Thursday, May 31, 2007

Africa's Present & Future

Today, I was reminded about the important work of the Anglican Student Federation, an organization that helps bring young people together from throughout southern Africa to wrestle with the many challenges facing their communities, especially HIV/AIDS. Members of ASF helped make the TEAM 2007 conference happen and participated in the Pilgrimage for Peace. ASF has much to teach us in U.S. about engaging young people in the work of justice and reconciliation.

In a related matter (forgive me for posting so many links over to God's Politics but there is so much good stuff going on over there) Adam Taylor director of campaigns and organizing for Sojourners/Call to Renewal has an important message about the upcoming G8 meeting.

Making Good on Our Promises to Africa

On Wednesday President Bush made a second major speech on the crisis of HIV/AIDS announcing a major commitment to double U.S. funding for global prevention and treatment programs around the world to reach a level of $30 billion over another five years. We should applaud this increased funding and the way in which President Bush has made fighting AIDS in Africa arguably the most positive part of his legacy. Even as we celebrate, though, we must also bear in mind that even this bold step will fall short of stemming this epidemic.

The crisis of HIV/AIDS continues to outpace even our best response, with an estimated 4.3 million new infections last year. The epidemic tracks the fault lines of poverty and vulnerability. The real U.S. share of the cost of meeting the global need to fight AIDS is more in the order of $50 billion by 2013, which would include continuing to provide life-prolonging treatment to one-third of the people in clinical need.

The president made his announcement in advance of the upcoming G8 summit, which takes place in Heiligendamm, Germany, from June 4-6. The German Chancellor Merkel will preside over an agenda that includes a focus on global warming, primary school education, and the crisis of extreme poverty.

Since the 2005 G-8 summit at Gleneagles raised the bar for global leadership, this year’s summit faces a crisis of expectations. With the exception of the U.K. and Japan, other G-8 nations, including the United States, have dragged their feet in realizing many of the solemn promises made to the continent of Africa, the largest of which was to double the levels of aid by 2010. Collectively, G-8 assistance to sub-Saharan Africa has increased by only $2.3 billion since 2004, instead of the $5.4 billion promised.

Tragically, promises are much easier to make than to keep. While the U.S. has made important steps toward increasing its aid through the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Millennium Challenge Account, and contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the U.S. must increase its aid by nearly $1 billion in order to remain on track.

At the turn of the new millennium, the global AIDS crisis was only beginning to grab headlines and prick the conscience of our nation. I was converted to the cause of ending AIDS by the opening remarks of Judge Edwin Cameroon’s speech at the International AIDS Conference in 2000 in South Africa, when he prophetically said, “I represent the inequality of this world…because of my job and skin color I had access to drugs that brought me from the brink of death back to life…. But this disease still represents a death sentence to the majority of people living in poverty across this world.” These words highlighted in sobering terms how a preventable and treatable disease like AIDS must lend the urgency necessary to bring an end to extreme global poverty.

Through media savvy and celebrity-driven efforts like the ONE campaign, the cause of ending HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty has become more widely embraced. Seven years ago, it would have been almost impossible to imagine regular commercials featuring your favorite movie stars or a millions calling in to American Idol to raise awareness and money to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa. While we have reached a tipping point in public awareness and even public opinion, we are far from a tipping point in public action. Changing the politics of delay and incremental leadership will also require a dedicated constituency of committed leaders who are willing to put their faith to the test. Join us in taking action in advance of this year’s G-8 meeting by joining forces with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in telling G-8 nations to keep their promises to Africa!

On June 6, the leaders of the wealthiest nations will meet in Germany at the G-8 Summit. But this is not just any meeting. It's a meeting where life and death decisions will be made, affecting the lives of millions of people.

You can help. Join Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and tell G8 nations to keep their promises!

The commitments made by the G-8 leaders in 2005 on poverty, aid to poor countries, HIV/AIDS, health systems, and education, are solemn promises, made to impoverished people. Breaking these promises is morally unacceptable. Yet, the G-8 is not on track to keep these promises:

* Less than half of all people in urgent need of AIDS treatment by 2010 will be receiving it;

* 77 million children have no access to school; and

* Africa alone faces a shortage of nearly 1.5 million health workers.

This petition calls for the G-8 nations to agree on a financing plan to reach the promise of universal access to all AIDS services by 2010, to fully support a coordinated plan to strengthen health systems, and to provide full funding for education so every child can have the chance to go to school.

