02 April 2010

"Jesus Was a Common Criminal" or "Bound in Chains" (Good Friday Musings)

I work at a church, which I love, but sometimes the details (date, time, location, ads, etc) make me forget about how important ministries are. Since Easter is coming this weekend, I was thinking of announcements and how since Easter is more highly attended, those announcements get greater visibility. (Side note: I think announcements are the bane of most pastors' existence...that's another post though.)

For some reason, our prison ministry came to mind and it got me thinking that prisoners have a special kinship with Christ. I think it's especially clear because today is Good Friday--the day where we (Christians) remember the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Although he was without sin, scripture tells us that he was tempted like us and suffered like us. Not only that, he expressed anger and frustration and boldly stood up against the laws and customs of his culture.

I think that so often we like to believe Jesus was this gentle, peaceful man who was wrongfully accused, convicted and punished to a much greater degree than the crime he was charged with. We're only part right. We say "Bad Pharisees! Bad Pilate! Couldn't you see he was the Messiah here to save you...and the whole world?!!!" When the fact of the matter is they were just tools in God's great plan to save the world. This was what was supposed to happen. Jesus died on that cross because I sinned and you sinned and the criminals sinned and the little old church ladies sinned. This punishment was not against Christ, but against the world.
Back to my point--prisoners share a special kinship with Christ because they know what it is like to be arrested, tried, convicted, living in fear, isolated and some in expectation of death. But do enough of them know that the Creator if this universe knows what they feel? Do they know that the punishment He endured can save them from eternal punishment?

I've realized in a few minutes of musing how important the Prison Ministry is and how grateful I am to the people who serve in this ministry.


29 January 2010

My Letter to the Editor

I wrote a letter to the Editor?!!! 

Prior to reading my letter to the editor of the Press Democrat, you should visit the following links (all of them):
Inappropriate Book (warning! graphic content!)  (there is content here directly from the book that is R-rated--since I don't promote students reading it in class, I don't suggest students read this link)

I think the School Board's decision is unfortunate and was urged to write a letter to the editor.

I hesitate to post this, because I know that many people (friends whom I respect very much) will disagree with me. But, if I am bold enough to share my opinion with all of Sonoma County, I should be bold enough to share my opinion with my friends. I hold additional arguments regarding this situation, yet the following words were most important to share in the 200-word limit the Press Democrat imposes. 

Please understand that I do not believe student access to this book should be denied. I do, however, believe that this book should not be  REQUIRED reading.

My letter reads as follows:
Dear Editor:
Close the Curtain
I am greatly disappointed in the Santa Rosa City School District's refusal to change policy regarding the teaching of the book "Tortilla Curtain" in local high schools. This book should not be REQUIRED reading for high school students. It includes a graphic rape scene, extreme racism and is riddled with profanity. I see a blatant double standard. Viewing an R-rated film in the classroom requires a signed permission slip from a parent, yet this book (which would receive an R-rating as a film) is given to the student without express permission from their parent. Students are disciplined for using profanity, while this book spews pages of profanity directly into their young, impressionable minds. Teachers and parents express concern over the inappropriate, oversexualized dancing at school dances, yet they find it appropriate for students to be "exposed to these issues" through this book. The school board maintains that students "need to be exposed to these issues and they need to discuss them." Is this the only book that addresses these issues? If the school district refuses to remove this book from the list, at the very least they should require written parental permission prior to assigning this R-rated reading to a student.

22 January 2010

roots to branches

Two of my favorite non-profits (Invisible Children (IC) & To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA)) were up against each other this week for $1Million from Chase. Both organizations were top five. Facebook members voted for their favorite charity over 3 rounds. I didn't enter the voting until the final round. Voting ended at midnight (EST) tonight. I would have been stoked if either won. During the last hour or so, TWLOHA (which was going steady in third place) began soliciting votes (via twitter and facebook) for IC. It was a truly selfless act. They even went so far as to change their profile pictures to a image that read "I voted for Invisible Children."

IC graciously thanked and applauded TWLOHA as the voting wound up and Invisible Children was revealed as the $1Million winner. TWLOHA (as a top five contender) won $100,000 in the competition. What's really remarkable to me is that these two organizations were up against some pretty big hitters (as far as charities go). I think the difference for them is that the venue (facebook) mirrors the way these two organizations have grown since their beginnings.

IC, in the beginning, was just a couple of guys who filmed some crazy stuff in Uganda and started sharing the video with anyone who would listen. They had no intention of starting a non-profit organization, but were compelled to help the (invisible) children and people of Uganda. It's always been promoted by word of mouth. I heard about it from a friend. We watched their documentary and couldn't help but want to help and inform others of the atrocities happening in Uganda. Anytime I wear the shirt I own that says "Invisible Children" I am questioned about it and I get to spread the message even further.

TWLOHA started as a group of young people showing compassion, friendship and support to a young girl who suffered from addiction and self-mutilation. The story of this experience spread from person to person and was eventually built into an organization that raises awareness and provides help to those who struggle with addiction, depression and other issues. Many indie bands took up the cause and began wearing shirts that said "To Write Love On Her Arms" and passionately promote the cause at their concerts and on their websites, blogs and twitters. Additionally (mostly) young people from all over the country and around the world tirelessly promote and support this organization by wearing their apparel and talking about it on myspace and facebook.

Both IC and TWLOHA were started and mostly supported/promoted by younger people. It's amazing to see the youth of our nation be passionate and compassionate. The youth are speaking up and thankfully they are being heard!

These organizations may have started with grass roots, but it seems they have grown into strong oak trees with wildly magnificent branches reaching in many directions.

On Twitter

I just set up a twitter account and linked to this blog. Maybe I should update more often. I've been thinking about being more blog-centric. Maybe sharing about my adventures in graphic design or my new commitment to read through the Bible this year (thanks to a handy-app on my BlackBerry Storm). I hope to be here more often.
Peace out.