Saturday, November 22, 2008

You put your money into what you believe in

Excerpt from "Irristible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne

"The world of efficiency and anonymity dehumanizes us. We see people as machines, as tractors, or as issues to protest. We live in an age when machines act like people, and people act like machines. But machines cannot love. We have to ask who the invisible people are. Who makes are clothes? Who picks our vegetables? And how are they treated? Growing up, I was told not to wear a T-shirt that advertised a band unless I agreed with what they stood for, but I was never told to do the same with the companies I advertised inadvertently. What do they stand for? What gospel do they proclaim?"

Where do you spend your money? What do you support?

Sweat Shops

I do not pretend to know everything about sweatshops, but am ever in the process of learning. However, what I do know I do not want to support.

Excerpt from "Irrisistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne

...It was a sacred moment. The executives tries to ignore them. They issued a statment that "the tractors don't come up to the farmer and tlel him how to run the farm." With tears in their eyes, these workesr wtih calloused hands and leathery skin from long days in the sun-scorched fields cried out, as if to God, "We are not tractors. Tractors do not bleed and cry. Tractors do not have families and children. We are not machines; we are human beings." It seemed to me the whisper of James was never as clear as it was on that day: "Look! The wages you failed to pay the wrokers who mowed your fiels are crying out again you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You ahve lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemend and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you" (James 5:4-6)....

...There is a brilliant scene in Michael Moore's doumentary THE BIG ONE where Philip Knight, founder and former CEO of Nike, which a has become notorious for its abuse of workers overseas, invites Moore to talk with him. So Moore goes in to meet with Knight bearing a gift - two first-class tickets to Indonesia. And he invites Knight to fly to Indonesia and simply walk through his factories. Phil bursts out laughing and shakes his head, "No, no, not a change." Moore tells him that he just wants to walk through and check out the operation, and then asks, "Have you ever been to see your factories where your shoes are made? Have you ever been to Indonesia?" Knight says, "No, and I am not going to go." These are the layer sof separation that allow injustice to happen. It's not that people are malicious. i do not htink we are naturally able to hurt each other. Even Philip Knight seems like too nice of a guy for that. But we keep ourselves at a safe distance..."

So, the process is beginning for me. I have decided to take some stances (small, but done in love)...
1) Not to purchase Nike, Coke, or Nestle products. I do not want to support big companies that exploit others for financial gain. I am aware that there are many, many companies that do this, but I need to start somewhere.
2) Will not shop at Walmart (see documentary on: Walmart - high cost of low prices)
4) Fair trade coffee/tea/chocolate. What a great way to support workers while not exploiting them. The store, 10 000 Villages, is such a great idea.
5) Will not directly support the clothing industry. This will not be easy because our society demands that you are clothes, and puts emphasis on reflecting yourself and looking your best. I am going to not directly support the clothing industry by purchasing my clothes at second hand stores. Currently this is the only way in which I know how to not directly financially support the industry.

The Irresistible Revolution

Excerpt by Shane Claiborne

...I remembered Gandhi's saying that what we are doing may seem insignificant, but it is most important that we do it. So we did.

While the temptation to do great things is always before us, in Khalighat I learned the discipline ofd oing small things with great deliberation. Mother Teresa used to say, "WE can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it."...

..."I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20), he means it. Over and over, the dying and the lepers would whisper the mystical word namaste in my ear. We really don't have a word like it in English (or even much of a Western concept of it). They explained to me that namaste means "I honor the Holy One who lives in you." I knew I could see God in their eyes. Was it possible that I was becoming a Christian, that in my eyes they could catch a glimpse of the image of my Lover?...

STARVE MAMMON WITH YOUR LOVE. I hope Mammon gets hungry around here.

...All the time, we look AT people - hot girls, beggars, pop stars, white folks, black folks, people with suits or dreadlocks. But over time, we can develope new eyes and look INTO people. Rather than looking at poeple as sex objects or work tools, we can see them as sacred. We can enter the Holies of Holies through their eyes. They can become a "Thou."...

...Dr. King was another one of our elders who spoke of God's love and grace amid hatred. King marked Ghandi as one of the great treachers of nonviolence and said this just before he died: "To our most bitter opponents we say: 'Thro us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our houses and threaten our children and we will still love you. Beat us and leave us half dead and we will still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.' "....

