"When you begin to think outside the box, you often become some other "leaders" lousy follower. That usually costs something" (Andy Rayner)

"Our guardian angels are bored." (Mike Foster)

It's where I feel I'm at these days. “In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition” (Falling Upward. Richard Rohr.120).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jesus Christ is no Pollyanna Tale For the Neutral

"As we make our way into the twenty-first century, there never has been a time in Christian history when the name of Jesus Christ so frequently is mentioned and the content of his life and teaching so frequently ignored. The seduction of counterfeit discipleship has made it too easy to be a Christian. In a climate of mutual admiration, the radical demands of the gospel have dissolved into verbal Alka-Seltzer, and prophetic preaching has become virtually impossible. By and large, American Christians today are spoon-fed the pabulum of popular religion.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is no Pollyanna tale for the neutral—it is a cutting knife, rolling thunder, and convulsive earthquake in the human spirit."
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

We Learned From Jesus To Be Too Kind To Sinners

“Dear Jesus, if it’s a fault for being too kind to a sinner, then it’s a fault I learned from you. For you never scolded anyone or brandished the Law at anyone who came to you seeking understanding and mercy.”

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Why Love Does Not Change Us

"However, my past twenty-five years of pastoral experience indicate that the stunning disclosure that God is love has had negligible impact on the majority of Christians and minimal transforming power. The problem seems to be that either we don’t know it or we know it but cannot accept it. Or we accept it but are not in touch with it. Or we are in touch with it but do not surrender to it."

( Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus )

Forgiving Perpetrated Injustices

"The surest sign of union with the crucified Christ is our forgiveness of those who have perpetrated injustices against us. Without acceptance and forgiveness the dark night will be only that. The bottom line will be a troubled heart. Forgiveness of enemies seals our participation in the dark night of Jesus Christ who cried out on behalf of his killers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Everything That Happened To Jesus In Some Way Happens To Us

"Everything that happened to Christ in some way happens to us. When darkness envelops us and we are deaf to everything except the shriek of our own pain, it helps to know that the Father is tracing in us the image of his Son, that the signature of Jesus is being stamped on our souls."
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

When It's My Nature To Save......

"Henri Nouwen tells the story of an old man who used to meditate early every morning under a big tree on the bank of the Ganges. One morning, after he had finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted, “Hey, stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned his head. Looking into the stranger’s eyes he said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”

Sitting here at the typewriter in my study, I turn to the symbol of the crucified Christ on the wall to my left. And I hear Jesus praying for his murderers, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” The scorpion he had tried to save finally killed him. To me, the passerby, who sees him stretched out on the tree roots and shouts, “Only a madman would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, ungrateful creature,” Jesus answers, “My friend, just because it is fallen mankind’s nature to wound, that does not change my nature to save.” Here is the final repudiation of the ego. We surrender the need for vindication, hand over the kingdom of self to the Father, and in the sovereign freedom of forgiving our enemies, celebrate the luminous darkness."

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Hindrances To Communion

"When we have hit bottom and are emptied of all we thought important to us, then we truly pray, truly become humble and detached, and live in the bright darkness of faith. In the midst of the emptying we know that God has not deserted us. He has merely removed the obstacles keeping us from a deeper union with him. Actually we are closer to God than ever before, although we are deprived of the consolations that we once associated with our spirituality. What we thought was communion with him was really a hindrance to that communion." (Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anyway........

Sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, a children’s home in Calcutta

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People need help but may attack you if you try to help them. Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

I Renounce All Spiritual Forces That Wage War & Wickedness Against God and Man. A Missionary Insight

In my decade in Africa, I’ve become convinced of the value of formally asking the baptismal candidate to renounce all spiritual allegiance other than Christ.  I guess it only takes one person coming up from baptism screaming under demonic oppression to come to that conclusion.  Time after time, we’ve seen people try to hold on to a little spiritual security on the side—amulets, rings for protection, “harmless” sacrifices to ancestors.  Time after time, we’ve seen people hold on to sin and sinful attitudes, especially those that aren’t taboo in that culture.  At least we’d never do that in ‘Merica (read sarcasm).  We need to renounce and turn away from the evil “trinity” of the devil, the world and sinful desires in order to turn toward and follow God in Christ.  I like the stark line in the sand drawn by the old confessions:
Question :    Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
Answer : I renounce them.
Question:    Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer : I renounce them.
Question:     Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you
from the love of God?
Answer :  I renounce them.
(Brian Hauser, "A tale Of Two Baptisms" Burkina Faso Missionary) 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Life of Pure Faith is the Dark Night?

