God's Politics

God's Politics


Valerie Weaver-Zercher: Suburban Spirituality

posted by God's Politics

The critics of the suburbs say that you and I live narrow lives. I agree. My life is narrow. From one perspective or another, all our lives are narrow. Only when lives are placed side by side do they seem larger. —D.J. Waldie, in Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir

Prompted by the ubiquitous bracelets and bumper stickers, many Christians are asking (or being annoyed by) the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Thanks to the creative folks at the Evangelical Environmental Network, we’ve also been encouraged to ask, “What Would Jesus Drive?”
So here’s another pithy iteration to ponder: “Where Would Jesus Live?”
If you’re like most Christians concerned about justice and peace, “the suburbs” would probably not appear in your answer. You might say the city, where Jesus could minister to the poor and the oppressed and walk downtown to preach to corrupt politicians. Or perhaps you think of the country, where he and his disciples could raise organic tomatoes and share their free-range chickens with the hungry. But Jesus in a split-level, mowing his lawn on Saturdays and waving to the neighbor kids on their trampoline? Hmmmmmm….
So what about those of us who do live in the suburbs? Are we doomed to live narrow lives of conspicuous consumption, super-commutes, and obsessive lawn care? Or is it possible to be a faithful, broad-minded Christian in a land of housing developments, minivans, and strip malls?
The recent or upcoming publication of several books on Christianity and the suburbs shows that many Christians are ready to begin examining the particular privileges and challenges of the suburbs. While the authors vary in their perspectives, all of them conclude that Christians can live authentic lives of discipleship in the ‘burbs. “The things I am called to practice here in suburbia are the same Christian distinctives of love, witness, mercy and justice that all Christians should embody wherever they may live,” said Al Hsu, author of The Suburban Christian, in a recent interview.
Christians in the suburbs may have more chances now than ever before to practice those works of mercy and justice right where they live: a recent study from the Brookings Institution found that more Americans in poverty now live in suburbs than in cities. And many of them are finding that the suburban communities they now call home aren’t as equipped with services such as public transportation, accessible health care, and job training programs as the cities from which they moved.
This changing economic face of the suburbs may mean that the fabled narrow suburban life might not be quite so narrow anymore. It may remind us to look for Jesus in the suburbs after all….
Valerie Weaver-Zercher is a writer and editor in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Read more about suburban spirituality in the July issue of Sojourners magazine.



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Moderatelad

posted July 9, 2007 at 2:22 pm


The Son of God would have ministered where ever He was if the was a need. He ministered along the Road with the lepper(s) and only one came back to say thanks. He ministered in the city market square with the woman caught in adultry. He ministered on the hillside by feeding the 5000 with five louves of bread and two fish. He ministered to all reqardless of their status in life. The rich young ruler and the woman at the well. People need to know who the Savior is weather they live in the affluency of an Edina, (a suburb that I would not want to live in) or in North Minneapolis. Once they find out who Jesus is – there is level ground at the cross for all who call Him Lord. When they understand who Christ is in their lives and what He has done for them – they seek ways to show that same love to any around them that were ‘lost’ like they were prior to find Christ. Believers start ministering in their Jerusalem until they are introduced to Judea, then they find Samaria, and some find the uttermost parts of the earth. All of us that call him Lord came become involved in sharing the Good News directly or indirectly – depends on what we believe the Almighty has called us to do.
Maybe we need to develop a wrist band that has WSWD, (what should we do) and not just figure out what Jesus would do and then say – ‘that’s nice’.
Blessings on all – (Mick – I prayed…)
.



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Eric

posted July 9, 2007 at 3:10 pm


Good points Valerie. It doesn’t matter where we live; it’s about how we live.
The Brookings study sounds interesting too. I know in our metropolitian area the downtown of the city was once considered urban blight but is now going trough a renewal. It’s now a place people flock to. While for the most part, this is a positive improvement, it has meant a lot of the lower income people who used to live in the city can no longer afford to do so. They are pushed into the suburbs and need ministry too. Anyone who says Jesus wouldn’t live in the suburbs is pretty narrowminded.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 9, 2007 at 3:16 pm


Ah, the suburbs. I guess someone has to live there!



