January 19, 2008
New post on D'souza blog
There is a new article on Joseph D'souza's site entitled, "Racism blindness, cricket, and the Untouchables" which highlights recent events to illustrate the cruel reality of both caste and racism in India. A good quick read.
November 08, 2005
Update: Mob violence in Uttar Pradesh
Posted an update to Mob violence hits rural village in northern India with perspective from a friend who lives in the area.
November 07, 2005
Mob violence hits rural village in northern India
Most, if not all of the coverage on this story is identical; I've asked a friend in the area for their perspective. If I get anything more, I'll pass it along.
I think I've mentioned this before, but on one visit to India, I traveled to a rural village in southern Gujarat. During my stay, we drove up to the top of the hill of the village in which there was a spectacular view of the surrounding area. Indeed, there was a huge Lake-Shasta-esque body of water below and rolling hills everywhere, but hardly a person or sign of civilization to be observed...unless you looked very closely in one particular direction. With a deep valley between, on the next hill over there was another tiny village some several miles in the distance. As we were looking at the neighboring village, one in our group remarked that if that (or this) village were torched or terrorized in some way, it could potentially be days before anyone noticed. Because these rural villages tend to be so isolated from each other, incidents of mob violence, such as the one in the news story above, can be somewhat easily carried out.
Update: my friend in the area hadn't seen the international news coverage on the incident, he'd only read about it in the local paper and the local coverage mentioned neither the 3 deaths nor that it was instigated by Hindus over the pretext of a cow slaughter. He also said that the violence in this instance wasn't limited to one village, as the international coverage seems to imply, or is vague about, but that it is spread over a number of villages in a wide area. Also, he informs me that this region of Uttar Pradesh has a history of violence, some of which is religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims. A couple of weeks ago there was a riot in a town in this area and around a dozen people were killed. In this instance as well it was a Hindu-Muslim conflict.
October 26, 2005
AlertNet: Crisis Profile on Kashmir Conflict
In light of the recent earthquake in Pakistan, here is a great primer on the India-Pakistan conflict over the region of Kashmir and Jammu. Via AlertNet:
October 17, 2005
House hears testimony on caste-based discrimination, untouchability, and the plight of the Dalits in India
Something VERY interesting happened today (October 6, 2005). The U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations heard testimony from Indian human rights leaders, including Joseph D'Souza, on the situation of the Dalits in India. They testified about the unconstitutional practice of untouchability, situations of blatant disregard of religious freedom, and caste-based discrimination.
I watched most the hearing live on the Web. The video is now posted on the Subcommittee's Web site and I'll include a link to it below as well. Also, the full written testimonies are also online and links are provided in the list below.
Hearing: India's Unfinished Agenda: Equality and Justice for 200 Million Victims of the Caste System
- Index of Hearings: Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations (Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives)
- Video: India's Unfinished Agenda: Equality and Justice for 200 Million Victims of the Caste System (You will need RealPlayer to view this. It's free forever, you just have to look for the "Get Real Player Free" link (Basic Player not "SuperPass").)
- Testimony: [PDF opens/downloads in separate window] Left Behind: The Importance of Reservation for the Future of the Dalits. (Dr. Udit Raj, National Chairman, All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations & Indian Justice Party.)
- Testimony: [PDF opens/downloads in separate window] The Abolition of Untouchability: The Key to Stability in India. (Dr. Kancha Ilaiah, Professor of Political Science, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.)
- Testimony: [PDF opens/downloads in separate window] Thrice Oppressed: Caste Violence Against Dalit Women. (Indira Athwale, General Secretary and Maharashtra State President of All India Conference of SC/ST Organizations.)
- Testimony: [PDF opens/downloads in separate window] Joseph D'Souza's Testimony (Joseph D'Souza, President, All India Christian Council; President, Dalit Freedom Network.)
- Testimony: Amnesty International Testimony (T. Kumar, Advocacy Director for Asia & Pacific, Amnesty International USA)
Other links of interest on the Dalits and religious freedom
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Joseph D'Souza's blog (just lauched)
- All India Christian Council
- Dalit Freedom Network
A couple of books that were cited in oral testimonies during the hearing:
- The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions. William G. Bowen, Derek Bok. ISBN: 0691050198.
- Untouchable Citizens: Dalit Movements and Democratization in Tamil Nadu. Hugo Gorringe. ISBN: 0761933239.
Other issues that affect Dalits in India (unbeknownst to the world's leaders in some cases)
Disclaimer: articles found via a quick Google search; I can't vouch for the other content on these web sites, but the articles I link to below I felt were fairly good primers on the topics.
- Human trafficking
- Sex-selective abortion
- Wikipedia entry: Sex-selective abortion and infanticide
- Catholic World News article, September 22, 2005: India Offers Free Education for Girls, To Curb Sex-Selection Abortion
- In India, sex selection gets easier - abortion of female fetuses common in India due to use of ultrasound technology - Brief Article (UNESCO Courier, Sept, 1999)
- India's Top Court Bans Sex-Selection Advertising (October 9, 2002)
It's well worth it to learn about the Dalit movement in India as well as the discriminatory practices that gravely insult the dignity of human beings all around the world. I hope you will take some time to read or to listen to at least one of the resources I listed. You may find yourself learning more about how God feels about injustice and that may draw you nearer to Him, which is a very good thing, wouldn't you agree?
September 28, 2005
Looking for something to read?
Whether you're looking for something to peruse or to ponder, here are a few suggestions for the curious and conscientious alike.
FEMA to reimburse faith groups for helping victims (via AlertNet)
- What motivates your charity?
