If Winter is Dying, then Writing is Life

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This isn’t my usual type of post. I have some thoughts ruminating into a slow boil. Aching about justice & the Stand Your Ground law and being white and privileged. A response. But I need more time to mull.

I finished the article on loving a drunk for Today’s Christian WomanAhem, I know. I’m not a likely writer for them. I don’t read resources written just for women (much). Nor do I like ministries just for women which I’ve written about.  The issue is about addiction and when they asked, I started to think about how little this topic is discussed in the Church. I think this topic needs attention.  

Still, it was one of the hardest things to write in my life.  That’s no exaggeration. I thought this piece for SheLoves was vulnerable because it was to such a “big” audience.  Well just leapt larger than life here with being published on a Christianity Today website.  My stomach curls in on itself just thinking about it. So I try not to think.

But more than that, it’s just hard to go back there, where I cannot remember. I had to interview Tom about those Falling Down Drunk years. Yes, I had to interview my husband as weird as that sounds. Tell me about that time when I barfed all over the car.

As you can imagine those monster enemies of Shame and Regret hovered around, clouding everything I did for days. Remembering what I put him through feels like hell but I’m hopeful that this will help people.  Or I would write it. The mind blowing thing was the good that came out of the sweating blood of this writing. I got to see how he loved me in such a long-suffering and courageous way. How awesome to feel, stone cold sober the love of my husband after twenty years. I’m smitten all over again. just thinking about his sacrifice and love for me.

I blasted out a poem for my church’s Pulse Conference on Worship & the Arts. I didn’t have time to over think. It came fast and I loved it. I am learning to have more confidence in my Voice. And like I mentioned before when things are printed-and-official I usually get the heebie jeebies and completely freak out; telling myself how unworthy I am to be writing a poem for “Artists.” I didn’t go there this time. (Phew, deep exhalation.) I am evolving.

I found a Psychiatrist, meaning—after having the number for five months I finally picked up the phone—I scheduled an appointment. Sometimes it’s the little things that feel unbearable with depression. I have a list of those things collecting Shame.  I look at the phone a lot, I mean a lot. Then my chest hurts with anxiety and starts burning. More deep breathing helps. 

I feel like I should wear a warning sign these days: KEEP CLEAR of me.

The good news is I like this doctor and today I feel a burst of hope that together we can figure out a better cocktail (of medications). What I take now makes me feel flat like a faded old piece of paper. Everyone else seems to be living in 3D and I’m one dimensional. The current medications got me out of the troth of not wanting to be alive (Which is different than suicidal—an important clarification.) But I’d like to shoot for something a tad higher than flat and undead.  Perhaps happy. I’d also be satisfied with sociable.

“My world is so small right now.” I found myself confessing to the doctor.  This made me even sadder and I wanted to cry. Crying not something I can do currently, another side effect, but as I said I’m hopeful with a change of medication that crying will come back.

Someone asks: Do you want to get together? (Blank marshmallow filled space in my brain and then panic.)  Feel like coffee? a text  (I feel nothing if I were to be honest.)  Want to go to that concert with me? (No.) You could listen to them online. You’ll like them. They’re really great. (No, definitely no. Milwaukee. It’s too much effort.) Can you host Christmas? (… birds chirping …     hell no!)  Don’t forget life group is tonight. ( … I don’t think I can go. Two hours of not talking in a group of talking people makes me feel dead and I don’t think I can speak. If I have to give another update saying things are still … bad.  I’m so tired of my life updates being so [insert pejorative].)

I’ve been so tired of feeling like this daily for months and months.

But I’ve been making myself do a few things out of the conviction that I cannot sit in my chair alone all winter. Besides motherhood, which doesn’t stop ever.

I’m attending the Festival of Faith and Writing in April. When I made the reservation I thought I’d never be able to go, not in a million years. My brain won’t even compute navigating the drive, let alone attending a conference alone. But somehow, things have been improving.  Writing this and asking for help went a long way. I know I’m not alone.  And now a break from life sounds damn good. It has been the most awful winter that I can recall EVER and I’m not talking just about the weather.

2796253209_98caa0e57e_o “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable, they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” – Ernest Hemingway

Remember the hot days of summer, when I was working on an essay on PRAYER and feeling really skeptical about whether I even believe in prayer? That essay is now published in the book Disquiet Time. You can pre-order it here published by Jericho Books in October, 2014. So that’s very cool.  

