Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Today, Wednesday, World Vision has reversed its decision, which is sad. Sad because apparently the pressure they received from groups opposing their decision was too much, and they have capitulated. It's disappointing in that it frames it as a misunderstanding with their key partners, and sends a message to those groups that their holding hostage of children and communities is something that they are willing to do and not be called on.
I have little doubt that World Vision will now be held in suspicion by the groups that pressured them, groups that rarely seem to be satisfied, and who will now certainly request a larger "seat at the table" to review decisions by the organization. These are the organizations espousing a "we won", "Nyah-nyah-nyah" tone to their posts today, and disregarding those who share their faith yet have divergent opinions.
On the flipside, I believe that the reversal will be met with great disappointment by those who remained supportive, including those who may have disagreed with their decision, but respected that World Vision was leaving theological interpretation to each person, congregation and/or denomination.
I thought that Monday's decision was forward-looking, expansive and welcoming of the wide spectrum of the body that we call the Church. Today's reversal feels backward-looking, defensive, and limiting. Regardless, I stand by my support of the organization's work, and look forward to the relationships to be built with our sponsored children.
Here's an article on the reversal
*** ORIGINAL POST ***
On Monday of this week the relief and development organization World Vision announced that they had changed their hiring practices to include those in same sex marriages. They further stated that they wish their focus to remain on the eradication of poverty and lifting up of communities and individuals around the world, and would leave the theological issues of doctrine to the individual congregations and denominations that they work with. Here's a wide-ranging interview with their President, Richard Stearns. As a Christian organization, World Vision covers the spectrum among both staff and partners in terms of theological views. And what they said was that they were not going to get into doctrinal arguments, but focus on serving those most on the margins. World Vision is one of the 10 largest charities in the US, and throughout their history they have garnered an impressive representation for care, efficiency and efficacy of their work.
I’ve got friends who work there, and I have worked on projects with many World Vision people over the years. Michele, our kids and I sponsor a child through World Vision (2 after this week’s inanity), and have always been impressed with the communication, detail and care that are evident in WV’s operations. They were early on to fight stigmatization of HIV/AIDS patients in global communities, and have always communicated an expansive and welcoming spirit to serve wherever there is need. We also like that they cover a wide spectrum of thought, as we feel that a variety of views helps us to develop insight and empathy for others, and just might help make communities stronger through that.
So when some influential evangelical voices began decrying their hiring practices and even stating that they would withdraw support from World Vision, it was depressing, and maddening, and infuriating. Depressing because it seems another example where someone’s every requirement must be met in order to gain support, or in another interpretation, the need to be “right” overruled the desire to understand and form a deeper relationship. Maddening in that it feels like these things keep making people who claim to represent good news appear nothing like that to anyone but their own tribe. And infuriating because the language around the withdrawal of support quickly morphed from another loud, angry boycott, to that of effectively making transactions out of an intimate, personal process of sponsoring a child and that child’s community. It made something powerful and enormous seem cheap and small, and damn near close to bartering one set of lives for another, and that is infuriating. But let me step back a second:
When our family made the decision to sponsor a child, we wanted to choose children the same age and gender as our own so that we, and our kids, could sense a connection. That’s just how we approached it. We currently sponsor a girl our daughter’s age who lives in Ethiopia. We chose that country because several of our friends have adopted from there and our kids know some of those kids, so there’s another level of connection. As of yesterday we now also sponsor a boy our son’s age from Haiti. We chose Haiti because I’m going there in a couple of weeks, and our family can feel a sense of place to where I’ll be. Haiti is also, incidentally, the country of the first child I ever sponsored when I was out of college, so I also feel a connection to the country.
Our decision to sponsor a second child came as a direct response to our sadness and anger at people declaring that they would be dropping their support of World Vision, no doubt including their very effective and well-run sponsorship program.
When I see people expressing their views in comment sections of blogs and articles, one of the most sickening to me is the train of thought that, “I’m not abandoning aid to children, I’m just going to do it through another agency - the giving all washes out in the end.” I want to scream at that and say, “do you not realize that you’ve just commoditized a child!? Do you not see that you’re acting as though the relationship you have (or have an opportunity to have) with the child that you sponsor is not something to be bartered, sold or transferred!? That that child’s entire community is affected by your actions!?”
Look, if you want to stop supporting World Vision, that’s your right - I’m not arguing rights. But you made a commitment to a child and a community. If this were a financial or level-of-care scandal where the funds weren’t reaching the children and communities served, then I get it. But World Vision is an organization that has a sterling reputation globally for its service and its financial accountability. So I’ll say it again: do not commoditize children. If you do, you’ve missed out on what the World Vision sponsorship program is all about. And you’re being being mean. And petty. And indiscriminately cruel. Wait until your sponsored child ages out of the program and has the advantage of an education, leadership and life skills, and then make your move. But to make this a cold, transactional exchange is insidious.
