not taking sides?
Well, my feeling that a Huckabee presidency wouldn't be so bad lasted less than 48 hours. Right:
"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)
Well, my feeling that a Huckabee presidency wouldn't be so bad lasted less than 48 hours. Right:
The lineup of speakers for breakout sessions at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant is out, and all I can say is WOW. It's clearly going to be very difficult to choose which sessions to attend, but I'm leaning towards doing something out-of-the-ordinary and not just going to all the public policy stuff like I usually do. Don't get me wrong; I'll be in some of those sessions as well (the chance to hear Miguel de la Torre speak on a panel on race relations is too good to miss), but one of my goals for the NBC is to step outside my comfort zone a bit and interact with those I wouldn't just see in everyday life anyway. "Prophetic Preaching" (with James Forbes on Friday!) looks pretty amazing, and I'm curious to hear David Gushee and Stan Hastey on "Peacemaking" (at, unfortunately, the exact same time as Forbes).
"An 11-month-old baby girl has died in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo a day after she was raped, the UN says. The alleged rapist, a man aged 20, has been detained by Congolese police about 140km west of Goma. He faces a life sentence." - BBC
This is taking Clinton hatred too far.
Several years back, Texas Monthly ran a cover headline entitled, "Is Jerry Jones the Devil?" My family has a ridiculous number of subscriptions to the magazine, so I mentioned the story when calling home that week. Turns out my mother, who usually lets daddy read their copy first, had ripped open the magazine and torn through the story as soon as she saw the cover. She was pleased with its conclusion ("Yes, and he's ruined the Dallas Cowboys.").
Ten points if you can name this current presidential candidate without cheating:
Well, last night's Republican debate was the first debate I have sat down to watch in quite awhile. (I don't think I managed to watch a whole debate in 2004 because I can only listen to George W. Bush for so long.) To be honest, if The Lobbyist for the Good Guys hadn't had a get-together for that purpose, I wouldn't have watched it all.
"The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." - Frederick Buechner
If you haven't been following the nerd-off in the comments section of this post, well, it's time to catch up. Here's a brief review of what's happened so far, round by round:
My friend Ali's father was released from prison over the weekend, but he is being held under house arrest. Thanks for your prayers, and please continue to keep his family in your prayers as this is far from over.
Here's what a nerd I am: tonight, after ending another semester of wrangling the GA's, I'm going to a watching party for tonight's CNN/YouTube Republican debate. That is hosted by a friend who is not one of my political scientist colleagues.
The voice of "Mind the Gap" on the London Underground has been fired for some spoof announcements she recorded and put on her website. I don't know about you, but I think the spoofs are for the most part hilarious (except the first one). Since these were a spoof that would never have been actually played, it really doesn't make sense that they would fire her, but it sure would make my annual day-in-London-on-the-way-to-the-Congo a lot more entertaining.
So Krusee gives up before Craddick can go after him in full-force. My, my, my, the Texas election fun is already underway. And all those other R's who tried to oust our boy Tom had better watch out: Papa's mad, and he's got more cash to throw to your primary opponents now.
There are some doozies of questions for this Wednesday's YouTube Republican debate in which average Americans get to ask questions. Here's betting these won't make it through the CNN screeners.
Other times in history that crosses were not considered religious:
One of the realities with which I've had to come to grips this year is how painful it is to starve to death, especially for children. A child with Kwashiorkor - the protein defficiency from which the child in the above video is suffering - can endure everything from chronic diarrhea to liver disease to an enlarged heart before finally falling into a coma before death. They hurt all the time.
Tomorrow most of us will gather around tables that are loaded down with enough calories to feed an entire orphanage of children living with Kwashiorkor. We will say prayers of thanks that the accidents of our birth didn't land us in Haiti or Ethiopia or the Congo. We will be genuinely grateful that we have enough, that we have our families and friends around us, and that God has blessed us with more than we need. It will be good.
Here's the thing, though: I don't believe that's enough.
