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Dialogue, take two

[DISCLAIMER:] I’m an idiot, and I’m a little embarrassed.

I recently wrote a post on this blog about dialogue in our political system, and how we seem to have lost the knack for it as a culture. I went pretty hard after our current crop of candidates for clownish behavior, and trying to score a rhetorical knockout instead of actually debating the merits of their positions.

The sad irony is that my post was extraordinarily ill-considered, and for a variety of reasons. First off, it crossed the line into being crass – I basically did exactly what I was saying I didn’t like about this election cycle. Second, I didn’t consider my audience – I wouldn’t say things the way I said them to anybody that I know in person. Thirdly, I didn’t consider my platform – 3a is that I’m a pastor, responsible for shepherding people’s spiritual growth; and 3b is that this blog is called “The Pursuit of God,” for goodness’ sake, and my previous post didn’t do anything to pursue God or lead others in that direction.

So, for all of those reasons, I apologize.

I’d like to try again, because I do feel strongly about the importance of being able to hold a civil dialogue. And I do believe that it’s an important skill if you want to pursue God in a deeper way. Read the rest of this entry

Numbers, good and not-so-good

There was an article on cnn.com last night that laid out some numbers surrounding the Haiti earthquake that was two weeks ago today. Here are some of the most shocking, and some of the best:

*150,000-200,000 – the current estimated death toll

*194,000-200,000 – the estimated number of injured

*9 million, 3 million, 1 million – numbers of people in Haiti, people affected by the earthquake, and people who are now homeless

*1.12 billion – U.S. dollars worth of international aid pledged

*783 million – U.S. dollars worth of aid received as of today

*317 million – U.S. assistance in dollars as of Monday

Wow! The aid figures are pretty impressive. I don’t know what it will actually take to help Haiti recover, but the monetary support coming in is fantastic. Plus, I just heard this morning that the nation of Puerto Rico is shipping a “Barge of Hope” to Haiti with 150 cargo planes worth of food and supplies. That is phenomenal! I’ve been to Puerto Rico; it’s not very big.

And that story was what prompted my guilt on behalf of my country this morning… Please don’t get me wrong, I believe that Americans can be some of the most giving and caring people in the world. The fact that 40% of the money that has already been given for relief efforts has come from the U.S. alone says a lot about us as a nation. But I don’t think it says enough…

The best information I can find says that the United States owns somewhere between 25-30% of the world’s wealth. Let me phrase it differently for emphasis: Almost 30% of all the money in the world is in the U.S. And 317 million is all we can come up with? I’m fully aware that the average citizen/family can’t afford to give tremendous amounts of money, especially when our economy is still teetering… But what about all the businesses, businessmen and -women, celebrities, athletes, entertainers, and politicians who are filthy rich? Last week George Clooney organized a telethon filled with celebrities to raise money for Haiti relief. Their initial take – $58 million. That is no small sum of money…

Until you think about the combined wealth of all the people who participated in the telethon. Here is an incomplete list – George Clooney, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Madonna, Jay-Z, Bono, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Justin Timberlake, Wycleaf Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Morgan Freeman, Halle Berry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Pattinson, Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, and Julia Roberts, not to mention that the whole thing was organized by the MTV network and broadcast on various major television networks. I may be wrong about this, but I believe that the names on that list could, by themselves, easily double or triple $58 million without breaking a sweat.

So, yes, the relief numbers look good. But at a closer look, not quite as good as before. Let’s keep working, keep sacrificing, keep giving. Let’s show all these rich celebrities, athletes, business people, corporations, and politicians the true spirit of the American people. Let’s give them an example to follow. And let’s keep praying for Haiti. Always keep praying…

Peace.

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