Thursday, June 28, 2007

Affirmative action over?

While Congress has been busy debating and rejecting immigration bills, the Supreme Court has been equally busy in a quieter but perhaps just as racially charged issue. Today a "bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued what is likely to be a landmark opinion -- ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools" (see full CNN article or see Parents involved in community schools v. Seattle School Dist. #1) .

The gist of the ruling basically comes down to the fact that schools can not use race as a factor in accepting or denying a student to a school.
"School boards may pursue the goal of bringing together students of diverse backgrounds and races through other means, including strategic site selection of new schools;drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the demographics of neighborhoods; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and other statistics by race." (see full ruling).
So basically, you can target a racial group and encourage them to apply, however when making the final decisions on acceptance to a school, you can not use race as a determination factor. Does anyone else find this odd?

"Reading his concurring opinion from the bench, the 70-year-old justice said, "This nation has a moral and ethical obligation to fulfill its historic commitment to creating an integrated society that ensures equal opportunity for all its children'" (CNN article). (equal opportunity meaning race can not be used as a factor in school acceptance). I have to admit what is most frustrating about that statement and the opinion of the majority of the supreme court is that the nation is not fulfilling it's commitment to create an integrated society that gives equal opportunity for all of its children. In many ways one could argue that our nation is becoming more segregated than it was 50 years ago. This ruling in my opinion almost suggests that there is no commitment.

What will be interesting to watch is how this ruling gets applied in real life. The case was brought by parents of High Schoolers, but the decision will ultimately have some huge implications for even colleges and universities.

Other sites commenting on this case:
North Western
Cornell Law

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Another me generation"

Interesting article by Eric Bridges entitled "Another me generation." In it he reflects on the mentality of recent graduates towards narcissism and self absorption and how this has effected faith.

I have to say that in many ways I agree with what Eric says. To often the attraction factor of Christianity is solely what is in it for me. If I become a Christian, I will have friends...all my problems will be solved...God might bless me future is secure...I will receive praise/validation from other Christians. Then when the reality of sacrifice, self denial and humanness sets in, faith becomes unattractive.

Being a member of the twenty something crowd that Bridges targets, I have to stop and ask myself if I continue to believe in Christ or belong to a church for what I can get out of it?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Add Campaign for Cingular

Did you know that your cell phone can double as a baby monitor? Neither did I until a few days ago when a very wise and creative staff worker, whose kid I've been watching, enlightened me to this wonderful concept. Since most plans now allow you to talk to other people with the same plan and since most couples generally have plans with the same carrier, one parent will leave their phone on speaker and call the other parent. The other parent then answers the phone, plugs in their ear piece and away they go from the room with baby firmly connected to their ear. Amazing!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Is my apartment half empty or half full?

This past week as I've been helping out with child care at New Staff Training, I've noticed how often I've had to encourage the children to share. In particular, the 2 year olds never seem content with the toy they are playing with. More often than not, such a child is sitting on a large pile of toys when they spot the one lone child playing with a single toy and then they rush over in desperation to get that one toy they don't have. It's amazing how much these kids mirror reality.

What surprises me is that even from an early age it seems so much easier to identify what one does not have versus what one does have. What's even more surprising is that not only does the child who already has a pile of toys identify what they do not have quicker, but it is that same child who is the quickest to act upon that fact.

As I think about just a handful of the current world dilemmas, (significant global water shortages, food shortages, environmental destruction), I am curious to see how the nations who have (ie. mainly America) choose to respond. To this date the track record hasn't been to great. It seems like the response has been more of the child who already has the majority of toys and despite that apparent wealth chooses to continue to hoard at the expense of the other child.

On a personal level, how often do I partake in the same. Do I spend more time thinking about what I have versus what I do not have. I have to admit that in general its a lot easier to think about what I do not have. It's a shock to realize how greedy a heart I have.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Staff Orientation

Madison is currently a buzzing with 120 new staff who are currently going through orientation. This is the second largest class of new staff in InterVarsity history!

Matt and I have been running back and forth between work and the training sessions doing various things. Matt's been helping out with sound and some of the technical sides of the conference and I've been watching some of the staff kids. Currently I've watched Happy Feet twice and Cars once. I've help make paper bag puppets and directed the first ever production of "The Fire Breathing Dragon Eats Puppy." The critics all agreed that it's good for a 5 minute laugh.

Overall though it's been really good to see some old friends and my sister. Perhaps what was the most fun was that all the staff visited our office and got to go around and meet the different departments. Most departments decorate the offices for that. The alumni office decided to go with Moo University. (see pic.) Good times all around.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

face painting

Well, it's official. We have now successfully accomplished our first "outreach" event with our church. We spent the day painting kid's faces at a local block party. To be honest, I've never had so much fun in my life.

I think the more surprising thing for me was realizing how much the kids enjoyed getting their faces painted...even if it was a terrible job. It makes me wonder if part of the draw of face painting is 1) you get the undivided attention of someone or 2) when all is said and done, you are different or unique. I haven't decided which is more the case, but it was a really fun event. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Food for Thought

When is the last time you borrowed something from a friend or family member? When you think of borrowing something from someone, what emotions or thoughts tend to come to mind? I know for me it's usually hesitation or sometimes fear of asking mainly because it makes me feel that I am not capable or am lacking something.

I ran across this quote by Leighton Ford yesterday that made be think about the concept of borrowing. Here's what he has to say about Jesus' perspective of borrowing.