"The school of humiliation is a great learning experience; there is no other like it. When the gift of a humble heart is granted, we are more accepting of ourselves and less critical of others......

Of course, the most withering experience of ego-reduction occurs when we pray, “Lord, increase my faith.” We need to tread carefully here, because the life of pure faith is the dark night. In this “night” God allows us to live by faith and faith alone. Mature faith cannot grow when we are surfeited with all kinds of spiritual comforts and consolations. All these must be removed if we are to advance in the pure trust of God. "
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obliterating Time With Ecuador

"Once you stop fighting and give into it there is a special beguilement about living in the tropics that lulls and disguises, that obliterates the passing of time." (The Farm On The River of Emeralds Moritz Thomsen)

When Going To Bed Is Risky

"At eight o’clock when I walked through the grass to my shack everyone would stand outside with flashlights, lighting my way to the door. We had killed a half dozen coral snakes here, and as I walked through the darkness the skin on my ankles crept and twitched with anticipation. I rather enjoyed the terror; where else in my life had going from the dining-room table to the bedroom ever been a life and death adventure?" (The Farm On The River of Emeralds. Moritz Thomsen)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Incapable Of Accepting Help On Our Terms

"Moritz’s experience, disappointing but never bitter, always colored by liking and affection, can teach us a great deal about imposing our will to help people and a system incapable of accepting help on our terms.”

(Wallace Stegner. In forward to The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Religious Mindset is Coursing Through This World

"Every day the religious mindset is coursing through this world in one form or another. We have worked hard to make the religious mindset attractive, and we built it using the best we had - the best buildings, the best programs, and the best budgets. Within this religious mindset and system, we have followed the rules, regulations and doctrines for relating to God. And the wheels on the bus go round and round." (Jim Palmer)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Situations To Horrible To Handle

"Three days after that violent night in which one or two students were shot, my body in its own unique way informed me that I had experienced a devastating trauma. I have come very gradually to recognize the delayed physical symptoms of events that shake my soul. I have always reacted the same way to those big things in life that fill me with fear and make me wonder if I have stepped into a situation that I can’t handle."
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

I Thought I Knew Ecuador

"But I was fully awake and perhaps as fully awake as I had ever been in that town. I had come back to a place that I thought I knew (1969), to discover that either I had never understood it or that it had completely changed and that that tranquil coastal town throbbing at night to the beat of music and through whose streets one wandered.... was now a town that boiled with repugnances and rage. It had always been that way, of course, but the rage had always been secret and disguised as resignation. And tomorrow it would be disguised as resignation again for the town had lost; it had been overwhelmed by the power of guns and by the determination of the military to ruthlessly terrorize the people in the first beginnings of their revolt."
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

God Lives In Our Poverty.... WOW

Our Poverty, God's Dwelling Place

"How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: "What is my poverty?" Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That's the place where God wants to dwell! "How blessed are the poor," Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty. We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let's dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden." -- Henri Nouwen

A Life Surging Up Out Of His Memories

"The old white-haired gentleman, his lungs filled with the air of childhood and feeling reasonably good considering the hour, walks more or less briskly back to his seat in the plane. A sleepy stewardess lays a blanket across his shoulders. Sitting there, trying to add it all up he does feel rather like a quite superfluous old man, a vaguely ridiculous figure who from now on will address young people with diffidence, not caring much but, half - expecting to be ignored or gently mocked. It is the first time that he really knows that he has spent his life; his pockets are almost empty: there is no second chance. A good part of his real life from now on will surge up out of his memories. "
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

I’ve Seen Women Weaping And Beggars Smiling

"l have lived too long with poor people to sit now in the middle of all this jewelery and the electronic crapola and the whores and the gangsters who want to own it, eating overpriced food, listening for eight hours straight to Muzak’s plastic ... music not to feel a profound disorientation. l have seen that smile of total joy when a poor man is offered bread; women weeping because someone has loaned them the five dollars they need to take their dying child to a doctor. I have seen people react with happiness at the thought of owning the very simplest of things: a piece of rope, a pot, a fishhook: have walked through villages of fifty houses where the most valuable thing was a fifteen-dollar radio.