We have this strange theology in the American church that pops up here and there and now and again (sorry, PT) that suggests that what faith is about is believing and worshiping correctly. As long as people are really feeling God's presence in worship, as long as we believe that we should be thankful, as long as we say the right prayer and check off the boxes and make sure everyone's in attendance and don't have sex until we get married, then we're doing it right. And it doesn't matter that we accumulate unnecessary stuff and live in extravagant houses and never see people who look different than us.
One of my favorite places in Austin is El Buen Samaritano, a ministry of our local Episcopal Dioceses. El Buen helps immigrants in every way imaginable - with health care, with ESL and other education programs, with childcare, with a food pantry, with nutrition and exercise classes. It's an amazing, hopeful place that helps some of the most neglected, discriminated-against members of our society. El Buen's clients are the working poor, people who get paid minimum wage and who would otherwise never have the chance to get ahead.
El Buen is headed by the Reverend Ed Gomez, a priest who was a successful Houston businessman until God called him to minister to those in need. A couple of years ago, on a tour of El Buen with a group of high school students who were seeing the place for the first time, Rev. Ed said something to our group that stopped me in my tracks. He talked about the contrast in the Biblical stories about the center's namesake, the Good Samaritain, and the lifestyle of compassion that Jesus calls us to in Matthew 25. It's not enough, said Rev. Ed, to think that being a Christian means you can do occasional acts of charity and think you've got your bases covered on that whole "helping the needy" thing. Sending a Christmas basket or working on a Habitat house once a year isn't going to cut it, because that's not what God calls us to. God calls us to a lifestyle of compassion and justice.
Biblical justice is scary. It uproots our comfortable vision of how life should be. It completely dissembles most of our ideas about church and church buildings and church ministries (What would Jesus say about multimillion dollar church budgets when Christians are starving?). It doesn't allow us to rest comfortably, knowing that we believe the right things and have signed off on the right doctrines. The paradox, of course, is that living in such a way seems to set people free, such that they don't feel trapped or burdened by this call. Rev. Ed is one of the most free people I've ever met. But getting there means we have to change, and that isn't easy.
I'm afraid it also means that we - that I - have to rethink Thanksgiving and what it means, especially when we know that there are children like five-year-old, 29-pound Henrius (in the video above) who are dying extraordinarily painful deaths from entirely preventable causes. That is not just, and as long as there are children like Henrius in this world, something in my life has to change. Let's give thanks, and then let's give until we can give no more.
Actual titles of term papers turned in to yours truly in response to an assignment to write a paper about a current event and relate it to concepts discussed in class (not corrected for grammar or usage errors):
Ian Smith, the former white minority president of Southern Rhodesia, has died. Smith and his supporters unilaterally (and illegally) declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and ran a white minority regime for 14 years, until an insurgency led by Robert Mugabe finally forced him into peace talks at Lancaster House in 1979. The Lancaster House Agreement led to the creation of independent Zimbabwe, which has been led by Mugabe ever since.
Kelso's column on the Hyde Park/Austin Area Interreligious Ministries flap is hilarious. Favorite quotes:
I am so excited that Mr. Deity season 2 is now up! For those of you not familiar with the Mr. Deity series, it explores faith questions from a humorous view. It seems pretty clear that the show's creators do not believe in God. Because of that, I think it's really challenging and interesting for Christians.
So the British Prime Minister wants his country to have a new motto, and a blog at the Times of London started a contest to come up with a motto using five words or less. Here are some of my favorite submissions thus far:
Brian Seay (the answer to your question is no) has been in Ethiopia this last week. This post is one you need to see.
If you've read Texas in Africa for any length of time, you know that I love Lionel Healing's photographs of the Congo. He has some newish ones up from the refugee camps outside Goma. Please take a look (click on "photos"), check out this heartbreaking story on "Living in Fear," and remember what people are going through as we contemplate Thanksgiving.
This pretty much sums up a Disciple Now weekend with the 6th and 7th graders. In other words, wow, am I tired.
This is really cool.
I'm leading a Disciple Now group this weekend. For 6th and 7th graders. Your prayers would be appreciated. See you on Monday, or whenever I wake up.
I don't know what to say about this.
