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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What in the World Happened?

I'm reading a very disturbing, but powerful--and I'd even say, life changing--book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Nicholas writes a regular column for the New York Times and travels the world, usually to developing countries. Often he reports on women's lives and certainly the lives of those who are burdened by abject poverty. I've learned more from him about the world around me than I ever do in church. Yet it was in church as a child that I learned about a wider world, not some of the problems described in book, at least that there is a world in need out there.

Nicholas and Sheryl tell the stories (you have to have a strong stomach for it all) about women throughout the developing countries and the ways in which they suffer and die from means that could be alleviated. They write about the overwhelming statistics (which I won't give you here) on modern slavery in sex trafficking for girls, the high and growing maternal mortality rates in developing countries, the lack of education for girls which influences poverty and even the number of pregnancies that the girl will experience in her lifetime, the violence inflicted upon women and girls in war-torn countries and the list goes on. Millions and millions of women and girls are suffering and dying...and we almost don't hear about it.

The thing is that as the women go, so goes the village. Do we care about all of these precious lives, children of God?

I actually believe that our outreach through the Women's Division and Global Ministries has ministries and missionaries that reach out to many of these women and girls in their villages, but we rarely hear about them in our churches.

What in the world happened? Or maybe I should ask, What in the church happened? When did we stop caring about the world?

If you read my last blog, you saw that 52 times someone posted a comment. Lots of activity, the most I've had on my blog! The topic of homosexuality is of great interest to many people, and as you can read for yourself, it usually invokes great emotion. Certainly it's a reality that we have to deal with in our society as well as church.

But I feel a bit like Nicholas and Sheryl when they describe how they reported on a dissident in China and it made front-page news, but "when 100,000 girls were routinely kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn't even consider it news...we slip at covering events that happen every day--such as the quotidian cruelities inflicted on women and girls." (p. xiv) "Quotidian cruelities" were what the prophets warned the people about and Jesus came to heal.

Do we care? Can be generate as much emotion over the existence of such poverty and neglect of the most vulnerable in our world? Do we care enough to hear about it? Pray about it? Do something about it?

I was cleaning a book shelf this summer and saw an old copy of Walter Rauschenbusch's, A Theology for the Social Gospel (copyrighted 1917). I opened it and came to a story he told about a Mennonite farmer whose milk was flagged because it had contaminates in it due to careless practices on his part. The farmer swore, which is a no-no in the Mennonite community, and was publicly chastised for swearing by the faith community. But they made no mention of his carelessness in potentially causing children who drank milk to get sick from his contaminated milk.

Rauschenbusch suggested that the faith community should tell the farmer to settle his sin of swearing before God but that he be excluded from the voting community until he gets his practices in producing milk back into a healthy and ethical level. The social impact of his milking practices far exceeded his personal problem with swearing and yet the faith community didn't care about the greater problem of children getting sick.

It seems like we become so emotional and focused on certain things without noticing the huge ethical infractions that our own living creates.

Do we care? Why don't we care?


(I'm betting I don't have 52 comments!)


Heather E. said...

Well, you will get a comment from me! I am saddened that we devote so much energy, condemnation, and paralyzing antipathy on both the issue of homosexuality and toward those who are homosexual. It is completely out of balance and almost a diversion (way to avoid) the deeper issues we face as human beings. It goes beyond the terms least, lost and left behind. What is done to many of God's children is horrific and destructive in ways that are far worse than death. Yet, we look the other way, throw up our hands, send a bit of cash, or pretend that the reports are false or exaggerated. A life is lost, a body and spirit tortured - and yet we claim to be the people of God, who love as Jesus loves. Sigh

Sara said...

To focus on the issue of women's health you presented, a recent article I read informed me that there are 107 million women "missing" from statistics. No, these women aren't wandering around the Sahara, these are women who have been killed -- either through female-spousal murders, starvation, selective abortions, bride burnings, trafficking-related murders, maternal mortality, infant mortality, etc. This statistic means that there are 107 million more men in the world right now than women! Astonishing!

I am currently taking a class on "Third World Women" (the term "third world" is an issue unto itself, but does not undercut the atrocities that are still happening in these countries AND GLOBALLY), that is all about the tragic way that women are simply overlooked. Hot button issues may be fashionably easy to respond to, but how can we begin to respond (really, MEANINGFULLY) to statistics dealing with women and children globally? How can we teach love and compassion without addressing these statistics?

