Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This is my Home - LIA Documentary

After quite a few techno-difficulties (not with techno music - c'mon who doesn't love techno?), I finally was able to get this going. 

Thanks should go to Craig G, my homee, my brotha.  Also to Mark Z. of Facebook, who just sent you the password to see the video.  If you're not a member of the EmDes FB page, just let me know you need it.

This is my Home

Great job Life in Abundance, this is good stuff.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Blog Project

We came up with an idea for a Arizona-wide blog project yesterday, and to get that going, we need a few things:

  • We need a name.
  • We need possible contributors.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Sinned?


As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

With the news from Haiti bringing images of horrible suffering, people of faith have, as they have many times before, attempted to explain the reason God would allow (or commit) such an act of tragedy. The most infamous of these, recently, has been Pat Robertson's remarks that the Haitian people practice voodoo. Thus, God's judgment.

We're no strangers to this kind of talk. John Piper recently inferred that a tornado in downtown Minneapolis was God's judgment against the ordination of homosexuals. Many human maladies, from natural disasters, to disease, famine, and poverty, have been linked to some sort of cause-effect of sin and judgment. Our views have been shaped by the gods of Rome, who reigned from above with vengeance and a lightning bolt.

We have a God of salvation, whose wrath has been poured out on the cross. We exist in a paradox of God's love, surrounded by the effects of a tarnished creation.

We ask the same question of the disciples when tragedy happens. Who sinned to cause this disaster? Who can we blame for this?

Our eyes are closed to another purpose. Tragedy in our world can be used to show God's glory. We can go out to the blind, the impoverished, and the people in bondage, and show God's glory through helping them.

Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" Some claimed that he was.

Others said, "No, he only looks like him."

But he himself insisted, "I am the man."

"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.

He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."

"Where is this man?" they asked him.

"I don't know," he said.

We can be God's glory. We can go out to this tragedy, and instead of looking to know who caused it, we can bring healing. Healing that alters their lives, until they are unrecognizable from the person they were before. His glory can be seen through our healing work in the world.

Instead of asking, "Who sinned," we can instead ask how we can bless others.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Prayer


This is the prayer that I was referring to in our gathering yesterday evening. This prayer has inspired and challenged me, and has really shaped the way in which I relate to God. Hope it brings peace to someone else too!


My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following

your will does not mean

that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that my desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope that I have that desire

in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything

apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this,

you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always,

though I may seem to be lost

and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear,

for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me

to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Richard Rohr - Sat. Feb. 13


My services as organizer were graciously offered up by Jamie for the upcoming Richard Rohr seminar. It's on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 1:30 - 4:30 at Church of the Beatitudes. (Though there is one in Anaheim on March 19, so we could excuse ourselves for a road trip and beach meditation in the name of non-duality and presence. Disneyland would be a perfect place for such things, no?)

The cost is $25, though if 10 or more people go, there is a $5 discount. Not sure where we came up with the $5 cost that we talked about on Sunday; perhaps the $5 discount made us think we were being offered tickets at that amount.

Please respond if you plan on attending, so I can be making a list and checking it twice.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Like many of you, I have known that human trafficking & slavery still exists in various forms around the world, but I have recently been on a journey to dig deeper in understanding this tragic reality and I want to share some of my findings with everybody.

These injustices do not simply "still exist"... they are thriving. To put things into perspective...

"More slaves are in bondage today than were bartered in four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade."

-Not For Sale by Batstone(6)

I'll start with a basic definition for Human Trafficking -
the dislocation of someone by deception or coercion for exploitation, through forced prostitution, forced labor, or other forms of slavery. (source: Steve Chalke - Stop the Traffik)

It is estimated that the total number of individuals enduring this nightmare is in the realm of 27 million. 27 million human beings like you and me. 27 million collections of abilities and aspirations. 27 million hearts.

We talked a bit at our gathering yesterday about "compassion fatigue" as Jamie termed it, and this is yet another example of an issue that can easily overwhelm us to the point of numbness and inaction. But I have a growing hope and cause to believe that this doesn't have to be the case. More on that in a moment...

