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Sunday, May 21, 2017

This week's reading from around the Web

First for some good news, for the first time ever, an Ebola epidemic response includes not just isolation and case contact tracing, but VACCINES (read here).  Having lived through the discovery of AIDS, the devastating spread, the development of treatment . . now we get to live through watching Ebola progress from an incurable scourge to a preventable disease?  Amazing.

When we spoke in the USA on our home assignment a year ago, we often mentioned the fact that childhood deaths world wide had decreased by HALF in the nearly 25 years we've been working on the fraying edge of survival.  Much of that is due to vaccines and improved antenatal and delivery care.  The Gates Foundation's annual letter is a good read, even if you don't agree with everything they do with their money, you can see the potential impact upon JUSTICE by targeted giving.  Hooray.

Not everything in our part of the world is looking up, however.  This blog is a no-holds-barred questioning of world response to the drought and famine in Somalia, from someone who lives in a nearby country and works closely with that part of the world.  Thought-provoking, and most of it applies to all our efforts to help rather than hurt.  One of the most innovative responses involves software developed in Kenya to map hot-spots of post-election violence, this time adapted to famine and response in the horn of Africa.

This post is for the 4% of the population who struggles with their gender identity and sexual orientation, and those who love them. Meaning all of us.  It is written for the missionary community, and more balanced and kind than most things one reads.

And this one is for the many families who have chosen to enfold traumatized children, by foster care or adoption, or being counselors, teachers, neighbors, friends.  Sobering.  Our prayers are with you.

Ebola, vaccines, child survival, drought, war, mental health, love--these are big topics, important topics.  However one can not credibly get through the week without having also spent some time on the crisis-per-hour flow of news out of Washington, DC.  I always find it best to read the actual transcripts of speeches and decide what you think based on the words.  Here is Trump's speech at Liberty's graduation, more articulate than much of what is reported, and starts with some inspirational words about defending truth, swimming against the current, using your blessings to make the world better.  But the speech once again conflates the USA with the Kingdom of God in a way that leads down a well-trodden historical path of destruction, power as the way to enforce faith.  It never ends well.  At its best, justice can mitigate against our human greed and tribalistic self-preservation, but we still fall far short of love.  So we find a messy week of crisis once again, careening from press conference to press conference.  Christianity Today tries to untangle some of what Comey's movitves might have been as his faith and political service hit the wall of Trump's demands for loyalty.  And this editorial reminds us that as entertaining as the late-night-show sketches may be (where reality and satire are so close it is becoming impossible to tell the difference), the real response to a discomfort with the way America has turned is to get involved in the political process.  That's democracy.

If the week leaves you despairing about democracy, may we recommend this movie we stumbled upon on on our TV programming.  This drama follows the true story of Seretse Khama whose integrity, courage, and determination brought Botswana from the 3rd poorest country in the world to one of the most free and prosperous in Africa. Positive story out of Africa, not to be missed.

Finished another great book this week:  News of the World, by Paulette Jiles.  Because third-culture-kids are on my heart and I find poetic writing to be one of life's great pleasures, I loved this book.  Historical fiction about an old frontier soldier who ends up responsible for returning a re-captured 10 year old girl of German descent to her Texas relatives, after four years of living as a Kiowa original American tribe member.  They have no common language or experience.  The way their relationship grows as they pass through dangers, and the author's grasp of the way the dichotomy of cultures in those formative years leaves this girl stranded outside all worlds . . . well, enough said.  Read it.

Less poetic, but a gripping story based on real life (as was the one above).  Jodi Picoult bravely grapples with race and injustice in our society.  I almost quit after chapter one which I found unconvincing in medical details.  But I am so glad I stuck with the book.  The story is told from three voices, and the male white-supremacist one is strangely compelling.  His character is also modeled on a real-life person who came out of that world to work for justice.  If you start it, stay with it to the end.


Anonymous said...

I'm trying to make my way through "The Righteous Mind" by Haidt.

An unfortunate last name for someone who is trying to help people understand each other.

Hunter said...

Thanks for the notes from your journey. I took the path to Kay Bruner's post and was helped. A complicated sadness. I have several links to the 4%. Kay was a lovely voice.

Hunter Dockery