Thanks for your post, Sally.

Clay Oglesbee said...

"One day, as we were going to a place of prayer,we met a slave girl...(who) brought her owners a great deal of money..."(Acts 16:16). What Paul and Silas, as representative Christians, did for the enslaved woman was to "de-commodify" her by exorcising the spirit that made her a profitable possession. What they received, as representative Christians, from the disappointed "owners" of the woman was a jail cell and a flogging.

You cannot do a representative Christian act of releasing human beings from slavery (of whatever kind)without annoying the powers, their dogs, and their demons.

So measures of Christian effectivness in the 21st century might be: numbers of exorcisms, numbers of liberations, numbers of nights in a cell, numbers of floggings, numbers of days we fasted for the poor, numbers of hours we spent begging for justice, numbers of tears for others, numbers of times we've howled at the way things are for the poor of the earth, for women and children.

Marj said...

As a child, I was required to go to bed at a certain time, even though I couldn't fall asleep for sereral hours. During those hours I used to look out my bedroom window and see the stars, moon and planets and contemplate that other people in other continents were seeing the same astros and that people way back in time--Jesus, even--had seen the same astros. This realization became my earliest memory of experiencing what I consider to be the meaning of spirituality--that we are all inter-connected by something greater than ourselves. Like the wind blowing across the earth at the beginning of creation, which is the breath of life that animates our bodies--there is something greater than ourselves of which we are all a part and through which we are all connected. To me, that's fundamental, so, if you want to call me a fundamentalist in that sense, I won't object.

However, we live in an economic system that 1) depends on constant consumtion to stay afloat and 2) values moving product, no matter how useless, over producing necesities. Surviving in this economic system (and I'm not referring to the recent recession, I'm talking about the system, in boom or bust state) requires consumption and "production" that are largely disjointed from our real needs, both physical and spiritual. (This is where Paul's talk of "that which I would do, I do not do and that which I would not do, I do" means the most to me.) Yet, in spite of living in ways that are so disjointed, we continue to be human and consequently to have spiritual needs. That means, we have a spiritual need for connection while a requirement to live in a disjointed economic system.

I haven't read the book you're reading, Bishop, but my guess is that if you really unravel the process of oppression, we're all probably implicated in the horrors described. People rarely committ these heinous acts against mothers, sisters, wives and daughters (or even against men) just because they want to. Usually, it is a form of controling masses of people in order to direct resources in a certain direction--away from masses the people, sometimes to an in-nation elite, or out of the nation, or, most often, to a collusion of both. For almost all of us--pastors included--our "success" in "today's competative job market" probably can be traced up, up, up a pathway to pleasing the people to whom resources are directed, because they in turn dole them out to the pitiful automatons "beneath" them.

But, like I said, even though we're stuck in this system, we're still human. We still need to feed the spirit. I think that the distractions you mentioned--swearing, homosexuality--give some sense of spirituality without threatening our own survival. To confront the questions addressed in the book you are reading, Bishop, would probably lead to acceptance of our participation in the horrors (a threat of spiritual annihiliation) or going "off-line" vis-a-vis the economic system (a threat of physical annihilation). Isn't it much easier and more convenient to contort our spiritual needs so as to not threaten the economic system upon which we depend?

Well, it would be, if you didn't know you were connected to those women and girls you're reading about. It would be if you could convince yourself that accomplishments such as "high sales volume" is a fulfillment of your purpose in life. It would be, if you could ignore the "fundamentals". It would be, if it weren't for that breath of the one-and-only God animating all of us, including those women and girls you're reading about--and making us one.

Roger Parks said...

I quickly downloaded the book to my Kindle and will begin reading this account of a terrible condition of our world. So, what then will fire up our spiritual leaders to challenge their congregations to become mad enough to begin addressing this issue--or are we too concerned about Re-thinking Church to worry about such matters that don't happen in our back yard? I am teaching a class to Alex UMC Adult class using Living the Question material, "Eclipsing the Kingdom" where the point is that Paul in writing to the early churches confronted them with an alternative view of the Kingdom--where the prevailing view that Peace came through victory was challenged by Paul with Peace comes through Justice. Maybe like Paul we build strong a passionate congregations by challenging the culture with a message of justice for all, where the appeal is not to growing bigger churches, but a movement of justice for all.

lisa said...