Today's DCist photo of the day is awesome.
Oh my word.
So the Congo's a mess, I'm meeting with The Advisor in 30 minutes, a fellowship application that's due tomorrow is Not Even Close to being done, the CPP is out marching in Washington to support Pakistani lawyers like A's dad, and 3,000 children are dying of preventable causes as they do each and every day. As are 1,000 Congolese.
"Internally-displaced person" is the technical term for a person who's fled his or her home, but who has not crossed an international border and is thus not a refugee. IDP's often have it worse than refugees; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees doesn't exist to help them.
Turns out the Mississippi Supreme Court called the practice of waterboarding "torture" in a 1926 case. And the justices said it was not a basis for securing a confession.
It seems my dear daddy is a little upset about something that appeared in yesterday's update to the Things to Know for Your First Time in Africa list. Just to be clear, in point #41 when it says, "Gray hair (which my dad has in abundance) is highly respected," that Euphrony talking about HIS dad, who has traveled in Ghana. I in no way meant to imply, nor did I say that my father has gray hair in abundance!*
Since last Sunday, "For All the Saints" has been stuck in my head, especially after I read Pastor Amy's beautiful words on one of her saints. At our church, we mark All Saints' Day by reading aloud the names of those who have passed from this life. After each name, the whole congregation responds, "Thanks be to God." It is powerful and moving and right.
This past Sunday was Veterans' Day, and I was late to the service because I'm teaching the 12th graders and my lesson ran a little long, so I slipped into one of the back rows, alone. After awhile, one of our congregation's oldest members, Harold, sat down beside me. At 98, he can no longer see or hear very well, but he still serves as a greeter at the door to the church every Sunday. When we honored the veterans in our congregation, he stood up with pride, sat down, looked me in the eye, and said, "thank-you." "Thank-you," I replied.
One of my students this semester is a veteran. He's served three or four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, learned to command troops, and seen more death than most of us will witness in a lifetime. Clearly the experience has affected him deeply. I can see it in his eyes, hear it in his comments. He's the same age as his friends in the class, but his experiences are a lifetime away from theirs.
He is 22 years old.
This afternoon I was looking for a version of "For All the Saints" to download or stream on YouTube, and I came across the above video. Maybe it's because these two days, All Saints' and Veterans', fall so close together, or maybe it's because a friend is thinking about becoming a military chaplain, or maybe it's because I worry about my student, or maybe it's because I'm thankful for his service and Harold's service that, well, it got to me.
I hate this war. I hate that the desire to go fight and politics trumped reason and a clear evaluation of evidence. I hate that we didn't exhaust other possibilities, which, the theologians say, is what you have to do if you want your war to be considered just. I hate what we've done to innocent bystanders, and I hate what we're doing to a generation of young men and women who will never be the same because they've seen too much. I hate that we're leaving 21-year-old widows and babies who'll never know one of their parents. I hate that we've made a bigger mess than the one we tried to solve.
And yet, I am thankful. Thankful for those who serve like Harold and my student and my daddy and my uncle, thankful for those who are wiling to give up their lives for a cause larger than themselves. Thankful for those who are called to be a non-anxious presence to those who are fighting, to give them some measure of peace in the midst of a nightmare. And thankful for those who work for peace.
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Yesterday the New York Times ran this profile of my friend Ali's father, who is still in jail in Pakistan for his role in pushing the country's military leader to accept democracy. Please continue to keep him and the thousands of lawyers, opposition politicans, and human rights activists that Musharraf's government has jailed in the last two weeks in your prayers.
Well, the discussion surrounding last week's post on going to Africa for the first time was lots of fun. As William, whose fantastic Stood in the Congo blog I adore, points out, customs are different in different countries and cultures. I would never want to give the impression that I think otherwise; Africa is an incredibly diverse continent, and practices vary. The things I listed were what I've found to be common in the eleven countries I've visited, all of which are in central, eastern, and southern Africa.
