Archive for May, 2009

On Thankfulness

“We are only grateful people when we can say thank-you to all that has brought us to the present moment.”

Henri Nouwen

I confess, I’m not naturally a thankful person.

I used to be a much more critical person. I still am sometimes – it rears its ugly head often. But it was about seven years ago when I wanted to be more gracious and affirming of others.  And I have honestly changed significantly – I’m happy to say. But I’m not there yet.

Thankfulness for me is a discipline. I like being among the poor because they are more often thankful and they remind me that simplicity helps us recognize our need for God. I used to always wonder why the Bible said, “Blessed are the poor,” in both Matthew and Luke.

Some people like to qualify that statement by saying Jesus wasn’t talking about the material poor – the “poor in spirit.” And while it is true that is what Matthew says, Luke just leaves it at “blessed are the poor.”

I don’t think we can just leave that statement to be hyperbole.  It’s much more comfortable when we leave it that way – but I don’t think it was intended to make pie-in-the-sky happiness that seems to be a never attainable ideal.

To understand our need for God is to be blessed.  To rejoice and be thankful is a result of being satisfied that God provides.

How do you cultivate thankfulness in a life?


Law and Order? Outlawed Pigs in an Outlawed Land

The New York Times ran a feature on Mokattam and interviewed a couple of my friends in Cairo among the garbage city with the recent order to slaughter the entire pig population in Egypt in scare of the swine flu.  This order was given despite no recorded cases of the swine flu in Egypt, and the fact that pigs do not transmit the disease to humans.

In other words, my brother who closed down the school of which he is principal in southern rural Wisconsin had more actual dealings with H1N1 than the folks in Egypt who decided Wilbur and friends can’t play with Charlotte in the barn anymore because they have a date with the butcher.

So why in the world would the Egyptian government do such a thing?

I don’t know the certainties, but I can certainly can speculate.

The government is responding with the line that they are “trying to make things more sanitary for the Zabeleen.”

I’m sorry, but political rhetoric belongs with the organic waste being eaten by the pigs. Perhaps the officials have more in common with them than they thought.

The truth is the land where the Zabeleen live is attractive, and beginning the systematic removal of a people for the expansion of tourism by first dismantling their income source is the most strategic way of enabling their removal.  But covering it up with lies is disgusting.

It’s sad when power is abused to silence voices without power, but even worse when those in power use lies (actively telling falsehoods) and deceit (passively – concealing the truth for the purpose of misleading) for the sake of maintaining power and suppressing what might actually expose the truth.

If you are an American reading this, your privilege is all the more apparent and I’m grateful for those we honor on Memorial Day who have provided it for us. Thank-you to our service men and women who continually provide freedom for us.

But if you were among the Zabeleen, an oppressed minority without access to power, how would you address this issue?

Fear of Swine Flu vs. Knowledge


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May 2009
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