Sunday, March 29, 2009

beautiful story

Follow this LINK to a beautiful story that was printed in the Herald Leader this morning about the reunification of a Congolese refugee named Losi Grodya with her daughters, father, and grandchildren.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MTR update

this text from an email sent out by


We've got great news to report!
This afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was suspend and review permits for two mountaintop removal coal mining operations -- and putting hundreds more mountaintop coal-mining permits on hold until it can evaluate their impact on our nation's streams and wetlands.
This is a major victory for our movement. And make no mistake, it is a result of your efforts to raise the alarm about the devastating effects of mountaintop removal coal mining to our mountains, our waters, and our communities.
CBS News has the details:

The decision was announced Tuesday by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson....
It could delay 150-250 permits being sought by companies wanting to begin blasting mountaintops to access coal.
Those permits are issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, an agency that has been criticized by environmental groups. The Corps has been sued for failing to thoroughly evaluate the environmental impact of mountaintop removal, during which forests are clear-cut and mountaintops are blasted apart to expose coal seams; the rock and dirt left behind is dumped into adjacent valleys, affecting the course and health of waterways.

In a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers denying the two permits, the EPA wrote:

[T]hat the coal mines would likely cause water quality problems in streams below the mines, would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities, and that proposed steps to offset these impacts are inadequate. EPA has recommended specific actions be taken to further avoid and reduce these harmful impacts and to improve mitigation.

In other words, filling valleys with mountaintop removal coal waste and healthy ecosystems don't mix.
The EPA's decision is a powerful statement for good science and common sense, and it's an amazing first step towards ending mountaintop removal and creating a new, green and just economy in Appalachia.
This is a big victory for our effort to end mountaintop removal coal mining -- but here's what you can do to make it just the first of many victories to come:

  1. Call the White House and thank the administration for using sound science and common sense to put a hold on the permitting process. You can call the White House at 202-456-1111 or click here to be connected.
  2. Help make the EPA's decision permanent by telling Congress to pass the Clean Water Protection Act, which would outlaw the valley fills that the permitting process seeks to allow.
  3. Spread the word about the disastrous effects of mountaintop removal coal mining by inviting your friends and family to join you at

Thank you for everything you do!
Matt Wasson

P.S.--We strongly suggest you call your representative, but if you would prefer to contact your Representative by email, click here:

China Takes Aim at the Dollar

I thought that some might be interested in this article.....a good look at how interconnected and troubled the world financial system is....


BEIJING -- China called for the creation of a new currency to eventually replace the dollar as the world's standard, proposing a sweeping overhaul of global finance that reflects developing nations'
growing unhappiness with the U.S. role in the world economy.

The unusual proposal, made by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan in an essay released Monday in Beijing, is part of China's increasingly assertive approach to shaping the global response to the financial crisis.

Mr. Zhou's proposal comes amid preparations for a summit of the world's industrial and developing nations, the Group of 20, in London next week. At past such meetings, developed nations have criticized China's economic and currency policies.

This time, China is on the offensive, backed by other emerging economies such as Russia in making clear they want a global economic order less dominated by the U.S. and other wealthy nations.

However, the technical and political hurdles to implementing China's recommendation are enormous, so even if backed by other nations, the proposal is unlikely to change the dollar's role in the short term.
Central banks around the world hold more U.S. dollars and dollar securities than they do assets denominated in any other individual foreign currency. Such reserves can be used to stabilize the value of the central banks' domestic currencies.

Monday's proposal follows a similar one Russia made this month during preparations for the G20 meeting. Like China, Russia recommended that the International Monetary Fund might issue the currency, and emphasized the need to update "the obsolescent unipolar world economic order."
[Dollar Dominated]

Chinese officials are frustrated at their financial dependence on the U.S., with Premier Wen Jiabao this month publicly expressing "worries"
over China's significant holdings of U.S. government bonds. The size of those holdings means the value of the national rainy-day fund is mainly driven by factors China has little control over, such as fluctuations in the value of the dollar and changes in U.S. economic policies. While Chinese banks have weathered the global downturn and continue to lend, the collapse in demand for the nation's exports has shuttered factories and left millions jobless.

In his paper, published in Chinese and English on the central bank's Web site, Mr. Zhou argued for reducing the dominance of a few individual currencies, such as the dollar, euro and yen, in international trade and finance. Most nations concentrate their assets in those reserve currencies, which exaggerates the size of flows and makes financial systems overall more volatile, Mr. Zhou said.

