Tag Archives: Making a difference

Does it Even Matter? Food in France Feeding Terrorism and Fears

I watched and read this article today in CBN News, by reported Dale Hurd (January 5, 2011). The article was titled “Muslim Halal Food Sales Supporting Terrorism?” The article went to point out a major discrepancy in French politics, while unveiling that buying Halal meat might very well be supporting Terrorism. I believe them.

And yet, the article irked me.  First of all, why are we being told about what is happening in French politics, on this one issue? The only thing I ever hear about France these days has something to do with Islam. Surely there are other things going on in France! The only reason we must be being told about it, again, from a new angle, is because we care. So then I ask myself, why do we care? Or more specifically, this branded Christian American news source (CBN) is reporting on possible terrorist links dealing with  food in France. And maybe, if that outrages us, we should look around us to notice we just might be eating the same food here. Tyranny!

I wasn’t too sure why this irked me, so I wrote out ten points, as follows, for no good reason, in which I analyzed this article from the what I believe is a Biblical perspective (note, not traditional American Christian- you can read all their comments in the comment page just to get a feel of their outrage at Halal):

1.) Halal meat is healthier than our typical drugged-up, corn and hormone fed, stuffed in cages meat. So, the way of health, you can easily say its preferable. If our bodies are supposed to be a temple of God, then yes, maybe we should all eat halal meat. I’ve considered it.

2.) If we should get rid of everything associated with Sharia, as the man at the end of the article was saying, then shouldn’t we also get rid of rice, flour, etc…? Those are acceptable under Sharia law, too, right? In fact, we should also get rid of many concepts of justice Islam and Western Democracy agrees on. That Christians agree with. Just because its Sharia. Really now, we can’t be against everything Sharia.

3.) Paul said its okay to eat meat offered to idols- hence the whole Mecca-Allah-professional Muslim cow-killer shouldn’t be a moral issue for Christians eating halal (unless you are causing others to sin because they believe it is wrong, which just might be the case, now thanks to this article).

4.) Was any of the money back in the meat-offered-to-idols day funneled towards religions/politics/ideologies that were not Christian? I assume so. Which means, I can argue that it is okay once again (from solely a moral standpoint) to buy/eat meat of another religion/ideology.

5.) When I buy from KFC or McDonalds, one could say I fund the spread of Westernism, Colonialism, Self-indulgence….maybe even humanism. In fact, we are terribly guilty of major damage on the world, possibly turning many away from the true God by our Western influence on the world. So, from that logic, would that mean I shouldn’t buy KFC or McDonalds? But, both the U.S. and in France are already seriously saturated in these humanistic ideologies which aren’t really for God. Does it matter which not-Jesus religion/spirituality we are living in culturally? Yes, we have our preference for freedoms, in democracy, but, is that anything more than a preference?

6.)  Please note that in France the concept of freedom of religion and separation of church & state is different in the U.S. In France, this goes beyond just keeping things separate.  It means that anything not French, whatever might be a threat to nationalism/state as first, is not allowed. The goal is to keep everyone the same, so nothing stands out except being French. My description might not be perfect of French politics, but be aware that there is a definite difference, and do some research on it. So, with that said, please note that the French politician + groups mentioned in this article are speaking from this worldview. Which means that it is probably even more horrible for them, than it would be for us, to see the French government having connections to Islam, which is overtaking the country. Their fight is slightly different from just a fight for democracy as we as Americans might understand it.

7.) I personally am not pro-Islam or Muslim by any means.  I think Islamization its something everyone needs to be aware of, because it’s already upon us (if you study population growth, migration, and birth rates, you will see that within this century our Western civilizations as we know them will look drastically different). I believe the question that this “threat” to our current culture is really a matter of learning how to live, as Christians, in a new world which will likely look more Islamic. The question isn’t “How should we put our energies into stopping it?” After all, in some places, especially in Europe, it’s too late for that.

