Monday, August 25, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 08.23.14

nonmarital birth rates for 15–17 yr-olds dropped 30% to 14 per 1,000 from 2007-12

Gospel Stew | letter from a new Christian

"should I just put my hands in the air?" | different rules apply 

most children grow up | Africa's child demographics and the world's future

easy lessons from other people's pain

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gospel Stew | letter from a new Christian

Dear Gospel Stew, 
I am a new convert with a question I am embarrassed to ask in my local fellowship. I hope you will assist me. 
From the very start, I couldn't help noticing the stares as my family entered the worship center. We usually sit toward the front, on the side away from the lead guitarist, which is generally the only area with a block of seats large enough for us to sit together (we could arrive earlier and get seats at the back, but I confess that getting 23 of us out the door on time is a Sunday morning challenge). 
At first I thought perhaps people noticed us because of the way we dressed—we love the beautiful fabrics of our traditional garments—so I took the whole lot on a shopping trip to dress us more like the other worshipers. This may have helped a little, but I still catch people staring. "I must be missing something!" I thought. But what? 
I may have just found a clue. A few days ago, an angry comment to an internet post (I believe I am correct that anger is signified by CAPITAL LETTERS and EXTRA PUNCTUATION!! Right?) Anyway, this commenter said, "THE BIBLE IS PERFECTLY CLEAR ABOUT MARRIAGE!!! contrary to what THE KENYAN says!!!" 
"Ah..." I thought. I know some Kenyans (they seem like decent folk but I am learning that sometimes appearances deceive—which raises a question for a different time, because I am unclear about which times appearances deceive and which times they may be taken at face value...I have so much to learn as a Christian). 
In any event, what this commenter made PERFECTLY CLEAR(!!) in the course of two or three paragraphs—though it causes me considerable pain—may hold the key to unlocking my dilemma. 
So, to the question: Now that I am a Christian, how many of my wives must I divorce? All but one? If so, which one may remain? And how must I deal with the divorced wives? Must they be put out of the household entirely and all at once? And what of the children? Must they be sent away? 
The internet commenter really caught my attention with the words, HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN WHEN YOU IGNORE THE CLEAR COMMANDS OF GOD'S WORD!!! I am very new to all this and there is much of God's Word that I have yet to read. Perhaps the commenter is right: perhaps it is too soon to call myself a Christian. 
As you can probably tell, I find all this a bit overwhelming. I love my family with my whole heart, each and every one of them, but I am learning to love the God of Jesus Christ even more. And I am trusting that One to give me wisdom—through you, I hope.  
Awaiting your reply, I am, 
sincerely yours

p.s. I would also appreciate your insight on how to approach my parents, who arranged these marriages with great care and will almost certainly be dishonored unless I find a way forward that is both thoroughly biblical and "just right" in showing respect for the ones who bore me into this world and sustained me to adulthood.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 08.16.14

a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the boards 

“It hurts my heart...It’s the lives of people who never thought they’d get killed by a gun.” Gunmaker Ernst Mauch

brilliant | God texts the Ten Commandments

read it yourself | 0.7% | 1.6% | 97.7% = new US Natl Health Statistics on sexual orientation

@darrellissa, will you fill out the #GunSense Voter candidate questionnaire?

easy lessons from other people's pain

Friday, August 15, 2014

easy lessons from other people's pain

This week, social media are awash in easy lessons from other people's pain. Why is it people so seldom draw easy lessons from their own pain?

Why is it so difficult to find the meaning in my own missteps, poor judgment, failure, brokenness, sickness, and wrongdoing, when I can readily spot the flaw in another man's thinking, pinpoint his shortcomings, moralize on his fall—easily, immediately and at length?

It takes a good bit of time to draw conclusions about the bad I've done and the good I have failed to do. It has taken years to even recognize some of those things, let alone, understand and admit and amend them. The fact that I don't know what I don't know about myself should give me pause (right?), should fill my heart with mercy, should make me humble. It almost never does.

Somewhere near the heart of easy moralizing is a hot wet pocket of self-congratulation that I am not like other people—that I'm not mentally ill; that I did not lose hope; that I am still alive, still married, still employed, still sane, still able to put words together and still self-assured enough to employ those words to confess other people's sins (and still wise enough in the ways of the world to not confess my own). As if these were personal achievements; as if I am so good that even my body chemistry falls in line; as if these were my gifts to God and a needy world searching for a role model.

I find nothing "Christian" in these impulses. They are evidence that I am still closer than I want to admit to where I started. But don't judge me. If you knew how I struggle, I know you'd understand.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

classy exit | Chris Walla on leaving Death Cab

Death Cab for Cutie 2011 | Creative Commons, courtesy of Sceptre

In part...
Deciding to leave the band was not, and is not, easy," he says. "It’s really, really sad. I love my bandmates, and I’m proud of what we’ve done, and mercifully, those things don’t change with my departure. Moving forward, my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible. Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it."
— Chris Walla in Rolling Stone 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 08.02.14

once more with feeling | this land is mine

Kids Count | best states for raising children + a whole lot more

hope without optimism 

light the night | Energize Africa

you are not late | @kevin2kelly on why Now is such a good time to start 

off the top of his head | Stephen Colbert Q+A

Friday, August 01, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

light the night | Energize Africa

29 July, 2014

Just about everybody enjoys a candle, a campfire, a flickering lantern. But I don't know anyone who wants to read by that light, or mend clothes, or give birth.

So, this from the good folks at the One Campaign:

Next week, 40 to 50 African leaders will be in DC for the first-ever US-Africa Leaders Summit. This is going to be a huge event.


Next week the Senate will be gone. For the entire month of August.


This week is THE week to get the Energize Africa Act passed.  

Send a message to your U.S. senators and tell them this is the week to stand up and support the Energize Africa Act. We've only got a few days to make this happen—but it's totally doable if enough of our senators hear from enough of us.

Here's the message I sent my senators—feel free to borrow and personalize it however you wish (I borrowed it from the One Campaign and added a tiny bit of a personal appeal).
I'm writing to ask you to co-sponsor and support S. 2508, the Energize Africa Act. 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Coons, Sen. Markey, Sen. Isakson and Sen. Johanns just introduced this bill, which seeks to reduce poverty, improve health and education, and bolster economic growth in Africa by ramping up U.S. involvement in promoting first-time access to electricity for at least 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.  
Similar bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2548, the Electrify Africa Act, was recently passed in the House by a bipartisan vote. The Electrify Africa Act is also aimed at bringing first time energy access to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, would actually reduce the budget deficit by $86 million over the next 5 years. Both bills represent a new approach to development aid that leverages the private sector to assist the world’s poorest.  
I hope you'll support the Energize Africa Act with the energy and imagination I so admire in you.  
Jim Hancock 
Africa doesn't have to be in the dark; we can help turn on the lights.

Monday, July 21, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 07.19.14

Out of control | when people really know how to read, they're hard to dominate

dignity | Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 'assisted dying' 

falling | US birthrates for 15-19 year-olds 

'Wimpy Kid' author's six tips for getting grade-schoolers hooked on reading 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

falling | US birthrates for 15-19 year-olds

2013 birth rates for US 15-19 year-olds fell to historic lows in every racial and ethnic population. 

Centers for Disease Control
In related news, a trend that goes against some narratives that contrast urban and rural life: Teen birth rates in rural counties are higher, and declining more slowly, than urban centers and suburban counties, regardless of race and ethnicity.