Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blue Like Jazz
By Donald Miller

In the past twenty-four hours I have heard Mr. Miller speak twice in addition to being in the process of reading his book. I knew about two weeks ago he was coming to my church and set the goal to have his book read by then. This did not happen. But after two hours of reading last night and an additional three thus far today, I am closing in on completion. I like it. I won't go through the book listing all the points and ideas. I will tell you what has impacted me. He really stresses the point that Jesus is not a product to sell and or buy that is the fix all. Its a relationship and all that initials. Another comment made by him early on in the books was that 'we' say we need to be aware of the problems of the world, need to be doing things, missions ect. But then we don't even tithe to our own church. We don't work at the local homeless shelter or reach out to those around us that are in need on a daily basis. He really convicted me on the whole tithing point. Read the book, its good. Humor and humanity all in one, could you ask for anything more?

Other things on my mind lately have included graduation (now less than a month away), summer plans (not going to camp but will be living with my parents for the summer- working), and the role of government in the economy and business with ethics (if there is such a thing). You cast votes with your money ya know. With each dollar you are condoning or going along with business. Makes me want to avoid corporate commercialism as much as possible. Banana Republic, GAP, and Old Navy are known for employing children in sweatshops overseas. I've tried to stop buying from them completely. It's a challenge, I like Old Navy. Nike doesn't actually own its manufacturing factories but contracts out. Which becomes an issue when they can't be held responsible for the sweatshop conditions in which they employ people for less then a dollar a day. How much do I let all this impact me and what do I do about it?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter weekend-
Went to my parent's house and it felt like their house. The room I once sought refuge in is now nothing more than a shell of storage for those odds and ends that I don't want to throw out but at the same time don't want at my apartment. My bedroom there was more what I was then, than am now. Still has my personality displayed by my unique decorating but yet lacks the homey feel of having someone living in it.

I would now like to take the time to announce the sad departure of Chachi. May he rest in peace. Sunday at approximately 4:36pm I was turning right onto a on-ramp when Chachi hydroplaned up and over a curb, onto the median. Chachi was 'my' faithful 1994 navy blue Saturn. He managed to survive my father's abuses of his windshield, both my sister and me learning to drive stick with him, winters in Michigan, oil leaks and ran on empty for weeks at a time. He proudly displayed such bumper stickers as Democratic Women are the Life of the Party, I don't Have Like Bush to Love My Country, Love Wins, and I'm a Democrat and a Christian. He was well used, greatly loved and will be greatly missed by all (in my family).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Psalm 19: 1-4
For the heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Once again I am putting in a plug for Rob Belle and Mars Hill. Go to the website and listen to the Palm Sunday message. This passage from Psalms was put up during a pause in the worship song. While reading it I had this powerful image of the beauty of creation speaking so powerfully to the power and creativity of God. Also came across this quote yesterday by St. Francis of Assisi (which made me think of the movie Millions, which is soo cute- go see it!)

"Preach the gospel with all your heart, and, if necessary, use words"

To change the subject completely...last night I saw Capote. I have now seen all of the best picture nominations: Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Munich, Good Night and Good Luck, and Capote. Philip Seymore Hoffman most certaintly deserved the Oscar he won for the role of Truman Capote. I did not like the emphasis placed on leading the audience to feel for the killer though. I did not feel that he was worthy of sympathy. I also found it interesting how it was almost ironic how the people of the times were, prejustice and racist towards what was the slightest bit different, yet Capote himself represented that and he was accepted, not immediatly granted, but well liked and saught after. Intersting film. I recommend seeing it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


During the Cold War, ABC stood for 'Anything But Communism'. It was that saying that led us into many a questionable alliance and controversial action (Vietnam, Korea, arming the Taliban). Today ABC refers to the U.S. strategy towards fighting AIDS. The mantra now is 'Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms'. The question is this the right approach? As I write this I can't help but smirk to myself, it is indeed the Right approach, as in the Conservative Right's approach. Since 2003, the Bush administration has insisted on a abstinence first approach when fighting against AIDS. Condoms are not to be promoted or given out except for those of high risk to exposure- prostitutes. The thing is...they are not the only one's at high risk. What about the millions of women married to unfaithful men? In Swaziland 50% of girls marry by 18. The country has a infection rate of 20%. I would say that is pretty high risk. Or the unborn baby growing within an infected mother...

What has me thinking of this is the New York Times article by Celia W. Dugger, U.S. Focus on Abstinence Weakens AIDS Fight, Agency Finds. I can't help but feel that this is a western approach failing to realize or acknowledge the full situation and extent of the issue. But then again, these are highly qualified experts that know (or should know) what they are talking about. After all, the article indicates that Uganda has seen positive results with this strategy in lowering the percentage of AIDS infection rates. But some critics say that the reduction in AIDS infection rates in Uganda are due to condom use and death. Other criticisms are that the with the majority of U.S. money going towards the A & B of the program it takes money away from other programs that work. The article also outlines how the language of the policy is ambiguous.

"Some officials said that although activities to promote condom use have been restricted, they did not understand the distinction between condom education and condom promotion, "causing uncertainty over whether certain condom-related activities are permissible," the report stated".

There are 40 million HIV positive individuals in the world, not to mention the millions orphaned every year because of this disease. So the question still remains...are we helping or hindering?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Saturday night three friends and myself were watching the movie In America, which is very good by the way and I really recommend it. The question of if one can get AIDS from kissing a person came up. I immediately said no. But two of my friends questioned that answer and thought one could get infected through kissing an infected person. I in no way mean to demean, or point to ignorance. Really what I have to say is more of a critique of our society, among other things, than to point at my friends. How could we not know how AIDS is spread though? I mean really, this is a disease of, literally, epidemic proportions and we are unsure of how it spreads?! Isn’t this a basic fact that we should be aware of? This is a disease that affects millions of millions of people every day. I can not help but think, and point out, that misunderstandings like these can have harmful affects. We owe it to the world to know a little bit about this disease!

Other things about me…
Due to a recommendation by one of my roommates I’ve been listening to Virgin Radio out of the U.K. a lot- and have really gotten into it. One song called Everyone’s Going to War, I really like for obvious reasons with lyrics like: “So everyone’s going to war, but we don’t know what we are fighting for, don’t tell me it’s a worthy cause, no cause could be so worthy”. Also I really think I’m one of those people who is affected by the sun. Spring has started to emerge here in west Michigan and with it the sun has made more of a regular appearance. I have just felt better. My disposition, if you will, has improved. In England I felt down and gray a lot as well. Of course I was not the happiest of gals during that period of my life and the last few weeks have been really stressful for me. So the sun appearing as my stress levels have momentarily lowered themselves may just be a coincidence and not really an indicator of any imbalance do to lack of sun. But sounds plausible right-

By the way, I looked it up… AIDS can not be spread through saliva.