TOMS Shoes Are Bad, Fair Trade Isn’t Enough, & Shane Claiborne Cut His Hair & Now I Don’t Know What to Believe/Consume

Depending on how long you have been a part of the social justice/sustainability/fair-trade conversation, you know that it can be wrought with complication and various perspectives on what is actually just.

For example, when TOMS Shoes first came out there was a surge of praise.  Blake Mosloskie founded a for-profit company whose “One to One” model allowed for consumer purchases to directly help those in poverty.  Blake, the story, The shoes, were everywhere and before you knew it, TOMS were being sold in stores like Nordstroms. Then a bit later, some were down on them. “They’re being made in China,” “Why shoes and why not food?,” “They’re not ethically made or distributed” and some dismissed them as another bad example of good intention. Likely, there are some holes in their model, likely some of the criticism are warranted and needed and likely the good people of TOMS are aware of even more of their faults than their critics realize. It seems they have been trying to function with better practices from the beginning and you should read more at their Corporate Responsibility page.  I’m optimistic for them.

Another complaint I hear are the limitations of fair trade products. Have you ever heard this – “It’s technically fair-trade [Read more…]

“Today, I’ve Disappeared …” #enditmovement

End It Movement

Gen Xer’s and Millennials on Church & Social Justice Post 2 – The Word “Trendy”

I have been thinking about some of the trends I’ve seen between the respective generations, especially in the Church and Social Justice scene. But it seems helpful to actually talk about the word “trends.” We tend to dismiss this word as something that is shallow and lacks quality thought – thus it is temporary and not worthwhile. To me it seems that’s how some are dismissing the need for Christina engagement in the world of justice – some are calling it a trend. So here’s another way to see trends.

You could make the case that 100 years ago after the Wright brothers (and other flight pioneers) were successful that the resulting boom with further experimentation was trendy. What you generally get in these moments is some talented daredevils who jump on this bandwagon. They are normally unemployed, jumping from career to cause, they may even be college drop-outs who have stressed out their parents and left a trail of disappointment along the way. They are not lazy, many have simply not found their purpose, their niche, maybe even their calling. And while some research would be helpful right now, I bet you this is part of the story of those who would pave the way for commerce, military, aeronautical aviation and whose faces and fill the walls at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. Sometimes it seems we need to thank God for trends.

The previous post discussed the rise of NGO’s versus the traditional missions organizations founded in the last century. Now, I’m not interested in defending every t-shirt company but I do think organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) are so precious to the Kingdom of God. We were just discussing this at our most recent Reading Circle and here’s why. To have a shirt sold at Hot Topic and now so many stores in so many malls in the country that tells their story when you turn it inside out, and an organization with a great online presence that tours across the country with bands and whatever else that allow for a message of hope to be carried to those who desperately need it – well, that’s amazing (And not to mention so much of the financial profits have gone to rehabilitation and counseling programs.  Makes me wonder about all the other shirts I got).

I’ve heard stories of people diving deeper in wanting to stop cutting themselves, in removing whatever that is hurting their minds and bodies, and committed to finding identity. Some find hope in Jesus, and become part of the Church – a “place” they never [Read more…]

Gen Xer’s and Millennials on Church & Social Justice Post 1

I’m interested in a stronger church for the sake of God’s Kingdom which I believe creates a better world. Gods kingdom marked as a world of love, peace, goodness, beauty and justice. In many of our evangelical churches, there has been a good bit of talk on love, peace and goodness but not as much on beauty and justice – that is until the last 10 or so years.

There’s a lot of debate surrounding just how much discussion/action has been around the themes of beauty and justice (or [Read more…]

Rereading With Justice For All by John Perkins

About two weeks ago, I posted about the Justice Conference and recommended that you should go if you could make it to Philly on Feb. 22-23. I also mentioned that I wanted to but it didn’t look likely. One of my closest friends (who upon our move to MA now lives 10 mins from us) said let’s do it – so we’re going. And so I am trying to catch up on some of the speakers that will be there, among them is John Perkins.