Did I even tell you that I have two poems in the book Not Afraid: Stories of Confronting Fear which is available here.

Lastly, WordPress is telling me I have been blogging six years sending their congratulations. Looking back, I see that my first post was 2008/10/07. That means I’ve been sober six and a half years.  Six years of blogging! Wow.

In that time, I’ve gathered TO MY UTTER AMAZEMENT 1,751 subscribed email readers. Not sure how that happened but I can only thank you, for when you pass along my writing. It helps me build traction and readers which helps me imagine one day I’ll be published. So, I’m grateful that Spring is coming.

I leave you with thoughts of summer, which I am longing for — running in flip flops, or curled up with a book in grass, or squinting at the sun by the lake.

As always, thanks for reading,

Melody

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EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer

For the last two weeks I have been enjoying life meat free.  I never thought that was possible.  Here’s why I no longer eat animals from America’s factory farms.

This review originally appeared on The Englewood Review of Books website.

 

“99% of the meat sold in the United States today comes from a factory farm.”

In the 1970s, my missionary parents uprooted us from the barefoot paradise of Papua New Guinea and planted us in Southern California.  My mother, suffering a bizarre set of health issues, began looking for answers in healthy eating practices.  While other kids ate Twinkies and Ding Dongs, Mother read Adelle Davis books on nutrition and force-fed us cod liver oil.

Perhaps because of this, my need to fit in urged me to become a steak-loving “normal” person. Food, for me, was always more than mere sustenance; it was a visceral, beautiful, even creative thing. But as far being a political statement or a critical health issue, well that was strictly for the weirdoes.

Reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals was the first time that I seriously considered that the Chicken Parmesan in front of me or the meat neatly stacked in my refrigerator was once a living thing.  And confronted by the horrors of modern animal farming, as recounted in shocking detail by Foer, I had to face certain facts: factory farms are disgusting and dangerous for our health.

Foer made a three-year investigation into the sickening story that is American meat, describing with ghastly precision the disease, deformity and eventual mutilation of animals that defines factory farming today. I was filled with revulsion as Foer chronicled his grisly experience and quickly came to understand why Ellen DeGeneres has called Eating Animals “one of the most important books [she’s] ever read.”

The story is heart-wrenching, repulsive and barbaric.  One learns that the idyllic family farms we picture in our minds (think Charlotte‘s Web) have been transformed into secretive, highly secured factories lined with rows of “confinement pens” where animals languish, never seeing real daylight.  Foer admits to clandestinely breaking into a turkey farm to discover locked pen doors, gas masks on the walls, chicks with blackened beaks, and both dead and living birds matted with blood and covered in sores.  He details dozens of eerily similar stories indicting the farming of pigs, chickens, cows and even fish:

“The power brokers of factory farming know that their business model depends on consumers not being able to see (or hear about) what they do.”

In a riveting (if also occasionally, rambling) narrative, Foer contends the meat industry is corrupt, with structures supporting the consumer-driven “need” for cheap meat.  Foer notes that prices haven’t substantially increased since the mid-fifties, and that the “efficiencies” of the factory system are the source of this “benefit.”  I was stunned to learn that only 1% of the meat we consume comes from family-run old-fashioned farms.  The rest is from factories where biodiversity is replaced by genetic uniformity, and the antibiotic-laced animals may be contributing to strange flu like symptoms ravaging millions of Americans.

With gritty specifics, allowing for many perspectives, Foer draws personal conclusions, while making it clear that our collective actions can change these practices.  But only by agreeing individually to stop purchasing factory farmed meat.

In this philosophical horror story, I was confronted with my “need” and realized I can no longer be a part of supporting this corrupt system.  A “normal” evangelical Mom, I am choosing to no longer eat animals unless they come locally and humanely from a farm.

We the collective consumer must make conscious choices, even sacrifices.   Foer says it well, “We are defined not just by what we do. We are defined by what we are willing to do without.”  We need to put meat in the middle of the plate of our public discourse.

Melody

Not to Speak is to Speak, Vol 4

“One’s task is not to turn the world upside down, but to do what is necessary at the given place and with a due consideration of reality.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I love so much to watch TED videos.  If you aren’t familiar with them I think you must take some time to check them out.

“Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power preserve those doomed to die.”  – Psalm 79:11

This video features Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative who is fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system in America.  Stevenson shares about the power of identity as well as justice, poverty, racism and more.

In American today,13-year-old children can die in prison and they can spend their entire life in prison without parole. Did you know that we are the only country in the world that does that?  Some ask, do people deserve to die for crimes? The other way of thinking about it is to ask: do we deserve to kill?  For every nine people executed on death row, one has been exonerated as in they were Innocent.  The system is broken.

We think it’s not our problem.  But this is an issue of life.  Yes, I am pro-life, pro-human life and basic dignity.  We must have a vision of compassion and justice.  We must care about these difficult things; about the suffering, abuse, marginalization and degradation of the poor.

“We have a system of justice in that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.”  

Please take the next 20 mins to view this film.  This should have serious implications especially for Christians.

And from the NYT Black Students Face More Harsh Discipline, Data Shows, by Tamar Lewin.

Overall, African-American students were three and a half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.

You must read The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States.

This is a Look at the racial disparities inherent in our nation’s criminal-justice system from the Center for American Progress.

“Eliminating the racial disparities inherent to our nation’s criminal-justice policies and practices must be at the heart of a renewed, refocused, and reenergized movement for racial justice in America.”

Then, there was this.  Feminism’s final frontier? Religion.

An in the Washington Post, By .

“The battle of the sexes, waged this election season with fulsome fury in the public space, is being fought in a much more painful, private sphere as well. In churches (and synagogues and mosques) across the land, women are still treated as second-class citizens. And because women of faith are increasingly breadwinners, single moms and heads of households, that diminished status is beginning to rankle.  There are churches in America in which women aren’t allowed to speak out loud unless they get permission from a man first. There are churches (many of them) in which women aren’t permitted to preach from the pulpit. There are churches in America where a 13-year-old boy has more authority than his mother.

“At church I had to hide my thoughts, questions and life choices,” says Susan, a woman who works as a therapist in Seattle and, after a lifetime of following Jesus, left Christianity. “I didn’t think I could do anything by myself, because as a Christian woman I’d learned that I needed a man to get places.”

Susan’s story was published in January by a small Christian publishing house in the book “The Resignation of Eve.” In its pages, the author, an evangelical minister named Jim Henderson, argues that unless the male leaders of conservative Christian churches do some serious soul-searching — pronto — the women who have always sustained those churches with their time, sweat and cash will leave. In droves. And they won’t come back. Their children, traditionally brought to church by their mothers, will thus join the growing numbers of Americans who call themselves “un-churched.”  

Read the rest of the article here.

I reviewed Jim Henderson’s book here.

And lastly, an incredible article by Spectra Speaks about how important it is to tell our stories, especially those people who’s voices are silenced more often in the culture.

The challenge is to women especially to Write Yourself into History.

An excerpt:

And if positive-thinking doesn’t work for you, here are some other factors to consider:

  • Women are less likely to run for office in part because they don’t feel “qualified enough”
  • “Mommy Blogging” has gotten the attention of a $750 million blog marketing industry; companies want to know what moms—not “experts”—think before they spend a dime developing new products
  • The It Gets Better campaign—videos created by regular people—has dramatically increased awareness of issues facing LGBT youth
  • There are too many men who really shouldn’t be talking (Rush Limbaugh and David Bahati come to mind) writing and saying all kinds of things, and even worse influencing millions of people with their biased point of view—shouldn’t we at least join them?

See, the problem with women not telling their stories isn’t just an issue of “balance” (i.e. we need men and women’s voices in equal measure), but an issue of “influence.” 

I’ll leave you with a prayer from Oremus.

O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Religion that is pure and undefiled
before God, the Father, is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their distress,
and to keep oneself
unstained by the world. Let us worship God.

Glory to you, O Champion of all Loves,
who for our sake endured the cross,
encountered the enemy and tasted death.
Glory be to you, O King of all kings,
who for our salvation
wrestled with principalities and powers,
subdued the forces of hell
and won the greatest of all victories.
To you be all praise, all glory and all love;
now and for ever. Amen.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Not to Speak is to Speak: Volume 3

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies,

we should find in each man’s life

sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”  

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I am finding it hard to love my enemies.

Rush Limbaugh who obviously hates women and calls them sluts and makes them feel like whores.

