Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saving the World or Changing It

AMEN to this article by Brian Swarts from the Micah Challenge. It pretty much hits my spiritual beliefs right on the head. :) It also has a lot to do with Liberation Theology, which was very popular here in Nica, and says that Salvation Theology was used by the Catholic Church to keep the powerful in power and the poor underneath. So, I would love to copy the entire article for you, but I imagine that would involve plagiarism lol, so I am copying a very long excerpt from it, and including the link to the full article. Enjoy! (Italics are mine).

"Even though nearly every nation on earth, including the US, committed to the Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015, poverty in places like sub-Saharan Africa has actually increased over the last several years while foreign aid to fight poverty has decreased.

The greatest victories of the Church have often been victories over our own moral failings, like the abolition of slavery. Today, one of the greatest moral failures for US churches is that while Christian growth in places like Africa has fast outpaced church growth in America, the gap between rich Americans and impoverished Africans has also grown. The question we have to ask ourselves is that, in trying to save Africa, have we begun to lose our own souls? How we deal with this issue is the great moral calling of the new generation of Christian leaders.

The reality is that while U.S. churches have been very generous in giving to global mission or humanitarian efforts over the last 30 years, there has been no organized Christian movement against global poverty in the way William Wilberforce mobilized Christians against slavery in the British Empire or churches stood as the moral force behind the sweeping social change of the civil rights movement. In a world where the difference between poor and rich is often as arbitrary as one’s skin color or nationality, and where poverty is a form of bondage or death for millions, it cannot be that extreme poverty isn’t worthy of the same moral outrage as slavery or segregation.

Ironically, it is our own religiosity that has been our biggest stumbling block.
We have let the evangelical mission to save the world get in the way of our ability to actually change it. The Great Commission, the call to disciple all nations, has overshadowed the Greatest Commandment, the call to love both God and neighbor. This is the result of a generation of Christian mission that has put spiritual conversion, or evangelism, in competition with social change. What we need today is a new, missional generation led by what might be called “The Greatest Commission,” or the belief that true spiritual conversion cannot be separated from social change. Greatest Commission evangelicals would believe that planting churches is important, but also insist that these churches must play a role in creating communities that are more just, prosperous and compassionate."

Here's the link:

Also, you have until midnight tonight to donate $30 or more to the Barack campaign and receive your special limited edition Election Day tee-shirt! https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/electionshirt

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cool Blog!

I love Tania Ku. And I love her even more because she said that I am one of her favorite people in the world. She is one of mine. That is why you should read her blog! (Well, one of the many reasons why :)

I met Ms. Ku onboard the MV Explorer while studying abroad with Semester at Sea. We spent several hours discussing how we would solve the problems of the world (and our love for trashy celebrity gossip :). I find it thus pretty amazing that I am now in Nicaragua and she is in Japan, teaching English! Her blog about her time in Japan is hilarious and insightful, just like her :) SO CHECK IT OUT. NOW!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

La Vida Luja (The Luxurious Life :)

So I am getting quite comfortable having hot water and frequent massages :) This is a problem, right?

Our hotel in Costa Rica was balla (I had fun explaining the meaning of that word to everyone here in Nica!). It was the Marriot--Los Suenos (The Dreams), and it was. I fake played golf with my family in the rainforest (I putted in all my mom´s shots and drove the golf cart lol), as well as received a facial, French mani-pedi, and ate lots of food at their swim up bar. I also took about 7 baths, no joke. I felt semi-bad that we spent more than most people´s salaries in Nicaragua, but I can´t lie, I really enjoyed it lol. Oh, and we also took a 24-passenger bus back and forth from the airport, catered for the 4 of us lol. I think that may have been the epitome of the Luja-ness.