To my friends of other faiths or no faith, please see past the things that appear to be silly, nonsensical or ridiculous in this brouhaha amongst the wide spectrum of belief that my Christian family encompasses. It does not represent the best of this community by a long shot, nor does it reflect the majority of what I see my faith community declare and exemplify from day to day.
To everyone - it shouldn’t necessarily take something this crazy for us to have made a decision to increase our support, but this event is one that is pushing many to action. We had dinner with some friends last night who were wondering about our take on the events and what we may do about it. We explained our decision to sponsor another child, and they said that it got them thinking that they may do the same. This isn’t a heroic move - the immediate decision response was in some way a reactionary response to an impersonal set of communications. But the reality is that we are hoping to open ourselves to the promise of a relationship with another child and another community and see ourselves as part of those lives, and vice versa. We are making a commitment to a child and a community, and World Vision is the conduit for that - one that we trust and are grateful for.
I do hope that others will consider increasing or beginning a relationship through World Vision or any of a number of other great organizations. And I also hope that somehow some deeper and more redemptive conversations and actions will take place as the arguing and gnashing of teeth subsides. It’s been years since I’ve used this blog, mostly because I’ve written other things in other places, but I needed a home for this outburst, and here we are. Thanks to anyone who’s reading. Oh, and here are a few other responses to the news that I found of particular interest and encouragement:
Rachel Held Evans
Matthew Paul Turner
Ben Irwin at FaithStreet
Monday, February 01, 2010
Monday, January 04, 2010
REVEALED: The 100 Most Social Brands of 2009
many of these make sense -major brands, some luxury items, lots of media companies. a few that surprised me:
- nutella. coming in at #42. now i've loved nutella since i discovered in overseas in '88, and don't believe there's a bad application for it's hazelnut-chocolatey goodness, but to see it come in so high here tells me that nutella loyalists must love posting about it. come to think of it, i think i may get a jar tonight.
- skittles. yes, it's a major candy brand with a boat load of advertising behind it, but it still strikes me as something that stands out. not m&ms, not other candy, but skittles. with social media growth really coming from adult audiences, what does this say about skittles?
- pringles. similar to skittles. what is happening to these brands to make them show up so high vs their junk food competition?
January 03, 2010
Ten Reasons Why it Sucks to Be the Parent
Being a parent is cool. There's a whole lot of love that you get to give and receive. You get to boss a group of small people around. There's always someone whom you can tell to bring you your shoes. Or a beer.But there are downsides too. We all know it. I now present to you, in no particular order, ten reasons why it sucks to be the parent.
saw this link yesterday and thought it was funny, though i never had it our for candyland like the author.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
apple's design guru jonathan ive talks about mac design & unibody macbook manufacture. thanks @lefsetz for the heads up on this. remarkable for the intentionality of making things simple and intuitive. of taking 6 things and boiling them down to one. of making priorities clear by the process of design.
it reminds me of a bob dylan interview where he talked about the challenge of paring lyrics down to the absolute essentials. and it's not just in gadgets or tools or art, but in how we make clear what is important in life, in work, in our interactions. fascinating, challenging, inspiring and admonishing. a great way to spend 5.5 minutes that will burrow themselves in your brain.
i was happy to see this post today from the always thoughtful world of @daviddark. just yesterday michele was in los angeles with friends brian healy (aka dead artist syndrome), ojo taylor, ric alba, gym nicholson and others recording cohen's "first we take manhattan" for a das project. getting to read and ponder his thoughts was a fun part of the day today. and now i can't wait to hear what michele sang yesterday.
Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/Premise/status/7343604159 Thanks to the cool folks at premise for this.
this is a recap of a chapter that guy kawasaki wrote for seth godin's e-book "what matters now". i've been sending them out a bit lately so i figured i'd post them, as they resonate with me so completely. enjoy.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Thursday, December 17, 2009
- indignation by philip roth: i discovered roth for real a few years back (very late to the party, i confess), and always feel that i'm in good hands with his writing. how he maintains a level of quality and consistency year after year(he's 76 and seems to publish at least one novel a year) is remarkable to me. this book, set against the backdrop of the korean war, recounts the life of the character marcus messner, a jewish new jersey native who travels to ohio for college to escape his over bearing father. it's an off-kilter fish-out-of-water story that is both hilarious and wince-inducingly harsh, moving but not overly sentimental.
- the sacredness of questioning everything by david dark: david's latest is a grab-the-rails-and-hold-tight ride that synthesizes serious academics with keen insights into pop culture. in the book he celebrates the sacred process of questioning our assumptions about most everything: faith, religion, politics, commerce and underlying motivations. i would say that he asserts that an ongoing examination of all of these things leads us down a path of a more vibrant and expanding life of faith. many of the references are familiar to me (radiohead; william gibson; arcade fire; philip roth; johnny cash; etc.), and yet david's insights into these references are ones that i'd like to think i could have and explain as well as he does. i'm fortunate to know him, even at a distance, and am consistently inspired and challenged by his tough and gracious thoughtfulness.