Moving to a reserve currency that belongs to no individual nation would make it easier for all nations to manage their economies better, he argued, because it would give the reserve-currency nations more freedom to shift monetary policy and exchange rates. It could also be the basis for a more equitable way of financing the IMF, Mr. Zhou added. China is among several nations under pressure to pony up extra cash to help the IMF.

John Lipsky, the IMF's deputy managing director, said the Chinese proposal should be treated seriously. "It reflects officials' concerns about improving the stability of the financial system," he said. "It's interesting because of China's unique position, and because the governor put it in a measured and considered way."

China's proposal is likely to have significant implications, said Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University and former IMF official. "Nobody believes that this is the perfect solution, but by putting this on the table the Chinese have redefined the debate," he said. "It represents a very strong pushback by China on a number of fronts where they feel themselves being pushed around by the advanced countries," such as currency policy and funding for the IMF.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment on Mr. Zhou's views. In recent weeks, senior Obama administration officials have sought to reassure Beijing that the current U.S.
spending spree is a short-term effort to restart the stalled American economy, not evidence of long-term U.S. profligacy.

"The re-establishment of a new and widely accepted reserve currency with a stable valuation benchmark may take a long time," Mr. Zhou said. In remarks earlier Monday, one of his deputies, Hu Xiaolian, also said the dollar's dominant position in international trade and investment is unlikely to change soon. Ms. Hu is in charge of reserve management as the head of China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

Mr. Zhou's comments -- coming on the heels of Mr. Wen's musing about the safety of China's dollar holdings -- appear to be a warning to the U.S. that it can't expect China to finance its spending indefinitely.
[The Haves and Have Mores]

The central banker's proposal reflects both China's desire to hold its
$1.95 trillion in reserves in something other than U.S. dollars and the fact that Beijing has few alternatives. With more U.S. dollars continuing to pour into China from trade and investment, Beijing has no realistic option other than storing them in U.S. debt.

Mr. Zhou argued, without mentioning the dollar by name, that the loss of the dollar's de facto reserve status would benefit the U.S. by avoiding future crises. Because other nations continued to park their money in U.S. dollars, the argument goes, the Federal Reserve was able to pursue an irresponsible policy in recent years, keeping interest rates too low for too long and thereby helping to inflate a bubble in the housing market.

"The outbreak of the crisis and its spillover to the entire world reflected the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system," Mr. Zhou said. The increasing number and intensity of financial crises suggests "the costs of such a system to the world may have exceeded its benefits."

Mr. Zhou isn't the first to make that argument. "The dollar reserve system is part of the problem," Joseph Stiglitz, the Columbia University economist, said in a speech in Shanghai last week, because it meant so much of the world's cash was funneled into the U.S. "We need a global reserve system," he said in the speech.

Mr. Zhou's idea is to expand the use of "special drawing rights," or SDRs -- a kind of synthetic currency created by the IMF in the 1960s.
Its value is determined by a basket of major currencies. Originally, the SDR was intended to serve as a shared currency for international reserves, though that aspect never really got off the ground.

These days, the SDR is mainly used in the IMF's accounting for its transactions with member nations. Mr. Zhou suggested countries could increase their contributions to the IMF in exchange for greater access to a pool of reserves in SDRs.

Holding more international reserves in SDRs would increase the role and powers of the IMF. That indicates China and other developing nations aren't hostile to international financial institutions -- they just want to have more say in running them. China has resisted the U.S. push to make an immediate loan to the IMF because that wouldn't give China a bigger vote. Ms. Hu said Monday that China, which encourages the IMF to explore other fund-raising options, would consider buying into a bond issue.

The IMF has been working on a proposal to issue bonds, probably only to central banks. Bond purchases are one way for the organization to raise money and meet its goal of at least doubling its lending war chest to $500 billion from $250 billion. Japan has loaned the IMF $100 billion and the European Union has pledged another $100 billion.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Digging in the dirt.......