Now I enjoy reading and but find myself unmotivated in rereading a book, even though I say to myself while reading a book for the first time, “I really need to read this again one day.” I suppose it’s part of my problem with consumption.

Having resolved to reread more, it was an easy choice – John Perkins’ With Justice For All. He is so hard not to like and [Read more…]

Awkward Rubio Sips, Triumph’s Failure, Blade Runner’s VDay Murder & Handling the Sensational News Media

As mentioned in the previous post, we’re visiting family in Florida this week. Susan’s side is meeting Janelle for the first time and it’s been a while since seeing the boys. Speaking of whom, the boys are having a blast as my in-laws have an awesome two-story tree house with a trap-door, a sandbox, and tire swing. This summer is attaching a rock-wall to it – I’m not kidding. I’ve always loved living in the Northeast but I do miss seeing our kids playing outside again.

After spending a full day outside Wednesday, it rained all afternoon Thursday so I caught up on some cable news. You may know that I don’t take cable news too seriously as I think it’s mostly hype and advertising with sprinkles of truth. Still, I like to know what people are talking about. If you’re new to the blog, I consider Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death to be one of the most important books I’ve ever read – can’t recommend it enough.

So in case you were at work, out enjoying Valentines’, reading or doing something better than watching television, here’s what you missed:
Police did confirm that Christopher Dorner is dead.
People are making a big deal of people making a big deal of Marco Rubio’s awkward sip during his response to the President’s State of the Union address.
Carnival’s Triumph cruise ship has finally made it to Mobile, AL. Thank God no one died or was seriously injured. That said, hoping the 3000+ passengers are able to put this terrible vacation behind them and that we don’t have to hear about anymore.
and the story that really got me is this one:
Oscar Pistorius, the beloved South African Olympian known as the “Blade Runner,” was charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

With the exception of the Pistorius story, I found the news to be very sensationalized. It always is. We all know countless news stories that get drug out for more pubic consumption and that’s how 24 hour cable news works. This Pistorius story will undoubtedly follow the same pattern. Soon, there will be avalanche of coverage, commentary and interviews as the details emerge. I am not complaining that it’s not newsworthy – it is and as mentioned, I am genuinely saddened by this tragedy. My frustration is that with any event of massive coverage, we end up objectifying everyone involved. Gossip will likely be uncovered, sides will be created, there will some type of controversy and the families involved will go through an even more difficult time. May God be with them.

I turn on the news hoping to hear more about what’s going on in places like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iran. It’s not just because I am Egyptian but also because I am concerned for persecuted and hurting people here and there. I want to hear more about what’s going on in India. Every day there are new developments of the rape debate and we know this because of the various internet news outlets like the Wall Street Journal online. Come on CNN, keep up.  (Seriously don’t know what we do without the internet.  I know it’s suffers from similar flaws and biases but there is good in it too).  More so, I want Piers Morgan to talk less about gun control, an important issue but also talk about human trafficking, also an important issue. Frankly, I can’t believe people are talking about Rubio taking a sip of water, no matter how awkward he looked. This is this week’s version of Beyonce lip-syncing the National Anthem.

So I’ll admit this could be attached to my Gen-X angst and suspicion of all things (some of which is good & needed btw). When I watch the news, I don’t feel “that informed.” But what I feel even more is my guard being up. I know people feel this in all sorts of moments and places including their schools, their homes, even in their churches. Which brings up questions concerning truth, authority, corruption, subversiveness, the need for redemption.

I realize not everything can be covered. I realize that no one person can keep up with all the ongoings of the world. But I know this week is just like every other news week. The names have changed, the stories have changed but the pattern is the same. I’m supposed to be outraged, provoked and then hopefully, I’ll respond by purchasing something from the advertisers.