- What are some good reasons for a church to apply for federal reimbursement? What are some bad ones?
Indian flood-hit state rushes medicine to homeless (via AlertNet)
- Do you find yourself more likely or less likely to take action in response to disaster around the world after Hurricane Katrina? (This question is really geared for readers lately living in the U.S.)
Darfur's Smallest Witnesses (via PBS, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer)
- How do these children's drawings bear witness to the gross criminal acts happening in Darfur? Do they provide hope in any way?
- We are called by Jesus to become like little children. Can we learn anything from these children's drawings about right and wrong? Justice and injustice? The mind and heart of God?
Please feel free to post your thoughts on these questions as comments.
August 05, 2005
Pray for child survivors of flood-affected areas in India
To reiterate Leah's comment, the poor are always the hardest hit by these disasters. This week, pray for peace and comfort for the kids who are living in this midst of this disaster right now and witnessing frightening and horrible things.
Unnikrishnan said the emotional fallout of this year's floods would be felt for many years to come.
"We met with children in the slums who saw dead bodies float in the river. Their parents say they scream in their sleep," he said.
"And as always happens in a disaster, it is the poorest — the slum dwellers, the daily wage earners — who suffer the most, and their recovery is going to be a long nightmare." [emphasis mine]Reuters AlertNet - India counts financial toll as floods recede
August 02, 2005
The Rain in Bombay
The rain in Bombay falls on the righteous and the wrong—Caedmon's Call, "Bombay Rain"
And there is no way for me to understand
Floods and landslides in Bombay last week have brought the city, whose airport has been my first taste of India for the last two years, to a standstill. According to this Reuters article, blame is being placed on civic authorities, who have monumentally failed in the task of urban planning for this city of seven islands, stiched together by "reclaimed land."
"Reclaimed land", according to our Singaporean tour guide, who, on our tour of the city during our layover in February, pointed out reclaimed land in Singapore, is soil brought from somewhere else and dumped into the ocean, then allowed to settle for a number years until it is determined to be stable for urban building. In Singapore's case, the soil is brought from Indonesia.
But in the case of Bombay, which is not blessed with the ingenious urban planning apparent in Singapore, hundreds died in a city of myriad urban problems, including slums and housing projects with no drainage, water-logging along the coastlines of reclaimed land, and destroyed trees and wetlands that could have dissipated waves and naturally drained the torrential rainfall.
But on a personal note, I have some friends flying out of Bombay at the end of this week. The flooding caused the airport to close nearly all of last week, so please pray that the airport's schedule will normalize this week for all the people trying to fly out.
July 25, 2005
Flooding Crisis in Gujarat Worse than 2001 Earthquake
Last night at a East Indian gathering ("East Indian" as in people from anywhere on the subcontinent, not just people from eastern India; the term is meant to distinguish from Indians as in Native Americans or First Nations, etc.) I learned that the flooding I've been hearing about in India has created a more disasterous crisis in the state than the earthquake in 2001. The disaster is more widespread, leaving many more hundreds of thousands homeless and displaced. You can see here from this picture, taken in Gujarat in February of this year, how easily slums like this one could be washed away by flooding. Many homes, roads, churches and other building have been washed away. The expressways that we traveled on this year and last are gone, apparently.
I am going to try to get more personal information from our friends and partners in the region to post here. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in India who have been displaced and impacted by the flooding.
Article (AlertNet): Reuters AlertNet - ACT Alert: Monsoon Floods hit Gujarat & Madhya Pradesh, India
July 21, 2005
Rights for Dalit Christians?
In my very limited education on the human rights situation in India, I have been told that Dalit Christians are severely disadvantaged because they are ineligible for some of the social affirmative action programs that are designed and targeted for Dalits. So this news today is very interesting because it seems to be a major political milestone for Dalits, especially Dalits who are Christian because:
- it is a recognition by the judiciary of the widespread caste-based discrimination that persists despite its illegality;
- it recognizes and recommends political action to address the inequalities and discriminatory practices affecting these people;
- it recognizes that past political action to end caste-based discrimination has utterly failed.
I pulled a few interesting quotes from the article:
"It is also unfortunately the sad reality the converts from Hindu religion to other religions have carried their caste marks with them whether they belong to higher caste or lower caste.
"The result today is all the religious communities in India except Parsis, have an ingrained caste system prevalent in all spheres of life. We had assembled here to consider the special case of Dalit Christians who were similarly converted from Hindu religion to Christianity and carried with them the same disadvantages and disabilities and they are carrying them even today. They will disappear if at all, only when similar disabilities suffered by Dalits of other religions, namely Hindu, Sikhs and Neo Buddhist, will disappear."
"It is therefore necessary that the Christian Dalits are given the same benefits aids and advantages, facilities and opportunities as are given to Dalits of Hindus, Sikhs and Neo Buddhists on the basis of caste to which they belong before conversion and which they are carrying even today," Justice Sawant, Barrister Sona Khan and the Jury said.
Read the whole article if you have a few minutes. It's very interesting. Leah, chime in if you can with some insight on this. Link: Dalit Christians must get Scheduled Caste rights says the tribunal.
July 15, 2005
Connection, Culture, and Video
I've been amazed at the opportunities I've had to meet East Indians in the metro area just because I have a very small happenstance reputation for being able to shoot video in a cross-cultural setting.
This week, I was invited to be a part of a small gathering of families from the Indian state of West Bengal in a home in Wilsonville. I had the best Indian food I've ever had, enjoyed the company and conversation of women from Beaverton, and listened to Bengali music being played on a keyboard, sung into a microphone (...the most beautiful vocals I've ever heard!), and picked on a guitar. Oh, and captured the night on video.