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:33 pm


Blessings on all – (Mick – I prayed…)
.
Posted by: Moderatelad
Thank you , you are a prayer warrior ! Heaven holds special places for people like you !
Also I think Jesus would minister wherever he went , and lost poeople are found everywhere . The Lord ministers to people on the level he
meets them . Ever read a passage in the Bible and it was ho hum , and then sometime later you read it and its like a flood of wisdom ,peace, and spirtual understanding consumed you ?



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kevin s.

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:37 pm


I love living in the city, and hate the suburbs. Nonetheless, there are a lot of bureaucratic hassles and expenses related to life in Minneapolis. Of late, I have been jealous of the simple life my suburban friends lead.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:49 pm


“I have been jealous of the simple life my suburban friends lead.”
One word: commuting
Still jealous?



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Jeff

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:52 pm


I’ve lived in Minneapolis, then a couple of small towns and now an affluent suburb of Minneapolis. I must say I enjoyed the one small town best and the suburb least.
In each place I found Jesus was there before I got there a was still there when I left.
Kevin, We are blessed to live in or around Minneapolis, especially on days like today.



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Jeff

posted July 9, 2007 at 5:01 pm


Neuro,
Many of the best jobs have moved to the burbs. Many of my neighbors live out on the edge for shorter commute. My drive to work? 10 minutes



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Hali

posted July 9, 2007 at 5:06 pm


Moderatelad:
“The Son of God would have ministered where ever He was if the was a need…. All of us that call him Lord came become involved in sharing the Good News directly or indirectly – depends on what we believe the Almighty has called us to do.”
That’s pretty much what matters, isn’t it? Didn’t Jesus do a lot of traveling, anyway?



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evan jellical

posted July 9, 2007 at 6:04 pm


the poor are all around you. even in some of the most affluent neighborhoods, burbs, exurbs, etc. i know this for a fact. my wife and i, and our two small children would be homeless right now were it not for our church. a group of eight people who have opened up the parsonage to us for just paying utilities. we can’t afford to buy, or even rent. do you know what a big deal that was for us? it was a miracle. it is terrifying to be homeless without support. we are the working homeless, and we are only working because we have been given the gift of health. that could always change, but thank God he has provided for us.
what may be surprising is the number of people like us – families who have grad degrees and jobs – but tons of student loans and a few rough financial years behind them to have damaged their credit scores. we are often viewed as though we are up to no good – like we are drug dealers or pedarasts because our credit score is in the 500-600 range. it used to make me very angry when we would be passed over for housing, or a lender or potential landlord would look ascance at us like we were criminals. a case was a potential “christian” landlord once whispered to our friends that they should watch doing business with us “because anyone with a score that low is suspect.” the only thing suspect is that we chose to carry our debt and be punished for committing to pay every cent we owe, plus usury. but on the other hand, it has caused us to have only one thing left, and that is faith.
i’m sure i would have done the same thing – judged the same way based on a credit score. i mean we do it whether it is political party, denomination, or socio-economic standing. now, though, i see how really awful and de-humanizing it is to be treated less than human. then on the other hand i take heart in that we are in good company among a very honorable cadre of theives, prostitutes, tax collectors and rank sinners who followed Jesus. so in that respect, my crappy credit score is a badge of pride.
the ranks of the poor are growing every day. how many of you who read this can afford the house you are living in now, if you are fortunate enough to have a house? i long for the day to have a piece of land in this land of opportunity to build a house for my family, and have enough room for my neighbor. i would to God he grant me enough money to pay my debt and provide for my family, my extended family, my neighbors, and my enemies. to create a world in the burbs where we are not ashamed to confess our need, and to be free to pray for those in need. i pray instead of giving to a “church” our money goes directly where there is need – to the poor, to those who minister, just as the Bible outlines.
yes, you can be like Jesus in the suburbs. people may be afraid of you, and they may hate you for it, and it may ultimately drive you out. but it will be worth it. may God transform us all into his image.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 9, 2007 at 6:10 pm