...What I love about Jesus is that he always has imagination. Author and professor Walter Wink does brilliant work demonstrationg Jesus' creativity in his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Talking about the familiar "turn the other cheek" versus, Wink points out that Jesus is not suggesting that we masochistically let people step all over us. Instead, Jesus is pointing us toward something htat imaginatively disarms others. When hit on the cheek, turn and look the person in the eye. Do not cower and do not punch them back. Make sure they look into your eyes and see your sacred humanity, and it will be increasingly harder for them to hurt you. When someone tries to sue you for the coat on your back and drags you before the court, go ahead and take all of your clothes off and hand them over, exposing the sickness of their greed. When a soldier asks you to walk a mile with them and carry their pack (as was Roman law and custom), don't throw your fist in the air like the Zealots, just walk with them two miles instead of one, talk with them and woo them into our movement by your love....

...Mother Teresa offers us that brilliant glimpse of hope that lies in little things: "We can do not great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it." Above our front door, we have hung a sign that says, "Today...small things with great love (or don't open the door."....

Here's one of my favourite excerpts from the book:

..."If we are crazy, thsn it is because we refuse to be crazy in the same way that the world has gone crazy." What's crazy is a matter of perspective. After all, what is crazier: one person owning the same amount of money as the combined economies of twenty-three countries, or suggesting that if we shared, there would be enough for everyone? What is crazier: spending billions of dollars on a defense shield, or suggesting that we share our billions of dollars so we don't need a defense shield? What is crazier: maintaining arms contracts with 154 countries while asking the world to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, or suggesting that we lead the world in disarmament by refusing to deal weapons with over half of the world and by empting the world's largest stockpile here at home? What crazy is that the US [and Canada], less than 6% of the world population, consumes nearly hnalf of the world's resources, and that the average American consumes as much as 520 Ethiopians do, while obesity is declared a "national health crisis." Someday war and poverty will be crazy, and we will wonder how the world allowed such things to exist. Some of us have just caught a glimpse of the promised land, and it is so dazzling that our eyes are forever fixed on it, never ot look back at the ways of that old empire again....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things Unseen - devil


"Rumor has it, the devil held a garage sale. On a table he laid out all the tools he has used to harass and intimidate, to entice and accuse, each marked with its price. Lust was priced dear, but not half as much as gossip. Pride had a staggering sum attached to it. But one item was priced higher than them all. It was a plain, dull, shopworn impliment, no embellishments, yet it cost more than everything else taken together. "What is this thing," a customer asked the devil, "and why is it so pricey?"

"Ah," the devil said, "this - how I cheris this - this is the most effective tool I have. When all other things - lust, envy, greed, sloth - can't make a dent in someone, when even pride can't find a crack, this does the trick without fail. I have beaten down more saints with this one tool than with any other one on this table."

"Well, what is it?"


Paul suffers no illusions...Still, he says, we don't lose heart.

Why not, Paul?

Because inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. We may be outwardly wasting away - getting sick, losing jobs, struggling in relationships, getting old - we are renewed inwardly day by day."

Things Unseen - groaning

Excerpts from the book by Mark Buckanan

"I have a beautiful family: a wife who is healthy, funny, pretty - and a good cook - a three children who are strong, smart, and growing like they ought to. I have fine neighbours, who swap eggs or sugar or video head cleaners with us as needed, who take in our mail when we're away....I have good friends and spend time with them just enjoying companionship, laughter, food.

My life is good - as good as it gets.

Yet I spend a lot of time groaning, and not just in the morning.

Is this just another pathetic story of selfishness, of a shallow but ever-empty man who takes and takes and yet never truly receives? Who is bloated but never full? Who devours but doesn't savor, horads but never treasures, for whom all the riches and pleasures of earth would not suffice?


Or maybe it's this: Some groaning is holy speech, another kind of speaking in tongues.....

This is how: You want to go home. The instinct for heave is just that: homesicknes, ancient as night, urgent as daybreak....Groaning is the lexicon and grammar of our dis-location, our sense of being in the wrong place."

So much wanting. So much longing. And so much pain. Destiny pain.

