From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
A few months ago, on the drive to my office at Compassion International, I was listening to Shane Claiborne's audible book , The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical. Pulling into the parking lot, Shane read these words; “Faith-based nonprofits can too easily be the mirror image of secular organizations, maintaining the same hierarchies of power and separation between rich and poor. They can too easily merely facilitate the exchange of goods and services, putting plenty of professionals in the middle to guarantee that the rich do not have to face the poor and that power does not shift.”
Shane's words disturbed me and caused me to question; am I a professional in the middle? Does my work, at the office I'm about to enter, facilitate the separation between rich and poor? Or is what we are doing actually building a bridge between the rich and the poor?
To answers these questions seriously, I had to take a good look at what we are doing and what our actions produce. I've concluded that we are in fact building bridges. These bridges help “the rich” (people like me) discover the political, economic, and spiritual realities of children who live in extreme poverty. Our first step may be small and if we stop there, then Shane's words ring true. But through letter writing and other prodding, God continues to touch our hearts and we take another step. If we continue to walk this path, before we know it, we will be visiting a child face to face – a delighted face in an otherwise dreadful place. In this way we are sending ourselves into the world to join with others to experience the Kingdom of God in a personal way.
All these may be small steps, but I must commit to continue walking. As Shane says, my destination should lead to “spreading the Kingdom like a disease – through touch, through breath, through life. Spreading it through people infected by love.”
"What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done there is nothing new under the sun" (ECC 1:9 RSV).
While I’ve read this Bible verse several times, I am often struck by how many times I rediscover its truth. This morning I was part of a group of people who are earnestly trying to respond to a call from one of our senior executive leaders “to do what we can” to be good stewards of God’s creation. This is refreshing, as living in Colorado Springs has put me in relationship with many well meaning people who believe that global warming is some sort of hoax – designed to take energy away from what really matters. The idea of “creation care” is often quickly dismissed in favor of arguing about whether global warming is real. This argument just leads to inaction.
I was sitting in the meeting feeling that a new day is dawning and as a group of Christians we are really going to take the lead and do what we can. We are committing ourselves to make a difference because of the impact we have on others, whether or not global warming is caused by man. Our actions are truly a major shift from the position that “we” were taking just a few short months ago. It was inspired by a passage taken from Visions of a World Hungry by Thomas G. Pettepiece, Published 1979. Once again, I was delightfully reminded that we are just being awoken again to live missional lives.
The passage follows and I think I’ll make this part of my daily reading.
Recognizing that the earth and the fullness thereof is a gift from our gracious God, and that we are called to cherish, nurture, and provide loving stewardship for the earth’s resources.
And recognizing that life itself is a gift, and a call to responsibility, joy, and celebration, I make the following declarations:
- I declare myself to be a world citizen..
- I commit myself to lead an ecologically sound life.
- I commit myself to lead a life of creative simplicity and to share my personal wealth with the world’s poor.
- I commit myself to join with others in reshaping institutions in order to bring about a more just global society in which each person has full access to the needed resources for their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth.
- I commit myself to occupational accountability, and in so doing I will seek o avoid the creation of products which cause harm to others.
- I affirm the gift of my body, and commit myself to its proper nourishment and physical well-being.
- I commit myself to examine continually my relations with others, and to attempt to relate honestly, morally, and lovingly to those around me.
- I commit myself to personal renewal through prayer, meditation and study.
- I commit myself to responsible participation in a community of faith.
- From Visions of a World Hungry by Thomas G. Pettepiece, Published 1979