Monday, June 30, 2008

Bringing what she is able...

Texas in Africa wrote a provocative post today, asking what it is that we are able to give up so that someone else might have life, and asking hard questions about what it is to be church and to be Christians. I challenge you to read it and think about it. But if you can't, at least watch this beautiful video and let it touch your heart:

Let's do it!!

Come run with me (and many, many others) in the World Wide Half on October 11/12 this year! Thanks to Triviales Wissen for letting me know all about it :-). I probably won't "run" the whole thing, but love the idea of a worldwide event.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Inspired to Action

On the Inspired to Action website, today's inspiration comes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean."

On a completely non-spiritual note, in Germany to this day (not just when Goethe was hanging around) it is expected that everyone who owns (or is renting) a house, keep the street in front of said house clean, by sweeping it once a week during the non-winter months, and by shoveling the snow off of the sidewalk whenever that is necessary during the winter months. For this reason, my brother, sister and I all had to clean the sidewalk every Saturday when we lived in Germany, each of us having a specific section for which we were responsible. Thankfully, my parents took care of shoveling the snow when it had the audacity to fall during the night in the winter (you had to have the sidewalk clear by something like 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning), although I remember helping with this task occasionally (on Saturdays) as well.

It's an interesting thing about the German psyche --- you do something simply because it is the right thing to do. To the best of my recollection there isn't an actual law requiring people to do this, although their neighbors will remark on it if it isn't done (and removing the snow in the winter has to do with safety, etc.) And if you don't do the right thing, people will take it upon themselves to point out to you the extent to which you've missed the mark. In like manner, if you live in an apartment complex, you are required to clean the windows and stairs in the common areas (how often depends on how many people are in the rotation), and you are expected to respect the posted "quiet times". This is all set by the owner/landlord.

There is certainly something to all of this --- it's not just about taking care of things that are your own, the care of which affects only you, but also the bits in your purview that will affect the well-being of others. It's a remarkable amount of personal responsibility, especially when you consider that Germany has a strong social safety net; i.e. is a country, where people might be expected to sit around and wait for the government or someone else to take care of those things.

In very small ways, it makes the world a nicer place, bit by bit. How can we step a little further out of our comfort zone and affect the world around us in a positive way?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Google Reader ROCKS

Wow. You've got to love something that does all of the work for you. :-).

Just a reminder to everyone: today is the first day of the 40-day fast on Inspired to Action. Today's post was by Brant Hansen about "where God lives".

Friday, June 20, 2008


Calling all engineers!!! Is this for real? I recently got an insider tip (wink, wink) from Australia that people there are driving LPG cars, which cost half of what it costs to fill up with normal gasoline, and are better for the environment, etc., etc.

Are these available in the United States? What are the drawbacks? The benefits seem obvious enough.

Well, darn it ... they're only available in Canada and Argentina. What about us?

Going shopping?

If you're looking around for cute gifts, check out the Cute One's new blog, Annette's Creative Endeavors. She has a number of different pictures and notecards for sale from her Etsy shop, A&W Photography.

There's also a fabulous, fun giveaway at The Downtown Boutique. Buying stuff is fun, but getting it for free every now and again is EVEN funner :-). If you like stationary (and the chance for more free gifts!) check out the Inkspot Workshop and MewPaperArts.

If you're interested in putting your own handmade treasures out into the world for sale, check out Etsy. It's free (mostly) to set up your own shop, and you can be selling to world before you know it. For some insight into how much work might be required go here.

Ok, that's my bit for capitalism and keeping the economy rolling... have a splendid Friday!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

John Wesley's General Rules

1) Do no harm.
2) Do good.
3) Practice the Means of Grace.

Moving with the times...

I headed out to the library on Tuesday to see the movie they were showing, "A Crude Awakening". The movie was interesting and thought-provoking, and I recommend it to anyone interested in questions surrounding our dependence on fossil fuels and other alternative energy sources.

In the film, they argued that the earth has reached "peak oil", and that we are about to enter a period in which the amount of available oil is dwindling, but our need for it is increasing. I have no way, really, of independently determining if they are right about the fact that we are about to run out of oil in the next 30 or so years. They make a good argument, but there are experts on both sides of the issue (perhaps on all 3 or 4 or 5 sides...) Personally, I don't think we are on the brink of running out, since the earth has been around for a very long time, and there is lots and lots of plant and animal matter that got squished in the various strata and then heated up by the earth's core and turned into oil. But even if they are wrong about WHEN we are going to run out of oil, I do think that it will eventually run out, since we don't really have the time to start making any more, and we are sucking it up out of the earth rather quickly.