I am an administrative assistant for one of your ministers and I spent time in Liberia this summer, specifically to see what the needs are and how I can help. I saw a young woman chained in the back of a church. They said she was a danger to herself and to others. I learned this is a common practice there. People go to the church for "healing." I understand she is one of thousands of girl soldiers that the world does not really talk about. Upwards of 40% of child soldiers are girls. When war is over these girls come out of the bush with children and the community shuns them. Their trauma is significant. What I am doing is collecting sewing machines to help these girls. I will establish a "finishing school, or boarding school and help there girls with a trade and education and hope. There are NGO's to help but I am in Christ and He will love them through me! I am done with my Masters in Public Administration in one year and then I am going to situate myself to be there half if not all of my time to help. If I had the financial resources right now I would go and start this project now. For now I am studying hard and collecting sewing machines. When we come face to face with the King of Kings it is a crossroads of decision to live for Him or not. Lisa

david e brown said...

categorize and prioritize...
it is clear to me that "taking a stand" on homosexuality one way or another will continue to consume energy and for many, the desire to serve and end up with a church split at worst and who knows what at best...we only need to see the experience of the Episcopal, UCC and now the ELCA (by the way, this seems to be pretty much a Western Church desire...not "third world" or Roman or Eastern desire...hmmm).

But women and children. Couldn't we unite around that? seems i heard a question asked, once, that i haven't heard in awhile..."So, how are the children?" I would add, "how are their mothers?"

Clay gets at the evil principalities and powers in the world that must be challenged. Every square inch of this world needs to be claimed for the Kingdom of God and evil will not give it up easily.

So, what can we do, bishop? Lead us. Help us to prioritize. Put a moratorium on things that divide and encourage and challenge us for such a time as this...when the broken and hurting of the world are in desperate need of the compassionate United Methodist response.

While i do like to talk, i like better to act. As for part of my part, i hope to lead 4th Ave in setting a goal to help at least 1000 children in 2010 in a tangible, practical way. I believe we will help more than that. Now, I think we need to figure out a way now to help women as well.

And i vow that i will not use any of my time to engage in the pros and cons of homosexuality in the church.

Lorna Jost said...

First of all - to Lisa, I commend you for "doing" instead of just sitting and wringing your hands. If you haven't already, you might want to connect with others working in Liberia to learn about the ups and downs and ins and outs of shipping items to Liberia and working through their system. There are 5 conferences in the North Central Jurisdiction that can give you helful tips and advice, if you seek it: Detroit, East Ohio, Illinois Great Rivers, Indiana and Minnesota (!)..

Second, it is important to mention the increase of sex trafficking, particularly of imported young girls from South and Central America in our own country. It is quite prevalent and larger cities are hubs for this activity.

The General Board of Church and Society is our agency for social justice and change. They have networks and coalitions to work through for many causes, Women and Children being a main one...

I have ordered the bookby Kristof and WuDunn and pray I can get through it.

Thank you for your blog, it is enjoyable while being an education!

M. Sipe said...

Thank you Bishop for calling us to attention on this issue. I've just requested a copy of this book from the library. Your post reminds me of the recent Liam Neeson movie "Taken", which can be a difficult movie to watch at times.

It is incumbent for Christians to take action. I am not able to go an do something personally in these countries (although I would really want to) . But I did find many women's giving projects in the UMC Advance booklet where we have UMC people on the ground doing some work for women around the world. Maybe we need more?
Here is a list I found. People can give to these through their local UMC churches by putting "for advance #_____" and put in the corresponding number.

Women & Community (Nicaragua) #13285A

Women, Children & Youth Ministries (Laos) #3020470

Women's Equality (India) #212383

Women Farming (Kenya) #3020644

Women Groundnuts & Bakery Project #3020751

Women in Development (global) #3020793

Women's Development & Preschool for Orphans (Tanzania) #15051A

Women's Empowerment (Cambodia) #3020789

Women's Leadership Conference Center & Guest House (Kenya) #14460N

Women's Livelihood Projects (Cambodia) #3020788

Women's Skills Center (Senegal) #14526A

As I look at this list, I see a strong presence in Africa and a small presence elsewhere, and no presence in China/Indonesia/Malaysia, where some of the worst atrocities may be occurring.

MKitchell said...

What better day to preach this message than Worldwide Communion Sunday?

