a place of emotional paralysis, even as we are seeking to change and view others more positively.

On a recent episode of C-SPAN's "Washington Journal", Heather McGee, president of Demos Action, demonstrates a level of grace rarely seen today towards a self-admitted prejudiced person that wants to change. You can watch the interaction here. Please pay particular note to the suggestions that Ms. McGee offers to the caller.

This is a great model of how to enter into the journey of someone that wants to grow in this area but isn't sure how. Beyond the empathy that she demonstrates, the practical suggestions that Ms. McGee offers are quite helpful.

(HT: Black Voices)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (8/20/16)

Photo Credit: afunkydamsel
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

4 Types of People Leaders Must Not Listen To by Eric Geiger
"Wise leaders listen to wise people. Because the people we listen to impact our decisions, our attitudes, and our perceptions, it is critical that we listen to the right people. A leader who listens to the wrong people is just as foolish as a leader who doesn’t listen at all."
Helping College-Bound Native Americans Beat The Odds by Claudio Sanchez
"A test score, the GPA, the ranking, are things that an admissions officer doesn't remember. l'm not just looking for a diamond in the rough or the hard-knock life. They're not always in crisis. They're doing beautiful, amazing things. And I want colleges to recognize that."
What the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Miss About Simone Biles by Aarol Earls
"As Simone Biles was clinching yet another gold medal in Rio, people on both sides of the abortion debate were pointing to her achievements and background as a justification for their position. 
But both miss out on a very important fact: Simone Biles has value not because she is a young woman inspiring the world or because she is a world champion gymnast who was adopted as a child. Simone has value simply because she is Simone."
The Fine Line Between Safe Space and Segregation by Emily Deruy
"Where most universities were designed around the needs and lives of white students, she said, and most white students can—and do—still avoid having uncomfortable conversations about race, black students “are never at a shortage” for uncomfortable racial conversations. In other words, white students can often elect not to engage in such conversations, where black students cannot escape them."
When Glorifying God Means Coming in Last Place by Stacie Fletcher

One of the most compelling stories of the Rio 2016 is when U.S. 5000m runner Abbey D’Agostino stopped to help fellow runner Nikki Hamblin to her feet after they both fell during the race. Cru staff member and friend Stacie Fletcher writes about how Abbey's faith influenced her decision.

Toddler Imitates Rocky

Watch along as a baby in this video mimics the movements of Rocky Balboa during a well-known training sequence from Rocky II.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

What Oprah & Ava DuVernay Get Right About Inclusion Vs. Diversity

Photo Credit: familymwr
In a recent joint interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah Winfrey and film director Ava DuVernay touched on diversity within Hollywood and their success as black women in what has historically been a white man's world.

Interestingly, both DuVernay and Oprah mentioned their preference for the term of 'inclusion' instead of 'diversity.' Here is what they had to say:
DUVERNAY: We aren't sitting around talking about diversity, just like we aren't sitting around talking about being black or being women. We're just being that. 
WINFREY: I will say that I stand corrected. I used to use the word "diversity" all the time. "We want more diverse stories, more diverse characters …" Now I really eliminated it from my vocabulary because I've learned from her that the word that most articulates what we're looking for is what we want to be: included. It's to have a seat at the table where the decisions are being made. 
DUVERNAY: That was your take on it. 
WINFREY: When Sidney Poitier came to my school [in South Africa], he gave a gift of 550 movies to the girls. He thought if you watch these 550 movies, they'll be your education for life. He wrote to the girls that his dream for them was to be able to sit at the table of the future where the world's decisions would be made. I realize now that what he was saying is to be included, to be valued as a person who has something to contribute.
Diversity seems to be one of those buzzwords going around that many people use but few understand its meaning.

In its best sense, diversity is when people with all kinds of differences (e.g. race, ethnicity, class, socioeconomic status, gender, age, etc.) are able to join together in a common community and everyone is able to bring their whole selves without having to assimilate to the culture of another.

However, modern diversity often plays out with marginalized people having to leave their true selves at the door and assimilate into a dominant culture in order to have "a seat at the table." This kind of pseudo-community typically means that those within the dominant group don't have to yield any power nor sacrifice their comfort in any tangible way.

Because there are those that look different in the room, those in charge can feel good about themselves while not having to make any adjustments to how they've always done things.

But what true inclusion means is that not only is there a visible diversity of people in the room, but that diversity is represented in leadership styles, values and people being able to bring their full selves for the benefit of the group. It's beyond simply having a seat at the table. It means empowerment in making decisions, receiving and allocating funds, and having others having to adjust to the preferences of those different from them.