I wanted to share this piece of good news with the community and other friends. Our good friend Keith Wasserman and his ministry in Athens, Ohio called "Good Works," just celebrated the ground breaking for a new facility their building called the "Hope Center." For nearly 30 years Good Works has served the city of Athens by caring for the rural homeless in Southeast Ohio by providing them shelter, community support, and job assistance and various other services. They have also served Athens and the rest of America by providing a context where thousands of volunteers have been able to serve, learn, and grow in their understanding of their own faith and humanity and the broader issues surrounding poverty. The Hope Center is being built as a place that will be used to help house volunteers who come to Good Works, help facilitate their training and be a place that can be used by the wider progam and community. One Horizon Foundation is helping to provide the funding to build the "Hope Center," and we are looking forward to its completion and the sacred service that will be performed there. For anyone who is looking to do an internship or service project in Appalachia I would highly recommend checking out "Good Works."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

urban orchard


sherry, ryan (seedleaf) , and billy (one horizon) have collaborated with several community groups as well as the city government to plant a 4-site urban orchard on the north side of our city.  great work peeps!


here's a blog from our neighbor (Rona) about the planting this saturday.  please come and help out if you can.

follow this link to Rona's blog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The road to hell is paved with good intentions...and Guinness!

Happy St. Patrick's day to everybody! When I got to the office this morning I discovered this beatiful little can of rich & creamy Irish stout on my desk...a gift from me office mate Pete. It was a wonderful gift excepting one thing; I am trying to participate in the water fast with some other folks. I seem to remember something in scripture about stumbling a brother, ha,ha,ha.......anyhow, Pete and I had a good laugh about it and it gave us a good chance to visit about related matters.......and it gives me a nifty little ritual device to bring to the upcoming easter, if you're a fan of guiness and currently in H20 exile, here is a little black light at the end of the tunnel!

Monday, March 16, 2009

to those of us who struggle...

How many people are there in the world of today who have "lost their faith" along with the vain hopes and illusions of their childhood? What they called "faith" was just one among all the other illusions. They placed all their hope in a certain sense of spiritual peace, of comfort, of interior equilibrium, of self-respect. Then when they began to struggle with the real difficulties and burdens of mature life, when they became aware of their own weakness, they lost their peace, they let go of their precious self-respect, and it became impossible for them to "believe." That is to say it became impossible for them to comfort themselves, to reassure themselves, with the images and concepts they found reassuring in childhood.
Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, of spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days-until you fold up and collapse into despair.

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions Press, 1961): 187.

Friday, March 13, 2009

lent and water

as we have done in previous lenten seasons, some of the community are fasting from certain practices, foods, drinks and attitudes. we have discovered, over time, that this is a beautiful way God interrupts our lives. such interruption to rhythm and routines allows us to catch up and/or slow in such a way we can be re-oriented for holy week and the easter story.

a group of us have (again) been fasting from all beverages except water. we take the money we might have spent on these other drinks and contribute to some of our kin in other places who long for clean water.

it is a happy coincidence that world water day falls within the lenten season and we wanted to focus our redeemed resources on the amazing work World Relief does. so, here are the links. if you are part of our life together in Lexington, please feel encouraged to contribute to this need - you don't have to be fasting to put money in (billy will have the tin out at our gatherings). ...and obviously, we encourage anyone and everyone to mark world water day with a gift to water projects.

About "world water day"

more about "wwd"

World Relief "world water day" Site

World Relief

Give the gift of water

Thursday, March 12, 2009

enough part 2

at the same time i was reading Will's book i was dipping into a looooong essay by david foster wallace called "a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again" (this link has a different name for the essay).  this is an excruciatingly detailed account of a luxury cruise taken by the author.  it made me laugh so hard my stomach ached and there are occasions of artful insight into being human that made me pause and thank God for this author (see here for an account of a tragically sad life story).


anyway, there were many wonderful similarities between the topic of Will's writing and Wallace's pained cruise ship experience.  i wanted to share a paragraph or two here because i think wallace hits on something profound and not limited to cruise ship experiences.  in many ways we have experienced our whole lives as a luxury cruise ship in this part of the world.  indulgence has made us discontent and wanting more.  good things have caused us to desire just a little bit more and a sense of being ripped off when we see others with something we desire.  as christians (and human persons) this is very dangerous territory insofar as it goes against the virtuous ways of jesus and the ethics of the faithful saints who have gone before us.  it also generates an inevitable rush toward the destruction of each other and God's good creation.


so, here's how wallace describes his increasing dis-ease with luxury and privilege - he has just confessed jealousy as another, bigger, whiter, brighter cruise ship has pulled into their port somewhere in the Caribbean. (from pages 19 and 20 in the linked pdf).  this may be my new sacred text for the lenten season :)


