Archive for the Current events Category

Frontline Documentary: Growing Up Online

Posted in Current events, education, family, Media, Parenting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 24, 2008 by len20

If you missed the PBS Frontline documentary “Growing Up Online,” you can watch the entire show on the Frontline website. I think it was very well done.

The reaction to the documentary ranges from accusing the producers of creating another alarmist piece of journalism about the internet age, to complimenting them for embracing the reality that the internet and all that is scary about it is here to stay, and parents and educators need to figure out how to live in that world alongside their kids.

They do a good job of segmenting the various issues of teenagers and the internet:

  • Educating the internet generation
  • Online sexual predators
  • Kids spending too much time online
  • Internet anonymity: trying on new identities
  • Cyberbullying – A very interesting look at a new arena for abuse

“Growing Up Online” argues that the gap between generations (parents and their teenage children) has never been wider. This probably scared me more than anything else. The show features a white suburban family who, by all appearances, have everything going for them. But the relationship between the mother and her teenage son has been strained to a near breaking point. It’s a classic struggle between the parent who wants to protect her kid, and the kid who feels that he’s old enough to have a part of his life be completely private from his parents. After an incident where the mother (head of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization) sends an email to other parents regarding the happenings at a rock concert, the son cuts off all possible interaction (within his control) with his family.

This would kill me. I want to have a relationship with my daughter even when she’s a teenager. I don’t want to have to wait out those years until she grows out of a stage and realizes that I set certain boundaries because I loved her and wanted to protect her.

One of the best things that my mother ever did for me when I was in high school was to tell me (more than once) that if I was ever in a place or a situation that I wanted out of, I could call her; she would come and get me with no questions asked. I didn’t have to tell her a thing. She just wanted to help me get out of there.

Parenting scares me. This documentary points to evidence that it’s not getting any easier from one generation to the next.

The Frontline website has a number of resources, an ongoing discussion, and more information than one can possibly take in.

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Charles Taylor is back on trial – the man is pure evil

Posted in Africa, Current events, Media with tags , , on January 7, 2008 by len20

Charles Tayor on trialI noticed that Charles Taylor is back on trial today. If you don’t know his brand of evil you can read about it in this CNN article.

Taylor, who was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, sexual slavery and violence, and enslavement. He also faces five counts of war crimes, including acts of terrorism and torture, and one count of other serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Taylor, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is accused of fueling a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone that led to widespread murder, rape, and mutilation.

The remnants of his brutality are still very plain to see in Liberia. In addition to the bullet holes in buildings, the absence of electricity or running water, and the 80% unemployment, there is no shortage of homeless teenagers and twenty-somethings with missing limbs and appendages from serving as child soldiers in his war.

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I Don’t Give a Rip About Your Shopping Experience

Posted in Current events, Rants with tags , , , , on November 20, 2007 by len20

It’s time for a good rant.

On my way to work yesterday morning I heard this story about all the people who are bent out of shape over the name change of the historic downtown Chicago Marshall Fields to Macy’s. Apparently the Marshall Fields is a fixture in the town. ABC News also did a story on the hub-bub. Marshall Fields protesters

If there are any die-hard Chicago Marshall Fields people out there, I’d love to hear from you. But my first reaction is, “C’mon!” Why are you spending your time and energy fighting for your shopping experience? This is what bothers me most. People have organized protests, printed buttons, and created websites about the whole thing. I don’t care if you’re passionate about something that I’m not, but please, “Save my Marshall Fields?” Pick a fight that might be worth winning!

Be passionate about education, or women’s rights, or homelessness, or the vegan lifestyle, but this just aggravates me. Put some goggles on and see the big picture. Your shopping experience is bull—-. There are kids out there eating chicken feed because they have no other option.

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The Buzz about Bella

Posted in Adoption, Current events, family, Media, Orphan Care with tags , , , on November 12, 2007 by len20

Has anyone heard about the movie, Bella? I got to see a screening of it at a big Orphan Care summit in Colorado Springs last Spring. It was a very good movie. There is a subtle pro-life thrust to the over-all story about a soccer star, Jose, wrestling with his guilt after hitting and killing a young girl with his car when she ran into the street. Jose’s life falls apart until he discovers that an acquaintance is considering an abortion and he takes it upon himself to listen to and support her as she struggles with this decision.