We can fool ourselves into thinking we're part of a diverse community when what it really may be is just a group with a few people present that are different than the dominate group. If those that are underrepresented don't hold significant roles of leadership, do not have a say in setting the priorities for the group and rarely see themselves represented among those platformed, then inclusion is not being realized.

Diversity can be a good thing but don't settle for that. Strive for an inclusive environment where the contributions of people from all ethnic groups and backgrounds are valued and appreciated.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (8/13/16)

Photo Credit: danzden
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

Don't Let Anyone Tell You Adoptive Parents Aren't Parents by Carrie Goldman

American gold medal gymnast Simon Biles is one of the breakout stars of the 2016 Rio Olympics. But NBC commentator Al Trautwig's initial refusal to refer to Biles' adoptive parents as her parents caused quite a stir. This article addresses the importance of language choice when referring to adoptive families.

Racial History of American Swimming Pools from The Bryant Park Project

Americans everywhere rejoiced when Simon Manuel became the first African American swimmer to earn an individual swimming gold medal in the Olympics. For African Americans, the feat was of particularly significance due to the complicated history that the black community has had with America's swimming pools. This feature explains why.

A Letter From Young Asian-Americans To Their Families About Black Lives Matter by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Kat Chow

NPR offers some quality commentary on how many younger Asian Americans find themselves at odds with their parents over their views and engagement with social justices issues, particularly the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The “Dreaded Glenn”: A Response to Ms. Gaye Clark by Bryan Loritts

A post on The Gospel Coalition website earlier this week ignited a controversy when writer Gaye Clark wrote a piece entitled, "When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband." The post has since been removed but the response from Pastor Loritts is worth the read as he explains why he, along with so many others, were troubled by the article.

When Love Fills Your Heart by Dayle Rogers

A friend and co-worker, Michelle Beckman, went home to be with the Lord this week after a courageous several year battle with cancer. Michelle committed the best years of her life to serving middle school and high school students so that they could know the Savior that she loved so dearly. Dayle Rogers writes of her friendship with Michelle and offers a touching tribute highlighting the influence that Michelle's life had on so many.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thinking You're Right...Even When You're Wrong

Photo Credit: cowboycoffee
We live in turbulent times. We see it everywhere we look...

We find ourselves in the throes of a contentious presidential election season.

Our nation's ugly legacy of racism has confronted us as a people yet once again.

We're experiencing profound challenges to long-held societal assumptions about religion and sexual identity.

As Bob Dylan once said, "The times they are a-changin."

So how do we respond when faced with differing opinions and listening to the perspectives of others that are different than our own?

Sadly, the stance that many of us take is to dig in our heels, shout down our opponents and ignore that which challenges what we think to be true. Many of us are not even willing to consider the reality that we could be wrong about things we are positive to be true. And when we encounter those that challenge our deeply cherished beliefs, we are more likely to enter a debate rather than a conversation.

Rather than demonstrating a humility that considers where someone else is coming from, we discount others without pause. This is not to suggest we live without convictions. But the more secure I am in my beliefs and opinions, the less threatened I should feel by those that see things differently.

As a Christian with strong convictions, I hope that my most deeply cherished beliefs are grounded in the character of God and based in the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures. Furthermore, those beliefs are shaped by my experiences, the perspectives of those I know to be trustworthy and that which seems to be true.

All too often those that claim to be followers of Christ express opinions about things like race and politics in a manner that has little to do with Jesus and everything to do with what their parents taught them and the cultural norms they inherited.

I am continually shocked when I see people I know to be otherwise kind and friendly turn into downright nasty when encountering those with whom they disagree. This is not wise. It does not honor God. And its not befitting for those who name the name of Christ. We must do better.

Unfortunately, when we think that we are right and that everyone else is wrong about a given issue, we're particularly susceptible to approach others in a dismissive and condescending manner. But I believe that it's possible to have strong certainty about something yet still interact with others in a humble and gracious way.

Perhaps Julia Galef has an appropriate suggestion for us.

In a recent TED Talk video, Galef illustrates the difference between soldiers -- those prone to defend their viewpoint at all costs -- and scouts -- those spurred by curiosity. You can watch the video here.

In her closing, Julia says this:
"If we want to really improve our judgments as individuals and as societies, what we need most is not more instruction in logic or rhetoric or probability or economics, even those things are quite valuable.  
What we most need to use those principles well is "scout mindset." We need to change the way we feel. We need to feel proud instead of ashamed when we notice we might have been wrong about something. We need to learn how to feel intrigued instead of defensive when we encounter information that contradicts our beliefs.  
Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs...or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?"
This is a good question for us to ask ourselves. Do we actually want to learn what is true or do we only desire to defend that which we already believe?

