Wednesday, February 18, 2009

love will prevail

in the meantime, there's some pretty crappy, discriminatory stuff going...

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

learn more about courage campaign

Sunday, February 15, 2009

are you Lost?

I've got a love/hate relationship going with Lost. I love it when I'm watching a new episode and new things are revealed and I start hating it near the end of an episode when it's clear that not only are there still some old things left hanging, but there's usually a whole new plot twist to absorb, adding more, new, unlikely, unresolved content.

This dual reaction (love/hate, good/evil, light/dark) may be just what the producers are going for according to mirror matter.

Or maybe it's just for fun...

links found via exploring our matrix

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What does it really mean to "do justice?"

Over at Transforming Theology, they are looking for actual "normal" people to ask their most pressing God question. I don't know about "normal", but the question that keeps coming up for me: through working with PACEM & IMPACT, through watching our economy tank, through preparing a reflection about caring for one another for the women's retreat is - what does it really mean to "do justice?"

My "rehearsed" answer is that doing justice means you are willing to stand alongside and help give a voice to those who are struggling every day with local social justice issues. It means being in relationship with and caring for those who are suffering.

What I'm looking for are some insights about caring for others - doing justice, when its difficult and over the long haul. I think there are some clues to how difficult this can be in Job. But the lessons in Job are difficult to grasp because we just can’t relate to or can hardly bear hearing what’s been happening to Job. I think we can relate to the three friends that came to visit Job in the hope to sympathize with and comfort him.

"When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." [Job 2:12-13, NIV]

Their hearts are in the right place and they let Job vent for a while, but finally his friend Eliphaz interrupts. It seems he wants to shake Job out of his funk by launching into a lecture about how important Job is, how much people look up to him for support and guidance, and that he should view his suffering as some form of discipline from God. Job’s response is filled with pain and loathing and this little zinger:

"Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid." [Job 6:21]

I think the story of Job and his friends has some parallels to the church and its relationship to those who are enduring long-term suffering, such as the poor. As the church, we are more than willing to provide the poor short-term relief in the form of food, clothes, and even shelter, but getting involved with the poor long-term is distressing because we want the poor to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and persevere. Instead, when get beyond the problems on the surface, we see something dreadful and are afraid. This is certainly where I find myself getting stuck personally and where I see us getting stuck as a community of faith. It knocks our preconceived notions, about how God interacts with the world and what God expects of us, out of whack.

What do we do when caring doesn't feel good or doesn't seem to be accomplishing anything? What do we do when the person we are caring for doesn't meet our expectations? What do we do when we see something dreadful and are afraid?

Oops, that's more than one question...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

a voice for affordable housing - part 2

I spoke again at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting this morning on behalf of IMPACT.

Hello my name is Kim Wilkens, I live in the Rivanna District and am a member of IMPACT's Housing Committee.

Lately, we have been bombarded by distressing statistics about our economy like growing rates in unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness. If you are not part of these statistics, they can seem very abstract and overwhelming. That is why I am so grateful to be part of IMPACT, where I learn first hand from and get connected with people in our community who are struggling with these very issues. I am honored to represent IMPACT and to be a voice for those who every day are facing the affordable housing crisis in our community.

So let me say that IMPACT is encouraged with the progress made by the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing over the last year. We believe all their recommendations are vitally important in resolving the current affordable housing crisis in our community. I am here to voice IMPACT support for one of these recommendations in particular: making comprehensive amendments to the existing proffer policy so that the policy more fairly addresses the various levels of need for affordable housing in Albemarle County.

The Albemarle County 2007 Housing Report indicates how successful a proffer policy can be: "Since the adoption of the County's Affordable Housing Policy in 2004, 1,600 affordable housing units have been proffered along with over $1.5 million in cash." However, as the task force members discovered - because of the way the existing policy is written, proffered units are:
- usually priced at points affordable to those at or about 80% AMI,
- affordability is only guaranteed for 5 years, and
- proffered for-sale units may not be affordable beyond the first sale.

IMPACT urges you to direct the Planning Commission to look at all the amendments that the Joint Task Force has put forward and to adopt a comprehensive proffer policy that includes:
1. a requirement that proffered units or cash offered include an equal share of units affordable at 3 levels: extremely low income (less than 30% AMI), very low income (30-60% AMI), and low income (60-80% AMI);
2. a mechanism that caps the value of proffered for sale units; and
3. a requirement that the term of affordability for proffered rental units be a minimum of 15 years.

A comprehensive review and amending of the County's proffer policy will help close the large gap of unmet housing needs identified in the 2007 State of Housing Report. Careful consideration and implementation of all the recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing will help you fulfill your mission to "enhance the well-being and quality of life for all citizens."

(got this in my e-mail this morning - coincidence?)
The contact of the affluent with the poor today is primarily through two means, television and statistics. We hear the stark statistics of human suffering and we watch starving children in living color. But what do those numbers mean to us, and how real are the young lives we glimpse for a moment in a news documentary? - One Humanity by Jim Wallis