Jeff,
For a number of reasons, probably best kept to myself, I would not work in a hospital in the suburbs.
I grew up in the suburbs, and after moving to the city as an adult, developed a severe aversion to them.
In Ethiopia I worked out in a town miles from the nearest source of municipal water supply, telephone, or power services – and loved it. I enjoyed the dark skies at night, the quiet, going to bed at sunset, getting up when the colobus monkeys woke me. Since I held the clinic pharmacy license, I was required to make frequent trips in to Addis Ababa to buy medicines.
I have a love/hate relationship with Addis. Like any African capital, it’s dirty and full of pick-pockets. I enjoyed being in the city for the – how should I put this – the ‘groove.’ I enjoyed sitting in cafes and being able to go out and get pretty much anything I wanted to eat (except for a muffellata).
I’m a city boy. I can live out in the country, just as long as I can hit the city from time to time – just keep me out of that zone between the city and the country.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Jerry Morgan

posted July 9, 2007 at 6:46 pm


Why do we constantly ask “What would Jesus DO?” We should be asking “What Did Jesus DO?” and imitate his action! “WOULD” is open to too many subjective interpretations.



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:40 pm


neuro nurse
When were you in Ethiopia? I was just there last year, (only Addis) and only for one week.
Personally I think Jesus would live in Hawaii!
Really though it is probably not about where he would live as much as it is who he would hang out with, don’t cha think?



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canucklehead

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:44 pm


In her eye-opening book INFIDEL, Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that as a young Muslim she was taught to frequently ask the question “What Would the Prophet Do?”
Perhaps this isn’t a distinctly Christian concept. But hey, it’s one that’s making somebody some big bucks so, Lord, we praise you! right?



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Moderatelad

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:44 pm


Some of the poorest people I have gotten to know live in some of the most affluent burbs that I know of. They have so much but can not see how blessed they are. There was a time that I had a job that would have allowed my family and I to live in some of those burbs – but choose to live is a more moderate area of the city. I am glad that we purchased a house where we did. Our children know how blessed we are and have some of the most colorful friends in the area. We have a mission field right out our front door.
Blessings on all!
.



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Jeff

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:57 pm


Neuro Nurse,
I grew up in a small town and went to school close to downtown Minneapolis, now I live in a suburb. I think my struggle with living here is there lacks a sense of community and identity. We seem to isolate ourselves more in the suburbs. I’ve been asking God how I can minister to people here who sense these same things.
Wherever I’ve been, I have loved the people that God allowed me to minister to.
Jeff



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neuro_nurse

posted July 9, 2007 at 8:10 pm


“When were you in Ethiopia? I was just there last year, (only Addis) and only for one week.”
What were you doing in Addis Ababa – and why?!
I worked for a year in the southwestern part of Ethiopia in 2001-2002.
Ethiopia, contrary to the image that many Americans have, is an incredibly beautiful part of the world – but you might not know that if all you’ve seen is Addis. Ethiopian culture is fascinating and unique from the rest of Africa in many ways. Believe it or not, after spending a couple of months word processing our outreach schedule in English and Amharic, I learned a rudimentary knowledge of the Ethiopic script – enough that I could read a menu at a restaurant (and know when the prices were higher of the side written in English).