How can those little children of Ramon's thread their way through this new flood of vulgarities that is about to engulf them without losing the way, without becoming infected by this future of instant gratifications and easy, false solutions."

(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

Free From The Muddying Of Life's Waters. Just Give It Away!

"I walk up and down hall examining everything carefully in the brightly lit cases, delighted to discover that there is absolutely nothing there that I would wish to own. l had spent forty years modestly collecting this kind of garbage and then, let us hope, grown wiser, the next twenty years giving it all away...... Twelve years in the jungle had isolated me from the flow of time's changes,' from the muddying of life‘s waters."
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Men Who Win Womens Hearts.....

Ecuador, in airport.... about 1978. 63 year old Moritz Thomsen observes

"Motionless on a plastic couch across from me, staring at the floor, sits a woman in her middle twenties. She has straight, sun-streaked hair caught up and clipped at the back, great very clear, very dark brown eyes, and she is dressed with the practical smartness of someone who knows how to travel; tan slacks, a faded safari jacket; at her feet a basket loosely stuffed with woven tapestries from Otavalo. She is beautiful, but what is more impressive than her smartness or her beauty is her grief. In that half hour as the room gradually fills with travelers she sits in a catatonic stillness, frowning at the floor, looking at no one and lost in the profound and desolate meditation of a woman whose love affair has just ended very badly. Looking at her I feel the pity that one feels at the sight of a wounded animal, and I fight the impulse to sit down by her and take her hand. Impossible, of course; she is firmly locked within her impregnable grief. Studying her face I realize that I know no one who could be worthy of her- and begin to glow with the power of a new insight: that the world has changed, that men have changed, that men can no longer match the potentialities of the women they pursue and, having won, cannot permanently cherish." (The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers.  Moritz Thomsen)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travel Gave Me Eyes

"Travel is the saddest of pleasures, it gave me eyes" (Paul Theroux. Picture Palace)

Say Something Truthfully In A Clumsy Way

".... he (Moritz Thomsen) would rather say something truthfully in a clumsy way then lie elegantly." (Paul Theroux.  In Forward of, The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers, By Moritz Thomsen )

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Holding Others Up.....

"Now Wai was back, ready to weep again. He wanted to he reasoned with, complimented, comforted, and told strongly that the co—op was good and that he should stay on as a 'fundador'. But God help me, I didn’t have the strength to hold him up; I was tired of packing that man on my back, exhausted by his lack of comprehension, his stupidity. If I told him anything, I would have to tell him that the crap failure had left the cooperative only as strong as each socio’s capacity to keep on struggling for another year." (Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Getting Too Close To Poverty

"You can't move in too close to poverty, get too involved in it, without becoming dangerously wounded yourself."(Moritz Thomsen Living Poor)

Christian Evangelism Approaches People With a Scripted Agenda?

It not about listening, being, or knowing them.  It is about an agenda of what we plan to say, and our envisioned end result. This causes us Christians to treat others as objects. We should be prepared to give an answer to anyone as to why we believe what we do. However, is there a place for people in our lives who simply do not want to hear about God, Jesus, or church anymore? Or do we cut them off and move on to greener pastures? Are you seeing where this leads us relationally?

It's difficult to listen when our purpose for interaction is to have something to say.
It's difficult to maintain a relationship if our objective is hinged on the expectation someone must listen to our speech. What if they don't wish to? Can we still enjoy each others as friends?
"What I came to discover is how much the world craves a listening ear. The biggest problem I have with evangelizing is that you enter into a relationship with a prescribed intention, and that stands in the way of listening well. You can't listen well when you are carrying an agenda. You can't listen well when you are looking for ways to fortify your own position."
(Cindy Brandt: How I KissedEvangelism Goodbye)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jesus Carried Faith Out Of The Temple And Into The Fields

“As I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.” (Wendell Berry.― Jayber Crow)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sophie, She Does Not Know What A Christian is!”

