“Se é somente para esta vida que temos esperança em Cristo, somos, de todos os homens, os mais dignos de compaixão. Mas de fato Cristo ressuscitou dentre os mortos, sendo ele as primícias entre aqueles que dormiram.” (1 Coríntios 15:19, 20 NVI)
A few months ago I discovered that for a relatively low subscription fee I could have online access to nearly everything Brazilian network Globo broadcasts. I pay R$12.99 per month, which currently works out to less than $7. The novelas (soap operas) don’t interest me at all, but there’s a wealth of news and educational programming available, and the programs are usually available online within a couple of hours or original broadcast. I’m not sure about Android, but there’s an iPhone app available as well for Globo.tv that works very well.
I was particularly excited from a tech standpoint to see (using the BuiltWith extension in Chrome) that the site was built in Rails. For me, this demonstrates once again that elegant, dynamic and dependable websites can be built with Ruby on Rails.
DW Radio has a nice 6 minute report about computer science in U.K. schools, and the Raspberry Pi features prominently in it. It’s well worth a listen.
Yes, I’d Like a Piece of Raspberry Pi
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The 2013 International Campus Ministry Conference, to be held in San Diego July 4-7, has an interesting theme. “Bent On Conquest.” Although I’m not presently involved in campus ministry and do not plan to attend this particular event, I thought their trailer was too much fun not to share. Check it out.
“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” – Isaiah 2:4 NIV
Although I’m not anti-second amendment, and I’m not so deluded to think that banning guns eradicates the problem of gun-related violence (just look at Brazil), it was good to learn about the peaceful work of RAWTools while I was at The Justice Conference this year. Shane Claiborne from The Simple Way invited founders of this organization to share during his talk time at the conference. He had actually wanted them to convert an assault rifle to garden tools during his message, but the fire code didn’t permit it. Instead, they did their work in a nearby building, where the video below was made.
“The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” – Mark 14:7 NIV
The verse above is often trotted out by some well-meaning (I assume) church people when presented with the call to social justice and work to alleviate poverty. It was tossed around in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and it’s brought up frequently when other dire needs in the world are brought to light. Of course, like much of the Bible, it is deeply misunderstood by those who quote it most often.
What Jesus was saying here was not “There will always be poor people, so focus on evangelism and getting to heaven.” Rather, he’s saying in a very specific instance in the time leading up to his torture and death, “The extravagant gesture this woman just made is entirely appropriate at this time with an event in human history that will only happen once coming up, so leave her alone and help the poor when I’m gone.”
Okay, so I’m elaborating a bit, but that was the gist of what he was saying. Click here to read the entire chapter, if you’re curious.
Jesus also did not mean to say that extreme poverty is an absolute certainty. In fact, in Deuteronomy 15:4-5 (NIV), it says: “However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.” YHWH had given to his people just laws to follow and a rich land to dwell in, so that if justice were done there would be no poverty.
We live in a time of incredible bounty. Every day, usual around one of my mealtimes, I reflect on the diversity of food available to me (fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, grains, etc) from points all over the globe. A lot of the food I eat is pretty cheap, despite being of good quality. For most of human history people were “locavores” out of simple necessity, depending on food that could be produced in their immediate area to survive. This wasn’t so great if drought came along or a disease hit the livestock. Famine would follow, and along with it death.
And yet, despite our enormous wealth, relatively speaking, people are needlessly dying of hunger and disease the world over.
Another passage, Deuteronomy 15:11, is relevant for us in this situation:
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.”
There’s no contradiction here. The earlier verses I quoted tell us there need be no poverty in the rich land that has just laws. The second quote from the very next chapter states reality, there will always be poor in the land. Not because of the land or the laws, but because of the failure of the people with regard to the land and laws.
That brings me to Bono’s recent TED Talk about some “good news” where extreme poverty is concerned. His message? It’s on track to be wiped out, as long as the disease of corruption can be effectively combated. Calling himself a “factivist,” he tells us that facts and the will of the people united can see this old dream come true.
“The power of the people is so much stronger than the people in power.” – Bono