Those that do not understand America is made up of oppressive systems and structures for African Americans especially and other minorities. That if we don’t do something about it, we are passive racists– contributors. I read this week that the Bible has “more than 2,000 passages of Scripture about God’s hatred for poverty and oppression. They see God’s desire for systems and structures to be blessings to all of humanity — not a curse to some and a blessing for others.”  Lisa Sharon Harper, Sojourners

(White) people that say our President is not a believing Christian make me angry. Because if he isn’t, then likely they think I’m not one either.

That Olympia Snow despairs enough about our political system that she quit the Senate this last week.

Quick to rush to anger.  That’s me.

'Meet the Sports Illustrated 2011 Swimsuit Models at STK Invite' photo (c) 2011, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition makes me angry.  Come on!  The ongoing female objectification implies that being healthy for women is all about fitting into a tiny bikini (especially since women very rarely appear on the Sports Illustrated cover otherwise).  The effect of female objectification in mainstream culture huge.   Does an interest in sports necessitate an interest in ogling female bodies? When boys watch their fathers flip through magazines dedicated to objectification, what do they learn about what it means to be a man? And what does this communicate to them about a woman’s place in society?   One positive, a doctor who raises concerns regarding the effects of “our pornified culture on our children”.  Miss Representation offered specific suggestions for creating change: positive change; healthy change. The link is www.missrepresentation.org.

I’m finding it hard to love.  These things make me angry!  God says Pray for those who persecute you.

Sigh, pray for Rush Limbaugh? Pray for racist people and the sexist editors of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.

Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. —  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Not to Speak is to Speak is a series I started last year. I’m thinking of reviving it.

Volume 2

Volume 1

“Why The Silence?” Forgive me the Cynicism … (on Women in the Church)

I don’t know about you, but when I first read this it shocked and appalled me.

During the times of Jesus, the religious leaders prayed at least three times a day and always thanked God for three specific things:

  • Thank God that I am a Jew and not a Gentile.
  • Thank God that I am free and not a slave.
  • Thank God that I am a man and NOT a woman.

In the Babylonian Talmud, a Rabbi still says that one is obliged to recite the following three berakhot daily: “Who has made me a Jew”, “who has not made me a woman”, “who has not made me an ignoramus.”

Ouch!  I’ll bet a lot of men in seminary today secretly thank God they are not a woman or an ignoramus, that is if they think of women at all.

I love pastor Eugene Cho’s reflection thanking God he is a man (tongue in cheek kind of) saying:

“There’s great privilege and power in simply being a man. This is why I contend that the treatment of women is the oldest injustice in human history. We can talk equality and equity all day long and while we can acknowledge how far we’ve come, we still clearly live – even in 2011 – where there’s great advantage in simply being a man.”

This is why the message of Jesus is so powerful.

The apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28 subverted the dominant worldview by saying in the Kingdom of God, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Powerful, meaningful words to me of the way God intended things and what he promises to restore in us all.  And yet, I easily become discouraged about the state of things.

I needed prudence yesterday when within the same hour I read two very different posts.

One was this post by a pastor saying that women should not read scripture in church.  Apparently, according to this writer, women are not to read scripture out loud in public. WOW.   I post it just to give perspective to some of my more progressive and enlightened friends about why I always seem concerned with women in the church.  It’s sexist crap  and I found myself  wishing a Bible scholar like Scot McKnight, or Sharon Hodde Miller, or Mary Elizabeth Fisher would please take him on.  I wrote him asking where he got the idea that only MEN should be the ones to do public reading of scripture.  It was is a sincere question as a Christ follower who loves scripture passionately, because I have never seen anything there that prescribes such an action.  He promised to write on it soon.

And then I saw this ebook by one of those wonderful people by Scot McKnight, titled Junia is Not Alone. You must pick it up.  You must read it.  He encourages more women to study, research and speak out on “women in the ancient world, about women in the early church, and women in church history … many whose stories are untold.” Amen!

Amazon says:

It tells the story of Junia, a female apostle honored by Paul in his Letter to the Romans—and then silenced and forgotten for most of church history. But Junia’s tragedy is not hers alone. She’s joined by fellow women in the Bible whose stories of bold leadership have been overlooked. She’s in the company of visionary women of God throughout the centuries whose names we’ve forgotten, whose stories go untold, and whose witness we neglect to celebrate.  But Junia is also joined by women today—women who are no longer silent and who are experiencing a re-voicing as they respond to God’s call to lead us into all truth.