- fool by christopher moore: one of my favorite writers tackles shakespearean dramedy with another cast of bizarre, profane and hilarious characters, including Pocket, the story's hero, a diminutive court jester, Drool, a bumbling, slow-to-think sidekick; a weakened King Lear and many others. as with all of moore's books, this is a fast-paced freak fest of episodic comedy with as many quotables as a classic bill murray or chevy chase movie, and research on the subject matter that also reflects moore's intelligence at melding post-modern sensibilities with respect for classic thought.
- gentlemen of the road by michael chabon: chabon may be my favorite writer alive right now. i was sickened to learn that he write his debut novel, the mysteries of pittsburgh, between the ages of 22-24, as i still wish i could write one sentence that measures up to his skill. he's only gotten better, imho, over time. what's been fun in recent years is the way that chabon jumps from genre to genre, and even mashed them together. a prime example would be the yiddish policeman's union, which combines an elmore leonard pulp-crime-noir murder mystery with philip roth's political what-if, a la the plot against america. in gentlemen of the road chabon tells a grand road adventure story set along the silk road of the 10th century, with swindles, cheaters, warring tribes and attempts at sex and love into a quick-reading 224 pages.
- christianity for the rest of us by diana butler bass: one of two books i read this year by diana butler bass (the other being a peoples' history of christianity). this one is a study of progressive mainline congregations that are growing and thriving, primarily by being present to their local communities and intentionally pursuing a variety of spiritual formation practices. what's more, many, if not all, of the churches she researched actively served and embraced marginalized communities and committed to being places where those communities were not only welcome, but cared for and embraced as part of a community. to be sure, many of these congregations experienced the pains of growing and changing, but the stories that butler-bass tells are not only encouraging, but prescriptive of what many communities in similar situations can explore for their own progression.
- falling man by don de lillo: de lillo is heralded as one of the finest literary novelists around, but the first thing of his that i read, the body artist, underwhelmed me and i struggled to finish it. a friend urged me to give de lilo another try, and i'm glad i did. this post-9/11 story follows a number of manhattan-ites whose lives were upended, and how a few of them connect with one another. recurring throughout the story is a performance artist who re-creates the image of "the "falling man", the iconic picture of a twin towers victim falling to the earth, and who continues to trigger memories, emotions and responses to peoples' experiences. the writing lays bare their emotions and moods without being voyeuristic or patronizing, and leaves them each in situations unresolved and intriguing.
- spook country by william gibson: gibson, author of neuromancer, tells another futurist's tale of spy culture and post-9/11 intrusion by the rich and powerful. what could be a litany of conspiracy theory type gripes displays a realists look at how technology can monitor the behaviors and actions of many, as a former indie rock cult hero-turned journalist enters an adventurous trek that, on the surface, is merely an interview piece of an artist utilizing new technology. it spirals into inclusion of crime syndicates, mysterious, eccentric millionaires and a culture of planned un-ease that keeps people from trusting one another. gibson sees the foreshadowing of how power reacts to progress and tightens its grip to assert control. realism without paranoia crafted by a fantastic writer.
- the medium is the massage by marshall mcluhan: mc luhan's prescient 1967 tome on how messages will be delivered through design is uncanny in its predictions for how technology will shape communication (commercial, inter-personal, cultural, etc...) as it progresses. correlations between the printing press and the internet are easy to spot here, yet remarkable in their ability to envision such a future. as music, publishing, tv and film are all undergoing their massive shifts, this is a fascinating read to spark more imagining for where we are headed.
-----alert: the next two are business books. some like 'em on lists like these some don't. you're now informed-----
- the designful company by marty neumeier: neumeier gives a timely reminder that how an organization is designed to work affects, and to large degree, dictates, how that organization functions, communicates, innovates and progresses. for me, this was an affirmation that all marketing / messaging starts from the design of what is being messaged. most everything else is cleverness and smoke and mirrors. but when intentional design is enacted, the rest of the storytelling flows from that. for anyone that thinks that that sort of thinking is too esoteric to work, neumeier has some things to say to you. it's a quick read, so take the plunge.
- what would google do? by jeff jarvis: jarvis, an avid blogger, reporter and media professor, delves into the core values by which google has built its web dominance. much of this comes as counter-intuitive thought to 20th century top-down, command and control thinking, and jarvis shows how this new model of doing business offers amazing opportunity and potential for those willing to look for the niche first, and then get deep and wide as required, with real-time feedback from customers. jarvis crafts what-if scenarios for how a google mindset would look in various industries (book publishing, automotives, telephone among them), and while it veers into fawning territory at times, the overall lessons are worth a read for anyone wanting an overview of how the web's most influential company is thinking.
