Folks, this is not a typical post. This is not a political discussion. This, plain and simple, is a plea to all of you to help. Please, if there is anything at all you can spare, give to the disaster victims. I recommend the Red Cross and/or the Salvation Army.
We have seen records made and broken this year. The South and the Midwest have been devastated by floods and tornadoes. The severe weather/tornado season is still very much in the early parts. We could still see many more floods and tornadoes.
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)
Whether you agree with President FDR's social programs or 'stimulus' packages or not, this quote from him is a very good test for todays political arguments.
The difference between civilized society and barbarian or uncivilized society is respectful treatment of all members of society: rich or poor; powerful or weak; educated or uneducated; Christian or Pagan; the list can go on and on.
James O’Keefe, the conservative activist known for manipulating the mainstream media by making undercover videos that helped destroy the progressive community group ACORN, plotted to humiliate CNN and its investigative journalist Abby Boudreau.
He planned to record a meeting using hidden cameras aboard a floating "palace of pleasure" where he would seduce Boudreau and make sexually suggestive comments, according to CNN.
O’Keefe, a convicted federal criminal, tried to lure Boudreau onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the sessions. CNN documents and interviews yesterday suggest that O'Keefe had secretly, and illegally, taped phone calls he had with Boudreau.
For the last year, we have partnered with The Gleaning Network of Texas to create an After-School Academy Learning Garden.
We started the garden after receiving approval from the Dallas Housing Authority to use a fenced in plot of land behind the After-School Academy. We were given approval in June of last year.
If you know anything about Texas soil, you know June is not the smartest month to start a garden. But, with the perseverance of Susie Marshall, Executive Director of The Gleaning Network, the garden was under way.
It has taken some time for the kids to get used to the garden. But they have taken ownership of the garden and often beg to go water, dig, look at the worms, or "cook" the compost.
Great partnerships are what makes our organization work so well. A couple of weeks ago a group of City Year staff came in early Monday morning to prep many of our sites at Roseland for a group of 100 ARAMARK volunteers who would arrive on Thursday to paint murals on some of our walls and add a new plot to our already thriving garden. The volunteers also took on the huge task of painting the entire inside of the gym/community center as well as creating raised flower beds for the church across the street.
I have to commend Danielle Evans, Children's Education Coordinator, and Tameshia Rudd-Ridge, Digital Connectors Coordinator, for spending so much time and effort on this project. All day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Danielle and Tameshia worked with the City Year group to choose the designs and create the spaces for the ARAMARK volunteers to work. By the time Thursday morning came along, Danielle and Tameshia were up and at work ready to go by 6:00 a.m.
Lent is still a new thing for me. I didn't grow up observing it--or even really aware that it existed. Our church went from Christmas Eve to Palm Sunday with nothing special in between (or so it seemed to me). A few years ago, once I moved to NYC, I was worshiping at a church which encouraged members to add a spiritual practice during Lent rather than give something up. I liked that idea, and wanted more practice praying, so I started a daily prayer time.
In other years, I've given up television (allowed me time to read a thick novel while in my last semester of seminary) and the word "should."
This year, it took me a long time to figure out what I was going to do. In fact, I didn't know for sure until I was in the middle of the 7am Ash Wednesday service I was leading.
A few weeks ago in my Public Speaking class, one of my students remarked about the political differences between he and his girlfriend. He mentioned that she was center-left and he was center-right. He went on to say that some of our current policies are promoting laziness and that he was a strong supporter of self-responsibility. I thought to myself that I should say something witty like – “so why are taking financial aid to come here?” but I refrained from saying it aloud as not to embarrass him.
Lent has come again, and as it has, I've had a chance to reflect on something that I've been grappling for the past several years. What do I still believe about God and Jesus and the church?
My religious walk has taken me to several different places. When I was a kid, my parents took me to a Catholic Church and I was a fairly devout Catholic until my early twenties. That experience made me appreciate the beauty of ritual. Before Easter, my parents used to take the family to the stations of the cross, and I was always moved by the solemnity of that particular ceremony. I also gained a love for the saints, especially St. Francis of Assisi. The greatest gift that the Catholic Church has given me is a strong sense of economic justice from Catholic Social Thinking and the Papal Encyclicals. Though I disagreed with Pope John Paul II on many things when I was young, I admired his compassion for the poor and his work for peaceful alternatives to war. In the 1980s I also admired the nuns and priests who were fighting for the poor in Central and South America. Dorothy Day, the radical Catholic anarchist who founded the Catholic Worker newspaper and worked for civil rights, pacifism, and help for the poor, became a lifelong hero and influence on me.
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