Scot says:

Moving toward my second decade of teaching college students, more than half of whom grow up in a church, of this I am certain: churches don’t talk about the women of the Bible. Of Mary mother of Jesus they have heard, and even then not all of what they have heard is accurate. But of the other woman saints of the Bible, including Miriam, the prophetic national music director, or Esther, the dancing queen, or Phoebe, the benefactor of Paul’s missions, or Priscilla, the teacher, they’ve heard almost nothing.

Why the silence?

Why do we consider the mother/wife of Proverbs 31 an ideal female image but shush the language of the romantic Shulammite woman of the Song of Songs? Why are we so obsessed with studying the “subordination” of women to men but not a woman like Deborah, who subordinated men and enemies? Why do we believe that we are called to live out Pentecost’s vision of Spirit-shaped life but ignore what Peter predicted would happen? That “(i)n the last days… your sons and daughters will prophesy…” and that “(e)ven on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit.”

You can buy the ebook for $2.99.

Sometimes God answers your prayers in strange ways.

Not a direct response obviously, but rather this was an encouragement to me.  Women are quite literally being silenced in the church by men like Tim Challies and Piper who talks about women’s submission even with in abusive marriages.  And movements like Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church and his crazy notions about men and women.

In my article, The Voice of The Feminine I said:

I’ve been thinking about the lack of presence and example of women in the Church.  That Sunday* at my church in particular, women were simply spectators, the audience, the bystanders, the recipients and beneficiaries.

And the more I thought I could not remember the last time one of the teaching pastors suggested a book they were reading written by a woman.  Women are never quoted in my church.  Female theologians or scholars are never referenced or even mentioned, probably because the pastors don’t read them.  I can’t remember the last time, if ever, a pastor in my church has suggested or referred to or quoted a female theologian, religious author, or historian.  Am I the only one that notices these things?

The entire thing makes me very sad.  And so tired.  I am tired of the male dominated culture on the platform, as authors, as experts, as theologians, as speakers at conferences and in the Church at large. Considering women are half the church (some would say more) I do not buy the argument that there aren’t capable women to select from, though I’ve been told that very thing.  “The women haven’t risen up who have the gift of teaching.”

Risen up?   To be honest, one would think in a service-by-gifts based church there must not be any qualified gifted female teachers.   I attend an EFCA church of 5,000. You do the math.

*this is not always true!

But there are wonderful people who are articulating a different reality.  And I am most grateful to them. Perhaps in the coming weeks I will try to highlight more of them.

I worry at times that I think about this topic too much.  My overwhelming focus when it comes to thinking about injustice is the place of women in the church, their identity before God and whether they are using those talents for the purposes of the Kingdom.  I care about whether women, my daughters, who are made in God’s image too, know that they are indeed made to be that way.  I think about it all the time.  How much is too much?

Theologian Willard Swartley talks about the degree to which our ideologies warp our reading of Scripture.

 “Our willingness to be changed by what we read, to let the Bible function as a “window” through which  we see beyond self-interested ideologies, and not a “mirror” which simply reflects back to us what we want it to show.  Biblical interpretation, if it is worthy to be so called, will challenge the ideology of the interpreter.  It can and will lead to change, because people do not come to the text thinking as God thinks, or even as the people of God thought in serving as agents of divine revelation.  Interpreters [must] listen to the text carefully enough not to like it.  [When they do so] it powerfully demonstrates that the text’s message has been heard and respected.”

This is challenging because I am full of self-interest when it comes to being a Christian woman.  I am a proud woman and this is my tribe which I feel a responsibility to care for, not because I crave authority, but because I long to see every women and girl carrying out every gift from God in their lives, not just in the marketplace, but within the church!  I am hopeful that this will happen in my lifetime.

Much of the church is stifling more than half of the church  and our “interpretations” are silencing many incredible women.  My heart weeps with that thought.

MHH

Other things I have written on the subject:

There is more, just search for WOMEN in the categories.

The Female Voice

 

Feminism to me is the crazy belief that women and men are both created in God’s image and that each of us deserves a life of freedom and opportunity inside or outside the Church.

I have thought a lot about the lack of presence and example of women in the Church.  One Sunday at my church in particular, women were simply spectators, the audience, the bystanders, the recipients and beneficiaries … Read more at Provoketive.