The most spectacular cross-cultural leadership in the history of humanity took place when the Son of God became a first-century Galilean Jew. In that identification he renounced the status and the rights that he enjoyed as God’s Son. Among them, Jesus gave up any right to independence; he was born in a borrowed manger, preached from a borrowed boat, entered Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, ate the Last Supper in a borrowed upper room, died on a borrowed cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb. In renouncing entitlement he exposed himself to temptation, sorrow, limitation and pain, and yet, “although Jesus identified himself completely with us, he did not lose his own identity. He remained himself.” And so his incarnation taught “identification without loss of identity.” (Transforming Leadership, 32-33)

It's amazing how much Jesus borrowed...I wonder if he actually ever owned/bought anything while he was here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vindication at Last

For months now I have been trying to convince Sarah that grocery stores are one of the worst places, next to hell of course, where any man could be. After months of building my case, I finally have the proof I need to prove why Sarah will for now on be the only person in our current household frequenting grocery stores!
click here to read report

Monday, June 11, 2007

Prayer and Praise

It being that both Matt and I seem to have the Monday blahs, it seemed like a good time to post a few prayer requests. If you're willing, pray for a few of these right now as you read.

  • Matt found out this weekend that he will be back in Canada next month photographing the IFES world conference. It's about a week and a half long convention and already Matt is feeling the pressure to get his environmental piece finished for the convention and get himself prepared for being there.
  • I am in the midst of entering in all our recent graduating seniors and I feel like for every pile I accomplish, 10 more arise. Pray that I wouldn't get discouraged as I "feel" like I am falling behind.
  • This coming weekend, our church is hosting an face painting booth at a local strawberry festival. Pray that while this is a booth hosted by the festival, we would still have some great interactions with people in the community and event organizers.
  • With Matt doing weddings now almost every weekend, pray for wisdom for the both of us to find time both for God and each other.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Fun Links

I have to admit that I think I spent about 10 minutes laughing about this one at work: Man in wheelchair takes ride on semi's grille

I stumbled across and interesting Time Magazine article about what different families around the world eat:
How the World Eats

Gap Unveils New 'For Kids By Kids' Clothing Line
(warning, this is from The Onion so it's very satirical!)

Thursday, June 07, 2007


So, as's a link to one of the video's that Matt worked on for Urbana called Making use of what you know. (It's personally one of my favorite.) Basically, he took a bunch of photos that were later stitched together in a graphic form to make this little production.

The only requirement we have is that if you choose to watch this video, you need to find a way to apply what God's been teaching you lately into your daily life!

Other video's he worked on (It's actually 3 in a series on how to do an inductive bible discussion):
The Detective
The Observer

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Weekend snapshot #1

One of the many things we got to do this weekend was go to a co-workers wedding. It was our first mid-west wedding! There wasn't to much different actually with the exception that they had square dancing at the reception and the caller had no teeth. Didn't see a whole lot of that in California weddings.

Since it was our 1st year anniversary, it was kind of nice to be at a wedding and think back to our wedding a year ago and be reminded of both the excitement and the significance of marrying the one that you love.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Suffer-less Christianity: A House of Cards part 2

So now that we are back from our crazy weekend, I wanted to comment on Scott's Blog. (you'll have to come back tomorrow or the next day to hear about our weekend).

As I've thought about some of the things that Scott wrote when it comes to of the things I kept coming back to was the question, what is my concept of suffering? Do I have one at all?

I often think back to a warm afternoon walking through the streets in Bosnia where I and several other students came across a dumpster of very bad smelling trash and being stunned to see a young girl, not more than 4 years old, poke her head out of the dumpster her hands filled with random scraps and broken housewares. Still to this day I'm not sure I have a word to describe the emotions that paralyzed my soul in seeing this child.

Suffering. Most of us westerners would probably label this child's situation as that. Yet, how does one come to grips with the enormous smile that erupted from her face? How does one justify the joy and laugher coming from her mouth as she jumped out to embrace us and pulled us towards the local church as if we were indeed the ones suffering?

I feel Scott is right. We do not have a framework for suffering in the West whether that the normal suffering that life chooses to dish out or the suffering that as Christians we can choose to take hold of.

There is something to be said about discovering the joy of Christ in suffering. The joy that comes through the weight of prayer, the joy that comes in seeing others benefit from the above and beyond sacrifice of time or money, the joy that comes in seeing God provide enough, the joy in the recognition that even in suffering, God does not fail or turn away.

Lord, how would you have me glorify you today in suffering for your name?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Suffer-less Christianity: A House of Cards

This is stolen from Scott Besnecker's Blog: "The New Friars". But it's a really good piece. I'm just going to give you a teaser of it here and you can go to his site to finish it. I may try and comment on it later.

"A couple of years ago I surveyed the students who had been on Global Projects (InterVarsity's short term mission program). Forty percent experienced depression upon return. I have watched students come back from a summer living in some of the most desperate conditions humanity is experiencing today, and ditch the faith. They do not have the theological framework to support the existence of an all-powerful good God, and the reality of human suffering.

We in the western church have built a house of cards for our faith - beautiful, large, and colorful, but completely unable to sustain the weight of suffering.

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary has over 6,700 thoroughly researched entries. They have an entry on the word "sulfur," for instance (referencing Sodom and Gomorrah) but they have no entry for the word "suffer." According to this Bible dictionary, the Bible has nothing to say about suffering. This is clearly a reference tool constructed from a western Christian theology - one that has no room for suffering. How can we in good conscience send this resource to believers in China or Uganda or any other place Christians are suffering poverty, oppression or persecution?" -Click here to read Scott's full article