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Payshun

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:01 pm


Ethiopians are some of the most beautiful people on the planet, right next to Brazilians. I love Ethiopian women. They are gorgeous. Plus the temple as Askum is awesome to study about among many of the archeological wonders there.
I am a city boy too. I hate the suburbs which I why i find it the height of irony that God would say go live there and bring the burbs into the city. I prefer the grit and grime of the city. I prefer actually seeing your neighbors and bumping into people as you walk down the street.
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:54 pm


I guess I have a unique situation — I grew up in a “suburban” lifestyle while living within city limits; today I live outside the city but in a more “urban” environment. Thus, I feel that “suburban” and “urban” are more cultural than anything else.
I don’t really think it matters where you live, so long as you do so to God’s glory and not to look better, have more than the next person — which is the real danger of suburban life. When you have more you tend to think you’re “entitled” to it and forget that whatever you have is a gift from God. That said, I have no desire to live in a “better” neighborhood.
I’m blessed to attend a church that understands differences — it’s in the city and people come in from just about every suburb because they want to be a part of something special. One man from a remote ‘burb in the next county regularly drives to our church because he wants his children to experience a different perspective.



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:29 pm


“One word: commuting
Still jealous?”
I lived in a near suburb in the north for about a year. It was a 12 minute commute to downtown, minus the taxes, minus the crime, minus the nonsense. Minneapolis is very, very poorly run. Our mayor lives in a wealthy neighborhood and sends his kids to Breck, which is a well known have for the sons and daughters of liberal politicians.
Whether we stay depends on what we do in terms of educating our children. If we home school (which is my desire), send them to Benilde St. Margaret (a reasonable plan B) or win the lottery for public or charter schools (odds are against it) then we will stay. Byt the time my children are in grade school, there won’t be any local schools for them to attend.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:08 pm


Payshun,
I’ve been to Axum (also spelled Aksum) and Lalibela. I’ve been in probably a dozen African countries, but if someone asked me the most interesting place, the place most worth visiting, I’d say Lalibela.
And yes, Ethiopian women are absolutely stunning. I remember sitting in a cafe in Addis Ababa at noon surrounded by women who could have been models.
Peace!



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:08 am


neuro nurse
I went there because I was asked to go by someone who wanted to understand poverty better. That is the short answer and not a very good one I am afraid.
I loved Addis but I knew I was not seeing the country and wished I could have.
The people there are more than beautiful they are courageous and very resourceful. I met lepers and aristocrats all of whom dealt everyday with the same basic problems I have, plus extreme poverty, lack of work, oppression from all sides, and yet were faithful and trying very hard to be Jesus like. At times I felt like I was walking with Giants. I would love to go back!
One more thought; If the poor usually find it at best difficult to go where the rich are, and the rich can go where ever they want to, and we say we believe God loves everybody, why don’t we start living and preaching the Gospel among the poor.
Unless of course, we do not love everybody.



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Don

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:48 am


I grew up in a small town in northern Ohio. After we were married, we lived in another small city with a university. Nine years ago we moved to Columbus, and while we actually live within the city limits, the area we live in has all the trappings of suburbia. For example, it has taken us a long time to get used to the need to drive to get anything we need. We’re used to walking to a corner store. No such thing here. That’s the downside. There are some benefits as well.
When I work downtown, I can ride the bus, though I have to drive to a “park and ride” location. This gives me a chance to read while going to work. The neighborhood is incredibly diverse–we have neighbors from all over: Chinese, Arabic, Ethiopian, African-American, you name it. We’ve been trying to get to know them better. Also, our yard is large enough that I can implement some eco-landscaping; I’m starting to plan for that now. Who says one has to spend all Saturday morning mowing grass?
Neuro and Payshun, our Goshen College son was going to do his service semester in Ethiopia, but the college cancelled the trip because of safety concerns (there’s a war going on there, I think). Instead, he’ll be going to Tanzania in January, but we don’t know the details yet. He’s disappointed in some ways, but I told him that maybe Swahili will be easier to learn than Amharic!
Peace,



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Sarasotakid

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:11 am


Nice to see a positive exchange here. I have found all of the comments interesting and constructive. As for me, I will be leaving Florida and going back to live just outside of the Big Apple in August. I should have never left. I agree with the person who said that you can find God no matter where you are- big city, countryside, etc.