Wednesday, I visited the new Hindu temple located on the HBC (Hall Blvd. Connection) just north of 99w in Tigard (behind the KinderCare, weird, huh?) Got a tour of all the deities they've acquired thus far (the temple only opened on July 6th, a couple weeks ago). In the old temple, which is still a worship place but also a sort of ashram for people in the region to stay when they visit the temple, I witnessed a small group of devotees perform their worship ceremony. And yeah, I was invited to capture the whole thing on video. And capture it I did.
Tonight I hit Lake Oswego to capture some of the wealth and if not tonight, tomorrow, will get to a restaurant and hopefully get to meet an East Indian dance and music instructor.
So I meet and connect with people in my area from India, glimpse into a very complex culture, and refine some technical skills I don't get to use everyday, all because my brother showed me how to take decent shots with a consumer-quality mini-DV camcorder. Thanks, tall brother!
March 17, 2005
News bite: Assistance for Attapaddy tribal belt
[Source: Cultural Survival weekly indigenous news who got it from Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, March 16, 2005.]
In summary, a rep from Indian government laid the foundation of a girls' school in the Palakkad District in the state of Kerala (India) as a gesture to demonstrate gov't committment to this tribal region of India that has been fighting for years for economic support from the government.
The state of Kerala is located in a southwestern coastal slice of India, kinda how California is situated in the United States. Palakkad District reaches for the Arabian sea, but doesn't quite make it.
March 11, 2005
Pray for peace in Northeast India
"After 50 years of bloody guerrilla campaigns, many civilians are tired and desperate for peace." BBC, October 4, 2004
The BBC's October 4th, 2004 Q&A: India's violent north-east tells a story that could very well be told today as well as back in the Fall of 2004. Violence has once again erupted in Assam this week, one of several states in India located in the space between Bangladesh and Burma, sharing borders with China and Bhutan as well. Imagine the ethnic diversity in a place like that...and all the political divisions...all those boundaries and no view of the sea. Well, conflict abounds in this place. Peace is needed urgently.
A larger view of this map will popup in a little window when you click on the image. This is a Meghalaya District Map [courtesy Maps of India], which shows the town of Guwahati on the Brahmaputra River in the neighboring district of Assam. (The map of Assam that I found didn't show Guwahati, one of the locations of "separatist attacks" on Thursday. I also used this map of Meghalaya district because I know some people who are living in this district, so this place is more personally meaningful. That is, it helps me to relationally connect what is happening in the news with real people, even if they live some distance away. Making this relational connection may help me to intercede more effectively. I don't know if that is true. But I hope anyway.) The BBC Q&A on violence in NE India also has a nice map of the area as well.
March 09, 2005
Found this site today, Global Envision, that tells economic development stories of different people in poverty worldwide. This story of the creativity and innovation of a rural man in India is featured this month on globalenvision.com.
A Mercy Corps Story: New Growth in India
A little good news for a change...
March 03, 2005
Is there a future for Gujarat's textile industry?
This story caught me eye. The name of a particular community I visited last month is translated "a community of weavers" because of the former textile/weaving industry that used to flourish in this particular neighborhood. Indeed, Gujarat as a state is known for its textile expertise. So it was interesting to read an interview with a man who believes that 'After IT, await the textile revolution'.
This one's a tiny bit of a stretch, in my effort to focus on India. But here's the connection: while I was in India Nepal was all over the news because of the coup. The following extended quote is what I found interesting about this editorial, Choosing between revolutions:
There have been several attempts to provide new leadership. In the past few years, the left and liberal student unions have called for a constituent assembly, defying the more timid parties. The women and Dalit cadre and that from the indigenous nationalities have increasingly challenged the male elite caste's stranglehold over their parties. There is a progressive-minded party cadre waiting in the wings. Now is the time for them to step forward.
Given the serious breakdown of trust between the three political forcesand the very high stakes involvedinternational mediation may be required to achieve all this. Here India must be very careful. Because of Nepali sensitivities, there is no role at all for unilateral intervention by India. However, complete disengagement will only allow the present crisis to deepen.
March 02, 2005
This one's for you, Leah
Rice to visit India this month (March 2, 2005: The Times of India)
D'souza: Caste Divisions Still Asserted in the Midst of Disaster
In Christian Solidarity Worldwide's "Response Magazine," Joseph D'souza writes:
The scale of this tragedy is such that one would hope that India's age old caste divisions could be laid aside in order to help all the victims. Disturbingly, this has not been the case and we have received news that active discrimination has been occurring against Dalits (the 250 million people at the bottom of India's caste system, often referred to as 'untouchables'). One paper reports, "Dalits are not allowed to drink water from tanks put up by UNICEF. Even in relief camps, [upper caste people] don't want to sit with Dalits and have food. Some of them manage to get rice but other relief items...are denied to Dalits."
Read the full editorial here: The Human Tragedy Behind the Natural Disaster, Dr. Joseph D'souza
Interestingly, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a human rights organization focusing on religious freedom. I've just recently come across this organization and realized that at least person associated with CSW has written some articles for Sojourners magazine, one of which I posted back in April 2004. Inspiring and excellent work.
On the 'Net: Reflections on India Tsunami Response
On February 24th, 2005, AlertNet posted this perspective on lessons learned by a representative of an international NGO responding to the tsunami disaster in India. Response comparisons are made between the recent tsunami affecting the state of Tamil Nadu and the 2001 earthquake that hit Gujarat in 2001.