Here are a few more of the key statistics to build a fuller picture of what's happening around us:

- Over 150 countries in the world today serve as a source, transportation route, and/or destination for human trafficking, with the least developed nations being the most gravely impacted. (US State Dept)

- Of the 27 million individuals held captive today, 80% are female and 50% are children (US State Dept)

- Approximately 1.2 million children are trafficked yearly. That amounts to one child every 30 seconds... (UNICEF)

- Worldwide, traffickers generate a revenue stream for themselves upwards of $10 billion, while the trafficking trade in all its forms generates more than $32 billion when also accounting for the activities and goods produced by the victims. [These figures are only rivaled by drug trafficking and the illegal arms trade for the largest global crime] (International Labour Office)

- Here in the United States, approximately 17,500 individuals are trafficked into our country every year for forced labor and sexual slavery. (US State Dept)

So what can we do?

Like I mentioned yesterday with regard to these issues of injustice that need to be addressed, I think a "both/and" approach will ultimately be the most transformative, i.e, foster the ongoing creation of the kingdom of God. By this, I mean that those of us who are able to give financially towards local & global efforts that directly affect the problem should do so [check out a few recommendations of organizations below], AND there's also a component of individual action beyond financial donations that we are each called to explore.

This first natural step in individual action is to heighten our awareness of the issues [some reading and viewing recommendations are below]. But this awareness must necessarily lead to a tangible output. Or in the word's of Stop the Traffik and Oasis founder, Steve Chalke, "Expressions of outrage and sympathy without action are useless. Becoming aware, informing ourselves, is only the first step" (Stop the Traffik, 103).

The next step is to identify if/where we are unknowingly entangled in the massive web of human/trafficking. Again, Steve Chalke:

"We need to find out whether what we buy has a history, and whether that history is exploiting vulnerable people" (107).

Some of the more blatant industries where trafficked labor is widely used are the chocolate, coffee, cotton (clothing), and tea trades, among many others. As we've heard numerous times, we truly have the ability to "vote" with our dollars. Each of our purchases, whether intentionally or not, reinforce certain systems at play in the world's supply chains. Again, it can be overwhelming as a born-and-raised American consumer to sift through our hundreds of purchases & possessions, but I agree with this view:

"A traffick-free lifestyle is worth working at. Make one choice at a time. And it won't be just your life that is changed" (Chalke, 109).

I'm currently checking out the Free2Work website and exploring ways to become a more conscious and deliberate consumer. Another cool resource is

As we think about what else we can do as individuals and as a cohort, this challenge strikes a chord in me:

"Take Advantage of Your Access to Power for the Sake of the Powerless" (Batstone, 281).

Facing up to this challenge can take so many forms: political advocacy, commercial boycotting, volunteering with organizations that reach out to victims, raising awareness among the masses, and on and on. I'd love to brainstorm more ideas collectively sometime.

Anyhow, I wanted to at least get this information out here for our community to wrestle with and to highlight this day of awareness. Let's see where we can go with our action...


- The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking & Slavery by Kevin Bales & Ron Soodalter


- Frontline: Sex Slaves [additional resources HERE]
- Trade [also currently available for instant viewing for Netflix subscribers]


... among many others...

*Photo Credit: 2009 Trafficking In Persons Report (US State Dept)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

This Weekend's Gathering...

Hey all,

This weekend's gathering will be our last free-flow dialogue before we dig into Richard Rohr's The Naked Now. We'll be using Life In Abundance International's recent documentary, This Is My Home, to kick off our discussion tomorrow.

This is my HOME (movie trailer) from Life in Abundance on Vimeo.

This Is My Home is a hopeful film that joins children and youth rising out of their poverty and life on the harsh streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


ALSO, Debbie & Sheri will be gracing us with another amazing culinary creation (Lentil Soup w/ Sausage, perhaps). So, if you're able, please plan to bring either a side dish or a dessert to add to the spread, AND leave a comment on this post with what you're bringing so we can all plan accordingly.

Looking forward to it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Just Do It

"Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do."

--from the Introduction of Becoming the Answer to our Prayers, by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Yesterday's discussion (or at least the part that I caught) made me think of this book that I read last year. To be honest, I didn't think it was as great as Claiborne's other books, but I did take some new ideas away from it. The main thing being something along the lines of: "Don't pray for things unless you're willing to be a part of the answer." For instance, don't just pray for poverty to end. Pray about it AND be a part of the solution. If you know a child that needs a coat but her parents cannot afford it (and you can), you don't need to wait for "A Sign" to tell you to just buy the coat and meet the need.

Anyway, very much on the same track with our conversation yesterday. We also own the book, and anyone is welcome to borrow it.