More unsettling to me personally than the idea that we are about to run out of oil was the realization that none of the alternative energy sources currently available come close to being as efficient and providing near the amount of energy that we need every day. They are all a drop in the bucket, and most of them require more in fossil fuels to create than they generate in energy, making it all a bit pointless. Oh, and then there are all the bio-fuels and the unwanted consequence of a rise in food prices and various crises of food availability around the world.

The movie paints a dire picture, but doesn't leave us entirely without hope. Although we do not currently have the technology, we can start working on getting the technology for alternative energy sources, if we will only invest in the research and development, and as long as we understand that all of this will take probably 40-60 years, or more. In addition to doing that we can also continue research into better ways of locating and extracting oil (many experts believe there is a huge amount available off the coast of the U.S.; Bush and McCain want to lift the ban on offcoast drilling in the U.S.; Brazil is apparently about to start deep-sea-drilling).

But the best possible thing we can do right now is conserve energy. Here are some ways:

1) Drive as little as possible. Try to do as many of your errands as you can each time.
2) Drive more slowly -- stick to the speed limit. I know, I hate it too, but it really does save gas.
3) Make your home as energy-efficient as possible.
4) Drive a fuel-efficient car.

None of this will lower the gas prices we have right now, of course, not even finding more crude oil here in the country --- mainly because we're not actually suffering a shortage, and none of the new stuff we find (perhaps) would even be on the market for the next 10 years at least. Brazil (see note above) has already done all of their research, and even their crude oil won't be on the market until 2020. And maybe our prices shouldn't come down. After all, we're still paying 1/2 of what they pay in Europe, and the higher the prices go, the more fuel-efficient we will become. And that is a good thing.

For an interesting, and far more lucid discussion of all of the above, listen to today's edition of the Diane Rehm Show.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Because HE said so...

... and because my dear friend Texas in Africa is one of the organizers and one of the most inspiring women I know.

We are called to be salt and light. Starting on June 23, "Inspired to Action" will be hosting a 40-day fast. Each day for 40 days a different blogger will fast for the day and blog about a cause that is their passion. If you would like to participate, you can go to the registration page and share why you would like to participate. If you don't want to participate actively, you can go to that site each day and read and pray, and see how you are being led to be salt and light in the world; to bless the world, and make it a better place.

Peace and love, y'all...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Thought for the day

The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social, and no holiness but
social holiness. You cannot be holy except as you are engaged in making the
world a better place. You do not become holy by keeping yourself pure and clean
from the world but by plunging into ministry on behalf of the world's hurting

--John Wesley

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Notes from the trenches....

Well, it looks like Annette has pulled ahead today (12 to 11), so I'll need to step it up!! But I've been out learning about worthwhile causes:

On Tuesday, I attended a "Slow Food Summit" at the local library, all about the benefits of slow food (as opposed to fast food). The movement started in Italy back when the first McDonald's arrived, and has spread around the world. The main emphasis, and one that is particularly important with the current cost of fuel, is to eat food grown locally as much as possible. The panel said that if you have a choice between organic food from 3,000 miles away or locally-grown food from around the corner, the local food is the best choice, even if they did use Round-up to kill the weeds (although it would be good to convince people to try more natural methods of pest control!) For more information about the slow food movement and how to buy locally in your little corner of the world, go here.

One of the panelists at the summit was James Spencer from Grow Alabama, a local food co-op. By joining, I will not only be guaranteed wonderful, locally-grown fresh produce, but I'll be doing my part to help local farmers and the state economy. (A little, anyway. For ways to REALLY help this State, check out my previous post about the Constitution). I can't wait to get my first veggie basket!!

I think it's great that so many people are taking a step back and realizing how good it is to buy local food when possible. Another panelist was Edwin Marty from Jones Valley Urban Farm, a downtown farm that not only provides organic produce to many of the local restaurants, but also provides educational opportunities for children and youth in downtown Birmingham.

Yesterday, I attended the second meeting of the Baptist Church of the Covenant class to raise awareness about the state of the Alabama Constitution. If you haven't watched the movie, It's a Thick Book, I highly recommend it. It's funny and educational, and highlights why we so desperately need reform in this state. But even if you're not from Alabama, I think it's interesting to learn more about taxation (our tax code is embedded in the constitution) and about how to tax in a way that is equitable across different levels of income. I don't like giving up my money any more than the next person, especially since I enjoy eating and having a roof over my head, etc.; but if it means creating a better and healthier community in which I can live, and if it means providing basic goods and services to me and to my family, I am all for it.