Laura B. said...

Issues, issues, issues. Countless noble justice issues demand our time, energy, and resources. However, someone once said that if we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and power so that people are born again(saved) and motivated by the LOVE of Jesus and compelled by the Holy Spirit, then we would, in fact, thereby address (put the axe to the root of) every injustice plaguing the earth. "Not by might nor power but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).

Roger Grafenstein said...

Bishop, It seems to me you've targeted an issue related that is also related to the church's struggle to connect with people under 30. First off, homosexuality becomes an arguing point to the point where some say they will leave their denomination if the "vote" doesn't go their way. As a female Roman Catholic colleague of mine said, "if I left my church or country everytime I disagreed I'd soon run out of denominations and countries." I'm told that generation Xer's and younger who have lived through divorce race headlong away from such ongoing agruments and the churches that persist in them.

Further, for the younger generations we are investing a great deal of energy into what seems a "non-issue." However, on a recent drive with my 14 year old son, something lead me into thinking this would be a good time to share regarding the plight of young asian girls and other girls sold into sexual slavery. My son said to me, "Last year in 8th grade social studies we learned about that. What happens to the girls is horrible. I've been wondering ever since why we aren't doing something about it as a church?" Thus, I've been wondering ever since last week, how can I engage Hope UMC in some project that can put a allievate even a bit of this human misery.

Yet, even as I ponder, I realize the plight for women and children you describe is the very worst of a terrible systemic tendency to focus on the relatively benign issues in life, while ignoring true atrocities. Just today I received the 2008 statistics on MN children in poverty. Where are the voices that cry out, "I can't be a part of a church that is silent on the right to health-care for all in Minnesota or the right to a safe childhood of innocence for girls worldwide?" Focusing on these questions may not only help the lost, the least and themost wounded of our world, it might also capture the interest and passion of 14 year olds like my son who wonders, "why aren't we doing something radical to make a difference?" Bishop, I hope you get way more than 52 responses...and actions are generated as we ponder the "truly important issues" of our time. Roger Grafenstein

Key Minnesota statistics around on the status of children:

11.4% of children under 18 years old are living in poverty in Minnesota.
For families the poverty rate is 6.2% and for families with children under 18 years, the poverty rate is 9.8%, and for families with children under 5 years the rate increases to 12.7%.
In Minnesota there are 78,629 children living without health insurance (6.3% of children in the state).
There are 108,098 children not enrolled in school in Minnesota between the ages of 3 and 17.
The median household income is $72,008, and 12.5% of children are living in households with Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash public assistance income, or Food Stamp benefits.

Carol E. said...

I got an email about this book and immediately ordered 4 copies. Then I saw it highlighted on Oprah today, then arrived at your blog and there it is again! This gives me hope that millions of people will soon have these issues in the forefront of their consciousness... and women and children will benefit.

I agree that the issue has not been talked about enough. This country has worked for so long to combat domestic and partner violence... and it still goes on, and people still blame the victims. It's a long road that we won't conquer if we stop talking about it!

Joel Xavier said...

What I read in this post is that we strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. It is a point well made. Part of this particular camel is domestic violence. Here is the news report October 2, 2009:
“Two Dead in Possible Murder-Suicide: Police in Lino Lakes say the couple killed in a murder/suicide Thursday night had a history of domestic violence. A restraining order had been issued against Allen Taschuk after a domestic assault incident in August. Police say the 51-year-old Taschuk shot his 48-year-old wife Pamela once at her home before turning the gun on himself.”
I think that is three murder suicides in Minnesota in three months. (I remember praying for two others at the clergy day apart in August.) This is right here in the Minnesota Annual Conference. October is domestic abuse awareness month in Minnesota. Domestic violence is another elephant sitting in the living room and most people pretend it isn’t even there. Maybe we could all toll our bells on Sunday morning when a Minnesota person has died in domestic violence that week. What if church was a safe place for abused spouses? Would you come?

Suzanne Mades said...

Poverty and human suffering, especially that of women and children seems to get trumped by homosexuality and other 'hot button' issues. I echo a lot of what's already been said and will be preaching about this tomorrow on Worldwide Communion Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Bishop: You received so many comments to your "How About Those Lutherans?" post because the road taken by the ELCA deals with defending Scriptural authority and our relationship to God. Pluse, we can see ELCA fracturing before our eyes as the result of their recent doctrinal detours. The debate about homosexuality is but a presenting issue of a profound, foundational debate within the UMC. You won't get as many posts on the topic you address in this post because there is no disagreement about our Christian obligations on this subject matter. We may have different ideas about what is the best remedial approach to implement, where and how to allocate limited material resources, etc., but I don't know any Methodist who would disagree with your sympathies on this subject.