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CKC

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:04 am


Like Don, I grew up in a small town in Ohio, in an older home in a neighborhood. We now live in an older home in a neighborhood within Columbus, although it is not truly urban. We sought out and feel blessed to live where we can walk to church, library, bank, etc. That was important to us. Suburbia feels like another planet to me, another culture if you will; yet I agree that Jesus and Christians can be found everywhere.
I think it is worth noting, since no one has mentioned it thus far, that Jesus did not have a house or personal possessions. I think that is part of the purpose of the WWJD movement. To make us stop, think, and do some real and difficult self-evaluation of our own choices and lifestyle. It is very easy to look at others and accuse them of making wrong choices and much harder to look at ourselves and ask “How am I part of the problem?” When we can ask that question of ourselves then we are also ready to ask “How can I be part of the solution?”
Peace,



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Moderatelad

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:24 am


Posted by: Hali | July 9, 2007 5:06 PM
Didn’t Jesus do a lot of traveling, anyway?
As a child his parents went to Egypt and then came back. But – as for His ministry – I think that I remember that it was about 30 miles from Jerusalem was the furthest He went.
Have a great day –
.



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John Fea

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:42 pm


Valerie,
Thanks for this. I have been wrestling with this very issue ever since we moved into Kim Acres 5 years ago. (I too tried to justify it as an older suburb–1960s). Anyhow, your thoughts have helped me work through this a bit more. –John Fea



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neuro_nurse

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Don,
I don’t know that Swahili will be any easier to learn than Amharic, but you can cover a lot more territory speaking Swahili than you can Amharic (I can think of three countries off the top of my head where Swahili is spoken) .Besides, I’m sure there are more English-speaking Tanzanians than English-speaking Ethiopians. Ethiopia and Eritrea are the only two modern African countries that were never successfully colonized by a European country (the Italians were there for a few years). I spent ten months hitch hiking around Africa. Other than the former Portuguese colonies, you can get around most of Africa speaking English and French.
Where in Tanzania will your son be going? Parts of Tanzania have some of the highest rates of malaria transmission in the world. Don’t mess around – falciparum malaria can kill very quickly. I don’t put much stock in the reports of the side effects of mefloquine. I got malaria twice taking chloroquine – it nearly killed me the second time. Mefloquine works (for the time being, but mefloquine resistance is found in parts of Southeast Asia and the Amazon Basin), deal with whatever side effects occur (I didn’t have any). The CDC has some great information online about malaria, but I highly recommend seeing a doc who specializes in travel medicine before going to Africa.
Anonymous July 10, 2007 6:08 AM
I know Addis Ababa pretty well, and I know that the poverty you see there can be heartbreaking. I also know that you can get a pretty good taste of Ethiopian culture in Addis.
Did you try kitfo?
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:43 pm


P.S. If you did try kitfo, you should probably see a doc who specializes in travel medicine when you get back!



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Don

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Neuro_nurse:
Thanks for your detailed reply.
We don’t yet know where in Tanzania he will be staying, but if you have an idea where the Mennonite communities are there, it might give us some idea. He’ll probably be staying with a Mennonite family; at least that’s the kind of arrangement Goshen College usually makes for the students on the service sememster.
I would also believe that the college has experience with travel diseases since almost all the students go abroad for a semester, and almost all go to a so-called developing country, e.g., Dominican Republic, Senegal, Peru, and more recently Nicaragua.
We were recommended chloroquine when we went to Central America, but I read on the CDC Web site that some areas recommend other prophylactics.
We have an Ethiopian restaurant in Columbus (we used to have two), so I’ve had their cuisine. But I don’t think it included kitfo. I love the injera.
Best,



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neuro_nurse

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:35 pm


Don,
There are places where chloroquine is still effective.
I’m not sure Ethiopian restaurants in the U.S. can serve kitfo (raw meat). (Yes, I ate it and loved it, but I also knew which anthelmintic to take afterwards)
It took me a couple of months to get used to injera. The injera I’ve had in the U.S. is not as sour as that I’ve eaten in Ethiopia. I love it now.
Unfortunately, there are no Ethiopian restaurants in New Orleans. There’s one in Memphis where my uncle lives, so that will be one positive outcome if we have to evacuate for a hurricane.



