Entries Tagged 'News commentary' ↓

Everyone is going to write about Poverty this Wednesday

Poverty and suffering are perhaps some of the most challenging thoughts for a religious seeker to confront and reconcile.  This Wednesday offers a good opportunity to flush out some of your thoughts as Blog Action Day 2008 is challenging all bloggers to discuss the issue of poverty to launch a worldwide conversation.  I am perhaps most fascinated and excited by this model of journalism, a kind of open source community effort focusing on a global issue.  I will posting my thoughts from a professional perspective over at my blog on MicroFranchising and if I can work in two posts in one day I would love to address the issue from a religious perspective in this forum.  If you plan on posting yourself go to the Blog Action Day website to register to help them show the impact of the day.

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Changing ‘truth’ in Science

Oldest Skeleton in the Americas

Oldest Skeleton in the Americas

Another interesting article out of National Geographic, this time finding the oldest human skeleton found on the American continent.  Early indications are that it will challenge the long held teaching that the earliest settlers of the Americas came from North Asia, this skeleton believed to be most similar to Southeast Asians.  The ethnic complexity of ancient America has been well documented despite the prevailing voice of Bering Strait landbridge theories.  The Book of Mormon of course has been telling us this all along, both in terms of ancient vogages across the sea and Lehi’s family finding others already in the Americas.

This find doesn’t change much in terms of what we already knew, if we truly acknowledged everything we knew and didn’t jump to conclusions, but the fact that many scholars and the lay consumers of their publications did jump to conclusions and absolutely dismissed alternative migration patterns should be a reminder that we should be cautious in our consumption of the current truth claims of science.  Scientific understanding, particularly in the more ‘interprative’ sciences (I’m thinking particularly of history and archeology but also things as ‘certain’ as DNA), should be accompanied by humility and any acknowledgement that what we do not know is more than what we do.  Such a stance would make one a better scientist in my opinion, always on the lookout for additional understanding.

Did Ether hide out in the Yucatan?

New Caves discovered in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.  Could these explain the description of Ether hiding in a cavity of a rock?  Pure speculation but it is a curious description and these type of underground/underwater caves unique to the Yucatan Peninsula would aptly call for such a description.  The network of caves in the Yucatan is mind boggling, there was a great segment about them in Planet Earth.

Darfur, world citizenship, and the Sermon on the Mount

Tonight I watched a taped episode of Frontline about the history of the tragedy in Darfur. A couple points that caused reflection:

One interviewee stated, in essence, that the “gods of history” had given mankind another chance to step in and prevent genocide; another chance, referring to the failure of the international community to intervene in Rwanda. His language, of course, caused me to reflect about God, mass sufferings in history, and the test of this life. Who will have to answer for this in the day of Judgment? The Janjaweed? Sudanese leaders? The Chinese? The U.N.? U.S. Business? me?

The power of citizens. We are living in a pivotal moment in history. Citizen groups are becoming powerful enough to sway government, to speak louder than big business dollars, and to have impact at a level greater than the nation-state.  The citizen movement was the only thing keeping Darfur on the agenda, and no matter how disappointing the ultimate outcome the fact that citizens on one side of the are actively fighting for the well-being of citizens in a remote corner of the world is a welcome advancement.

When Christ spoke that core principle, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” how far does my personal responsibility expand?  Where should I put my limited time and resources?  I see bums every day walking to work but then I go into an office trying to support positive change all around the world.  Is one better than the other?

Revolutionizing the Treatment of Young Girls

In my continued seeking for goodness Friday at work I had the privilege of sitting and listening to Betty Makoni, a reknowned activist for girls’ rights, as she was in the country to receive an award from Amnesty International. I was humbled as I listened to her matter-of-fact description of the problems facing young girls in her country and then completely humbled as I listened and observed her personal drive and remarkable capacity as an agent of change to drastically change the lives of thousands upon thousands of girls and eventually millions as her model is being replicated around the world.

2500 years ago a man named Jacob rebuked a gathering of men who had through their actions abused their wives and children.  He spoke in the name of the Lord saying “I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women and whoredoms are an abomination before me… I have seen the sorrow and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people [and can suffer it no longer’.”  In our modern day men continue to destroy these most precious and tender daughters of God.  Thanks be to God that He has raised up a woman named Betty Makoni to continue this battle for what is right and the only acceptable mode of behavior towards these most precious souls in the eyes of God.