What if the "so much wanting" is for something earth doesn't have? What if the world that is, even if you gain it all, is not enough, and will never be, and was never meant to be?

Then what?...

In response, we can become so cynical that we poison oursselves, so self-indulgent that we devour ourselves, so despairing that we collapse into ourselves. In fact, self-pity and self-indulgence, boredom and despair, envy and greed - such are only yearnings gone sour...trivia to distract us.

We continually live for the Next Thing - the next purchase, the next weekend, the next job, the next adventure. This becomes so obsessive that we lose the capacity to enjoy and to be thankful for thisthing we have right now or that thing we got yesterday.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Mouth of a Gr. 2 student

In response to a school essay:


I cry, kick, sleep, scream, walk, swim, giggle, play, yodle, run, burp, bake, eat, talk, snore, sneeze, chuckle, fight, live!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cradle to Cradle: Design is a signal of intent

"All the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for years. Yet. their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soils. Human industry has been in full swing for over a century, yet it has brought about a decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn't have a design problem. People do."

Humans are the only species on the planet that are guilty of burdening beyond what it can withstand. We need to be humbled by the compexity and intelligence of nature's ability and design. We need to become native to our planet.

The industrial revolution changed the outputs and views of society where materials were considered expensive and people cheap. Industries fattened as they transformed resources into products. The products we see, sadly, only contain 5% of the raw materials actually needed in the process of making and delivering it to our doorstep.

Humans attept to work by their own rules which end up being contrary to nature. Our regulations and rules don't keep us safe, but keep us from being poisoned too quickly. According to the author, a permit is "a license to harm by government to an industry so that it may dispense sickness, destruction, and death at an acceptable rate." Couple of facts:
-of approximately 80,000 defined chemical and technical mixes, only 3,000 have been tested
-PVC plastics could contain phthalates, toxic dyes, lubricants, antioxidants, ultraviolet light stabilizers
-synthetic fertilizers contain cadmium and radioactive elements from phosphate rocks
-takes approximately 500 years for soil to build up an inch of its rich layers of microorganisms and nutrient flows, right now we are losing 5000x more soil than is being made
-average TV has 4360 chemicals

Our goal would be to have products we purchase and use to cycle indefinitely in the industrial cycle. We need to create designs that make good use of local material and energy flows. It is difficult to apply universal environmental solutions to local circunstancs (ex. solar power hard to maintain in Ireland). We need to not create damage and despair, but abundance and renewal. Throwaway products have become the norm.

Currently, our "environmental stances" are trying to be less bad. We need to be positive instead. The way to be positive is to design products to be "upcycled." Here we don't have to be intent on reduces/minimizing - in this process we can eliminate waste altogether.

The foundation of eliminating waste is to have it reabsorbed into either our industrial cycle or the natural environment. The problem is that air, water, and soil do not safely absorb our wastes unless the wastes themselves are completely healthy and biodegradable.

The idea would be to create products that can be taken apart and recycled. Take for example the shoe. Why not create a shoe where the sole can be removed and remade into another sole, instead of placing chemicals and natural materials into the landfill sites?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

As a person concerned with our Creation Mandate

Toilet Paper

Interesting fact:
Per capita annual consumption of toilet tissue in North America 23.0 kg
In Western Europe 13.8 kg
In Latin America 4.2 kg
In Asia 1.8 kg
In Africa 0.4 kg

We each use at least 50lbs of toilet paper a year. Ew, think of our lakes....
What could we do?

Alternatives I've read about:
-water, left hand, lots of soap
-banana leaves
-square clothes wipes that you wash
-wet sponge

Thursday, February 21, 2008


So, I challenge my students to take all 20 spelling words and to write the shortest possible paragraph that makes sense. One student managed to place it into one sentence....

The propelling competitiors of the previous provision conference club dedicate deposited time to ensure a complaint that depended on a predicted decrease in the progress of a misunderstood, confused, mispronounced, prevented, compelled prescription confirmation that is presumably about medicine.
Not bad, eh?

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I just had to share my favourite valentine:

"Miss Slotegraaf

You are a buttyful teacher Miss Slotegraaf"

-remaining anonymous Gr. 4

I'm really, really hoping that it's a spelling mistake