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:40 pm


neuro nurse
We did not try Kitfo but ate injera till it was too much. We have an Ethiopian restaurant here and it is very authentic, injera and all. Once there I really could not tell the difference between what we had in country verses what we had here.
We still go back to that restaurant so it wasn’t that we didn’t like it.
The poverty was everywhere, as opposed to other places we have been where it pockets in slum areas.
We met with so many people including nurses who were doing exactly what you did and described.
We made friends with Oromos and Amharics and are sending a small team there this August to work with kids on the street.
We walked the streets aware of the pick pockets but were never in fear. Perhaps we were just to dumb but we just felt right at home. We must have entered 20 homes and had the usual pop corn with coffee.
When we first arrived I converted $300.00 US to Birr. Only later did I find that I was walking around with the equivalent of three years earnings in my pockets. It brings home the fact that we really are the richest people in the world.
Much of what we were doing was thinking of how to do community development so we met with Dr Jember who I have deep regard for.
We keep in touch and know that we will be back. In fact one of the leaders we met there is coming here in August for more training. Her name is Tsige.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 10, 2007 at 8:10 pm


“It brings home the fact that we really are the richest people in the world.” July 10, 2007 7:40 PM
It is my opinion that most Americans completely lack a sense of our wealth. As a people, we have very little idea how rich we are in terms of not only material wealth, but resources and opportunities.
I have suffered severe culture shock twice in my life. The first time was when I returned to the U.S. after living in Iran for a year (1978), the second was when I returned from Ethiopia – I suffered culture shock when I saw our culture from a new perspective – and I was appalled!
One day, shortly after returning from Ethiopia, while walking up Broadway in Seattle, a young white male wearing Doc Martens approached me and asked me for money. My response was less than charitable, “Are you kidding me?!” I was having a tough time adjusting to living in the U.S. again, and I launched into a tirade.
Five years later, I really can’t say that I’ve developed a sense of remorse for my behavior that day.
Peace!



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canucklehead

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:11 pm


Right on, Neuro – I don’t think the concept of social safety net has hit the third world yet, has it?



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neuro_nurse

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:53 pm


canucklehead,
If by “social safety net” you mean the ability of a people to take care of its own, then I’d have to say that many African cultures and ethnic groups have a very strong safety net – perhaps even stronger than that we believe we enjoy here.
One very important implication for this is in the care of “AIDS orphans,” children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Some well-meaning NGOs tried to improve the lot of AIDS orphans by creating orphanages, but this removed the children from their extended families and social support systems.
The favored action now is to strengthen and support the extended family system.
See UNICEF/UNAIDS “Children on the Brink.”



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:54 pm


Neuro nurse
God bless you. I have always had a hard time with that and have done some thoroughly wrong things in responding far too often.
For a chuckle and some perspective I try to remember C.S.Lewis who was once asked why he gave a vagrant money, “don’t you know he will just spend it on alcohol” Lewis responded, “Yes, but if you think about it, I would probably just spend it on alcohol.”
I try to not be too serious about the change in my pockets and instead try to remember to at least find out the persons name who is doing the begging. Giving someone a name, a face and a story, even if it is just one whale of a tale, always helps me.
You have had far more experience than I overseas. I am a real tyro in that arena having only left these shores three times in my life and then only for short stints.My experience with poverty and the poor has always been in the US urban environment.
Those other nurses I mentioned were both female by the way. I was jealous of what I could only imagine they got to do and see, treking off like they did for weeks at a time, but also realizing that once they were at their clinic a night on the town was probably spent in their quarters reading a good book. Still it sounded like a great experience.