Aissata’s Vestibule

"Although Aissata does not work any more, she agreed to help us, and we worked together this morning in her mud vestibule, with the village population popping their heads in the doorway and chatting for a moment or two. I was practising my Bambara, sitting on the floor next to Aissata who was explaining the design to me. ‘This is the skeleton of the big snake’, she explained. There appears to be a large type of snake in this area, which I have never come across, alhamdilullah.’ Have you ever seen one?’ I wanted to know. ‘Yes, of course’,  Aissata replied, ‘and I have eaten them too. They are very good to eat’. I believe she is talking about a boa constrictor, because she said it kills by squeezing its victim. I looked at her old light blue printed cotton dress, which had little medallions on it with the inscription : ‘Notre Dame de l’Assumption, Priez pour nous’.  I was quite pleased and surprised  to meet a fellow Christian, but I thought I would ask just to make sure: “E ye Chretien ye Wa?’ She looked at me without comprehending and I was, as usual , disappointed that noone ever understands my Bambara, even when I speak it correctly. But this time it was not my Bambara that was at fault. She said something  that I didn’t understand to Dembele, and he laughed: ‘Sophie, she does not know what a Christian is!”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Impossibles Made Possible In Nigeria

"I never for once thought that I would, in my life time, hear of Nigerians strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up innocent people. We would have sworn that it is impossible." (President Goodluck Jonathan, nigeria

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The "Image" Of Poverty... One Photo Reveals All To A Village

"The incapacity of the poor to see the pattern of their lives is occasionally breached. I took a color photograph of Wai and his family standing in front of their house, and when the people of the town saw it, it had the curious power to make them weep. It was just a picture of a man, like any other in the town, with his eight children formally lined up in ascending order, his pregnant wife, and his mother. But there was something awful in Wai’s rags, in the tilt of his head, in the foolish pride that showed in his mother’s face for the voracious horde of naked kids. The picture summed up his whole life, a symbolic rendering of his past and future. The people would look at it and gasp. “Oh, my God, poor “Wai.” Perhaps for just a moment they saw themselves. Wai, of course, was the poorest, but not by much. You could measure degrees of poverty in Rio Verde with one pot or one woven mat or a dollar's worth of fishhooks."
(Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Love is Divine Extravagance That Never Counts The Cost.

"There is a certain extravagance in love. The alabaster phial of perfume was meant to be used drop by drop; it was meant to last for years, perhaps even a life-time; but in a moment of utter devotion, the woman poured it on the head of Jesus. Love does not stop nicely to calculate the less or more; love does not stop to work out how little it can respectively give. With a kind of divine extravagance, love gives everything it has and never counts the cost. Calculation is never any part of love."

(William Barclay (1907-1978), The Mind of Jesus)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Cost Of Your Cheap Bananas And Coffee

"In South America the poor man is an ignorant man, unawareg of the forces that-shape his destiny. The shattering truth —that he is kept poor and ignorant as the principal and unspoken component of national policy—escapes him. He cries for land reform,  a system of farm loans that will carry him along between crops, unaware that the national economy in almost every country sustained by a one-crop export commodity depends for its success on an unlimited supply of cheap labor. Ecuador needs poor men to compete in the world banana market; Brazil needs poverty to sell its coffee; Chile, its tin; Colombia, its cacao and coffee, and so on."

(Living Poor : A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy With A Biscuit ... Many Don't Have One

"When you sit down to the table and are given three soda biscuits and a cup of instant coffee for supper, you at first want to break down and cry like a baby and later, if you are strong enough, begin stamping your little feet on the floor in baby rage. What stops you is the knowledge that not only in your village but in villages all over the world there are families who are eating less than you, if they are eating at all." (Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Politics For The Poor... A New Crook?