I am suffering here from a delusion, and I know it's a delusion, this envy of another ship, but still it's painful. It's also representative of a psychological syndrome that I notice has gotten steadily worse as my' Luxury Cruise wears on, a mental list of dissatisfactions that started off picayune but has quickly become despairgrade.  I know that the syndrome's cause is not simply the contempt bred of a week's familiarity with the poor old Nadir, and that the source of all the dissatisfactions isn't the Nadir at all but rather that ur-Arnerican part of me that craves pampering and passive pleasure: the dissatisfied-infant part of me, the part that always and indiscriminately WANTS. Hence this syndrome by which, for example, just four days ago I experienced such embarrassment over the perceived self-indulgence of ordering even more gratis food from cabin service that I littered the bed with
fake evidence of hard work and missed meals, whereas by last night I find myself looking at my watch in real annoyance after fifteen minutes and wondering where the f#@k is that cabin service guy with the tray already. And by now I notice how the tray's sandwiches are kind of small, and how the wedge of dill pickle always soaks into the starboard crust of the bread, and how the port hallway is too narrow to really let me put the used cabin service tray outside 1009's door at night when I'm done eating, so that the tray sits in the cabin all night and in the morning adulterates the olfactory sterility of 1009 with a smell of rancid horseradish, and how this seems, by the Luxury Cruise's fifth day, deeply dissatisfying. 


Death and Conroy notwithstanding, we're maybe now in a position to appreciate the falsehood at the dark heart of Celebrity's brochure. For this-the promise to sate the part of me that always and only WANTS-is the central fantasy the brochure is selling. The thing to notice is that the real fantasy here isn't that this promise will be kept but that such a promise is keepable at all. This is a big one, this lie.  And of course I want to believe it; I want to believe that maybe this ultimate fantasy vacation will be enough pampering, that this time the luxury and pleasure will be so completely and faultlessly administered that my infantile part will be sated at last. But the infantile part of me is, by its very nature and essence, insatiable. In fact, its whole raison consists of its insatiability. In response to any environment of extraordinary gratification and pampering, the insatiable-infant part of me will simply adjust its desires upward until it once again levels out at its homeostasis of terrible dissatisfaction. And sure enough, after a few days of delight and then adjustment on the Nadir, the Pamper-swaddled part of me that WANTS is now back, and with a vengeance.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009


full disclosure:  will samson is a dear friend and a brother in community...and his book is dedicated to this life together we call Communality.  so, if you're looking for an unbiased review you might need to look elsewhere.

i just read Will's new book, "enough: contentment in an age of excess" and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Will sets out to help the reader understand the stuff that surrounds us, this culture of consumerism where everything has a price and life is measured in dollars and cents.  he weaves his own life story (rich discoveries as well as mistakes and struggles) with keen social analysis and biblical reflection.  as he points out in the intro, this book is not a guilt trip nor is it a play-by-play game plan for making your life happy/green/monastic/communal.  Will deals with broader strokes and writes to stimulate the imagination of the reader - to foster a sense of how our lives might move toward a more generous and creative expression.  he writes explicitly to people who would already identify with the person of Jesus and the dominant image/metaphor he uses is that of the eucharistic meal. 


his final two chapters pull together the major themes and suggest we can only resist consumerism within the context of what he calls, "eucharistic communities."  these are morally formative networks of relationships where gratitude, celebration, and giving generously (among other virtues) shape particular lives and the wider group.


and speaking of groups, this will be a great book to read as part of a cell/small group...Will includes mini biblical mis/quotes at the start of each chapter that alone are capable of sparking wonderful conversation.  at the end of each chapter there is also a set of directions to engage or practice the theory.  i hasten to add these are not "to do's" they are principles that will require some effort on the part of the reader to incarnate in their particular context - a wonderful way to invite people to inhabit new insight.


Anyway, a great book that offers this much needed reminder:  contentment is a christian virtue.  how content are you?


Friday, March 06, 2009

Pray for sanity in our interconnected world....

This article was sent to me by my friend Richard. It is sobering to say the least, and a good example of how delicate the balance is between the nation states of the world. If only the church had been using such sober musings and analysis as calls to prayer in earlier times......

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 2:05AM GMT 15 Feb 2009

Failure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown
The unfolding debt drama in Russia, Ukraine, and the EU states of
Eastern Europe has reached acute danger point.

Comments 178 | Comment on this article

If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big
enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and
set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.