Anonymous said...

The General Board of Church and Society is sitting on $70 million in assets. If we are serious about making a dent in some of these problems, why not sell the incredibly valuable real estate and building on Capitol Hill, move GBCS to cheap quarters in Anacostia, and apply the proceeds to raising the quality of life for women in these terrible situations? Really, I'm serious. How much tangible good does the GBCS really accomplish? Ten million dollars in Bangladesh, ten million in Burundi, ten million in the Congo, etc., would help a lot more people in meaningful, life saving ways than more cocktail parties for lobbyists and photo exhibitions for political causes. Would would John Wesley do with the GBCS building?

Judy Kading said...

Thank you for asking "why," which is one of the most powerful questions that we can contemplate. I don't understand the dichotomy between are intolerance of personal "sins" like homosexuality or swearing (which usually don't affect anyone else unless that person chooses to get upset) and the corporate sins that affect hundreds, thousands or millions of people, specifically women. It's as if we can deal much more easily with identifying a person and pointing him or her out with a label, but to take up a condition that is causing suffering for many, many people is just too complex or beyond our ability to cope.

Perhaps the answer is related to my close-to-retirement age pastor saying in church a few weeks ago that he wouldn't preach on "social issues." (And he certainly doesn't.) A minister who works as district staff for our conference said that pastors don't like to preach on social issues because they can so much criticism.

A couple of months ago when the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the right of gays to civil unions in Iowa, our semi-retired pastor opened his sermon the following Sunday after the decision with a three point condemnation: 1. The UMC doesn't approve of homosexuality. 2. There won't be any "gay marriages" in "our" church. 3. Any UMC pastor who performs such a marriage will be brought up on charge by yours truly.

Now this pastor had never been as blunt and enthusiastic with his condemnation of lying, adultery, theft, incest, rape, swearing or any other sin from the Bible. I have certainly never heard him wax eloquent about the fate of women in any Third World or even First World country.

So I do wonder what is going on in seminaries, or continuing education for the pastors that seems to inoculate them from feeling some righteous anger over the truly horrific deeds perpetrated against girl children and women over the globe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us here. We just had a very moving & powerful sermon at church yesterday dealing with the topics you mentioned. It's amazing how it's hardly mentioned--other than what you hear on the news. It opened my eyes & made me focus on those who have been affected by poverty & injustice. Knowledge is power.

Anonymous said...

I think we care tremendously: movies like Slum Dog Millionaire and Hotel Rwanda were very important to people; bookclubs are reading books like A Thousand Splendid Suns, Reading Lolita in Tehran and Three Cups of Tea (to name just a few!),in this month's issue of Minnesota Women's Press there is a column about human trafficking and last Sunday's Strib had a front page article about women getting out of prostitution. People are very aware and concerned about the human trafficking that occurs here in Minnesota and we have a task force hard at work on it.

So, the door is wide open for you to provide some substantive church leadership (far beyond asking what is wrong with us and why don't we care) on these issues. I urge you to provide this leadership. It would be very welcome!

Other churches have substantive leadership on important issues. The movie Amazing Grace was about the abolition of the slave trade in England. When the movie came out, many congregations were encouraged by their church leadership to use the movie as a tool for discussion and action. (If you put "Amazing Grace" "movie" and "Methodist church" into your search engine, you will see what I mean.) Other churches have gotten involved in the Not for Sale movement.

I can also assure you that you can absolutely advocate for important issues without doing so at the expense of other also-important issues (like homosexuality). You really do not need to pit one against the other. There is plenty of room in people's hearts and minds to care about many important causes at once. Nothing, nothing requires all of us to care about the same issues in the same way and to the same degree. I think this is where 1 Corinthians 12:7-12 could apply: "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually, just as He wills."

If you want people in church to act more on their concerns about the plight of women and children, then lead the charge!

Scott said...