Tell the G8 leaders they must get AIDS and education funding back to the promised level. Take Action!

Thank you for making a difference!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

mutual humanity

Diana Butler Bass, author of "Christianity for the Rest of Us" posts regularly at God's Politics. Bass recently responded to questions raised about the Episcopal Church. I find her perspective tremendously hopeful and inspiring.

I don't often jump into the comments, but my church--The Episcopal Church--does NOT thumb its nose at non-western brothers and sisters on matters of faith. The Episcopal Church has been greatly enriched by a willingness over the years to learn from our global friends, an opennesss to non-western theologies and political expressions of the Gospel.

In Episcopal pews (not the desks of the evangelical seminary from which I graduated, one that was relentlessly Euro-centric--even to to point of ridiculing the rest of the world), I first learned various African, South American, and Asian theologies, heard the voices of African and Asian preachers, prayed the liturgies of Native New Zealanders, Native Americans, South Africans, and Indians. As a church we weren't always historically very sensitive--and too often outright oppressive--but, overall,
we learned from our mistakes and have been moving toward a much more generous theological vision, one that includes the insights, perspectives, struggles, and hopes of the God's beautifully diverse world.

That said, the Episcopal Church is struggling with SOME African, South American, and Asian church leaders at the moment over one issue: What is a deeply Christian understanding of sexual identity? (Although we probably should be struggling over the roles of women and children, the sex trade, poverty, and political oppression, too--if we were as faithful as we should be). That one issue, and the myriad of cultures in which the question is being addressed, should in no way obscure what has been, over the last half century, an increasing open, charitable, and mutually beneficial relationship between members of a great communion of Christians across the West and well beyond.

If we were just snubbing the non-western churches, this all wouldn't hurt so much. And, if you doubt me, ask any Episcopalian--even the most theologically liberal, pro-gay ordination one you can find--and ask how terribly painful, conscience-stirring, and prayerful this all has been. Nothing that has happened in the last six years has been done in the trivial, dismissive way your post suggests.

But pain doesn't go away by ceasing to be one's authentic self in God in order to please other people and make conflict disappear. Diversity, and true openness to diversity, will always cause conflict and tension because we are all different--even if we all live into the baptism acclamation that Jesus is Lord. Indeed, conflict suggests that people take one another more seriously than not (I fight with my husband more than anyone else!) and suggests that, as a church, the Episcopal Church has genuinely opened itself to being a true partner in global Christianity. We are trying to find ourselves in ubuntu theology--the theology expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu--that "I am a person insofar as you are a person." In mutual humanity, we find wonder, love, and God.

As we have opened to others and their voices and visions of God, we have also found God in new ways in our own midst--with our unique voice, history, and perspective. Indeed, being able to listen to people from the rest of world taught me how to listen to my closest neighbors--including my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. To communicate the biblical passions of the American Episcopal Church, our historical experience, spiritual insights, and the pain of our prayers is our vocation in the midst of all this global change. It is a noble task, even if we don't always get it just right.

And the struggle makes it a great time to be an Episcopalian. You can't avoid tough questions, you have to know what you believe, you have to delve into God's embracing heart of love and justice. Frankly, as churches go, it is a really pretty good one (How's that for a church sign? "The Really Pretty Good Church"). You just wouldn't know that from the partisan blogosphere or from reading the New York Times.

Diana Butler Bass


If you are an Episcopalian/Anglican you have likely heard of Richard Hooker's via media of scripture, tradition and reason. I'm thrilled that a book with reason in the title is now on the U.S. bestseller list and being passed around. I've found myself a copy of Al Gore's latest work and am grateful that we seem to be entering a moment when this nation is collectively ready for real, progressive change. I think that Gore's insights might contain lessons for the church --- perhaps that we should encourage respectful discussion and debate about the big issues of our time and not run away from the challenges or bury our heads in the sand. Online locations like God's Politics and Episcopal Cafe are wonderful online opportunities to open up the discussion. At my former suburban parish in Virginia we sponsored regular deep and rich discussions about the intersection of faith, science and politics. This coming Saturday, the Christian justice and peace organization Sojourners is hosting a Presidential Forum on CNN and neighborhood watch parties in communities across the country. Get more information here.