March 01, 2005
Still waiting for justice in Gujarat, India
One must be careful when expressing resolutionsespecially on one's web sitebut I have decided, in an effort to bring a little focus to "Awake," to indeed focus on a country or specific area of the world for one month complete. It's really half-experiment, half-resolution (ha! there's my "out"); so I'll see how it goes. Since I've just returned from India, I thought it appropriate to begin with the great sub-continent. So here we go...
Scoop: Indian: No justice for victims in Gujarat (Amnesty Internation press release, March 1, 2005)
- Related Amnesty background report: India: Justice, the victim Gujarat state fails to protect women from violence
The background report from Amnesty is quite lengthy; scroll down to the footnotes at the end for some interesting insights, both cultural and political.
February 02, 2005
I'm awake. I'm surprised a little. Even though I've been getting better sleep here in India than I have in the last 6 months in Portland, I'm surprised to be awake at 6:20 am Indian Standard Time. I'm surprised because last night I could not set my alarm (read: cell phone) because I could not keep it plugged in to the powerstrip which is plugged into the electrical converter which I smelled burning last night around 9:45. It's cooked and it's eletrical converting days are over. (Sorry Dan and Kathy, but thanks for letting me borrow it.) Time to go to the electronics store (again) and get (another) universal powerstrip.
I'm here in India tagging along with a group from Village attempting to capture in words, stories, pictures, and video the bigger picturethe bigger partnershipin which we are participating. The various sub-groups are doing different kinds of conferences and training, all with the underlying element of leadership development. So what I'm trying to find out is, what do these leaders envision as the future of the church in this area of India and are we helping them get there? I'm no investigative journalist (not by any stretch of the imagination) but I have recorded a couple of good interviews so far and I'm hoping that by bringing the words of these leaders home, I might, by proxy, cast their vision to Village and be a catalyst to mobilizing the church to active participation in the work God is doing here.
Adventures in Visual Communications
I hate being right sometimes. Especially when things go wrong when I didn't do what I knew to be the right course of action. So I guess what I really mean is: I hate knowing right and doing wrong.
Besides the fun "romantic" tasks of videography, coordinating photography, and blogging the group's stories, I'm also the group's "tech support," one of the most unromantic tasks ever necessitated by plugged-in, dialed-up society and more specifically this plugged-in, dialed-up group of 25. Believe me, every step of the day has literally been an adventure.
First, plugging in. We brought all these laptops for the group to use for preparing talks and using e-mail. But I brought the wrong powerstrips and the wrong plug thingamabob which I took to be a electrical converter (which is now less nobly engaged as a support stand for the (now burned-out) electrical converter, borrowed from the Crawfords (whom I now owe a new one). The powerstrips were all wrong because they only can take 125w. Before reading the back of the strip and discovering this salient fact, I blew the fuse in my hotel room three times. (Yes, I was jetlagged and very very slow in the brain. Plus, I admit, I kinda liked the sound it made when it blew. It was a feeling akin to watching The Village for the first time when the kid in the watchtower opens the hatch and sees a creature suddenly appear below. Jumpy!) So, to remedy the powerstrip problem, John S., Mei Yee and I took an auto-rickshaw (my first!) to an electronics store (think "hole-in-the-wall", not "Best Buy") and got a universal powerstrip, a ginormous electronic converter of sorts (the real name for it escapes me at the moment), and a couple of bitty converters, one of which we needed for the shredder.
But I am weighing you down with tedious details.
The dialed-up related adventure happened on Tuesday. We have a couple of CDMA phones that we are using to connect to the Internet. First problem was that they only work on PCs; second problem was that I had Virtual PC installed but not set up on my Powerbook and due to the fact that I forgot the serial numbers on my living room table (read: disaster fall-out zone); third problem was keeping the phones charged and being able to use them for any length of time.
Luckily, in my family, we love adventure and I sent my mom into my living room to fetch the product keys. She informed me that "yes it was a disaster" (I told her so) but she very bravely and successfully found the numbers and e-mailed them to me. (Note to Microsoft: I hope you're satisfied.)
Problem three was keeping the phones charged. John S. had this nifty setup on his CDMA phone cables (the USB and power) which allowed him to plug the phone into the wall and into his USB port at the same time. "Brilliant!" I thought. "Must have this!" I mused. So on Tuesday, Mei Yee and I dropped off the others from our trip to the fancy-pants bookstore and set off in search of the Reliance "office". ("Office"="Store") For two hours we drove around and finally full-circled back to one of the stores we inquired at in the beginning. Through the wonders of my education in cross-cultural communication (which I am still paying off) I explained (read: "gestured" or "re-enacted") that I needed a data-cable that plugged into the wall and the computer at_the_same_time. I think I actually saw a light bulb click on above her head. She peeled back a tiny rubber covering on the USB data cable she had in her hand to reveal an plug for the power cord to occupy. Shania Twain. I couldn't believe it. I think she saw a 4th of July fireworks display above my head as I bemoaned another needless adventure entirely due to my own poor slow brain.
Yesterday I was enjoyed the privilege of traveling to see the teacher training team and the youth conference team in action. They were about an hour away from where I am staying in the Big City and about 20 km from each other. I didn't realize this until later that morning, but the man who accompanied me was the personal assistant to a highly regarded leader in the north. More than that, he left the leadership training conference in the south especially to be my guide and left that evening to return to the conference. Wow. I am continually in awe of how the brothers and sisters here demonstrate humble servanthood without restraint.