The producers of the film are using grassroots marketing techniques to get the word out on the film, which I’ve come to admire. The Bella website has all kinds of materials to equip people to promote the film. The website also includes a growing list of theaters that are showing the film. Theaters are added as the buzz grows and independent donations come in.

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Butterfly Effect – part 2

Posted in Current events, God's Kids, stewardship, Third World with tags , , , on November 9, 2007 by len20

Most ministries like ours gear up for the giving season in the last quarter of the year. This is when people are very likely to give to charitable organizations either because the holidays stir them to think of others, or because they want to finalize their tax deductions for the year. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m a little worried about this year’s giving season due to the less-than-stellar (downright crappy, really) economy.

Jeannine Aversa, a writer for the Associated Press writes, “Economists are worried that consumers, the main support for the economy, may cut back on their visits to the malls in coming months as they struggle with the housing slowdown, tighter credit and now record-high oil prices” (source).

If people are spending less at the malls, I think it’s guaranteed that they will send fewer dollars to charity.

While a lot of us are going to be tightening our belts at the department stores this year, we’ve got to remember, as HeatherN3Boys commented, that some people, “don’t have belts to tighten.”

I often think about the idea of giving sacrificially. When I took the job with God’s Kids and started asking people for money, my wife and I had to take a good look at what we did with our money. We started being much more deliberate with our tithing, and then giving to our selected ministries on top of that. And I think we now lean if not toward automatically saying yes to new worthy solicitations, than at least less toward automatically saying no. I’m dancing a fine hypocritical line here; we’re not the world’s perfect stewards by any stretch.

But then I think, are we really giving something up when we give – especially something we really want? Are we giving to others to the point of sacrificing something that we wanted for ourselves? That’s what giving sacrificially means, right? Is there a point to giving if you don’t feel it a little bit?

For those of you who’ve researched stewardship in the bible, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on what the text tells us.

Anyway, for those of you who have ministries that you support regularly, HeatherN3Boys is right, keep giving. Give even if it hurts a little, because the people that you’re helping through those ministries are hurting every day.

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Butterfly Effect – part 1

Posted in Current events, God's Kids, Orphan Care, Third World with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2007 by len20

I never used to care about the economy. It was too big of a thing to affect me and my little world. Regardless of what went on in that big world, I still went to school, and I still worked at my job. I didn’t read the newspaper or get into current events. I didn’t care about proposed legislation or announcements from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. All of that was about someone else far away. It didn’t affect my daily routine.

So now I work for God’s Kids helping orphans across the world, and I’m beginning to believe in the plausibility of the butterfly effect – that small changes in one place can cause much larger consequences somewhere else. This is not a complete definition for you physics sticklers.

Let me explain where I’m going with this. We all know that the housing market has deteriorated, and the whole sub-primeTina loan thing has hurt a lot of people in the sub-prime loan business. I fully expect a weak sub-prime loan economy to hurt sub-prime loan business people. But let me tell you how it’s affecting a little girl named Tina living in Liberia.

Sheila Reed - Director of Hebron HomeTina is about three years old and she lives at Hebron Home with about a dozen other orphaned kids. We send money every month to Hebron Home so that Sheila, the director of the home, can buy the kids food, pay her rent, and send the kids to school. I don’t think 3-year-old Tina gives a rip about the sub-prime loan business. But the ministry that pays for her food and shelter every month is corporately sponsored by a company that relies on new home construction.

So when new home construction takes a dive in Southern California, our corporate sponsor takes a hit, and when our corporate sponsors take a hit, we take a hit. And if we don’t find a way to make up what we’ve lost, well, Tina might feel the effects of a bad housing market in Southern California.

It’s a weird thing to me and maybe I’m being dramatic, but it’s all true. We were doing great when the housing market was strong and our primary corporate sponsor had a big black number at the bottom of their P&L statements. Now our primary corporate sponsor, like every other company in the housing industry, has a different shade of ink on their reports, and our orphan ministry is concentrating on getting lean until the economy picks up.

This morning I heard a news report that the analysts are forecasting a different consumer shopping pattern this year because of the economy. If consumers are shopping differently, they will very likely give donations differently. What’s that going to mean for Tina?

I’ll get into that next time.

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