Here's a piece from "An Assault on Reason":
Unfortunately, the legacy of the 20th century’s ideologically driven bloodbaths has included a new cynicism about reason itself—because reason was so easily used by propagandists to disguise their impulse to power by cloaking it in clever and seductive intellectual formulations. When people don’t have an opportunity to interact on equal terms and test the validity of what they’re being “taught” in the light of their own experience and robust, shared dialogue, they naturally begin to resist the assumption that the experts know best.

So the remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way—a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.

Fortunately, the Internet has the potential to revitalize the role played by the people in our constitutional framework. It has extremely low entry barriers for individuals. It is the most interactive medium in history and the one with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to a universe of knowledge. It’s a platform for pursuing the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the creation and distribution of goods and services. It’s a platform, in other words, for reason. But the Internet must be developed and protected, in the same way we develop and protect markets—through the establishment of fair rules of engagement and the exercise of the rule of law. The same ferocity that our Founders devoted to protect the freedom and independence of the press is now appropriate for our defense of the freedom of the Internet. The stakes are the same: the survival of our Republic. We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it, because of the threat of corporate consolidation and control over the Internet marketplace of ideas.

The danger arises because there is, in most markets, a very small number of broadband network operators. These operators have the structural capacity to determine the way in which information is transmitted over the Internet and the speed with which it is delivered. And the present Internet network operators—principally large telephone and cable companies—have an economic incentive to extend their control over the physical infrastructure of the network to leverage control of Internet content. If they went about it in the wrong way, these companies could institute changes that have the effect of limiting the free flow of information over the Internet in a number of troubling ways.

The democratization of knowledge by the print medium brought the Enlightenment. Now, broadband interconnection is supporting decentralized processes that reinvigorate democracy. We can see it happening before our eyes: As a society, we are getting smarter. Networked democracy is taking hold. You can feel it. We the people—as Lincoln put it, “even we here”—are collectively still the key to the survival of America’s democracy.

The quote above is taken from an excerpt at Common Dreams.

Monday, May 28, 2007

costly witness

A few years ago I heard Cindy Sheehan speak at an Interfaith Prayer Vigil near the White House. I am saddened that she has decided to walk away from the movement to end this war but grateful for her profound and costly witness. May this be an invitation to all of us who care about ending the war in Iraq to increase our efforts and to remember the sacrifice of so many for the cause of a just and peaceful world. Thank you Cindy Sheehan for all you have done to inspire courage and change. You and so many other parents of soldiers are in my prayers.

Below is Sheehan's statement posted originally at Dailykos:

I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such "liberal blogs" as the Democratic Underground. Being called an "attention whore" and being told "good riddance" are some of the more milder rebukes.

CindySheehan's diary :: ::

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing because I am an "attention whore" then I really need to be committed. I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither. If an individual wants both, then normally he/she is not willing to do more than walk in a protest march or sit behind his/her computer criticizing others. I have spent every available cent I got from the money a "grateful" country gave me when they killed my son and every penny that I have received in speaking or book fees since then. I have sacrificed a 29 year marriage and have traveled for extended periods of time away from Casey’s brother and sisters and my health has suffered and my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings. I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times.

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.

I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.

Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death and fates worse than death by people worried more about elections than people. However, in five, ten, or fifteen years, our troops will come limping home in another abject defeat and ten or twenty years from then, our children’s children will be seeing their loved ones die for no reason, because their grandparents also bought into this corrupt system. George Bush will never be impeached because if the Democrats dig too deeply, they may unearth a few skeletons in their own graves and the system will perpetuate itself in perpetuity.

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.

Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer. I hear George Bush will be moving out soon, too...which makes the property even more valuable.

This is my resignation letter as the "face" of the American anti-war movement. This is not my "Checkers" moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.

Good-bye America are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

It’s up to you now.

The artwork above is by artist Robert Shetterly and is part of a series of portraits called "Americans Who Tell The Truth".

Sunday, May 27, 2007


It is Pentecost, a day, a season when the church celebrates the gift of the Spirit! A bunch of people will be baptized today at Grace Cathedral. Tonight, at Grace there will be a closing concert for the San Francisco International Arts Festival. Art, music, dance, and drama what a way to celebrate the creative, life-giving Holy Spirit.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"live boldly, even daringly" Virginia

"With the sounds of Rolling Thunder motorcycles filling the streets of the nation’s capital in the background, a different sort of roar rolled through the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday when the Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston was consecrated as the bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia."