In blogging fashion I will honor with her with links to her story–

Her official website

Her Ashoka Fellow profile

A speech she gave at the Global Philanthropy Forum

From the Global Fund for Women

From the United Nation’s Girls Education Initiative

From the BBC

Money Can Buy Happiness*

These two articles caught my attention recently. The first I first heard discussed on NPR; here is a blurb in Scientific America. Basically researchers found that “money can buy happiness” only on one condition–if you give it away. The second was the NY Times op ed piece about the modern do-gooder, namely the social entrepreneur, which referenced my employer, Ashoka, to start the conversation. Now I’ll go on a couple tangents–

Some may hear that first finding and think that they should go chasing after money with the intention of giving it away after they’ve accumulated it but I think that is a faulty and dangerous interpretation. (This happens to be a view I believe is quite common in my own cultural community, particularly along the Watsatch Front). Although the intent-to-do-good motive is the only justifiable reason for pursuing wealth, doing so in the mode of pursuing wealth now with the intent to give later is dangerous. If you cannot give when you have little then I will predict, and the data supports it, you will not give as readily if you do become wealthy. As wealth accumulates so do appetites and the ability to consume.

It is interesting that the study was conducted giving $5 and $20 donations, which is a small price for happiness and very much in the budget of every individual especially if it is truly a sacrifice and not just a skim off the excess.

Perhaps psychiatrists should consider prescribing gift cards to Global Giving instead of packets of pills.

Could giving be somehow measured into the GNH Gross National Happiness.
Now that you want to give away your money, who should you give it to?

I think there is a strong argument for the answer being found in the second article.

My take on the PBS documentary “The Mormons”

PBS recently rebroadcast  “The Mormons” documentary and I have heard or read various discussions on it recently so I thought I would republish my original review. (One bit of trivia for my friends- both me and my dad happen to be included in background shots during two different segments, could you pick them out?)

The Mormons documentary

I wrote the following review, not to cry evil and argue that the documentary was ‘completely biased’ or ‘wrong’ or anything to that effect. I believe in questioning and thinking deeply on information presented to me and just wanted to point out some failings that I saw that should make us stop and think.  The letter:

I was disappointed in the quality of journalism displayed in “The Mormons” documentary. It really made me question the objectivity in other programs backed by Frontline and American Experience. I do not think the filmmakers were actively trying to push an agenda but I do feel they fell into the same pitfalls and stereotypical biased reporting of the Church on the most controversial topics.  Evidence of perpetuating stereotypes and poor journalism:

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Gordon Hinckley-my memories

Gordon B. Hinckley Mormon Prophet I will remember him for his optimism, his constant challenge to be, to be a little better than you were before. I will remember when the doctors told him to start carrying a cane, he literally started carrying around, not using for support, his cane. I will remember his wit and ease to laughter. I will miss his matter-of-fact style of speaking at General Conferences, particularly in Priesthood session. I will remember the change in demeanor that came over those that interacted with him, including gruff reporters like Mike Wallace and Larry King. I will remember him for his great concern for the international membership of the church, he traveled far and wide to be with the Saints, he personally drew up the blueprints for smaller temples bringing the temple blessings to the isolated and distant members, he instituted the perpetual education fund to primarily support returned missionaries from poor countries. I will remember his hand gestures at the pulpit and the little wave he would give to congregations that stood longing to be in his presence a little longer. I will remember that kind pure look in his eyes, seemingly hidden behind a wrinkly face. I will remember the tenderness he showed his wife as he accompanied her to and from the stand in the Marriott Center. I will remember his forthrightness in speaking out against pornography, abuse, and the mistreatment of women. I will remember him pronouncing the word “wonderful”. I will remember the talk he gave called My Testimony. I will remember him as a leader that everyone adored and were extremely proud to be associated with. I will remember him with tenderness. I pray that I never forget the influence he has had on my life for good.

Admired by all that knew him:


Mike Wallace

Side Tracked–my thoughts on the New Hampshire debates

I have no other place to post my political thoughts and filled with opinions I cannot hold back. I watched the New Hampshire debates tonight, this is my take, in order of seating:

The common themes of the Republicans could be summarized as speaking about the sanctity of personal freedom and the efficiency of market mechanisms.

John McCain
was flat out childish in his personal attacks on Gov. Romney. I think he came across as one who thinks through the eyes of militarism and traditional Washington politics. Overly entrenched in politician life Continue reading →