Monday, December 14, 2009
It was another interesting year in music, and for everything that i liked i know there were 10 more that i haven't yet discovered. despite the complaints that there isn't great music anymore, i have to disagree wholeheartedly. while fewer and fewer things are ubiquitous, the number of great releases in their niches is astounding. i continue to love amiestreet, the downloading service / community that, aside from word-of-mouth, continues to be my favorite place to discover and buy new music. so in no particular order, here are 10 of my favorites from 2009:
- St. Vincent: Actor. I was sold on the first listen of Annie Clark's 2007 debut, Marry Me, and feel no less emphatic about album #2, Actor. Smart arrangements, great personality in the vocals, and sharp-as-all-getout lyrics are the things that make me think that St. Vincent is one of the most compelling new artists around.
- The Veils: Sun Gangs. This was a record that seemed to be on everyone's Facebook status in the same week, and thanks to the early tip-offs i was able to get this one on amiestreet before it went to full price, though full price would have been well worth the price of entry. epic, self-serious stuff with heart and soul and great flexibility in vocals. it gives me the feeling of a collision with echo & the bunnymen, radiohead, and rufus wainwright, though rougher than all of them.
- Animal Collective: Merriwether Post Pavillion. After several years of hearing about Animal Collective, this was my first trip into full album land, and i have not been disappointed. freaky, rootsty, atmospheric, experimental - a great addition to mixes that can hold deerhoof AND fleet foxes together. and the cd cover's optical illusion is one of the cooler design gimmicks i've seen this year.
- The Mountain Goats: The Life Of The World To Come - i confess i'm late to the party on the mountain goats, since this is record #17. but wow. it's a beautiful song cycle that uses as titles various verses from the hebrew and christian scriptures, and launches into emotional territory that few religious artists come close to touching. the price of admission is justified by matthew 25:21 alone. mountain goats mastermind john darnielle creates a number of stories of peoples' passings set against the verse that reads, "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’" one of the settings involves a story i later learned was based on darnielle's mother-in-law's cancer journey, and i cried like a baby remembering friends in years past who have succumbed to it, and then thinking of them in the light of that verse. every song has an illumination to it, and this one should probably top the list for emotional impact if not crank-it-up for repeated listens status.
- Deerhoof: Offend Maggie. i know, i know, it came out in october of '08, but i didn't buy it til '09 and i love deerhoof, so i must do something to spread the word. this band has become a favorite in the past 4-5 years, as they fly their freak flag, take big risks with noise and dynamics and generally keep my co-workers on their toes and on the lookout for noise bursts and unexpected twists and turns.
- Doves: Kingdom Of Rust. Doves are, to me, sort of like elbow, in that they have great success abroad, a low profile in the us, but continue to knock out consistently great albums with confidence. they have enough of a template to feel familiar, but take enough liberty to stay interesting and push their sound forward. so while other brit-bands can court tabloids and build empires, a band like doves can continue to grow a community that welcomes and keeps its members.
- Mew: No More Stories Are Told Today... and the rest of the pretentious and overlong title of the album can be read elsewhere. mew make unapollogetically dramatic music, bordering on pretentious, though i find it stirring and beautiful. how's that for borderline pretentious? but really, mew is music that creates an atmosphere that requires and creates space, something i have little of day to day, so perhaps i love this record because it takes me somewhere more open.
- Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy - my favorite hip-hop record from this year, though i confess i haven't had time to dig into mos def's latest, and i always loves me some mos def. this mercury prize-winning record from the uk finds the jamaican-born rapper in an amazingly transparent emotional space, all the while displaying a toughness that the hard-posturing caricatures that populate much of hip-hop can only aspire to. it's subtle, powerful and rewarding stuff from a voice that i'm glad amiestreet tipped me off to.
- Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - because they do classy things with pop music (pop in the traditional way, not american radio pop), and seem to be building their sound and following with each record. like doves, they have a foundation to build on, but keep taking risks, and aren't afraid to let us in on experiments like remixes and creative publicity-stunt-like performances that make them seem accessible and the kind of guys that would sit and have a drink after the show.
- Passion Pit: Manners - this one is a late entry to the list, but it's a synth-rock type of record that is just so much fun. it gives me the thought of human league, the noisettes and polyphonic spree all crashing into each other. there's joy, winking ironic-hipster stuff, but with conviction and skills. i'm glad i found this one and it continues to open up nuances with each listen.
there are many others that i liked as well but didn't get on here, so for posterity's sake i'll list a few more:
- deas vail - birds & cages
- monsters of folk - self-titled
- asobi seksu - hush
- muse - the resistance
- the xx - xx
- elle macho - !es potencial!
- au revoir simone - still night, still light
- arctic monkeys - humbug