"The Ecuadorian government, a military junta, fell one day with riots, shooting, and mobs of determined students marching in the streets of the main towns. (The government fell because of these student demonstrations, and the students were furious because they weren’t allowed to run things.) That day I was helping Ramon and Ester split strips of bamboo for a new chicken house about a hundred feet from the ocean in the shade of a large ebony tree. Ramon had his radio outside, and we listened to the birth pangs of the new regime—the patriotic speeches and screeches, and the sound of martial music. But after a while he turned it off. It didn’t seem to have much do with Rio Verde. “Well,” Ramon said, “the old gang made its millions; now a new gang wants to rob us. You know, it will be the same for us whoever wins. We are completely forgotten here in Rio Verde.” (Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Living Isolated Overseas..... Has Advantages

Has it's advantages too........

"Living in Rio Verde was in a very real sense like living in another world. The “real” world of change - of riots; revolutions, politics, and business - only began to begin in Esmeraldas at the end of that twenty-five miles of bench and ocean that separated the two places. It was, for me at any rate, in many ways a profound experience to be isolated from that world that we had been taught to believe was the real one and to be absorbed into a world every bit as complicated but whose main realities were the tides, the planting seasons, the winter storms, the betrayals of neighbors, and the fight to stay alive."
(Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Do The Love Me .... Or My Stuff? :-)

Need a sense of humor while living in the 3rd world.....

“Oh God," Loren Finnell said, “the worst thing about Ecuador is the day you have to leave your town, with everybody hugging you and crying and their faces all screwed up and streaming with tears. I could never go through that again.” “Yes,” another more realistic Volunteer said, “in my town they were crying and wailing, and five minutes later I caught one of my best friends stealing a pair of scissors.” He shook his head, half laughing and half crying as he said it, not quite sure after two years in which world he‘ was living—that familiar Yankee world, where your best friend does not steal your scissors, or the more pragmatic Latin one, where a friend can be equally as heartbroken that you are leaving as that your scissors are leaving."
(Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two Realities Of Adressing Islamic Extremism

"For their part, those I met were engaged in peaceful resistance to extremism, and their efforts constitute a far superior way of defeating it than the phenomenon formerly known as the “War on Terror.” I do not dispute that the use of force is sometimes necessary to combat some manifestations of armed Salafi jihadism. Too many Western liberals and leftists do not recognize this. But treating this mainly as a literal war, and especially as one without rules, as many on the right have, has done more harm than good. It has undermined the people in this book. Actually listening to the concerns and perspectives of these individuals and those they represent would force us to radically reconfigure how we combat jihadist terrorism."

(Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Karima Bennoune)

Most Muslims Are Not Fundamentalists

Found this quote to be insightful.... the difference between Islam and Islamism.. and how speaking in the west is so often misused as fuel for some peoples anti-islam agendas......  I live in an Islamic community with seven mosques in earshot,  and one fifty feet from my living room door. I live among a kind people and community, despite differences... But there is present radical elements,  with fully veiled women, from head to toe, with mere eye openings. Women have it hard under this fundamentalist element.

"From the Sahel to the Caucasus, a creeping “Islamization” narrows social space, assaults women’s rights, and transfigures lifestyles. Everywhere— from Montreal to Dearborn to Paris to Grozny to East Jerusalem— women of Muslim heritage are under pressure to cover more and more of their skin, their hair, their very beings. To disappear. The mere physical manifestation of their existence is now a provocation. After the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Tunisian fundamentalists used social media to call for the first Tunisian woman ever to win a medal, Habiba Ghribi, to be stripped of her citizenship for being a “naked, shameless woman.” 21 (She raced in the same shorts and midriff-baring top worn today by most women runners.) In such a global environment, one must speak out against Muslim fundamentalists for the sake of basic human rights. It is a moral imperative. But, when doing so in the United States, one must also try to do this in a way that will not be hijacked by those with anti-Muslim agendas. Islam and Islamism are not the same thing. The three extra letters make a huge difference. Being a devout believer has nothing to do with purveying political Islam. The vast majority of Muslims are not fundamentalists, though of course too many are. (Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here : Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Karima Bennoune)

Women Rights Die When Troops Leave Afghanistan

"As Hanifa Safi herself said to the Christian Science Monitor a year before she was killed, “When the foreigners go, they are putting us in the mouth of a lion." - Hanifa Safi, regional head of women’s affairs in eastern Laghman Province, Afghanistan, car bomb executed in July 2012 -

(Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Karima Bennoune)