8.) I believe we are called to be Christians above being Americans. We constantly need to check the basis of our concerns. Are we afraid of Islam because it will negatively affect our lives, our comfort, or worldview as we know it? That is a very understandable fear.  But why are we striving for the sake of democracy? I am far from saying this is bad. I am pro-democracy, I believe much less oppression happens in a Republic than any other type of government. And yet, I think we need to question the roots of any judgments we make or act on- do these judgments embody God’s character and would our actions be following Jesus? Or is the root our love for our homeland, America and the democracy we enjoy? These are sometimes in conflict. So we must ask ourselves, what is most important?

9.) I think we should consider other ways of fighting this process than just boycotting halal, freaking out, or trying to ban all things Islamic through the political process. Maybe these aren’t bad, but I think they aren’t going to bring about sustainable change. It might be too late for passionate campaigns, which encourage WASPs (and other good ol’ American Christians) have more babies in order to race with that insane growth rate of Muslim populations.

10.) I guess what it comes down to, is that I really believe loving Muslims, showing Jesus to them, is more sustainable than getting worked about halal. Even if they don’t all become Christians, which I think would be just awesome, at least being exposed to another worldview is a major force for change. It is undoubtedly more effective to promoting opportunities which provide meaning to life (like having an occupation rather than killing the infidels), while educating (giving alternate worldviews to radical extremist Islam).

The reason this article irks me is that it doesn’t consider the people who follow the religion of Islam, many who do so just culturally rather than fanatically. It feeds the fear American have against Muslims, urging us to run the opposite way, rather than encouraging us to show love. The article might seemingly be about justice, a character trait of God.  We can choose to let an ideology which we are uncomfortable with turn us away from following Jesus, who says to love our enemies, and teach others to follow Him.  I don’t remember Jesus saying we should not buy Halal meat. What if we were able to help lead the guy who sales Halal kabobs to Christianity because we spoke with him, laughed with him while we ate what he made us- rather than boycotting him. Maybe preventing innocent deaths through terrorism would be what would happen if we ignored the halal-guy, or picketed his meat. At minimum, though, we should seriously consider what furthers God’s kingdom more.

Recently a guy from my town  was captured for assisting a plot (a fake plot, sneakily created by the FBI) of terrorism made for the D.C. metro system. I am glad they caught him. But, I can almost guarantee you, no American had ever invited him into their home or really befriended him. Can you blame him for not changing his worldview, when we, the rich self-focused Americans in my town, never relationally presented him with another worldview? When instead we probably only reinforced his hate for us? In his culture he would have been accepted in a new place. In ours, he was shunned. For all I know, I might have walked right by him five times in the course of five days, while never even smiling at him. The people who carry a culture and religion is what perpetuates that ideology. We, the people, by changing our attitudes towards Muslims just might have influence on the very ideology we fight in courts against.  Simply, by just showing some love.

Muslim Halal Food Sales Supporting Terrorism?

Soundtracks: Changing the World in Humility

Sometimes I am pretty sure the only reason our lives are so dull is because we don’t have the appropriate music playing in the background constantly. I am convinced my life would be amazing as any Oscar-winning movie if some D.J. in the sky always had a perfect soundtrack going for me.

This evening, I was sitting here feeling slightly melancholy. It was one of those rare days when it hit me that my kids are growing up right before my eyes; the moment is precious and yet it will slip away. I know in my mind that these are the moments I want to remember forever. I am often told how cute my kids are. I remember what it was like before I had kids, finding myself momentarily impressed with the beauty, life, and adorableness of a child I would be watching. But I struggle with the infamous disease all parents seem to battle, just knowing this rather than experiencing it. You see, I wish I could typically feel these sweet moments for my own kids. They are like drops of water that I hold on a leaf, but will soon stream off, rushing into the river with countless other drops. Coldplay, Fix You.

I won’t say I was sad tonight. Just pensive and melancholy. And the amazing Pandora has been creating my soundtrack, playing in the background.  All at once I wanted to capture the moment: my children, this night, this day, the urge to read sacred ancient text, wanting to discover who God is. Mainly just for time to be penetrated in the depth of me. So I heavily drank down my coffee just to feel the warmth spreading to the inside of my body, imagining its heat to be the moment becoming unforgettably one with me. The music in the background seemed appropriate, creating the soundtrack I craved. Album Leaf, Red Eye.

