Friday, February 26, 2010

Haiti and Building Bigger Barns

Here is a chart comparing the population of the US and Haiti:

As you can see the population of the US is 31 times larger than that of Haiti.

Below is a chart of the GDP's of both the US and Haiti [Gross Domestic Product]:

As you can see the USA GDP is around 2,043 times larger than that of Haiti.

The difference in those numbers mean that a person who lives in the US is somewhere around 65 times richer than somebody in Haiti. That's a huge difference. With these numbers the average person in the US makes $46,710 per year and the average peron in Haiti makes $716.00 per year. [That means the average bi-weekly pay check for an average American is 2.5 times larger than the entire year's wage for an average Haitian!]

The problem with Haiti is not that they just went through a massive earthquake. The earthquake that went through was a 7.0 on the richter scale, nearly the same as the 6.9 that hit the Bay Area of California in 1989. The '89 quake caused 63 deaths, injured 3,757 people, and left somewhere between 3,000 and 12,000 homeless. Compare those numbers to the 230,000 deaths that occured in Haiti. Even though the populations are [somewhat] compareable, somewhere around 229,967 more people died in Haiti. Let me say it again, the problem with Haiti is NOT that they went through an earthquake.

In Luke chapter 12, Jesus tells a parable of a rich man who had barns which hold the crops he grows [as a sort of retirement fund]. Jesus says that this year he has a bumper crop. His crop is so big that the barns he has are too big to contain it all. So this man decides to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He only cared about his own financial security and because of this Jesus calls him a fool. It is not because he is rich, its because he only thinks about himself and his future security - wanting to have his bottom line look good - that Jesus condemns this person. Its not because he's rich, its because he keeps trying to get richer.

The thing is that its responsible to save. Its responsible to protect your future. But if the rich never look to help the poor, how will they ever pull themselves of poverty? If the rich only are concerned with their own safety and security, the poor will only get poorer. Not only do the poor suffer when the rich do not look to help them, the rich also suffer. Jesus in the sermon on the mount goes out of his way to pit riches and money against God [Matt 6.19-24]. So the rich person, when focusing on his own riches, is really making their God their money. It is for this reason that Jesus calls our friend in Luke 12 a fool.

I guess Haiti's problem is not that they went through an earthquake, or that they're poor. I think that their problem is that they have a rich neighbor who keeps building bigger barns.

"You used to Pray..."

In the film Romero, which documents which documents the struggle of the people of El Salvador during the 1970s and '80s, there is a scene in which Archbishop Romero, priest and martyr among the poor of El Salvador, speaks to one of his fellow clergy as they try to navigate the way through a tumultuous revolution:

"You're a priest. You believe in God and in the power of love. You used to pray."

Zealot Revolutionary Priest:
"I still do."

"Then why are you carrying a gun?"

[Claiborne, Shane and Haw, Chris. Jesus for President. Zondervan Publishing. Grand Rapids, MI. 2008. pg 285.]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Non-violence quote:

“A solider in command must be told not to kill people; if he is order to do so, he should not carry it out. Nor should he take the oath. If he will not agree, he should be rejected. Anyone who has the power of the sword, or who is a civil magistrate wearing the purple, should desist, or he should be rejected. If a catechumen or a believer wishes to become a soldier they should be rejected, for they have despised God.”

Hippolytus, “On the Apostolic Tradition.” (SVS Press, 100). Mid 3rd century.

[HT: Tom Fuerst]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Walter Wink on the Myth of Redemptive Violence:

[Editor's Note: Here is an exerpt from an Ariticle by Walter Wink I found. (Click here to read the rest of the article.)]

In short, the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the story of the victory of order over chaos by means of violence. It is the ideology of conquest, the original religion of the status quo. The gods favour those who conquer. Conversely, whoever conquers must have the favour of the gods. The common people exist to perpetuate the advantage that the gods have conferred upon the king, the aristocracy, and the priesthood.

Religion exists to legitimate power and privilege. Life is combat. Any form of order is preferable to chaos, according to this myth. Ours is neither a perfect nor perfectible world; it is theatre of perpetual conflict in which the prize goes to the strong. Peace through war, security through strength: these are the core convictions that arise from this ancient historical religion, and they form the solid bedrock on which the Domination System is founded in every society.

...[The Myth of Redemptive Violence] is as universally present and earnestly believed today as at any time in its long and bloody history. It is the dominant myth in contemporary America. It enshrines the ritual practice of violence at the very heart of public life, and even those who seek to oppose its oppressive violence do so violently.

We have already seen how the myth of redemptive violence is played out in the structure of children’s cartoon shows (and is found as well in comics, video and computer games, and movies). But we also encounter it in the media, in sports, in nationalism, in militarism, in foreign policy, in televangelism, in the religious right, and in self-styled militia groups. What appears so innocuous in cartoons is, in fact, the mythic underpinnings of our violent society.

Great Quote:

Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower
About the quote: from 1953

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Great Quote:

Because I do it with one small ship, I am called a terrorist. You do it with a whole fleet and are called an emperor.~A pirate, from St. Augustine's "City of God"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Great Quote:

[Editors note: Here is a quote taken from Shane Claiborne's book, "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals" It is a compelling look at being a Christian. Definitely recommend you pick this book up. Be warned, this book will mess with your mind.]

