Monthly Archives: November 2007

links for 2007-12-01

Tired of Shopping? Try Volunteering!

I just finished the Contemporary Issues study guide for my book. Within this guide, that presents the views of theologians on a variety of issues we face today, I made the point that Christians don’t often volunteer or serve the needy in their communities for lack of knowledge about what needs to be done.

I know this is the case for myself. While living in Doylestown, PA I really didn’t know what charities there were and didn’t know how to find them. That’s not an excuse though. I should have taken some initiative to find them. But nevertheless, I make my point that charities, for the visibility they think they have, can be overlooked in a community.

It is my own conviction that the nonprofit sector is one area where Christians can and should focus a lot of time, energy, and resources. Hours of program development and set up dollars can be saved by simply partnering with nonprofit organizations already serving in the key areas of a community. If there is no nonprofit to meet a particular need, then the church can step in to fill that gap. For the most part though, we do not need to reinvent the wheel.

Having said all of that, I was introduced to a great organization that has set up a site where Christians can find volunteering opportunities: www.christianvolunteering.org. The majority of these are located in cities, but many nonprofit organizations need volunteers who can help with stuff like web site development, and so a country yahoo like myself could very easily serve a homeless shelter in NY, NY  … that is, if I had any web design skillz. Sadly, I do not.

Even if we sacrificed one day of shopping to serve with an organization, I’m sure we’ll have a much better time volunteering than fighting mall traffic.

links for 2007-11-30

  • “Many scholars believe that social comparison helps to explain why, even as much of the world gets ever richer, people today don’t report being happier than people did 50 years ago. We might not be happy now if we had to give up the amenities of the last
    (tags: culture)
  • “I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy.”

links for 2007-11-29

Christmas: A Celebration of the Incarnation

Does Christmas deserve its immense place on the Christian calendar? Besides the obvious perk of giving and receiving gifts, baking cookies, and eating large meals with family, does the religious significance of the holiday carry enough weight and significance on its own?

One would think that Easter, the feast of Christ’s Resurrection, trumps Christ’s birthday.

And then one could be wrong.

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Now I’m Really Disturbed

I listened to an interview on Fresh Air yesterday that left me flabbergasted, shocked, and really, really angry at the negligence, and greed of America’s businesses and government. Apparently many of the products we buy and regularly use have been proven to cause cancer and other problems, alternatives exist, businesses and the government know about the problems and alternatives, and yet next to nothing has been done.

I’m not one for sensationalizing things, but this is something everyone needs to know about. Here’s the info from the Fresh Air web site:

Investigative reporter Mark Schapiro explains in a new book that toxic chemicals exist in many of the products we handle every day — agents that can cause cancer, genetic damage and birth defects, lacing everything from our gadgets to our toys to our beauty products.

And unlike the European Union, the U.S. doesn’t require businesses to minimize them — or even to list them, so consumers can evaluate the risks. Schapiro argues that that policy isn’t just bad for public health: In an increasingly green economy, he says, American businesses stand to get shut out of a huge market.

Schapiro, editorial director of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting… His book is called Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products, and What’s at Stake for American Power.

Turkey, Clams, a Salt Breeze, and Christianity’s Assault on Consumerism

For Thanksgiving this year we traveled to Portland, Maine where part of Julie’s family resides. We had a fantastic dinner and caught up with just about everyone on hand. I even had a few days respite from writing and decided to also include some time off from the blog.

On Friday we hit Portland’s old port section, which may be one of the nicest parts of a city you could ever find on the east coast. Beautiful brick buildings, plentiful restaurants and shops, and beautiful old streets. Whenever near the ocean I am drawn to steamed clams, and while in Portland we visited J’s Oyster Bar for 2 buckets of steamers.

We enjoyed the clams so much that we may end up doing it again next year.

While driving to and from Portland I had time to think about consumerism, the economy, money, and all the negative stuff related to the holidays. And moving beyond some of these problems, I was wondering what we can do to move beyond all of it.

With that in mind, I would like to think about the following: the significance of the incarnation (the main event surrounding Christmas), the redemptive presence of Christians, the role of Christians in advocacy, and the role of Christians as consumers in our economy.

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