Children

Fierce For Peace

TWO LIBERIAN WOMEN defy the traditional media narrative of violent conflict, which all too often focuses on men who are fighting as the center of the story. In their recent books, Leymah Gbowee (a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient) and Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna turn this notion on its head and tell their stories of surviving 14 years of civil war. They are not victims, but central figures in bringing peace and reconciliation to their country.

In Mighty Be Our Powers, Gbowee tells the story of women learning about and fighting for their human rights and becoming architects of peace in war-torn Liberia. In 1990, Gbowee had just graduated top of her high school class and begun studies at the University of Liberia with dreams of becoming a doctor. Then the war broke out and life and her dreams became unraveled and unrecognizable.

As the horror dragged on, Gbowee became involved in peace-building and conflict resolution and transformation. Even as she balanced life as a mother of six children, she worked as a trauma counselor, visiting villages in Liberia where terrible things had taken place and helping people to tell their stories. This dialogue created awareness and helped people to find solutions and work toward conflict resolution.

She eventually brought women together from all walks of life, both Christians and Muslims, to demand an end to the war. Their slogan became, “Does the bullet know Christian from Muslim? Does the bullet choose?” These women announced their alliance with a 200-person march in Monrovia, in which they alternated singing Muslim songs and Christian hymns. They later staged a sit-in until they convinced then-Liberian leader Charles Taylor and the rebel leaders to sit down to peace talks.

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White House Honors National Adoption Awareness Month

As many of us head back to work or school and continue to recover from our post-Thanksgiving-turkey-induced food comas, let us remember that November is National Adoption Month.  While we can be thankful that over 1.5 million children have found permanent homes through adoption (according to 2000 census), there are still 107,000 young people awaiting adoption in the U.S. foster care system. 

National Adoption Month, which began in 1995 under President Clinton, seeks to celebrate and raise awareness about adoption around the country.  Today, the White House is sponsoring an event to honor National Adoption Month with “senior Administration officials, members of the President’s Cabinet, adoption and child welfare experts and advocates, and religious leaders,” according to the White House blog for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

The Afternoon News: Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011

Is The Bible A Reliable Moral Guide?; Why I Got Arrested At Occupy Wall Street; Unemployment Rates Drop In Most States;Black Friday And The Importance Of Sabbath Rest; Poor People To Get Poorer; Coptic Christians Living In Egypt Speak Out (VIDEO); Wall Street Will Never Be The Same Again; Occupy Wall Street And The Crisis Of Choice (OPINION); Candidates Face Foreign Policy Challenge; Don't Surrender To Laws Of Market, Pope SaysOut To Lunch: Congress Puts The Food Lobby Above Child Nutrition; Supercommittee Failure Puts U.S. At Risk (OPINION); Would The World Be Better Off Without Religion? (AUDIO); 'Thanksgiving To Almighty God' Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations From George Washington To Barack Obama.

Shoulder to Shoulder, Brick on Brick

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. Photo illustration by Cathleen Falsani with image B
St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. Photo illustration by Cathleen Falsani with image By Matti (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativeco

We crested the hill and there it was: a square little brick two-story that had been improved just a little, with a welcoming windowed front and a high, aerie-like upstairs. It was the cheapest house we’d seen, and because it was 2005 and things were crazy, we spent about twenty minutes deliberating and put in a contract with a modest escalation. When we found out later that the house was ours, we found out we'd beaten out another family. The house had been listed barely a day.

As we found out later, we’d put in the contract on the feast day of Saint Xenia of Petersburg, a nineteenth-century Russian “fool-for-Christ” who'd mourned her army colonel husband’s death by donning his uniform and living as a pauper in the city's streets, performing unasked acts of generous service.

It is said that at night she hauled bricks to hasten completion of a church’s construction, and on the internet you can find a copy of this wonderful icon, St. Xenia hoisting herself on a brick construction wall with her long grey hair swinging. One of the things for which St. Xenia is said to intercede is to help people in finding housing.

A Robin Hood for Wall Street

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With the opening of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France today, an idea that's been around for awhile is in the news again and gaining more attention as a result of the #OWS movement: The so-called "Robin Hood tax," a minimal tax on all financial transactions with the resulting revenue dedicated to anti-poverty programs....Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his response to the occupation of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, endorsed the Vatican proposals. Williams observed that "people are frustrated beyond measure at what they see as the disastrous effects of global capitalism," and urged a full debate on "a Financial Transaction Tax

Faith Without Borders

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As Christians are we not obligated to help those who area most in need? Should we only focus on those in our own country who need our help, or does God's command us to ignore borders?

How might the words of the biblical prophet Isaiah resonate with us today, when he says: "If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday."

"Courageous": A Sermon Wrapped in a Movie

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This was not so much a movie as a (very long) sermon. In fact, it's a sermon that actually culminates in a sermon, as Kendrick's character spells out what he has learned in a message delivered to his church congregation.

Despite its well-meaning intentions, Courageous fails to say anything new about fatherhood, family, faith or anything else, for that matter. The few funny or moving scenes are surrounded by clunky acting, overly-moralistic dialogue and a plot that is trying to be three movies in one -- and none of them terribly believable.

Of Traffic and Tee Times: The Grace of Unexpected Community

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It took us a solid hour to travel six miles down New York Avenue, then another thirty minutes to get through the 3rd Street tunnel. The children were thirsty. More than once I considered turning around and heading home, though by that point it would have taken just as long to get home as to get where we were going.

And all along the way I rehearsed to myself the arguments of the Free Range Kids / Last Child in the Woods crowd. My husband and I like to think we have a mellow style of child rearing, more focused on moral development and kindness than in developing the "Super People" described in James Atlas' essay in the October 2 New York Times.

I was becoming the stereotype I decried -- schlepping children to lessons at the great cost of time and calm. Couldn't they just run around outside the house?

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