I am still young, beautiful and sharp. I am blessed in my marriage and with my children. I am as rich as can be in every way.  I have a wonderful life. And then often I feel pride. I struggle to believe I am not the end-all, as if I matter so much that the world as a whole would be sad without me. All I can see is things through my own perspective. I guess I know that I will die trying to change the world, and so somehow I begin to think that I am important. David Crowder, Alleluia Sing!

I sat in a room today with other people who are also trying to change the world. It was energizing. If you could feel electric without it hurting, that is what this room full of hopeful world-changers felt like. It was that same feeling you might have gotten the first time as a young teenager when someone told you that you mattered to them. Or that you could be anything you wanted to be, back when you might actually believe them. I then glanced over at one woman, and I realized she just might be feeling the same way I often feel- important in her own right. I then remembered the awkward moments I’ve had with so many other people who have my same interests. Maybe its just that we are so used to no one else caring that we think of ourselves as better, or maybe its just too hard to get on the same page as someone else. Regardless, those focused on one cause or another seem to want to find others like-minded, yet when they do it might be hard to practice humility and work as a team. Florence and the Machine, Between Two Lungs.

And then I remembered I am just one person, whom God is called, amongst the millions. It doesn’t mean that I am not important. It just means that I am an essential part something more important. I am part of a group of people who is God’s own, His instrument of change within this world. Citizen Cope, Let the Drummer Kick.

My pastor mentioned The Beatitudes today, in a message focusing on the teaching of Jesus. When was the last time I read those? God is an Astronaut, Fall From Stars.

The Beatitudes

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Matthew 5:3-10 NLT

I look at that and I think “There I am!” or “That is so not me!” And yet, although I feel like each verse has a right to be given special attention, especially in light of international or social issues, the one that is speaking the purest to me now is that the humble are blessed. They will inherit the earth. Jesus taught about humility while living an example of humility I can’t even begin to comprehend. Mute Math, Break the Same.

I feel like it is wisdom who speaks, reminding us world changers that in the height (or lows) in our hopes of affecting this world for good, we will make no difference and have no lasting change without humility. Yet, when our pride melts away, the promise is that we will inherit the world. How’s that for being a world changer?  The Kooks, Seaside.

If my life had a soundtrack it would have  music with a strong beat to keep me pushing forward, to make a difference. It would have a lot of happy, busy and excited music. And it would also have music to express my roadblocks and sorrow. But my soundtrack would also have a lot of melancholy music, although not in order to depress. Instead its purpose would be to assist me to stop and think. To remind me of what I have been given, and whom I am in debited to for marvelous love. The music might move me to slide off my bed, humbly curl up on my knees besides it, and ponder how life is just so much bigger than me. It turns out am lucky to have a part in it. Feist, The Water.

Blog Action Day: Delicious Water

So I started to workout. Most of the people I know laugh when I say that. Not only do I know next to nothing about sports, I am chronically bad at anything exercise related. I am one of those people who run like I am a girl and throw like a baby. A baby girl. You should see my daughter run. Poor child; she inherited my DNA. Regardless, I am trying to exercise and I am not failing miserably just yet. I keep telling myself just one more minute, and after that one more minute. After awhile I have completed my thirty minutes while gulping down water. Then, I consider doing it again the next day (although usually don’t). And I know the days when I workout can add up like 1+1+1+1+1 . . . until I will have exercised all throughout this autumn, resulting in health and hydration.