Austria's finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week
to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might.
His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria's

"A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian
financial sector," reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately,
that is about to happen.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says bad
debts will top 10pc and may reach 20pc. The Vienna press said Bank
Austria and its Italian owner Unicredit face a "monetary Stalingrad"
in the East.

Mr Pröll tried to drum up support for his rescue package from EU
finance ministers in Brussels last week. The idea was scotched by
Germany's Peer Steinbrück. Not our problem, he said. We'll see about

Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, said Eastern Europe has
borrowed $1.7 trillion abroad, much on short-term maturities. It must
repay – or roll over – $400bn this year, equal to a third of the
region's GDP. Good luck. The credit window has slammed shut.

Not even Russia can easily cover the $500bn dollar debts of its
oligarchs while oil remains near $33 a barrel. The budget is based on
Urals crude at $95. Russia has bled 36pc of its foreign reserves since
August defending the rouble.

"This is the largest run on a currency in history," said Mr Jen.

In Poland, 60pc of mortgages are in Swiss francs. The zloty has just
halved against the franc. Hungary, the Balkans, the Baltics, and
Ukraine are all suffering variants of this story. As an act of
collective folly – by lenders and borrowers – it matches America's sub-
prime debacle. There is a crucial difference, however. European banks
are on the hook for both. US banks are not.

Almost all East bloc debts are owed to West Europe, especially
Austrian, Swedish, Greek, Italian, and Belgian banks. En plus,
Europeans account for an astonishing 74pc of the entire $4.9 trillion
portfolio of loans to emerging markets.

They are five times more exposed to this latest bust than American or
Japanese banks, and they are 50pc more leveraged (IMF data).

Spain is up to its neck in Latin America, which has belatedly joined
the slump (Mexico's car output fell 51pc in January, and Brazil lost
650,000 jobs in one month). Britain and Switzerland are up to their
necks in Asia.

Whether it takes months, or just weeks, the world is going to discover
that Europe's financial system is sunk, and that there is no EU
Federal Reserve yet ready to act as a lender of last resort or to
flood the markets with emergency stimulus.

Under a "Taylor Rule" analysis, the European Central Bank already
needs to cut rates to zero and then purchase bonds and Pfandbriefe on
a huge scale. It is constrained by geopolitics – a German-Dutch veto –
and the Maastricht Treaty.

But I digress. It is East Europe that is blowing up right now. Erik
Berglof, EBRD's chief economist, told me the region may need €400bn in
help to cover loans and prop up the credit system.

Europe's governments are making matters worse. Some are pressuring
their banks to pull back, undercutting subsidiaries in East Europe.
Athens has ordered Greek banks to pull out of the Balkans.

The sums needed are beyond the limits of the IMF, which has already
bailed out Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Iceland, and Pakistan –
and Turkey next – and is fast exhausting its own $200bn (€155bn)
reserve. We are nearing the point where the IMF may have to print
money for the world, using arcane powers to issue Special Drawing

Its $16bn rescue of Ukraine has unravelled. The country – facing a
12pc contraction in GDP after the collapse of steel prices – is
hurtling towards default, leaving Unicredit, Raffeisen and ING in the
lurch. Pakistan wants another $7.6bn. Latvia's central bank governor
has declared his economy "clinically dead" after it shrank 10.5pc in
the fourth quarter. Protesters have smashed the treasury and stormed

"This is much worse than the East Asia crisis in the 1990s," said Lars
Christensen, at Danske Bank.

"There are accidents waiting to happen across the region, but the EU
institutions don't have any framework for dealing with this. The day
they decide not to save one of these one countries will be the trigger
for a massive crisis with contagion spreading into the EU."

Europe is already in deeper trouble than the ECB or EU leaders ever
expected. Germany contracted at an annual rate of 8.4pc in the fourth

If Deutsche Bank is correct, the economy will have shrunk by nearly
9pc before the end of this year. This is the sort of level that stokes
popular revolt.

The implications are obvious. Berlin is not going to rescue Ireland,
Spain, Greece and Portugal as the collapse of their credit bubbles
leads to rising defaults, or rescue Italy by accepting plans for EU
"union bonds" should the debt markets take fright at the rocketing
trajectory of Italy's public debt (hitting 112pc of GDP next year,
just revised up from 101pc – big change), or rescue Austria from its
Habsburg adventurism.

So we watch and wait as the lethal brush fires move closer.