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Payshun

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:19 pm


Injera is so good. I have not had that in a while. When I lived in Los Angeles I could get really great food. You all are making me hungry talking about such great food.
p



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A. Folkes

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:09 pm


You should read The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle? by Mike Erre



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carl copas

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm


Great exchanges.
There’s a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant in Haight-
Ashbury neighborhood in San Fran. Family and I hit it every time we go to Bay Area.
Wish we had Ethiopian restaurantin Northern California town where i live. (3 hours drive to San Francisco.)
And yes, Ethiopian (and Eritrean) women are often stunning.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Seattle has many great Ethiopian restaurants. There is a neighborhood on the east side of First Hill that looks like Little Addis Ababa.
I love New Orleans, but I don’t think I’ve seen a Habishat since I left Washington State. I’ve had no chances to brush up on my Amharic.
How can I complain? I live in a city with some of the best food in the world! Try finding a muffellata in Seattle – or Addis Ababa.
13 months of sunshine.



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Payshun

posted July 12, 2007 at 12:04 pm


There is a growing Eritrean and Somalian refugee influx in the city I live in now. Hopefully I can find some great food soon.
p



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JH

posted July 13, 2007 at 9:06 am


Conflict between living in the suburbs, and living in the city is a complicated one.
For one, the city is a place that is meant to be urba-edgy, bustling, artistic- but not neccessarily the place where the church seeks to do it’s work in comfortable, middle-classed “love your neighbour anywhere (but keep them off your property and by god, don’t let them in the church)” theology.
So there is the urgent need for people to be more aware of the presence of the poor, especially in urban settings.
But then again, there is the problem of gentrification whereby neighbourhoods are made “better”- artists and creative endeavours begin to take shape, neat little shops and restaurants begin to buy up property where before cheap storefront shops existed-and then, young professionals and students begin to take advantage of the cheap real estate. There you have it-gentrification, speeded up, for all intents and purposes.
And then what happens is a resultant mess whereby many people (i.e. the middle class) benefits from these new areas, and the poor can no longer afford rising rents, and the costs of living. This is my particular dillemma in Hamilton, Ontario.
So while I enjoy the diversity of urban living, and I can easily minister in a variety of soup kitchens and social service agencies, as well as to those simply on the street, I know that areas are gradually becoming spaces where “my neighbour” is becoming increasingly “like me” (i.e. easier to socialize with, to love, to talk to), and the needy are slowly forced out.
Then, what would Jesus do?



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trova

posted July 13, 2007 at 10:13 am


I grew up in Minneapolis, went to school there and was part of a wonderful youth group where my christianity grew. My parents and all my friends parents where from the country, so many weekend I spent either with my family or some friends family on the farm or up on the lake with the older rural people from where most us came. We were urban with real rural connections. The twin cities with the lakes, parks and river trails is so great to live in. But twenty+ years ago after high school God started moving me around this country and I have lived in rural, urban and the burbs. What really concerns me is how the rural places I’m living in are becoming the “burbs”. Currently I live with my family in Montana in a rural ranching area 25 miles outside a city. We are blowing up into a “burb” and our community and the farmland is now growing huge houses. Our church, school and community are struggling with it all and I’m sure it is what it is. But the changes are so quick now. The Farm my wife grew up on is now a northern suburb of St.Paul. No sign of her families farm or any of the others. Just miles of homes and gas stations, and roads . What is our Christian duty in city planning. Maybe to build communities like Minneapolis where there is land and lakes for people and their kids to enjoy, pray and meditate on scripture while jogging. Or walking with your neighbor. Are the working poor getting shoved to the worsed designed and laid out burbs because no one else wants them. Thanks, I have to go to a forest fire. trova



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