Then my parents and I headed over to Nicaragua! We are now staying at a sweet hotel in Granada called Hotel Colonial, which, coincidentally also has a swim up bar (I promise I didn´t plan that!). We took a tour of the isles of Granada--there are about 370 of them, formed by the nearby Volcano Mombacho. You can own one of them (about half an acre) for $70,000 undeveloped, and 3/4 of a million developed. To think--you can own a semi-nice house in Bethesda or your own island, replete with baller house and boat, in Nicaragua. :) I want one. I know this makes me a horrible, selfish person, but I believe owning an island is an investment. Plus, of course I would be generous and invite all of my friends (to my own island!) and cook lots of yummy desserts for them (You know what I´m talkin, Connie and Scootboot). I told my dad I would invite all of the campesinos that I work with as well, and he said that would make them feel bad, but I think it would make them feel pretty good lol.

Anyway, for now we are headed off to eat chocolate cookies with ice cream, which is almost as good :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Peace Day!

My trip here in Costa Rica has been great! I promise to write more on it asap. But, for now, I wanted to wish everyone a happy peace day! Yes, that´s right folks. I know, I know, I am becoming more of a hippie every day (you don´t have to tell me twice, Miguelito). But, I thought I would share this info with you, as well as post a link to a pretty cool card.

DID YOU KNOW? The United Nations' International Day of Peace - marked every year on September 21 - is a global holiday when individuals, communities, nations and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace. Established by U.N. resolution in 1982, "Peace Day" has grown to include millions of people around the world who participate in all kinds of events, large and small.

Peace Card!

"Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of faith, strength, energy, will, sympathy, justice, imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism." -Dorothy Thompson

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Buenas Noches, Damas y Caballeros

Thank you DC friends for weighing in at the last minute on the poll! heehe I feel loved. And I am returning for New Year´s, so get ready!! We´re gonna part like it´s 889 (A or D) haha.

Hmmm, let´s see, what else is new with me? Well, I head to Costa Rica tomorrow morning to meet up with the rents and Miguelito. I have spent all day today trying to upload stupid photos to cvs.com lol. Gaby was like, why are you so agitated? But it feels silly to say you´re mad at a computer. But I was!

In other noticias, I also took a pretty bad spill down the stairs lol. I feel like such a klutz here! I was like, I´m not like this in the U.S., I promise. I was really lucky though because I hit just to the left of my lower back and bruised up my arm, instead of hurting any bones. I have a feeling the Costa Rica beaches might help me convalesce ;)

What else? What else? Well, I am realizing how fast my time is going by here now. Only 3 months til Christmas, and then only 6 months after that. Craziness! OK, that´s all for now. As always, if anyone has any poll ideas...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cuban Theater Festival

Last Thursday we went to see a play called Delirio Habanero (Havana/Havanic? Delirium). I really enjoyed it, though I understood about 50% of it. (Lessons in humility, right?) The theater reminded me of a spiffier version of Theater 2 at JMU :)

So, I definitely got that the one guy was crazy, and that the 3 main characters wanted to open a bar, as well as making references to Celia Cruz. But, it wasn't until I read the pamphlet after that I discovered that it was 3 crazies, one of which thought she was Celia Cruz, another Benny More, and the 3rd, the legendary Cuban barman Varilla. Kind of makes me wish I had read the pamphlet before the play. Oh well. I enjoyed the singing, dancing, and probably 1/3 of the jokes. :) By now, all of my false pretentions about Spanish have gone out the window anyway, and I've realized that you have to listen, speak, and submit yourself to humiliating sitches as much as possible to keep getting better.

Also, cool sidenote, the local celebs were all in attendance there. The richest woman in the country, who owns just about everything in Nicaragua from a bank chain to sugar and rum companies, was in attendance, as well as many other high-profilers. I felt cool lol.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

This pretty much sums it up. I saw it in a Sojourners email I got today. It´s referring to Afghanistan, but I think it´s applicable in just about any context:

We cannot kill our way to victory.
- Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifying before a congressional committee about the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

ps Thank you for the vote to return to Nicaragua, whoever you are (Conrad or Michael lol)

pps There is a dad with his 3 year old son in the Cyber Cafe showing him educational cartoons on Youtube. It´s really cute. :) There is hope for humanity yet!