The documentary film Blindspot presents the provocative, heart-wrenching memoir of Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge. In it, she remembers the assassination attempt [on July 20, 1944]. She recalls how the bomb exploded in such a way and at a precise moment that Hitler narrowly escaped. She says that after surviving the attack, Hitler was more convinced than ever before that God was protecting him and his mission [with a triumphant smile Hitler showed Mussolini the site of the bombing]. It fueled his reign of terror and confidence in his mission. Violence galvinized his violence. Ms. Junge says that after the bomb attempt, "Any hope for peace were lost." Hitler rolled forward with record fervor to "rid the wrold of evil." Another attempt to pick up the sword went haywire, not only fueling further bloodshet but costing out brother [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer his own life as he was executed by the Nazis. Once again the cross lost, and the Devil laughed. [Jesus for President. pp202-203]

Monday, February 15, 2010


Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
~Barbara Bush
About the quote: Mrs. Bush spoke these words on ABC's "Good Morning America," March 18, 2003.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I recently asked myself, 'if the US didn't have a military, what would happen?' My first thought was this would not be a good thing...we'd all be destroyed! I'm sure this is your first thought as well. We all think that if a country were to lay down its arms it would be vulnerable to our enemies. We would be weak. Who would defend us?

As I reflected on this, I had an epiphany. I was putting my faith in the fact that our army will protect us. I was putting my faith in the fact people with guns would destroy our enemies. This seemed a bit troubling to me.

This then led me to ask the question, is military strength a Biblical concept?

What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Biblical Depth pt1:

When reading the Bible it is important to remember that this book has depth. One cannot read all passages at the same level. There are some passages the trump other passages. There is an order and a priority to the books, and they must be read with these things in mind. If one does not understand how to read the Bible, it is very easy to make poor or incorrect interpretations of what this all important book is saying.

Let me explain this concept this way. If you were to read the book of Leviticus, you would eventually come to chapter 11. In this chapter, you'll find a series of instructions on what animals that the Israelites are allowed to eat. Everything that is ok, is classified as "clean" and everything that is not ok to eat, is classified as "unclean." The chapter ends by telling the people that "they must distinguish between the clean and unclean..."

Acts 11, seems to indicate something else. The apostle Peter has a vision where a sheet is lowered filled with all types of animals that were declared by the Torah as unclean. A voice from Heaven declares: "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat!" As a good Jew Peter refuses to eat these unclean animals. The voice responds, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." The obvious interpretation is that this story seems to indicate that Peter is now allowed to eat these unclean animals. No longer must he distinguish between that which is clean or unclean.

At first glance, these passages conflict with each other. At second glance they still do. The issue then is which has priority. In orthodox Christian teaching, it is understood that the passage in Acts 11 is the passage that we should follow; and that no longer should we think of animals as"clean or unclean." Indeed, everything that God has made has been made clean.

The Bible needs to be read with movement. One cannot simply read the letters of Paul and expect to have a full understanding of the Gospel, we must also read the Gospels & General Epistles. We cannot just read the New Testaments; we probably should have a full understanding of the other 2/3rds of the Bible as well. The Bible is a 66 part book, and we need to understand each of the 66 parts in order to have a full understanding of its message.

A good exercise would be to read some of the "obscure" books of the Bible. Books that you don't normally read. Books that aren't normally talked about in church...

[more to come on this topic]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here's a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of who I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. -AMEN

[I Timothy 1.15-17]

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I still love you...

[Peyton Manning: 6'5", Laser Rocket Arm]

Dear Peyton,
I know you just lost the Super Bowl. I know people think less of you because you didn't win this game. You know what? I still think you're the best Quarterback of all time, that when its all said and done, this game will only be a distant memory and a small blip on a Hall of Fame resume that will be unmatched by any other QB of all time.

I know I've said, in the past, that you're a choker, but I was just kidding. I don't consider this a choke, just a tough loss. In a team sport, you have consistently led your team to victory after victory. Congratulations on getting your team to the Super Bowl, you'll get 'em next year.

I can't wait to see you don your #18 next fall.


Dan Bellinger

thoughts about the Beatitudes...

This morning we talked about the Beatitudes in church. Every time I read this text, I am continually amazed by the fact that I am not this type of person. I'm not poor in spirit; I'm proud. I'm not meek; I'm pretty bold. Its not easy for me to be merciful; I want justice. 

I was recently reading Stanley Hauerwas' book "Resident Aliens" and he made the point these qualities aren't natural for human beings. This, Hauerwas says, is the point. God is merciful. God is meek. God hungers and thirsts for righteousness. God is a peacemaker. 

Our problem is when we think about God, we don't think of him in these terms. We envision God as bold and proud, looking to find justice - at all costs. We think God actually cares about what people think about him, that he has an image to keep. The matter of the fact is that, this is not who God is. God is willing to humiliate himself, looking to humble himself. God in the Bible continually goes out of his way to allow humans, though we don't deserve it, to have freedom to do what we want. 

If you want to know who God is, read Matthew 5-7