Friday, December 31, 2004

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

South Asia :: A Call for Help

From World Relief

Dear Friends,
The tragedy in South Asia has quickly become one of the most serious in history. The sudden loss of life and destruction is overwhelming. I don't have to give you the details because I am certain all of you have seen the heart-wrenching scenes as they have covered our television screens for the last several days.

We have been in constant email and telephone contact with field partners in the effected countries as well as our Integral Alliance partners in Europe, US, and Hong Kong. Everything possible is being done to mobilize resources to attempt to meet the incredible needs.

Without question we need you, our Canadian partners, to pray. The extent of suffering and mourning is beyond what we can comprehend. Relief workers and volunteers are being overwhelmed physically and emotionally and desperately need God's strength. Just this past October a field officer from Stromme Foundation of Norway attended our Integral Alliance conference in Toronto. Nimo works in Sri Lanka, the hardest hit of all the countries. Although he is being called on to direct relief efforts he and his wife are suffering the loss of all of her brothers and sisters.

It is also imperative that churches and each of us as Christians, prayerfully consider giving towards the relief and rehabilitation efforts. Much of the world is rallying, with significant UN and country aid being rushed to the region. But many of our Christian partners such as EFICOR are uniquely positioned to not only meet the physical and emotional needs but also to bring the compassion and hope than can only come from Christ. Their efforts now and through the lengthy rehabilitation phase require our immediate investment.

Christians in Canada have always been so generous in meeting the call of God to respond to those in need. If ever there was a time this is it. The task is truly overwhelming. The geographical extent of this alone is beyond anything the world has faced before. The magnitude of human suffering is unprecedented.

We need the church of Jesus Christ to rise up and carry His restoration to the millions who desperately need help today.

Laurie Cook
CEO, World Relief Canada

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. - Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Loving others

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.
Thomas Merton

Genocide in Rwanda

Several times over the last year I have mentioned the Genocide in Rwanda. Here is an overview of the genocide as documented in Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia). Not enjoyable reading but a part of western history and as well as how humanity failed nearly a million people.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sudanese Rape Victims Find Justice Blind to Plight

Article in the Washington Post about the horrors and gencide in Sudan
To the family of Katuma, who was raped and impregnated by an Arab militia fighter five months ago in the war-torn region of Darfur, this shamanistic cure was the only form of redemption available in a situation where legal justice is elusive, officials are embarrassed to discuss rape and the chances of catching and prosecuting attackers are next to none.

While a ritual bath cannot substitute for a court of law, according to Sudanese culture it may help mitigate the negative long-term social effects of rape -- the public ostracism of the victim, her devaluation as a future bride and the lifelong stigma that will fall on any child born of the crime.

According to the United Nations and human rights groups, thousands of women have been raped by gunmen in the course of a 20-month conflict that pits African rebel groups against Sudanese troops and pro-government Arab militias known as the Janjaweed. The United Nations says more than 70,000 people have died.

In August and September, the French medical charity Doctors Without Borders reported that it had treated 123 cases of rape in South Darfur, at least 100 of which occurred during attacks on villages by armed men. Victims said they were assaulted at gunpoint and in some cases gang-raped.

Despite widespread documentation of the rapes by international groups and promises by the government to investigate and prosecute rape cases, sexual violence remains a low official priority. Sudanese society ostracizes rape victims and associates them with deep shame.

There is also little public trust in the police and the courts, because Janjaweed militiamen accused of the crimes are seen as backed by the government.

A recent report by Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, called rape "a weapon of war in Darfur," often accompanied by racial insults, whipping, undressing and public sexual acts as a form of humiliation. To the Arab Janjaweed, attacking African women is seen as a way to mortify African rebel groups, the report said.

Many women have also reported being told by rapists that they wanted to produce Arab babies and weaken African tribal lines.

Amnesty International documented hundreds of rape cases and described the horrific long-term social consequences for the women. But U.N. officials and others said international pressure had done little to make local officials address the plight of women who are victims of rape, as well as resulting health problems and pregnancies.

"The government as a whole is in denial about the scale and the severity of the problems," said Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, who visited Darfur in late September. "Cases where attempts are made by women to report to the police are disbelieved, or in any event, no further action is taken on their report."

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Desk Trauma

Desk Trauma
Originally uploaded by 8lettersuk.

Never purchase a glass desk!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Abortion and Economic Issues

This was posted in Sojourners by Glen Stassen. The Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and the co-author of Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Christianity Today's Book of the Year in theology or ethics.
Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.

How could this be? I see three contributing factors:

First, two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Web site). In the past three years, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.

Second, half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). Men who are jobless usually do not marry. Only three of the 16 states had more marriages in 2002 than in 2001, and in those states abortion rates decreased. In the 16 states overall, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.

