Thinking Out Loud

August 26, 2014

This Book is Certainly not Overrated

I’ve been aware of Eugene Cho for several years though his blog and the charity he founded, One Day’s Wages.  As I opened the cover of his book Overrated, with the Superman-esque cover, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he had me right from the first chapter as his family embarked on a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is adventure in social concern.

As the video trailer above so clearly expresses, many of us are more enamored with the idea of changing the world than we are with actually doing anything. As you read this, it’s probably one of many blogs you will peruse today where writers like myself might present you with a variety of topics. But making the decision to indulge 2-3 minutes on a subject that challenges our generation to respond is not the same as actually getting our feet wet or even making a donation.

Overrated - Eugene ChoThe subtitle is long enough to deserve a paragraph of its own: Are We More in Love With The Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

The book’s premise is that by talking loud but doing nothing, we are completely overrated in terms of our response to social injustice. I find it interesting that the medium that seems to lend itself most to our schizophrenic response also contains the word social as in social media. Like other issues — the problems in the local church come to mind — we’re very good at articulating the problem of global poverty, very adept at critique.

Much awareness has created the illusion of progress on this front.

So the book begins with Eugene and his family evacuating their home so they can lease it out to a tourist in order to meet a goal they had set for themselves to give one year’s wages. This meant camping out at friends’ houses, a vision that is a little more difficult to explain to your children.

As the best books are, this is one part biographical and one part teaching. The biographical narratives include the perspective of an Asian American, as well as his adventures as a church planter. 

So as to best prod us into action, Eugene Cho leads by example, and he share stories where others are picking up the torch and running with it. His personal ethic is not to ask anyone to do anything that you’re not prepared or willing to do yourself.  

That’s advice that applies not only to our response to the needs of the world, but to other areas as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Watch a video preview of the book

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February 20, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Cleveland City Mission

Who needs LinkedIn when you’re linked in here?  The picture, Gasoline Gospel is from Shorpy.com; captioned “August 1937. ‘Gas station and gospel mission in Cleveland, Ohio.’ In addition to Koolmotor ‘Gasolene,’ a long-defunct Cities Service brand, we also seem to have at least a couple of the major food groups represented here, as well as two verses from the New Testament. Photo by John Vachon.” Click the image to see the entire picture full size along with more glimpses into history.

  • Start with this one: 33 Ways to Know You Were a Youth Group Kid.
  • Nick Vujicic, born without arms and legs, is the father of a newborn baby boy
  • Got 19 minutes? Meet Atheism 2.0, an atheism for people who are attracted to the ritualistic side, the moralistic side, but can’t stand the doctrine.
  • First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas is just days away from the opening of its new $130 million facility. And don’t miss the three videos which rationalize that expense.
  • A sixteen-year old in Texas is suing her parents who are trying to coerce her to have an abortion she does not want. (See update in comments section.)
  • Rick Warren has shied away from TV and radio, but is launching a 30-minute daily radio show to air in the top 25 U.S. markets.
  • Early artwork has surfaced for the new Left Behind movie; which is actually a remake of the original (book one) story; this one with Nicolas Cage.
  • Also at Todd Rhoades’ blog: Should churches have Tweet seats
  • When a U.S. Lutheran pastor attended an interfaith prayer event following the Sandy Hook shooting, he violated denominational rules against ‘joint worship’ with people of other faiths. Now the LC-MS denomination is embarrassed by the reaction on social media.
  • Veteran Christian music artist Carman reveals to his Facebook followers that he has an incurable cancer.
  • Here’s info on an upcoming conference (April 11-13) in Virginia that I would love to be able to attend; presented by Missio Alliance, it’s titled The Future of the Gospel
  • Home-schooling is banned in Germany, so a family there fled to the U.S. for asylum which was granted in 2010. But now, the Department of Homeland Security is seeking the family’s deportation, which would lead to persecution back home.
  • There are some new posts at The Elephant’s Debt, a website devoted to issues of alleged financial improprieties involving James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel.
  • An alternative wording to The Lord’s Prayer — the Kiwi version, perhaps — you never know what you’ll find in used bookstores
  • Here’s what I wrote to my colleagues in the Christian book trade about the dwindling relationship between bloggers and publishers seeking book reviews.
  • And since we’re ending on a book theme, here’s the chart — including one title error, if you can spot it — of what people in my part of the world purchased in 2012:

Searchlight 2012 Chart

June 12, 2010

When a Man’s Home is not His Castle

When you run a business from your home, does the house then become a public place or is it still, at the end of the day, your home?