We did not take the expressway, but backroads all the way to our destination. I must say, after my trip last year, I now regard the driving and traffic situation here to be one of uttermost efficiency and survival, rather than chaotic mayhem. I cannot say of the drivers here that they do not know how to merge. Perhaps Hwy 26 would not experience bottleneck if the drivers were more competant, had better horn honking ability, and a sheer gut-level will to get to their destination alive and quickly. Of course, I learned yesterday from my guide, that in some states, anyone with enough money can get a driver's licenseand there's no examination. So I retract my wish. Let Indian driving stay in India. I'll take the MAX instead of the Sunset.
January 24, 2005
Against Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
Since the tsunami hit on December 26th and the Gujarati earthquake of 2001 hit on January 26th, this article reports on fear-based rumors of a tsunami hitting the Gujarati coast on the 26th (in 2 days). As I am to depart for India on the 26th, I ask you to remember the Gujaratis on this day. Pray against fear, uncertainty, and doubt and pray for the coming of hope for the the country of India.
Article here: Tsunami again? 'We are all scared about 26th'
January 07, 2005
Giving smartly to tsunami victims
There exist many legitimate concerns regarding the decision to give money to disaster relief. The disaster is so overwhelming and our bank accounts so underwhelming, it is difficult to decide how and if one can give with any sort of impact.
David Batstone, an editor for Sojourners magazine provides good advice on how to decide whom to give money for tsunami relief. How an organization is positioned to provide emergency relief, reconstruction of critical infrastructure, and contribute to sustainable development in affected disaster areas should be key to any decision to give.
Read How to give smart (and compassionate) aid to tsunami victims, by David Batstone for more insight.
Happy smart/compassionate giving.
December 29, 2004
Virtual prayer room created for Asian tsunami crisis
How should we pray for those deeply affected by the Asian tsunami crisis? Head over to Messy Christian's post, Virtual prayer room: Asian tsunami crisis and post your prayers, pictures, or what you think we should pray about. (A wonderful idea for lifting up prayers with one voice and in agreement with on another.)
December 27, 2004
Local aid to Tsumami/Earthquake victims
The news of the earthquake and resulting tsunami has been difficult if not impossible to comprehend.
Two Northwest relief agencies have been mobilized to send aid and support the efforts of their partners in the hard hit regions of SE Asia:
Also, many updates at AlertNet (a news service "alerting humanitarians to emergencies." This is where most of the news stations will be getting their info.)
And Leah posted an update to her blog.
November 28, 2004
Laundry List of Links (LLL)
Tonight's LLL is brought to you by one very good night's sleep, a mid-afternoon nap, and three cups of coffee.
Thought I'd take a moment to post some of the more interesting links I've learned about from various e-mail newsletters I receive on a regular basis...
First up is Goshen College's Advent Devotions. On a technical note, I noticed they're using blosxom to power their content. Kudos to them. I've installed blosxom and played a little bit with it, but I'd really like to look into again for powering "sideblog" type content. It's a very lightweight weblog application and has a very simple interface. But I digress... here's the welcome message to Goshen's Advent devotions:
Next on the list is last in National Catholic Reporter's Global Perspective Journey's in Theology: Women's Stories. To quote Gemma Tulud Cruz, the author of the article, Faith seeking empowering understanding:
Theology lies not only in the carefully worded propositions of erudite theologians but also in the songs, poems, stories, testimonies and reflections on the day to day struggle of ordinary people by ordinary people themselves. Much of the Filipino contextual theology called "theology of struggle", for instance, is expressed and embedded in these forms.
The diverse, complex, and immense problems we face today impel us to expand our theological imaginations. A theology that inspires hope must learn to speak not just about the metaphysics but the aesthetics of existence. Just as Jesus' story ends not with his death but with his resurrection, theology must insist that the Christian's final experience in God's great economy of salvation is love and life not suffering and death.
Also from Global Perspective, Indian minorities are again anxious, which discusses the anxiety of religious minorities (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist) in India over the BJP's recent change in party leadership and in their public rhetoric, a reiteration of fundamentalist, anti-minority, Hindutva idealogy.
From Human Rights Watch:
- D.R. Congo: End Arms Flows as Ethnic Tensions Rise
- Malaysia: Mass Expulsion Puts Migrants at Risk
- Sudan: Human Rights Accountability Must Be Part of North-South Peace Agreement
- Millions of Landmines Destroyed
From Reuter's AlertNet:
- Photo Album : PICTURES: Landmines around the world
- FACTBOX: NGOs respond to renewed conflict in Ivory Coast
- CRISIS PROFILE-Why is tension resurfacing in Georgia?
Haven't read all of these, but I'm posting them here as a reminder.
November 10, 2004
To India I Go
To India I go and a new site I launch. Global Fixation will be my journey to discover a niche that I have noticed becoming more and more prominent in my life: that of connecting missionaries with the resources they need to more effectively communicate to their supporters. I am only beginning this journey myself; this is only my second time to India as the so-called visual communications ministry team leader. But, I want to pass along what I'm learning and hopefully someone will benefit from my mistakes and blunders.
I am also interested in missionary responsibility to understand and protect the human rights of indigenous people groups and I hope to explore that more in depth on Global Fixation.
This new site is really just an attempt to better define myself to others in terms of my interest in becoming more globally missional as I seek to grow deeper in the knowledge of Jesus and deeper still in his love.
October 26, 2004
HRW's End Caste Discrimination Resources out of date?