Third, women worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency - with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million - abortion increases.
The conclusion
What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, child care, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need policies that provide jobs and health insurance and support for prospective mothers.
A controversial article that points out that abortion is more then about legislation and is linked to enviromental and economic factors.

Monday, October 25, 2004

U.S. Ambassador Blames Election on Mad Cow Dispute

From AP. I know this is interest to many in the community...
American domestic politics in a presidential election year have contributed to the delay in reopening the U.S. market to Canadian beef, U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci said Wednesday.

Cellucci, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, blamed Democrats in the run-up to the Nov. 2 vote that pits President Bush against Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.

Cellucci told Ottawa business leaders that a minority of interests the United States have challenged and delayed U.S. Agriculture Department rule changes that would have ended the mad cow-induced ban on Canadian beef imports.

"I don't want to say there's not politics involved," Cellucci said. "It is an election year."

The ambassador singled out Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader from South Dakota, as a prime mover against Canadian beef interests.

"He and other senators have written the Department of Agriculture to say, `Don't let the beef in from Canada,'" Cellucci said. "And it's not based upon sound science. So that's why things have slowed down."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sermon links

On the sermon notes that were handed out this morning, I promised that I would post some links to articles and sites that I mentioned in today's sermon. Of course, the opinions on the sites are not mine or the churches but just some that I mentioned this morning.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

World Living Beyond Its Environmental Means-WWF

From Reuters
The world is consuming some 20 percent more natural resources a year than the planet can produce, conservationist group WWF warned on Thursday.

Urging governments to move rapidly to restore the ecological balance, the Swiss-based group said rich countries, particularly in North America, were largely to blame for the situation.

"We are running up an ecological debt which we will not be able to pay off," Dr Claude Martin, director-general of WWF International, told a news conference.

In its 'Living Planet Report 2004,' the fifth in a series, the WWF said that between 1970 and 2000, populations of marine and terrestrial species fell 30 percent. That of freshwater species declined 50 percent.

"This is a direct consequence of increasing human demand for food, fiber, energy and water," it said.

What WWF calls the "ecological footprint" -- the amount of productive land needed on average worldwide to sustain one person -- currently stood at 2.2 hectares (5.43 acres).

But the earth had only 1.8 hectares (4.45 acres) per head -- based on the planet's estimated 11.3 billion hectares (27.9 billion acres) of productive land and sea space divided between its 6.1 billion people.

"...humans consume 20 percent more natural resources than the earth can produce," WWF said.

This contrasted with the position in 1960, the year WWF was launched, when the world used only 50 percent of what the earth could generate.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Gambling shatters ex-Tiger's dream life

Article on former Detroit Tigers (and Toronto Blue Jays) slugger Cecil Fielder and how gambling has destroyed his life. Very sad.

Yahoo! News - Experts: Good Hygiene Can Ward Off Flu

Story from the AP on how to avoid getting the flu
The wisdom mothers have been dispensing for ages ? wash your hands, eat your vegetables, go to bed earlier ? turns out to be great advice for avoiding the flu.
Click on the post title to get the rest of the story.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Sunday Reading

On Sunday, Linda mentioned that she was reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. I dug up the link for the book as well as the book I mentioned in my sermon, Blood, Tears, and Folly by Len Deighton. Both are excellent books.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

The Prophetic Imagination

A great post about the work of theologian Walter Bruggermann
"To address the issue of truth greatly reduced requires us to be poets who speak against the prose world. .. The only proclamation that is worthy of the name preaching is not moral instruction, or problem solving, or doctrinal clarification. It is not good advice, nor is it romantic caressing, not is it a soothing good humor... It is rather the ready, steady, surprising proposal that the real world in which God invites us to live is not the one made available by the rulers of this age. The preacher has an awesome opportunity to offer an evangelical world: an existence shaped by the news of the gospel. This offer requires special care for words, because the baptized community awaits speech in order to be a faithful people." Finally Comes the Poet

Monday, September 27, 2004

Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)

A lot of us enjoy doing some writing. Here are some tips about effective writing from an editor. Good stuff.

Malnutrition in Africa

Yahoo has a picture of a 10-month-old boy weighing 4.1 kg is weighed at a health centre in Monrovia. More than half of African children who die before the age of five are malnourished, a top African Health Organisation official said at a west African regional meeting on nutrition


Originally uploaded by Jordon.

Last year Ivan told Wendy and I about the largest tree in Saskatchewan. I had never heard of it but Ivan gave Wendy and I really good directions to it so we decided to go and find it. He said keep driving and we would see a sign with instructions to the tree. I don't know what we were expecting but it wasn't this sign. We grabbed a picture while we were going by.