Thanks to Austinist's fantastic ticket giveaway, the Mommy of Two and I got to see Roky Erickson's taping of an episode of Austin City Limits tonight. And we didn't even have to wait in the space-available line. Here's a complete review of the music:
Via my sister, the entry for Democratic Republic of Congo in the Onion's new Our Dumb World atlas:
Today is the best tailgate of the year. It's our last home game, and we go all out. The ribs have been marinating since Tuesday. The women are having a dessert-off (my Dr. Pepper cake will bring B's peach cobbler down!). Oh, and we're playing Tech, which is always fun for family gloating purposes (my parents are graduates, my uncle played there, I was born there). Let the fun begin!
Tonight makes 15 years.
"Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says he imposed a state of emergency to limit terror attacks. Then why is he arresting so many nonterrorists?
I've reviewed the Pipettes here before, and, well, there's not much else to say about their live show. The Pipettes are three Brits who sing and dance like a 60's girl group, but their songs are all about how liberated they are as women. It's a hoot. As one member of our group put it, it's as though the Supremes were listening to the Smths. Or something like that.
Please say a prayer today for my friend A's father, who is a prominent Pakistani politician and lawyer. As part of Pakistani President Musharraf's suspension of the constitution, he is one of about 500 people who've been arrested by the military. He has not been permitted visitors or outside contacts. As you can imagine A and his family are quite concerned. Please keep them in your prayers.
Tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, November 7) a group of helicopters will be practicing for their flyover at the DKR stadium during this weekend's football game. This activity is coordinated by the university's ROTC program. Campus Safety and Security is providing this advance notice to faculty, staff, and students so they may be aware and, hopefully, unalarmed at the helicopters' presence.
In getting ready for tonight's talk, I've been thinking a lot about how to portray the Congo in all its dimensions, not just as a place of great suffering and sadness, but also as a place of laughter and joy and wisdom about life that we just don't have here in the West.
You can't make this stuff up.
One more reminder that I'm speaking about the situation in the Congo and what we can do to help TONIGHT (11/6) at 6pm at Concordia University in Austin.
So the whole abstinence-only-focused sex education thing isn't working out so well here in Texas. We now bear the dubious distinctions of having 1) the most teenagers having babies, and 2) the most teenagers having babies after they've already had a baby.
This week Inspired to Action is featuring ways to help with and pray for the situation in Darfur. Take a moment to check it out!
If you are a Texan, you probably (hopefully) know that tomorrow we vote on 16 proposed amendments to the state constitution. I know you're all eagerly looking forward to wearing your little "I voted" stickers tomorrow like I am. The Christian Life Commission of the BGCT has published a handy non-partisan voter guide that explains all the propositions and what supporters and opponents think about each one. Check it out!
Well, as the Librarian put it, all the emo kids came out into daylight for Fun Fun Fun Fest. Seriously, we didn't know what to mock: the ridiculously tight black jeans, the men in women's v-neck shirts, or the girls who shouldn't have been wearing leggings/dying their hair multiple colors. The whole day was people-watching at its finest.
Happy Guy Fawkes Day!
This is way cooler than Wikivision.
We here at Texas in Africa are very much looking forward to a fall weekend full of some of our favorite things: camping, watching football, live music, and books! For a heads up on this weekend's Fun! Fun! Fun! Fest at Waterloo Park, we turn to Texas in Africa's occasional contributing editor The Attorney for a Japanese-inspired musical update:
Congratulations to our dear friend the CPP, who is now one of the newest members of the Texas bar! Woo-hoo!!!
A jury finds in favor of a deceased soldier's father who sued Westboro Baptist Church and three of its leaders over their protests at the families of fallen soldiers. The jury awarded the soldier's father $11 million, far more than the net worth of the church and those members included in the lawsuit.
If you happen to be, say, proctoring a midterm this afternoon, here's a fascinating way to waste time: watching people edit Wikipedia.
Well, another Halloween has come and gone. Halloween is a big deal in Austin; when it's on a weekend, up to 100,000 people show up on 6th Street to ogle one another's costumes and get into various kinds of trouble. Being as we are not a 6th Street kind of girl, the extent of our involvement in this celebration involves strongly encouraging our students to be safe and not drive.
November dawns the cool side sunny,