So writes friend, colleague and missionary to the Sudan the Reverend Lauren Stanley about today's moving event at Washington National Cathedral. Read the whole article here.

Here's more from Lauren about what happened today:
In his sermon, the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta, urged Bishop Johnston to “wear us out! Wear us out with the promise of the resurrection!”

The consecration, Bishop Alexander said, was “an act of faith, a sign of hope, a living reminder of the mission that Jesus Christ has given to the Church. It is an act of faith in God’s confidence in the Church, God’s faith in us to live boldly, perhaps even daringly.”
This day, he said, was a “bold reminder to ourselves and the world that the mission of Jesus continues. We are not prepared to give up, to let up, to hold back or to relax.”

Thursday, May 24, 2007


So there's a lot of articulate and passionate perspectives emerging in relationship to the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to invite the leader of disaffected former Episcopalians Martyn Minns and Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire the Right Reverend Gene Robinson to Lambeth, a global Anglican Bishop festival of sorts. Visit episcope or episcopalcafe for links to these many responses.

On Sunday, from the east coast I found that the perspective of a member of a disaffected Virginia parish had been published in my new hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. After writing a long response, I was encouraged to shorten it significantly and instead of posting it on this blog to submit it to the Chronicle. Since I haven't heard from the San Francisco Chronicle yet I'm publishing it below.

But first I want to say that my heart aches for every one of those people who are so angry and disappointed with the Episcopal Church that they feel they are unable to worship and pray with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Occasionally as a child my family used to drive from the Shenandoah Valley to Northern Virginia to attend worship services at one of these disaffected parishes. My parents had been participants in Cursillo, an aspect of the charismatic renewal movement and worship at this church was closer to what they had experienced at Cursillo than what was happening in our hometown church. I remember being thrilled that the children's program had clowns, although I later learned that a new Rector proudly kicked the clowns out.

So below is my response to Michael Gerson.

To the Editor:

As both an Episcopal priest and one who grew up in the parishes of Virginia, I find Michael Gerson‘s “Bringing the Faith to American Christians” (20 May 2007) deeply troubling. Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, apparently shares Nigerian Archbishop Akinola’s opposition to ordaining women, gays and lesbians.

Although the Anglican Communion has long been unified, Gerson celebrates the decision of a tiny minority (less than one half of one percent) in the Episcopal Church to join Akinola’s splintering vision. The “consecration” of Martyn Minns, who stood unsuccessfully for election as a bishop in the U.S., aims to shatter global Anglicanism, not build an emerging global Christianity.

As part of an emerging global Christianity that supports ordaining women, gays and lesbians, I recently attended an Anglican conference in South Africa on ending poverty, and caring for the sick and for the Earth. I met Anglicans, particularly African young people, who are glad to work with the mainstream U.S. Episcopal Church.

Indeed, Kenyan theologian Dr. Esther Mombo has challenged Akinola to abandon his predatory practice of splintering the U.S. church and focus instead on the critical needs of Africa. The church and news media should make room for authentic voices of African women like Mombo rather than former presidential spin-doctors, like Gerson.

These disaffiliating American churches do not represent emerging Christianity, as they suggest, but an arrogant ideology aimed at furthering their narrow agenda.

The Reverend Will Scott
Associate Pastor
Grace Cathedral

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

reading & waiting

We're heading back home to California. My brother's graduation and celebration was filled with interesting encounters with family, friends and new folks that I'll hope to write more about sometime. My brother gave a brief, warm and humorous introduction to the ceremony. We also got to meet some friends from my brother's Mennonite church.

On the plane to Denver from Washington where we now wait to complete our journey I found the June issue of Bicycling Magazine. There's a challenging and ultimately hopeful story about bicycles donated to help with HIV/AIDS clinics and education in Africa. Check it out.

William Cavanaugh, associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, has posted an important reflection on war and Christian theology. Read the whole thing on Sojourner's God's Politics Blog.

For now we're reading and waiting.

Friday, May 18, 2007

speaking of faith

Just learned that Shane Claiborne and New Monasticism was featured on the latest public radio program, "Speaking of Faith". I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but am looking forward to tuning in. Earlier this spring I attended a New Monasticism "School for Conversion", you can read that post here. Also, a small group of folks at Grace Cathedral read and discussed Shane's book "Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical."