I found a collection of resources on caste discrimination on Human Rights Watch's site:
It looks like it's been a few, if not several years since this information has been updated. I wonder if they would be open to partnering with some friends I know who are well aware of the current situation regarding caste-based discrimination and in particular discrimination against Dalits in India. I also wonder if my friends would be willing to partner with them. This would be a partnership probably limited to the exchange of current and pertinent information and stories about the situation, but a partnership nonetheless.
Another idea and perhaps a more feasible one is to add the kind of resources that HRW provides to a site or section of a site devoted to this area of the world. The type of resources provided could be background information, reports from conferences or symposiums, photo galleries, links to endorsed campaigns, and suggestions to readers for getting involved (donations, letter writing, etc.)
Just a thought.
October 25, 2004
Girls, Chores, Bicycles, and getting to school in rural India
An Ambitious Dream for a Girl in India: Schooling (washingtonpost.com)
This story describes the challenges of 15-year-old Seema Mahato, a "lower-caste" girl in rural India who struggles to attend school with intense family pressure to share housework and fieldwork duties.
October 21, 2004
Commuter Reading - Joothan: An Untouchable's Life
Having received a note from a friend of mine regarding a recent Caedmon's Call tour supporting the Dalit Freedom Network, I searched my local library's catalog for something interesting in the area of Dalits. I may have found it in Joothan: An Untouchable's Life, by Omprakash Valmiki, translated from the Hindi by Arun Prabha Mukherjee. I haven't made it through the extensive introduction yet, but published in 2003, I hope it proves to be the valuable contribution to Dalit literature the introduction hails it as. The whole thing about this autobiography and Dalit literature in general reminds me of studying slave narratives in my African-American literature class at Biola. This particular area of study impacted me personally, especially when I traced my own roots back to a slave plantation owner in Virginia who, according to the geneological data I'd obtained, was not above fathering a dozen or so children by a slave or indentured servant (not sure which) living and working his land. At the time of my discovery, I regarded it as a sobering reminder that the perpetuation of injustice can in reality be so easily interwoven into people's lives that wrongdoing appears as natural as a day's work. Indeed, it seems that the most outrageous injustices in the world are, to many, merely the norm and therefore regarded with facile impunity. Yet, it is the writers, the singers, the shouters and the healers in this world who will make known the absurdity of injustice.
August 19, 2004
Gujarat hit with disease after flooding
This article says that the affected districts include Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Narmada, Vadodara, Kutch, Surendranagar, Dahod, Banaskantha and Nadiad. I met many people from these areas in my short visit in February. I wonder what else is being done or what else should be done in south and central Gujarat to prevent further breakouts.
Brief article here:
After floods, Gujarat grapples with epidemics
August 17, 2004
India court asks Gujarat to reopen 2,000 riot cases
NEW DELHI, Aug 17 (Reuters) - India's highest court on Tuesday asked the government of western Gujarat state to reopen about 2,000 cases related to deadly Hindu-Muslim riots, which were closed by police on grounds the suspects could not be found.
The order is a fresh blow to the Hindu nationalist state government, which was accused of not preventing the worst religious riots in a decade and of turning a blind eye to the killing of more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, by Hindu mobs.
Read the rest of the article:
India court asks Gujarat to reopen 2,000 riot cases
July 20, 2004
Church desecrated in Gujarat
Read article: Church desecration leaves Gujarat village tense
I'm pretty sure I passed through Surat district during my trip to India in February. It was my favorite place of all the areas of Gujarat I was able to witness. Lots of small agro-villages spread out over the district. That was my brief impression, anyway. In one such village we went to the top of a hill and looked out over a very Shasta-esque lake. You could see for miles in a couple of different directionsand no people anywhere. (Such a contrast from the big city I stayed in!) However, in one direction, a village could be seen that was not unlike the one we were presently visiting. It was apparent that any general crime or devastation committed against any number of people within that village could quite possibly go undetected for days (in the absence of any fire, that is). Disconcerting, when you consider that much of the religiously motivated crime against people is committed in these small rural villages where cries for help would go largely unnoticed.
July 12, 2004
India: Police Probe Attacks on 'Untouchables'
"The Indian government should immediately launch a full investigation into allegations that police used excessive force against Dalits (or “untouchables”) who tried to participate in a religious ceremony in Tamil Nadu last week, Human Rights Watch said today."
May 14, 2004
Into the Gap the India Elections Fall
Comparing the 2004 election to the one in 1977, which brought opposition parties to the forefront, Rushdie said the "oldest Indian rivalries of all have resurfaced in this election as they also did in 1977.
"Then as now, much of the urban bourgeoisie voted for the government while the impoverished Indian masses, in particular the rural poor, mostly voted against it. The Indian battle for centrality in the debate about the country's future has always been, to some degree, a battle between the city and the village."
In this context, he mentioned how the NDA lost in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu due to its emphasis on a hi-tech economy while neglecting the agrarian sector.
"The gulf between India's rich and poor has never looked wider than it does today, and the government has fallen into that chasm."
May 13, 2004
Time to learn about Elections in South Asia
As if elections in the U.S. weren't confusing enough, I have to go and figure out what the deal is half-way around the world.
So, if you don't mind, I'll drag you along with my on my quest to de-mystify the issues surrounding recent elections in South Asia, specifically India (although I do have a link here to an article I just received in my inbox about elections in the Philippines which I will include in this post for good measure.)
So most of this India election stuff is from the BBC, which seemed like a pretty reliable source since Britain has been pretty intimately involved with India in the past (seeing as it colonized it for quite some time):
- India votes: Parties and personalities (a run-down of the parties and key faces in race for political power)
- State-by-state election results thus far [Gujarat is here]
- BBC coverage of the elections: India Votes 2004
And, finally, a "global perspective" article from the National Catholic Reporter, "Asia Goes to the Polls", which discusses the possible implications of close to 1.2 billion Asians going the polls this year.
