Nearly 260,000 people died during the Somalian food crisis of 2010–12. Over half of them were children under five. The deaths are attributed to an Islamist militia group that kept aid from getting to the area, warlords who stole food aid, and officials in the capital who diverted food aid. The U.S. war on terror is also to blame, because it and the World Food Program ceased giving aid to the region after the Islamist militia group was named a terrorist organization. A spokesperson for the aid group Oxfam said, “When . . . people are dying of hunger, politics should not play a part” (Chicago Tribune, May 3).
May 10, 2013
The growth in the number of civilians owning military-style guns can be traced back to a deal made in the mid-1980s between Rene Carlos Vos, a gun dealer, and Wayne LaPierre, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. They formed a company called Blue Sky to import from South Korea M-1 rifles that had been used in the Korean War. The legislation that made the project possible was an amendment to a Senate bill offered by Bob Dole, Republican senator from Kansas, which for the first time allowed the importation of U.S. military weapons as long as they were “curios and relics.” LaPierre soon pulled out of Blue Sky when it faced criminal charges, and Vos was killed in a plane crash in 1987, but the company opened a floodgate of guns. By 2012, one million of what gun advocates call “modern sporting rifles” were flooding the U.S. market each year, from both foreign and domestic sources (Washington Post, May 3).
May 10, 2013
Jason Collins, a journeyman player in the National Basketball League, has gotten much press attention for coming out as a gay man—the first active player in a major American sport to do so. Not as much has been said about his faith which apparently helped him come to an acceptance of himself as a homosexual. He found vindication for coming out in this quote from a prayer book his grandmother had given him: “The clarion call of freedom sounds within my soul, trumpeting the truth that the love of God liberates me from unhappiness, hurt, or fear. I bid farewell to any emptiness from the past, and open myself to realizing my heart’s deepest longing and aspiration” (T. F. Charlton, Religion Dispatches, May 2).
May 10, 2013
The family is a good model for thinking about the church, says Moravian pastor Jennifer Benson Moran. It’s biblical, everyone in a family matters and belongs, and our own images of broken family can be redeemed in the church. Not so fast, says Lutheran pastor Cheryl M. Fleckenstein. A family suggests a closed and exclusive identity. There is the temptation for the pastor to fall into the role of parent and be expected to meet everyone’s needs. When the church functions as family it gives invitation to people to live out their own family dysfunctions in the church. It raises unrealistic expectations about the church being a community of intimates. The church is better understood as a company of strangers who are engaged together on behalf of God’s world, says Fleckenstein (Word & World, Spring).
Make way for arts
May 10, 2013
Orchard Gardens, a K-8 pilot school started in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 2003 did not live up to expectations. It was racked by violence, and its 2010 test scores placed it among the bottom five public schools in the state. Andrew Bott, the school’s sixth principal in seven years, fired all the security guards and devoted the money to teaching the arts. It was a risky move that’s paid off. Tests scores have improved, even though they’re still below average, and student behavior has improved. “I’ve been more open, and I’ve expressed myself more than I would have before the arts came,” said one student who has been accepted into a public high school specializing in visual and performing arts (NBC News, May 1).