Flogging Women In Mali

"The problem, of course, is not unique to the Maghreb. In West Africa, northern Mali became Al Qaedastan in 2012, with ruling jihadist groups like Ansar Dine (Protectors of the Faith) destroying centuries-old Muslim holy sites in Timbuktu yet provoking nowhere near the global Muslim outrage as Terry Jones’s pathetic attempts at Qur’an burning.  The young militants reportedly screamed, “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) while descending on the remains of Sufi saints. In October 2012, reports surfaced at the United Nations that Islamist groups were “compiling lists of unmarried mothers,” suggesting that these women were at risk of stoning or flogging. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, herself of Muslim heritage, denounced the actions of Ansar Dine as possible war crimes. 9 A Malian academic calls his country the “testing ground” of Al Qaeda’s strategy for the region. 10 Until French, African, and Malian troops intervened in January 2013, Afghan, Pakistani, and Algerian jihadis reportedly flocked to this safe haven while the international community watched. Meanwhile, unarmed sectors of the local populace protested regularly, receiving little international attention."
(Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Karima Bennoune)

Criticism Of Radical Islam Is Not Accepting Everything The West Dishes Out

"Criticizing Muslim fundamentalists is mistakenly equated with support for the actions of Western governments that claim to be their opponents. This is just wrong, and it entirely overlooks the fact that not everything is about the West." (Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Karima Bennoune)

Dancing For Fundamentalist

"They sing and dance and write and joke and bare their heads and speak their minds and claim equality and the right to be themselves when all these things are forbidden by fundamentalists, sometimes on pain of death."

(You Fatwa Does Not Apply Here : Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Karima Bennoune)

Why Do We Scramble Around in Life And Take Pills To Cope With The Stress

"We are aware that some of our attitudes toward life are now in conflict with those of most people around us. We find ourselves rebelling at the pressures created by a society that rules its life by the clock. We can now see how easy it is to make ourselves victims of schedules, at the mercy of a self-imposed routine that keeps us constantly rushing to meet the demands we have placed upon our lives. We are struggling to avoid getting caught up in the frenzied pace of America. Certain phrases from ordinary conversation irritate us now, although previously we have often used them ourselves: Expressions like “I’ve just got to go,” “I only have a minute,” “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have the time” are evidences of life being reduced to a series of frustrating episodes drained of satisfaction or pleasure. Why do we Americans schedule appointments so close together, or squeeze in a shopping trip during a coffee break? Does what we do in all our rushing and scrambling really contribute to a richer life for us and our children?

Life in South America was at the opposite extreme—complete disregard of schedules, utter indulgence in habitual tardiness, and a nonchalant approach to all commitments. We soon adapted to this leisurely mode of life and it has been a bit of a struggle to readapt to the scheduled life of our North American society. There is little in the Latin culture that depends on punctuality—maybe that is one of the reasons why Ecuador is so underdeveloped —but our neighbors there didn’t have to take pills to relieve their nervous tension, ulcers were unheard of, and the frustrated housewife or harried husband were rarities. Parents had time to enjoy their children, and I never met an emotionally disturbed child." (The Barrios Of Manta. Rhoda & Earle Brooks)

A Life Too Structured!

".....but as I contemplated the difficulties of readjusting to a competitive society, I found myself yearning a little for the unstructured freedom of Peace Corps existence and the simplicity of life among the fishermen. I had a gnawing apprehension that we would not be able to cope with the frenzied pace of American life that had previously been so much a part of us." (The Barrios Of Manta. Rhoda & Earle Brooks 1964 Ecuador)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Peace Corps Workers Are Just Boozers?

"The things that PCV’s see and work with are the unknown, the unexpected, the unheard-of, the unteachable, and the unrecorded experiences of life of millions of people who have nothing to say about the shaping of their countries. It is my strong hope that the “important” things will be supplemented with the wealth of knowledge stored up by PCV’s returning to the U.S.