If one spark jumps across the eurozone line, we will have global
systemic crisis within days. Are the firemen ready?

green and grubby thumbs


if you like to grow food then you will be starting to feel anxious about getting into the garden.  many of us in the community can't wait for the growing season.  we continually discover the joy of co-creating with God in this particular way and discover such grace in the acts of sowing, tending, harvesting, and sharing our gardens - personal and communal.


here's a link to the local (Lexington) cooperative extension service where they offer helpful and inexpensive classes on gardening.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

vandana shiva

DSC_4046 we had the honor of hearing vandana shiva speak last night (see this link for more about her work).  she was the speaker at the University of Kentucky's annual sustainability lecture.  Dr. Shiva was inspiring and eloquent.  she shared her remarkable insight into the global issues we all face - food, energy, poverty, health.  there are too many things to try and share in this post but the thing i came away thinking about was her point about 'protectionism'.  she wondered out loud why protecting things that are precious has become a bad word....don't we want to protect our natural resources, our land, the people we love?  it's amazing how powerful words become once they take on a tone - i had only thought of protectionism as a bad word in the world of globalization.  we had a good crowd from communality attend...any of you want to share a reflection on Dr. Shiva's talk?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Invitation for this Friday Night.....

I just wanted to remind everyone that you are invited to come to our home this Friday night (239 Burke Road, next light after Forbes on Leestown as you're heading out of town), 7pm, for a little socializing around the fire pit and snacks/smores. There is no agenda here, just some time to hang out, get to know each other better and enjoy the ancient ritual of gathering around a fire. We will get started at 7pm and continue as long as there are people present and wood to burn. Feel free to bring some chips, salsa, or whatever snack food you enjoy. Hope to see some of you on Friday night......


personhood rant

in his recent book, "New Monasticism: what it has to say to the church", Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove makes the case that "it's hard to be a Christian in America."  he makes his case well but i might add that it is even harden to be a human person in America.  (perhaps these are the same thing but that is for another post).  A new book by Joel Green called "Body, Soul, and Human Life: the nature of humanity in the bible" does a remarkable job of surveying biblical wisdom about what it means to be human.  Green includes serious reflection on the latest neuroscience and a picture of 'human personhood' emerges - a picture that is beautiful and in every way relational.

So, why is it so hard to be a human person in America?  because if to be human is to be in relationship with people and creation around us  (geographically near to you!) we are fighting an uphill battle.  many of the wonderful things that we spend time and resources on draw us away from people and creation near to us (facebook, blogs, emails, phones).  Green argues that properly formed human persons require continuity in memory, narratives, relationships, and in the air we breath and the earth we walk upon.

just now i read this article (Thanks to Mark Sayers for the link) and this is why i believe it is (increasingly) hard to be a human person in America.

here are some snippets from the article:

But not everyone is enamoured. Last week leading neuroscientist Lady Susan Greenfield warned that social network sites "risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind", leaving a legacy of short attention spans, trouble empathising, sensationalism, and a shaky sense of identity.

As well showing concern about the risk of such sites shortening attention spans (producing similar symptoms to those of children with attention deficit disorder), she worried about our need for instant reactions and constant reassurance when using the sites. The latter arises from how much of our ego is at play online.

Some who haven't joined Facebook's 175 million members or who joined but later left (in Facebook parlance "committed suicide") say their disquiet about the site is not always due to the usual concerns — privacy, data ownership, the stealth advertising — but something more grubby, and modern: self-promotion.

Facebook, as well as being a tool that connects people, is being used to advertise yourself; it functions as your PR agency and your brand manager. It's how you spread propaganda about yourself and disseminate information about your best self. Want everyone to know how caring you are? Join. Or even better, create a group supporting firefighters, or endangered species or peace on the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


i thought this article was interesting.

here's a snippet.  perhaps this is incarnation ecclesiology in the USA.


Church shopping, marketing, and the not-so-sanctified practices that go with them make easy targets for criticism. But competition among churches for worshippers has always been fierce in the United States, to the benefit of American religion and individual churchgoers. The prohibition against establishing an official state religion helped give us the shoppers' paradise that is our religious marketplace. Disestablishment (Massachusetts was the last state to cut ties to its official church, in 1833) meant that preachers had to learn to get along without support from the state. It made the ability to recruit and keep a flock—and get them to give generously—crucial to a church's survival. In 1992, Roger Finke and Rodney Stark argued in The Churching of America, 1776-1990 that this produced a ministry modeled on capitalism, with pastors acting as the church's sales force.