I say hydration because I get thirsty.  With feet flailing around as I bounce up and down on the elliptical, or while my heart is pounding faster than my toes can twinkle on the pavement- wouldn’t you get parched, as I do? I feel famished. For water. Which I means I am thirsty. Do you feel hungry when you are thirsty, too?  I remedy this by walking over to my refrigerator, overflowing my glass with ice-cold water as I am distracted, making a puddlely mess on the floor for my toddling son to slip on.  Or if I am not home, I can stick a crisp George Washington in a machine, which then pops out a fresh bottle of water. I pull of the top, twist, snap, and drink deeply from the bliss of agua deliciosa while I consider the fact I used the idiom “George Washington” to refer to a dollar bill for the first time in my life.

It’s somewhat sad then, that a good part of the world experiences thirst and/or only has unclean water. That “part of the world” suffers from sicknesses and diseases found in the nasty water they have, which countless deaths are caused daily by. Some kids can’t go to school because they have to walk to the water source to fetch water. In fact, typically burdened with the responsibility, women’s whole lives are controlled by the time, distance, and weight of water. Think sitting in traffic to get milk for your upset toddler is bad? War and conflicts are also aggravated by the need for clean water. Oh, and here is another largely quoted fact anyone who is anyone  in the global water biz will let you know: “Contaminated water and poor sanitation are factors in 80 percent of all disease in the developing world.” It’s crazy to realize how influential clean water is- it’s one of those things we just don’t get what its like to be without until we’ve experienced it.

There are two specific ways you can help, right now. One is clicking on this post, Delicious Water: Charities about organizations whom you can donate to for clean water. I hope you know that it costs only $1 to give one year’s worth of water to an individual in a developing country (which is the “that part of the world” I mentioned earlier). And, if you partner with other people who give one miserly little dollar, it becomes 1+1+1+1+1+ . . .  Numbers do something. They add up. Last year, raised only by my friends, we came to just shy of $600 for my birthday.  That gave water to 29 people for 20 years. I have no doubt they will appreciate it. As will those whom you give water to.

The second thing you can do is to sign a petition like this one, for the MDG water goals (read about what that is, and what is going on with it in WaterAid’s recent report) I know, petitions seem stupid. But honestly, they are not. Okay, maybe sometimes they are stupid. But, they aren’t asking you to sell your identity by signing them. And numbers do something. They add up: 1+1+1+1+1+1 . . . can quickly become five million voices which someone will pay attention too. I am serious. You know the “Darfur Crisis” which everyone has at least hear of in the U.S.? Yep, that was a complete grassroots movement. It was weird people like me forcing normal people like you to sign petitions until some people heard about it in the media who made the government focus in on it. Not enough has been done about it, but still, at least people know about Darfur. And it is a lot easier for the average joe to buy water for someone than it is for them to stop a genocide. Have I made my point? Sign the water petition already! Otherwise I might start talking about how I get thirsty when I exercise again, and we all know it goes downhill from there.

Lastly, but importantly, spread this. Watch the cool clip on the following link, reminding us why water is so important for us to talk about. if you are a blogger, join in on the Blog Action Day. Or if you don’t blog, Facebook about water. Or tweet about it. Or tell a friend at dinner that they can give you a George Washington right there on the spot which you will donate with your paypal account. Then after that you can come and exercise with me.

Labels, Housewives, and L2F

I am part of an organization, L2F Needs Network. Actually, a best friend (the director of L2F) and I spend the majority of our non-essential-household-taking-care-of-time (there has got to be a better way to say that) running L2F. Well, her more than me- It’s her baby. But I like it too, partially because it categorizes some of my life under a label. I like labels. After studying things like psychology, sociology, and anthropology for so many years I am excellent at analyzing, categorizing, and labeling things. Ironically, we who study the social sciences proclaim the evils of stereotyping and labeling,  but that is pretty much what we do.

I’ve been thinking about labeling because sometimes I want another label in life. Typically I am labeled as a stay-at-home-mom, also known as a homemaker, housewife, domestic engineer. . . or my personal favorite (which is on my business card): domestic goddess. Lots of people understand this label as really meaning one (or all) of three things:

  1. Housewives are too stupid to do something else.
  2. Housewives are obsessed with their kids.
  3. Housewives are super traditional.

