Tag Archives: Social Justice

A Visual Primer in Modern Slavery

4 Aug

Just a reminder…

Sim Sweatshop

24 Dec

Seriously, go to this website called Sim Sweatshop. While it might be incredibly frustrating to play imagine if this was the reality of your life?!

After you have been frustrated by this game go over to World Vision or to Kiva and join others who’s desire is that the simulation sweatshop is the only kind of sweatshop that exists in the future.

Happy Black Friday!

23 Nov

I just discovered that this movie What Would Jesus Buy is opening today in the Bay Area. I really want to see it but I hate to deal with mall traffic on the road. Unfortunately that means the next 30 plus days are going to be full of people either giving gifts out of obligation or trying to find that perfect gift for the person that has everything.

As I sit here in Starbucks on Black Friday I’ve already noticed 2-3 times the normal amount of foot traffic in the store. I suppose the only way that you can get prepared to go into the red on your credit card is to buy an overpriced coffee. I know, hypocritical, since I am in Starbucks drinking right how. My only claim to immunity is that I will only pay for a house coffee and a fifty cent refill over about 4-5 hours. So in a way I feel that I am getting a deal.

I heard an estimate that today approximately 9.5 billion dollars will be spent. 6 Billion dollars could provide proper sanitation and clean drinking water for everyone in the world and in one day in American we have the capacity to spend 150% of that on ourselves. I suppose that talking about this can sound highly pessimistic and bitter but I would like to think that these thoughts originate from a different place within me. For me it is rooted in the fact that we live in a world that is very connected. At one time in the world there were people who were suffering all the way across the world and we could not see, hear or visit them But the world is different now.

It is flat.

We can do something.

It is in this flat world that I think the church has the ability to regain their integrity. It is in this flat world that it has an ability to regain its sense of mission. Imagine how odd it would be to the world if there was a certain people who in light of the circumstances of the world around them chose to do something with what they had been given? What if they decided not to consume what they had been given or give a third coat to a person that already had two but gave their coat to someone who had none? What if they were satisfied with a car that has a heater and a/c for fifteen to twenty thousand rather than going into debt over getting a car with all the fixings? What if their houses were smaller but as a result money was freed up so they were able to fund emerging businesses oversea so that they could have roofs over their head?

I think it would raise some eyebrows. Instead of politicians, trying to win the religious vote, using certain key words to appear faith friendly they might discuss how they can enable these people to continue to demonstrate this “good news” way of living to those around them.

Maybe cars wouldn’t have bumper stickers that say, “If money is the root of all evil (even though this is a misquote), why are church’s always asking for it.”

Perhaps when those who are voicepieces for the church spoke, people would listen. Maybe it would seem easier to submit to a God of love when they see His representatives practically demonstrate what love looks like.

The Story of William Wilberforce

20 Nov

Life has been busy. Really busy. I haven’t used my online blockbuster account in at least two months. Last Friday I wandered into Blockbuster and exchanged Amistad for the movie Amazing Grace. I then proceeded to watch the movie three times last weekend. I’m a sucker for movies in which people have given up everything to make this world a better place. I don’t know if that is because I like to live vicariously through others and do nothing myself or because they move me to do something. Probably a little of both at times.

It came out last year on the heals of the 200th anniversary of the slave trade in England being abolished. It was not an action adventure multi-million dollar blockbuster but it did have the creators of Ray involved so the story was told well. While watching the movie thoughts kept on going through my mind as to the darkness of humanity and what we are willing to do to each other. A nation of people wouldn’t mind building their kingdom on the backs of others? They would rather choose loyalty to the king which meant filling his storehouse with product harvested by slaves than treat others as equal? For the greater good maybe we shouldn’t eliminate slavery now, only taper it? What is it about the human condition that can become so warped that we are willing to let this happen to others?

There was a scene in the movie that I think depicts a schism that happens in the church when it comes to confronting these issues. William Willberforce is an up and coming voice in the abolitionist movement. And then something happens in his life depicted in a conversation between Wilberforce and his servant.

Richard the Butler: You found God, sir?
William Wilberforce: I think He found me.

At this point William does not know what to do. He feels that if he has found or has been found by God then he must go into the “ministry” and that he must choose “ministry” or the abolitionist movement. Pitt the Younger, the future Prime Minister of England, says to Willberforce that he must choose to either “praise the Lord with his mouth or change the world.”

Is that true?

Serve God or change the world?

Because you can’t do both?

So often this becomes the way of thinking of many Christians. The reasoning is that I have become very passionate about God and where do you find people who are passionate about God? In a building on Sunday morning speaking. So for me to be passionate means that I need to leave everything behind and talk in a building on Sunday morning.

Jesus did call some to leave everything behind, hardly to do programming or organized religion, and follow him. And yet we see than many times he says to the people he encounters to: stay a tax-collector, stay in your home town, stay a soldier but become a different kind of tax-collector, citizen or soldier. You can be a lawyer, or used car salesman and be passionate about Jesus but you will be a different kind of lawyer or used car salesman.

Pitt the Younger, perhaps realizing the Willberforce may choose religion over the abolition movement, brings a group of people to eat dinner with Wilberforce and one of the men pulls out the slave chains and puts them on before him. They then speak to him about his dilemma to serve God or fight the slave trade when a woman at the table delivers the line, “we don’t see why you can’t do both.”

Through years of trial and physical suffering Wilberforce led the charge in which slave trade was ended (I believe about 50 years before we wised up in America) and Lord Charles Fox stood up after the vote to end slavery took place and said:

“When people speak of great men, they think of men like Napoleon – men of violence. Rarely do they think of peaceful men. But contrast the reception they will receive when they return home from their battles. Napoleon will arrive in pomp and in power, a man who’s achieved the very summit of earthly ambition. And yet his dreams will be haunted by the oppressions of war. William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remember: the slave trade is no more.”

The church needs leaders today who can speak to those they encounter and express that it isn’t a choice between serving God or changing the world, but to say “we don’t see why you can’t do both.”

This movie also causes me to ask what I give my life to. After I have given my life and youth to something, as Wilberforce did, what is the speech that others might give?

That I was a nice person? I liked to jog or play tennis? I memorized a lot of bible verses?

Was anything different because I took my calling to follow Jesus seriously?