If what we already believe is the truth, then we have nothing to fear. We will become even more secure in that belief knowing it is on a solid foundation.

But if what we think to be true is false, then wouldn't any thinking person what to know this?

Knowing the truth and the exploration of the truth should not be feared. Jesus himself said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) As someone that seeks to love God with my heart, soul, strength and mind, I can be secure in holding by beliefs while at the same time carrying myself in a charitable manner with those that believe differently.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (8/7/16)

Photo Credit: vince2012
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

Christians Have to Care About Injustice in the World by Rasool Berry
"If we want to truly follow Jesus, we must be committed to justice, because He is. When we look at the Bible holistically, we see the mandate is for every citizen in the kingdom of God to eradicate injustice The command is there, hidden in plain sight like a plot twist in a movie that our eyes missed because they were looking for something else."
For Many Latinos, Racial Identity Is More Culture Than Color by Mireya Navarro
"Yet race matters. How Latinos identify themselves — and how the census counts them — affects the political clout of Latinos and other minority groups. Some studies have found that African-Latinos tend to be significantly more supportive of government-sponsored health care and much less supportive of the death penalty than Latinos who identify as white, a rift that is also found in the broader white and black populations."
Rio 2016: The diverse women’s gymnastics team is great. But it will not “calm race relations.” by Jenée Desmond-Harris
"There’s a more straightforward, emotional reaction to the diverse team, too. In the words of the social media celebrations of the many fans who’ve shared images of the five leotard-clad young women, "Representation matters!" What they’re saying is that for black and Latino people — especially little girls — to be able to turn on the TV and see people who look like them in this rare-until-now context is a big deal. Many white Americans who are simply pleased to see a team that includes more reflections of the ethnic makeup of the country we live in are equally enthused."
Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans from Psychology Benefits Society
"In addition to the mental health symptoms of individuals who have encounters with law enforcement, those who witness these events directly or indirectly may also be impacted negatively. In an attempt to capture how racism and discrimination negatively impacts the physical and mental health of people of color, many scholars have coined the term “racial trauma” or race-based traumatic stress. Racial trauma may result from racial harassment, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism (Bryant-Davis, & Ocampo, 2006; Comas-Díaz, 2016). The trauma may result in experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of humiliation, poor concentration, or irritability."
'Meet the Parents' Re-Cut as a Thriller

The popular comedy, Meet the Parents, was re-imagined as a thriller in the trailer seen here. Quite well done.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (8/1/16)

Photo Credit: Ian Sane
Here are some interesting stories from around the web during this past week:

A Call For Peace And Unity From America’s HBCU Community by Michael J. Sorrell

Here is a statement of heartfelt solidarity against the violence that our country is currently experiencing from the presidents of America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Genetic Testing and Tribal Identity: Why many Native Americans have concerns about DNA kits like 23andme by Rose Eveleth
"In the past decade, questions of how a person's genetic material gets used have become more and more common. Researchers and ethicists are still figuring how how to balance scientific goals with the need to respect individual and cultural privacy. And for Native Americans, the question of how to do that, like nearly everything, is bound up in a long history of racism and colonialism."
Reflections on Black Lives by Carl F. Ellis

Dr. Ellis is a respected black Christian leader who I was privileged to have for a seminary class a couple of years ago. In this article, he makes a distinction between the belief that "black lives matter" and the Black Lives Matter movement. It's worth the read for those that have wondered how to affirm the value of black lives while not endorsing everything the BLM movement stands for.

The Danger of Partisan Christianity by Jesse Carey
"Thanks to the hyper-polarizing, super-competitive onslaught of political messages, most Americans have been brainwashed to view every issue through two lenses: liberal or conservative. This is what the parties want. Our system encourages clear idealogical battle lines. After all, at the ballot box, we (for the most part and especially at the federal level) aren’t voting on individual issues; we’re voting on candidates who represent a party. 
Followers of Christ shouldn’t view issues through the lens of liberal or conservative. We should only see them through the lens of the Gospel. But this tactic can trick us into believing that everything we read, watch or hear about a social issue is part of a hidden political agenda, attempting to sway our entire ideology. The Church, however, should approach things differently: Followers of Christ shouldn’t view issues through the lens of liberal or conservative. We should only see them through the lens of the Gospel."
Take an ASL Tour of the West Wing with the Deaf Receptionist Who Works There (from Mental Floss)

West Wing Receptionist Leah Katz-Hernandez narrates a tour of the White's House's West Wing in American Sign Language. Watch the video here.