In 1992 my family was turned down by the United Methodist Church to be missionaries in Africa because my wife was a stay at home mom. During that process at Howard University, which was an exhausting
two weeks, we so impressed the committee that I was asked to administer the final eucharist. We spiritually impressed, but were deemed politically incorrect.

Anonymous said...

How to be truly selfless is the key question to our spiritual being. I assume that the evolution of humans and our animal instinct for survival, food and pleasure are the sources of our frustrations in not being able to solve many of the problems that plague us from famine and war to slavery and all forms of misuse of people who are not as fortunate.

I am grateful that you have brought this to my attention and wish that you had received hundreds more comments on this blog. I hope and pray for change and progress on these issue at a faster pace than we have seen in history.

Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more fully with you statements. We all have egg on our face. Strife, disputes, differences, and divisions, have continually plagued the American Church all to the harm of the poor and needy. “Let’s divide and divide again to solve our problems”, we say. It seems to be the American way. How many denominations do we have anyway? We not only have problems between denominations we have problems down to the individuals sitting next to each other within the same church. The problem is not that we are different. The problem is we can’t stand to be wrong. We only want to surround ourselves with people who agree with ourselves. My pastor didn’t agree with me going to Egypt to help the poor. He said, "it doesn’t have the anointing of God on it" ………well, I went anyway. We helped the poor and now he doesn’t speak to me because I didn’t heed his advice. Oh well. I am going to do it again, and again, and again. It is interesting to me that Jesus told the Pharisees when talking about the 6 woes to “give what is on the inside to the pour”. One thing that I hate about myself is that when I look around and see others that have way more than me it somehow makes me feel better to heed the teaching of my mother, “count your blessings. At least you don’t have it as bad as THEM.” And we don’t have to look very far to see THEM these days. What about the poor sap at the end of the line. The ones who can’t look down stream. Where is he to get his peace and contentment? I lost my job last month, I may lose my house, my wife is scheduled for a C-section to deliver our 10th child. The baby is breach. Many say to me I shouldn’t have had that many kids and that I brought this trouble on myself. I wonder if John Wesley’s parents heard that. They had 10 children. Tonight I plan on going to Loaves and Fishes to feed my children once again. I know for a fact that if you are hungry, you don’t care what religion someone is before they feed you, but you do take notice afterwards. I have more blessings than many others can’t even dream about. Can you imagine the feeling had when my wife leaned over to me whispered in my ear, “honey, I love you, I always have for these last 16 years” while we sit and wait to receive a meal knowing that we might lose everything and that all I had to offer her was myself. Since coming back from Egypt, I have re-dedicated my life to helping the needy and with God’s help I will at WHATSOEVER the cost. Interesting word WHATSOEVER. Jesus used it a few times. The first Methodist congregation across the Mississippi used the word as a basis to a study. I know a way to save that church, but we all know in America that Thrivent only helps Lutherans, Catholics only help Catholics, true missions are done by missionaries outside our country, and if we have a problem and a solution comes from outside our denomination it must be our last resort or else we risk opening ourselves up to other thinking that may differ from our own, and we all know we can’t handle having differences. In the mean time as Jesus said, “We will always have the poor”. By Rick Abbott Founder of

Debra said...

Dear Bishop Sally,
As a clergy wife, I have always asked why our pastors have not spoken from the pulpit about domestic abuse. It is a mystery to me why they are so afraid to bring up the subject of violence against women right here in our own communities and sometimes in our own homes. I see for the first time that Wyoming UMC is offering a workshop on Domestic Violence coming up in January. This is a new phenomenon. Why has it taken so long? It's definitely time.

The Liberian Truth and Justice Project final report is now completed. Some UMC clergy participated in the project by taking testimonies. The results are published in a book titled, A House with Two Rooms: Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia Diaspora Project. You can download the whole report of 600 pages, or read chapter by chapter at www.theadvocatesfor Chapter 10 tells of the extreme violence Liberian women suffered during the time period covered by the report. Their extreme suffering is as unaccepable as unsafe conditions for any woman or child in any home on the planet. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Where, after all, do your human civil rights begin? In small places, close to home--so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world... such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere."

What if we have the next School of Christian Mission include the topic of violence against women? I would suggest that we have Sharon Rice-Vaughn (just retired from Metropolitan State U and one of the founding mothers of the first domestic violence shelter in MN) be our featured trainer. United Methodist women have not stood up for themselves or their sisters as much as we can.

November 28, 2009 12:51 PM