I’ve signed on for Blog Action Day again this year. Last year we posted on the environment (my contribution was called “So Long Ago The Garden“), and this year we’ll be posting on poverty. Blog Action Day is October 15th, so it may seem a bit early, but already as of this writing there are 1,480 sites committed, with a readership of more than 3,000,000. This is almost certain to grow tenfold in number of sites participating, and I would encourage any bloggers to join in. I realize that there was a synchroblog a few days ago which was coincidentally on the same subject… but it’s an important issue and the volume of posts for this one day is sure to dominate the blogosphere, bringing it top of mind for a very wide audience.
I’m hoping that as we enter August, I won’t find everyone away and not in a talking mood… because I’ve got a couple things that I hope warrant some discussion this week… and I’m looking for feedback. Start thinking about communion and we’ll bring that one up tomorrow. For now, let’s tackle something else. First, I like Jim Collins’ book, except one thing… the horribly-named BHAG. If MLK had gotten up and proclaimed, “I have a BHAG…!” I rather suspect he wouldn’t have made near the impact. MLK was an orator, a beast we see less and less often these days. Oh, maybe it is because a distributor of snappy one-liners makes for a better sound-byte, but it could also be that there just aren’t as many true orators around.
I am reading and recommending N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. In the book he gets into a number of what one might think are side-issues, but he always relates them back to the belief in the resurrection. An excerpt from pages 216-220:
This whole Myanmar thing. It’s gone from tragic to abominable. When you have to pressure a government to accept aid because they’d rather steal it and keep it from their people, just letting them die so they can hold onto power… abysmal. A sham. What do you call it? Subjecticide? Voter-cide? Relieficide? Unthinkable, one would have expected. And yet, it happens. Somebody really ought to do something…
Maybe everyone else already knew, but I “discovered” a treasure trove of addresses on YouTube, a series of archived Google Talks. Almost as much fun as TED. I mentioned the work of Philip Zimbardo (Or “Dr. Z”) a couple of months back, discussing The Lucifer Effect: Why Good People do Evil, which is pretty much the title of his new book. Yesterday, I referred to bad apples being the creation of bad barrels as a metaphor for the way in which bad systems can corrupt good leaders, resulting in the abuse of the people within those systems. The metaphor comes from Dr. Z’s talk at Google.
Dith Pran has just died at age 65, of pancreatic cancer. For those for whom the name doesn’t ring a bell, his story was told in the outstanding 1984 film The Killing Fields, and is recapped in the news coverage of his death. The film is very moving and disturbing, but Dith, who coined the phrase “The Killing Fields” to refer to what he saw on his 40-mile trek out of Cambodia, says, “It’s worse than what you saw.” Dith called himself a one-man crusade against genocide, and started The Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project to “Spread the Word of the Cambodian Genocide.” In addition to a good story and obituary, the New York Times has produced a brief video from their interview with him less than two weeks ago.
Sometimes you pick up the most interesting tidbits in unexpected places. Like when you’re watching The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos, and Valerie Bertinelli is on to talk about her new book, Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time, and they get sidetracked. Follow the links to see the video and learn that Schneider’s moustache on One Day at a Time was glued on every week. Then they get onto politics.
VB: I’m already in trouble, some people don’t even want to read my book because I say one bad thing about George Bush.
GS: [What did you say?]
VB: Well–that I don’t agree with my father. He’s a Republican and he raised me to be a Democrat, and so I’ve got the Republicans pissed off at me now, and it’s like, wait, whoa, dude, slow down–