(By the way, Oregonians, the Primary election is next week! Don't forget to vote!)
May 10, 2004
Cyclone off Gujarati coast weakens, but lives lost
News on Elections in India
February 24, 2004
Reviving The Qualities of Teamwork
On Monday, February 16, 2004, I learned the value of teamwork. Traveling in a team, particularly, has many benefits.
First, there are the health benefits. For example, if one is sick, and there is a doctor (or two) traveling with you, then there is perhaps access to free samples of anti-nausea medication (to name one). There may also be access to a stethescope, which is particularly useful when desiring to check someone's blood pressure after they regain consciousness.
Secondly, there are the transportation benefits. If, perchance, one of your number passes out in the airport, then there are many around to ensure that a wheelchair, or perhaps a stretcher, is utilitized (maybe both) and that one's bags, boarding passes, and international identification (i.e. a passport), are looked after.
Thirdly, there is the benefit of "sharing the burden" or as the case may be, "packing the burden(s)". This, of course, done with a cheerful and willing attitude and without complaint, even if one's burdens consist of a disarray of clothes, cords, camera equipment, microphones, video tapes, and computer accessories.
There are many more benefits, I'm sure, to teamwork and specifically, traveling as a team. But these three, in my personal experience, are held by me in the highest regard, in light of my own personal experiences and interactions on Monday, February 16, 2004.
And though it was said afterwards that the "incident" was most likely physician-induced, I am grateful for the care and attention given to me by the doctors, nurses, and friends on my team. Without them, I wouldn't have even made it to the airport. With them, I experienced the surreal: being pushed in a wheelchair across the airport tarmac to a plane waiting to whisk us away to a 4-star hotel in Mumbai.
Thanks for tuning in to this edition of "India: Looking Back" or whatever I decide to call it tomorrow.
February 19, 2004
Hello friends. I'm back in Portland. Sorry updates were so few and far between. Our dial-up connection was just that -- dial-up -- and we experienced severe technical difficulties when the "Trans-Atlantic Pipeline" went down.
For now, jet lag is setting in once again, but I'm very happy to be home. More soon. =)
February 04, 2004
It's simply complicated
I'm sitting at a desk that I've pulled into the middle of my hotel room. I'm surrounded by a pile of punjabis on one of the twin beds, various papers, maps, receipts, empty water bottles, and granola bar wrappers, battery chargers, cameras, blank tapes, filled tapes, memory sticks and a few favorite CDs. Outside my 5th floor window, I see a still and motionless landscape -- the tops of buildings and apartments and clothes draped from the window sills. But my ears hear a different story. I hear non-DEQ approved combustion engines, the crescendo and decrescendo of engines as they aggressively weave and manuever down the street. I hear three distinct sounds of horns. The double-beep ("Look out"). The single beep ("OK"). And the rapid succession of beeps that I take to mean, "Move now or die!" I hear dogs barking, a man wailing, and in a couple of hours, I'll hear the Muslim call to worship over the loud speaker.
The juxtaposition of stillness and chaos, of melody and cacophony, of peace and imminent danger precisely and abstractly describes my experience here in Ahmedabad. This is the town where Ghandi lived -- a man of peace and revolution. And this is the state of Gujarat -- a place of change and turmoil. And it is here that I find myself in the dead of winter wearing a rose-colored tailored punjabi with embroidered flowers ready to embark upon the chaos of the streets to find a McDonalds with the young people in our group.
It is indeed a strange existence.
February 02, 2004
Live from India
Greetings from India!
Everyone arrived healthy, happy, and exhausted after the 2 days of travel, including a Friday that seemed to go on for days. Actually it did go on for almost 2 days!
When we arrived, after having spent all night awake in a couple different Indian airports, we got settled into our hotel rooms and many of us girls went shopping for local garb. It was very fun and I got some very colorful footage of the shop we were in, which was just a hole in the wall shop filled floor to ceiling with fabric.
Yesterday I went with the women trainers who were talking to a group of working women. It was great to meet the ladies who live in town and to learn a little bit of their experiences in the workplace.
Today I traveled with the youth trainers and got just a tiny bit carsick -- nothing serious, just a mild headache and dizziness. Driving here is a bit different than in the states. It's kind of like riding the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. All you can do is hold on and try and convince your mind that the objects hurdling toward you will not indeed smash you to pieces.
Being at the youth seminar was wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting, interviewing, and filming the college age students in the nearby town where the seminar was held. I especially wish that I could have spent more time getting to know the young women there, of which there were so few. (It was mostly young men who attended.) The ladies were shy but very friendly and warmed up after a little coaxing and some friendly conversation.
Tomorrow I think I will rest up a little bit. Perhaps I will have some time to post some pictures on the blog as well. We'll see. We didn't end up getting the Internet phones, for whatever reason, so I am dialing up from my hotel room (which is wonderful, but slow nonetheless.)
January 26, 2004
World Social Forum Causes Progressive Indian-Americans to Surface
Since I'll be leaving for India in just a couple of days, I thought I'd hunt around for some relatively recent news regarding the sub-continent. Apparently the World Social Forum is/was meeting in Mumbai (my 3rd layover locale) and this article kind of serves as a small introduction to social justice issues in India, if you choose to follow the links. And I encourage you to do so.