Matt and I are back on the east coast for a few days to visit with family and to attend my brother's graduation from Shepherd University. Last night, my Uncle Kent took me out to one of our family's favorite spots in the Shenandoah Valley, the worker-owned collective "The Little Grill". Today, my grandmother (aka Nana) and I looked through family photographs, I was particularly glad to get a look at some really old ones from her childhood in Belleville, Pennsylvannia. There are some amusing and very serious faces in these photos of bearded Mennonite preachers. My grandfather(aka Papa) told me about his experiences in California during the Depression both in Los Angeles and San Francisco mentioning with gratitude the work of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Midnight Mission.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

discovering geez

Matt and I just got back from a walk around Holly Park. On our way home we stopped by Red Hill Books and I found a very provocative magazine called geez. Challenging, offensive, humorous, inspiring and creative a read through this magazine is good medicine. Matt's even picked it up but I won't hold my breath.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Desmond Tutu on Global Warming

Powerful words on global warming, found at Common Dreams News Center.

Published on Saturday, May 5, 2007 by the Guardian/UK
This Fatal Complacency: Climate Change is Already Destroying Millions of Lives in the Poor World. But It Will Not Stop There
by Desmond Tutu

What if dealing with climate change meant more than a flick of a switch? Would our friends in the industrialized world think differently if the effects of climate change were worse than extended summer months and the arrival of exotic species? Cushioned and cosseted, they have had the luxury of closing their minds to the real impact of what is happening in the fragile and precious atmosphere that surrounds the planet we live on. Where climate change has occurred in the industrialized world, the effects have so far been relatively benign. With the exception of events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the inhabitants of North America and Europe have felt just a gentle caress from the winds of change.

I wonder how much more anxious they might be if they depended on the cycle of mother nature to feed their families. How much greater would their concerns be if they lived in slums and townships, in mud houses, or shelters made of plastic bags? In large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, this is a reality. The poor, the vulnerable and the hungry are exposed to the harsh edge of climate change every day of their lives.

The melting of the snows on the peak of Kilimanjaro is a warning of the changes taking place in Africa. Across this beautiful but vulnerable continent, people are already feeling the change in the weather. But rain or drought, the result is the same: more hunger and more misery for millions of people living on the margins of global society. Even in places such as Darfur, climate change has played a role. In the semi-arid zones of the world, there is fierce competition for access to grazing lands and watering holes. Where water is scarce and populations are growing, conflict will never be far behind.

In so many of the countries where the poorest live, governments are ill-equipped to cope. Katrina was a challenge for the US, so why should we be surprised that the annual cyclone season off the east coast of Africa continues to stretch the governments of Mozambique and Madagascar to their limits? Where governments are weak, the reliance on humanitarian agencies is greater.

People who work for bodies such as the UN World Food Program are finding their work is a humanitarian “growth industry”. Indeed, the numbers of people who know what it’s like to go hungry stands at more than 850 million, and they are still growing by almost 4 million a year. The increasing frequency of natural disasters makes the fight against hunger even more challenging. The World Bank estimates that the number of natural disasters has quadrupled from 100 a year in 1975 to 400 in 2005.

In the past 10 years, 2.6 billion people have suffered from natural disasters. That is more than a third of the global population - most of them in the developing world. The human impact is obvious, but what is not so apparent is the extent to which climatic events can undo the developmental gains put in place over decades. Droughts and floods destroy lives, but they also destroy schools, economies and opportunity.

Every child will remember the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. In the world we live in, the bad wolf of climate change has already ransacked the straw house and the house made of sticks, and the inhabitants of both are knocking on the door of the brick house where the people of the developed world live. Our friends there should think about this the next time they reach for the thermostat switch. They should realize that while the problems of the Mozambican farmer might seem far away, it may not be long before their troubles wash up on their shores.

Desmond Tutu is a former archbishop of Cape Town and a Nobel peace laureate.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

strong words, challenging times

My friend Susan in Virginia posted this on her blog today. Strong words for challenging times. For further details on this struggle visit episcope.

Anything But Straight: Nigeria’s Frequent Flyer

from The Falls Church News-Press
By Wayne Besen
Thursday, 03 May 2007
According to international election monitors, the April 21 vote in favor of Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua was rigged, threatening the very freedom and stability of this oil-rich, but corrupt nation. Braving threats of a brutal governmental crackdown, thousands of courageous Nigerians took to the streets on May Day to protest the political charade that passes for political liberty.