A sad, yet humorous, situation often occurs when volunteers go into a larger town to “get away from it all” after many days, weeks, or months in the backlands. Having arrived by truck, broken-down bus, or even on horseback, the PCV looks for good food and a nice place to stay. He might have saved a little money or received ten dollars for his birthday, and he wants to have a little fun. So he is seen by tourists, politicians, visiting professors, consulting experts and advisers, businessmen, and high—level government people, letting off steam and relaxing from pressure. He is rarely seen hard at work because these other people seldom visit the out-of—the-way places where the work is being done. So they say, “They don’t do anything but sit around the street cafes and drink beer.” Or, “They are a bunch of young college kids out to have fun.” One rather outspoken government employee even told me that “they are arrogant and rude. They think we should all run into the streets and love everyone we see; that’s foolish.”
(The Barrios Of Manta. Rhoda & Earle Brooks)

Friday, July 25, 2014

An Untiring Missionary In Ecuador

Peace Corps workers in Ecuador speak about a missionary they got to know who had been serving faithfully for 27 years just five kilometers frim their town.  This was in 1962-1963

"Bill and Alice have an enthusiasm and love for mankind that has endured through more than a quarter of a century of disappointments and setbacks. They have seen countless Americans come and go with ideas and projects. Many of these projects have fizzled and patience has often run out. But Bill Boyes stands high, walks with purpose, has a firm grip on his fellowmen and an enduring faith in God. He is untiring."
(The Barrios Of Manta. Rhoda & Earle Brooks)

Serving The Rich And Poor In Community Development?

"There is often quite a contrast between the standard of living of Peace Corps volunteers on subsistence pay and that of the other, more comfortably situated, government employees; this is because the former organization emphasizes contacts with the poorest people While the latter emphasizes contacts with the richest. But Rhoda and I found that if contacts were not made with all levels of people, “community development” was an unrealizable ideal. Without the cooperation of people from both economic groups, I don’t think any of our ideas—or even the Casa del Obrero itself—would have survived."
(The Barrios Of Manta. Rhoda & Earle Brooks)

How We Live In Foreign Lands

"I cannot make any generalizations about the problems created by our image abroad because North Americans in foreign lands vary from the “let’s-go-native” variety to the “we-live-in-an-ivory-tower” type. Several U.S. Consulate people visited our beach house. They usually brought their own food and ate it exclusively. I saw Embassy people on similar occasions refuse good food carefully prepared by Bob Carpenter’s Ecuadorian wife. The North American’s caution can be extreme and sometimes harmful. We knew North Americans whose overprotective concern for themselves strained their personal relationships with Ecuadorians to the point of little or no social contact. They were too stiff to be able to relax enough to enjoy the simplicity and friendliness of the life around them.

Rhoda told me about the comments of two U.S. government people who came to visit our house. “Do you always have so many people around?” they said, referring to the many, always present, neighbors. “I’ve seen them on the street but they never come into my house.”

“I respect these people for the fine and necessary work they do for the U.S. in Ecuador,” Rhoda said, “but I also feel sorry for many of them because they are missing out on so much fun.
Work is being done by foreign service people, technical assistance personnel, and volunteers in the Peace Corps who live in everything from lean—to shacks to homes swarming with servants. Accomplishments seem to be based on personal associations with the nationals, which in turn is based on appreciation, interest, and respect. Adherence to a specific standard of living is not the most important factor, though it is the feeling of many responsible Peace Corps volunteers that an extremely high standard of living in poor countries almost automatically limits contact with the vast majority of people."
(The Barrios Of Manta. Rhoda & Earle Brooks)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Enough?

"Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” —Epicurus

Tozer On Over Organization And Institutionalism

Towzer on over organization and institutionalism.....wow

“Another cause back of our top-heavy and ugly over-organization is fear. Churches and societies founded by saintly men with courage, faith and sanctified imagination appear unable to propagate themselves on the same spiritual level beyond one or two generations.

The spiritual fathers were not able to sire others with courage and faith equal to their own. The fathers had God and little else, but their descendants lose their vision and look to methods and constitutions for the power their hearts tell them they lack. Then rules and precedents harden into a protective shell where they can take refuge from trouble. It is always easier and safer to pull in our necks than to fight things out on the field of battle.

In all our fallen life there is a strong gravitational pull toward complexity and away from things simple and real. There seems to be a kind of sad inevitability back of our morbid urge toward spiritual suicide. Only by prophetic insight, watchful prayer and hard work can we reverse the trend and recover the departed glory.”

~ A.W. Tozer