Although I will be busy posted updates to the group's Web site, I will try and keep a daily journal here as well while I'm "in-country." So stay tuned!
December 02, 2003
Thanksgiving has come and gone and once again it's December 2nd which is only significant to me because it is my birthday. But a birthday is a good day to be thankful too. So in order to exercise my thankfulness muscle, I think it's only wise to think of a few things for which I am thankful. So...
Today I am thankful for:
- The guy who took my order at La Terraza who thought I was only 23 or 24. That was very kind.
- Our wonderful receptionist who says I remind her of Grace Kelly. That was WAY too kind.
- VJ's gift which was perfect because I was just thinking the other day of how much I wanted a new candle. And it smells so nice.
- My mom and dad and their friends, the Vandeheys, who sang Happy Birthday in 4-part harmony to my voicemail this morning on their way to Seattle.
- A successful e-bay auction, the proceeds of which will support my trip to India in February.
- Internet access at The Apple Store at Washington Square which just opened a few weeks ago and enabled me to check the auction in its final minutes last Saturday. (That was very cool.)
- My 15-month-old niece, Adalie Grace, who I swear nearly said "Auntie Amber" the other day. She is so cute.
- The generosity of my family and friends and their support, whether financial, personal, and/or prayerful of me as I prepare to go to India for a few weeks in February.
This has been a good exercise I think. In the midst of so much preparation and looking forward, I forget the importance and the gift of the present moment and all that has been given and sacrificed for me to live as I am right now. A lot less worrying and a bit more celebration is in order for my life, I think. A bit of renewal. A change, I think...
The John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.
Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
November 07, 2003
Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh (A Book Report)
Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh is a unique anthology of the writings and words of a Sundar Singh, a wandering holy man who lived from 1889-1929. To be completely linear about a totally non-linear book and teacher, there are three things that struck me about this book.
The first thing that fascinated me was Sundar Singh's actual teachings. He had a very consistent, authentic and simple way of what I would call "presenting the gospel." This presentation was boldly and courageously infused with every aspect of his being. And he was a person whose heart and soul was so saturated with the life and love of God. Words that flow from such a life are themselves deeply drenched and dripping with the peace that comes from knowing the love of God.
The second thing that struck me was the way in which Sundar presented his teaching. The dialogue and conversation, the parables and stories, the common questions answered with uncommon responses, the inevitable and purposeful acknowledgement of the tension between Western and Eastern thought and belief, discipleship and religion -- all of this was instructive of a way of presenting the gospel, of advancing the kingdom, of following Jesus that sharply contrasts with traditional Western methods of doing these things. It is a very attractive pedagogy.
Both Sundar's teaching and presentation were exceptional and refreshing and food for much thought and action; but, there is one more thing that I believe is a most valuable lesson of this book. This observation is set within the framework of the question, "Why would they have us read this book as preparation for a short three-week mission trip to India anyway?"
What finally struck me about two-thirds the way through was that a materialistic, ethnocentric Western church has little place instructing a people of deep spiritual heritage about peace with God. But there’s a big "unless" here: Unless the people of the Western body of Christ awaken from what is an effective spiritual coma, induced by the love of money and material things. The Church must declare to the West a call of repentance – to leave a life of idolatry to the almighty dollar -- and call for true discipleship -- to follow and serve with everything the living Christ. Until this is done in the power and work of the Spirit, there will continue to be little use for the Western church in the Eastern hemisphere. (This is not to say that God does not do many things in spite of the heavy baggage Westerners bring into its well-intentioned mission to the East, nor to say that all Westerners that go into the East as missionaries are ethnocentric and materialistic. Read on…)
Indeed, the teachings of Sundar Singh simply call the Western Church to understand and recognize its own ethnocentric and materialistic cultural values that it brings to the world in a very dominating and powerful fashion. This call I think underscores the vital importance of cross-cultural training in the church if Westerners especially are to experience witnessing God's presence and kingdom as it exists in the East. Furthermore, I believe this book affirms a strategy of building up the Indian body of believers: training and sending out Indian evangelists, pastors and teachers to the farthest reaches of the earth -- both within India and without (instead of sending Westerners). This is, I believe, the strategy currently being employed and pursued by my church through partnerships with various people and organizations in India. And for that I am thankful and excited to be a part!
Finally, I pray that my own life will be an authentic expression of love and service to God and neighbor as I daily receive the gift of faith that enables me to receive the gifts of grace and "release," which are freely given by the only truly loving, peace-giving and living God and Savior.
And that someday, I will be able to tell a story as good as Sundar Singh.
November 03, 2003
The Overwhelming State of Gujarat
I am only just now bringing myself up to speed on the depth and breadth of the injustice that continues to plague the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat. Here are just a few items from the last two months...courtesy of Human Rights Watch (India) and Sabrang Communications ("Protecting & Promoting Human Rights in India").
- India: Protect Gujarat Activists Now (Human Rights Watch Press release, New York, Sept. 5, 2003)
- After Best, SC to monitor 9 other Gujarat cases
- "Ban Yatra Politics, End the Sacrificing of Innocent Lives in the Name of Religion"
A grave situation indeed exists in this territory.
In an effort to stay up-to-date I've found a daily monitor of the human rights situation in India.
I will try and find some associated action items to combat the inevitable information-overload-paralysis syndrome.
October 13, 2003
So many things, so little time.
- Convert Animal Lover's Bakery to lean, mean PHP/MySQL products catalog machine.
- Create facinating, ultra, cool templates for the plethora of unfinished and works-in-progress web sites I have in the queue.
- Prepare to go to India.
That should keep me busy for now.