Clearly, these demonstrators could benefit if they stood side-by-side with a moral leader who demanded an end to corruption and called for new elections. Such a man would be regarded as a true national hero who could lead Nigeria from a kleptocracy to genuine democracy.

Anglican Archbishop Peter J Akinola is perfectly situated to step in and fill this role. Not only is he a local powerbroker, he is also the leader of the largest province in the worldwide Anglican Church. This offers Akinola a unique international platform to draw attention to the electoral sabotage that is ripping apart the very soul of Nigeria.

But, instead of staying in Nigeria this week to bring his convulsing country together, he is flying to the comfy confines of Virginia to tear the Anglican Church apart. While his country is on the verge of a Constitutional conflagration, the Nigerian archbishop is burning with rage because in 2003 the Episcopal Church installed openly gay V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Read the rest!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

pilgrimage, immigration, & getting mixed up

My friends and colleagues Mark Stanger and Anna Ross are on pilgrimage in Israel/Palestine, you can read Anna's travel blog here. Mark sent an email describing the journey so far as well --- he has traveled there numerous times and is leading a large group from our church in San Francisco. Here's a portion of his message that caught my attention in light of today's numerous rallies and vigils focused on immigration:

Today was spent exploring Nazareth. One detail I never noticed was a fresco in the small Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (AKA Mary's Well) which shows the flight into Egypt. Instead of the usual image of the flight into Egypt with Joseph leading the donkey with Mary riding and holding the child Jesus, the icon writer depicts Joseph leading but with toddler Jesus riding on his shoulders.

I think it is important to remember that Jesus and his family became refugees, were immigrants. You can read the Biblical account here. As Christians this should remind us that the God we seek to honor, praise and follow has a particular concern and claims a particular solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed. Deacon Vicki Gray has posted a wonderful reflection on Jesus as immigrant over on Bishop Marc's blog.

On my way to work I put my i pod on shuffle and found myself listening to a song I downloaded a while ago when I was nostalgic about my childhood and was recalling my mother's strong interest in folk music. The song is performed by Peter, Paul and Mary and was written by Pete Seeger, its called "All Mixed Up". Here are the lyrics:

You know this language that we speak,
is part german , latin and part greek
Celtic and arabic all in a heap,
well amended by the people in the street
The Choctaw gave us the word "okay";
"vamose" is a word from Mexico way.
And all of this is a hint I suspect of what comes next.

I think that this whole world
Soon mama my whole wide world
Soon mama my whole world
Soon gonna be get mixed up.
Soon mama my whole world
Soon mama my whole wide world
Soon mama my whole world
Soon gonna be get mixed up.

I like Polish sausage, I like Spanish rice,
and pizza pie is also nice
Corn and beans from the Indians here
washed down by German beer
Marco Polo traveled by camel and pony,
he brought to Italy, the first macaroni
And you and I as well we're able,
we put it all on the table


There were no red-headed Irishmen
before the Vikings landed in Ireland
How many Romans had dark curly hair
before they brought slaves from Africa?
No race of man is completely pure,
nor is anyone's mind, that's for sure
The winds mix the dust of every land,
and so will woman and man.


This doesn't mean we will all be the same,
We'll have different faces and different names
Long live many different kinds of races
It's a difference of opinion that makes horse races
Just remember the rule about rules, brother
What could be right for one could be wrong for the other
And take a tip from La Belle France: "Viva la difference!"


The BART train I was on while listening to this great song stopped at Civic Center for an extended period of time due to an accident or something at the next station so I jumped off. In an attempt to find some way to get to work in time for Morning Prayer, I jumped on a bus heading up Polk Street. But the bus didn't go all the way up to California but started turning at Geary, so I jumped out of the bus and started trying to grab a cab. From previous experiences I knew that catching a cab on Polk Street is fairly difficult, so it is five until nine and as I watch cars zip by and attempt to wave a cab I notice all the cabs that drive by are filled with passengers. Yet a man at the stop light in front of me probably of Arab descent rolls down his window and says "you want a ride." I jumped in and he drives me to the Cathedral just in time for Morning Prayer. What a way to start the day --- also what a reminder of how much we are dependent on one another in all our diversity and complexity to get to where we need to go. Viva la difference!

The image above is from this website. I am not sure its the same one that Mark is writing about but its close.