Archives For January 2011

Seeing the World As It Is

January 27, 2011 — 6 Comments

Freedom

This week our cohort is discussing Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals which is a standard in grassroots organizing. My colleague, Andrew Bloemker has done a great job recapping the “rules” in his post “Do you want a Revolution? Or a Revolt?” Reaction to Alinksy by my colleagues has been broad and varied. For some his blatant secular humanism and moral relativism tempered any good that might come from his writing. Others were bothered by his development of tactics that seemed too close to those used in failed communist revolutions. What everyone seemed to agree on, however, was Alinsky’s brazen pragmatism. Love him or hate him, his rules and many of his tactics are still foundational to a broad range of groups – from Greenpeace to the Tea Party – and utilized by influential leaders across the political spectrum – from President Obama to Glenn Beck.

As I was reading the book, I was alternately inspired and made to squirm. To be sure, Alinksy and I differ on some very foundational issues: the meaning of life, where hope is found, and why justice is important, to name a few. Yet for all those differences, I could see myself working side-by-side with Alinksy to achieve common goals, even though we might vehemently disagree about why the ends are important. In the book one of the themes that most captured me relates to Continue Reading…

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Much of the second half of Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers revolves around asking and proposing answers to development questions. On understanding development from a Christian perspective Myers asks, Whose story is it? What better future? What process of change? And regarding development practice specifically he asks, Whom is evaluation for? What is evaluation for? What changed? Who changed? What do we assess? Will it last? and Are we doing the right things? These questions and their answers are designed to help the development practitioner keep the twin goals of program assessment and holistic transformation always in mind. He explores the use of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) and Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in development settings, concluding that both have enough merit to warrant their use and contextualization within poor and non-poor communities as tools for project generation and analysis.
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Warren’s new “Daniel Diet” is a gross misreading of Daniel 1. The “diet” described there has nothing to do with weight loss and everything to do with faithfulness and obedience to God in a time of exile. I am offended as both a Christian and a vegetarian.

As a vegetarian, I have chosen not to eat meat because much of that which is commercially available to me and my family comes as a result of the mistreatment of God’s creatures. Instead of being cared for with the dignity inherent in anything God creates, these animals are treated as product from conception to slaughter. The goal of the mass meat machine is to grow the consumable parts of animals as quickly as possible so they can be brought to market as soon as possible. Volume and profit drive practice.

The meats that are available that honor the created nature of the animal are often so expensive (and in most cases the extra expense is justified) that their cost makes their purchase prohibitive for my family and me. As a result of conscience and stewardship (both fiscal and ethical) my family and I have chosen to be vegetarians.

As a Christian, I choose to keep physically fit because, as Warren is quoted in the article, “God wants you to be as healthy physically as you are spiritually.” Yet I do not presume that the Bible contains some fad diet plan in it–10 Days to the New You–rather it gives sound principles of moderation, humility and thanksgiving, by which our lives are to be governed.

Daniel 1 would better serve the church if “royal food” was understood as imperialistic opulence. In a day of great abundance and excess which has come to be seen as the “God-given right” of good, Christian Americans, what might a diet of “vegetables and water” really look like? How might our dependence on God for sustenance drive our choices? What ought we turn down so that we may show our captors of the faithfulness of our God?

Verbal_abuse

Bryan L Myers’ Walking with the Poor is simply excellent. My colleagues and I are spending the next few days discussing the book and its implications for global missional leadership. Andrew wrote a wonderful, probing post on his own work with the poor and pre/misconceptions that he’s uncovered in himself. Chris has written a fantastic post on the shared spiritual poverty that afflicts, and shapes, the poor and non-poor alike. One of Myers’ key themes that both Chris and Andrew pick up on is the relational aspect of poverty and how it shapes one’s worldview.

Myers, early in the book, explains that because we are created as image-bearers of God, we “are intentionally placed in a system of relationships: with God, with self, with community, with those perceived as ‘other,’ and with our environment” (26). Sin, however, as marred all those relationships, distorting them beyond our ability to repair them. Christ, however, serves as the means for the restoration of those relationships and the church he established has as its primary charge the work of witnessing to the restoration of those relationships; that is the essence of the Kingdom of God. Myer’s puts it thusly,
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Radical: A Review

January 8, 2011 — 3 Comments
Radical

I was sent this book by a dear family member who was passing it on with the recommendation of his Executive Pastor, who claimed it to be the most influential book he'd read in 2010. Certainly Radical by David Platt has made waves in evangelical circles in the past six months or so. Writing from the perspective of a young, Southern Baptist mega-church pastor, Platt boldly calls American Christians to leave behind their aspirations of wealth and ease and instead follow in a way of discipleship that that requires bearing a cross, obedience to espoused beliefs. I was excited! Having grown up Baptist, I am too aware of the damage that the sacred-secular dualism has done to the notion of discipleship in Baptist circles. They have effectively reduced salvation to dogmatic assent and discipleship to daily devotionals.
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I find it interesting that, with the exception of only a couple of these, the leaders mentioned here all speak of 2011 being a year of increasing acceptance of their particular viewpoint as well as predicting that their followers will hold a greater share of political power by year’s end. Thoughts?