That’s the question a Human Rights Tribunal was to have been dealing with this week — the case was postponed to June 18 — in the Canadian province of British Columbia, as reported in the Vancouver Sun:

A British Columbia couple is in the “center of a firestorm” after refusing to provide accommodation to a gay couple have shut down their bed and breakfast despite doing major renovations on their home to facilitate the business.

“We’ve been harassed so bad we’re not running (the B&B),” said Lee Molnar, who lives with his wife Susan in the B.C. community of Grand Forks.

Their lawyer Ronald Smith said they are “devastated” but also feel they can’t continue to operate Grand Forks Riverbend Bed and Breakfast for fear they will be asked again “to violate their religious beliefs” by renting to a gay couple.

Smith is representing the couple in a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case scheduled to begin Wednesday, but it was postponed.

“They’re just a retired couple in Grand Forks who thought they would open their home to guests and here they are in the centre of a firestorm,” Smith said. “They’re a lovely couple. They don’t want to be thought of as discriminating, but they’re Christians who don’t feel they can violate their religious beliefs.”

The human-rights hearing, scheduled for two days this week in Kelowna, B.C., was postponed Wednesday after the lawyer for the gay couple — Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas — became ill. A new date has yet to be scheduled.

The hearing will rule on whether Eadie and Thomas, who tried to book a room at the B&B on June 18, 2009, were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation when they were turned away.

According to the complaint, Eadie called the B&B, spoke with Susan Molnar and reserved a room for the following two nights. He was told it would be cash only at $80 per night, which Eadie agreed to pay.

She took their names, Shaun and Brian, and the conversation ended.

About five to 10 minutes later, Lee Molnar called back and asked whether the pair were gay.

When Eadie said yes, Molnar replied “Then this is not going to work out,” according to the complaint filed in July 2009 by the couple.

In an earlier application to have the complaint dismissed, Lee Molnar stated “to allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and would cause me and my wife great distress.”

…Read more: Here

What do you think?   Does the presence of the business render the entire house public, or do homeowners still maintain their rights to accept or reject guests for whatever reason?   To put it another way, do you throw away all personal rights and prerogatives to the use of your own residence when a portion of it has commercial application?

To read what others are saying, check out the over 300 comments on this story at CBC News.

Related item: Story/editorial at Lifesite News.

Related item:  The Edge in Boston likens the story to a similar British case.

(Mildly) Related item:  MacDonalds in France releases a gay-targetted television commercial.

May 20, 2010

EFC Claims Victory in Christian Horizons Case

I recognize that today’s post won’t be as significant to my largely U.S. readership, but it has major repercussions here in Canada, so I hope you’ll permit me this domestic story.    For context, the EFC (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) is our version of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals) which sometimes also fulfills the role taken on in the U.S. by the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) lobbying in Canada’s capital on behalf of Christian ideals.

Over two years ago on this blog, I reported on a complaint filed by Connie Heintz, a former employee of Christian Horizons, a Christian organization which operates group homes for developmentally challenged adults.   The big picture issue was the requirement by CH that employees live up to a lifestyle clause with certain moral or behavioral guidelines.   The complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), a group with a reputation for never losing; so this was a David vs. Goliath type of battle.

But it was also a battle with large scale implications for Christian (and by extension various other religious groups’) organizations of all stripes, not to mention churches.   The OHRT argued that on the basis of the variety of people being served and on the basis of the government funding received by Christian Horizons. (Read the editorial that is part of the above link, which comprises the second two-thirds of the blog post.)

Wednesday, we received this announcement in an e-mail from EFC, which you can also read online:

OTTAWA – In December 2009, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) appeared before the Superior Court of Ontario, Divisional Court, in the landmark religious freedom case, Heintz v. Christian Horizons. The court, which heard an appeal of the decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), released its decision late Friday afternoon.

Christian Horizons, a faith-based ministry, employs over 2,500 people to provide housing, care and support to over 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals, and has done so for more than 40 years. This Christian ministry, which requires its employees to sign a Statement of Faith and a Lifestyle and Morality Policy, was the subject of a human rights complaint when a staff member resigned after she felt she could no longer live according to the commitment she made when she signed the policy.

In the decision being appealed, the OHRT had ruled that Christian Horizon’s efforts were not the ministry of a religious community but rather social work and that it, as well as other faith-based bodies serving public needs on a non-discriminatory basis, could no longer require that employees share their religious beliefs and resulting service commitment. The Divisional Court ruled differently and reversed much of the OHRT’s decision.

“This is significant victory for faith-based charities across Canada. While they must clarify certain governing documents and review certain employment policies, they may largely continue to require employee compliance with both statements of faith and lifestyle and morality policies,” said Don Hutchinson, the EFC’s Vice-President and General Legal Counsel.