Other things I have written on Women in the Church are here:

Or just use the search function.

Not To Speak is to Speak: Volume 2

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: GOD will not hold us innocent. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”— Bonhoeffer

NOT TO SPEAK IS TO SPEAK :  VOLUME 2

This is my attempt to consolidate some of the things I find on the web.  Of course this is a drop in the bucket of what I read all week, but you have to focus sometimes.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Several things on the UCLA Student’s recent YouTube Video.

A white student rants about Asians and it goes viral, drawing accusations of racism.

“Sadly, what she expressed isn’t that different from what a lot of Americans think, even if we’re not posting it on YouTube  …  In many ways this blonde-haired, exposed push-up bra wearing college student, embodies the popular and prolific image of entitled, image driven, individualistic “Americanness.””

You can read the rest here and see the video it its entirety there.  You should watch it if you are white.  If you’re not white, you’ve likely seen or heard of it already.  If you are white, I think you have a responsibility to SEE things like this.  Before you go there, thinking I’m “over reacting” I’ll acknowledge that I need to spend some time considering all this and being prayerful before God. But in the meantime, I can call racism what it is — wrong.

My initial thought is this.  Although I feel ashamed of being white, many many times.  Today, more than any day in a long time, while I watched this young lady’s strange, egocentric, racist, stupid and ignorant rant about the “hordes of Asians” at her university I was mortified for all of us.

Ching chong? Hordes of Asians? American manners?” A friend I have made because of the internet responds to the student’s video as a Mom and an American and one of the Asians that the young lady at UCLA refers to in her video.  In A Mother’s Rant About Racism & Reconciliation Kathy Khang shares a personal response.   I love her heart and learn so much from her every time she writes.

And still on the topic, here are some things White People with Power should consider.  That would be me.

“However difficult it is for many White Americans to hear, examples like this video clearly show that many (as in a large number, but certainly not all) Whites implicitly think there’s nothing wrong with invoking cultural stereotypes to portray an entire group of color. I have written about this dynamic many times before, but needless to say, this is certainly not the first time that Whites have tried to “make fun” of Asian Americans or other groups of color on college campuses and elsewhere in society…”

Lastly, an incredible response by the InterVarsity’s Asian Staff director, James Choung.  He is godly, kind and wise.  Once again, I learned a lot.  These are things that privileged white people need to hear.

A glimpse into the heart of an incarcerated father.

Dear Son: A Letter from an Incarcerated Father on how a believer behind bars might pass on his faith.  

Statistical studies tell us that roughly 90 percent of incarcerated parents are fathers. Their offspring, approximately 2 million strong, represent the textbook definition of “at risk” children. According to the Princeton University’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, the absence of a father—particularly due to incarceration—correlates with a plethora of family dysfunctions, including elevated rates of juvenile crime and incarceration.

Politics.

Congress Making Themselves and Friends Richer, While Everyone Else Struggles to Make Ends MeetIf you don’t read Jim Hightower you are missing out.

The great majority of Americans make about $30K a year. Incoming lawmakers, however? Extensive personal investments in Wall St. banks, oil giants and drug makers.Change is not the same thing as progress. In fact, change can be the exact opposite. It can be regressive, as we’re now learning from — where else? — Congress.

Feminist Reading.

100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader . Whether you’re already knee-deep in young adult literature or looking to reacquaint yourself with an old favorite we’ve put together a whopping 100 of our favorite young adult novels, featuring kick-ass teens and inspiring feminist themes. These stories will empower teenage and adult readers alike.

[I’m not recommending all of these books because I haven’t read them all.  Simply passing on the list.  Make your own wise choices.]

The Environment.

You have to watch this video by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist, farmer, soldier, exile, environmentalist.

Winner of the Banksia International Award 2003 and winner of the Buckminster Fuller Award 2010.  He is the originator of the Holistic Management concept that turn deserts into thriving grasslands, restores biodiversity, brings streams and rivers back to life, increases food production and security and stores carbon in ever deeper and healthier soils – all of this while reversing global climate change.

He won a TED award and that’s how I found him.  I’m in love. So sweet. So passionate.  So smart!

Next time perhaps.

Rob Bell.  What I’m learning from reading on feminism and women in the church.  And Libya, going to war? … and my current theological thoughts on Justice.

Here’s the last issue of Not to Speak is to Speak in case you missed it.