Of course, this is only my opinion of what others think, which might not be true at all. Regardless, I don’t like being stereotyped as such because I don’t feel as though I fit into any of these categories. Now, before you cynically remark about why I do fall into category number one, beware, before the character war begin! Case in point: these are the dangers of stereotyping. People only like being labeled into some categories, and not others.

In short, being a stay-at-home-mom is not my dream job. Raising my kids and managing my house are part of my dream job, yes. But, in addition to that I have been consumed with a little thing which I crave from the deepest part of me: Changing the world. I really want to reply, when someone asks me what I do, by saying “Oh, you know, I am a professional world-changer. For the better, obviously. What do you do?” If you really must ask, yes, my business card says “world changer” on it too.

I have spent countless hours psycho-analyzing why I am like this. Nurture, nature, life experience, etc. . .  might all go into it. I could write my life story here, if you really want to know why I am like I am. Thankfully, I will spare you this time.

I am pretty sure that having a label helps you change the world better. For years I have wanted to go back into an official position at an organization, church, non-profit, NGO, or have a profession, in part, just to have a label. People respect you, consult you, or consider you an authority when you have a title. I guess I don’t think people take me seriously otherwise, which annoys me because I think it hinders me. I wrote up the hours I spend doing various activities this week. Trust me, doing dishes and laundry were probably lowest on the list. Which explains why they are not done (and I don’t care). But, time spent trying to make a dent in the world was definitively at the top of my hours-spent worksheet.

Another benefit of the label is the accountability that comes with it. There is a set of responsibilities one has when they are a professional. Professional engineers, spys, dry cleaners, trash men, worm catchers, and even bad guys all have a standard they are expected to meet. Helping out on the side typically has minimal expectations and accountability. Even being an official contract signing volunteer, one has just a few standards to live up to. Yet, as a professional, with a title, the responsibilities and pressure to perform is actually there. I know most people view this as negative, but if you think about it, there can be a lot of positive motivational value as well.

I have semi-successfully been raising a family while trying to serve God by loving others for a few years now. Even though my label might not be what I prefer, I should only be thankful that I am able to raise my kids, that I am able to manage my own time, and I am therefore able spend so much of my time putting into what I believe matters. I might not feel fulfilled in having a dream job as a professional, but I am at least trying to be the first to admit how overwhelmingly blessed I am. I am content in my blessings; blessed by God and my husband, notably.  Regardless of whatever our label is, we can at least still make a difference where we are.

Hence, I wanted to introduce you to L2F (click here to see our blog, still in development). It is part of who I am, and its cool (so I think you should like it). In a nutshell, we pretty much find out about needs, communicate those needs, and try to meet those needs. It’s like we are Robin Hood, but we don’t have to steal from the rich. Which is good, because I would probably have some moral qualms about that. The vision goes beyond just helping people, it is really also just as much about giving others opportunities and teaching them to be world changers. Of course, I am the only one who is a little too ahead of the game, caught up on the phrase “world changers.” Most of us are just excited to be making a difference in Ashburn.  Our motivation is because we love Jesus, and we feel that this is the way He has guided us right now to show His love to our community.

A lot of what we do is through the local schools, but its kinda been all over the place. This week I delivered a bunch of diapers and formula to a social service organization, did some social media stuff, got school supplies for some kids,  talked about assisting a refugee family, helped plan a backpack program for hungry kids at our schools, and packed backpacks for the homeless. See, I told you its a bunch of random stuff! Personally, I love working with immigrants and developing contacts and relationships with those in need, as well as those who are already active in the community. Yet, there is always more to do! In fact, through our church (J10 Church), L2F Needs Network was really able to make a difference in an area that had no assistance directly after the earthquake in Haiti. I’ll conclude by showing a video of that experience below, and here is a link to some pictures a friend, Herb Looney, took while on this trip to Haiti.

Question: I know culture typically considers it morally good to want to change the world. But I have come to realize a lot of people don’t have that urge. Do you, personally, have that passion? What do you feel your responsibility is to your family, community, and the world as a whole? What is one practical step you can take right now, to make a positive difference?