“We’re relieved to see the court found that the exemption provision in the Ontario Human Rights Code which permits certain charities, including religious charities, to selectively hire employees who share the same beliefs makes no private/public distinction. This means that Christian charities may continue to serve non co-religionists in society all while maintaining their internal religious ethos and integrity,” continued Hutchinson. “I’m relieved that the court recognized that the exemption exists to guarantee the right to free association in this way. This was of serious concern as the OHRT had found otherwise.”

“Of course, we are also disappointed that the Court found it reasonable for the OHRT to have concluded that Christian Horizons did not meet an objective test for a bona fide occupational requirement for Ms. Heintz’s job, but the Court was instructive as to how that situation may be corrected.”

“What does this mean for Christian charities across Canada? Well, it means that it’s time again for them to clarify their statements of faith, lifestyle policies and job descriptions for all employees in order to clearly demonstrate how compliance with both statement of faith and codes of conduct are necessary for and related to job duties.”

This case is huge here, and while Christian Horizons didn’t have the resources to fight this on their own, there was simply too much at stake here for Canadian Christian charities, hence the involvement of EFC.

UPDATE:  Here’s a different perspective on the recent decision from an editorial in Canada’s national newspaper, The National Post.

ALSO: “…But the gay rights group EGALE, which was an intervenor in the court case, also said this week’s ruling was a victory. Lawyer Cynthia Petersen said the ruling would make it hard for religious charities to prove that a person’s sexual orientation or beliefs would get in the way of their duties.”  That quotation is from an article in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

FURTHER UPDATE (5.21.10) Here’s a summary of the decision posted on a blog operated by CFPL, the Centre for Faith and Public Life, a division of EFC.

June 30, 2009

Persecution of Christians in China Continues Unchanged

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:01 pm

I gotta be totally honest with you.   Stories like this one come across my e-mail every day.   Yet I’m not moved to a mixture of anger and prayer as I was when I saw this particular one.    Nothing has changed in China.   They put on a good face for the Olympics, but now it’s back to business as usual.    Religious persecution as usual.    This is so wrong.    Do they even know what “wrong” means?



Shi WeihanBEIJING, June 30 /Christian Newswire/ — ChinaAid calls on the international community to pray and act on behalf of imprisoned Christian house church leader Shi Weihan. On June 10 the Beijing Court found Shi Weihan, age 38, guilty of “illegal business operation” and sentenced him to three years in prison and 150,000 Yuan fine (about $22,000 USD) for printing and distributing Bibles at no cost.

Photo: Shi Weihan

Six others stood trial together with Shi Weihan, and also received criminal sentences for “illegal business operation.” Tian Hongxia, who worked for Shi Weihan, was fined three years in prison and 150,000 yuan. The other five sentenced were Li Fengshan, Zhou Xin, Cheng Xiaojing, Lű Yuequan and Li Zong, all shareholders and employees of Xinshu Printing Company Ltd. of Beijing, the printing company which printed the Bibles and Christian books. Their sentences range from one to two years with fines from 60,000 yuan to 120,000 yuan. ChinaAid recently received the Criminal Judgment from Haidian District People’s Court of Beijing Municipality for Shi Weihan and the other six who were sentenced. Click here to read.

ChinaAid president, Bob Fu stated, “Most of the books Shi Weihan published were Bibles and Christian books. He distributed them free of charge, because the Chinese government does not permit Bibles to be sold in public bookstores, and there is a great need for them. We call upon Christian book authors and those who placed orders for printing Bibles and Christian literature to speak out for Shi and his family.”

Shi Weihan’s wife Zhang Jing and their two daughters, 12-year-old Shi Jia and 8-year-old Shi En Mei, are under tremendous pressure from authorities. Shi’s wife has hired Christian lawyer Li Fangping to represent him and to appeal the verdict. The appeal process could take up to one year.

Contact the Chinese embassy and request that Shi Weihan and the other six sentenced be immediately released, and that government authorities allow Bibles and Christian literature to be printed and freely distributed in China.

In Canada: Mr. Lan Lijun, Ambassador to Canada; Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China; 240 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5R 2N5. Tel: (416) 964 7260

In the United States: Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong; 3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 Tel: (202) 495-2000
Fax: (202) 588-9760

ChinaAid grants permission to reproduce photos and/or information for non-fundraising purposes, with the provision that www.ChinaAid.org is credited. Please contact:Katherine@ChinaAid.org with questions or requests for further information.


July 1 UPDATE — Additional coverage on this story.

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