July 23, 2011

The Rich's Fair Share

Our nation faces many challenges, but the one that we stand at the cusp of truly is a significant one.  The most predictable possible disaster involves our looming budget crisis that currently is being played in the political arena and not the problem solving one. It is much easier to ridicule someone who thinks differently than you do than it is to work with them to create a working solution.

One idea that some have is to increase taxes on the rich among us. The argument is that since they have more money than the rest of us, they have an obligation to be willing to pay a higher percentage of their income than the rest of us do. Because to them, a couple thousand here and a couple thousand there are what quarters and nickels are to you and me.  The principle is: you have more so you have to give more.

Most people like this argument because it involves people who are not them. Other people have money so they have to pay. We, on the other hand, will take care of what we need to take care of since we have our own struggles to deal with.

According to the World Bank, there are about 6.7 billion people in the world. Out of them, 1.4 billion live on less than $1.25 per day.  Let's say at your job, you make exactly minimum wage. Right now that is $7.25. Let's say you work a standard 8 hour day which means you earn $58.00 per day. So you, minimum wage earning American make more than 48 times than those who live below the poverty line. (This is not even getting started with the other groups of the world population that you are living a life of luxury compared to).

A person working minimum wage's annual salary would be around $15,080, and 48 times that would be $723,840. Someone who earns that salary would definitely be a part of the "rich" who "need" to pay their fair share compared to us.  Wealth is relative, and by using the rationale that we say the rich have an obligation to help those who are not as well off, it makes you obligated those who live below the poverty line.  Odds are, you make more than minimum wage.

How can you help? Compassion International seeks to "Release children from poverty in Jesus' name." Anything you can provide can help. They have a whole host of programs that are literally saving and transforming lives. You can donate here.

You, actually, relative to the world are "the rich." Now stop talking about yourself and do what you say the rich should be doing.

July 21, 2011

Blinking Light

I am at work watching the blinking light on my phone. It is trying to let me know that I have an unheard voicemail. I know who it is from, but I don't want to listen to it.

I don't know what the message says, but I simply do not want to hear it.

We had been meeting with various vendors who could possibly provide our organization with a particular service. I had been in communication with this gentleman over the past couple months over the phone and via email. However, after a recent meeting, it became evident that the service that his company could provide would not be a good fit for our needs.

I emailed him earlier today to confirm this news with him.

So he called back. There is no way that his company can be in the running, and we already have selected our final three. I imagine his message involves attempts at clarification, that I have it wrong, and that they deserve another chance. However, the issue is too large to ignore.

I have that awkward, nauseated feeling in talking to him now. Like "It's not you, it's me... but actually, it's really you." Must I tell him again that it's not going to work? Can't we all just move on with our lives? I feel like the dumper in a break-up (speaking of which, This American Life had an excellent podcast on the issue this week). However, I am in the role in which a pathetic song is sung to me.

I wish I could simply delete the voicemail. Move forward with our process. Not have to have any more contact with him after delivering the bad news. But I can't. I will listen to the message. I have to. I sort of have a heart.

But until I do, the light will blink.

July 19, 2011

The Blessing (Review)

I received a copy of The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley to review, I didn't realize it was an updated version of a book that was originally released more than twenty years ago. When I saw that it was a successful release previously, my expectations were a bit higher going into it than they normally are. That said, I was disappointed in what I read. Not because the parenting/adult blesser material was bad, but because the connection from "the blessing" to the five elements that the authors describe seem to be slightly disconnected from scripture.  This is not to say that the principles they advocate are unbiblical, but rather that "the blessing" is not a unique biblical idea. There are biblical examples that the authors cite to illustrate their five principles - meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment - however, not in the way that seems to be described in the book's premise.
I thought that by reading the book, I would learn that in biblical history there was a clear concept known as "the blessing" that simply was lost through time. That this book was essentially a reclamation of something we have forgotten. What this book actually is, however, is as a result of much research done by counselors as to what issues people develop because of a lack of something from their childhood. These things are commonly rooted in the five areas the authors describe, and they also provide assorted stories from scripture that include one or several of them.
A prime example they share is the story of Issac and "the blessing" that was given to Jacob and not given to Esau. Both sons wanted to receive it from their father, but only one could. After describing the blessing and how valuable it then must be for us to similarly give it to our own children, they continue by explaining how the blessing in that case actually isn't a parallel situation to us in modern day. Clearly, the father could only give it to one of them and we should give it to all of our kids.
This book definitely does include good material. I plan on ensuring that the types of ways that we can "bless" our children or show them our love are things that I do to my own. However, conceptually it is no different than me writing a book called "Jesus' Five Step Plan to Evangelize." Could each and every step be derived from scripture and be valuable ideas? Sure. But did Jesus actually create a five step plan? No. That's my issue with this book.
Three stars (out of five).

July 14, 2011

A Moment

I recently had a moment. A single instance in which all the preceding moments led up to and each and every future moment will be affected by. Yes, every moment is that such a moment. It can be. Rather, it should be.

Our problem (yours and mine, separately) is that we both don't view moments in this manner. Our moments are simply things that exist. They happen to be. But, they shouldn't be.

In viewing preceding moments, those that shape us, you realize they usually require a call to action. They beckon us to do things that we know we ought to do; things we know we really should do. But we do not.

After months, and maybe years, of not answering this fundamental call, I have decided I will. I actually had been answering it previously, but not with a "yes." Hemming and hawing, with justifications galore, I have lived. But no more.

I do not know what exactly the future moments will actually look like, but I know what they will feel like.

July 1, 2011

Getting Played

Rob Bell recently wrote a very controversial book about hell. It was marketed brilliantly. Conservative Christians got worked up about it. Buzz was generated. The book sold.  Here is an interesting article by a guy who perfectly put his finger on it.