Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Commentary on Society

Photographer Chris Jordan makes visual statements about American consumerism which are beautiful and astonishing. He says, "The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits." Here are a few of his pieces, followed by a few detail shots:

Depicts 2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005.

Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fair Trade Month

Since October is Fair Trade Month, I wanted to share a few online retailers to get you started early on your Christmas shopping! Fair Trade empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. Here are some awesome gifts that you’ll feel great about buying. >carrie.

-The Acacia Wood Bowls (pictured above)from
-Woven Rattan tray from
-a lavendar bracelet from
-jersey wrap dress from
-Bamboo & Leaf Journal from Ten Thousand Villages

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

International Justice Mission

Sarah and I went to a benefit dinner for International Justice Mission last week. IJM fights human trafficking in developing countries. Today more people around the world are in slavery and sold in the sex trade than ever before in history. It's good to see somebody trying to do something about it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


While David and I lived on the farm in Kenya with Made in the Streets, a sweet girl named Lucy Wanjko came to live there as well. Lucy had made the decision to change her life of living on the streets into a life living at Made in the Streets that would give her hope for her future.
Lucy came to us with a difficult past. She had been living on a "base" (a place where a group of street kids call home) that was near a pile of garbage. She lived there with her mother and father and sister. We know that Lucy sniffed glue and had to overcome that addiction upon her move to the farm. We don't know if Lucy was ever raped but the majority of girls living on bases usually have been (and usually more than one time). Lucy thankfully did not carry the AIDS virus.
I had the responsibility of tutoring English and math during my stay and Lucy was my first student. She later became David's student. David and I both struggled to teach Lucy. She was competitive with her learning but struggled when others did better than her. She struggled with handling the teasing that teenagers often do.
Lucy would strike out at the boys who would tease her by hitting them or name calling. One night, a girl in the kitchen teased Lucy and Lucy, not knowing how to handle her insecurities any other way, stabbed the girl in her wrist with a kitchen knife. We prayed unceasingly for Lucy to change her ways. Her decisions were now endangering the lives of the other kids, who needed to feel safe at MITS. Lucy apoligized to this girl and we thought she was changing.
David and I returned to the US and continued to hear of Lucy's struggles. I wrote her a letter of encouragement to change and to remind her of all the beautiful qualities that I saw in her and how I hoped for her to find a new life free of her past struggles.
Soon after this, we learned that Lucy could not change. Her past was too webbed inside of her and she could no longer stay at MITS. She was returned to her family and to a life living on the streets.
We just visited with a dear friend of ours who continues to work on the streets of Nairobi, rescuing other children from this street life. He gave us news that he has seen Lucy and that she now has a son named Joel. The good news is that she comes to the mothers program and her father has told MITS staff that her time with MITS did change her for the better.
I share this story to remind us all that some people have a past that is so diffcult to free them and while we so desparately want them to have a "normal" and "successful" life, we may need to change our definitions of these standards and in every oppurtunity display mercy to those who need it the most.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What the Bible Says about Healthy Living

Several months ago, on the recommendation of a midwife friend, I read the book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Dr. Rex Russell. Jessica’s reading it now. I was skeptical at first because of the title, wondering what, besides books, this guy was selling. But, I was pleased to find that to make the nutritional changes he recommends, you don’t have to buy any recommended supplements (like Dead Sea Algae Capsules) or prepackaged “holy” foods. Instead, his approach is to recommend that we keep the dietary guidelines of the Mosaic Law.

His story is that he and his family were chronically run down and plagued with chronic illnesses – diabetes, arthritis, deterioration of his eyesight, cavities, among others. Even though he is a doctor, and was following the recommended treatments, he wasn’t getting much better. He tried other non-traditional treatments, like eating a fistful of vitamins every day, to no avail. Then he had the epiphany to give the Mosiac dietary laws a try. He found that in his own family and eventually in his patients that tried the same approach that many of these chronic conditions and others went away or diminished.

He distills the Levitical lists of eats and don’t-eats into three principles:

Eat only the foods that God created for human food – No scavengers like pork, shellfish, fish with skin not scales, birds without a gizzard, etc. These are nature’s trash collectors, full of toxins. Eat all the fruits, veggies, whole grains, seeds, and nuts you want.

Don’t alter God’s design – Eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Drink water. Avoid meats that have been pumped full of antibiotics and hormones (which, because of price constraints and the minimal amount of meat your body really needs, means greatly reducing the amount of meat you eat). The food and drink that have been chemically altered, stripped, enriched, colored, preserved, hydrogenated, and fortified lose their nutritional qualities and fill you up with chemicals that have bad or unknown effects on your health.

Don’t let any food or drink become your god – Practice fasting to give your body its needed rest and to break any food addictions, like sugar and, ahem, caffeine.

He weaves in medical statistics and cases to back up his points. Those stats seem plausible to me, but more convincing is the theology and simplicity of the approach.

On the theology front, he opens the book quoting Moses’ speech to the Isrealites in Exodous 15. Moses is telling them about how God will bless them if they follow His Law. These blessings, Dr. Russell explains, are not just a matter of being cosmically square with God, but are tangible blessings of a better life: avoiding some diseases, relationship problems, property disputes, etc. that can be avoided. I’m with him on this point. And he doesn’t overstate it. No “health and wealth” claims of a charmed life. Some diseases and bad situations you simply cannot avoid or cure. He still has diabetes, though it has gotten better on the new diet. And, he doesn’t claim that eating this way makes you righter with God. And, you don’t have to keep a kosher kitchen, too tall of an order for me.

On the simplicity side, the principles pretty well knock out all of the food in the middle of any grocery store, where all of the processed, mass advertised stuff is. On this plan, you pretty much shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and buy things with price tags uninflated by advertising dollars. Eating this way can stretch your grocery dollar, keep you away from the doctor and dentist, and cut the amount of time you spend in the grocery store. Educating our children and communities to eat this way could benefit public health and allow the poor to eat and feel better.

We’ve started eating this way, and its not been absolutely easy. Convenience foods are pretty much eliminated on this plan. No more Create-a-Meals or Hamburger Helper, so stuff takes longer to prepare. And, we’ve switched to organic milk and as much as we can to organic meat, which are more expensive. But we have seen a net reduction in our grocery budget as a result, and we can feel the health effects of reducing processed sugar, white flour, pork, and other things. When we eat these things occasionally now, we can tell almost immediately that they make us feel worse.

-The Schweigers