As is my habit, after everyone went to bed, I stayed up a little more, turned off the tv, and did some thinking and praying. I’ve also been rereading John Perkins’ With Justice For All as I hope to attend the Justice Conference in Philadelphia next week and he is among the speakers. I prayed that I would care less about the news media, that I would not allow sensationalism to bother me as much, and instead that I would care more for the hurting and injustice that we see.  Further, I prayed God would strengthen me and my community to act in a way that helps people and honors Him. Which is one of the few helpful parts of cable news: though they do a terrible job of “informing us” – they are helpful in showing us the hurting world.

Feel free to offer your thoughts on the news media, handling sensationalism and what your’e seeing in your corner of the world – thanks for reading.

Ash Wednesday Reflection 2013 – What I’m Hoping To Do and Not To Do

It’s hard to miss all the posts/tweets of what people are giving up for Lent.
Some people are giving up chocolate, alcohol and coffee. I’ve done these too. And they are fairly easy – even the coffee. (The coffee cravings were a good reminder for prayer though).
Some are giving up Facebook, Twitter and social media in general.
Some are giving up vices like anger, negativity, profanity. (This always throws me because part of the idea of Lent is reclaiming it on Easter. I can’t help but come up with the mental picture of a good soul journeying through Lent then on Easter throws a temper tantrum, rediscover their cynicism and when the pastor says to the congregation, “He is Risen!” this person responds with a “Hell Yeah!” But to each their own.)
Some people are giving up giving up stuff for Lent. I like this one.
Some are adding something. I like this one too.
And I am happy for all the sincere God-honoring sojourners that have put thought into this. May this be a wonderful season of reflection and spiritual preparation.

I’m writing from Florida as we are visiting my wife’s side of the family in FL. It was the first time I haven’t [Read more…]

A Protestant’s Reflection on the Pope Benedict’s Resignation

So raise your hand if you saw the Pope’s resignation coming … don’t lie … nope, me either.

I’ll admit my ignorance here, I don’t think I ever thought about the Pope resigning. And as we have been hearing, it hasn’t happened for 600 years.

Being Protestant, I obviously have a limited understanding of the papacy but I did have a great deal of respect for Pope Benedict XVI as I did Pope John Paul II. I respect them as men seeking God’s will and for the hope they represent to those that see the Pope in this light. My respect is not an endorsement of the Catholic Church however. There is so much that I don’t understand about Roman Catholicism. I do not understand the merits of the “single male priest.” I understand it’s stated origins, I understand celibacy, I do not understand forbidding marriage. And really how can I? As part of the Protestant clergy, we are not only allowed but encouraged to be married.

And like many, I do not understand all the scandals and coverups. I know as soon as I write this, I may [Read more…]

Reflecting on the Lutheran Pastor in Newtown Who Was Forced To Apologize for Particpating at the Interfaith Vigil

A few days ago, news broke about a Lutheran pastor who participated in an interfaith Newtown prayer service and forced to apologize.

Here’s an exert:
“Lutheran pastor in Newtown, Conn., has apologized after being reprimanded for participating in an interfaith vigil following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.The Rev. Rob Morris, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, prayed at the vigil the Sunday following the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings alongside other Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i clergy. Morris’ church is a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the denomination’s constitution prohibits ministers from participating in services with members of different faiths…”
You can read the rest here.

I saw the headline flash through my twitter feed  earlier in the week and didn’t click because I knew I’d find it frustrating. Upon seeing the word “interfaith,” I was afraid he was forced to apologize because of some old- [Read more…]

Super Bowl Reflections: Beyonce, Paul Harvey & Of Course, Ray Lewis & Jesus

Can you handle another post on the Super Bowl? Well, I don’t watch hockey and baseball isn’t in spring training yet so I’m not yet ready to let go of the NFL. Last one for a while and I’ll get back to posting on seeking a better evangelicalism and building a stronger church.

There is so much I enjoy about the NFL. It’s fast, exciting and competitive. Regardless of the performance of your team, this season had some pretty dramatic story lines: Replacement Refs, Rookie QB”s, the Seahawks??, the return of Peyton Manning trumped by the return of Adrian Peterson, “Butt Fumble,” the [Read more…]